For the first time in its history, the Gerber spokesbaby is a child with Down syndrome

(CNN)This cutie with a contagious smile is 18-month-old Lucas Warren and on Wednesday he made history: He’s the first child with Down syndrome to become Gerber’s “Spokesbaby of the year” in its 91-year history.

Lucas is from Dalton, Georgia. Gerber picked him from more than 140,000 entries to its photo search contest. The initiative to find the “Gerber Baby” began soon after the company was founded in 1927, when it put out a call looking for a baby to feature in its ads.
The title means Lucas’ parents will get a $50,000 prize and Lucas will appear on Gerber’s social media channels and will be featured in Gerber ads through the year.
    “We hope this opportunity sheds light on the special needs community and educates people that with acceptance and support, individuals with special needs have the potential to change the world — just like our Lucas,” his mom said.

    Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2018/02/07/health/first-gerber-baby-down-syndrome-trnd/index.html

    This company will tell you which vitamins and supplements to take based on your DNA

    Nutrigene believes your genes may hold the secret to what you might be missing in your diet. The company will send you tailor-made liquid vitamin supplements based on a lifestyle quiz and your DNA.

    You fill out an assessment on the startup’s website, choose a recommended package, such as essentials, improve performance or optimize gut health, and Nutrigene will send you liquid supplements built just for you. It is also going to start allowing customers to upload their 23andMe data to find get an assessment of their nutritional needs based on DNA.

    Founder Min FitzGerald launched the startup out of Singularity and later accepted a Google fellowship for the idea. Nutrigene is now going through the current YC class. Her co-founder and CTO Van Duesterberg comes from a biotech and epigenetics background and holds a PhD from Stanford.

    The idea sounds a bit far-fetched at first — simply take a quiz, import your DNA and you magically have all your nutritional needs taken care of. However, Dawn Barry, former VP at Illumina and now president of Luna DNA, a biotech company powered by the blockchain, says it could have some scientific underpinnings. But, she cautioned, nutrigenetics is still an early science.

    Amir Trabelsi, founder of genetic analysis platform Genoox, agrees. And, he pointed out, these types of companies don’t need to provide any proof.

    “That doesn’t mean it’s completely wrong,” Trabelsi told TechCrunch. “But we don’t know enough to say this person should use Vitamin A, for example… There needs to be more trials and observation.”

    Still, the vitamin industry is big business, pulling in more than $36 billion dollars in just the U.S. last year. With or without the genetic component, Nutrigene promises to deliver high-quality ingredients, optimized in liquid form.

    Fitzgerald says the liquid component helps the supplements work 10 times better in your body than powder-based pills and, she points out, some people can’t swallow pills.

    Hesitant, I agreed to try it out for myself. The process was fairly easy and the lifestyle quiz only took about 10 minutes. Then, I sent in my raw data from my 23andMe account.

    Though genetics are a factor in Nutrigene’s ultimate formulation, FitzGerald told me the DNA part is pretty new and that my biometric details and goals were more indicative of how the company tailored my dosages.

    However, I did apparently need more B12, according to FitzGerald. “Hence we gave you a good dose of B12 in your elixir,” she told me.

    Does the stuff work? Tough to say. I didn’t feel any different on Nutrigene’s liquid vitamins than I do normally. Though, full disclosure, I’ve been taking what I believe to be some pretty good prenatal vitamins from New Chapter and a DHA supplement from Nordic Naturals for almost a year now while I’ve been building a baby in my womb. My doctor tested my nutritional levels at the beginning of my pregnancy through a blood sample, seemed pleased with my choice to take prenatals and didn’t tell me to do anything different.

    Would Nutrigene’s formula be ideal for someone else? Possibly, especially if that person holds a high standard for ingredients in their supplements or has a hard time swallowing pills. However, it seems the jury is still out on the science behind vitamins tailored to your genetics and, like Trabelsi mentioned earlier, we likely need a lot more study on the matter.

    For those interested in trying out Nutrigene, you can do so by ordering on the website. Package pricing varies and depends on nutritional needs, but starts at around $85 per month.

    Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2018/02/05/this-company-will-tell-you-which-vitamins-and-supplements-to-take-based-on-your-dna/

    German cities to trial free public transport to cut pollution

    Plan to be tested in five cities in effort to meet EU air pollution targets and avoid big fines

    German cities to trial free public transport to cut pollution

    Plan to be tested in five cities in effort to meet EU air pollution targets and avoid big fines

    Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/feb/14/german-cities-to-trial-free-public-transport-to-cut-pollution

    This Swedish fitness trend combines running with picking up litter

    Image: Getty Images

    Forget about Hygge, Lagom, and Ikea’s attempt to start a twin duvet revolution. There’s a new Scandinavian trend in town. 

    This trend encourages people to pick up litter while out running. So, it’s not just good for your health, it’s also good for the environment. 

    It’s called ‘plogging’—a portmanteau of jogging and the Swedish plocka upp, meaning ‘pick up.’ 

    So hot is this new trend that fitness app Lifesum is allowing its users to log and track their plogging activity as a workout. 

    Plogging combines going for a run with intermittent squatting or lunging (to collect rubbish), which actually sounds like a pretty satisfying workout. According to Lifesum, a typical user will burn 288 calories in 30 minutes of plogging, which is more or less the same as what’s burned off while jogging.  

    As with all fitness trends, there are plenty of #plogging pics on Instagram, offering a glimpse of what this trend looks like IRL. Ploggers take plastic bags along with them so they can store the collected litter they find along their route.

    Swedish fitness app Lifesum claims it’s the first health app to allows its 25 million users to log their plogging activity. Those using the health app can log plogging as a fitness activity, in the same way that they would log running or walking, and the app will estimate how many calories have been burned. 

    Image: lifesum / rachel thompson

    Lifesum has also teamed up with the non-profit Keep America Beautiful to provide an online resource for ploggers who want to log the rubbish they’ve collected. 

    Mike Rosen, senior vice president at Keep America Beautiful, thinks plogging is a great way to encourage people to make a difference in their local environment. 

    “Plogging is brilliant because it is simple and fun, while empowering everyone to help create cleaner, greener and more beautiful communities,” Rosen said in a statement. “All you need is running gear and a bag for trash or recyclables, and you are not only improving your own health, but your local community too.”

    Plog away!

    Read more: https://mashable.com/2018/02/13/plogging-fitness-trend/

    Health Win: This New App Helps Users Track How Far Theyve Fallen Every Time They Tumble Down A Flight Of Stairs

    If you’re having trouble staying active (uh, who isn’t??), here’s something that might actually motivate you to get your butt off the couch: This new app helps users track how far they’ve fallen every time they tumble down a flight of stairs.

    Finally, a way to figure out how many steps you really fell down on your way to work this morning, without any of the guesswork!

    Here’s how it works: The app is called StairTracker, and after you download it and make a StairTracker profile specifying your height and weight, it will automatically log how many vertical feet you drop and how many stair steps you bypass every time you careen headfirst down a flight of stairs. According to StairTracker developers, the app uses the accelerometer on your phone to track your flailing body’s journey as it skids down a staircase—but users who are committed to making tracking their tumbles a part of their lifestyle can also buy a StairTracker watch that syncs with the smartphone app automatically.

    Plus, StairTracker lets you set goals for distance fallen, and alerts you with a notification when you’ve hit your “plummet goal” for the day. The app’s developers also made sure to include a social element, so you can add friends to your profile and react to the falls they post with a “nice spill” sticker.

    So the next time you find yourself sitting there at the bottom of a staircase, wondering how far you’ve fallen, why not give StairTracker a try? It could be just what you need for the new year.

    Read more: http://www.clickhole.com/article/health-win-new-app-helps-users-track-how-far-theyv-7157

    CNN Exclusive: California launches investigation following stunning admission by Aetna medical director

    (CNN)California’s insurance commissioner has launched an investigation into Aetna after learning a former medical director for the insurer admitted under oath he never looked at patients’ records when deciding whether to approve or deny care.

    “If the health insurer is making decisions to deny coverage without a physician actually ever reviewing medical records, that’s of significant concern to me as insurance commissioner in California — and potentially a violation of law,” he said.
    Aetna, the nation’s third-largest insurance provider with 23.1 million customers, told CNN it looked forward to “explaining our clinical review process” to the commissioner.
      The California probe centers on a deposition by Dr. Jay Ken Iinuma, who served as medical director for Aetna for Southern California from March 2012 to February 2015, according to the insurer.
      During the deposition, the doctor said he was following Aetna’s training, in which nurses reviewed records and made recommendations to him.
      Jones said his expectation would be “that physicians would be reviewing treatment authorization requests,” and that it’s troubling that “during the entire course of time he was employed at Aetna, he never once looked at patients’ medical records himself.”
      “It’s hard to imagine that in that entire course in time, there weren’t any cases in which a decision about the denial of coverage ought to have been made by someone trained as a physician, as opposed to some other licensed professional,” Jones told CNN.
      “That’s why we’ve contacted Aetna and asked that they provide us information about how they are making these claims decisions and why we’ve opened this investigation.”
      The insurance commissioner said Californians who believe they may have been adversely affected by Aetna’s decisions should contact his office.
      Members of the medical community expressed similar shock, saying Iinuma’s deposition leads to questions about Aetna’s practices across the country.
      “Oh my God. Are you serious? That is incredible,” said Dr. Anne-Marie Irani when told of the medical director’s testimony. Irani is a professor of pediatrics and internal medicine at the Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU and a former member of the American Board of Allergy and Immunology’s board of directors.
      “This is potentially a huge, huge story and quite frankly may reshape how insurance functions,” said Dr. Andrew Murphy, who, like Irani, is a renowned fellow of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. He recently served on the academy’s board of directors.

      The Gillen Washington case

      The deposition by Aetna’s former medical director came as part of a lawsuit filed against Aetna by a college student who suffers from a rare immune disorder. The case is expected to go to trial later this week in California Superior Court.
      Gillen Washington, 23, is suing Aetna for breach of contract and bad faith, saying he was denied coverage for an infusion of intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) when he was 19. His suit alleges Aetna’s “reckless withholding of benefits almost killed him.”
      Aetna has rejected the allegations, saying Washington failed to comply with their requests for blood work. Washington, who was diagnosed with common variable immunodeficiency, or CVID, in high school, became a new Aetna patient in January 2014 after being insured by Kaiser.
      Aetna initially paid for his treatments after each infusion, which can cost up to $20,000. But when Washington’s clinic asked Aetna to pre-authorize a November 2014 infusion, Aetna says it was obligated to review his medical record. That’s when it saw his last blood work had been done three years earlier for Kaiser.
      Despite being told by his own doctor’s office that he needed to come in for new blood work, Washington failed to do so for several months until he got so sick he ended up in the hospital with a collapsed lung.
      Once his blood was tested, Aetna resumed covering his infusions and pre-certified him for a year. Despite that, according to Aetna, Washington continued to miss infusions.
      Washington’s suit counters that Aetna ignored his treating physician, who appealed on his behalf months before his hospitalization that the treatment was medically necessary “to prevent acute and long-term problems.”
      “Aetna is blaming me for what happened,” Washington told CNN. “I’ll just be honest, it’s infuriating to me. I want Aetna to be made to change.”
      During his videotaped deposition in October 2016, Iinuma — who signed the pre-authorization denial — said he never read Washington’s medical records and knew next to nothing about his disorder.
      Questioned about Washington’s condition, Iinuma said he wasn’t sure what the drug of choice would be for people who suffer from his condition.
      Iinuma further says he’s not sure what the symptoms are for the disorder or what might happen if treatment is suddenly stopped for a patient.
      “Do I know what happens?” the doctor said. “Again, I’m not sure. … I don’t treat it.”
      Iinuma said he never looked at a patient’s medical records while at Aetna. He says that was Aetna protocol and that he based his decision off “pertinent information” provided to him by a nurse.
      “Did you ever look at medical records?” Scott Glovsky, Washington’s attorney, asked Iinuma in the deposition.
      “No, I did not,” the doctor says, shaking his head.
      “So as part of your custom and practice in making decisions, you would rely on what the nurse had prepared for you?” Glovsky asks.
      “Correct.”
      Iinuma said nearly all of his work was conducted online. Once in a while, he said, he might place a phone call to the nurse for more details.
      How many times might he call a nurse over the course of a month?
      “Zero to one,” he said.
      Glovsky told CNN he had “never heard such explosive testimony in two decades of deposing insurance company review doctors.”

      Aetna’s response

      Aetna defended Iinuma, who is no longer with the company, saying in its legal brief that he relied on his “years of experience” as a trained physician in making his decision about Washington’s treatment and that he was following Aetna’s Clinical Policy Bulletin appropriately.
      “Dr. Iinuma’s decision was correct,” Aetna said in court papers. “Plaintiff has asserted throughout this litigation that Dr. Iinuma had no medical basis for his decision that 2011 lab tests were outdated and that Dr. Iinuma’s decision was incorrect. Plaintiff is wrong on both counts.”
      In its trial brief, Aetna said: “Given that Aetna does not directly provide medical care to its members, Aetna needs to obtain medical records from members and their doctors to evaluate whether services are ‘medically necessary.’ Aetna employs nurses to gather the medical records and coordinate with the offices of treating physicians, and Aetna employs doctors to make the actual coverage-related determinations.
      “In addition to applying their clinical judgment, the Aetna doctors and nurses use Aetna’s Clinical Policy Bulletins (‘CPBs’) to determine what medical records to request, and whether those records satisfy medical necessity criteria to support coverage. These CPBs reflect the current standard of care in the medical community. They are frequently updated, and are publicly available for any treating physician to review.”
      Jones, the California insurance commissioner, said he couldn’t comment specifically on Washington’s case, but what drew his interest was the medical director’s admission of not looking at patients’ medical records.
      “What I’m responding to is the portion of his deposition transcript in which he said as the medical director, he wasn’t actually reviewing medical records,” Jones told CNN.
      He said his investigation will review every individual denial of coverage or pre-authorization during the medical director’s tenure to determine “whether it was appropriate or not for that decision to be made by someone other than a physician.”
      If the probe determines that violations occurred, he said, California insurance code sets monetary penalties for each individual violation.
      CNN has made numerous phone calls to Iinuma’s office for comment but has not heard back. Heather Richardson, an attorney representing Aetna, declined to answer any questions.
      Asked about the California investigation, Aetna gave this written statement to CNN:
      “We have yet to hear from Commissioner Jones but look forward to explaining our clinical review process.
      “Aetna medical directors are trained to review all available medical information — including medical records — to make an informed decision. As part of our review process, medical directors are provided all submitted medical records, and also receive a case synopsis and review performed by a nurse.
      “Medical directors — and all of our clinicians — take their duties and responsibilities as medical professionals incredibly seriously. Similar to most other clinical environments, our medical directors work collaboratively with our nurses who are involved in these cases and factor in their input as part of the decision-making process.”

      ‘A huge admission’

      Dr. Arthur Caplan, founding director of the division of medical ethics at New York University Langone Medical Center, described Iinuma’s testimony as “a huge admission of fundamental immorality.”
      “People desperate for care expect at least a fair review by the payer. This reeks of indifference to patients,” Caplan said, adding the testimony shows there “needs to be more transparency and accountability” from private, for-profit insurers in making these decisions.
      Murphy, the former American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology board member, said he was “shocked” and “flabbergasted” by the medical director’s admission.
      “This is something that all of us have long suspected, but to actually have an Aetna medical director admit he hasn’t even looked at medical records, that’s not good,” said Murphy, who runs an allergy and immunology practice west of Philadelphia.
      “If he has not looked at medical records or engaged the prescribing physician in a conversation — and decisions were made without that input — then yeah, you’d have to question every single case he reviewed.”
      Murphy said when he and other doctors seek a much-needed treatment for a patient, they expect the medical director of an insurance company to have considered every possible factor when deciding on the best option for care.

      See the latest news and share your comments with CNN Health on Facebook and Twitter.

      “We run into the prior authorization issues when we are renewing therapy, when the patient’s insurance changes or when an insurance company changes requirements,” he said.
      “Dealing with these denials is very time consuming. A great deal of nursing time is spent filling and refilling out paperwork trying to get the patient treatment.
      “If that does not work, then physicians need to get involved and demand medical director involvement, which may or may not occur in a timely fashion — or sometimes not at all,” he said. “It’s very frustrating.”

      Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2018/02/11/health/aetna-california-investigation/index.html

      Stay Healthy: The American Medical Association Recommends Office Workers Prevent Workplace Stress By Taking A Life-Changing Journey To The Taj Mahal Every 30 Minutes

      It’s no secret that office jobs can take a serious toll on your mental health, and can induce a variety of disorders including anxiety and depression. Thankfully, though, the American Medical Association has released a new set of guidelines to help you cope: It’s recommending office workers prevent workplace stress by taking a life-changing journey to the Taj Mahal every 30 minutes.

      Wow. This one little trick could add years to your life!

      If you’re having trouble with work-related anxiety, the AMA says just one horizon-expanding trip to the Taj Mahal every half hour can reduce your stress levels by as much as 15 percent. Sure, your workday might be packed, but a new study conducted by the AMA says that you’ll not only feel happier, but you’ll also boost productivity if you can make the flight to the UNESCO World Heritage Site a regular part of your daily work routine.

      “Taking short, frequent breaks from work to contemplatively tour the grounds of India’s most iconic piece of Mughal architecture has been shown to boost circulation and elevate mood,” said the CEO of the American Medical Association, Dr. James Madara. “Humans didn’t evolve to sit staring at a screen for hours on end, and taking a few minutes now and then to marvel at the dazzling marble sarcophagi of Mumtaz Mahal and Shah Jahan can help protect you from getting burnt out by a heavy workload.”

      Talk about a win-win scenario!

      Of course, there will be days when gazing up at the Taj Mahal’s towering minarets and making memories that will last a lifetime just won’t be doable every 30 minutes, but in a pinch, even just a quick trip to the Eiffel Tower or the Great Wall of China can give you enough of a blast of our world’s cultural richness to come back to your desk feeling refreshed and alert. Just don’t forget to turn off that phone, says Dr. Madara, because you can’t fully appreciate the thought-provoking wonder of these architectural masterpieces if your brain is still back at the office.

      Yep. Set an iCal reminder for every 30 minutes, because you’re going to want to get in on this STAT.

      Bottom line, finding time to go to the Taj Mahal during the workday could drastically improve your mental health, so why not try it out and see if it works for you? Big thanks to the American Medical Association for doing its part to make our workplaces stress-free!

      Read more: http://www.clickhole.com/article/stay-healthy-american-medical-association-recommen-7241

      Lunar trifecta: Rare ‘super blue blood moon’ will light the sky this week

      (CNN)Set your alarms, space fans — if you can drag yourself out of bed on Wednesday, you’re in for a treat.

      To prepare you for the lunar triple whammy, here’s your all-you-need-to-know guide.

      What is a ‘super blue blood moon’?

        It may sound like the apocalypse is nigh, so let’s break it down by its three parts: “super,” “blue” and “blood.”
        So, a “supermoon” is when a full moon occurs at the same time as its perigee, the closest point of the moon’s orbit with Earth. The result: the moon appears larger than normal and NASA is predicting this one will be 14% brighter than usual.
        Chances are you have used the phrase “once in a blue moon” — but have you ever wondered where it came from? The well-known idiom actually refers to the rare instance when there is a second full moon in a calendar month. The first supermoon of 2018 — which took place on New Year’s Day — was previously described by NASA as the “biggest and brightest” one expected for the entire year.
        Then completing this “lunar trifecta” is the “blood” element. Although it does not have a scientific definition, a “blood moon” occurs during a lunar eclipse when faint red sunbeams peek out around the edges of the Earth, giving it a reddish, copper color.

        Where can I see it?

        Eager stargazers living in North America, Alaska or Hawaii will be able to see the eclipse before sunrise on Wednesday, according to NASA. For those in the Middle East, Asia, eastern Russia, Australia and New Zealand, the “super blue blood moon” will be visible during moonrise on the evening of January 31.
        As long as the weather doesn’t try to ruin things, observers in Alaska, Australia, eastern Asia and Hawaii will be experience the whole phenomenon from start to finish.
        For those living in the US, NASA says the best spots to watch the entire celestial show will be in California and western Canada.
        “Weather permitting, the West Coast, Alaska and Hawaii will have a spectacular view of totality from start to finish,” said George Johnston, lunar blogger at NASA, in a press statement. “Unfortunately, eclipse viewing will be more challenging in the eastern time zone. The eclipse begins at 5.51 a.m. ET, as the moon is about to set in the western sky, and the sky is getting lighter in the east.”
        For observers living in New York or Washington D.C., the space agency suggests a 6.45 a.m. ET start for the best viewing.
        “Your best opportunity if you live in the east is to head outside about 6.45 a.m. and get to a high place to watch the start of the eclipse,” Johnston said. “Make sure you have a clear line of sight to the horizon in the west, opposite from where the sun will rise.”
        Where the moon is covered by the Earth’s shadow, known as the period of totality, it will last just over one and a quarter hours, according to EarthSky. And unlike a solar eclipse, a lunar eclipse is perfectly safe to watch in the night with the naked eye.
        Unfortunately, the eclipse will not be visible from the European or African continents as they will already be in daylight during these hours.
        But fear not, Virtual Telescope will be streaming the event live for anyone unable to view the eclipse up close.
        There are usually a couple of lunar eclipses each year so if you do miss it this time around, the next one will happen on July 27 — though it won’t be visible in North America. It’ll be a long wait for skywatchers in the US as Johnston predicts the next visible lunar eclipse will be on January 21, 2019.
        Be sure to take your favorite pictures and tag #CNNSpace for a chance to be featured.

        Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2018/01/26/world/super-blue-blood-moon-guide-2018-intl/index.html

        4 strategies to avoid #resistance burnout

        Image: vicky leta / mashable

        I was listening to The Read recently — it’s my favorite podcast — and I was struck by co-host Kid Fury’s observations about reaching the end of the year and feeling tired. 

        I posted how I felt on Instagram: “Can’t add one more plan tired. Hard to get excited about exciting things tired. Can’t project, assume, or read minds tired. I’m letting myself be tired, be imperfect, be how I am. It is time to hibernate and make meaning of this year, understand the lessons.”

        Five hundred people gave it a heart within a few hours. People reached out to me to say they are also tired — exhausted, really. Falling out in meetings, losing things, fighting with loved ones, letting hopelessness have our tongues. 

        I am a social justice facilitator, practicing and teaching a methodology called Emergent Strategy. The goal is to learn how we do justice work that is adaptive, focuses on the small things that make up all large systems, and prioritizes critical connections over critical mass. I am also a visionary fiction writer (part of the Octavia’s Brood team) and a pleasure activist, which means I believe pleasure is an important measure of freedom, and that we need to make justice the most pleasurable experience we can have. 

        And, even as someone focused on ease, nature, future, and pleasure, 2017 was a daunting year. 

        And, even as someone focused on ease, nature, future, and pleasure, 2017 was a daunting year. But I am still going. Movements for social and environmental justice are still moving forward. 

        Which gets me curious about how we are surviving, how we are generating energy to move forward in 2018 when everything is heavy and everything hurts. 

        What do we do? 

        The first thing is to give ourselves lots of room and respect for whatever we have done. It got us this far. So, shout outs to alcohol, sugar, sex, and weed, which have been doing the work of comforting and numbing millions. After the 2016 election, drinking definitely became one of my coping mechanisms for that “They all want my death” feeling that has become daily life. 

        I know the newness of feeling this every day is as much an indication of my privilege as it is of political change; things aren’t getting worse, they are getting unveiled. Whatever I didn’t see before this moment is a sign that I was somehow benefiting from not seeing it. It feels worse nonetheless. 

        But we need to be careful about numbing. The long-term impacts of numbing move us away from the very aliveness we are fighting for, that erotic level of presence, alertness, and feeling our miraculous existence in real time. Audre Lorde taught us that, “In touch with the erotic, I become less willing to accept powerlessness, or those other supplied states of being which are not native to me, such as resignation, despair, self-effacement, depression, self-denial.”  

        I wanted to offer some strategies beyond numbing that have helped me protect my aliveness. I invite you to practice these throughout 2018.

        1. Reconnect with our movement ancestors. We are not the first to be in impossible conditions. And what we know is that we have survived, that our ancestors found ways to survive, to be in dignity and resistance. Focus on ancestors of your own lineage, knowing that every lineage on earth has individuals and groups who have left lessons behind. For me this year has been lit by the north star of Harriet Tubman. You might call on freedom fighters like Berta Cáceres or Bobby Sands — there are so many who inspire. Ancestors can and should humble us. 

        2. Tune in to the three Gs every day: gratitude, good news, and genius. If you look, all three are within reach.

        a) Start and/or end the day with gratitude. It’s a gorgeous world; pay attention to the beauty, the connection, the generosity and growth.

        b) Read between the lines and find the good news. It’s always there, but it might be very small. For me, it’s often in the news of what movements for social and environmental justice are doing to resist. Boost it, grow it with your attention.

        c) Our continued survival is actually a long, iterative practice of collective genius. Pay attention to the people and organizations who are doing more than reacting to the daily news or pulling each other down. Tune into the work of the Movement for Black Lives, the Women’s March, #MeToo, Cooperation Jackson, Movement Generation, #ourpowerpr, Mi Gente. These initiatives are attempting audacious, visionary, and difficult work that relies on the genius that arises from people working together across difference to address the challenges and opportunities of their real lives.

        3. That thing about putting on your oxygen mask before helping others? It’s real. It’s not like other masks that hide your true face from others, which is an important distinction here. You don’t need to put anything over your truth right now to cover the emotional rollercoaster of being a human who is paying attention. But you do need to take care of yourself at a material level. Soothe without numbing, rest without guilt, hydrate to replenish your foundation, and use your body while there is still miracle in it. Hibernate: turn inward, get still, write down what you have learned from surviving the last year as well as what has been liberated within you, and what you are ready to grow. 

        4. And I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t remind y’all that an orgasm a day keeps the doctor away. Remember that your body is literally wired to feel good, thread with nerves that communicate pleasure and let you know what to move toward. And you can choose between the orgasm and the orgasmic — do a massage exchange with friends, eat delicious home-cooked meals, watch comedy shows. There are so many ways to turn up your aliveness.

        None of these practices are small or trite. We are in the worst of times right now. If you need to be convinced to care for your body, mind, and spirit so that you can care for your community and this planet, let’s just review the past 12 months. 

        There was a period of denial and grief for many of us. Perhaps you also spent some time under a blanket, wondering why our species is so self-sabotaging and embarrassing? Maybe you too called friends to discuss where you could run to, and realized, again, that there was no place far enough, no place beyond the reach of the United States?

        Those of us with an intersectional analysis of our current situation know that every uphill battle we’ve been fighting is at least twice as steep. We are looking ahead at battles around the tax plan, net neutrality, protecting the planet as a livable planet for our species, resisting a police force encouraged to unleash increased violence on our devastated vulnerable communities. All while watching 45 play nuclear roulette with North Korea on Twitter.

        For those of us working to create social change, 2017 was a wild year. We take our whiplashed necks and try to keep up the pace as we run from protest to petition to planning meeting. We have held some lines, we have shown up and said no to racist bans and efforts to strip us of hard-won rights, and we have reached for each other. We’ve been surprised and excited as scientists marched and national parks workers used Twitter to resist fascist policy making.

        And, in our exhaustion, we have sometimes turned on each other. Interpersonal beef drains organizational resources. Tactical differences become landmines. Places where we could learn together instead become battlegrounds that play out on social media. We long for something different but are stretched too thin to practice new approaches. We want each other to be perfect and to be transparent about our flaws. We are punitive and transformative in the same breath. 

        We are in a fight for our survival and there’s no turning away from it, no turning back. 2017 was a reckoning, an unveiling. An embarrassment, yes, but it’s honest. And now we are at a very real risk of becoming too exhausted to continue our fight, our journey. 

        Ella Baker taught us that “we who believe in freedom cannot rest.” 

        Ella Baker taught us that “we who believe in freedom cannot rest.” I wrestle with these words all the time, because I believe in freedom, and I believe my body is a crucial part of the fight for freedom. So I interpret these words through my work. I do not rest in terms of how I work. I tirelessly show up for movements I believe in, to hold planned or unexpected hard conversations and mediations, to invite transformation in the face of frustration. I tirelessly seek out old and new ways of moving through our current paradigm and into a viable future. 

        But when it comes to my body, I rest. I rest in myriad ways that allow me to show up fully for each facilitation. I ensure that I have quiet time each evening, a bath when there’s a tub, at least seven hours of sleep each night. I want to give us more permission to rest our bodies so that we don’t burn out our spirits and minds in our lifelong commitment to liberation.

        It is in that spirit that I invite you to honor your ancestors and remember that they believed in you before your first breath. They believed you could generate gratitude, uplift good news, contribute to genius. Put on your oxygen mask and open to the pleasurable experiences of life. This is our moment to shape.

        Read more: http://mashable.com/2018/01/12/resistance-burn-out-activism-new-year/

        The Second Coming of Ultrasound

        Before Pierre Curie met the chemist Marie Sklodowska; before they married and she took his name; before he abandoned his physics work and moved into her laboratory on Rue Lhomond where they would discover the radioactive elements polonium and radium, Curie discovered something called piezoelectricity. Some materials, he found—like quartz and certain kinds of salts and ceramics—build up an electric charge when you squeeze them. Sure, it’s no nuclear power. But thanks to piezoelectricity, US troops could locate enemy submarines during World War I. Thousands of expectant parents could see their baby’s face for the first time. And one day soon, it may be how doctors cure disease.

        Ultrasound, as you may have figured out by now, runs on piezoelectricity. Applying voltage to a piezoelectric crystal makes it vibrate, sending out a sound wave. When the echo that bounces back is converted into electrical signals, you get an image of, say, a fetus, or a submarine. But in the last few years, the lo-fi tech has reinvented itself in some weird new ways.

        Researchers are fitting people’s heads with ultrasound-emitting helmets to treat tremors and Alzheimer’s. They’re using it to remotely activate cancer-fighting immune cells. Startups are designing swallowable capsules and ultrasonically vibrating enemas to shoot drugs into the bloodstream. One company is even using the shockwaves to heal wounds—stuff Curie never could have even imagined.

        So how did this 100-year-old technology learn some new tricks? With the help of modern-day medical imaging, and lots and lots of bubbles.

        Bubbles are what brought Tao Sun from Nanjing, China to California as an exchange student in 2011, and eventually to the Focused Ultrasound Lab at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School. The 27-year-old electrical engineering grad student studies a particular kind of bubble—the gas-filled microbubbles that technicians use to bump up contrast in grainy ultrasound images. Passing ultrasonic waves compress the bubbles’ gas cores, resulting in a stronger echo that pops out against tissue. “We’re starting to realize they can be much more versatile,” says Sun. “We can chemically design their shells to alter their physical properties, load them with tissue-seeking markers, even attach drugs to them.”

        Nearly two decades ago, scientists discovered that those microbubbles could do something else: They could shake loose the blood-brain barrier. This impassable membrane is why neurological conditions like epilepsy, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s are so hard to treat: 98 percent of drugs simply can’t get to the brain. But if you station a battalion of microbubbles at the barrier and hit them with a focused beam of ultrasound, the tiny orbs begin to oscillate. They grow and grow until they reach the critical size of 8 microns, and then, like some Grey Wizard magic, the blood-brain barrier opens—and for a few hours, any drugs that happen to be in the bloodstream can also slip in. Things like chemo drugs, or anti-seizure medications.

        This is both super cool and not a little bit scary. Too much pressure and those bubbles can implode violently, irreversibly damaging the barrier.

        That’s where Sun comes in. Last year he developed a device that could listen in on the bubbles and tell how stable they were. If he eavesdropped while playing with the ultrasound input, he could find a sweet spot where the barrier opens and the bubbles don’t burst. In November, Sun’s team successfully tested the approach in rats and mice, publishing their results in Proceedings in the National Academy of Sciences.

        “In the longer term we want to make this into something that doesn’t require a super complicated device, something idiot-proof that can be used in any doctor’s office,” says Nathan McDannold, co-author on Sun’s paper and director of the Focused Ultrasound Lab. He discovered ultrasonic blood-brain barrier disruption, along with biomedical physicist Kullervo Hynynen, who is leading the world’s first clinical trial evaluating its usefulness for Alzheimer’s patients at the Sunnybrook Research Institute in Toronto. Current technology requires patients to don special ultrasound helmets and hop in an MRI machine, to ensure the sonic beams go to the right place. For the treatment to gain any widespread traction, it’ll have to become as portable as the ultrasound carts wheeled around hospitals today.

        More recently, scientists have realized that the blood-brain barrier isn’t the only tissue that could benefit from ultrasound and microbubbles. The colon, for instance, is pretty terrible at absorbing the most common drugs for treating Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and other inflammatory bowel diseases. So they’re often delivered via enemas—which, inconveniently, need to be left in for hours.

        But if you send ultrasound waves waves through the colon, you could shorten that process to minutes. In 2015, pioneering MIT engineer Robert Langer and then-PhD student Carl Schoellhammer showed that mice treated with mesalamine and one second of ultrasound every day for two weeks were cured of their colitis symptoms. The method also worked to deliver insulin, a far larger molecule, into pigs.

        Since then, the duo has continued to develop the technology within a start-up called Suono Bio, which is supported by MIT’s tech accelerator, The Engine. The company intends to submit its tech for FDA approval in humans sometime later this year.

        Ultrasound sends pressure waves through liquid in the body, creating bubble-filled jets that can propel microscopic drug droplets like these into surrounding tissues.
        Suono Bio

        Instead of injecting manufactured microbubbles, Suono Bio uses ultrasound to make them in the wilds of the gut. They act like jets, propelling whatever is in the liquid into nearby tissues. In addition to its backdoor approach, Suono is also working on an ultrasound-emitting capsule that could work in the stomach for things like insulin, which is too fragile to be orally administered (hence all the needle sticks). But Schoellhammer says they have yet to find a limit on the kinds of molecules they can force into the bloodstream using ultrasound.

        “We’ve done small molecules, we’ve done biologics, we’ve tried DNA, naked RNA, we’ve even tried Crispr,” he says. “As superficial as it may sound, it all just works.”

        Earlier this year, Schoellhammer and his colleagues used ultrasound to deliver a scrap of RNA that was designed to silence production of a protein called tumor necrosis factor in mice with colitis. (And yes, this involved designing 20mm-long ultrasound wands to fit in their rectums). Seven days later, levels of the inflammatory protein had decreased sevenfold and symptoms had dissipated.

        Now, without human data, it’s a little premature to say that ultrasound is a cure-all for the delivery problems facing gene therapies using Crispr and RNA silencing. But these early animal studies do offer some insights into how the tech might be used to treat genetic conditions in specific tissues.

        Even more intriguing though, is the possibility of using ultrasound to remotely control genetically-engineered cells. That’s what new research led by Peter Yingxiao Wang, a bioengineer at UC San Diego, promises to do. The latest craze in oncology is designing the T-cells of your immune system to better target and kill cancer cells. But so far no one has found a way to go after solid tumors without having the T-cells also attack healthy tissue. Being able to turn on T-cells near a tumor but nowhere else would solve that.

        Wang’s team took a big step in that direction last week, publishing a paper that showed how you could convert an ultrasonic signal into a genetic one. The secret? More microbubbles.

        This time, they coupled the bubbles to proteins on the surface of a specially designed T-cell. Every time an ultrasonic wave passed by, the bubble would expand and shrink, opening and closing the protein, letting calcium ions flow into the cell. The calcium would eventually trigger the T-cell to make a set of genetically encoded receptors, directing it it to attack the tumor.

        “Now we’re working on figuring out the detection piece,” says Wang. “Adding another receptor so that we’ll known when they’ve accumulated at the tumor site, then we’ll use ultrasound to turn them on.”

        In his death, Pierre Curie was quickly eclipsed by Marie; she went on to win another Nobel, this time in chemistry. The discovery for which she had become so famous—radiation—would eventually take her life, though it would save the lives of so many cancer patients in the decades to follow. As ultrasound’s second act unfolds, perhaps her husband’s first great discovery will do the same.

        Read more: https://www.wired.com/story/the-second-coming-of-ultrasound/