Google funds projects to find, fight new pathogens

first_imgOct 21, 2008 (CIDRAP News) – The philanthropic arm of the Internet search company Google today announced it is awarding more than $14 million for various projects aiming to prevent the next pandemic by detecting new pathogens and disease outbreaks in Africa and Southeast Asia.The awards by Google.org are going to six different initiatives aiming to “identify hot spots where new diseases may emerge, detect new pathogens circulating in animal and human populations, and respond to disease outbreaks before they become global crises,” the company said in a news release.”Business as usual won’t stop the next AIDS or SARS,” Dr. Larry Brilliant, Google.org executive director, said in the news release. “The teams we’re funding today are on the frontiers of digital and genetic early detection technology. We hope that their work, with partners across environmental, animal, and human health boundaries, will help solve centuries-old problems and save millions of lives.”The statement said three of the grants are for efforts to use mapping and weather and climate data to help predict where and when disease outbreaks will occur:The Woods Hole Research Center in Falmouth, Mass., will receive $2 million to support satellite mapping of forests to improve monitoring of forest loss and settlement expansion in tropical countries.Columbia University International Research Institute for Climate and Society will get $900,000 to improve the use of forecasts, rainfall data, and other climate information in East Africa and to link weather and climate experts to health specialists.University Corporation for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo., is awarded $900,000 to develop a system for using weather projections to inform and target responses to disease threats in West Africa.”For Rift Valley fever and malaria, long-term weather forecasts and deforestation maps can show us where to look for outbreaks, up to six months in advance,” said Frank Rijsberman, director of the grant program for Google.org.The other three grants, the company said, are for projects designed to detect early signals of possible epidemics through blood sampling, molecular diagnostics, mining of digital data, and other surveillance efforts:The Global Viral Forecasting Initiative (GVFI) will receive $5.5 million for collecting and analyzing blood samples from humans and animals in hot spots in Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo, China, Malaysia, Lao PDR, and Madagascar. The grant will be matched by the Skoll Foundation. Dr. Nathan Wolfe, GVFI’s founder and director, said the project’s aim is to monitor the movement of viruses from animals into people.Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, New York City, is awarded $2.5 million to support research to speed the discovery of new pathogens and promote rapid regional responses to outbreaks by establishing molecular diagnostics in hot spot countries, including Sierra Leone and Bangladesh. Columbia’s Dr. Ian Lipkin and colleagues already have discovered more than 75 viruses.Children’s Hospital Corp., in Boston, will receive $3 million to combine the online disease-detection efforts of HealthMap with ProMED-mail’s global network of human, animal, and ecosystem health specialists who report disease outbreaks. The project will assess emerging-disease reporting systems, expand networks in Africa and Southeast Asia, and develop news tools to improve outbreak detection.See also: Oct 21 Google releasehttp://www.google.com/intl/en/press/pressrel/20081021_googleorg.htmlJuly 21 CIDRAP News story describing HealthMap and other nontraditional disease-monitoring initiatives: “More efforts look outside the box for outbreak signals”last_img read more

Asmir Osmanagić: A Sarajevan who is a Referee in the Germany

first_imgHe was born in Sarajevo in 1991 and the destiny brought him and his parents to Stuttgart, where he lives now. As he says, he never stopped feeling like a Bosnian. The hero’s name is Asmir Osmanagić, he is a bachelor in mechanical engineering, and currently a student of master studies in the same faculty. At the same time, he is a referee in football matches, and he has been dealing with that activity since the age of 14.Asmir’s story begins in a somehow classical way, he is a boy who got to love the football ball when he first met with it and started training the most popular sport.“Stuttgart has around 100, even 150 football clubs, and the most famous ones are VFB Stuttgart and Stuttgart Kickers. I started my career at the age of six in MTV Stuttgart. Since I has issues with asthma, my parents decided I should reduce football activity and start swimming or playing tennis. That did help me with asthma, but football was in my heart,” says this 24-year-old.Asmir continued training swimming and tennis and playing football recreationally with his friends. One anecdote from a simple football match with friends brought him to the black shirt and a whistle.“When I was about 12 years old, I was playing football with my father and friends. One man, who was then in a club from Stuttgart, noticed that I have a lot of sense for football and asked me whether I wanted to be a referee. Although it is unusual that someone starts dealing with that at such an early age, I accepted the challenge and already at 14 I judged my first match. It was raining and I judged a U12 match, those were boys who were only two years younger than me,” Asmir remembers.Already at the age of 15 Asmir started judging matches of seniors and it was evident that he has a great potential. Thus, the fast progress and transition to stronger leagues and competitions was not surprising.As of the next season, he will be a referee in the third German league that was won by Dynamo Dresden in the past season and in which teams such as Hansa Rostock, Energie Cotbuss, Fortuna, Osnabruck and others compete. He was also a referee in matches where numerous BiH international players played.Asmir no longer has asthma issues thanks to regular trainings and healthy lifestyle. When asked about his career of a referee in the future, Asmir said:“For now, I do not see myself in the second leaguer or in Bundesliga. I am focused on the third league where I will try to justify trust and opportunity. I just want to be as good as possible in this and if in the next several years I get a chance to go to a stronger league, I will be happy to take it. Currently it is very difficult to make prognoses. I also have hard times, I am dedicated to university and judging, while my friends party. I travel a lot, now I will even cross greater distances, but I know that will pay off one day,” said Asmir Osmanagić, one of the youngest referees in the history of the German third league.(Source: korner.ba/photo: korner.ba)last_img read more