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Vaccinations before travel: What you need to know

Receiving proper vaccinations before traveling to certain regions of the world is highly recommended, and oftentimes required. However, it’s not always clear when and where vaccinations are necessary.

To help clarify, Health Talk spoke with Mark R. Schleiss, M.D., co-director of the Center for Infectious Diseases and Microbiology Translational Research (CIDMTR) at the University of Minnesota.

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Global is local: Viewing health issues at a community level

People often look at global health from a narrow perspective. “Global” is categorized by location – meaning, outside the U.S. and conjures up images of humanitarian responses to poverty and suffering somewhere else in the world.

But that shouldn’t be the approach, says Michael Westerhaus, M.D., an assistant professor in the Medical School and adjunct professor in the School of Public Health. Global and local health are very closely connected.

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Uganda Hub fosters global health research collaborations, education and engagement with African partners

Tackling the devastating effects of global health phenomenon is central to the work of health scientists and educators around the globe. No place is their work more critical than in Africa where the onslaught of deadly epidemics like HIV/AIDS and Ebola, coupled with worsening environmental crises such as climate change and food scarcity, have affected generations of people and challenged leading scientists for decades.

That’s why the University of Minnesota and Makerere University in Uganda partnered to establish the Uganda Hub of Innovation.

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UMN expert: More global mental health and substance abuse research needed

In a recent review published in Nature, Mustafa al’Absi, Ph.D., director of the Duluth Medical Research Institute at the Medical School, Duluth campus, and other authors, outlined recommendations to shape the global mental health agenda.

“Mental health and substance abuse disorders have profound effects on overall health,” al’Absi said. “They are becoming a pressing global and local burden.”

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Research snapshot: Filtered sunlight a safe, effective jaundice treatment in developing countries

New research could provide a safe, low-tech method for treating newborn jaundice. The project offers an effective and inexpensive solution for developing countries, where more than 150,000 babies each year suffer brain damage or death due to this serious health condition.

The study, published in the latest issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, was led by Tina Slusher, M.D., associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Minnesota. Two other UMN researchers, Ann Brearley, Ph.D., and Troy Lund, M.D., Ph.D., helped with the study. In addition, researchers at the Stanford School of Medicine, University of California-San Diego, and Island Maternity Hospital, Massey Street Children’s Hospital and Hearing International Nigeria in Lagos all contributed to the project.

“There are so many areas in the world where jaundice is a big concern, but access to consistent electricity or advanced medical treatments aren’t always possible,” said Slusher. “The method we’ve outlined harnesses a natural resource in sunlight, but safely, giving parents and care providers an incredibly accessible, useful tool to treat this dangerous and common illness.”

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Research Snapshot: Obesity can lead to the alteration of specific genes

In a new study from the University of Minnesota, researchers found there are numerous areas of the genome where obese and non-obese individuals differ in terms of their “methylome.”

Essentially, the researchers found that the level of DNA methylation (addition or subtraction of a methyl group on the DNA molecule) was related to level of body mass index (BMI), a marker of obesity. These differences in methylome are a type of “epigenetic” variation, which does not involve the genetic sequence itself, but rather is thought to alter which genes are turned “on” and “off” at a given point in time in a given tissue. Typical genetic sequences do differ but data shows these differences go beyond that.

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