Laura Kahn

Laura H. Kahn

Articles by Laura H. Kahn

13 May 2008

The furor over genetically modified foods

Laura H. Kahn

The United Nations estimates that world population will top 9 billion people by 2050. Combined with the anticipated consequences of global warming such as drought, this could lead to devastating food shortages.

16 April 2008

In pursuit of international biosecurity oversight

Laura H. Kahn

Without a doubt, the implementation of bioresearch oversight must be an international effort. The United States has tried to take the lead in this area by mandating its National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity to foster international collaboration when reviewing dual-use bioresearch.

5 April 2008

An interview with Laura H. Kahn

Laura H. Kahn
16 March 2008

The potential dangers in medical isotope production

Laura H. Kahn

The medical isotope metastable technetium 99 emits gamma rays that physicians heavily rely upon to examine how organs such as hearts, lungs, and kidneys function. Technetium 99 is so beneficial to the medical community that it's used in approximately 80-85 percent of the world's diagnostic imaging procedures (cardiac perfusion scans and bone scans among them) and 12 million procedures in the United States alone. The size of the global nuclear imaging and therapeutics market is estimated at $3.7 billion per year.

3 February 2008

Stethoscopes belong in museums

Laura H. Kahn

A common criticism of today's high cost of medicine is that physicians rely too often on advanced technologies such as CT scans and MRI machines to make diagnoses. Much of the overuse is blamed on perverse insurance-industry incentives that pay for these costly services.

13 January 2008

Public health lessons from virtual game worlds

Laura H. Kahn

It's challenging to model disease spread during epidemics. Simple mathematical models such as the "general epidemic" model make assumptions about constant population size, homogeneous mixing, and constant recovery rates, but can only go so far in predicting an outbreak's severity (See "Mathematical Modeling of Epidemics").

6 January 2008

The growing number of immunocompromised

Laura H. Kahn

It's estimated that about 10 million people in the United States (3.6 percent of the population) are immunocompromised. But that's likely an underestimate because it only includes those with HIV/AIDS (diagnosed and undiagnosed), organ transplant recipients, and cancer patients; there's a sizable population that takes immunosuppressive drugs for other disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease.

16 December 2007

The scourge of antibiotic-resistant bacteria

Laura H. Kahn

Ever since Alexander Fleming accidentally discovered penicillin in 1928, antibiotics have kept simple cuts, scratches, and abrasions from becoming severely infected and prevented diseases such as pneumonia, scarlet fever, and tuberculosis from becoming a death sentence. However, antibiotics contain a serious downside: Their overuse and misuse has contributed to an increase in antibiotic-resistant bacteria such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), vancomycin-resistant enterococcus (VRE), and extreme drug-resistant tuberculosis (XDR-Tb).

12 November 2007

Why evolution should be taught in public schools

Laura H. Kahn

Understanding evolution is critical to confronting the twenty-first century's microbiological challenges. We need to educate the next generation of scientists to give them the tools to develop novel treatments against antibiotic resistant bacteria, emerging viruses, and other deadly microbes. They need to understand how these microbes develop and change, which requires an understanding of evolution.

17 October 2007

The sewer: Guardian against disease

Laura H. Kahn

After recently crossing the Atlantic Ocean to spend a year abroad in Paris, I decided to visit the one museum that commemorates a human achievement that trumps Notre Dame, the Louvre, and Eiffel Tower combined in terms of its impact on quality of life--sewage systems. Paris is one of the few cities that celebrates its sewer with a museum. Hidden and generally taken for granted, underground sewers allow large megacities to grow and flourish.