August 26, 2012
Re "Early warnings," Aug. 23 Detection of biological attacks on the United States is rapidly evolving and improving. The controversy regarding the high frequency of false alarms by BioWatch, the government's system for detecting such attacks, should be balanced by the fact that there are no or a very low frequency of false negative results (failure to detect the disease-causing agent). If there was a bioterrorism attack on my city, I would feel more comfortable having a system with BioWatch's false-negative rate keeping watch.
August 23, 2012 |
WASHINGTON - Scientists who helped pioneer BioWatch, the government's system for detecting a biological attack on the U.S., knew from the start that it was prone to false alarms, records show. Between 2003, when the nationwide network of air samplers was first deployed, and 2006, officials at the federally funded Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory filed five patent applications aimed at improving BioWatch's reliability. "The existing methods for detecting" a release of disease-causing organisms into the environment were "inadequate," according to a patent application filed on behalf of Livermore scientists in December 2006.
August 20, 2012 |
WASHINGTON - Conceding that a peaceful resolution in Syria now appears remote, President Obama warned Monday for the first time that use or movement of chemical or biological weapons by forces loyal to President Bashar Assad would constitute a "red line" for U.S. military intervention. Obama acknowledged his frustration that diplomacy has done little to protect civilians or stem the growing bloodshed in the 17-month conflict. International efforts to persuade Assad to step down, to negotiate an effective cease-fire or to facilitate a political transition have been unsuccessful.
August 16, 2012 |
I have been teaching and doing research at the university level for more than 40 years, which means that for more than four decades, I have been participating in a deception - benevolent and well intentioned, to be sure, but a deception nonetheless. As a scientist, I do science, and as a teacher and writer, I communicate it. That's where the deception comes in. When scientists speak to the public or to students, we talk about what we know, what science has discovered. Nothing wrong with this.
July 19, 2012 |
WASHINGTON - Congressional leaders from both parties are pressing Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to address newly raised questions about BioWatch, the nation's system for detecting deadly biological attacks. In letters issued Thursday and last week, the leaders said their questions were prompted by a July 8 Los Angeles Times article that identified repeated shortcomings in BioWatch's performance, including dozens of false alarms that signaled apparent terrorist attacks when none had occurred.
July 9, 2012
In his 2003 State of the Union address, President George W. Bush announced deployment of “the nation's first early-warning network of sensors to detect a biological attack.” Known as BioWatch, the system consists of air samplers installed in more than 30 cities across the United States. Every day, filters are removed from the devices and taken to public health laboratories for analysis. BioWatch is supposed to detect traces of the pathogens that cause anthrax, smallpox, plague and other infectious diseases.
July 8, 2012 |
DENVER - As Chris Lindley drove to work that morning in August 2008, a call set his heart pounding. The Democratic National Convention was being held in Denver, and Barack Obama was to accept his party's presidential nomination before a crowd of 80,000 people that night. The phone call was from one of Lindley's colleagues at Colorado's emergency preparedness agency. The deadly bacterium that causes tularemia - long feared as a possible biological weapon - had been detected at the convention site.
April 17, 2012 |
Even among psychiatric disorders, depression is a difficult disease to diagnose. Its causes remain a mystery, its symptoms can't be defined with precision, and treatments are spotty at best. But that may soon change. Scientists are looking for ways to identify patients with depression as reliably as they diagnose cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer. A new study takes a significant, though preliminary, step in that direction by demonstrating that a simple blood test can distinguish between people who are depressed and those who are not. The test examined a panel of 28 biological markers that circulate in the bloodstream and found that 11 of them could predict the presence of depression at accuracy levels that ranged from medium to large.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
February 22, 2012 |
Roy J. Britten, a Caltech biologist who discovered that the mammalian genome includes large quantities of repetitive DNA sequences that do not serve as blueprints for genes, has died. He was 92. Britten, who had pancreatic cancer, died Jan. 21 at his home in Costa Mesa, Caltech announced. Britten and molecular biologist Eric Davidson, a Caltech colleague, also played a key role in the development of the field of evolutionary developmental biology, which demonstrated that most of the differences between species arise from changes in how similar genes are regulated, rather than from mutations in the genes themselves.
February 18, 2012 |
The National Security Council is moving to exert greater federal control over scientific studies of highly lethal diseases and toxins in the face of mounting fears that the research could be used by terrorists and rogue states, according to people with knowledge of the process. Under the NSC's guidance, the government plans to issue guidelines for research grants that would give agencies the authority to delay or restrict publication of findings they considered susceptible to "dual use" by terrorists or enemy states.