Notre Dame News https://news.nd.edu/ Notre Dame News gathers and disseminates information that enhances understanding of the University’s academic and research mission and its accomplishments as a Catholic institute of higher learning. en-us 2020-10-31T02:52:07+0000 Student-athletes promote healthy habits among local Head Start students https://news.nd.edu/news/student-athletes-promote-healthy-habits-among-local-head-start-students/ news_130506 2020-10-30T14:25:00-0400 Erin Blasko “Be Like the Irish” is a poster campaign featuring images of Notre Dame student-athletes from a variety of men’s and women’s teams promoting one of three core messages: “Brush your teeth!”, “Clean your plate!” or “Wash your hands!”

Student-athletes promote healthy habits among local Head Start students

Erin Blasko

Notre Dame Athletics is partnering with the South Bend Community School Corp. (SBCSC) to promote healthy habits among students at Studebaker Elementary School, home to the district’s Head Start and special needs programs for children ages 0-5.

“Be Like the Irish” is a poster campaign featuring images of Notre Dame student-athletes from a variety of men’s and women’s teams promoting one of three core messages: “Brush your teeth!”, “Clean your plate!” or “Wash your hands!”

Studebaker students eat breakfast and lunch and practice hand washing and tooth brushing at school as part of Head Start and in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The posters help generate excitement around these tasks, with dynamic photos of the student-athletes in uniform, in addition to green shamrocks and the Notre Dame monogram in blue and gold.

The campaign features Daelin Hayes and Max Siegel II from football; Luisa Delgado, Sammi Fisher and Erin Ospeck from women’s soccer; Mo Omar from men’s soccer; Pierce Crawford from hockey; Katie Marino from softball; and Katlyn Gilbert and Anaya Peoples from women’s basketball.

Student Welfare and Development organized the campaign, and the Canon Print Shop, an on-campus print shop that caters to Notre Dame Athletics, printed the posters.

Additionally, Saint Joseph Health System donated 90 Crayola toothbrushes to the campaign.

The posters hang in classrooms, hallways and bathrooms at Studebaker to remind students about healthy habits. They number 54 in total, or six of each student-athlete.

“Children develop lifelong habits, including hand washing and other personal health habits, at an early age. This is an opportunity for us, in partnership with the South Bend Community School Corp. and the local Head Start consortium, to promote such habits among disadvantaged and special needs youth in the South Bend community,” said Collin Stoecker, social media and community outreach manager for Student Welfare and Development, a division of Notre Dame Athletics devoted to the overall development of student-athletes: body, mind and spirit. “This is one of many ways our student-athletes serve as leaders and role models on campus and in the community.”

Head Start is a federally funded school-readiness program that offers cognitive, social and emotional development skills to children ages 0-5, including special needs children, from low-income families. Locally, the program is administered by the Elkhart and St. Joseph Counties Head Start Consortium.

The pandemic notwithstanding, Notre Dame student-athletes volunteer with a variety of local organizations during the school year, from Special Olympics Indiana and Ronald McDonald House Charities of Michiana, to the South Bend Community School Corp., the Food Bank of Northern Indiana and Student Welfare and Development’s very own Fighting Irish Fighting for Life.

Before the pandemic, student-athletes visited Studebaker to read to Head Start and special needs children on a regular basis during the school year. They now record themselves reading to the students and post the videos to YouTube.

“Notre Dame Athletics is truly a part of our Head Start community,” said Kathy Guajardo, executive director of the Elkhart and St. Joseph Counties Head Start Consortium. “We have found this unique partnership to be rich and meaningful to our students and parents.”

For more information, visit ndswd.com.

Contact: Erin Blasko, assistant director of media relations, 574-631-4127, eblasko@nd.edu

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Notre Dame innovates at home and abroad to further Paraguayan program despite pandemic restrictions https://news.nd.edu/news/notre-dame-innovates-at-home-and-abroad-to-further-paraguayan-program-despite-pandemic-restrictions/ news_130440 2020-10-29T15:00:00-0400 Heather Asiala Faculty and staff from across the University worked together to deliver alternative, virtual solutions for USAID's Rule of Law and Culture of Integrity in Paraguay program.

Notre Dame innovates at home and abroad to further Paraguayan program despite pandemic restrictions

Heather Asiala

On March 1, a team of researchers from the University of Notre Dame’s Pulte Institute for Global Development part of the Keough School of Global Affairs and Instituto Desarrollo (ID) set out to begin work on the Rule of Law and Culture of Integrity in Paraguay (ROLCI) program. Funded by USAID and implemented by ID, ROLCI is designed to strengthen the role of higher education institutions in Paraguay in promoting the culture of legality and respect for the state of law. A subaward would allow Notre Dame to deliver a series of in-person training and research activities to meet this goal.

Two weeks later, the COVID-19 pandemic hit the Midwest in full force: Notre Dame sent staff and students home, restricted travel and canceled all in-person events for the foreseeable future. The Pulte Institute and ID found themselves rapidly transitioning their work plans to implement a completely virtual program of activity across international borders.

Paraguay Workshop
Alex Ambrose, drector of learning and research at the Kaneb Center,
delivers a workshop session with translator Jennifer Zachman.

The original scope of work included a legal assessment of seven Paraguayan higher education institutions, targeted research focused on the Paraguayan judicial system and a resource methodology workshop series. The realities of the COVID-19 pandemic soon made it clear that the intended travel for key informant interviews and delivery of an in-person workshop series would be impossible. By early April the planning had shifted, and the team decided to use video interviews to gather research data and the workshop series, intended as a five-day in-person workshop in August, was redeveloped as a multi-week online training series. This allowed the content to be delivered in smaller segments through both synchronous and asynchronous methods.

“The necessity of rapidly transitioning our work due to the pandemic actually created several opportunities within the scope of this project. For starters, we were able to reallocate funding previously held for travel to develop more Year 1 activities that would meet the needs of our Paraguayan partners,” said Edward Jurkovic, program manager within the Pulte Institute’s Entrepreneurship and Education Division. “Moving to the virtual environment forced us all to be creative. Our Paraguayan partners realized the immense opportunity that online learning presented, as many of their students work part-time or live off campus and ended up preferring online education. Working with ID, we were able to provide these partners with training to bring online teaching best practices to their students, both during the pandemic and after.”   

ID and the Pulte Institute quickly began discussions and outlined a plan to provide an additional Online Teaching and Technologies Webinar Series designed to prepare Paraguayan educators to use best practices for online teaching. Trainers and experts from ND Learning | Kaneb Center and OIT’s Teaching and Learning Technologies Group were commissioned to create, translate, facilitate and record an interactive webinar series using state-of-the-art technologies and online pedagogies during and after COVID-19. More than 230 faculty and administrators from several Paraguayan institutions including universities such as the National University of Asunción and public ministry training centers like the International Center for Judicial Studies of the Supreme Court of Justice attended and participated in the six-part live, dual-language series. 

Despite the pandemic drastically changing the trajectory of the project, ROLCI Program Director from Instituto Desarrollo José Tomás Sánchez found that the results achieved were impressive. “In total, the expected number of participants in our training courses increased by at least four times,” said Sánchez. “Additionally, we have been able to double the number of research projects we conduct and the number of interactions between Notre Dame academics and institutions multiplied. We did several workshops, meetings, forums and training courses. All of this was possible thanks to the incredible adaptability of the Notre Dame team and our partners in Paraguay.”

In addition to the Online Teaching and Technologies Webinar Series, the team was also able to deliver a comprehensive analysis of the barriers that Paraguayans face in entering the legal profession, as well as four research proposals for Year 2 activities. 

“We did not do this on our own,” emphasized Melissa Paulsen, who leads the Pulte Institute’s Education and Entrepreneurship Division. “We had incredible partners who gave us the latitude and support to switch and add things at the last minute. A lot of the work necessitated came through rapid collaboration and a willingness to innovate.”  

The ROLCI program is an excellent example of the collaborative and innovative spirit at Notre Dame. University collaborators spanned five departments and three schools: 

  • In addition to program management from Paulsen and Jurkovic, the Pulte Institute’s Tom Purekal, director of the Innovation and Practice Division, and Tom Hare, senior technical associate, delivered the Resource Methodology Workshop Series.
  • Notre Dame Law School professor Roger Alford, with assistance from graduate research assistant Maria Sonet and recent LL.M. graduates Maria Ospina and Xavier Romero, led the research analyzing the legal curricula of seven Paraguayan law schools and legal training centers.
  • Aníbal Pérez-Liñán, professor of political science and global affairs, and research consultant Andrea Castagnola co-led on the research activities evaluating the Paraguayan judicial system.
  • The Kaneb Center team was led by Alex Ambrose, director of learning research, with support from Kristin Rudenga, director of teaching excellence, and Kevin Abbott, educational technology specialist with OIT. Jennifer Zachman, associate professor of modern languages at Saint Mary’s College, provided translation services during the workshops. The opening session of the Online Learning series included a panel of Notre Dame Law faculty, including Kari Gallagher, John Kuehn and John Conway, who provided insights into their transition process to virtual legal education. 

The ROLCI program is a multi-year opportunity, and the Pulte Institute team is currently working with ID to finalize the next year of programmatic activities. Although COVID-19 will still likely impact travel restrictions, the team is confident it can deliver a set of activities that will strengthen higher education institutions and contribute to the improvement of the rule of law and culture of anti-corruption in Paraguay.

Originally published by Heather Asiala at pulte.nd.edu on Oct. 28.

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Notre Dame Tech Ethics Center virtual conference to explore algorithmic bias https://news.nd.edu/news/notre-dame-tech-ethics-center-virtual-conference-to-explore-algorithmic-bias/ news_130458 2020-10-29T11:00:00-0400 Notre Dame News On Nov. 6 (Friday), experts from across the nation will gather virtually to discuss technology- and ethics-related questions at a conference titled Algorithmic Bias: Sources and Responses.

Notre Dame Tech Ethics Center virtual conference to explore algorithmic bias

Notre Dame News

Everyday decisions in our society — who gets a mortgage loan, who gets a job interview, who is targeted for additional airport screening — are increasingly determined by algorithms.

These tremendously efficient and seemingly harmless computer codes help businesses and governments make sense of complex datasets and aid decision-making by crunching vast databases and drawing conclusions that all too often are mathematically sound but “perfectly wrong.”

Why? Because these tools are developed by humans, and humans are subject to bias that can be passed into the algorithms they build, frequently without the developers even realizing it.

On Nov. 6 (Friday), experts from across the nation will gather virtually to discuss these and other technology- and ethics-related questions at a conference titled
Algorithmic Bias: Sources and Responses.

Hosted by the Notre Dame Technology Ethics Center, the three-hour virtual event will feature a keynote by New York Times bestselling author Cathy O’Neil titled “Algorithms: For whom do they fail?” Attendees will also hear from a wide range of experts who will discuss the root causes of and potential solutions to lessening algorithmic bias.

The conference is free and open to the public, with presentations geared toward a general audience. For a complete list of speakers or to register, visit
https://think.nd.edu/registration-tech-ethics/.

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Research offers new way to forecast COVID-19 cases, study impact of public health measures https://news.nd.edu/news/analytics-professors-research-offers-new-way-to-forecast-covid-19-cases-study-impact-of-public-health-measures/ news_130427 2020-10-28T15:00:00-0400 Melissa Jackson A statistical estimation technique developed by a Notre Dame researcher offers public health officials a new way to build short-term forecasts of coronavirus diagnoses and deaths.

Research offers new way to forecast COVID-19 cases, study impact of public health measures

Melissa Jackson

A statistical estimation technique developed by a University of Notre Dame researcher offers public health officials a new way to build short-term forecasts of coronavirus diagnoses and deaths. It also provides additional insight into the effectiveness of earlier pandemic mitigation measures in 30 countries.

As the COVID-19 pandemic began to spread globally in early 2020, doctors and policymakers emphasized the need to “flatten the curve,” or slow the spread of the virus over time. Zifeng Zhao, an assistant business analytics professor at Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business, and his colleagues, Feiyu Jiang of Tsinghua University and Xiaofeng Shao of the University of Illinois, wanted to build a statistical framework that could demonstrate if and how various policy interventions impacted the spread and death. They also wanted to provide a way for countries to understand the unique growth rate pattern within their borders.

Web Zifeng Zhao
Zifeng Zhao

“Our study aims to provide an accurate statistical model for the trajectory of the cumulative confirmed cases and deaths of COVID-19 in a given country, for example in the U.S.,” Zhao said. “With an accurate statistical model, we can better understand the historical dynamics of the pandemic and if past public health interventions helped slow down the transmission. Furthermore, we can produce better forecasts of future confirmed cases, thus providing crucial information for data-driven public health decision-making.”

They documented their work in “Time Series Analysis of COVID-19 Infection Curve: A Change-Point Perspective,” forthcoming in the Journal of Econometrics.

Recognizing that the speed of the virus’s spread would change over time as governments and health officials mounted responses, the researchers used a time series analysis called a “piecewise linear model” to study the changes. The model allows researchers to look at the trajectory of cases and deaths and study the pace before and after governments enacted different measures to address the pandemic.

However, to do so, researchers needed a way to accurately account for unknown temporal dependencies in their data.

“The key difficulty of the piecewise linear model is that we do not know when the potential phase transitions of the pandemic growth happened beforehand, and thus we need to develop a statistical estimation technique to accurately estimate the unknown phase transition dates, aka change points, from the observed COVID-19 data,” Zhao explained. His research centers on change-point detection, an algorithmic technique used to detect changes or structural breaks in chronologically organized data points. Typically, such algorithms assume temporal independence in the data.

“The new change-point detection technique we developed extends the literature of change-point detection under unknown temporal dependence. We also developed some new theoretical tools to justify the proposed technique,” Zhao said.

Their model revealed similar spread patterns among countries with geographical proximity, particularly in continental Europe and developing Latin American countries.

“In addition,” they wrote, “the transition date from rapid growth phases to moderate growth phases is typically associated with the initiation of emergency measures such as lockdown and mass testing with contact tracing, which partially provides evidence that strict social distancing rules help slow down the virus growth and flatten the curve. Moreover, our analysis further indicates that compared to developed countries, most developing countries are still in the early stages of the pandemic and are generally less efficient in terms of controlling the spread of coronavirus, thus may need more international aids to help contain the epidemic.”

The researchers also demonstrate in their paper how the model can be used to make short-term predictions of COVID-19 cases and deaths. Their model is not intended to replace those built on epidemiology principles, they note. Rather, said Zhao, it offers public health officials a “simple and effective way to study the dynamics of the epidemic and to generate accurate one-week and two-week ahead forecasts of confirmed cases/deaths of COVID-19, which could provide crucial information for data-driven public health decision-making.”

In July, Zhao received a three-year, $100,000 National Science Foundation award for a project to develop a new statistical methodology and theory for change-point analysis of time series data. He teaches predictive analytics at the undergraduate and graduate level.

Originally posted on Mendoza News.

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Notre Dame adds 24/7 telehealth access to support students’ medical and mental health needs https://news.nd.edu/news/notre-dame-adds-24-7-telehealth-access-to-support-students-medical-and-mental-health-needs/ news_130369 2020-10-27T12:00:00-0400 Kate Morgan As part of the University of Notre Dame’s ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic, all enrolled students now have free and immediate access to medical and mental health visits through TimelyMD, a telehealth company that specializes in higher education.

Notre Dame adds 24/7 telehealth access to support students’ medical and mental health needs

Kate Morgan

As part of the University of Notre Dame’s ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic, all enrolled students now have free and immediate access to medical and mental health visits through TimelyMD, a telehealth company that specializes in higher education.

The new program, called Fighting Irish Care, offers students an additional resource for campus health, with medical care, mental health counseling and health coaching programs specifically designed for college students. The program gives students 24/7 access to free medical and/or one-time mental health counseling visits from licensed physicians and counselors, anytime and from anywhere in the United States.

“Fighting Irish Care is another addition to our growing list of student support services and a natural extension of the telehealth services currently offered by University Health Services and the University Counseling Center,” said Christine Caron Gebhardt, assistant vice president for health and wellness. “I’m thrilled students now have immediate access to health care and mental health support regardless of their needs or physical location to campus.” 

For students, seeking care is as easy as making a video call. From an app on their phone or other device, students can see the profiles, faces and basic details of a diverse range of medical providers or mental health counselors available to them. They can choose to meet with a specific provider or select the first available. Typically, students have a video consultation with someone within 5-10 minutes.

TimelyMD enhances campus resources by helping to limit the spread of illness, remove the stigma of mental health counseling and grant peace of mind to students and their families. While 75 percent of college students in a recent survey said their mental health has worsened since the pandemic began, fewer than 30 percent have tried teletherapy as a coping strategy. Fighting Irish Care is one more strategy Notre Dame offers to break down barriers and increase access for students in need.

“Virtual access to medical and mental health counseling has never been more important, especially for college students who may be learning remotely, need care after hours and prefer to do so privately on their own devices,” said Luke Hejl, chief executive officer of TimelyMD. “Continuing classes on campus means anticipating and addressing the concerns, needs and demands of students and their families.”

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Cancer cells mediate immune suppression in the brain https://news.nd.edu/news/cancer-cells-mediate-immune-suppression-in-the-brain/ news_130387 2020-10-27T11:00:00-0400 Deanna Csomo McCool In newly published research in the journal Cell, researchers showed that one type of cell important for immunity, called a myeloid cell, can suppress the immune response — which has the effect of allowing breast cancer cells to metastasize to the brain to form secondary tumor cells there.

Cancer cells mediate immune suppression in the brain

Deanna Csomo McCool

Scientists have long believed that the brain protects itself from an aggressive immune response to keep down inflammation. However, that evolutionary control may work against it when a cancer cell attempts to spread to the brain, researchers at the University of Notre Dame have discovered.

In newly published research in the journal Cell, researchers showed that one type of cell important for immunity, called a myeloid cell, can suppress the immune response — which has the effect of allowing breast cancer cells to metastasize to the brain to form secondary tumor cells there.

“We wanted to understand how the brain immune environment responds to the tumor, and there are so many different cells, and so many changes,” said Siyuan Zhang, the Dee Associate Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, a researcher for Harper Cancer Research Institute and a co-author on the paper. “The traditional belief was that the process described in this paper would be anti-tumor, but in our case, after a lot of experimenting, we discovered it is a proponent of metastasis.”

Through single-cell sequencing — not powerful enough even a few years ago for this type of work — and an imaging technique, the researchers discovered that a myeloid cell type called microglia promoted the outgrowth of breast cancer that has spread to the brain by the expression of several proteins. The microglia release one protein — an immune cell-attracting protein called CXCL10 — to recruit more microglia to the metastasis. All these microglia express a protein named VISTA, which serves as protection against brain inflammation. But when faced with a cancer cell, this two-part process suppressed important T-cells. T-cells, which heighten the body’s immune response, would usually prevent the spread of cancer throughout the body.

The activation of the VISTA checkpoint had not previously been known as a potential promoter of brain metastasis, said the paper’s lead author, Ian Guldner, a graduate student in Zhang’s lab. In addition to using a mouse model for the research, the team used data mining techniques to validate how humans’ brains would respond. 

Clinically, the discovery is relevant, because antibodies have been developed that blocked VISTA in humans, Guldner said. However, significant additional work needs to be performed to ensure the safe and effective use of VISTA-blocking antibodies in people with brain metastases.

Learning about the structures within cells in the brain will help researchers not only understand cancer, but also degenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer’s, Zhang said.

“The brain immune system is a very active field, since brain cells are dysregulated during the aging process,” Zhang said. “There is so much to learn.”

In addition to Guldner and Zhang, other collaborators include Qingfei Wang, Lin Yang, Samantha Golomb, Zhuo Zhao, Jacqueline A. Lopez, Abigail Brunory, Erin Howe, Yizhe Zhang, Bhavana Palakurthi, Martin Barron, Hongyu Gao, Xiaoling Xuei, Yunlong Liu, Jun Li, Danny Chen, all of Notre Dame, and Gary E. Landreth, part of the Indiana University School of Medicine Stark Neurosciences Research Institute in Indianapolis. Zhang is also affiliated with the Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center, also in Indianapolis.

The research was funded by three grants from the National Institutes of Health, a Notre Dame CRND Catalyst award and the Nancy Dee Family Endowment.

Contact: Jessica Sieff, assistant director of media relations, 574-631-3933, jsieff@nd.edu

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Notre Dame partners with Fulbright COMEXUS to strengthen ties between US, Mexico universities https://news.nd.edu/news/notre-dame-partners-with-fulbright-comexus-to-strengthen-ties-between-u-s-and-mexico-universities/ news_130356 2020-10-27T08:00:00-0400 Colleen Wilcox The University of Notre Dame and partners are now accepting applications for the Becas Fulbright-García Robles COMEXUS Mexico Studies Chair, which funds a senior scholar from a Mexican university to be in residence for a semester.

Notre Dame partners with Fulbright COMEXUS to strengthen ties between US, Mexico universities

Colleen Wilcox
30 Aniversario

The University of Notre Dame and partners are now accepting applications for the Becas Fulbright-García Robles COMEXUS Mexico Studies Chair, which funds a senior scholar from a Mexican university to be in residence for a semester.

As part of the new program, Notre Dame International has partnered with the Kellogg Institute for International Studies to bring social scientists and humanists to Notre Dame to teach courses about Mexico as a Kellogg Institute visiting fellow. The call for applications for fall 2021 runs through Nov. 25. The profile of this particular chair will focus on democracy and development.

“We are very pleased to be partnering with NDI and COMEXUS on this distinctive research opportunity,” said Donald Stelluto, executive director for the Kellogg Institute. “The Kellogg Institute has long valued and fostered collaborative research. This opportunity to welcome a senior scholar from Mexico will strengthen the institute’s academic and collegial networks in Latin America and present a new avenue for us and our visiting scholars to focus together on the study of critical questions around democracy and development in Mexico.”

The program, which launched in 2016, aims to create and strengthen ties between U.S. academic and higher education institutions in Mexico, as well as promote greater knowledge of Mexico in the U.S.

"We are very excited about this partnership and the opportunity it creates to build new relationships throughout Mexico by bringing senior scholars to Notre Dame,” says Mike Talbot, director for initiatives in Mexico at the Mexico City Global Center. “This program will seed research collaboration long into the future."

While the core of this program is a course, the fellow will also organize an event or seminar on Mexico, fostering discussion in the Notre Dame community, and will develop research on a relevant topic.

"This collaboration is particularly relevant as Mexico elected in 2018 a president with the highest popular support in 50 years,” says Hazel Blackmore, executive director of COMEXUS. “The initiative between Notre Dame and COMEXUS is the cherry on the cake to an informal collaboration between the two institutions that has been constant and productive over the years within the framework of other FGR programs.”

Notre Dame is the sixth partner to this initiative that includes the University of Chicago; the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque; the University of California, San Diego; the University of Southern California, Los Angeles; and Juniata College.

The Becas Fulbright-García Robles scholarship is awarded to candidates with Mexican nationality and permanent residency in Mexico. The deadline is Nov. 25. Requirements and application information can be found here.

Originally published by Colleen Wilcox at mexicocity.nd.edu on Oct. 22.

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Spatial repellents significantly reduce infections of mosquito-borne viruses, study finds https://news.nd.edu/news/spatial-repellents-significantly-reduce-infections-of-mosquito-borne-viruses-study-finds/ news_130366 2020-10-27T08:00:00-0400 Jessica Sieff The Iquitos trial was part of a multi-year effort led by scientists at the University of Notre Dame to determine the protective efficacy of spatial repellents to prevent human infection with pathogens that cause diseases such as malaria, Zika and dengue, spread through mosquito bites.

Spatial repellents significantly reduce infections of mosquito-borne viruses, study finds

Jessica Sieff

Spatial repellents can reduce the risk of people becoming infected with Aedes mosquito-borne viruses, according to new results of a clinical trial conducted in Iquitos, Peru. Results of the Peru trial are encouraging — study participants whose houses contained the spatial repellent were 34 percent less likely to become infected with Aedes mosquito-borne viruses compared to other study participants who received the placebo product without the repellent.

The Iquitos trial was part of a multi-year effort led by scientists at the University of Notre Dame to determine the protective efficacy of spatial repellents to prevent human infection with pathogens that cause diseases such as malaria, Zika and dengue, spread through mosquito bites.

“This is the first clinical trial to conclusively show a spatial repellent can protect against Aedes-borne virus infection in humans — a seminal milestone in research and development of spatial repellents as an effective intervention in disease control programs,” said Nicole L. Achee, co-principal investigator of the study and a research professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Notre Dame. “This outcome contributes to building evidence that spatial repellents have the potential to improve public health in areas of the world where mosquito-borne diseases are a significant burden. We are thrilled.

According to the World Health Organization, cases of dengue fever have increased exponentially since 2000, with an estimated 390 million infections reported each year and more than 40 percent of the world’s population at risk. The most recent Zika outbreak occurred in 2015-16. While symptoms of Zika are generally mild, it can result in several complications for women infected during pregnancy, including microcephaly and congenital abnormalities in newborns and Guillain-Barré syndrome. To date, 86 countries and territories have reported evidence of mosquito-transmitted Zika infection, and there are no known treatments.

The Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes that can transmit these viruses typically live in and around homes and prefer to bite people during the daytime, characteristics that lead to a high probability of people being bitten as they engage in their daily routines.

Spatial repellents release an active ingredient into the air to inhibit certain insect behaviors such as biting and feeding and to encourage movement away from a treated space. Achee and co-principal investigator Neil Lobo, research professor of medical entomology at Notre Dame, evaluated a passive spatial repellent emanator developed by SC Johnson for public health use in households susceptible to transmission of both dengue and Zika. The team conducted a cluster-randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial, which took place over the course of two years. The same team conducted a similar trial in Indonesia that focused on evaluating the impact of the same spatial repellent on malaria transmission. That study showed promising results with an approximate 28 percent reduction in first-time infection, while randomized village clusters with low to medium baseline malaria transmission saw an approximate 41 percent reduction in overall malaria infection.

“The significant epidemiological and entomological outcome of this study demonstrates that the spatial repellent paradigm can reduce morbidity associated with mosquito-borne diseases,” Lobo said. “The focus of this research is collecting evidence that clarifies an understanding of what’s needed to protect the world’s most vulnerable people from these diseases and directs decision-making strategies and policy for that purpose. We are excited to make this important step forward.”

The study included enrollment of 18,000 Iquitos residents in 2,400 households and real-time data management by collaborators at University of California, Davis. The spatial repellent was replaced in enrolled households twice per month by a study team led by the U.S. Naval Medical Research Unit Six in Peru.

The primary results of the Peru study come in conjunction with a report issued by the World Health Organization’s Vector Control Advisory Group. The group assesses evidence on the epidemiological effectiveness of new vector control interventions and supports WHO’s development of global policy recommendations, including the potential use of spatial repellents as a public health vector control strategy.

Site principal investigators include Amy C. Morrison and Thomas W. Scott, both of the University of California, Davis, partnering with the U.S. Naval Medical Research Unit Six. Notre Dame’s Center for Research Computing assisted with the development of the Peru trial database design. Statistical analyses were performed by Robert C. Reiner Jr. of the Department of Health Metrics Sciences, University of Washington. 

Both Achee and Lobo are affiliated members of Notre Dame's Eck Institute for Global Health.

Funding for the study was provided by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. SC Johnson funded and developed the spatial repellent, and donated product for use in the study.

For more information on the project, visit spatialrepellents.nd.edu.

 

Contact: Jessica Sieff, assistant director of media relations, 574-631-3933, jsieff@nd.edu

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Statement from Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., on Justice Amy Coney Barrett https://news.nd.edu/news/statement-from-rev-john-i-jenkins-c-s-c-on-justice-amy-coney-barrett/ news_130358 2020-10-26T16:00:00-0400 Notre Dame News On behalf of the University of Notre Dame, I congratulate Amy Coney Barrett on her confirmation today by the United States Senate as a justice of the United States Supreme Court. 

Statement from Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., on Justice Amy Coney Barrett

Notre Dame News

On behalf of the University of Notre Dame, I congratulate Amy Coney Barrett on her confirmation today by the United States Senate as a justice of the United States Supreme Court. Recognized by experts from across the spectrum of judicial philosophies as a superb legal scholar and judge, she is an esteemed colleague and a teacher revered by her students. Justice Barrett becomes the first alumna of Notre Dame Law School and the first Notre Dame faculty member to be so honored. We join her family and friends in celebrating this momentous achievement, and we assure Justice Barrett and all her colleagues on the nation’s highest court of our continued prayers in their work of administering justice and upholding the Constitution.

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Statement by Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., on Pope Francis elevating Archbishop Wilton Gregory to cardinal https://news.nd.edu/news/statement-by-rev-john-i-jenkins-c-s-c-on-pope-francis-elevating-archbishop-wilton-gregory-to-cardinal/ news_130362 2020-10-26T15:00:00-0400 Notre Dame News "We offer Archbishop Gregory our warmest congratulations on his elevation to cardinal by Pope Francis and assure him of our prayers and support."

Statement by Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., on Pope Francis elevating Archbishop Wilton Gregory to cardinal

Notre Dame News

"We offer Archbishop Gregory our warmest congratulations on his elevation to cardinal by Pope Francis and assure him of our prayers and support. The University bestowed an honorary degree on Archbishop Gregory in 2012, having long admired his pastoral compassion and courageous voice. Archbishop Gregory's appointment as the first African American cardinal is particularly important at this critical moment in our nation’s struggle for racial justice and equality."

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