Targeting Ebola 2015 Meeting: Upcoming (May 28-29, 2015)

NEAR THE END OF THIS MONTH there will be an exciting, important and informative conference bringing together many of the world’s scientists and medical doctors who are focused on Ebola.


The title of the conference is Targeting Ebola: Recent Advances and Strategies.

There will be presentations by epidemiologists, drug developers, vaccine developers and a presentation on early detection (diagnostics), molecular biologists, structural biologists, results from clinical trials, information on immune responses in bats, and more.

I am very interested to learn the possibility of late-stage EVD treatment of vascular leak by Petra Wülfroth of F4 Pharma in Germany.  This is really new.

From the program:

“While there is no licensed treatment yet available for EVD, a range of blood, immunological and drug therapies are under development and two potential vaccine candidates are undergoing evaluation, according to the WHO. Targeting Ebola 2015 will provide a unique and cutting edge conference to discuss the recent advances, strategies and challenges of all Ebola fields. The keynote lectures given by leading scientists, as well as poster presentations covering various aspects of Ebola infection. During Ebola 2015 a Practical approach will address and discuss different strategies and challenges (short and long term) across the entire innovation cycle. We will discuss about the vaccine candidates available and the ability to roll out clinical trial vaccination programmes in EU / Africa, and how to conduct studies in areas where Ebola virus disease is endemic. We will highlight how a rapid diagnostics can detect EVD at acceptable costs and with very high sensitivity and specificity. We will invite academics and industrials to discuss strategies to treat Ebola infection by innovative drugs, Immunotherapy and others. We will take en consideration the Ethical and political issues of this strategic problem. The topics of the Ebola 2015 cover many sessions:

*Ebola virus disease: where are we now and where do we go?

*The Hemorrhagic Fever Viruses: Recent Advances

*Virus-Host Interactions: State-of-the-Art

*Epidemiology: The Current Situation

*The Diagnostic Tools

*Treatment & Vaccines

*Operational Researches: Present & Future”

I have been asked to write a summary of the proceedings of the meeting for the web, so watch this space!


Getting A Feel for Authoring

Recently had the pleasure of going over the galleys of “Ebola”, and nearly 3/4 of the ways done with “Cures”, I’m getting to experience some of the perks of the life of an author.  For some reason, people open up to authors more, and want to share more ideas (which of course, I love).  I think part of it is that during the process of writing “Ebola”, I became a much better listener.   I had years of experience listening to investigators discuss their research plans, but I had a particular vested interest in those discussions: I wanted to effect the outcome of their research, and was trying to sell them my collaboration as a service.   I think being an author tells people that you’re interested in the human condition.

As an author, I’m finding that people from all walks of life open up to me, and really want to share all of their thoughts about a particular topic.  And I’ve found that I’m getting very good at bridging political, ideological and religious barriers.   There is something about the status of being an author on a scientific topic that causes most – emphasis on “most” – to afford one a tad more credibility.  I emphasize “most” because the reverse is true among experts in biodefense: they want me to prove that I have sufficient knowledge before they will brook a conversation!  Hopefully thus far I have not dissatisfied too many.

People from all walks of life know a lot more about some fairly complex issues than most in the biomedical field give them credit for.  They are aware of the issues – and they want to share their own understanding.  That’s why I think “Cures” will be very well received.  There are plenty of myths, and rumors about the evils of biomedicine – but there are just as many truths that are worth learning about.  Not all of the truths are pretty, but many are.  So in “Cures”, I’m focusing on finding the ever-elusive silver linings in tough topics like ADHD overdiagnosis.  It’s all too easy to sit on a rocking chair on my figurative front porch and complain to Gracie, or my neighbor, who sometimes comes over for iced tea, about how bad it is, and end the conversation with “Well, whaddya gonna do about it”?

The fact is, writing on these topics is empowering for me.  I have found a particular niche, and a particular combination of writing style that people say they like.  I mix the scientific literature with citations from the media – and quotes from experts – get all the peer-reviewed research results I can, and, using the combined powers of logic and passion for ending human pain and suffering, strive for a conversational, non-condescending tone, and somehow it comes out… interesting and informative.

People constantly ask me what my next book project will be, and right now, with “Cures”, when I describe the content, every person I have discussed it with has affirmed that they have heard that doctors don’t want cures, they want treatments, because treatments make them money.  Talk about taking a bull by the horns!  ADHD overdiagnosis and overtreatment, grapefruit and blood pressure, fecal microbiota transplants, mammograms, with an eye on history, and evolutionary biology, all open topics with plenty of confumantission among the public given discordant results from studies.  A contemplative, meditative, thorough treatment of the topics with the goal of identifying the positives… well it’s hard work, but it’s rewarding in its own right.  I’m learning a lot, too, which of course makes me happy.  The work will no doubt not be the last word on these complex topics, but I hope that my effort will help others understand what is known, what is not known, what is fact, and what is myth, when they hear that doctors don’t want to help patients with cures.  (Hint on the bottom line: there are attributes that tend to common to successful translational research studies, so motives be damned, I get to call out the good guys AND the bad guys – and I celebrate the good ones more than dwell on the bad).

If you’re an author, feel free to share w/me your transformative experiences as the world reacted to your “author” personality as opposed to your “scholar” personality.