Sackler hosts ‘Re-View’ exhibition

first_imgIn June, with an ambitious renovation in mind, Harvard closed the doors of 32 Quincy St., a stately fixture on campus since 1927.But by 2013, the University’s three art museums — now collectively known as the Harvard Art Museum — will take up residence there in one major facility.The move will integrate disparate collections from the Arthur M. Sackler, Fogg, and Busch-Reisinger museums. It will also ease conservation efforts, underscore a University-wide education mission in visual culture, and improve for viewers and scholars alike the accessibility of Harvard’s more than 260,000 works of art.In the meantime, a representative fraction of the collections will be available to the University community and the wider public, said Thomas W. Lentz, the Harvard Art Museum’s Elizabeth and John Moors Cabot director. “We very much wanted to counter the notion that we were going to drop off the radar screen for five years.”Ergo: “Re-View,” a distillation of the University’s diverse art collections that has been two years in the planning. The long-term exhibit opens this Saturday (Sept. 13) at the Sackler on Broadway, the one University art museum unaffected by a renovation Lentz called “very complex [and] very expensive.”“Re-View” is also a kind of preview, he said. It will showcase the sort of visual and intellectual synergies that a combined collection will inspire at the new Quincy Street space.“This exhibit represents a first step towards thinking about how the three collections can be in greater dialogue,” said Lentz. “How they can begin to talk more effectively and more imaginatively with one another.”Curators from all three museums designed the first-time combinational show as a compact representation of the familiar, the pedagogically rich, and the previously unseen.The ground-floor gallery will show European and American art since 1900. Visitors can enjoy once again the eccentric cheer of Emil Nolde’s “The Mulatto” (1913) and the stylish calm of Max Beckmann’s “Self-Portrait in Tuxedo” (1927).The second-floor galleries allow a glimpse of the Sackler’s treasures of Asian and Islamic art, from 5000 B.C.E. to the present.A seated Buddha from eighth century China gazes back at you, his rounded chest ready to heave out a breath held for more than a thousand years. On a nearby slip-painted Meiping bottle, dark butterflies hover, ready to alight on a peony that flowered in the 13th century.But the visual centerpiece of the second-floor display is a child-size horse of lead-glazed earthenware. Its erect knotted tail, arched neck, and open-mouthed whinny makes it as fierce as the real thing was in second century China.“Standing Saddled Horse with Roman-style Bridal Ornaments” is also a good example of how “Re-View” so succinctly puts the art on display into context, making education — if not enlightenment — inevitable. Such large Arabian horses, the caption points out, were favored over native Mongolian ponies — and the Roman bridal gear was a sign of early Western influence on China via the Silk Road.On the fourth floor, a series of galleries invites the viewer into the resonant presence of painting, sculpture, and objects from mainly Western traditions, starting with antiquity through the 19th century.With so much art going into relatively little space — “We erred on the side of including more,” said Lentz — each gallery is a puzzle palace of artful adjacencies.Some of the juxtapositions are surprises to curator and viewer alike, said Harvard senior lecturer on history Ivan Gaskell, the Margaret S. Winthrop Curator in the Painting, Sculpture, and Decorative Arts. Others are intentional, he said.In one gallery, Gaskell arranged a 1916 bronze model of Daniel Chester French’s Lincoln Memorial just opposite a bust of Longfellow by Edmonia Lewis. She’s the 19th century black and Native American sculptress whose Boston patrons were once the cream of the abolitionist movement.In the fourth-floor space, viewers can also see the wild Nemean lion of classical lore be strangled twice by Hercules: once on a ceramic Greek amphora from around 500 B.C.E. (which also illustrates the black-figured, incised-detail silhouette technique of that era) and a second time just steps away, in an energetic oil-on-panel of the same scene, painted around 1639 by Peter Paul Reubens.In the next of seven bright rooms of art, the viewer gets to see Hercules in a less heroic guise — dressed in a woman’s bonnet and jewelry, in a vividly detailed painting done by Lucas Cranch around 1535. (The bearded strongman, as punishment for killing a friend, had to dress and work as a woman for three years.)The artful juxtapositions of “Re-View” are technical too. In one fourth-floor alcove, viewers can see side-by-side examples of watercolors rendered over graphite on white woven paper. Winslow Homer’s 1881 “Fisher Folk in Dory” looks tight and detailed next to John Singer Sargent’s soft-edged and light-filled “Artist in the Simplon” from 1910-11.Gaskell called the three-museum show “an exercise in how all the collections cohere.”“Re-View” is also a celebration of works that for years have been favorites at the Fogg and elsewhere.Visitors can savor anew Sarah Miriam Peale’s “Still Life with Watermelon” (1822); gaze at Winslow Homer’s “Pitching Quoits” (1865); marvel at the hulking pastel potency of Franz Marc’s “Grazing Horses IV” (1911); feel the pre-Impressionist calm of Jean Frédéric Bazille’s “Summer Scene” (1869); and study the weight of sadness in Rembrandt van Rijn’s “Bust of an Old Man” (1672).In the fourth floor’s last gallery is preserved most of the Fogg’s Maurice Wertheim Collection. It’s a familiar and still stunning brief tour through the brushstroke worlds of Monet, Degas, Dufy, Rousseau, Manet, Renoir, Picasso, Gauguin, Matisse, and Cézanne.Only here can you see (and nearly hear) the long-gone clop of a carriage horse on the Nice boardwalk in Henri de Toulouse Lautrec’s “The Black Countess” (1881), a work of astonishing energy for an artist then just 17 years old.“Re-View” — with its blends of the familiar and the strange — is an attempt to collect and extol “the history of visual thinking and creativity,” said Lentz. “It’s a test run on a very small scale of what we hope 32 Quincy St. will be when it reopens.”last_img read more

Bonnie Raitt Welcomes Warren Haynes, Alison Krauss During Outlaw Music Festival Stop In Philadelphia [Videos]

first_imgWillie Nelson‘s Outlaw Music Festival powered its way to Philadelphia, PA on Friday as the multi-artist tour stopped into the city’s The Mann Center for the Performing Arts. Friday’s lineup of musicians once again treated fans to some guest sit-ins throughout the evening, most notably when Bonnie Raitt welcomed both Warren Haynes and Alison Krauss for a pair of covers during her set.Related: Willie Nelson Welcomes Phil Lesh & The Terrapin Family Band, The Revivalists Members In HartfordThe first sit-in during Raitt’s set featured Mr. Haynes, who had already performed earlier in the day with his band Gov’t Mule. Haynes helped Raitt and her band deliver a cover of B.B. King‘s “Never Make Your Move Too Soon”, which has been in the Raitt setlist for years. Watch the bluesy performance of the B.B. King tune below.Bonnie Raitt with Warren Haynes – “Never Make Your Move Too Soon” – 9/13/2019[Video: sneaker face vids]Afterward, Raitt welcomed Krauss to the stage to help cover John Prine‘s “Angel From Montgomery”, just as she’d done the week prior during an Outlaw Tour stop at Saratoga Performing Arts Center. Watch the performance from Friday below.Bonnie Raitt with Alison Krauss – “Angel From Montgomery” – 9/13/2019The Outlaw Music Festival continues on Sunday with a stop at Coastal Credit Union Music Park at Walnut Creek in Raleigh, NC. Head to Nelson’s website for tickets and tour info.[H/T JamBase]last_img read more

Body of Notre Dame student Annrose Jerry found in St. Mary’s Lake

first_imgNotre Dame announced in an email that 21-year-old senior Annrose Jerry’s body was recovered from St. Mary’s Lake on Friday around noon. There is no sign of foul play.The body is scheduled for an autopsy Saturday morning at the Northeast Indiana Forensic Center, Sam Walsh of the St. Joseph County Coroner’s Office confirmed. via Google Maps Jerry, who was living in Breen-Phillips Hall, was reported missing after last being seen Tuesday at 8:45 p.m. near the Coleman-Morse Center. The Indiana State Police issued a Silver Alert on Thursday and said Jerry was “believed to be in extreme danger and may require medical assistance.” The Silver Alert was canceled at about 2:45 p.m. on Friday.According to an email obtained by The Observer, on the days she was reported missing, Jerry had missed an appointment at the University Counseling Center, failed to show up to class and missed Folk Choir practice for the first time this semester.Jerry was a member of the Folk Choir and Glynn Family Honors program, among other activities.On Thursday night, director of Campus Ministry Fr. Pete McCormick led a prayer service in Breen-Phillips to pray for Jerry’s safe return.Authorities arrived at a part of the lake directly across from Lyons Hall on Friday morning. At approximately 11:45 a.m., police told all unauthorized personnel to “clear the area” and boat crews were seen entering the lake. “It is with heavy hearts that we write to share with you that Annrose Jerry, a senior science-business major who lived in Breen-Phillips Hall, has died,” said the email announcement, which was signed by University President Fr. John Jenkins, dean of the College of Science Mary Galvin and vice president for student affairs Erin Hoffmann Harding.A Mass was held on Friday at 9 p.m. in the Breen-Phillips Hall Chapel.“My heart is so heavy, and I share in sorrow with you,” wrote Angela Hollar, the rector of Breen-Phillips Hall, in an email to the dorm community.The University Counseling Center (574-631-7336) and Campus Ministry (574-631-7800) are both available to support community members during this time.Tags: Annrose Jerry, body found, St. Mary’s Lakelast_img read more

VPR names Scott Finn as its new president and CEO

first_imgVermont Business Magazine The Vermont Public Radio Board of Directors has appointed Scott Finn as its new President and CEO. VPR announced the appointment today. Finn, 46, is the CEO and Executive Director of West Virginia Public Broadcasting(link is external) (WVPB), a public radio and television network with a statewide audience of more than 2 million. During his tenure, Finn oversaw the transformation of the organization, enhancing its financial sustainability and overhauling content and programming to dramatically increase fundraising and audience. He also led the network to adopt its first formal strategic plan, which resulted in the station launching the national podcast Us and Them, doubling the number of stations carrying its NPR music program Mountain Stage and creating its health reporting project, Appalachia Health News.VPR has named Scott Finn its new President and CEO. WVPB photo.Finn was selected after the board conducted an intensive national search. He will take over for Robin Turnau, who is wrapping up(link is external) a 29-year career at VPR, including the last nine years as president & CEO.”We are grateful for the leadership of Robin Turnau,” said Peggy Williams, chair of the VPR board of directors. “The work that she has done with the talented and capable staff is impressive: our revenues and audience numbers are the strongest they’ve ever been, we’ve successfully completed a transformational $10 million capital campaign and we are implementing a strategic plan that will increase our public service to the region.”We have found in Scott Finn a forward-thinking and experienced leader who comes to VPR at a crucial time,” said Williams. “We are impressed with his extensive experience in the world of public media, his familiarity with rural communities, his engaging manner and authentic leadership style. We know he will be welcomed by our audience and community of members as he leads the organization to even greater heights.”VPR’s current strategic plan sets a vision to “explore the whole Vermont story, together.” The plan includes five broad initiatives for the station in the coming years: building a financially sustainable service, innovating in news and enterprise reporting, channeling the inspiration of VPR’s audience into support, using VPR’s facilities to expand the dimension of its public service, and communicating and collaborating to create meaningful relationships and essential content internally and externally.Robin Turnau’s career at VPR began in 1989. She has been President & CEO since 2009. VPR photo by Daria Bishop“VPR’s audience, supporters, staff, board and especially Robin have built an incredible organization, one that is well-known and respected across the country,” Finn said. “What makes me most excited to work at VPR is its vision of ‘exploring the whole Vermont story, together.’ It would be easy for such a successful organization to rest on its laurels, but the staff and board have a greater ambition – to reach and reflect the voices of all Vermonters, from all backgrounds and corners of the state and beyond.“To realize this vision I’ll need help. I’ll be spending my first several months at VPR listening and getting to know Vermonters. Teach me about Vermont and how VPR can do an even better job serving the community,” Finn said.WVPB is governed by the West Virginia Educational Broadcasting Authority. EBA Chairman Bill File said the board plans to appoint an interim CEO and launch a nationwide search for a replacement.“On behalf of the Educational Broadcasting Authority, we are sorry to see Scott leave West Virginia Public Broadcasting. He has done an outstanding job and has led us through some challenging times,” File said.“Thanks to his vision and leadership, West Virginia Public Broadcasting is stronger and better than it has ever been. With the commitment of thousands of supporters throughout the state, and with the support of the Governor and Legislature this past year, we are excited about the future of Public Broadcasting in West Virginia.“Although I personally hate to see Scott leave, I thank him for his tireless efforts to improve West Virginia Public Broadcasting and wish nothing but the best for him and his family in Vermont.”Prior to his leadership of WVPB, Finn spent more than a decade building multimedia news departments at WVPB and WUSF Public Media in Tampa. Under his management, the teams won national Edward R. Murrow and Peabody awards. Before that, Finn was an award-winning reporter at the Charleston Gazette, where he was nationally recognized for his coverage of issues ranging from business news to drug addiction.As a public media executive, Finn is an active contributor to the national dialogue about public media’s future. He helped created the multi-station news collaboration called the Ohio Valley ReSource. He also is part of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting’s Future Business Strategies Initiative and NPR’s Collaborative Coverage Committee, which is creating a more robust local/national news network in public media.Finn holds an MA in Journalism from University of Missouri-Columbia and a BA from Harvard University. He grew up in rural Iowa, and after college served two years as a community organizer in Big Ugly Creek, West Virginia. He also founded the Appalread Family Literacy Corps program in rural West Virginia, and on the side, he says he was “a really, really bad whitewater rafting guide.”Finn is married to Wendy Radcliff, a lawyer, a former West Virginia Assistant Attorney General, and former environmental advocate for the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection. Wendy and Scott have two children: Iris, 15, and Max, 12.About VPRListener-supported Vermont Public Radio has been serving the people of Vermont and the surrounding region since 1977. As Vermont’s only statewide public radio network, VPR is an essential and trusted source for independent journalism, music discovery and powerful stories, NPR programming and much more. VPR is one of the most listened-to public radio stations, per capita, in the country, serving more than 229,000 listeners each week on 27 stations statewide, as well as audiences at, via smartphones and other mobile devices, smart speakers and podcasts.Source: VPR 3.22.2018last_img read more

Despite some reservations, Shawnee planning commission advances scaled-down plan for Westbrooke Green

first_imgBob Johnson, Polsinelli attorney representing Westbrooke Green developersDespite reservations from some members, the Shawnee planning commission last night agreed that a revised, scaled down plan for Westbrooke Green, a multimillion-dollar mixed-use project on the northeast corner of 75th and Quivira, still generally conforms to the intent of the city’s comprehensive plan.The planning commission had agreed in November 2017 that the project was consistent with the city’s comprehensive plan. Representatives with MP Westbrooke North LLC, the developer, said they have been working on plans that fit the site; they have found the revised plans would better suit the character of the neighborhood.Westbrooke Green is one of a handful of projects getting extra scrutiny from city leaders, as the developer has received public incentives in the form of tax increment financing to help fund the development.Bob Johnson, an attorney from Polsinelli representing the developer on the project, said they are now requesting $14 million in TIF funds for the roughly $90.2 million project.Doug Allmon, community development director for Shawnee, said the developer “slightly” revised project plans to have fewer apartment units on site, as well as a reconfiguration of the retail components.Here are the details of the revised project plan on the roughly 32-acre site:Construction of about 107,600 square feet of new and repurposed commercial/restaurant space, including 4 new restaurant pad sites and 2 newly renovated existing structures (slightly less than 108,500 square feet of commercial space approved in original project plan)Construction of about 343 market-rate multi-family residential units in 3 multi-story buildings with surface parking (down from 530 luxury units in five buildings)Construction of a village green open space, a walking trail system, carports for residential tenants and a pond amenityInfrastructure improvements including traffic infrastructure, stormwater treatment facilities, stormwater collection facilities, parking areas, landscaping, lighting and utilitiesHere is a view of the revised project plan:Demolition of several buildings that were part of Westbrooke Village, the derelict and defunct shopping center on the site, was completed over the past few months.The revised project plan no longer includes some components such as a parking garage and amphitheater, much to the concern of some commissioners.Commissioner Kathy Peterson said the planning commission in 2017 had approved a project plan with high-rise buildings, a parking garage and an amphitheater. And the new plan appears to have “significantly reduced” the amount of green space, she added.“This plan in front of me does not look like a destination,” she said. “It looks like a large apartment complex next to a grocery store. This was supposed to be a spectacular new ‘welcome to Shawnee’ on that corner of the city.”The agenda item did not include a period for public comment, so about half a dozen residents followed the developers and their representative out into the lobby to share some of the same concerns about the project.The residents told the developer they wanted a destination place with nice restaurants. They added that they did not want to see high-rise “inner city” buildings taller than five stories, nor did they want a project that only has an apartment complex and more fast-food restaurants.Shawnee Planning Commissioner Kathy Peterson.Johnson said the residents would have the opportunity in future meetings to give input on the project plan.“We’re extremely excited about this project; we think it can be delivered,” he said. “We think it’s good for the neighborhood. We think it’s the right use and the right mixture of uses for the neighborhood.”Johnson said they have taken feedback from residents and revised the plans to create a sustainable development.In the meeting, Allmon said the planning commission will consider approval of a revised project plan, including its various components, before the developer could begin construction.Johnson said a parking garage no longer made sense for the project size, adding that surface parking would fit better with the surrounding neighborhood of single-family homes.Johnson said the green space proposed in the central part of the site would have a raised platform for outdoor concerts and events. The residential component — to be built by NorthPoint Development of Riverside, Missouri — has less density to be more respectful of the neighboring single-family homes, Johnson said, adding that a mixture of surface, carport and in-line parking would fit the site better than a parking garage.Johnson added that the developer is planning to modernize and repurpose the Dillons building to fit the needs of current retail tenants, such as entertainment and fitness businesses. A mixture of brand-new buildings do not fit the market demand, he added.The project plan does not include a grocery store. Further project plan details will be nailed down and considered for approval multiple times at a later date, Johnson added.“It’s almost as if the 2017 plan didn’t exist,” he said.City staff said the planning commission’s decision Monday was simply to agree if the project plan meets the intent of the city’s comprehensive plan. The city’s Land Use Guide of the Comprehensive Plan indicates that mixed-use development — with components of residential, commercial, open space and restaurant uses — is “appropriate for the site,” staff noted in city documents.The planning commission voted 7-0 to agree that the revised project plans conform to the city’s comprehensive plan. Commissioners Bruce Bienhoff, Carrie Bingham, Brian Roth and Steven Wise were absent.last_img read more

Julie Brassell joins DIRTT Environmental Solutions

first_imgJulie BrassellJulie Brassell has been named business development manager at DIRTT Environmental Solutions.She previously was business development manager at Hunt & Caraway Architects. Her background in the commercial real estate industry includes positions at Brycon Construction, Jokake Construction, DMB Associates and Linthicum Custom Builders.Brassell is a member of AAED, ACE, SMPS Arizona, as well as Valley Partnership, where she sits on the City/County Committee.last_img

Study of the Day: When Teamwork Isn’t Democratic, Everyone Benefits

first_imgThe Atlantic:PROBLEM: Though many believe that equality within a team is important, does this flat power structure really improve a group’s performance?METHODOLOGY: Researchers led by Richard Ronay randomly assigned 138 undergraduate students to one of three experimental conditions — primed to feel high in power, low in power, and baseline or control. They organized subjects into same-sex teams of three high-power participants and three low-power participants or groups with one high-power, one low-power, and one baseline participant. They then measured the teams’ performance in a task that required group interdependence wherein each member was required to make words from 16 letters and then work as a group to combine the words into as many sentences as possible. They also measured how the groups fared on a second task that did not require subjects to coordinate their efforts.Read the whole story: The Atlantic More of our Members in the Media >last_img read more

For the second month in a row, Pula Airport achieved a higher monthly turnover of 100.000 passengers

first_imgDuring August, the border of 100.000 passengers was once again broken in one month, and a total of 115.026 passengers passed through Pula Airport.This is the second month in a row that a higher monthly traffic of 100.000 passengers has been achieved in one month, after 116.334 passengers in July. During August, there was an increase in passenger traffic of 28%, compared to August 2015, when there was a traffic of 89.550 passengers. The total growth in the number of passengers in the first eight months of 2016 also increased, which now amounts to 25%, or a total of 349.633 passengers, which almost achieved the total passenger traffic in 2015. (amounted to 359.426 passengers).Analyzing passenger traffic by country, in the first eight months the highest growth was achieved: France + 92%, Ireland + 52%, Germany + 26%, Great Britain + 22%. Russia + 20% and the Netherlands + 10%.Due to excellent performance in the first eight months and announcements for the rest of the year, breaking the 400.000 passenger limit is expected in late September. “Although the traffic intensity increased by 25%, the quality of service and the professionalism of all our workers did not decrease at all. That is, this year, in the continuous research of the quality of service of airport staff, by Thomson Airways, we are again recognized as the best. ”They stand out next to Pula AirportsPula Airport received this flattering title as a result of a survey of Thomson Airways passengers during two peak months in a row, June and July, for the best airport experience in its category, which was awarded to Pula Airport for CSQ (Customer Satisfaction Questionnaire).last_img read more

Say what? How the brain separates our ability to talk and write

first_imgPinterest Share Out loud, someone says, “The man is catching a fish.” The same person then takes pen to paper and writes, “The men is catches a fish.”Although the human ability to write evolved from our ability to speak, writing and talking are now such independent systems in the brain that someone who can’t write a grammatically correct sentence may be able say it aloud flawlessly, discovered a team led by Johns Hopkins University cognitive scientist Brenda Rapp.In a paper published this week in the journal Psychological Science, Rapp’s team found it’s possible to damage the speaking part of the brain but leave the writing part unaffected — and vice versa — even when dealing with morphemes, the tiniest meaningful components of the language system including suffixes like “er,” “ing” and “ed.” Share on Facebook LinkedIncenter_img Email Share on Twitter “Actually seeing people say one thing and — at the same time — write another is startling and surprising. We don’t expect that we would produce different words in speech and writing,” said Rapp, a professor in the Department of Cognitive Science in the university’s Krieger School of Arts and Sciences. “It’s as though there were two quasi-independent language systems in the brain.”The team wanted to understand how the brain organizes knowledge of written language — reading and spelling — since that there is a genetic blueprint for spoken language but not written. More specifically, they wanted to know if written language was dependent on spoken language in literate adults. If it was, then one would expect to see similar errors in speech and writing. If it wasn’t, one might see that people don’t necessarily write what they say.The team, which included Simon Fischer-Baum of Rice University and Michele Miozzo of Columbia University, both cognitive scientists, studied five stroke victims with aphasia, or difficulty communicating. Four of them had difficulties writing sentences with the proper suffixes, but had few problems speaking the same sentences. The last individual had the opposite problem — trouble with speaking but unaffected writing.The researchers showed the individuals pictures and asked them to describe the action. One person would say, “The boy is walking,” but write, “the boy is walked.” Or another would say, “Dave is eating an apple” and then write, “Dave is eats an apple.”The findings reveal that writing and speaking are supported by different parts of the brain — and not just in terms of motor control in the hand and mouth, but in the high-level aspects of word construction.“We found that the brain is not just a ‘dumb’ machine that knows about letters and their order, but that it is ‘smart’ and sophisticated and knows about word parts and how they fit together,” Rapp said. “When you damage the brain, you might damage certain morphemes but not others in writing but not speaking, or vice versa.”This understanding of how the adult brain differentiates word parts could help educators as they teach children to read and write, Rapp said. It could lead to better therapies for those suffering aphasia.last_img read more

NSABB launches new phase of GOF research debate

first_imgDebate over controversial “gain-of-function” (GOF) studies on H5N1 flu and other pathogens took a major step forward today, with experts for the first time addressing three key documents that came out of a federal advisory group’s charge by the Obama administration to help guide funding policies.In October 2014 the White House announced a pause on federally funded GOF research, which involves studies that enhance the pathogenicity, transmissibility, or host range of a pathogen to better understand it. The White House also asked the National Institutes of Health’s National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB) to come up with recommendations to help federal officials weigh funding decisions.Since then, the group fleshed out a risk-benefit framework for assessing such studies and awarded a contract for the full analysis to Gryphon Scientific. In December, Gryphon delivered a more than 1,000 page risk-benefit analysis, designed to guide NSABB workgroup recommendations.On the first day of a 2-day meeting, expert panels today responded to Gryphon’s risk-benefit assessment, addressed the ethics report that it commissioned, and discussed wider policy issues related to GOF research.Acknowledging that the lengthy risk-benefit assessment was released shortly before the holidays, compressing the time the scientific community had to read and weigh in on the report in advance of the meeting, NSABB members and federal officials emphasized several times that researchers and members of the public still have several opportunities to comment. They encouraged people to send the group feedback and attend the National Academies forum on GOF research in March.Workgroup previews recommendationsThough the NSABB will hold a full panel discussion tomorrow on the working group’s draft recommendations for funding GOF studies, Joseph Kanabrocki, PhD, who led the team, gave the group a brief overview today. He is associate vice-president for research safety and associate professor of microbiology at the University of Chicago. The working group’s 70-page draft report, dated Dec 23, is posted on the NSABB’s Web site.He said the report contains five key findings: (1) only a small subset of GOF studies are risky enough to require extra oversight, (2) the US government has policy frameworks in place that can manage GOF risks when implemented effectively, (3) current policies aren’t sufficient for all concerning GOF studies, (4) some studies shouldn’t be conducted on ethical and public health grounds if potential risks outweigh the benefits, and (5) biosafety and biosecurity issues are international issues that need global attention.Kanabrocki added that the group suggests four recommendations. One is careful review of the biosafety and biosecurity aspects of research proposals for GOF studies of the greatest concern before making funding decisions, and if funded, subject them to ongoing oversight. Another is beefing up oversight for pathogens that have less robust oversight. The group also recommended that the GOF risk-benefit profile be periodically updated and that federal officials foster a culture of lab safety not just for GOF studies, but for all pathogen research.He said the workgroup will continue to field feedback on its draft report and is slated to present a final draft for the NSABB to consider in the spring.Panelists respond to risk-benefit assessmentIn general, experts praised the work that went into the risk-benefit analysis, but they raised several concerns. One echoed by several was the use of the 1918 pandemic virus as a comparator, because it may be less alarming than a lab-made transmissible virus or because the population may have had greater immunity to it. Some noted that seasonal flu may have been a more useful comparator.Thomas Inglesby, MD, director of the Center for Health Security at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, said he thought the scope of the risk-benefit analysis was too broad, including, for example, work on vaccine viruses, which hasn’t really raised concerns during the ongoing debate.”It fuzzies the risks and benefits,” he added, noting that creation of novel flu strains has been the main issue. Inglesby also said the report appears to overstate benefit claims, which he says require external validation.He and others said they wished the report addressed in greater detail the GOF risks at the global level.Some of the panel members said the analysis seemed weighted more toward researchers involved in GOF studies, and less toward those who mainly use alternative methods to study the viruses.Representatives from Gryphon said they reached out to interview scientists from both areas, but got a less robust response from alternative-GOF researchers. Since the risk-benefit report was released last month, some of the scientists who are part of the Cambridge Working Group, which formed in 2014 to galvanize support for a more careful assessment of GOF studies, have been compiling their responses to the risk-benefit report online.Ron Fouchier, PhD, whose research group published one of two H5N1 GOF papers that helped fuel the debate when it was submitted in 2011, said, in contrast, that the report’s broad approach was one of its strengths, and added that it didn’t adequately cover the long-term benefits of such studies. Fouchier is a researcher at Erasmus Medical Center in the Netherlands.He said the analysis’s biggest gap was that it lacks a qualitative biosafety assessment, thus glossing over biosafety enhancements at labs.Fouchier said so far none of the viruses in GOF studies have posed risks beyond those posed by wild-type viruses.Dan Jernigan, MD, MPH, with the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that use of a public health lens requires the risk-benefit analysis to build in some flexibility for use in an emergency setting.Rocco Casagrande, PhD, principal investigator and managing director at Gryphon, noted that the report’s focus on the United States reflects the nature of its task as determined by the NSABB. He said the use of the 1918 virus as a comparator, while it might not be ideal, helped streamline presentation of the complex analysis.Responding to comments about the longer timeframe given for benefits as compared with risks, he said the analysis took into account the long timeline common in research and development efforts.Experts comment on ethics reportA panel discussion also took up an ethics white paper written by Michael Selgelid, PhD, who directs the Centre for Human Bioethics at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, and is with the World Health Organization’s Collaborating Center for Bioethics. The report, first released in December, also appears on the NSABB’s Web site.In introducing the panel, NSABB member Susan Wolf, JD, an NSABB member, said, “The NSABB acknowledged early that ethics and values play an inescapably key role.” She is a law professor specializing in medicine and public policy at the University of Minnesota.Wolf said the white paper has three main parts: a review of the literature, a review of decisional frameworks for risk-benefit assessment, and a potential framework for the NSABB. She added that Selgelid’s paper should serve as a springboard for even greater discussions.Gaps in global considerations also came up in the ethics discussion. David Fidler, JD, MPhil, a law professor who specialized in international law, including global health security, at Indiana University, said both the ethics report and the working group’s draft are too general. He said they offer no insights on how to apply ethical touchstones in a global context.”We need to learn from the global controversy over the H5N1 [GOF] papers,” he said.See also:NSABB meeting Web pageGryphon’s risk-benefit analysisDec 23, 2015, NSABB working group draft reportDec 11, 2015, CIDRAP News story “GOF risk-benefit analysis unveiled ahead of NSABB debate”Cambridge Working Group commentslast_img read more