Health, Science, Environment

"Lean Healthcare"
5:35 am
Fri May 27, 2011

"Lean Healthcare:" Using mechanical systems for medical efficiency

The strategy room at Barnes-Jewish Hospital. Pink sticky notes on the wall represent points in a process where a patient has to wait. This giant chart is used to track progress of the "Lean Healthcare" method.
(Sarah Kincade)

Throughout the country a number of hospitals have been looking to Toyota auto plants to learn how to make healthcare safer and more efficient. Among the dozens of institutions adapting the Toyota Production system to healthcare is Barnes-Jewish Hospital here in St. Louis.

Reporter David Weinberg brings us the story of how Far East auto plants are changing the face of hospitals in the west.

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Stroke Care
4:55 pm
Thu May 26, 2011

Analysis suggests racial and ethnic disparities in stroke care

A new analysis suggests racial and ethnic minorities are not getting equal treatment when it comes to strokes.

At the request of the American Heart Association, a group of stroke experts led by Saint Louis University neurologist Dr. Salvador Cruz-Flores examined the scientific literature for racial and ethnic disparities in stroke care.

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From St. Louis on the Air
2:08 pm
Wed May 25, 2011

Cold winter, strong jet stream combine for an unusual tornado season

National Weather Service risk map
(Mike Smith)

This morning as the National Weather Service upgraded the tornado risk to "high" for the St. Louis area this afternoon, meteorologist and severe weather expert Mike Smith joined us for St. Louis on the Air.  Smith called this the "worst tornado season" since the 1950's and cautioned that complacency about risk can be one of the deadliest factors during any storm. 

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Water Pollution - Mississippi River Flooding
2:50 pm
Tue May 24, 2011

EPA looks for water contamination near Birds Point levee

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers breached the levee at Birds Point as part of the activation of the floodway on the night of May 2, 2011.
(via Birds Point New Madrid Floodway Joint Information Center facebook page/U.S. Army Corps of Engineers)

The Environmental Protection Agency is looking for possible water contamination in Southeastern Missouri, in the area affected by the Birds Point levee breach.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers blew up a Mississippi River levee at Birds Point on May 2 to protect upstream communities like Cairo, Ill.

The levee breach flooded 130,000 acres of Missouri farmland, including a confined animal feeding operation.

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Agriculture
4:05 pm
Mon May 23, 2011

International ag conference showcases emerging companies to potential investors

The Donald Danforth Plant Science Center is hosting the Ag Innovation Showcase.
(Donald Danforth Plant Science Center)

An event starting Monday at the Danforth Plant Science Center is looking to match up investors with emerging agricultural technology companies from across the globe.

The third annual Ag Innovation Showcase will draw international venture capitalists and corporate agricultural investors like Monsanto, Syngenta and Dupont.

Showcase organizer Mark Gorski says sixteen agricultural start-ups from the Netherlands, India, and a number of other countries will be vying for their attention.

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Emergency Preparedness - Earthquakes
5:28 pm
Thu May 19, 2011

Missouri participates in national earthquake drill

USGS 2008 earthquake hazard map showing a high risk zone along the new Madrid fault (PGA, 2% in 50 years).
(U.S. Geological Survey)

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is holding drills across six states this week to see how prepared they are for a major earthquake along the New Madrid fault.

FEMA is teaming up with the military, as well as local hospitals, shelters and morgues for the simulation.

Beth Freeman is the FEMA regional administrator for Missouri and several neighboring states.

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Current River
5:35 pm
Tue May 17, 2011

Current River in Mo. ranked as one of nation's "most endangered"

The Current River in Missouri.
(via Wikimedia Commons)

A national river quality organization has listed Missouri's Current River as a victim of over-use, and one of the most endangered rivers in America.

The report by American Rivers shows that in 1984 the Current River in the Ozark Riverways Scenic Park had only 13 access points.

Today, there are more than 130, leading to erosion, pollution and overuse.

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Health
4:30 pm
Fri May 13, 2011

New drug to treat hepatitis C approved by FDA

High magnification micrograph of a liver with cirrhosis. Cirrhosis is a condition caused by hepatitis C.
(via Wikimedia commons)

The FDA has approved a new drug for the treatment of hepatitis C, a viral disease that attacks the liver and can lead to cirrhosis and liver cancer.

In the U.S., existing medications cure only about 50 percent of patients.

Dr. Bruce Bacon of Saint Louis University led a clinical trial for the new drug, boceprevir.

Bacon says adding boceprevir to the standard two-drug treatment significantly improved cure rates, especially for patients who have been treated before and failed to recover.

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Breast Cancer Study
5:27 pm
Mon May 9, 2011

Wash U. study: estrogen-reducing drugs may reduce need for mastectomy in breast cancer patients

Mammograms of estrogen-receptor positive breast tumors before and after 16 weeks of aromatase inhibitor therapy. The top images: a tumor that responded to the treatment and regressed. The lower images: a resistant tumor that stayed about the same size.
(Washington University School of Medicine/ Matthew J. Ellis)

Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine have shown that estrogen-lowering drugs can help reduce the need for mastectomy in some breast cancer patients.

Estrogen is known to increase tumor growth in the majority of breast cancer patients.

In a new study, post-menopausal women with large breast cancer tumors were given one of three estrogen-lowering drugs before surgery.

Study lead Dr. Matthew Ellis says all three drugs were equally effective in shrinking tumors and reducing the need for complete breast removal.

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from St. Louis on the Air
3:30 pm
Thu May 5, 2011

Algaepalooza 2011 calls on citizen scientists

Dr. Terry Woodford Thomas of the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center works with some young citizen scientists at Algaepalooza 2010. (Backyard Biofuels)

Algae, that very same stuff that turns aquarium walls and backyard fences green, are also a potent source of energy, and hold significant potential as a clean, renewable fuel source.  Algae were first investigated as a source of energy back in the 1970’s when high gas prices prompted an interest in alternative energies and the US Department of Energy created the Aquatic Species Program.  That program was discontinued in 1996, but as oil costs have continued to rise and energy independence has reemerged as a national priority, researchers around the world, and many right here in St. Louis, are again focused on the potential of algal biofuels.

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