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The COllaborative project of Development of Anthropometrical measures in Twins (CODATwins) project is a large international collaborative effort to analyze individual-level phenotype data from twins in multiple cohorts from different environments. The main objective is to study factors that modify genetic and environmental variation of height, body mass index (BMI, kg/m2) and size at birth, and additionally to address other research questions such as long-term consequences of birth size. The project started in 2013 and is open to all twin projects in the world having height and weight measures on twins with information on zygosity. Thus far, 54 twin projects from 24 countries have provided individual-level data. The CODATwins database includes 489,981 twin individuals (228,635 complete twin pairs). Since many twin cohorts have collected longitudinal data, there is a total of 1,049,785 height and weight observations. For many cohorts, we also have information on birth weight and length, own smoking behavior and own or parental education. We found that the heritability estimates of height and BMI systematically changed from infancy to old age. Remarkably, only minor differences in the heritability estimates were found across cultural–geographic regions, measurement time and birth cohort for height and BMI. In addition to genetic epidemiological studies, we looked at associations of height and BMI with education, birth weight and smoking status. Within-family analyses examined differences within same-sex and opposite-sex dizygotic twins in birth size and later development. The CODATwins project demonstrates the feasibility and value of international collaboration to address gene-by-exposure interactions that require large sample sizes and address the effects of different exposures across time, geographical regions and socioeconomic status.
Identifying routes of transmission among hospitalized patients during a healthcare-associated outbreak can be tedious, particularly among patients with complex hospital stays and multiple exposures. Data mining of the electronic health record (EHR) has the potential to rapidly identify common exposures among patients suspected of being part of an outbreak.
We retrospectively analyzed 9 hospital outbreaks that occurred during 2011–2016 and that had previously been characterized both according to transmission route and by molecular characterization of the bacterial isolates. We determined (1) the ability of data mining of the EHR to identify the correct route of transmission, (2) how early the correct route was identified during the timeline of the outbreak, and (3) how many cases in the outbreaks could have been prevented had the system been running in real time.
Correct routes were identified for all outbreaks at the second patient, except for one outbreak involving >1 transmission route that was detected at the eighth patient. Up to 40 or 34 infections (78% or 66% of possible preventable infections, respectively) could have been prevented if data mining had been implemented in real time, assuming the initiation of an effective intervention within 7 or 14 days of identification of the transmission route, respectively.
Data mining of the EHR was accurate for identifying routes of transmission among patients who were part of the outbreak. Prospective validation of this approach using routine whole-genome sequencing and data mining of the EHR for both outbreak detection and route attribution is ongoing.
Recovery of multidrug-resistant (MDR) Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Klebsiella pneumoniae from a cluster of patients in the medical intensive care unit (MICU) prompted an epidemiologic investigation for a common exposure.
Clinical and microbiologic data from MICU patients were retrospectively reviewed, MICU bronchoscopes underwent culturing and borescopy, and bronchoscope reprocessing procedures were reviewed. Bronchoscope and clinical MDR isolates epidemiologically linked to the cluster underwent molecular typing using pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) followed by whole-genome sequencing.
Of the 33 case patients, 23 (70%) were exposed to a common bronchoscope (B1). Both MDR P. aeruginosa and K. pneumonia were recovered from the bronchoscope’s lumen, and borescopy revealed a luminal defect. Molecular testing demonstrated genetic relatedness among case patient and B1 isolates, providing strong evidence for horizontal bacterial transmission. MDR organism (MDRO) recovery in 19 patients was ultimately linked to B1 exposure, and 10 of 19 patients were classified as belonging to an MDRO pseudo-outbreak.
Surveillance of bronchoscope-derived clinical culture data was important for early detection of this outbreak, and whole-genome sequencing was important for the confirmation of findings. Visualization of bronchoscope lumens to confirm integrity should be a critical component of device reprocessing.
Democratic countries, such as Australia, face the dilemma of preserving public and national security without sacrificing fundamental freedoms. In the context where the rule of law is an underlying assumption of the constitutional framework, Emergency Powers in Australia provides a succinct analysis of the sorts of emergency which have been experienced in Australia and an evaluation of the legal weapons available to the authorities to cope with these emergencies. It analyses the scope of the defence power to determine the constitutionality of federal legislation to deal with wartime crises and the 'war' on terrorism, the extent of the executive power and its relationship to the prerogative, the deployment of the defence forces in aid of the civil power, the statutory frameworks regulating the responses to civil unrest, and natural disasters. The role of the courts when faced with challenges to the invocation of emergency powers is explained and analysed.
Resonant soft x-ray scattering (RSoXS) leverages chemical specificity to characterize thin films but is limited near the nitrogen edge. The challenge is that commercially available x-ray transparent substrates are composed of Si3N4 and thereby absorb incident x-rays and generate incoherent fluorescence. To overcome this challenge, we designed and fabricated Al2O3 free-standing films for use as RSoXS windows. Al2O3 films offer higher x-ray transmittance and minimal fluorescence near the nitrogen edge. As an example, Al2O3 windows allow for nitrogen RSoXS of conjugated block copolymer thin films that reveal domain spacings, which are not apparent with commercially available Si3N4 substrates.