No. 247 August 2003
MEDICINES BY DESIGN: PHARMACOGENOMICS Up to now, the pharmacist has been learning how medicines affect the body and how the body reacts. In most instances, aspirin cures a headache, insulin helps the diabetic, and antibiotics kill the bacteria which cause diseases. However, there are some people whose headaches are not remedied by aspirin. There are some people whose bodies do not accept penicillin so another antibiotic must be prescribed to combat their bacterial infection(s). Since the Human Genome Project has been completed and there is Public Access to the Human Genome
http://www.nih.gov/news/pr/feb2001/nlm-13.htm , the next step is a personalized “picture” of your unique genome kept on a smart card you carry in your wallet or in a secured database. In the future the doctor and pharmacist could use the information on that card to personalize medicine for your body and illness. Per Ernie Hood: when the doctor is fully aware of your unique genome structure, he is able to prescribe the right medicine in the right dosage to effectively treat your condition. The doctor does not have to worry about the medicine not being effective nor about the possibility of adverse side effects. Pharmacogenomics will allow the pharmacist to provide most accurate quality and quantity of drugs prescribed by the physician. This will prevent the ineffectiveness of too little dosage, take the guesswork of the choice between a high level drug vs. a low level drug, and also reduce the frequency of adverse drug reactions. This future personalized medicine by design is discussed in “Pharmacogenomics: the Promise of Personalized Medicine,” by Ernie Hood, in Environmental Health Perspectives, V. 111, No. 11, August, 2003, pages A580-A589. (HE 20.5559:111/11)
AVOID EATING TO A CLOGGING DEATH After the very tiny arteries in your heart slowly fill with fatty residue, they get clogged, the heart loses its blood supply, and you can have a heart attack. Preventing your death by clogging does not require a full medical understanding of what is happening, but a little knowledge about the intake of enough saturated fats, trans fats, and bad cholesterol (which is also a “fatlike” substance) can save your life. There are some good fats and good cholesterol. “Fat is a major source of energy for the body and aids in the absorption of vitamins A, D, E, and K, and carotenoids. Both animal- and plant-derived food products contain fat, and when eaten in moderation, fat is important for proper growth, development, and maintenance of good health, especially for infants and toddlers under 2 years old. Saturated fats, found naturally in (animal) meats, and if eaten in excess can be harmful. However, Trans fat is also man made and is produced when food manufacturers add hydrogen to vegetable oil in a process called hydrogenation. The added hydrogen stabilizes and preserves food products such as vegetable shortenings, some margarines, crackers, cookies. Trans fat is found in any foods made with or fried in partially hydrogenated oils. If you read the food labels and avoid the intake of these fatty substances, you may keep your heart arteries clean, clear, and not get all clogged up. Revealing Trans Fats in paper (HE 20.4010/A:F 26/7 ) or online at http://www.fda.gov/fdac/features/2003/503_fats.html, FDA Acts to Provide Better Information to Consumers on Trans Fats at http://www.fda.gov/oc/initiatives/transfat/backgrounder.html , and the FDA’s “Food Labeling: Trans Fatty Acids in Nutrition Labeling, Nutrient Content Claims, and Health Claims, Final Rule,” Federal Register, V. 68, No. 133, July 11, 2003, pages 41433-41506 (AE 2.106:68/133) at http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~lrd/fr03711a.html will help you identify Trans Fats on food labels. This information could save your life.
FASTEST(?) SUPERCOMPUTER AVAILABLE FOR YOUR USE Are you a researcher in the environmental and molecular sciences including chemistry, biology, climate and subsurface chemistry whose project requires some computer time? If you apply and your proposal is accepted, you can use the Department of Energy’s newest supercomputer. PNNL supercomputer fastest open system in U.S. 118T HP supercomputer with Intel Itanium2 processors running Linux reaches full operation (http://www.pnl.gov/news/2003/03-33.htm ) is the August 26, 2003 press release announcing the new computer housed at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. This new 11.8 teraflops industry-standard HP Integrity system took over a year to build. It is the fifth fastest system in the world, and is the fastest unclassified computer operating in the United States. It is also the world’s fastest computer based on the Linux operating system and the largest computer using Intel’s 64-bit architecture. That may sound impressive, but I assume the four computers which are faster than this would be more interesting. However, they must be of a classified status and we may never know about them. Yet it is still quite hard to appreciate this new hardware since this article says almost nothing about the uses for which this computer was designed. There are pictures of this supercomputer found in the PNNL web page: PNNL supercomputer fastest open system in U.S. - Photos http://www.pnl.gov/news/2003/03-33_photos.htm . For anyone interested in using this new computer, there is a link to the William R. Wiley, Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory User Access page http://www.emsl.pnl.gov/using-emsl/ if you want to submit a proposal to make use of this supercomputer.
INDOOR AIR QUALITY FOR SCHOOLS Most people are aware that outdoor air pollution can play havoc with the sinuses, damage the lungs, and hinder the breathing of asthmatic people, but some people spend most of their time indoors. For “indoor people” there is indoor air pollution. Even in a smoke free environment indoor air pollution, which is caused by excess moisture and molds, can be much worse than outdoor pollution. Although many school buildings are air conditioned, there some schools without air conditioning which have indoor air pollution. These schools are the object of the Environmental Protection Agency’s concern because indoor air pollution can adversely affect the learning process. School Facilities, Condition of America’s Schools, (HEHS-95-61) the February 1995 report of a survey of America’s schools by the General Accounting Office (GAO) shows that over half the schools surveyed reported at least one environmental problem that affects indoor air quality. Copies of this 65-page report are in a pdf file at the GAO website http://www.gao.gov/archive/1995/he95061.pdf. To assist the school officials in identifying and remedying their air pollution problems, the EPA has created its Indoor Air Quality (AIQ) Tools for Schools Kit (http://www.epa.gov/iaq/schools/tools4s2.html). The Kit shows the schools how to carry out a practical plan to improve air quality at little or no cost with straightforward activities and in-house staff. This web page allows, viewing, ordering, and downloading of the HTML or PDF version of the Kit.
FOREIGN INVESTMENTS: A PIECE OF THE ROCK The Prudential Life Insurance Company in an advertisement on television, uses a the catch phrase that owning a Prudential Life Insurance policy is like “owning a piece of the rock” while showing a picture of the Rock of Gibraltar is on the Island of Gibraltar. The other way someone may own a piece of the Rock of Gibraltar is to own Gibraltar based securities. The Treasury Department, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve has just published the third and latest comprehensive benchmark survey of U.S. holdings of both foreign long-term and short-term securities as of December 31, 2001. The first survey was for 1994 and then 1997. The survey will become annual survey as of year-end 2003. The surveys collect information at the individual security level, making a detailed presentation of statistical data by country, security type, currency, remaining term-to-maturity, and industry. The Part A: U.S. Portfolio Holdings of Foreign Securities as of 12/31/2001 survey results appears in Report on U.S. Holdings of Foreign Securities as of December 31, 2001. This 82 page report was issued in May 2003 by the Department of the Treasury (as a pdf file http://www.treas.gov/tic/shc2001r.pdf ) on its Treasury International Capital (TIC) System web page (http://www.treas.gov/tic/fpis.html). It is advised that prospective users of the TIC Foreign Portfolio Investment Benchmark Survey data related to “cross-border” securities read “The U.S. System for Measuring Cross-Border Investment in Securities: A Primer with Discussion of Recent Developments,” by William L. Griever, et al., Federal Reserve Bulletin V. 87, No. 10 October, 2001, pages 633-650 (FR 1.3:87/10) in paper and a pdf file at http://www.federalreserve.gov/pubs/bulletin/2001/1001lead.pdf.
ALL (ART) EXHIBITIONS OF FOREIGN ARTIFACTS ARE ANNOUNCED: WHERE, WHEN AND WHAT TO SEE. On September 5, 2003, the Department of State published a Notice in the
Federal Register. C. Miller Crouch issued and Official “Public Notice” to the people of the United States “I hereby determine that the objects to be included in the exhibition ‘Prokofiev and his Contemporaries: The Impact of Soviet Culture,’ imported from abroad for temporary exhibition with the United States, are of cultural significance.” The first of possibly several exhibitions will be at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, from on or about October 13, 2003 until on or about January 10, 2004. Information about other possible sites and a list of the exhibit objects are available from an Office identified in this Notice. This is one of the almost daily Notices of State Department approvals of the importing of foreign artifacts for specific exhibitions in varied art galleries across the United States. In addition to: “Culturally Significant Objects Imported for Exhibition Determinations: ‘Prokofiev and his Contemporaries: The Impact of Soviet Culture, Notice,” a second Notice also appears in the
Federal Register, V. 68, No. 172, September 5, 2003, page 52810 (AE 2.106:68/172). This Notice cites an exhibition of several Masterpieces of Genre Painting which will be at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D. C. from October 12, 2003 to January 11, 2004.
FOREIGN STOCKS/SECURITIES The majority of American stockholders invest most of their money in American companies. All of their transactions are regulated by a myriad of regulations which are supposed to guide the actions of the stockholders and the stockbrokers to prevent intentional and unintentional transactional irregularities and fraud. There are stockholders who buy and hold stock originating in foreign countries, specifically a group of foreign equity securities. The Federal Reserve Board issues The List of Foreign Margin Stocks (The List) twice each year (in February and September). The List is composed of certain foreign equity securities that qualify as margin securities under Regulation T. As defined by the SEC Regulations cited in this Final Rule, all the foreign securities that qualify for inclusion in The List are deemed to have a “ready market” or a “no-action” position. This list includes all the foreign stocks included in the FTSE World Index Series.” There are no additions to, or deletions from The List. In “Federal Reserve System, Credit by Brokers and Dealers; List of Foreign Margin Stocks, Final Rule; determination of applicability of regulations,” Federal Register, V. 68, No. 171, September 5, 2003, pages 52486-52487, this List consists of 51 Japanese Companies. There is something more About the List of Foreign Stocks at http://www.federalreserve.gov/boarddocs/foreignmargin/about.htm.
BOREAL AMERICA AND THE CARBON CYCLE The Boreal forest area adjacent to the Arctic Tundra is the second largest ecosystem on Earth. Second only to the tropical rain forest of South America, the Boreal forest is a ring of mostly evergreen trees which circles the Earth though North America and Eurasia. In North America the Boreal forest covers over one quarter of the land area north of Mexico covering much of northern Canada and part of Alaska. These are the trees and vegetation which absorb much of the Earth’s carbon dioxide. They then release the oxygen back into the atmosphere and store the carbon. Trees and vegetation hold the carbon for a few hundred years and then when they die and decompose the carbon goes into the soil. While frozen, the soil of the Arctic tundra and Boreal forest can hold carbon for thousands of years. The process of carbon dioxide absorption and oxygen release has been going on for thousands of years, and the soils of these northern latitudes hold about 40 percent of the world’s soil carbon. Carbon storage is possible due the ability of the frozen soil to retain and store carbon. Now there is concern about the thawing of these frozen soils due to forest fires, climatic warming, and early springs arriving in the Arctic’s tundra and forest. However, the spring thaws which allow the release of nitrogen and water for growing plants also allow the microbes, within the soil, to release the stored carbon, back into the atmosphere. Early Arctic Thaw Could Have Chilling Effect is the September 29, 2003 NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) Press Release (http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/features/thaw-092903.cfm ) which provides details about the work of Dr. Kyle McDonald, the JPL scientist and Dr. John Kimball of the University of Montana and this new insight into what an early spring in the Arctic means for the rest of the world.
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