University Relations in the CU Office of the President has launched a monthly audio podcast, “CU on the Air,” featuring faculty and staff throughout the university system who are leading experts in their field. The podcast is informational, relevant and entertaining, and promotes the value of the University of Colorado and its four campuses to the state and well beyond. Join Ken McConnellogue, vice president for university communication, as he chats with some of the most fascinating researchers in the country. Subscribe, and we’ll CU on the Air each month.
Assisting COVID Survivors through Tele-rehab ‘AFTER’ Discharge
NOTE: Coloradans age 35 and older who have been recently discharged from the hospital with COVID infection interested in taking part in the AFTER program can go to movement4everyone.com or call (303) 724-9590. There is no cost to patients and rehab equipment is available.
As the deaths from COVID-19 in the United States hovers near 500,000, it’s important to note that some 17.5 million Americans have recovered from the virus: a recovery that can take a great deal of time and be difficult. Today on CU on the Air, we’re talking about a groundbreaking tele-rehabilitation program for COVID-19 survivors with Jennifer Stevens-Lapsley, professor and director of the Rehabilitation Science Ph.D. Program, and Kristine Erlandson, associate professor of infectious diseases, at the CU Anschutz Medical Campus.
* The program, called Predictors of Recovery and the App-Facilitated Tele-Rehabilitation or AFTER for COVID Survivors, started enrolling a month ago.
* In addition to Stevens-Lapsley and Erlandson, a multi-disciplinary team is involved, including a pulmonary care doctor and works with patients who have recovered from an ICU stay in the hospital, specialists in motivational interviewing, behavioral health coaching, and a physical therapist with extensive experience with medical complex populations.
* Unique elements of this program involve making sure the intensity of rehab is adequate to progress patients quickly and a bio-behavioral portion of the program with emphasis on empowering patients to be able to do their own rehab in the future and adhere to the exercise program.
* The program has a unique web-based platform that it involves a home exercise component that has avatars and other ways to help facilitate adherence to exercise. The therapist can monitor what a participant is doing at home and then provide feedback and coaching during regular physical therapy sessions.
* Symptoms the doctors are seeing and treating often include a lot of fatigue: people go into this with some COVID fatigue, and then if they actually have COVID it’s just a profound, physical fatigue following the infection. A lot of weakness, shortness of breath, a big hit to endurance. Respiratory symptoms, cough, shortness of breath, wheezing. And strange COVID symptoms with the loss of taste and smell.
* Types of therapies underway include resistance training, such as mini squats, or lunges, or standing up from a chair and strengthen the muscles in the legs. A lot of balance activities and trying to make sure that people’s balance is challenged, but yet not that risk for falls. Also, quite a bit of work in the area of educating them regarding endurance because the fatigue that they experience is profound.
* An important piece of this program is the ability to attract and engage individuals in rural settings, creating a unique opportunity to provide services to people who otherwise wouldn’t have access.
* Long-term benefits include the understanding of how to treat patients with tele-rehabilitation from a distance that are medically complex, applying to many, many other populations down the road.
* Engagement with the program is 12 weeks, but follow-up continues up to six months.
* An important aspect of learning from this population is how to be creative and flexible in terms of problem solving. Whether it’s a technical problem or whether it’s a specific exercise to meet someone’s individual goals and being able to standardize care,
Top 5 Episodes of 2020: Learning, Growing Through Adversity
As we welcome 2021, CU on the Air looks back on 2020 to highlight our Top 5 shows. Not surprisingly, three of the five most popular podcasts were COVID-19 related. The other two were about CU in space, and the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion.
* As we navigate the coronavirus, there’s a great need for frank discussions about psychiatric disorders as the weeks and months roll on. In August, we spoke with Dr. Neill Epperson from the CU School of Medicine about her podcast, Mind the Brain, which explores the many aspects of mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic. Addressing topics ranging from the ongoing uncertainty, parental and teen stress, cancer care during a pandemic and the tendency to drink too much alcohol, Mind the Brain comes in at No. 5.
* Exploring the moon, and even possibly colonizing it, sounds pretty good these days to us earthlings. Our No. 4 podcast features CU Boulder Astrophysical and Planetary Sciences Professor Jack Burns, who has longstanding ties with NASA. In fact, since the late 1940s, CU Boulder has sent experiments and instruments to every planet in our solar system. In 50+ space missions, NASA spacecraft have launched hundreds of instruments from CU as well as 20 CU scientists, faculty and alumni.
* CU Colorado Springs Professor Chip Benight shows true GRIT on a global scale and in popularity as our No. 3 podcast of the year. Benight researches human adaptation from trauma including recovery from natural disasters such as the coronavirus pandemic as well as manmade disasters, accident trauma, violence, bereavement and more. In COVID’s wake, he started the Greater Resilience Information Toolkit that is accessible to people overwhelmed by the pandemic, from frontline workers, to caregivers, to your next-door neighbor.
* About 300,000 people in the United States and some 3,500 Coloradans have died of COVID-19 as of this date, but good news is on the horizon. Recently Moderna Therapeutics announced that its analysis found its coronavirus vaccine to be 94.5% effective. In November 2020, CU on the Air spoke with Dr. Thomas Campbell, professor of medicine and infectious disease and leader of the Moderna vaccine trials at the CU Anschutz Medical Campus. This episode, Moderna Coronavirus Vaccine Trial at CU Anschutz Shows 94.5% Efficacy, is our No. 2 most popular podcast of 2020.
* Civil unrest has been a monumental theme of 2020, drawing attention to the critical need for diversity, equity and inclusion at CU and across the country. The CU on the Air team is proud that this podcast recorded in June was by far our most popular. In African Americans, Allies Confront Racism and Health Disparities, CU Chief Diversity Officer Theodosia Cook discusses police brutality against p...
Throwing a Curve into Street Planning for Safer Communities
Today on CU on the Air we talk with Wes Marshall, professor of civil engineering with a joint appointment in urban planning in the College of Engineering, Design and Computing at CU Denver. Host Ken McConnellogue discusses with Professor Marshall what constitutes safe streets and neighborhoods for pedestrians, wheel chairs, bicyclists, autos and even scooters; and why the old ways in some ways are way better.
* The nexus of transportation engineering and urban planning = plangineer.
* Dual degrees now offered at CU Denver in those areas.
* How living in Boston shaped Professor Marshall’s vision for planning and engineering.
* The inability to get from Point A to B without a car – even if it’s close by.
* Beautiful neighborhoods in Denver? Look to Wash Park.
* In the past 10 years as Denver has grown, there’s a lot more walkability.
* More options for transportation: cycling, scooters, walking.
* The good and bad of the scooters in Denver. Where are people supposed to ride them?
* Wheelchairs in the bike lane: The sidewalks aren’t safe for some.
* Denver puts onus of sidewalk maintenance on property owners, which is inefficient.
* Surprise! The safest cities are those who have the most cyclists.
* Scofflaw cyclists most times are rolling through stop signs for safety reasons.
* Facilitating options: The more options you have, the better the sustainability.
* Why cul-de-sacs aren’t any safer than streets.
* Problems with Central Park, formerly Stapleton.
* Human nature shows if people can speed they will. Thus, curves are safer.
* Sabbatical in Australia finds in 1970, same fatality rate as USA. Now, four times less.
* Self-enforcing roads: Building roads that make it difficult to speed.
* Cameras reduce need for police interaction.
* Quick fixes include road restrictions, or obstacles, to slow things down.
* Who is doing it well? Davis, California, for one.
* Building communities where children, others don’t have to be driven.
* How technology for the physically challenged can benefit the larger population.
* The evolution of bus lanes and why taking that lane away benefits traffic flow.
* Why lower-income neighborhoods pose higher risks for residents.
* Sustainable transportation course: Here’s the issue, how can we do it better?
* What’s coming up? Fundamentals will – and should – stay the same.
* Take away the trees? People start driving faster and fatalities increase.
* College of Engineering, Design and Computing
* Researcher Wes Marshall and the future of road safety, CU Denver News
* Hidden Safety Problems Keep Denver Kids from Walking and Biking, StreetsBlog
* Cycling lanes reduce fatalities for all road users, study shows, Science Daily
* Traffic Sucks, But Commuter Congestion Probably Doesn’t Affect the Economy, Colorado Public Radio
* Elements of Access: Transport Planning for Engineers * Transport Engineering for Planners, Wes Marshall,
Moderna Coronavirus Vaccine Trial at CU Anschutz Shows 94.5% Efficacy
UPDATE: Moderna has requested emergency use authorization from the FDA, and the vaccine could be available to high-risk populations as early as the end of December.
More than a quarter million people in the United States and some 3,100 Coloradans have died of COVID-19 as of this date, but good news is on the horizon. Recently Moderna Therapeutics announced early analysis that found its coronavirus vaccine to be 94.5% effective. CU on the Air speaks with Dr. Thomas Campbell, professor of medicine and infectious disease and leader of the Moderna vaccine trials at the CU Anschutz Medical Campus.
Two companies, Moderna and Pfizer, have announced that their vaccines, which have a very similar technology base, are highly effective in preventing COVID illness. Pfizer announced that they were filing on Nov. 20 with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to request an emergency use authorization, to allow them to begin to distribute their vaccine. Moderna, will follow suit, perhaps even before Thanksgiving.
The clinical trials are scientific experiments in those experiments where the vaccine efficacy it is precisely determined. Effectiveness is the term that’s used to apply to how well vaccines are working in the community. The effectiveness of the vaccines will be determined after their widespread use in the community.
Although we won’t know for a while how durable the vaccine is, there is evidence that we can expect protection from vaccines to be durable. Plus, symptoms in individuals who have had COVID-19 previously are less severe.
The COVID prevention network, of which CU Anschutz is a part, consists of about 60 sites around the country and internationally. All sites have a long track record of conducting clinical trials through the National Institute of Health. There has been a big private government partnership to get COVID vaccines to where we are now.
The trials comprised a little over 30,000 volunteers. Particular care was taken to enroll a significant portion of individuals who were 60 years and older as well as those with pre-existing medical conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease, kidney disease. And, importantly, ethnic and racial diversity.
The trial is designed to last for two years and it will be important to continue the trial to determine how durable the vaccine response is, and whether protection diminishes over time.
The scientific measures taken by Moderna and Pfizer include creating a messenger RNA molecule that has the instructions for making a coronavirus protein called the spike protein. The way the vaccine works is that messenger RNA that has all the information to tell ourselves how to make the spike protein and build immunity to the virus.
The reason that these trials came so quickly is because COVID-19 is raging in the United States. The number of cases in the vaccine trial participants occurred at a much faster rate than anyone expected. It’s unfortunate that we have such a raging epidemic pandemic right now, but the fact that we do enabled these two trials to get the efficacy answer very quickly.
Overall, there will be multiple, very efficacious vaccines around the world. There are over 160 different candidate vaccines in various stages of development here in the United States. There are six candidate vaccines that have either entered or will soon be entering phase three clinical trials.
It is very important that Coloradans come forward and get the vaccine when it becomes available. If a large portion of our population is vaccinated, that in effect will put an end to the pandemic Colorado. And across the country as well.
Sláinte! We Toast UCCS Professor Janel Owens’ Whiskey Research
CU On The Air welcomes Janel Owens, associate professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs. While she teaches courses and applied analytical chemistry, including environmental chemistry and forensic chemistry, Owens is also a certified whiskey chemist with the Federal Alcohol Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau.
The TTB, which was formerly the ATF holds a proficiency testing or a whiskey certification program, and invites folks who have at least a chemistry degree who have a fully outfitted laboratory to participate in this proficiency testing. Owens’ interest started 2014 after meeting Michael Myers, who’s the managing director of Distillery 291 in Colorado Springs.
The certification reports on things that concern health and safety reasons such as methanol, because that’s a toxic alcohol, the fusel oils, which are higher molecular weight alcohols and terrible in agents, which is interesting to the TTB because it can be indicative of fraudulent product. It is an authentication tool.
Whiskey is interesting from a chemical perspective, because there are so many hundreds, if not thousands of potential chemicals that can be found in the beverage. Common organic compounds are most typically going to be those compounds that arise from the simple ingredients that are in whiskey. So it’s feast and the esters that are oftentimes produced by the yeast, which are used in the fermentation product, and then all of those organic compounds that arise from the malted grain.
Not a big fan of the taste of whiskey, Owens’ first encounter was in Scotland at a remote castle when a tour guide had all of the people in the small tour bus contribute a couple of pounds to purchase a nice bottle of single malt. The Americans at least, while standing on the top of the castle, tossed back the drink like a shot before learning it was something to be savored and enjoyed. She does, however, use it in recipes.
Studying whiskey is like a puzzle and Owens loves puzzles. She uses the tools in a laboratory to understand aspects or facets of a chemical problem. By using all of these tools, you can build those pieces or connect those pieces to have a better understanding. It’s not a complete picture, rather a better understanding of the chemical system.
At UCCS, Owens researches dilute amounts of chemicals that humans produce in places that we impact. That could be water supplies, food, soils, plants, etc. Owens researches compounds for which there might be a potential health effect, whether that is a negative health effect and impact or something that could be potentially beneficial, such as antioxidants.
For example: Parts of the Fountain Creek watershed in Colorado Springs had been adversely impacted by activities where the use of aqueous film forming foams, which contain these forever chemicals have been utilized and then spread into the environment.
UCCS students learn from Owens to ‘tell a story.’ The information is unique to the researcher, and so she encourages her students to get beyond the fear and realize that they are the best knowledge source of what they are sharing.
Owens is focusing lately on graduate student training. Her goals are to get a lot of their research papers written up, submitted in the literature. On the whiskey side of things, she plans to start advertising to gain better outreach with local distillers who might need a chemist to help them out with some interesting research projects or even brewers.
* University of Colorado Colorado Springs
* a href="https://uccs.
‘Biology Everywhere’ on CU on the Air
Biology is everywhere and science plays a major role in all existence. Sometimes, however, it seems too daunting and intimidating to embrace how these areas factor into our daily lives. On this episode of CU on the Air, host Ken McConnellogue talks with CU Boulder’s Melanie Peffer, research associate in the Institute of Cognitive Science, about her book ‘Biology Everywhere: How the Science of Life Matters to Everyday Life.’
* Why science and biology are considered intimidating.
* The surprising ways we interact with biology, from the sun in our eyes and your choice of breakfast.
* Connecting biology to everyday life.
* Why science is under fire during tumultuous times.
* Science knowledge is subject to change – and quickly – as is witnessed by the pandemic.
* Scientific naysayers are often fearful.
* Not a textbook, ‘Biology Everywhere’ is for the public.
* Understanding biology, from conception to adulthood.
* How art has influenced biology; how biology has influence art.
* Biology explains why choir members’ hearts beat in unison.
* The psychology of how we make scientific decisions.
* The beautiful simplicity of biology and exploration, such as the fascination of anthills.
* How Peffer changed the minds of CU students who ‘have learned to hate science.’
* Biology beyond the textbooks.
* Biology – the ability to recognize it even on Netflix.
* Taking advantage of educational opportunities by making biology connections outside the classroom.
* Letting students drive the questions about science.
* MOOC for Biology Everywhere gaining a lot of interest and learners.
* Coming away from reading Biology Everywhere with an attitude of ‘yes I can.’
* Professor Peffer’s background, how she came to explore science literacy and psychology.
* The importance of inspirational parents and teachers.
* Incorporating inclusive teaching practices in science.
* Honoring fears and background influences when approaching science.
* Being a researcher the University of Colorado Boulder, and forming relationships with the community.
* Biology Everywhere: How the Science of Life Matters to Everyday Life
* Biology Everywhere Massive Open Online Course
* Institute of Cognitive Science
* Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology at CU Boulder
* Santiago Ramon y Cajal, the father of neuroscience