Invisible Threat

21 04 2014

One hundred trillion bacteria live on the surface of your body. And on mine.

We’re all teeming with germs so small, they’re invisible to our eyes.

For the most part, we coexist in peace and sometimes with mutual benefit. But, there are microbes lurking that bring pestilence with them.

They pose an invisible threat to me, to you, and possibly, to humankind.

A couple of years ago, a respected group of award-winning student filmmakers was asked to take a look at infectious diseases and the brouhaha erupting around vaccines. They declined, until they saw firsthand what happens to puppies when dog owners choose not to vaccinate against parvovirus.

The students then decided to investigate vaccines for humans, and the diseases vaccines prevent. They wanted to find out if there is cause for parents to refuse to vaccinate their children against potentially deadly diseases.

They wanted to answer the question: Are children safer vaccinated or unvaccinated?

Invisible Threat is the film that came out of their investigation. In 40 fast-moving minutes, this documentary drills into the science of disease transmission and the results of infection, and the safety and efficacy behind the design and manufacture of vaccines.

The students spoke with families, scientists, and experts who spilled onto the screen a thick soup of facts and fears, science and emotion.

At the end of their extensive research, the students were satisfied that they’d found the answer to their question. Children, and indeed all of us, are safer vaccinated.

This film is available for screenings. If you would like to show this film in your community, contact producer Lisa Posard: InvisibleThreatInfo@gmail.com

At some point in the near future, the film will be available for anyone to view online. We will let you know when that happens.

The student filmmakers are all a part of Carlsbad High School’s Broadcast Journalism Class (CHSTV), but CHSTV Films is an extracurricular program outside the class. Their teacher is Doug Green, who also directs the films.

Lisa Posard is an award-winning documentary producer and education advocate. She is a former President of the Board of The Carlsbad Educational Foundation, Chair of a successful $198 million school bond political campaign, and PTA President.

She now utilizes her advocacy background to give teens the opportunity to create peer-to-peer educational films. Her first film won international acclaim for teaching tolerance and anti-bullying by documenting teens discovering the lessons of the Holocaust as they interviewed survivors, visited concentration camp memorials, and spoke with German teens with Nazi grandparents. The Dachau Memorial Museum, National Holocaust Museum, ADL, and schools across the country have used the film with curriculum as an educational resource.

The second film documents hunger in the U.S. and was used for an advocacy campaign by Feeding America. That campaign blossomed into a national teen anti-hunger charity featured in PEOPLE Magazine. The film won numerous awards, was televised, and continues to be utilized by hunger organizations to spread awareness. Lisa is the mother of three teenagers. Her oldest daughter wrote Invisible Threat.

In recognition of the national launch of the Invisible Threat movement on May 1st, we are participating in a blog relay to raise awareness of this important issue.  Each day a different blogger will be discussing their personal perspective of the film as part of our 10-day countdown to a kick-off event with national legislators at the Capitol Visitors’ Center in Washington, DC.  Follow along to find out how you can join us in this movement, arrange for a local screening, and continue our fight against infectious diseases.

You have the ability to make a difference in our fight against infectious diseases.  Follow our Invisible Threat Blog Relay and find out how you can be a part of the movement.   Tomorrow’s post will be hosted by Shot of Prevention and will provide details about how you can help ensure your elected representative takes the time to see this important film on May 1st.    

 

by Trish Parnell





Share the Work to Reach the Goal

16 04 2010
A t-shirt advertising open source software.

Credit: Skype user “magerleagues"

If a piece of software or computer program is “open source,” that means that anybody can access the program’s code, make updates, and share it with others. Firefox is a well-known program that’s open source.

Nobody “owns” the program, and maintenance of these programs, which are usually free to consumers, is handled by a community of enthusiasts around the world.

Scientists, inspired by this hive-minded work style, have begun imitating the approach in their own research. Networked together by technology, researchers from around the world combine their efforts in pursuit of a common goal, as in the Human Genome Project and the Tropical Disease Initiative.

The Open Source Drug Discovery Foundation, a project spearheaded by India’s Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, is using this same approach to combat neglected diseases including malaria, leishmaniasis, and target number one―tuberculosis― which affect millions around the world.

The leaders of OSDD say that finding relief for people suffering from such diseases is up to them, because drug companies won’t put big money into this kind of research, since it would be difficult to recoup their investment.

So, how does it work? Members of the project donate their time and contribute their findings online. They hold discussions and pose questions. They share ideas. And it’s not just a group of established scientists—students are participating in the process as well. And everyone is focusing on a different aspect of the research: some are analyzing the genome of the bacteria that causes TB, while others might be researching existing patents for TB medicines.

Members are given credit for their contributions and are free to use the information in their own works and writings.

Project Director Zakir Thomas says that solving problems as a united group is “immensely motivational.” The fight against tuberculosis is a personal fight for many of the participants from India, where tuberculosis is a huge problem.

But, not everyone is sold on the project’s open source approach. Problems have appeared. How will the government provide the enormous amounts of money required to produce a drug and deliver it to the people who need it? Why would a company sponsor a clinical trial for a drug to which they would not have the rights? Many of the drug manufacturing companies in India specialize in producing generic drugs, not creating new ones.

Time will tell if India’s government will come through with the funding and a company will sponsor the clinical trials. If this process succeeds, it could fundamentally alter how scientists in the rest of the world research neglected diseases. And, who knows, perhaps all diseases.

Let’s hope it catches on.

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