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The exercise pill: How exercise keeps your brain healthy and protects it against depression and anxiety

Arash Javanbakht, associate professor of psychiatry, wrote an article for The Conversation about the benefits of exercise on the brain. “As with many other physicians, recommending physical activity to patients was just a doctor chore for me – until a few years ago. That was because I myself was not very active. Over the years, as I picked up boxing and became more active, I got firsthand experience of positive impacts on my mind. I also started researching the effects of dance and movement therapies on trauma and anxiety in refugee children, and I learned a lot more about the neurobiology of exercise. I am a psychiatrist and neuroscientist researching the neurobiology of anxiety and how our interventions change the brain. I have begun to think of prescribing exercise as telling patients to take their “exercise pills.” Now knowing the importance of exercising, almost all my patients commit to some level of exercise, and I have seen how it benefits several areas of their life and livelihood.
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U.S. reaches 500,000 Covid deaths, toll will continue to rise despite vaccine rollout

Dr. Paul Kilgore is an Associate Professor and Director of Research at Wayne State University’s College of Pharmacy and Health Science. He’s also a principal investigator at Henry Ford Health System and an expert in vaccine research. As the country hit 500,000 deaths from COVID earlier this week, Kilgore says that we still have a lot of work to do. “There’s no doubt about it, the vaccine will be an important tool but not the only one,” says Kilgore. He adds that it will continue to be crucial that people wear masks and practice distancing in the months ahead. He also points to other countries, including Korea, where mask wearing as a way of minimizing disease transmission is a normal part of life and would be beneficial here in the United States as well. ”We need to think very carefully about how we adopt mask wearing in this country as a permanent activity… that can really help when reducing transmission,” says Kilgore. As far as the outlook for the next several months here in Michigan, Kilgore says that he thinks ”what we’ll see as (weather warms up) is potential reduction in transmission but… if variants are causing easier transmission we will still need to be very vigilant about masking, distancing and getting vaccinated as soon as possible.” 
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Kar's Nuts, parent of Sanders Chocolates, is changing its name. Here's why

Kar's Nuts, the maker of Sweety 'N Salty trail mix and Sanders Chocolates, is changing its name to Second Nature Brands as the Madison Heights snack food company seeks to broaden its portfolio and position itself with better-for-you offerings. Kar's, the company's biggest brand, will continue to exist, but the company itself is letting go of its 90-year-old identity that traces its roots to Detroit. Instead, the business is opting to use the name from the gluten-free, non-GMO trail mix brand it launched about a decade ago as it continues on a growth trajectory following the acquisition of Sanders in 2018. Changes to an umbrella company's name won't always matter for consumers as it's less visible than its brands, said Laura McGowan, a marketing professor at Wayne State University. Given Kar's following, eliminating the brand completely would be risky, but changing the over-arching company's name to a more health-oriented name to take advantage of consumer trends could be worth the costs. "In this case, if you think of Second Nature as a natural option and that it's taking care of people, it complements the long-term trends toward healthier choices going on," McGowan said. "People value and place a higher value on companies doing the right thing by their consumers."
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Letter: Demolish I-375 and replace it with opportunity

Jennifer Hart, associate professor of history and Carolyn G. Loh, associate professor of urban planning, wrote an opinion piece about the proposed project to demolish and replace interstate 375. “In the midst of protests about racial violence and systemic racism, many planned urban development projects are getting a second look. For the proposed project to demolish and replace Interstate 375, that requires imagining a more equitable future and grappling with the violence and inequality of the past. Begun in 1959, I-375’s construction was part of a broader process of urban renewal and slum clearance that demolished two thriving Black neighborhoods, Black Bottom and Paradise Valley.”

The difficult job of getting vaccines to where they need to be - A discussion on supply chain science

Craig Fahle's guest is Kevin Ketels, a lecturer in supply chain management at the Mike Ilitch School of Business at Wayne State University. He specializes in the medical supply chain. They discuss why this massive undertaking of delivering vaccines to 100's of millions of Americans and billions worldwide is so complex. They also discuss what we are learning along the way that might help us if we ever go through this again. 
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Want to fix the chronic absenteeism problem in Detroit schools? Start with transportation.

Transportation struggles aren’t the only reason chronic absenteeism is so pervasive in Detroit schools, but it is the most common reason so many students aren’t showing up for class on a regular basis, Wayne State University researchers say in a new report. About 50% of students in district and charter schools in Detroit are considered chronically absent, meaning they miss about 10% or more of the school year. The Wayne State researchers, who are part of the Detroit Education Research Partnership, warn that the pandemic has exacerbated the problem, and that seems to be validated by increased chronic absenteeism so far in the Detroit Public Schools Community District. The researchers predict chronic absenteeism will get worse in the fall unless school and community leaders come up with new solutions for school transportation. As part of the study, the researchers conducted in-depth interviews with Detroit parents, high school students, and school staff during the 2019-20 school year. They also analyzed attendance trends in the city.
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Flashpoint 2/21/21: Detroit mayor steers city through pandemic; toll of COVID-19 on mental health of teens

After giving his two cents at the White House, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan returns to the city to try to steer it through the pandemic. Duggan talked about the challenges of the COVID-19 vaccine on Flashpoint. Then the “other” pandemic -- the mental health struggles of young people after a year of COVID-19. From the beginning, we’ve wondered about the toll the pandemic has been taking on all of us from a mental health standpoint. Studies are now making clear what many feared, that it’s having a deep and damaging impact on teenagers. There was a discussion on the issue with two health professionals including pediatrician Dr. Lynn Smitherman from Wayne State University and Mary Beth Garvey, a family therapist from Grosse Pointe.
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Former chief justice shows ‘ardent desire’ to do good at WSU

Marilyn Kelly, Board of Governors chair, is profiled in a story by Detroit Legal News Editor-in-Chief Tom Kirvan. “When Marilyn Kelly retired from the state Supreme Court nine years ago, most political observers figured it would be but a brief respite from the world of public service. For that, we should all be thankful, as it was only two years before Kelly ran for elective office again, winning a seat in the November 2014 election on the Board of Governors at Wayne State University, where she earned her law degree with honors. Kelly’s return to the campaign trail was rooted in her “deep commitment to Wayne State and an ardent desire to help it accomplish its mission to provide an excellent education for its students and better serve the community,” she wrote in announcing her candidacy. Last month, Kelly was unanimously chosen to serve as chair of the Wayne State Board of Governors, hoping to usher in a new era of cooperation and collegiality, much like she did when she served as chief justice of Michigan’s top court. “The start of 2021 is the perfect time to reflect on the past and frame intentions for the future,” Kelly said after she was chosen chair. “To that end, I’ve consulted in recent weeks with every member of the Board of Governors. Each of us has pledged to renew our efforts to work together in the best interests of this great university. Her ties, of course, to her legal alma mater are strong. She is a past recipient of the University’s Outstanding Alumni Award, and received an honorary doctorate from WSU, where she also has been named its Distinguished Jurist in Residence. She has served as co-chair of the law school’s capital campaign and also established an endowed scholarship for law school students “who are dedicated to public service.”
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How the story of Remus Robinson relates to current racial disparities in healthcare

Dr. Herbert Smitherman, general internist at the Detroit Medical Center and vice dean of Diversity and Community Affairs at the Wayne State University School of Medicine, has been a practicing physician in Detroit for 33 years. Smitherman said he has met with several Black patients who don’t trust the COVID-19 vaccine or the health care system itself. He believes that can change if there are more Black doctors. “The race of the provider and having people that look like you, understand you, understand your concerns and your culture are very important to helping you receive needed care,” Smitherman said. A 2018 study done in Oakland, California, found that increasing the number of Black doctors could reduce the Black-white male gap in cardiovascular mortality by 19 percent. A 2016 study found that Black men and women in the U.S. have a life expectancy that was, respectively, 4.4 and 2.8 years shorter than white men and women. But Smitherman cautions that efforts to increase the number of Black doctors cannot be the only solution. “The mistrust was not created by Black physicians. It was structural racism and systemic racism within a health care system that created that mistrust, not Black physicians, but by non-Black physicians,” he said. Smitherman pointed out that issues such as where the vaccine is distributed, the times of day it’s offered, and the method for scheduling a vaccine appointment are all potential complications for the average Detroiter. He said figuring out solutions is all about having a diverse group of decision-makers at the table. “If you aren't having people of color represented in your real strategy setting and planning for vaccine distribution, we're not going to get where we need to get,” he said.
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Democrats try again on pro-union bill, now with majorities

President Joe Biden has vowed he will be "the strongest labor president you have ever had.” To fulfill that promise, he's thrown his support behind the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act. The bill cleared the Democratically controlled U.S. House last year but faltered in the Republican-led Senate. Now, Democrats have narrow majorities in both chambers and lawmakers are taking a second crack at passing the PRO Act — and this time, they may have a chance. "It is a very big deal. It's the most significant labor law reform legislative package on the table for decades, and I think the chances of it passing are more favorable than it has been for decades," said Marick Masters, a Wayne State University business professor who studies labor relations. There's been a dramatic decrease in union membership since the 1950s, Masters said, in part due to "defects embedded in the labor law, which is slanted in favor of employers... employers have felt increasingly emboldened over time to use the law to their advantage to make it more difficult to unionize." While Democrats, who are largely in favor of the legislation, control both chambers of Congress and the White House, it will be a challenge to make the bill into law. Proponents of the legislation would need 60 votes in the Senate to stop debate and move to a vote, which would require several Republicans to side with Democrats. They'll also be fighting for airtime amid a proposed COVID-relief package, climate policies and infrastructure priorities that are likely to take precedence. "It has a fighting chance. The odds are probably against it," Masters said. "I think it's going to be very very difficult. A lot depends on how much political capital the Biden administration and the Senate majority have to expend to get this through." 
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Ned Staebler: How to flip the script on economic development in Michigan

Ned Staebler, vice president for economic development at Wayne State University and president and CEO of TechTown, wrote an op-ed discussing economic development in Michigan. “We've been doing economic development all wrong. It's not hard to see — the results are right in front of our eyes. Over the past four decades, under administrations of both major political parties, Michigan has gone from being a relatively prosperous state to an objectively poor one. Even before the pandemic, more than 43 percent of Michigan households couldn't pay for basic necessities. A host of community, business, government, and economic development leaders have come together in an effort called Rising Income for All. Our call is to reduce this horrible statistic and make rising household income for all Michiganders the new primary goal of state economic development policy. Shifting focus to the economic well-being of Michigan residents instead of GDP growth is the first step. Next, comes the important task of crafting the best set of policies to achieve this goal. Michigan Future Inc. President Lou Glazer and I wrote a recent article for Bridge Michigan where we lay out the tenets of what a new, more effective economic development strategy for Michigan should look like. While there is no magic formula, it's clear from the experience of successful places around the country and the world that we must invest in our existing residents, places and entrepreneurs. We must develop our own talent and local businesses and create places that will retain that human capital and attract more of it.”
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Wayne State offers new certification courses in AV technologies

Amesite Inc., a Detroit-based software company providing artificial intelligence-powered online learning ecosystems for businesses, higher education, and grades K-12, announced an expansion of its partnership with Detroit’s Wayne State University to offer six-week online certification courses. All the courses were created and delivered by Amesite. They are designed to target Wayne State’s alumni and members of the university’s community. The courses will cover autonomous vehicle technologies, data science, electric vehicle technologies, mobility as a service, and programming for autonomous systems. “We chose to partner with Amesite because they offer the most advanced online learning platform in the market today. The feedback from our students and instructors has been overwhelmingly positive,” says Farshad Fotouhi, dean of engineering at Wayne State.
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Ethnic media alliance pushes stories of success, provides community leadership

Michigan is home to a variety of ethnic media outlets: the Jewish News, the Latino Press, the Michigan Chronicle among them. Hayg Oshagan, a professor at Wayne State University, looked at the outlets and had a vision: What would happen if they were brought together? So, in 2005, he met with editors from the News, Press and Chronicle -- and the Korean Weekly and the Arab American News. These five papers have a combined circulation of more than 130,000, and a readership reach above 400,000. And while circulation declines have bedeviled the mainstream newspaper world -- a 30 percent drop nationally between 1990 and 2010 -- some of the these properties (Arab American News, Latino Press) are showing surprising resilience in their subscriber ranks. Together, they are now New Michigan Media. Oshagan's goal was to make issues and concerns of ethnic and minority communities more visible to the surrounding community -- to make minority communities more visible to one another and to promote their contributions to the region. “Minority interests have been largely ignored by mainstream media,” said Oshagan. "The collaboration aims to change the existing narrative by bringing to light issues as a group -- and making people see the economic, social, moral argument of immigration to this nation and region.”
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'Many jails still do not do any testing.'

Wayne County Chief Judge Timothy Kenny has been working to stop the spread of COVID-19. Through bond reductions and early releases, he's helped to send home over 400 inmates since last March. Close quarters, limited PPE, a high population due to mandatory sentencing guidelines and old buildings with poor ventilation have conspired to make correction facilities hotbeds for COVID-19. Michigan's prison system — the Michigan Department of Corrections — has gotten the most attention around this. Since the start of the pandemic, more than 135 inmates within the MDOC have died from COVID-19. One in two of the department's inmates have tested positive since March. But jails are battling many of the same issues. In addition to Judge Kenny — and others within the Third Circuit Court — pushing to release inmates, the jail has also ramped up its testing protocol, per Sheryl Kubiak, dean of Wayne State University's School of Social Work. Kubiak has worked with Chief of Jails Robert Dunlap to create a testing and contract tracing plan. "When COVID hit and we knew that the jail was in such trouble — we made a call and said what can we do to help," said Kubiak, who explained that at the time, they were just learning that people could have no symptoms and still transmit COVID-19. Working with Wayne State University's Medical School, they did a series of mass testing to find out what the prevalence rate was, decide who to isolate and make future plans.
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Kroger, Target, Trader Joe's among companies offering COVID-19 vaccine incentives

Several companies have now made public their efforts to get workers vaccinated, including offering one-time bonuses and other financial incentives for employees who opt to get their shot. “Companies do have a lot of leeway in setting their own policies as to whether or not employees are going to have to receive the vaccine, but how the companies go about doing it can matter from a legal perspective," said Lance Gable, an associate professor at Wayne State Law School. It's a scenario not totally unfamiliar, Gable noted, as certain wellness incentives have been challenged in the past on the basis of discrimination. But the unique rollout of the COVID vaccine poses some never-before-seen problems too, he said. “There are separate issues about whether that is different if the vaccine has only been approved under Emergency Use Authorization. A mandatory vaccination requirement for a COVID vaccine could be permissible under federal law but only if employers put in place potential exceptions and accommodations," said Gable, citing EEOC guidance. In the EEOC's most recent guidance on wellness incentives, Gable said, it notes that any gifts or incentives companies offer should be modest, like a small gift card, lunch, or the cost of a ride, for example. Gable believes additional guidance will likely come out as the vaccine rollout continues.
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Wayne State announces Reconnect Transfer Award

Wayne State University is offering support to students who participate in the newly released Michigan Reconnect program through the state of Michigan. Students interested in pursuing a bachelor’s degree after obtaining their associates degree through Michigan Reconnect will be considered for a $4,000 transfer award: $2,000 per academic year for two consecutive years beginning the term of admission. “Wayne State is building on an excellent program by extending the benefits of the Michigan Reconnect program to ensure a smooth transition for eligible community college students who wish to complete their bachelor’s degrees at a world-class research university,” says M. Roy Wilson, president of WSU. “Accessibility and affordability are pillars of the Wayne State experience, and we’re pleased to be able to team up with community colleges to offer this program to our students.”
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Researchers receive $1,894,271 grant to address new drug targets for diastolic dysfunction

After the left ventricle of the heart contracts, it must relax efficiently to prepare to refill and supply the body with blood on the next beat.  An increasing number of patients — including nearly all patients with heart failure — suffer from impaired relaxation, which is part of a clinical syndrome known as diastolic dysfunction. Currently, treatments for impaired relaxation do not exist. A team of Wayne State University School of Medicine researchers led by Charles Chung, Ph.D., assistant professor of physiology, recently received a $1,894,271 grant from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health to address the critical need for new drug targets and diagnostic indexes for diastolic dysfunction using novel biomechanical tests that ultimately can be translated into clinical practice. According to Chung, the project was inspired by his research team’s finding that how quickly the heart’s muscle moves is directly related to how fast the muscle can relax. The project will use unique experiments and imaging techniques to link mechanical properties of the heart with models of heart failure that occur in patients. “My lab’s main research focus is to understand how the heart muscle moves at the end of contraction and how this motion can speed up the force decline, or relaxation, of the muscle,” said Chung. “Major proteins in muscles called myosin, actin and titin control the force of each beat. When the heart muscle contracts, myosin binds to actin to generate force. Our lab is trying to determine if motion — and how fast the motion occurs — makes myosin let go of actin faster and make the muscle relax faster.” 
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DTE Energy Foundation donates over $300,000 to Wayne State’s Center for Latino and Latin-American Studies

The DTE Energy Foundation, through its partnership with the non-profit Michigan Hispanic Collaborative (MiHC), has donated $330,000 to Wayne State University’s Center for Latino/a and Latin American Studies (LAS). The money will fund scholarships for underrepresented students who are a part of MiHC and students pursuing Latino Studies at Wayne State. “We’re excited because this fund will be able to continue to help students in perpetuity,  said Melissa Miranda Morse, LAS assistant director. “Last year was the first year that it was awarded last fall to students who received the award,” said Miranda Morse. “We help provide access for a student in Detroit and beyond of mostly first-generation and then help them with things like navigating the complex university environment and ultimately succeeding in college and beyond,”
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COVID-19 shined a light on racial health disparities. What comes next?

Racial health disparities were known long before COVID-19 was a blip on a world news briefing in the U.S. Former U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Margaret Heckler wrote in a 1985 report from her Task Force on Black and Minority Health that such disparities have been present in federal records ever since accurate federal record-keeping began. And Heckler’s report, the first comprehensive study of racial and ethnic minority health by the U.S. government, looked at two years of averages and determined about 60,000 deaths, or 42.3% of deaths, of Black people under the age of 70 were considered “excess.” The report also determined six key factors, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, and homicide, that drove higher death rates among Black people and it made recommendations to address the concerns, such as training in the medical community on cultural sensitivity, more education, and the gathering of more data. There hasn’t been a ton of progress since then, said Wayne State University President Dr. M. Roy Wilson. Wilson served as a deputy director at the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities under the National Institutes of Health and is a member of the Michigan Coronavirus Task Force on Racial Disparities. “We understand a little bit more now about what some of the underlying issues are, but there are intractable issues …  some of them are things like education and income and other things which are bigger societal problems,” he said. COVID-19, with its fast onset, simply showed the results of health disparities faster than all the other illnesses health disparities cause, Wilson said. One thing isn’t talked about enough, said Wilson. That's how Michigan responded when the racial gaps in COVID-19 deaths were identified. The success has been “remarkable,” he said.