In the news

New research in Michigan on preterm births, environmental toxins

By Mark Richardson Wayne State University has received an $11 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to investigate how volatile organic compounds contribute to preterm births. The five-year grant will be used to fund the Center for Leadership in Environmental Awareness and Research, where scientists will study the link between volatile organic compounds and preterm births in the City of Detroit. One goal is to create new ways to pinpoint the sources of industrial pollutants, and develop ways to mitigate their negative health effects. Carol Miller, professor of civil and environmental engineering and co-leader of the program at Wayne State University, said the ultimate goal is healthier moms and babies. "Very specifically, we're looking at how those contaminants impact women of childbearing age, and may be a factor influencing the high preterm birthrate in the Detroit area," Miller explained. Preterm births occur before 37 weeks, often leaving infants with breathing and feeding issues, developmental delays, or problems with seeing and hearing. According to the March of Dimes, among large American cities, Detroit has the highest rate of preterm births, at 14.6%. Volatile organic compounds are toxic vapors or gases, mostly generated by industrial sites. There are hundreds of contaminated sites in Detroit, and researchers theorize the effects of the compounds contribute to Detroit's high preterm birthrate. Dr. Melissa Runge-Morris, professor of oncology at and co-leader of the program, said preterm births most often occur in marginalized communities. "We are particularly plagued by environmental health disparities that affect and impact the most vulnerable members of our urban community," Runge-Morris emphasized.
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Trump is facing various criminal charges – here’s what we can learn from legal cases against Nixon and Clinton

Kirsten Matoy Carlson, professor of law and adjunct professor of political science at Wayne State University, wrote an article for The Conversation about former President Donald Trump’s various criminal charges. She writes: “Trump, who may become the first former president of the United States to be indicted by a court of law, is not the first modern president with legal problems. But the question of whether a president – sitting or former – should be charged with a crime has come up three times in the last half-century. As a legal scholar, I understand the important questions raised about the rule of law within U.S. democracy by the possible indictment of a former president. The rule of law means that no one is above the law. It ensures that the rules are made by and for the people. Those rules are enforced equally and adjudicated through well-established procedures. For the rule of law to prevail, any decision to indict a former president – or not to – has to be credible, independent and supported by evidence.”
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Meditation and mindfulness offer an abundance of health benefits and may be as effective as medication for treating certain conditions

Hilary A. Marusak, assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral neurosciences at Wayne State University, wrote an article for The Conversation about the benefits of meditation. She writes: “Many people look to diet trends or new exercise regimens – often with questionable benefit – to get a healthier start on the new year. But there is one strategy that’s been shown time and again to boost both mood and health: meditation. In late 2022, a high-profile study made a splash when it claimed that meditation may work as well as a common drug named Lexapro for the treatment of anxiety. Over the past couple of decades, similar evidence has emerged about mindfulness and meditation’s broad array of health benefits, for purposes ranging from stress and pain reduction to depression treatments to boosting brain health and helping to manage excessive inflammation and long COVID-19. Despite the mounting body of evidence showing the health benefits of meditation, it can be hard to weigh the science and to know how robust it is. I am a neuroscientist studying the effects of stress and trauma on brain development in children and adolescents. I also study how mindfulness, meditation and exercise can positively affect brain development and mental health in youth.”
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Wayne Law to present Rosen Constitutional Law lecture on January 18, in-person and via Zoom

Wayne State University Law School will present the Paul A. Rosen Constitutional Law Lecture on Wednesday, January 18, from 12:15 to 1:45 p.m. in-person in Partrich Auditorium in Detroit and online via Zoom. Michael Waldman, president of the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, will be speaking.  Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law is a nonpartisan law and policy institute that focuses on improving systems of democracy and justice.  The center is a leading national voice on voting rights, money in politics, criminal justice reform, and constitutional law.  Waldman, a constitutional lawyer and writer who is an expert on the presidency and American democracy, has led the Center since 2005.
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Michigan expanding ‘baby courts’ in bid to keep families together

By Kara Berg The baby court program functions as a combined problem-solving court and a typical family court, where most neglect, abuse and custody cases are handled. Judges handle cases and decide what services parents need, and when parents are able to regain custody of their children. The program is for parents of children up to age 4 who are either already in foster care or are at risk of going into foster care due to abuse or neglect. The 0-3 age group is overrepresented in Michigan's child welfare system; 27% of kids in foster care for abuse and neglect are aged 0-3 years old, despite making up 14% of the state's population. Michigan received a $3.125 million, five-year federal grant in December to add baby court programs in two counties and continue funding Wayne County's program, bringing the state's total number to four, including Wayne and Midland counties, said Michigan Department of Health and Human Services spokesman Bob Wheaton. The two new counties have not yet been chosen. Wayne County has had a baby court docket for more than a decade, said Wayne County Juvenile Referee Kathleen Allen, who oversees the program. The program has been funded by many sources, including a federal grant through Wayne State University; the Flinn Foundation, which focuses on improving mental health services; and a Michigan Health Endowment grant.  
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Wayne State University Detroit Equity Action Lab to host the National Day of Healing from Racism

In the spirit of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a group of Wayne State University racial justice leaders collaborate every January to host the National Day of Healing from Racism. This day-long event — free to attend and open to all — is focused on learning how to talk about racism’s impact and how to use practices to guide people on their journey of healing from racism. This year’s event is on Tuesday, January 17, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Wayne State University’s Student Center Ballroom, with doors opening at 9:50 a.m. The Detroit Equity Action Lab (DEAL), an initiative of the Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights at the Law School, will host this year’s event in collaboration with the WSU Office of Multicultural Student Engagement and the WSU Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.  
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Talley & Twine CEO to give keynote address at Wayne State’s MLK tribute

This year marks the 60th anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Wayne State University is hosting its annual tribute to Dr. King with the theme “Economic Freedom Through Social Justice.” Randy Williams, CEO of Talley & Twine, the country’s largest Black-owned watch company, will be the keynote speaker at this year’s tribute. He says he wants to build upon the legacy Dr. King lived and died for. “I think there are things we can learn from his life and from his legacy that we can use to empower us economically.” The formal speaking event is Friday, Jan. 13 from 10 a.m. to noon in the Mike Ilitch School of Business Lear Auditorium. 
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Healing from racism is the subject of a day-long event at Wayne State

Racial justice leaders are hosting a day-long event at Wayne State University on Tuesday designed to help people heal from racism. The National Day of Healing from Racism, held from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Student Center Ballroom, is focused on learning how to discuss racism’s impact and how to heal from it. The event is hosted by the Detroit Equity Action Lab (DEAL), an initiative of the Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights at the Law School, in collaboration with the WSU Office of Multicultural Student Engagement and the WSU Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. “We are thrilled to be back in person for this year’s event after successfully pivoting to a virtual format in 2021 and 2022," DEAL Director Asandi Conner said in a statement Wednesday. “We have a dynamic roster of practitioners, facilitators, faculty, and staff contributing to our collective effort to acknowledge and heal from racism’s wounds.”  

Drug shortages aren’t new. The tripledemic just made you look.

By Maryn McKenna Flu meds and prescription drugs have been in short supply all winter—but the problem goes back over a decade. Parents of small children have faced a persistent problem this “tripledemic” winter: They’ve headed out to pharmacies and supermarkets, looking for cold drugs and fever reducers to counter Covid, flu and RSV, and discovered the shelves were bare. And it hasn’t just been over-the-counter drugs in short supply: The antibiotic amoxicillin, used to treat strep throat and scarlet fever, is scarce in the US and the UK. What’s been worse: Discovering this isn’t a one-time interruption that might resolve quickly—with luck, while your child could still benefit. According to records at the US Food and Drug Administration, amoxicillin supplies have been low since the end of October, and pharmacy experts say colleagues were struggling with stock-outs from the beginning of that month. And it's not just treatments for seasonal infections that are out of stock. According to the FDA, 191 drugs—antibiotics, cancer treatments, anesthetics, Adderall, and other pharmaceuticals—are currently in shortage or in the process of being restored to the market. This isn’t a Covid-caused, temporary aberration. Experts have been ringing the alarm since at least 2011. Put another way: The US drives drug innovation for the rest of the world, but it can’t keep what it develops on pharmacy shelves. It’s a stubborn problem—composed of procurement slowdowns, proprietary information, and policy shortfalls—that no one has been able to fix. Coping with drug shortages is such a regular occurrence that “it's almost its own subspecialty in pharmacy now,” says Susan Davis, who is an associate dean for pharmacy at Wayne State University. “It’s something that people have as part of their job description, trying to manage shortages, which is unfathomable.”
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Judge blocks ‘concealing’ of Van Gogh painting, sets hearing date

By Darren Cunningham and Chad Britton Wednesday afternoon, a federal judge blocked the Detroit Institute of Arts from moving or hiding a Van Gogh painting at the center of a lawsuit filed Tuesday. The order states the DIA is prohibited "from damaging, destroying, concealing, disposing, moving, or using as to substantially impair its value." A hearing is set for Jan. 19 at 10 a.m. The piece, "Liseuse de Romans" or "The Novel Reader," is at the center of a newly filed lawsuit against the DIA. A Brazilian art collector, Gustavo Soter, claims he bought the piece six years ago for $3.7 million. At that time, he said he gave possession of the painting to a third party but not the title. He said that a third party took off with the painting immediately. After six years of searching for it, the Brazilian art collector saw a photo of it on social media and learned the piece is on display at the DIA. Now, the art collector is suing the DIA. Wayne State University Fine Arts professor emeritus Jeffrey Abt told 7 Action News this type of ordeal isn't unheard of. "These things happen, and they've been happening more frequently in recent years as people who are disputing works of art discover that they are in a museum sometimes temporarily, sometimes as part of a loan exhibition as is the case here... discover that they are in a museum," Abt explained.
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Building Healthy Communities programs comes to Roseville Community Schools

By Maria Allard This school year, the elementary students who attend Roseville Community Schools are learning the importance of staying healthy. For the 2022-23 school year, Roseville Community Schools has partnered with Wayne State University to implement the Building Healthy Communities program. The program is a new healthy schools initiative that offers in-school learning and an after-school club for elementary students. The program’s goal is to facilitate a healthier environment to prevent chronic disease and improve the mental health of children.