In the news

Narcan vending machines are the latest weapon against opioid overdoses

Vending machines that distribute lifesaving shots of Narcan represent the latest effort to combat the wave of opioid overdose deaths plaguing the country. Across the U.S., cities are installing vending machines and locker kiosks stocked with nasal sprays that contain naloxone, a medication that can be used in emergencies for someone who has overdosed on opioids, including fentanyl. Often referred to as Narcan, the spray medication can bring someone back from the brink of death, instantly enabling them to breathe. In Michigan, Wayne State University is installing 15 machines across the state, including on its campus in Detroit. “For our program, it does not require any payment or any kind of access identification,” said Matt Costello, the program manager for the Center of Behavioral Health and Justice at Wayne State. “The payment mechanism has been shut off on all the machines that we’ve distributed. So, an individual just goes and hits B7 and the kit drops out and then they go on their way.”

Volodymyr Zelensky went from Ukraine President to global icon, but he may need a rebrand to keep his appeal

By Kieron Monks  In the early days of the war, President Volodymyr Zelensky enjoyed a level of international popularity more associated with rock stars than politicians, as he delivered impossibly cool lines such as “I need ammunition not a ride,” and responded to Russian claims he had fled the country with a nonchalant night-time stroll around Kyiv. Zelensky’s appeal extended beyond governments to their publics, earning sky-high approval ratings and support for his cause. He set the tone for Ukraine’s wider public relations campaign, reflected by his ministers and social media channels: confident, urgent, and drawing a start picture of a battle between good and evil with apocalyptic stakes. But as the summer fades and gas bills rise, some of the shine is beginning to come off the golden boy, and support packages no longer pass unchallenged. Reports of dissatisfaction with Zelensky at the White House emerged after he dramatically fired two senior officials and old concerns about corruption in Ukraine have resurfaced. Ukraine is taking a risk by moving from its early, successful use of lo-fi messaging to more slick and stylized videos – such as a montage of strikes by HIMARS missiles set to a Metallica soundtrack – suggests Matthew Seeger, a crisis communications specialist at Wayne State University. “A lot of the initial social media was very authentic,” says Seeger. “It appeared to be shot on somebody’s cell phone. It was Zelensky walking and talking in his facilities. We had a lot of footage from drones. Making sure messages are coming across in an authentic rather than a staged way is important.” Striking the right tone presents a challenge as Ukraine seeks to generate enthusiasm for the war effort, while rejecting demands for peace negotiations that could the country dismembered. But Zelensky may ultimately need a new, optimistic message about ending the war to convince governments and publics that their contributions are not in vain. “He needs to start talking about what happens next,” says Seeger. “We need to have some sense that the conflict is going to end – not go on for the next 10 years – and that when that happens there will be an opportunity to rebuild the country and create a strong, resilient, technologically sophisticated, economically successful Ukraine.”  
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THC is beneficial for PTSD treatment, new study reveals

New research has shown that low doses of THC can help treat post-traumatic stress disorder. Published in Neuropharmacology earlier this month, a study revealed that the primary psychoactive component of cannabis could help with a range of emotional responses that are poorly modulated, especially in combination with cognitive reappraisal therapy. The study utilized a double-blind design, and a total of 52 subjects randomly received THC or placebo prior to taking part in a well-established emotion regulation task while undergoing functional magnetic resonance imaging. Researchers said participants who were given THC reported less negative feelings in comparison to their counterparts who received a placebo. Those using THC exhibited increased brain activation in parts of the brain that generally slow a lack of activity in PTSD patients while doing similar tasks. “Together, these findings suggest that THC may prove to be a beneficial pharmacological adjunct to cognitive reappraisal therapy in the treatment of PTSD,” the researchers from Wayne State University concluded.  

The Twin Metals lawsuit against the Biden administration

Kevin Ketels, assistant professor of teaching global supply chain management at Wayne State University, joins in a conversation about Twin Metals’ lawsuit challenging the Biden administration’s cancelation of two key federal mine leases and the government seems to be pushing toward electric vehicles and wind and solar power. The suit is the latest step in a longstanding back and forth over controversial proposed mines that’s now spanned three presidential administrations. “There is definitely going to be some tension in the upcoming years as we try to navigate electric vehicles and producing the batteries and materials for them. There’s no easy way to do this. Opening up these mines in some of these areas – there will be questions about the impact on local communities and the environment. We definitely feel that tension…" 
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How Michigan universities are educating students about monkeypox

By Keenan Smith  For college students, the fall semester is just days away, and for another school year, there will be concerns about large groups of people in close proximity. It’s not only COVID-19 this year, but also the growing number of cases of monkeypox. No cases have been identified on campuses in Michigan, but they have been reported on a number of other college campuses. Monkeypox is a new challenge for colleges, but lessons learned from COVID-19 could provide a path forward. Wayne State, like other Michigan universities, is launching an information campaign this week for the return to campus for the school’s 25,000 students. “Our efforts are sort of multi-pronged. But the first is always education,” Laurie Lauzon Clabo, the university’s chief health and wellness officer said. She said Wayne State will use lessons learned from COVID-19 to raise awareness about monkeypox, like how it’s spread and symptoms to watch for. “We developed a coronavirus web page for the university’s website. We will do the same for monkeypox,” she said. Regular updates are beginning this week and officials are tapping into campus experts in epidemiology and infectious disease. The university is also working to fight the stigma of monkeypox. “Monkeypox is not a gay disease. It is not a disease of men who have sex with men. It is a disease that is spread by close contact,” Clabo said.  
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Wayne State program to offer mental health support for first responders

By Dave Kinchen and David Komer  We know from recent events more and more first responders are feeling burned out – due to stress, long hours, and graphic things they see that they can’t speak to others about. But now there’s help. “We are talking about police, firefighters, dispatchers, corrections officers and EMS. It’s a different population,” said Dr. Arash Javanbakht, a psychiatrist who directs the Stress, Trauma, and Anxiety Research Clinic at Wayne State University. “They have their own different experiences.” Wayne State’s Psychiatry and Behavioral Health Sciences Department has developed the Frontline Stronger Together Program to give first responders mental and emotional support. “The trauma and stress in this population is different than most other people in the way that, if I have a horrible car accident or I may be assaulted, then I come back to my usual, safe, normal life and I can recover,” said Javanbakht. “For these people – it’s every single day…We have different ways of helping. Part is therapy or psychotherapy, or what we call talking cure. There are different ways of it. Talking about the trauma. Talking about the meanings and perceptions a person has created after trauma…” Treatments also include augmented reality devices to help first responders approach social situations in a healthy way while being treated for job-related PTSD.   
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Wayne State names Mike Poterala vice president and general counsel

By Jake Bekemeyer Following a competitive national search, Wayne State University has appointed Mike Poterala as its new vice president and general counsel, effective November 2022. An accomplished lawyer and leader in higher education, Poterala will provide legal counsel and representation to the university, ensure compliance, and minimize legal risk while also fostering sound decision-making in operation, instruction, research and administration. "I take great pride in supporting the success of students, faculty and staff, and in providing rewarding professional experiences and development opportunities for attorneys and staff," said Poterala. "I'm a proud Detroiter, and I'm thrilled to return home and help further Wayne State's critical mission." 

Exploring site-specific performance here and now

Choreographer Biba Bell, assistant professor of dance at Wayne State University, and composer-director Joo Won Park, associate professor of music technology at WSU, premiered A DREAM IS A HOUSE for remembering the future, which was created specifically for the McGregor Memorial Conference Center in Detroit. The hourlong performance included 21 dancers, nine musicians and inside of architect Minoru Yamasaki’s prismatic jewel box of marble and glass, built in 1958. Taking advantage of the faceted atrium’s unusual acoustics, Park’s original score for electric guitar, percussion and eight laptop computers emanated from small amplifiers distributed throughout the skylit room. At one point, the entire ensemble of dancers rushed from one end of the space to the other. Every dance is site-specific in some sense, but, in a warming world changed by war, political upheaval and a pandemic, some choreographers forgo traditional venues entirely.  
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Michigan Universities prep for threat of on-campus monkeypox outbreaks

By Kristin Jordan Shamus  Thousands of Michigan students will get a crash course about monkeypox when they return to campuses across the state in the days and weeks ahead. Health leaders are trying to limit the spread of monkeypox among a population that could be vulnerable amid a quickly growing outbreak that has swelled to more than 14,000 U.S. cases, including 126 in Michigan as of Aug. 19. College students – who may pack into crowded bars and share drinks at parties or engage in casual hookups – are at risk for contracting the virus, which is known to spread through skin-to-skin contact, exchange of bodily fluids, respiratory droplets and by touching contaminated objects. About 99% of U.S. cases are among men – the vast majority of whom are gay or bisexual and have sex with men – though health leaders say anyone can catch the virus and spread it. Laurie Lauzon Clabo, dean of Wayne State University’s College of Nursing and WSU’s chief health and wellness officer, said leaders learned early in the COVID-19 pandemic that “the more methods of communication we use, the more we reach a broad audience.” For that reason, in addition to posters and flyers around campus, “we’ll be sending out a start-of-the-semester message…in the coming days that will address our COVID policies for fall, and here’s some information about monkeypox and here’s where to find out more about monkeypox,” she said. “We are developing education materials…that are really targeted for a university campus audience: What are the things that put me at risk? What can I do? And so really basic lay-level education is one. The other is ensuring that anyone who wants a test can get a test. That’s really important to us.” A lot of work at universities across the state right now, Clabo said, centers on education and ensuring students understand the risks while not being too alarmist. “We have to be very careful that we don’t speak so loudly that people tune out,” she said. “We want…to dispel some of the myths that we see already surrounding monkeypox, things like the belief that this is a gay disease, that it is only spread through sexual contact. This is a disease of close personal contact, skin-to-skin contact, sharing drinks, utensils, touching contaminated surfaces…A student who is not gay is not immune. The outbreaks we’ve seen in the United States are more likely as a result of a social network that has close personal contact, and those outbreaks could have just as easily occurred in a public gym or other kinds of congregate settings.”  

Next time you cross a bridge in Michigan, think about this: Only 35% are in good condition

Michigan has over 11,000 bridges, but less than 4,000 are considered to be in ‘good’ condition and over 1,100 are in ‘poor’ condition. Michigan is behind on bridge maintenance and playing catch up is a challenge. Bill Shuster, the chair of the Wayne State University department of civil and environmental engineering, discusses how Michigan’s bridges have come to reach this state of disrepair. “We have multiple types of infrastructure that are degraded just as fast as each other and competing for funds. The state of perpetual catch-up, in terms of assessment, evaluation…this is where project management comes into play. How do we take a situation where we have a dearth of material and interrupted supply chain and then take that and assessment data to determine how close to disaster are we…there’s so much going on in the civic infrastructure space, we’re divided as to how much we can put toward bridges…”  
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Detroit launches attendance initiatives as rising absenteeism threatens pandemic recovery

By Grace Tucker  Detroit school district officials are planning more aggressive steps to reverse a rise in chronic absenteeism, a huge obstacle to their efforts to help students recover academically from the impact of the pandemic. In the latest school year, 77% of Detroit Public Schools Community District student were chronically absent, meaning they missed at least 10% of school days. Researchers say the figures are further evidence that the district needs to do more to address the broad range of causes for Detroit’s long struggles with absenteeism, including socioeconomic and transportation factors. “I think there’s this impression that Detroit parents don’t care about school, and that could not be further from the truth,” said Sarah Lenhoff, an associate professor at Wayne State University’s College of Education. “Families want their kids to be in school.” Lenhoff co-authored a study analyzing the rise in absenteeism rates during the 2020-21 school year, and said technology was a main contributor, noting that 40% of parents reported that computer problems, like Wi-Fi issues and poor-quality laptops hindered student access to online classrooms. When Detroit’s kids don’t make it to school, Lenhoff said. “it really speaks to the need for the city to invest more in employment, invest in stabilized housing, and make sure that families have the food and health care that they need, so that they can give their children what they want to give them…get them into school.”