Entries in Harvard (4)


Harvard Approves Campus Kinky Sex Club

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(BOSTON) -- Fifty Shades of Grey has hit the Ivy League as Harvard University, home to some of the nation’s top scholars, sanctioned a student bondage and kinky sex club on campus Friday, according to The Crimson.

“Harvard College Munch” started as seven students meeting during their lunch hour to discuss quirky sex interests. Now, it’s grown to 30 members, and is one of 15 student organizations that will be approved by the Committee on Student Life.

“The impact on campus will be that students who feel outside of the sexual mainstream will now have a safe space to talk about their interests, to feel socially validated, and to build a community,” Harvard psychology lecturer and a sex columnist Dr. Justin Lehmiller, told ABC News.

Students interviewed within the group were granted anonymity by the school paper. The founder, referred to as Michael, says recognition by Harvard’s administration means members will be able to put up posters for events and recruit around campus.

“It’s a little hyperbolic for me to get teary-eyed and paternal about sophomores, but it’s really a joy to see the experience they will have now,” Michael told The Crimson.

Another member, known as Mae, told the student newspaper that finding a “kink” group meant finding a home on campus.

“I didn’t think that anyone was even remotely interested [in kink] on campus,” Mae said. “It’s a community where you can feel safe, and you can feel comfortable talking about [kink].”

“Kink” is most commonly used to refer to BSDM: bondage, discipline, dominance, submission, sadism, and masochism.

“But keep in mind that BDSM interests are very broad and that the really extreme activities people typically associated with BDSM are actually quite rare,” Lehmiller said.

Harvard spokesman Jeff Neal says the university recognizes 400 independent student organizations, which must comply with a number of requirements, “ranging from submitting an organizational constitution to agreeing to the nondiscrimination and anti-hazing policies.”

“The college does not endorse the views or activities of any independent student organization,” Neal told ABC News. “Rather, it ensures that independent student organizations remain in compliance with all applicable provisions of the Handbook for Students.”

“Munch” applied for official recognition last semester, but had problems with their constitution and finding a stable adviser.

The organization also created a safety team of people who direct students who have faced abuse or trauma to appropriate resources on campus.

“Pretty much everyone who joins this club always thought they were alone,” Michael told The Crimson.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Harvard Researchers Use Cell Phones for Tracking Malaria

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(BOSTON) -- There’s a new weapon in the war against malaria -- the cell phone.

Harvard researchers found they could track the spread of malaria in Kenya using phone calls and text messages from 15 million mobile phones.

“Before mobile phones, we had proxies for human travel, like road networks, census data and small-scale GPS studies,” said study author Caroline Buckee, an assistant professor of epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health. “But now that mobile phones have spread throughout the world, we can start using these massive amounts of data to quantify human movements on a larger scale and couple this data with knowledge of infection risk.”

Buckee and colleagues used mobile phone records from June 2008 and June 2009 to track the timing and origin of calls and texts among 15 million Kenyan mobile phone subscribers. They then compared the volume of subscribers in a particular region to that region’s known malaria prevalence.  By studying networks of human and parasite movement, the team could then determine primary sources of malaria and who was most likely to become infected.

The results, published Thursday in the journal Science, suggest that malaria transmission within Kenya is dominated by travel from Lake Victoria on the country’s western edge to the more central capital city of Nairobi.  And human carriers of the malaria parasite, who may not show symptoms, far outpace the flying limits of mosquitoes in endemic regions.

“How travelers acquire malaria elsewhere and bring it home has been mostly surmised from expert knowledge and judgment,” said Dr. William Schaffner, professor and chairman of the department of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University. “Here we’ve used this unrelated cell phone technology.”

With 89 percent of the estimated 1 million annual malaria deaths occurring in Africa, the Harvard findings may help researchers better understand how human travel patterns can spread disease and potentially lead to improved public health efforts to curb the mosquito-borne infection.

“I think it is so neat and extraordinarily imaginative,” said Schaffner. “It has me bouncing up and down in my chair with excitement.”

Buckee anticipates that mobile technology could change approaches to malaria control. Long-employed anti-malaria strategies, such as the use of insecticides, bed nets, medications and mosquito-habitat removal, could be augmented by warning texts sent to travelers en route to and from malaria hot spots.

“I suspect that some people will get antsy about big brother following you,” Schaffner said, alluding to the privacy concerns that accompany mobile technology. “I’m more excited about the possibilities to prevent serious disease.”

Buckee said efforts to eradicate malaria in sub-Saharan countries, including Kenya, has been challenged by tight budgets.

“They can’t screen and treat everyone,” she said. “[Mobile phones] could be really powerful tools for targeting resources with very practical applications.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Donated Brains Damaged in Harvard Freezer

Tom Landers/The Boston Globe via Getty Images(BELMONT, Mass.) -- A freezer failure at the Harvard Brain Tissue Resource Center damaged one-third of the world’s largest donated brain collection for autism research.

A total of 93 donated brains were damaged at McLean Hospital in Belmont, Mass., 54 of them earmarked for autism research through Autism Speaks. Harvard spokesperson, Adriana Bobinchock, said an investigation is underway to determine how the freezer failure occurred.

The freezer’s temperature failed in late May, and alarms that normally indicate rising temperatures did not sound.

Dr. Francine Benes, director of the Harvard Brain Tissue Resource Center, told the Boston Globe that the damaged brains were a “priceless collection.” While foul play cannot totally be ruled out at this time, Bobinchock said that after reviewing surveillance footage and other safety measures, foul play is not likely.

Scientists are currently conducting tests to see if DNA in the damaged brains is intact and can be used for further genetic research. Bobinchock said, however, that “it is unclear whether the samples will be compatible with the full-range of the needs of neuroscientists.”

Thirty-two of the brains had been bisected, with one hemisphere placed in formalin (a formaldehyde liquid) and one half  put in the freezer. The brains contained in the formalin remain available for all research projects.

Autism Speaks did not return ABC News’ requests for comment, but according to an open letter from the organization’s Chief Scientific Officer Dr. Geri Dawson, many of the damaged samples had already been used in many clinical studies.

“We are confident that we can maintain the momentum of scientific studies based on brain tissue,” Dawson wrote.

There are more than 3,000 donated brains currently in the Brain Bank’s collection.  It is the largest and oldest federally-funded brain bank in the U.S.  In addition to autism, the Brain Bank collects brain tissue for the research of bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

Bobinchock said two secure locked doors that are under 24-hour video surveillance protect the brains.  Benes told the Boston Globe that the freezer was estimated to have been off three days before someone discovered the warmer-than-normal temperatures. The newspaper reported that the Brain Bank has been accepting donations from people with autism for about 20 years, so it will likely take several years to replace the damaged collection.

“This is definitely a blow to the speed of progress, given that donations occur over a period of years and it takes time to amass a large sample,” said Lori Warner, director of HOPE Center for Autism. “This type of brain research is unique in that it’s actual physical evidence of any differences or changes in the brains of the patients compared to controls who do not have autism.”

Dawson noted that brain donations are precious to the research and understanding of a myriad of health conditions.

“We want to ensure that this unfortunate and rare incident will not negatively affect donations in the future,” Dawson said. “We remain committed as ever to conducting research that will uncover the causes of autism and allow us to develop more effective treatments.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


What's the Secret to Happiness? Living in the Moment, Study Says

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Does your mind have a tendency to wander? It happens to all of us. While we're doing one thing, we're thinking about something else. A new study from Harvard says our wandering minds make us unhappy.

The study’s authors contacted 2250 people at random moments throughout the day and asked them three questions.

1.  How are you feeling right now? (on a scale of 0 to 100)
2.  What are you doing right now?
3.  Are you thinking about something other than what you're doing?

Researchers found that people's minds were wandering 46.9 percent of the time and that people were less happy when their minds were wandering than when they were present and attentive.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio