2021 Wege Lecture to feature talk with Naomi Klein

The 18th Peter M. Wege Lecture will take place at 7 p.m. March 10, featuring a casual virtual conversation with award-winning journalist, syndicated columnist and best-selling author Naomi Klein. The talk, sponsored by the School for Environment and Sustainability, will touch upon the pivotal moment we are in as we work to address the climate crisis, fight for climate justice, and examine the detrimental impacts that colonialism and capitalism have had on our planet and society. What needs to happen to bring about transformative, systemic change at this critical time? Klein is the author of “On Fire: The (Burning) Case for a Green New Deal” and “This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs the Climate,” as well as the inaugural Gloria Steinem Endowed Chair in Media, Culture, and Feminist Studies at Rutgers University. The event is open to the public. Participants must register in advance and a link to the event will be emailed to them.

Request for proposals open for Propelling Original Data Science grants

The Michigan Institute for Data Science has announced the next round of pilot funding. MIDAS will fund research in any area of data science and artificial intelligence, including the theoretical foundations, methodology and tools, the innovative application of the methodologies in any research area, and their implications for society and the public interest. MIDAS is particularly interested in funding pioneering work that promises high reward, major impact, promotion of public interest, and potential for major expansion. Principal investigators and co-PIs should be U-M researchers from the Ann Arbor, Dearborn or Flint campuses who are eligible to apply for federal grants. Letters of intent are due at 11:59 p.m. March 19, with full proposals due at 11:59 p.m. April 16. Awards will be announced May 28. For more, visit midas.umich.edu/2021-pods-grants/.

Five U-M research teams in biomedical STAT Madness Tournament

It’s like college basketball’s March Madness — only for biomedical research. Throughout the month of March, 64 discoveries from schools and colleges across the country will compete in the annual STAT Madness tournament. This year, U-M is fielding five research teams whose members hail from Michigan Medicine, the College of Engineering and the School of Public Health. The tournament is a chance to help the public learn about exciting, important scientific advances — many of them funded with federal tax dollars. The event is run by STAT, a health news organization and part of Boston Globe Media. Michigan fans can cast votes daily on the tournament website at statnews.com/feature/stat-madness/bracket/. To support the U-M entries on Twitter, use the hashtag #STATMadness, and tag the Twitter accounts for @UMich, @umichmedicine and @UMichResearch.

Ford School’s Shobita Parthasarathy testifies before House panel

Shobita Parthasarathy, professor of public policy at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, testified Feb. 25 before the U.S. House Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, and Related Agencies. Parthasarathy spoke about equity in innovation policy. She noted that governments attempt to address inequities retrospectively and distinctly from the innovation process, often with limited success. Instead, she urged the U.S. Department of Energy to integrate expertise from affected communities and social science throughout the research, development and demonstration funding process. View the full hearing.

Vaping marijuana associated with increased symptoms of lung damage

Adolescents who vape cannabis are at greater risk for respiratory symptoms indicative of lung injury than teens who smoke cigarettes or marijuana, or who vape nicotine, a new U-M study suggests. The result challenges conventional wisdom about vaping nicotine, said the study’s principal investigator, Carol Boyd, the Deborah J. Oakley Collegiate Professor Emerita at the School of Nursing. Boyd, who also co-directs U-M’s Center for Drugs, Alcohol, Smoking and Health, stressed that the findings do not mean that vaping nicotine or smoking cigarettes or marijuana are not bad for you. These products also produce symptoms of lung injury, but not to the same degree as vaping marijuana, she said. Read more on the study.

Menthol cigarettes linked to 10 million extra smokers

Menthol cigarettes contributed to 378,000 premature deaths in the United States between 1980 to 2018, according to a new U-M study. The research shows that about 10 million smokers were attributable to menthol cigarettes, which researchers estimate accounted for about 3 million life years lost. “Our results indicate that mentholated tobacco products have had a significant impact on public health and could continue to pose a substantial health risk,” said David Mendez, senior author of the study and associate professor of health management and policy at the School of Public Health. The study, published in Tobacco Control, indicates the most important drivers of the relative impact of menthol cigarettes were menthol’s effects in smoking initiation and cessation, said first author Thuy Le of the School of Public Health. Read more on the study.

— Compiled by James Iseler and Jeff Bleiler, The University Record

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