The Pulse – September 19, 2014


    Fifteen seconds. That’s all it took to raze a 16-story public housing high-rise in Philadelphia last weekend. Only an implosion—an uncommon but highly precise form of demolition—could take down a building so fast and provide such a visually stunning demise. But, how does it work? We sent reporter Aaron Moselle to ground zero to find out.

    Scientists often toil for years and years under the flourescent lights of their dusty labs without the world ever taking much notice. But for some, one phone call can change all that, dragging them, and their work, into the spotlight. University of Pennsylvania innovation professor Danielle Bassett got that call this week. She has been selected as one of 21 MacArthur fellows—an award referred to as the Genius Grant. Along with being called a “genius” by every media agency in the free world, she also gets $625,000 to pursue her work…no strings attached. We had her in our studios to discuss her work.

    Overdoses from opioids and heroin have surged around this region and the country. As a result, first responders and some community members now carry the drug Narcan, which, if given soon enough, can reverse an overdose on the spot. In our regular segment Patient Files, we’re going to hear the story of John Dooling who received this treatment. It both saved and changed his life forever.

    Our next story takes us to Pennsylvania’s Susquehenna River watershed, a key location in the state’s $3 billion fishing industry. But for the last 10 years, a mystery has been unfolding here. Young smallmouth bass have been found with open sores and lesions, and many of the male fish that make it to adulthood have female sexual characteristics. With the population of smallmouth bass dropping, we sent reporter Katie Colaneri to find out what’s going on.

    Starting this fall, we will all be invited to spit into palm-size clear plastic viles, and then to send our saliva to New York City. No joke. It’s part of a genetic screening project to find what organizers are calling “unexpected heroes”—people whose genes say they should be sick but aren’t. The Resilience Project, as it’s been named, is an attempt to develop new treatments for rare diseases, and, as reporter Carolyn Beeler found out, this massive undertaking is possible now because of advances in genetic sequencing and supercomputing.

    There’s been a lot of discussion about how to keep people out of the hospital and curb the use of costly care that may be better delivered elsewhere or avoided altogether. A study out this month took a closer look at returning patients to the emergency room and why they are returning so soon after an initial visit. As Elana Gordon reports, the reasons may not be what you think.

    How do you feel about mice? If you’ve had the little rodents wreak havoc in your cupboards and brazenly dash across your kitchen countertops, you might not be a fan. But Dr. Elizabeth Becker’s research into mouse behavior might change your opinion. In our latest installment of “So What Do You Do?” Anthony Stipa talks to Dr. Becker about her research, which offers insights into the nature-nurture debate so often at the forefront of human child-rearing practices.

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