The Harvard Corporation has adopted a University-wide faculty financial conflict of interest policy, the first time such a policy has been crafted to cover faculty members across the entire campus. Drafted by a faculty committee chaired by Vice Provost David Korn, it is intended to serve as a framework within which each of the Schools will tailor rules to the specific circumstances of their faculties. It is expected that every School will produce a set of policies that is at least as stringent as those in the guidelines set out in the University policy, and that some will be even more stringent. HarvardScience sat down with Provost Steven E. Hyman and Vice Provost Korn to discuss the way the new University-wide policy was developed, and the impact it is expected to have. Why was it necessary, at this specific moment in time, to draft a University-wide conflict of interest policy?Hyman:Harvard is increasingly committed to research that might lead to products that will improve the lot of humankind. In our society, products make it out of the lab and into the world — where they can create benefit — through a process of commercialization. So some Harvard faculty are being encouraged to commercialize their research or otherwise engage with the private sector, in addition to writing papers for publication in notable journals.At the same time we are encouraging this kind of collaboration with private industry, it’s also important that we address our rules governing financial conflicts of interest. It’s very important to note that we’re living in a period of history when the news media, the general public, and members of Congress and government agencies are very concerned that potential financial conflicts might interfere with the kind of objective exploration and reporting of science that is at the very heart of the academic enterprise.Korn: The University is not designed to be an ivory tower isolated from the world. So the trick is to be able to have a robust system for affording faculty opportunities to engage with the commercial world and at the same time not threaten in any way their own fundamental integrity or that of Harvard.HarvardScience:But these guidelines apply to far more than just work in the sciences, don’t they? Aren’t they meant to guide the formation of policies at Schools as diverse as the Divinity School, the School of Education, the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and Harvard Medical School?Hyman:They are. And it’s very important to realize that while most commercialization used to occur only in a small number of departments and a minority of Schools, increasingly we see more and more collaboration across departmental and School boundaries. For example, we see connections between engineering and chemistry in FAS [Faculty of Arts and Sciences] and the Medical School, or between diverse parts of the University and the School of Public Health, where again faculty may be engaged in private sector collaborations or commercialization. Policymakers outside the University and our own governing bodies — that is the Harvard Corporation and the Board of Overseers — encouraged us to develop a set of policies that could apply to the whole University, rather than creating artificial boundaries with nothing but separate policies. And then David and the committee came up with the really inspired idea that while we should be governed by a shared set of principles, given the different cultures of the diverse faculties at our University, with different kinds of engagement with the private sector, implementation should be a matter that is School-specific, with the proviso that School basic implementations can’t deviate from the spirit or the letter of the University policy.Korn:The frontiers of much scholarship, especially in the sciences — basic and applied, behavioral and natural — are increasingly multidisciplinary because the problems now on the table are so large and complicated; teams of individuals from multiple disciplines have to come together with their various resources to make these huge projects tractable. And it simply isn’t feasible to have a team in any walk of life, whether it’s research or whether it’s basketball or football, where the team members play under different rules and behavioral expectations. It just doesn’t work. It’s certainly true that many of the Schools in the University had in their own faculty policy publications some mention of conflicts of interest. But in many instances they were neither concordant nor robust, so building a policy that would enable the Schools to become more harmonized in the ways they deal with these matters was a driving goal of the committee that we formed to wrestle with this issue.HarvardScience:So we now have an overarching University-wide policy that sets the parameters for the development of individual School policies. And the Medical School has completed a revision of its existing policy, creating conflict of interest standards that in many areas exceed the University guidelines. What about the other Schools — is there a set time by which they must create policies?Hyman:We haven’t set a time limit yet. In the early fall, David and I will sit down and take the necessary steps toward creating School-based implementations of the policy. I think it’s critical that David and his colleagues [on what will be a standing committee on conflict of interest] provide technical assistance, because for some of the Schools, this is a very new set of ideas. For Schools that are already engaged in science, engineering, and quantitative social science, these are not new issues. We’ve already begun a series of discussions with the deans of Arts and Sciences, Medicine, Engineering, and Public Health about School-based implementations. And those deans, well aware of the extraordinary degree of collaboration that occurs among the faculty their Schools, have pledged themselves to creating implementations that are as like to each other as possible, and in particular, having identical implementations with respect to human subjects research or clinical research, so that faculty don’t face what might be called bureaucratic double jeopardy when they engage in collaborative projects.Korn:It’s important to realize that the cultures and practices and historic interactions within the Harvard community vary enormously across the Schools. For example, the Business School exists to create leadership in the business community. And to do that requires the inculcation of values and skills necessary to achieve that objective, requires that there be much more interaction between students and faculty with business entities, than say might be necessary or considered normal in a philosophy department, or an arts department. Similar interactions are often necessary in the School of Education, and in the Design School. And yet the ways in which these different disciplines and professions practice these interactions also vary, as does the culture of what is considered appropriate and what isn’t. And none of that means that one is right and one is wrong. It’s just that the rules of a medical school would be entirely inappropriate in many respects for a law school or school of education. That’s why flexibility in how the policy is implemented is incredibly important in a University with such diverse areas of scholarship and professional education. It’s virtually impossible to get a one-size-fits-all policy that isn’t strained and artificial and unnecessarily burdensome.HarvardScience:Dr. Korn, as a graduate of the College and Harvard Medical School, you were familiar with much that is unique about Harvard. But you’d been away for decades, at Stanford, where you were chair of the Department of Pathology, and then dean of the School of Medicine, and then at the Association of American Medical Colleges, where you were a vice president. Given that time away, what surprised you the most when you returned here to take on this task?Korn:The unique feature, which I knew about but hadn’t thought about for a very, very long time, is the remarkable decentralization of the University. That in a lot of ways creates an interesting challenge for any form of central guidance or leadership, no matter what it is. The Schools have historically been very independent, and they have thrived in their independence. And the idea of coming together to develop University-wide policies is not common. So when Steve and I put the committee together to take on this task, we agreed we’d have representation from every School. We weighted the committee a bit with three members from FAS, acknowledging the three divisions, and three members from the Medical School — including hospital-based professors who are highly regarded as leaders of the academic medical community. Every other School had a single member. When the committee met initially I asked each member to introduce him or herself, and asked that they speak about conflict of interest matters that they were aware of in their own areas that bothered them. That led to an incredible amount of enthusiastic participation. The second thing we did was to get the members to define the goals, missions, and values of Harvard University. That wasn’t part of our charge, but I decided to ask the committee members to articulate what they thought were the missions and values of the University. The reason that was important was that from that point forward, the entire discussion of financial conflicts of interest and how to manage them was driven by the shared agreement, that these missions and values were core and had to be protected from any sort of undermining or tarnishing. And it was that shared agreement on what it is we’re trying to protect that really drove the process, I thought, very, very nicely to the endpoint late last fall. Everybody joined in the melee: They all contributed and they all signed off in the end. I thought the process worked extraordinarily well.HarvardScience:Is this the first time in Harvard history that there’s been such a collaborative project by representatives of all the Schools?Hyman:I can’t speak to Harvard history, but certainly in my time here we’ve never had a process that involved so many iterations among all of the deans, a committee representing faculty from the entire University, our governing bodies. And what’s remarkable, and here I refer back to something that David said, which is very important for many parts of the University: This was very new, but everybody understood it was very consequential and very important that we get it right, that we not stifle innovation and connection to the private sector, but that we create a set of policies that were clear and that would make sure that our values didn’t become transgressed in those interactions. So clearly, he had a stiff challenge.There were times hearing David’s reports and in talking to the deans when I was worried that there was too large a gulf between the Schools that support science and engineering and the rest of the University. And I was quite pleased to see everybody come together so quickly and produce such an effective document. Of course, the work isn’t done yet. We still need these implementations. But I have a lot of confidence that we’ll get there, partlybecause David and his colleagues on what will be a standing successor committee are committed to making this work.HarvardScience:So, the next step is forming a new standing committee on financial conflicts of interest, which will aid the Schools in the development of their policies and will ultimately have to approve those policies. Then what?Korn:The University Standing Committee on Financial Conflicts of Interest will be the formal instrument for overseeing the implementation plans of the various Schools. It will be available for consultation with the Schools. It will have to approve the implementation plans of each School. And it will be the body that will receive the audit reports that the policy also calls for. Harvard’s Risk Management and Audit Services is to audit each School at least once every three years to obtain insight and evidence of how well the Schools are employing the policy. And the audit reports will be given to me and shared with the committee so that the committee gains insight into how the Schools are complying, or where there may be problems that need some help, or where some aspect of the policy may simply not be working out as well as it sounded in concept, in which case we might propose some modifications to the President and Provost.Faculty members in each School will file both annual and transactional reports. Transactional reports will be filed for specific things, such as gifts or contracts or such, in which the faculty member or their immediate family has what the School regards as a significant financial relationship with the donor or sponsor that might be seen as creating a conflict of interest. The Schools are given a fair amount of discretion in how they’re going to implement this requirement, and among those discretions will be deciding what kinds and magnitudes of financial relationships their faculty might have that the Schools need to know about.Hyman:One really important thing that David is touching on is that the policy will call for disclosure of relevant potential conflicts of interest to the dean of a School. This does not imply that these disclosures will be made public, and I think that’s something that has been misunderstood. Now in medicine, there are both federal laws affecting drug companies and state laws that will lead to some disclosures being made public. It is important to note that it has become part of our culture to expect that if a physician wants to consult with a pharmaceutical company, that consultation will become a matter of public record with the view, shared by many, that some patients will want to know whether their doctor is engaged with or getting compensation from a pharmaceutical or medical device company. But as a matter of University policy, a Law School faculty member, for example, or a Design School faculty member making a disclosure to the dean will not have these disclosures made available to the public.HarvardScience:Isn’t this process of internal review much like the Institutional Review Board process for research involving human subjects, a process in which there is a careful, detailed review, but that review is confidential?Korn:I think, in a way, that’s a fair analogy. The process won’t be identical, but it will require a similarly careful, fact-driven balancing of risks and benefits, and then making decisions about whether and how to allow the research to go forward — or not.
Some 1,200 people jammed into Sanders Theatre to cheer renowned Colombian-born singer, songwriter, and philanthropist Shakira, who received the Harvard Foundation’s 2011 Artist of the Year award on Feb. 26. “Shakira’s contributions to music and distinguished history of creativity have been applauded by people throughout the world, and she is greatly admired worldwide for her humanitarian efforts through her Barefoot Foundation, which aims to promote a better quality of life for children in impoverished areas, providing them with education and nutrition,” said S. Allen Counter, director of the Harvard Foundation.
In 2008, retired Saint Mary’s biology professor Thomas Platt was granted a two month sabbatical from the College. He used that period of time, between January and March, to study parasites in Malaysia. That’s where he discovered the parasite he named Baracktrema obamai after President Barack Obama. Platt stayed and conducted his research at Universiti Putra in Malaysia, where he spent his time dissecting turtles. Platt said he has devoted the bulk of his life to studying the parasites of turtles, and this is where he made his now-famous discovery.“During the course of those dissections, I found what I was absolutely certain was a new species,” Platt said. “And I knew that as soon as I saw it.”The new species of parasite was found in the circulatory system of the lungs of turtles. The parasite is measured to be two inches long and thinner than a stand of hair. The parasite was found in two species of turtles: the Black Marsh turtle and the Asian Box turtle.Platt said as a taxonomist, it is his job is to discover, name and categorize species for other scientists can use them in research. He said his goal is simply to increase human awareness of what is living on Earth.“What I’m attempting to do is add to our knowledge of diversity on the planet,” Platt said. “If somebody then utilizes the information that I find for other means that is fine by me.”Recently, Platt found out through one of his cousins that Obama is a distant cousin of his; the two share a common ancestor — a man named George Frederick Toot who lived in Middletown, Pa., from 1759 to 1815. Platt said despite what one may think, he considers it an honor to have a parasite named after you. He has had two parasites named after himself as recognition for his work. By naming this parasite after Obama, Platt said he intends to honor his distant family member.“I voted for Obama twice, I think he had done a fine job. I have a great deal of respect for him as a husband and father,” Platt said. “From my perspective, I am recognizing his achievements.” Platt, who retired in 2015, said he is happy this story is getting global attention. He said with the hard work he has done over the course of his career — especially on this eight-and-a-half-year project — and the hard work all other scientists do, expecting nothing in return, it is nice to receive some recognition and feedback.“I wanted the last organism that I’m going to name in my career to make a little noise,” Platt said. He said the story, which started to gain media attention a week ago, has already began to raise awareness of parasitology. For example, Platt added, the journal of parasitology website recently received ten times more hits then it usually does. “There are a lot of scientist out there who don’t do it for money or recognition but because they love it,” he said. “We are really just interested in discovering diversity on this planet.”Tags: Barack Obama, Baracktrema obamai, parasite, parsitoligy, Thomas Platt
This is footage from Mulholland Highway outside Los Angeles is pretty horrific, but luckily both cyclists escaped with only minor injuries according to the YouTube description. The description also states the motorcyclist “hit his foot and stood the bike up causing the bike to go wide,” although that is hard to tell in the video; it looks like he smoothly comes out of the turn and plows into the cyclists without even noticing them. As the Adventure-Journal pointed out, when the clip was posted to Deadspin, the comment section blew up with people saying ugly things about cyclists in the vein of “hooray, hit them all. Bonus points.” and the like. Those comments are disgusting, as both these cyclists could have been seriously injured or killed by this negligence, but also serves as an example of how great the divide is between respect for road cyclists and those who would rather see them run over by a motorcycle or car than share the road just a little bit.Your comments are welcome below.
In a recent interview, I stumbled over a question.What advice do you have for others who want to leave their office job? I bumbled out some answer about leaving stacks of paper behind and getting outside. Later, I turned the question over in my head, going round and round on how I should have answered the question, which is maybe why I am a writer instead of a public speaker – I need to time to process my thoughts before they are fit for public consumption.If I had it all over to do again, would have responded something like this:When I quit my ho-hum office job, I had this jump-and-the-net-will-appear attitude, believing that the freaked out moment of flying through the air would be brief and soon followed by a soft landing.In reality, leaving the 9-5 grind has been stressful. Instead of working during a confined block of time, I’m working around the clock. There is no paycheck. I’ve second-guessed my decision dozens of times. I’m plagued with self-doubt and constantly wonder – What if it doesn’t work out?The thing is, taking a leap of faith is more like jumping off a dock than off a cliff. The water is refreshingly cold and a bit of a shock to the system, but you feel energized and swim with a determined stroke toward an island that sounds like paradise, only it’s too far away to actually see. You tell yourself how once you get there you’ll lead your dream life.You continue to swim hard until you get winded. You tread water, turning around you realize that the land you left behind is out of sight. You turn forward, squinting into the horizon, but still can’t see the island. Not a soul around, you are alone in the middle of the sea. A panicky fear fills you and you take wild gulps of air before realizing your only option is to keep swimming. You put your head down and plod along, all the while your mind a battlefield of self-doubt, wondering if you’ll ever make it.I’m still in the middle of the daunting swim, with no land in sight in either direction. I launched a Kickstarter campaign and have raised nearly two-thirds of the money necessary to launch a sailing journey for my four-year-old son where we’ll serve local communities as environmental stewards. I’ve dreamed about taking my child sailing before I even knew for sure I would one day have kids. The month of sailing will provide plenty of material for my writing career.With only a little over a week to go, failure looms over me like an ever-present storm cloud. I have no set plan for how or where the money to fill the gap will come from and so I just keep doing the next thing and the next thing after that.Along the way, I’ve learned something about trust, patience, and faith. The most unexpected hands have reached out to me. I’ve met people during the last few weeks who have guided me in new directions. There are days when I regret leaving behind my comfortable, familiar life. I just keep doing the next thing to move my Kickstarter forward even on those days, especially on those days.I remind myself that I decided to chase a meaningful life over avoiding discomfort. It’s the reason I’m work hard on a project that I have no guarantees will succeed. It’s why I’m telling a story that leaves me feeling vulnerable and exposed. It’s why I moved my son and I from a two-bedroom bungalow into a glorified studio.I disclose my own journey as a disclaimer about my qualifications to give advice at all, but I can share what I told myself several times a day before I mustered up the courage to leave my office job.Life consists of moments. It’s up to us to make those moments matter. Figure out what creates meaning in your life and trust yourself to make it happen. Make the leap, warrior, for there will be new horizons you can only experience by moving forward.With a little more than a week to go, we could use our help to make sure we leave the docks this January. Please check out our Kickstarter and consider backing us.
By Dialogo July 31, 2009 The Egyptian Foreign Minister, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, met with Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and with his Brazilian counterpart, Celso Amorim, during a visit to Brazil in which he discussed peace in the Middle East and both foreign ministers repeated their call for Israel to declare a moratorium on settlement creation and expansion. The Egyptian foreign minister indicated that President Hosni Mubarak is sure to visit Brazil before the end of the year, at Lula’s invitation. Amorim explained that Brazil supports a two-state solution for peace in the region, with Israel as one state and the other an “economically viable and socially real, not amputated” Palestine “without restrictions,” something that would require a moratorium on settlement expansion. Ahmed Aboul Gheit made the same demand, calling for a clear and definitive signal by Israel with regard to the process and a moratorium on settlement activity. “Brazil can play a role in (the peace negotiations in the Middle East) because it has economic and political weight,” the Egyptian said. The visit by Egypt’s chief diplomat comes a week after the arrival in Brazil of the Israeli foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, who suggested that the South American country increase its participation in dialogue in the region, given its good relations with the Arab countries. He also suggested that Brazil contribute to convincing Iran to abandon its nuclear program. Lieberman also met with Lula. Brazil, which is expecting a visit from Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad shortly, indicated that it would be interested in having a role in the peace process in the region, following a trip by Amorim to the region at the end of 2008.
What you say to your customers, when you say it, and how/where you say it are the cornerstones of any marketing strategy. A well-oiled and fine-tuned communications strategy can represent one of the most valuable pieces of intellectual property a banking organization can possess. Your approach to customer communications shapes your brand image, sets the tone for important business transactions, influences renewal and referral decisions, and differentiates you from your competitors.However, many banks and credit unions don’t take a strategic, integrated approach, and instead manage their customer communications through a series of isolated business systems — usually handled by departmental teams that often only create mission-critical documents and send the messages that are absolutely necessary. This chaotic mix of uncoordinated efforts often results in fragmented communications that leave customers feeling confused or frustrated.According to a study by Forrester Research, many financial institutions are striving to achieve a better customer experience by improving technology systems, providing seamless customer onboarding and ensuring accuracy of customer data. However, the study found that many customer experience initiatives do not apply best practices to the entire experience; instead they focus in on sexier digital initiatives.Meanwhile, legacy systems continue to hold institutions back. Almost half of respondents in the study said that their technology platforms don’t let them integrate documents — particularly those for new customers — into multichannel communications. Furthermore, 61% of the survey’s respondents said they face hurdles when it comes to creating a consistent look and feel for documents, while also struggling to ensure they adhere to necessary regulatory requirements. It’s hard enough for most of them just trying to incorporate and enforce compliant language long before visual consistency becomes part of the equation. continue reading » 9SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr
2SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr The Homeland Security Department warned of severe security gaps in Symantec and Norton antivirus programs, including those extensively deployed throughout government systems, which could lead to data breaches and ransomware attacks.“Symantec and Norton branded antivirus products contain multiple vulnerabilities. Some of these products are in widespread use throughout government and industry. Exploitation of these vulnerabilities could allow a remote attacker to take control of an affected system,” DHS officials said in the alert published through the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team.The weaknesses, according to the alert, affect 24 security products, including Symantec Endpoint Protection, Symantec Email Security, Norton Security, and Symantec Protection for SharePoint Servers. continue reading »
My spouse and I are considering refinancing our home to see if we can lower our monthly payment before interest rates rise. I made the mistake of filling out an online form which sent my information to what seems like every financial institution in the country.I spent the next two weeks dodging and sometimes blocking their phone calls, but one snuck through. The person who called was pleasant and knowledgeable, but it was clear his goal was to sell, not help.Sure, he could lower my payment, but he wasn’t saving me a dime by taking the less than 20 years I owe on my mortgage, adding my car payment (at a rate much higher than my current auto loan) and spreading it out over 30 years. In fact, he was costing me money. I couldn’t help but wonder how many other consumers he had “helped.”The man was friendly enough, but he wasn’t helpful and my consumer experience was less than stellar.This is why consumers don’t trust financial institutions. continue reading » ShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr
Economists are calling for a well-prepared lockdown and an emergency status declaration to further save the country from widespread COVID-19 coronavirus infections and soften hard-hitting effects on the economy.Senior economist Faisal Basri wrote on his twitter account (@FaisalBasri) that the government should halt construction of its new capital and “unite all the nation’s power” instead.”To save Indonesia, the President has to immediately declare an emergency war against the coronavirus. That is also the key to save the economy,” Faisal wrote. Untuk menyelamatkan Indonesia, Presiden harus segera menyatakan darurat perang melawan coronavirus. Itu juga kunci menyelamatkan ekonomi.— Faisal Basri (@FaisalBasri) March 16, 2020 The country has yet to set a national emergency status. However, Banten and Tangerang in West Java and Surakarta in Central Java are among those that have already declared extraordinary occurrence (KLB) statuses. Jakarta and Surakarta have both closed their schools as Jakarta mulls over a lockdown plan.Read also: Regions close schools, cancel public events because of COVID-19 Center of Reform on Economics (Core) Indonesia research director Piter Abdullah said that authorities should meticulously plan a lockdown before executing one, as quoted by Kontan. He said that an unprepared lockdown could hurt the informal players and producers as the move could diminish resources used for production. Such unpreparedness would make the recovery take longer and the negative economic impacts worse, he said.He said the government has seemed hesitant about taking drastic measures to save the economy as it faces a dilemma between fighting the coronavirus and saving the economy, citing several stimulus packages as an example.Indonesia announced last Friday it is allocating Rp 120 trillion from the state budget to stimulate the economy through tax incentives and subsidies for workers, businesses and families affected by the global COVID-19 pandemic.The second stimulus package announced on the same day, worth Rp 22.9 trillion, would include individual and corporate tax breaks, as well as relaxation of loans disbursement and restructuring. These add to a Rp 10.3 trillion stimulus package announcement on Feb. 25 that boosts staple needs and mortgage subsidies for low-income families and fiscal incentives for travel-related industries.The government would also speed up disbursement of social spending in the first quarter, as well as the new training subsidies connected to the pre-employment card this month.”If we’re going to execute a lockdown, its impact will certainly be significant, as if we are turning the economy off. All of this needs to be anticipated and prepared with solutions,” he said.He said President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s latest appeal for people to stay at home has failed to take shape in several regions since companies and government offices are still open, resulting in congested public transportation.In his first national address on the COVID-19 outbreak last Sunday, the President highlighted the importance of practicing what is called “social distancing” to stop the spread of the coronavirus that has already claimed thousands of lives worldwide.Topics :