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As the world teeters on the brink of pandemic status for the coronavirus, an Israeli startup claims it may have found a way to help stop its spread. In this edition of the DARA newsletter, we present this fascinating tale of innovation - plus reports of anti-Semitism against doctors in Colorado and an interesting piece on how epidemiology could instruct us on how to stop the march of anti-Semitism.

Read on to see the latest developments in the medical world regarding anti-Semitism, anti-Israel activity, and racism.

Colorado doctors claim they were targeted by anti-Semitic boss

Nine doctors have accused the University of Colorado School of Medicine of anti-Semitism and age discrimination.

“We have done this, not for economic gain, but because there is an abusive and unhealthy hostile environment that has led to many talented doctors and researchers forced out of the department, fired or not having their contracts renewed," wrote the doctors in a letter to the school's board of regents.

All nine doctors work under the Department of Anesthesiology - at either Children’s Hospital, the CU School of Medicine or both. Eight of the nine doctors are Jewish; all are older than 50.

Problems began in the department in 2016, said one of the doctors, when Dr. Vesna Todorovic became department chairperson. 

“We see a very clear pattern of exit from the department,” said Dr. Susan Mandell, who said that people are being forced out or contracts haven’t been renewed. “The regents have to look into this. There has been severe retaliation against those who have complained about it.”

Thirteen doctors have submitted a letter supporting Dr. Todorovic.

Epidemiology's lessons on how to combat anti-Semitism

When Dr. Gary Slutkin returned to the U.S. from Africa 20 years ago, he began to think that community violence looked a lot like contagious epidemics.

The infectious disease epidemiologist had worked to stop epidemics at the World Health Organization. He theorized that violent behaviour was also contagious - and could be stopped from spreading with simple intervention.

He tested his theory in the field. "Violence interrupters" identified potential acts of violence. Outreach workers then identified those likely to commit acts of violence. The theory worked:  As a team, they have successfully shifted community norms away from violence in more than 25 cities around the world.

Now he wants to adapt his approach to curb anti-Semitic violence.

"In its transmissibility, anti-Semitic violence is no different than election violence, tribal violence, neighborhood violence or cartel violence," Slutkin writes. "Anti-Semitism and violent attacks, including mass and rage shootings, arise like any contagious process. Group norms influence susceptible individuals to action. Their actions in turn influence others."

To stop the spread, communities need to introduce a kind of violence interrupter for anti-Semitism. However, they can only gain trust by using "credible messengers" - insiders in the anti-Semitic group, or at least trusted individuals.

New York City recently adopted Dr. Slutkin's approach with an initiative that applies the Cure Violence Global epidemic control method.

Has the coronavirus met its match in super-resistant clothing?

An Israeli startup says its technology may be able to help stop the spread of the coronavirus with an anti-pathogen, anti-bacterial fabric.

The fabric, developed by Sonovia, has been sent to labs in China for testing.

“The technology is based upon a physical phenomenon called cavitation,” said Dr. Jason Migdal, a scientist at Sonovia.

“Sound waves in liquid create cavities, numerous air voids, that upon their implosion create nanoparticles of metal oxides and high-velocity jet streams in the liquid itself that force the nanoparticles onto the surface of the fabric."

Originally developed as a bacteria-fighting nanoparticle finishing technology, it has been tested on stop the spread of infections. The technology can be used on masks, gowns and other hospital garb. The fabric maintains its potency at up to 100 washes. 

Now its creators hope to expand its use to a health crisis that becomes more acute by the day.

“In response to the global concern regarding the outbreak of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCOV) in China, which has since spread to several other countries, we would like to accelerate the development of our technology and actively seeking for investment,” said Sonovia in a statement.


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