The awards add up for math

first_imgIt’s been a banner year for the Department of Mathematics and its faculty and graduate students. The department shared some impressive year-end highlights with us.Professor Joseph Harris, Ph.D. ’78, was among 100 new members elected to the National Academy of Sciences on May 3. An honorific society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, The National Academy of Sciences has just over 2,100 active members. Harris was also elected to the Harvard Faculty Council. Chaired by the dean of the faculty, the council consists of 18 elected members of the faculty.Professor Benedict Gross, Ph.D. ’78, the George Vasmer Leverett Professor of Mathematics, was named Harvard College Professor. Also this year, Gross and his Ph.D. student, Pei-Yu Tsai, received the Joseph R. Levenson Memorial Teaching Prize. The award is given annually by the Undergraduate Council to one senior faculty member, one junior faculty member, and one graduate student to celebrate exceptional teaching of undergraduates at Harvard.Ph.D. student Jack Huizenga received the Derek C. Bok Award for Excellence in Graduate Student Teaching of Undergraduates. Given each year to five teaching fellows, the award includes a $1,000 prize from a gift given by David G. Nathan ’51, M.D. ’55, the Robert A. Stranahan Distinguished Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, and his wife, Jean Louise Friedman Nathan.The Harvard University Certificate of Teaching Excellence was awarded to junior faculty members Jameel Al-Adroos, Juliana Belding, Janet Chen, and Paul Bourgade. Using Q evaluation data gathered by the Registrar’s Office, the certificate — awarded by Harvard’s Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning — recognizes lecturers and preceptors who achieve an overall rating of 4.5 or above, on a five-point scale, for courses taught in FAS during the fall semester of 2010. Using the same scale, the Harvard University Certificate of Distinction in Teaching was awarded to Ph.D. students Nathan Kaplan, Xiaoheng (Jerry) Wang, and Yu-Shen Lin.last_img read more

High-dollar Prescribers Proliferate in Medicare’s Drug Program

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York By Charles Ornstein and Ryann Grochowski JonesThe number of doctors who each prescribe millions of dollars of medications annually in Medicare’s drug program has soared, driven by expensive hepatitis C treatments and rising drug prices overall, federal data obtained by ProPublica shows.The number of providers who topped the $5 million mark for prescriptions increased more than tenfold, from 41 in 2011 to 514 in 2015. The number of prescribers—mostly physicians but also nurse practitioners–exceeding $10 million in drug costs jumped from two to 70 over the same time period, according to the data.Most of the doctors atop the spending list prescribed Harvoni or Sovaldi, relatively new drugs that cure hepatitis C. Other providers on the list prescribed pricey drugs to treat cancer, multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis.Medicare’s drug program, known as Part D, covers more than 41 million seniors and disabled people. In 2015, it accounted for $137.4 billion in drug spending, before factoring in rebates from drug companies. That was up from $121.5 billion a year earlier.“The trends in this space are troubling and don’t show any signs of abating,” said Tim Gronniger, deputy chief of staff at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the federal agency that runs Medicare. “It’s going to be a pressure point for patients and the program for the foreseeable future.”During the recent presidential campaign, both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump pledged to tackle the rising costs of prescription drugs. Since his election, however, President-elect Trump’s transition agenda for health care hasn’t featured the topic, a shift the Los Angeles Times reported.Medicare has released top-level data on drug spending for 2015, including the number of doctors who prescribed medications worth more than $1 million. But the agency has only published data on individual doctors up to 2014.Dr. Ben Thrower, medical director of the Multiple Sclerosis Institute at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta, was near the top of the list in 2014. He prescribed medications costing $11.5 million that year, mostly for multiple sclerosis drugs. “We get that it’s very expensive,” Thrower said. “I think all the MS providers working in the U.S. would like to see the costs go down.” But prices have climbed steadily in recent years for drugs used to treat the neurological condition, even those that have been on the market for quite a while.Most of the spending on Thrower’s prescriptions – $8.5 million — was for MS drugs Tecfidera and Copaxone, which can slow progression of MS and reduce the chance of relapse. Thrower has received payments from the makers of those and other MS drugs, but said he cut ties with the companies in January of this year.“It was kind of exciting when the first one came out,” Thrower said. “The problem we’ve seen is the cost for these drugs has just gone up and up and up.”Thrower said he no longer prescribes Tecfidera to new patients because it can lower white blood cell counts, putting them at risk for infections.Notes: Counts include initial prescriptions and refills dispensed. Retail price includes patients’ out-of-pocket costs but does not reflect drug maker rebates. *Average prescriptions per patient, per provider has been adjusted to give more weight to doctors who treat more patients. (The unadjusted average is 5.6).Just because a doctor prescribes costly drugs doesn’t mean he or she has done anything wrong, Gronniger said. “It’s much more about drug pricing … than it is about the behavior of any individual physician, many of whom are equally concerned about the price of these products as we are.”Today, ProPublica is updating its Prescriber Checkup online tool, which allows you to look up your doctor and see how his or her prescribing in Medicare Part D compares to others in the same specialty and state. Our tool covers the year 2014. You can compare the percentage of each doctor’s prescriptions that were for brand-name medications, the average cost per prescription and the average number of prescriptions per patient, among other things.Allyson Funk, a spokeswoman for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, the industry trade group, said Medicare’s figures leave out important context.“It is important to note physicians’ prescribing patterns are dynamic and based on individual patient needs,” she said in a statement. “When looking at Medicare Part D, government data on spending at the point of sale does not include the substantial rebates for brand name medicines negotiated between manufacturers and plans and therefore does not accurately reflect actual prescribing dollars or program spending.”These rebates are confidential by law, but Medicare said this week that the average rebate for brand-name drugs in 2014 was 17.5 percent.The new data on high-spending prescribers is the latest indication of the burden of drug prices on government health programs.In the past couple of years, Medicare’s drug tab has surged, in large part because it picks up the vast majority of the cost of drugs once enrollees exceed a certain threshold each year. In 2015, beneficiaries over the limit, which was $4,700, spent $51.3 billion on drugs. In 2013, the figure was $27.7 billion, government data shows. (Taxpayers, through Medicare, pick up 80 percent of the cost of this so-called catastrophic benefit.) The Associated Press first reported the ballooning cost in July.Another sign could be seen in a drug dashboard released by Medicare this week. It showed that 1 percent of drugs prescribed in the Part D program accounted for more than one-third of the program’s cost in 2015 (before rebates). Some drugs were incredibly expensive. The drug H.P. Acthar Gel, used to treat several conditions, such as multiple sclerosis relapses and a rare kidney disease, cost an average of $162,371 for each of its 3,104 users—a higher per-user cost than any other drug in the program. That’s up significantly from several years ago, when ProPublica flagged the drug’s expense.Harvoni, used by more than 75,000 people, cost an average of $92,847 per person, for a total cost of $7 billion (also before any rebates).Michael Chernew, a professor of health care policy and director of the Healthcare Markets and Regulation Lab at Harvard Medical School, said the number of high-dollar prescribers in Medicare doesn’t surprise him. Given the increased cost of prescription drugs and the latest treatment advances, “the entire distribution is shifting to the right.”Chernew said that, in the long term, Medicare and insurance companies have to examine the total cost of caring for patients with certain diseases, taking into account drugs, hospital visits, medical tests and more. Only then can anyone tell if certain expenses, such as a pricey new drug, are justified.For now, he said, “How do we know what’s good or bad?”Physicians say their top priority must be the patients in front of them, not the costs to the system.Dr. Bruce Bacon, a liver specialist at St. Louis University, had the highest total Part D drug costs in 2014, $22.7 million. He was a frequent prescriber of Sovaldi and Olysio, another expensive hepatitis C medication.Bacon did not return a call for comment for this story. In a 2015 interview, he said he did not realize his prescriptions were so costly to Medicare.“I really don’t think about the cost,” he said. “I think about taking care of the patients. Should I not take care of the patients because the cost is expensive?”Thrower, the multiple sclerosis specialist, said the high cost of drugs frustrates him and his colleagues, but ultimately the successful treatment of patients comes first.“On one hand, we get that,” he said. “On the other hand, when you’re sitting in the exam room and looking someone in the eye, you can’t say, ‘I’m not going to treat you because of the cost.’”ProPublica is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative newsroom. Sign up for their newsletter.last_img read more

Ex-Officers in George Floyd Case to Be Tried Together, With Cameras Rolling

first_img– Advertisement – The defendants, including Derek Chauvin, the white officer who pinned Mr. Floyd to the ground for more than nine minutes, had asked the court for a change of venue, arguing that they would not be able to receive a fair trial in Minneapolis because of pretrial publicity and the wide-scale protests against racial injustice Mr. Floyd’s death sparked in Minneapolis and around the country, as well the world. In an important win for the prosecution, a judge in Minneapolis on Thursday ruled that the four officers charged in the killing of George Floyd, a Black man who took some of his last breaths under the knee of a white officer on a Minneapolis street corner in May, will stand trial together.The judge also ruled that the news media can broadcast the trial, scheduled for next spring, an unusual move in Minneapolis, where courts are generally closed to cameras. The judge cited the coronavirus pandemic, which limits the number of people who can be in the courtroom at any time, and the immense national and international interest in the case.- Advertisement – Experts following the case in Minneapolis have said they believe Judge Cahill is determined to keep the case in the Twin Cities, understanding that moving the trial would likely provoke new protests, and fears of a less diverse jury. Such a move would have evoked the history of the Rodney King case in Los Angeles in 1992. The trial against the police officers who beat Mr. King was moved to a largely white suburb, resulting in acquittals on assault charges that led to riots.Judge Cahill also ordered that the jurors would remain anonymous, and said they would be partially sequestered during the trial and ordered to drive each morning to a secure location, from where they would be escorted to the courtroom.Attorney General Keith Ellison of Minnesota, whose office is overseeing the prosecution, said in a statement that he was satisfied with the court’s decision. – Advertisement – The two rookie officers, Thomas Lane and J. Alexander Keung, were the first on the scene the evening of May 25, after a convenience store clerk called the police saying that Mr. Floyd had tried to pass off a counterfeit $20 bill to pay for cigarettes.From the start, Mr. Floyd, 46, was agitated, and resisted being put in the back of a squad car, saying he was claustrophobic. After Mr. Chauvin arrived, Mr. Floyd was placed face down on the street, where he repeatedly said he couldn’t breathe.As bystanders gathered, one of them captured the scene on a cellphone camera; in video that was viewed around the world and provoked weeks of unrest in American cities, Mr. Floyd continued to say he couldn’t breathe and called out for his mother. By the time paramedics arrived, Mr. Floyd went limp, and seemed to stop breathing. He was later declared dead at a hospital.center_img Earl C. Gray, the lawyer for Mr. Lane, and Eric Nelson, the lawyer for Mr. Chauvin, declined to comment on the judge’s rulings. Lawyers for the other two former officers did not immediately respond to requests for comment.All four of the former officers had asked for separate trials, and suggested in court filings that they each place blame for Mr. Floyd’s death onto one another. The prosecution, all along, has asked for one trial, arguing that multiple trials would traumatize Mr. Floyd’s family, eyewitnesses and the larger community, which faced weeks of unrest in the streets after Mr. Floyd’s death.In his ruling ordering one trial, Judge Cahill noted that the defense for all four defendants centers on similar arguments: that the use of force to subdue Mr. Floyd was justified; and that Mr. Floyd’s death was caused by drugs that were found in his system and underlying health conditions.The medical examiner has ruled Mr. Floyd’s death a homicide because of “cardiopulmonary arrest” from Mr. Chauvin’s knee, with other causes considered contributing factors. “Protests demanding justice for George Floyd continue,” the judge, Peter A. Cahill of Hennepin County, wrote in his ruling. “It is expected that, even with some overflow courtrooms, the demand by family members, the public, and the press to attend the joint trial will outstrip the court’s ability to provide meaningful access.”Judge Cahill also said the trial will remain — for now — in the Twin Cities, although he left open the possibility of moving it later if the court is unable to seat a jury untainted by the vast publicity the case has already generated. “The murder of George Floyd occurred in Minneapolis, and it is right that the defendants should be tried in Minneapolis,” he said. “It is also true that they acted in concert with each other, and the evidence against them is similar, so it is right to try them in one trial.”Mr. Chauvin, who had been a 19-year-veteran on the police force, is charged with second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter, and faces 40 years in prison if convicted.The other officers, including two rookies who had aided Mr. Chauvin in pinning Mr. Floyd to the pavement in front of a convenience store, are charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder. The former officer Tou Thao, who knelt to the side and kept at bay bystanders who were yelling that Mr. Floyd was having difficulty breathing, is also charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder. All four former officers, who were fired after the incident, have been released on bail. – Advertisement –last_img read more

Experience the high life on Townsville’s Castle Hill

first_img READ MORE Idalia springs back to life with buyer demand “We have done lots of entertaining at the house and there is plenty of space to host guests,” Ms Roseby said. “There is a large paved entertaining space which is overlooked from the rear timber deck and there’s a terraced garden out the front.” “We removed a lot of the walls in the house so it’s much more open plan than it was so it’s not just your standard Queenslander. More from news01:21Buyer demand explodes in Townsville’s 2019 flood-affected suburbs12 Sep 202001:21‘Giant surge’ in new home sales lifts Townsville property market10 Sep 2020”There are large windows to allow for natural light and views — our guests always comment on how warm the house feels when they visit.”Boasting a Silky Oak kitchen with granite benchtops and a servery window to the back deck, the house has ample space to entertain. 2A Gregory Street in North Ward is going to auction on October 8thPERCHED at the top of Gregory Street in one of Townsville’s most sought after locations, this house has been meticulously maintained, boasting high end finishes and character features. Keta Roseby purchased this house in 2003 and renovated it from the ground up to make the most of it’s ocean and Castle Hill views. “It really feels like you’re on holiday when you’re at home,” Ms Roseby said.READ MORE City’s property market heats up “I think it’s the perfect mix between having a cottage-style home with resort-style living.“We’re lucky to be tucked away and enjoy a lovely quiet neighbourhood while also having fantastic views.”The house is surrounded by terraced lawns and sits on a fully-fenced 380sq m block.Ms Roseby said it offered more than the typical Queenslander but maintained character features including gleaming timber floors, ornate cornice and ceiling roses. “We complelty renovated the house when we first bought the property and you can feel that when you step inside,” Ms Roseby said. “The only reason we are selling is to accommodate an elderly family member but we won’t be leaving the area.”last_img read more