Supercourse Newsletter 29 January 2004
Linking the Supercourse with the News Media
Last week we meet with the head of education and others at USA-
Today (Diane Barrett, Joyce Winterton, Doug Fraster and Kevin
Maney). It was a great meeting. USAToday is the largest Newspa-
per in the US. It is likely that many of you have seen it when
you were visiting in the US.
USAToday is the source of many classroom lectures in the United
States. The USAToday articles are short, and provide the major
points of the story. It is quite well written. A teacher in a
local school can easily make a lecture on current events from
the articles. USAToday, therefore is ideally suited for partner-
ing with the Supercourse.
They were very interested in working with us. We decided to work
with them for the next big disaster. Sadly we will always have
disasters, be the Supercourse can help to get the information of
the disasters to the students of the US and of the world.
The approach we are discussing is simple. Say there is an Earth-
quake in California. USAToday would notify us before publishing.
We already have Eric Noji?s brilliant overview lecture on earth-
quakes. We would link this directly to the articles in USAToday
on their web site. We would work to have a Supercourse button on
the articles in their web site that could be hyperlinked to our
lecture. Thus not only will the teachers have the written mate-
rial of the newspaper article, they would also have the lecture
slides themselves, greatly helping out the teachers of the
Every day the lecture would be continuous updated until the dis-
aster is resolved. In addition to the link to USAToday, we think
that we can use ?push technology? to send the PowerPoint files
of the lecture itself directly to the teachers and the schools.
We think we can get this model started in the US, but then work
with you to distribute it around the world. We would first need
to translate the lecture in German, Arabic, Italian, Spanish, or
Hebrew. This could be done using machine translation, but also
could be done with out network or all teachers around the world.
We thank the people at USAToday as they showed us that this
could be done, and we could get top quality lectures into the
The logic is simple. After 9/11 perhaps 50 million lectures were
developed individually by teachers. The Bam Earthquake probably
had 10 million lectures. In the US most of the source material
for all disasters is from American Television, which does not
have the best epidemiologists in the world. The variation of
lectures around the world had to be enormous. If we scientists
could produce a set of factual, scientific lectures we poten-
tially could reduce the enormous fear and uncertainty surround-
We would very much value your opinion.
Eugene just reported that there were 1,651 lectures. We are like
the ever expanding Universe. Fantastic.
Wedding: One of our good friends, Soni Dodani, M.D. just got
married yesterday in Pittsburgh. We wish she, and her new family
a wonderful life.
Lecture of the week
Following the headline news these days may be a challenge: we
are bombarded with the news about the outbreaks of communicable
conditions like SARS, Mad Cow, and most recently avian flu. For
many of us, especially for those with limited experience in the
area of infectious disease epidemiology, sorting out the infor-
mation may become a Herculean task.
Our good friends from Philippines, Drs. Maria Fidelis C. Manalo
and Vicente C. Manalo, Jr., decided to help the Supercourse and
the Global Health Network with this challenge and provided us
with a lecture on the avian flu. The lecture, entitled Bird Flu
can be accessed at:
It provides many useful facts about the natural hosts of this
disease, mechanisms of disease transmission and infection, re-
search information about the virus, etc. Despite making headline
news, bird flu is not something new: various research study of
the virus were carried out in Hong Kong in 1990's. For more in-
formation on this topic, please check out lecture of the week.
Onward to Ground Hog Day... What a celebration!!
Best Regards from Pittsburgh,
Ron, Faina, Mita, Eugene, Akira, Soni, Rania, Abed, Ezzeldeen,