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YCQM July 14, 2019

(WCAX)
Published: Jul. 14, 2019 at 2:43 PM EDT
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>> Cat: AND GOOD MORNING.

I'M CAT VIGLIENZONI IN FOR

DARREN PERRON.

THIS WEEK ON "YOU CAN QUOTE ME,"

WE'RE DOING A SPECIAL SUNDAY

SCIENCE EDITION.

A BIT LATER IN THE BROADCAST,

WE'RE LEARNING ABOUT A

$21 MILLION STUDY THAT UVM

COLLEGE OF MEDICINE IS TAKING

PART IN.

IT WILL EXPLORE WHY SOME PEOPLE

BORN IN THE RURAL SOUTH ARE LESS

HEALTHY AND MAY DIE SOONER.

ONE OF THE RESEARCHERS ON THE

PROJECT JOINS ME IN STUDIO TO

EXPLAIN THEIR ROLE.

>>> PLUS, MERCURY IN THE FOOLS

WHERE VERMONT'S AMPHIBIANS

BLEED.

I HEAD INTO THE FIELD TO FIND

OUT HOW BAD THE PROBLEM IS AND

WHY THE AREAS ARE SO CRUCIAL TO

OUR WILDLIFE.

BUT FIRST, HOW VIDEO GAMES CAN

HELP PREDICT HUMAN BEHAVIOR

ANDSTON THE SPREAD OF ANIMAL

DISEASES IN OUR SYSTEM.

EUROPE AND ASIA ARE RIGHT NOW

BATTLING OUTBREAKS OF SWINE

FEVER.

IT'S DRIVING UP THE PRICE OF THE

PORK YOU BUY.

AMERICAN FARMERS ARE AFRAID THE

DISEASE WILL CROP UP HERE.

THAT'S BECAUSE BACK IN 2013, A

DIFFERENT TYPE OF PIG VIRUS

SPREAD THROUGH 33 STATES HERE,

WIPING ABOUT SEVEN MILLION PIGS,

7% OF OUR NATION'S SWINE.

BOOSTING GOOD PRACTICES ARE THE

BEST WAY TO PREVENT IT FROM

HAPPENING AGAIN, BUT SOME FARMS

DO AND OTHERS DON'T.

UNIVERSITY OF VERMONT

RESEARCHERS ARE USING VIDEO

GAMES TO PREDICT HOW THOSE

OUTBREAKS CAN BE IMPACTED.

IT'S PART OF A BIOSECURITY

INITIATIVE GOING ON ON CAMPUS

RIGHT NOW.

I FOUND OUT HOW THEIR

PROJECTIONS CAN HELP PROTECT OUR

AGRICULTURAL INDUSTRY.

TRACKING A PIG DIARRHEA THROUGH

PARTNERSHIPS DOESN'T SOUND LIKE

A VIDEO GAME YOU'D THINK OF

DEVELOPING, UNLESS YOU'RE IN THE

UNIVERSITY OF VERMONT'S SOCIAL

ECOLOGICAL GAMING AND SIMULATION

LAB.

>> WHAT HAPPENS ON THE FARM

DOESN'T STAY ON THE FARM.

>> Cat: THIS RESEARCHER SAYS IN

THE PAST, DISEASE OUTBREAK

PROJECTIONS DIDN'T INCLUDE HOW

HUMAN BEHAVIOR FACTORS IN.

THEIR WORK CHANGES THAT.

>> ONCE YOU LEARN HOW THEY

BEHAVE, THEN THE NEXT QUESTION

IS HOW DO WE APPLY THIS IN A

LARGER SYSTEM?

>> Cat: TO GET DATA, THEY PAID

PLAYERS TO GO THROUGH A SERIES

OF VIDEO GAMES AND MAKE

DECISIONS ABOUT HOW MUCH RISK

THEY WERE WHIMMING TO EXPOSE

THEIR -- WILLING TO EXPOSE THEIR

SWINE HERD TO, DESIGNED TO

SIMULATE ISSUES FARMERS FACE

DAILY.

THEN THEY USE THAT DATA TO

SIMULATE HOW HOG DISEASE WOULD

SPREAD.

>> THESE ARE REAL PROBLEMS THAT

PEOPLE ARE DEALING WITH.

THESE ARE LIFE-CHANGING PROBLEMS

WHEN A DISEASE GOES THROUGH

THEIR BARN.

THEY FEEL CRUSHED.

>> Cat: RESEARCHER SCOTT MERRILL

SAYS BILLIONS OF DOLLARS OF

LOSSES MAY COME DOWN TO ISSUES

LIKE WASHING HANDS.

THEIR SIMULATION FOUND SMALL

SHIFTS IN HUMAN BEHAVIOR CAN

HAVE DRAMATIC IMPACTS.

REDUCING RISK TOLERANCE A

LITTLE, HELPED EVERYONE A LOT.

>> WE'RE CHANGING PEOPLE'S

WILLINGNESS TO OBEY RULES FROM

30% TO OVER 80% OF PEOPLE

FOLLOWING THE RULES BY CHANGING

THE WAY WE'RE TALKING ABOUT IT

IN A SITUATION.

>> Cat: AND WHILE VIDEO GAMES

CANNOT FULLY PREDICT HOW PEOPLE

REACT IN THE REAL WORD, THE

GAME'S DESIGNERS SAY MORE

INTERACTION MAKES IT REAL FOR

THE PARTICIPANTS.

>> YOU CAN DO A LOT IN GAMES,

BUT YOU CAN DO THE SAME THING

WITH SURVEYS.

PEOPLE REACT DIFFERENTLY WITH A

PIECE OF PAPER IN FRONT OF YOU.

>> Cat: AND JOINING ME NOW ARE

UVM RESEARCHERS SCOTT MERRILL

AND GABRIELA BUCINI.

THANKS FOR BEING HERE THIS

MORNING.

IS THIS A BETTER WAY TO COLLECT

DATA?

>> Merrill: I WOULD SAY IN ARE

GENERAL, THERE'S A LOT OF WAYS

OF COLLECTING GOOD DATA AND ONE

OF THOSE IS THROUGH THE USE OF

EXPERIMENTAL GAMES.

YOU COULD USE SURVEYS, YOU COULD

USE WORKSHOPS OR FOCUS GROUPS

AND THEY ALL HAVE BONUSES, BUT

THEY ALL HAVE PROBLEMS.

THIS IS A VERY GOOD WAY BECAUSE

IT ACTUALLY ENGAGES THE PEOPLE

IN THAT PROCESS AND THEY CAN

REALLY LEARN POSSIBLY THROUGH

THE EXPERIMENTAL GAME ITSELF AND

THEY CAN LEARN HOW THEY BEHAVE

BY THROWING THEM IN THOSE

DIFFERENT SITUATIONS.

>> Cat: SO WHAT WERE SOME OF THE

THINGS THAT WERE SURPRISING WHEN

YOU DID YOUR STUDY, WHEN YOU

FOUND DATA?

WHAT WERE SOME OF THE THINGS

ABOUT HUMAN BEHAVIOR THAT YOU

WENT, WHOA?

>> Bucini: I CAN GO FIRST.

IN THE SIMULATION MODEL FOR ME,

IT WAS SEEING THE CONSEQUENCES

OF OUR RISK TOLERANCE CULTURE,

WHICH LEADS -- THE WHOLE SYSTEM,

NOT JUST A SINGLE FARM,

COMPLETELY VULNERABLE TO

DISEASE.

BASICALLY MEANS SAYING, OH, I

MIGHT BE LUCKY AND MAYBE DISEASE

WILL NOT COME TO ME, AND THAT'S

HOW YOU LEAVE THE SYSTEM.

LIKE COMPLETELY TO JUST CHANCE.

AND IT CAN BE, LIKE, VERY --

BASICALLY IMPOSSIBLE TO PREDICT

WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN IF THERE

IS AN OUTBREAK.

ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN WITH THAT

ATTITUDE.

AND SO THAT WAS AMAZING TO SEE

HOW THAT CAN HAPPEN, BUT THEN

THAT MEANS ALSO THAT EVERY

SINGLE PERSON HAS A ROLE AND IT

CAN REALLY BE THE FARMER, IT CAN

BE THE FEEDMILL, IT CAN BE THE

PERSON WHO DEALS WITH THE SYSTEM

HAS A ROLE AND HAS THE

POSSIBILITY TO MAKE A CHANGE BY

BEHAVING MORE AS WE DISCOVERED.

TO NOBODY IS -- IT DOESN'T

MATTER WHAT I DO.

NO, IT DOES.

WHAT HAPPENS ON A FARM DOESN'T

STAY ON A FARM.

IT REALLY AFFECTS THE WHOLE

SYSTEM.

>> Cat: WHAT SURPRISED YOU?

>> Merrill: TO ME, IT WAS WHEN

WE ACTUALLY LOOK AT THE

DIFFERENT MESSAGES.

OKAY, WE'LL TALK TO YOU ABOUT

HOW THIS WORKS AND SEE HOW YOU

REACT.

SOME PEOPLE WE PUT IN A

SITUATION AND THEY REACTED ONE

WAY.

WITH THE SAME MESSAGES, A

DIFFERENT GROUP WOULD ACT

COMPLETELY THE OPPOSITE.

SO WE COULDN'T NECESSARILY SAY

WHAT ONE INDIVIDUAL WOULD DO

WHEN WE GIVE THEM A MESSAGE.

WE CAN SAY WHAT PEOPLE IN GROUPS

MIGHT DO.

YOU MIGHT HAVE A MAJORITY OF

PEOPLE DOING THIS, BUT IT WAS

REALLY FASCINATING TO ME, LIKE,

I DON'T KNOW, THAT PERSON MIGHT

TAKE THE EXACT SAME MESSAGE AND

GO THE OPPOSITE DIRECTION.

>> Cat: DOES THAT MAKE IT

SOMEWHAT CHALLENGING TO COME UP

WITH A MESSAGE THAT YOU MIGHT,

SAY, DISSEMINATE TO A GROUP OF

FARMERS THAT SAYS THIS IS HOW

YOU PREVENT DISEASE OUTBREAKS?

>> Merrill: ABSOLUTELY.

SO WE HAVE TO LOOK AT, LOOKING

AT THE GROUPS OF PEOPLE, HOW DO

WE COMMUNICATE TO THOSE

DIFFERENT GROUPS.

HOW DO WE IDENTIFY THOSE GROUPS

AND HOW DO WE TAILOR MESSAGES TO

REALLY SEE HOW OUR POLICIES AND

HOW OUR INTERVENTIONS WILL

ACTUALLY WORK WHEN WE'RE

COMMUNICATING.

>> Cat: THIS KIND OF RELATES TO

THAT.

HOW DO YOU GUYS TURN INFORMATION

YOU GET DURING THESE SURVEYS OF

HUMAN BEHAVIOR INTO SOMETHING

THAT CAN BE ACTED UPON, THAT YOU

CAN TURN INTO MESSAGING?

>> Bucini: THE FIRST THING THAT

COMES TO MIND IS HAVING

WORKSHOPS WHERE WE GO TO

FARMERS, TO PRODUCERS, AND WE

SHARE WHAT WE'VE LEARNED.

AND WE ALSO LISTEN FROM THEM

WHAT ARE THEIR CHALLENGES.

SO IT'S MEETING THE INDUSTRY,

THE PRODUCERS, AND SAY, OKAY, IF

YOU TRY TO DO THIS, THIS IS WHAT

CAN HAPPEN, OR WE CAN TAILOR THE

MESSAGES SO THAT IT CAN BE MORE

SUITABLE FOR THE KIND OF WORKERS

YOU HAVE.

SO IT'S REALLY THAT INTERACTION,

LEARNING FROM THEM AND LEARNING

WHAT WE -- WE'VE BEEN STUDYING

THAT CREATES REALLY THE

USEFULNESS OF THE PROJECT.

>> Cat: WHAT IS THE -- WHAT IS

THE PITFALL OF NOT CONSIDERING

HUMAN BEHAVIOR WHEN YOU DO

DISEASE MODELING LIKE THIS?

>> Merrill: WELL, WE HAVE AN

EPIDEMIOLOGICAL UNDERLYING MODEL

AND WE FOUND THAT IN WE IGNORE

THE HUMAN COMPONENT, IF WE DON'T

LOOK AT HOW HUMANS BEHAVE, THEN

WE ARE MISSING A BIG PIECE OF

THE PUZZLE.

WE CAN GO FROM, IN GABRIELA'S

MODEL, WE CAN GO FROM HAVING THE

OUTBREAK JUST DISAPPEAR TO ALL

OF A SUDDEN HAVING THIS MASSIVE

OUTBREAK WHERE EVERYTHING IS

DYING, AND WITHOUT THAT, LOOKING

AT THAT HUMAN COMPONENT, WE

WOULDN'T KNOW WHAT WAS DRIVING

THAT.

ONCE WE ACTUALLY START LOOKING

AT THAT HUMAN COMPONENT, WE CAN

SAY, OH, IT'S BECAUSE ALL THESE

PEOPLE WERE DOING THE WRONG

THING.

THEY GOT THE MESSAGES, BUT

DIDN'T INFLUENCE THEM TO DO THE

RIGHT THING.

>> Cat: SO TRADITIONAL

EPIDEMIOLOGICAL MODELING ASSUMES

PEOPLE WOULD DO THE RIGHT THING.

>> Merrill: WELL, IT ASSUMES

THAT THEY WILL HAVE A SET

BEHAVIOR, WHATEVER THAT SET

BEHAVIOR IS, AND JUST LEAVES IT

AS THAT WITHOUT HAVING THAT

RANDOMNESS AND THAT NON-RATIONAL

BEHAVIOR THAT WE ASSOCIATE SO

MUCH WITH HUMAN BEHAVIOR.

WE ALL KNOW IT'S THERE, WE AWE

KNOW WE DON'T MAKE GOOD

DECISIONS ALL THE TIME, BUT WE

DON'T PUT THOSE INTO A LOT OF

DISEASE MODELS OUT THERE.

>> Cat: VERY QUICKLY, WHAT ARE

THE NEXT STEPS?

WHAT'S THE NEXT TECH YOU'RE

EXPLORING?

>> Merrill: WELL, THERE'S A LOT,

REALLY QUICKLY.

GETTING MORE EXCITING AND MORE

ENGAGEMENT, WE'RE GOING TO USE

VIRTUAL REALITY, SO WE HAVE

THESE PEOPLE PUT INTO A

SIMULATED VIRTUAL BARN AND HAVE

THEM MAKE DECISIONS IN THAT

VIRTUAL BARN.

WE'RE REALLY EXCITED.

THAT WORK IS BEING DEVELOPED

RIGHT NOW.

WE'RE DOING A LOT OF POTENTIALLY

DEVELOPING TRAINING MODULES FOR

THESE PEOPLE SO THEY CAN FIGURE

OUT WHAT TO DO IF AN OUTBREAK

OCCURS.

THESE PEOPLE ON THE GROUND THAT

WOULD REALLY BENEFIT FROM HAVING

AN EDUCATIONAL TOOL THAT THEY

CAN BRING TO ALL THE DIFFERENT

PRODUCERS, SO WE'RE WORKING ON A

NUMBER OF DIFFERENT THINGS AND

TRYING TO --

>> Bucini: YEAH, MAKING IT AS

PRODUCTIVE AS POSSIBLE AND

HAVING PEOPLE COME TOGETHER,

THINK ABOUT POSSIBLE ISOLATIONS,

SCENARIOS.

PEOPLE FROM DIFFERENT

BACKGROUNDS, IT CAN BE A

PRODUCER, SOMEBODY FROM THE

FEEDMILL, SO ALL THINKING ABOUT

IF SOMETHING HAPPENS, WHAT CAN

WE DO.

AND HOW CAN WE PREVENT THIS.

>> Cat: SCOTT MERRILL, GABRIELA

BUCINI, THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR

JOINING ME.

NEXT UP, WE'RE TAKING A TRIP TO

VERMONT'S VERNAL POOLS.

>> Cat: NEW RESEARCH IS FINDING

THAT SOME OF VERMONT'S

AMPHIBIANS ARE GROWING UP WITH

HIGH LEVELS OF MERCURY IN THEIR

SYSTEMS.

I WENT TO THE DOWNER STATE

FOREST IN SHARON WITH VERMONT

CENTER FOR EKE COSTUDIES TO FIND

OUT WHERE THEY'RE FINDING THE

TOXIN AND WHY.

>> Cat: STEVE FACCIO KNOWS THESE

VERNAL POOLS IN THE TOWN OF

SHARON WELL.

>> Faccio: THE TADPOLES ARE

GETTING NICE AND FAT.

>> Cat: THE BIOLOGIST WITH THE

VERMONT CENTER FOR ECOSTUDIES

HAS BEEN STUDYING THE UPPER

VALLEY POOLS AND THE CREATURES

THAT CALL THEM HOME FOR YEARS.

>> Faccio: GOT A COUPLE

SALAMANDERS.

NOW I'M HOPING TO GET A WOOD

FROG TADPOLE.

>> Cat: HE KNOWS WHICH ONES HE'S

LOOKING FOR AND HOW TO SWING THE

NET JUST SO TO CATCH THEM.

IN JUST FIVE MINUTES HE'S GOT

SEVERAL SMALL AMPHIBIANS.

>> Faccio: I'M LOOKING AT THREE

SALAMANDER LARVA.

PROBABLY TWO OF THEM, I THINK,

ARE JEFFERSON SALAMANDERS AND

ONE SPOTTED SALAMANDER AND THEN

A WOOD FROG TADPOLE.

>> Cat: EACH YEAR, HUNDREDS OF

YOUNG FROGS AND SALAMANDERS WILL

START THEIR LIVES IN THESE

VERNAL POOLS AS EGGS AND THEN

DEVELOP INTO LARVAE, AND

EVENTUALLY INTO ADULTS THAT WILL

LEAVE THE POND AND GO ELSEWHERE.

BUT WHILE THEY'RE IN HERE FOR

ABOUT THREE MONTHS, THEY'RE

TAKING IN MERCURY THAT ENTIRE

TIME.

AIRBORNE MERCURY FROM COAL-FIRED

PLANTS IN THE MIDWEST LANDS HERE

IN THE NORTHEAST.

BACTERIA IN THESE VERNAL POOLS

ARE GOOD AT TURNING IT INTO ITS

MORE DANGEROUS FORM,

METHYLMERCURY.

FACCIO WAS PART OF THE TEAM THAT

COLLECTED DATA FROM SIX VERNAL

POOLS IN THE UPPER VALLEY IN

2015 TO TRACK LEVELS OF MERCURY

IN THE CRITTERS THAT LIVE THERE.

THEY FOUND LARVA HAD 20 TO 30

TIMES MORE MERCURY THAN EGGS

DID.

>> Faccio: THIS IS THE STAGE

WHERE THE METHYLMERCURY IN THESE

GUYS IS PRETTY HIGH, SO ANYTHING

THAT'S DINING ON THESE IS

GETTING A PRETTY GOOD DOSE WITH

EACH ONE IT EATS.

>> Cat: NOT JUST A PROBLEM FOR

THE PREDATORS WHO FEED ON THESE

LARVA, BUT FACCIO SAYS THEY'RE

NOT SURE THE MERCURY LEVELS

AFFECT THE LARVA THEMSELVES, BUT

HE KNOWS IT'S A NEUROTOXIN THAT

COULD EFFECT THE BEHAVIOR OR

WORSE.

>> Faccio: IF IT'S HIGH ENOUGH,

IT WOULD OBVIOUSLY KILL THEM.

SO WE DON'T SEE MASS DIE-OFFS

AND WE DON'T THINK THE LEVELS

ARE HIGH ENOUGH THAT WE'RE

SEEING THAT, BUT THERE COULD BE

BEHAVIORAL CHANGES THAT COULD

AFFECT THEIR REPRODUCTIVE

SUCCESS.

>> Cat: THE MERCURY LEVELS WERE

LESS IN ADULT AMPHIBIANS.

THAT'S LIKELY BECAUSE THEY LEAVE

THE PONDS AND GO ELSEWHERE, BUT

IT'S NOT CLEAR HOW QUICKLY THOSE

LEVELS CHANGE OVER TIME.

AFTER OUR ENTER VIEW, I ASKED

FACCIO ABOUT THE HEALTH OF OUR

VERNAL POOLS.

>> Cat: STEVE, YOU'RE ALREADY

TOLD US ABOUT WHY THIS IS

IMPORTANT TO LEARN ABOUT BECAUSE

YOU'RE CONCERNED THAT THERE

MIGHT BE BEHAVORIAL CHANGES IN

THE ANIMALS.

WHAT IS THE NEXT STEP IN THE

RESEARCH?

>> Faccio: ONE OF THE QUESTIONS

WE HAVE, AS I MENTIONED, WHAT OF

THE LEVELS OF THOSE METAMORPHS,

THOSE SALAMANDERS WHEN THEY COME

OUT OF THE POOLS.

THEY'RE FAST FOOD FOR A LOT OF

WILDLIFE, EASILY ACCESSIBLE AND

BECAUSE THEY'RE SMALL, THEY --

YOU KNOW, A LOT OF DIFFERENT

WILDLIFE WILL FEED TO THEM.

SO WE KNOW IT'S GOING TO BE

GETTING INTO THE FOOD CHAIN AND

AFFECTING, YOU KNOW, A WIDE

VARIETY OF OTHER WILDLIFE FROM

OWLS PROBABLY DOWN TO, YOU KNOW,

MICE AND WEASELS AND OTHER SMALL

MAMMALS AND BIRDS, OTHER BIRDS.

SO THAT'S ONE OF OUR BIG

QUESTIONS.

THIS RESEARCH WAS FUNDED BY A

FEDERAL GRANT THROUGH THE FOREST

SERVICE AND THAT PROGRAM IS NO

LONGER PROVIDING FUNDS.

THEY SAY THEY MIGHT IN THE

FUTURE, SO KIND OF OUR SOURCE OF

FUNDING IS NO LONGER.

SO -- AND THIS WAS IN

COLLABORATION WITH SOME

DARTMOUTH SCIENTISTS WHO HAVE

BEEN LOOKING AT MERCURY IN OTHER

SYSTEMS, ESTUARY SYSTEMS.

BUT WE ARE STARTING A MONITORING

PROJECT IN VERNAL POOLS

STATEWIDE TO SORT OF TRACK THE

HEALTH OF VERNAL POOLS OVER

TIME.

>> Cat: AND WHAT WILL THAT STUDY

DO?

>> Faccio: SO WE'RE COLLECTING

DATA ON THE ABUNDANCE OF THE

ANIMALS THAT LIVE IN THE POOLS,

COUNTING EGG MASSES OF THE

AMPHIBIANS, MONITORING WATER

TEMPERATURE, WATER DEPTH, HOW

LONG THE POOLS HOLD WATER, AND

SO THE IDEA IS THAT WE'LL BE

COLLECTING THERE DATA OVER A

LONG PERIOD OF TIME AND, YOU

KNOW, IN THE FIRST FEW YEARS,

WE'LL HAVE A BASELINE OF DATA

FOR VERNAL POOLS OVER TIME AND

THEN WE CAN USE THAT TO SEE HOW

THINGS ARE CHANGING AND WHETHER

CLIMATE CHANGE IS AFFECTING HOW

LONG THE POOLS HOLD WATER AND

WHETHER POPULATIONS OF

AMPHIBIANS ARE CHANGING BASED ON

THOSE EGG MASS COUNTS.

>> Cat: AND SO HOW ARE THE HELL

OF VERMONT'S VERNAL POOLS AT THE

MOMENT?

ARE WE OKAY OR IS THERE SOME

SERIOUS CONCERN?

>> Faccio: THEY SEEM TO BE DOING

FINE.

YOU KNOW, VERNAL POOLS ARE

PRETTY ABUNDANT IN VERMONT AND

THE FACT THAT THE STATE IS

LARGELY FORESTED HELPS OUT A LOT

BECAUSE THOSE ARE THE HABITATS

WHERE THE ADULT AMPHIBIANS

THRIVE AND DEPEND UPON.

SO YEAH, THE POOLS SEEM TO BE

DOING FINE.

WE HAVE SOME QUESTIONS ABOUT

SORT OF THE LONG-TERM IMPACTS OF

CLIMATE CHANGE AND HOW THAT MAY

AFFECT THEM OVER TIME.

>> Cat: WHY DO WE NEED VERNAL

POOLS?

>> Faccio: WELL, THEY'RE AN

IMPORTANT BREEDING SITE FOR

SEVERAL OF THESE AMPHIBIANS THAT

ARE -- MANY OF THEM ARE LISTED

AS SPECIES OF GREATEST

CONSERVATION NEED BY FISH AND

WILDLIFE, AND THEY'RE AN

IMPORTANT LINK, YOU KNOW, IN THE

FOOD WEB, OF THE FOREST FOOD

WEB.

BARD OWLS IN PARTICULAR ARE A

SPECIES THAT REALLY DEPEND ON

VERNAL POOLS.

RIGHT AT THE TIME WHEN THEIR

YOUNG ARE HAMPING IS WHEN THE

VERNAL POOLS -- HATCHING ARE

WHEN VERNAL POOLS ARE DEVELOPING

IN THE SPRING.

THEY WAIT AROUND IN THE WATER TO

CATCH SALAMANDERS, CATCH

PROGRESSES RIGHT OFF THE SURFACE

OF THE -- FROGS RIGHT OFF THE

SURFACE OF THE WATER AS THEY FLY

BUY.

VERY IMPORTANT FOOD SOURCE FOR

THEM.

>> Cat: AND THAT'S WHY IT

MATTERS THAT THERE'S MERCURY IN

THEM.

>> Faccio: EXACTLY, RIGHT.

>> Cat: TWO OUR STUDY DISON

MERCURY LEVELS FOCUSING ON THE

INVERTEBRATES THAT LIVE IN THE

VERNAL POOLS AND THE ECOSYSTEM

AS A WHOLE ARE STILL IN THE

WORKS.

>>> UP NEXT, A MASSIVE STUDY

LOOKING AT RURAL HEALTH.

A UNIVERSITY OF VERMONT

PROFESSOR JOINS ME IN STUDIO TO

EXPLAIN VERMONT'S ROLE IN THAT

PROJECT AFTER THE BREAK.

>> Cat: RIGHT NOW, THE

UNIVERSITY OF VERMONT IS

STUDYING PEOPLE WHO LIVE IN THE

RURAL SOUTH.

THE STUDY AIMS TO UNDERSTAND WHY

SOME WHO ARE BORN IN THOSE

COMMUNITIES LIVE SHORTER AND

LESS HEALTHY LIVES COMPARED TO

THEIR COUNTERPARTS WHO LIVE IN

THE SAME COUNTIES OR OTHER PARTS

OF THE COUNTRY.

THE SIX-YEAR,

MULTI-MILLION-DOLLAR STUDY WORKS

WITH OTHER INVESTIGATORS AT

OTHER INSTITUTIONS.

THE STUDY OF ABOUT 4,000 ETHNIC

PEOPLE FROM THE MOST

DISADVANTAGED COUNTIES IN

KENTUCKY, ALABAMA, MISSISSIPPI,

AND LOUISIANA.

JOINING ME NOW IS DR. RUSSELL

TRACY, A DISTINGUISHED PROFESSOR

OF PATHOLOGY AND MEDICINE AT THE

UVM COLLEGE OF MEDICINE.

THANK YOU FOR BEING WITH US THIS

MORNING.

>> Tracy: MY PLEASURE.

>> Cat: WHAT IS UVM'S ROLE IN

THE STUDY?

>> Tracy: WE'RE GOING TO BE THE

CENTRAL LABORATORY FOR MANY

CLINICAL LABORATORY MEASUREMENT

AND RESEARCH MEASUREMENTS AND

ALSO WHAT'S CALLED A

BIOREPOSITORY, SO WE'LL BE

KEEPING SUSPENDS FOR OTHER

INVESTIGATOR -- SAMPLES FOR

OTHER INVESTIGATORS AS OTHER

IDEAS COME UP.

>> Cat: WHY DOES VERMONT NEED TO

GET INVOLVED IN A STUDY IN THE

SOUTH?

>> Tracy: WELL, WE'RE INVOLVED

BECAUSE WE'RE GOOD AT WHAT WE DO

AND WE'RE PART OF THE TEAM THAT

DESIGN THE SUDDEN I DID IN THE

FIRST PLACE.

IT WASN'T -- DESIGNED THE STUDY

IN THE FIRST PLACE.

IT WASN'T SO MUCH A GEOGRAPHICAL

ISSUE.

IF I MAY, THERE'S SOME UNIQUE

FEATURES ABOUT HOW WE SET THE

STUDY UP AND IT'S A FIRST FOR

THE NIH AND THE EPIDEMIOLOGY

COMMUNITY.

WE'RE GOING TO USE A MOBILE

EXAMINATION UNIT, A LARGE

TRAILER, THAT'S BEING FITTED OUT

WITH EVERYTHING FROM A BLOOD

DRAWING STATION TO A CT SCANNER,

A WIDE VARIETY OF INTERVIEW

STATIONS, AND THAT'S GOING TO GO

TO ALL TEN COUNTIES IN THE FOUR

STATES WE'RE STUDYING.

THE WAY THE COUNTIES WERE

CHOSEN, WE ACTUALLY LOOKED AT

EVERY COUNTY IN THE UNITED

STATES.

>> Cat: WOW.

>> Tracy: AND THEY WERE EXAMINED

FOR SOCIOECONOMIC STATUS,

RURALITY FOR SURE, AND RACE

ETHNICITY MIX.

ONCE WE HAD THEM MATCHED UP INTO

THE FEATURES WE WANT, WE THEN

USED CDC TO FIND THE HEALTH

STATUS IN THOSE COUNTIES.

AND SO WHAT WE WERE LOOKING FOR

WAS PAIRING COUNTIES AND WE HAVE

FIVE PAIRS, TEN COUNTIES, WHERE

IT FIT THE CRITERIA OF BEING

VERY RURAL BECAUSE RURAL FOLKS

REALLY HAVEN'T BEEN STUDIES MUCH

BY THE NIH EPIDEMIOLOGY WORLD.

THEY HAD A GOOD RACE ETHNICITY

MIX, AND THEY WERE MATCHED UP,

BUT THEIR HEALTH OUTCOMES WERE

VERY DIFFERENT.

SO WE HAVE A QUESTION.

IN COUNTIES THAT IN MANY WAYS

THE PEOPLE LOOK THE SAME WITH

VERY DIFFERENT HEALTH STATUS,

WHY?

>> Cat: YES.

>> Tracy: SO WHAT WE'RE DOING IS

ASKING A LOT OF QUESTIONS ABOUT

BEHAVIORS.

WE HAVE A SOCIAL DETERMINANTS OF

DISEASE CORPS THAT'S GOING TO BE

LOOKING AT SOCIAL INTERACTION

ISSUES.

WE HAVE THEN MOLECULAR

MEASUREMENTS, THE KIND OF THINGS

WE DO.

WE HAVE A GENOMICS GROUP THAT

WILL BE STUDYING GENES AND THEIR

INFLUENCE ON THIS AS WELL.

>> Cat: ITS TO TURN TO A STUDY

THAT CAME OUT IN DECEMBER FROM

BUSINESS INSIDER.

IT FOUND THE THREE UNHEALTHEST

STATES IN THE COUNTRY WERE

ALABAMA, MISSISSIPPI, AND

LOUISIANA.

LOUISIANA IN PARTICULAR HAVING A

HIGH PERCENTAGE OF CHILDREN IN

POVERTY, A HIGHER RATE OF

INFECTIOUS DISEASES.

HOW WILL THE FINDINGS FROM THERE

STUDY WHEN THEY'RE DONE, BE USED

TO HELP PEOPLE IN THESE STATES?

>> Tracy: THAT'S ABSOLUTELY OUR

GOAL AND THAT'S WHAT ULTIMATELY

WE FEEL WILL COME FROM THIS.

AND THERE ARE A NUMBER OF

POSSIBILITIES.

WE MAY FIND THERE ARE

ENVIRONMENTAL INFLUENCES THAT

MAKE A DIFFERENCE.

WE MAY FIND THAT THERE ARE

SOCIAL INTERACTION ISSUES THAT

MAKE A DIFFERENCE.

ALL OF THAT CAN POTENTIALLY BE

MODIFIED IF WE UNDERSTAND WHAT

THE ISSUE IS AND CAN THEN BUILD

THE RIGHT INTERVENTIONAL

PROTOCOLS TO TRY AND CHANGE

THINGS.

THERE MAY BE GENETICS INVOLVED

AND IF SO, THAT CAN LEAD TO

DIFFERENT MEDICATIONS POSSIBLY

THAT WOULD BE ABLE TO COUNTERACT

THE INFLUENCE OF AN

INAPPROPRIATE GENE FOR THE

ENVIRONMENT YOU HAPPEN TO LIVE

IN, WHICH IS SOMETHING THAT'S A

BIG RESEARCH ISSUE IN GENOMICS

THESE DAYS.

SO WE ARE HOPING THAT AT THE END

OF THE FIVE OR SIX YEARS THAT WE

DO THIS FIRST OBSERVATIONAL DATA

GATHERING STAGE, WE MAY BE ABLE

TO COME UP WITH SOME CLINICAL

TRIAL, INTERVENTIONAL APPROACHES

TO TEST OUT WHETHER, IN FACT, WE

CAN HAVE THE IMPACT WE HOPE IS

THE RESULT OF THIS STUDY.

>> Cat: I WAS GOING TO SAY, THIS

SOUNDS LIKE THIS IS SEVERAL

YEARS IN THE MAKING.

>> Tracy: YEAH, WE HAVE A YEAR

OF PLANNING BEFORE WE EVEN PUT

THE EXAMINATION UNIT IN ANY

LOCATION.

ANOTHER UNIQUE FEATURE IS THAT

THIS REALLY IS AN

ACADEMIC-COMMUNITY INTERACTIVE

STUDY.

IT'S NOT PLANTING A FLAG SAYING

YOU, THE COMMUNITY, PLEASE COME

TO US.

NO, WE'RE GOING TO THEM AND WE

NEED HELP IN DOING THAT, SO

THERE'S A LOT OF LOCAL SERVICE

AGENCIES BEING INVOLVED, A LOT

OF LOCAL HEALTH WORKER

VOLUNTEERS BEING INVOLVED.

IT'S REALLY A VERY DIFFERENT WAY

OF DOING EPIDEMIOLOGY THAN THE

NIH HAS FUNDED BEFORE, WHICH I

THINK IS WHY WE GOT FUNDED IN

THE VERY COMPETITIVE WORLD.

>> Cat: I WAS GOING TO ADD TO

THAT.

DOES THAT MEAN WITH THE

DIFFERENT APPROACH TO COLLECTING

DATA, YOU EXPECT TO GET MORE

REPRESENTATIVE DATA?

>> Tracy: YEAH, AND DATA THAT'S

MORE DIRECTLY ON POINT FOR WHAT

THE ISSUES ARE.

YOU KNOW, BECAUSE WE'RE EMBEDDED

WITH THE COMMUNITY FOR A CERTAIN

PERIOD OF TIME IN EACH OF THE

TEN LOCATIONS, WE'LL BE DRIVING

THE MEU, THE MOBILE EXAMINATION

UNIT TO, AND THEN SETTING UP IN

A PARKING LOT SOMEWHERE OF A

WALMART POSSIBLY OR SOMETHING

WHERE WE CAN GET POWER AND WATER

AND EVERYTHING WE NEED.

WE'RE GOING TO BE RIGHT THERE

WITH THE FOLKS IN THEIR

COMMUNITY, AND THERE'S GOING TO

BE A LOT OF OPPORTUNITY TO

MODIFY EVEN THE QUESTIONS WE'RE

ASKING AS WE LEARN MORE ABOUT

WHAT LIFE IS LIKE IN EACH OF

THESE COMMUNITIES.

WE EXPECT THERE TO BE A CORE OF

INFORMATION WE GATHER ON

EVERYONE, BUT THEN POSSIBLY SOME

SPECIFIC INFORMATION THAT COMES

FROM EACH OF THE DIFFERENT

COMMUNITIES BECAUSE IT'S

IMPORTANT TO THOSE FOLKS AND

IT'S SOMETHING THAT THEY FEEL IS

A BIG DEAL IN THEIR LIFE.

>> Cat: ABSOLUTELY.

I KNOW IT'S IN THE RELEASE THAT

WAS WRITTEN UP ABOUT THIS.

THERE WAS A VERY SPECIFIC

MENTION OF WE NEED AN ETHNICALLY

DIVERSE POPULATION.

>> Tracy: SURE.

>> Cat: WHY?

>> Tracy: BECAUSE WE'RE AN

ETHNICALLY DIVERSE COUNTRY.

WE'RE HERE FOR THE PEOPLE OF THE

UNITED STATES, IN A SENSE.

MY LAB GROUP GETS TIRED OF

HEARING ME SAY IT, BUT WE HAVE A

MISSION.

WE'RE A NONPROFIT, MISSION-BASED

ORGANIZATION, TO IMPROVE THE

HEALTH OF THE PEOPLE OF THE

UNITED STATES.

THAT'S WHAT NIH MONEY IS THERE

FOR AND THAT'S WHAT WE'RE DOING.

THAT'S ALL THE PEOPLE OF THE

UNITED STATES.

SO WE'RE TRYING TO GET A GOOD

MIX OF FOLKS, BUT ENOUGH OF EACH

OF THEM BECAUSE THERE ARE

DIFFERENCES IN GENES AND THINGS,

SO WE HAVE TO HAVE ENOUGH FOR

THE STATISTICAL POWER WE NEED TO

LOOK AT ASSOCIATIONS AND THAT'S

WHIEE NEED A BIG STUDY -- WHY

YOU NEED A BIG STUDY.

YOU MENTIONED ABOUT 4,000

PEOPLE.

WE'RE LOBBYING HARD WITH THE NIH

TO SEE IF WE CAN'T GET MORE

MONEY PUT INTO THIS TO GET UP TO

5- OR 6,000.

WE'D LIKE TO HAVE ENOUGH OF EACH

RACE ETHNICITY GROUP TO LOOK AT

NOT ONLY THE THINGS THAT ARE

COMMON AMONG PEOPLE, BUT THE

THINGS THAT ARE DIFFERENT AMONG

THE DIETS THEY HAVE AND THE

HEALTH BEHAVIORS THEY ENGAGE IN

AND THE GENES THEY HAVE.

WE'D LIKE TO GET MORE DETAILED

INFORMATION ON THAT.

>> Cat: ANY EARLY THEORIES ABOUT

WHY SOME OF THE PEOPLE -- YOU

KNOW, THEY LIVE IN THE SAME

COUNTY, FACED WITH SOME OF THE

SAME THINGS AND THEY HAVE THESE

DIFFERENT LIFE SPANS?

>> Tracy: ONE OF THE UNIQUE

FEATURES OF OUR STUDY IS THE

SOCIAL DETERMINANTS CORPS AND

ONE OF THE INTERESTING FEATURES

ABOUT THAT IS ESSENTIALLY

ATTITUDE AND WHILE THERE'S MANY,

MANY POTENTIAL CANDIDATES FOR

WHY FOLKS ARE DIFFERENT, ONE OF

THE MORE NEWER AND UNIQUE ONES

IS THE CONCEPT OF THE ATTITUDE

THAT FOLKS HAVE ABOUT THEIR

LIVES, AND WE'RE TRYING TO --

GOING TO TRY TO ASSESS THAT AND

GET A BETTER HANDLE ON THAT

THAT'S EVER BEEN ASSESSED

BEFORE, IN PART INFLUENCED BY

ONE OF OUR COLLEAGUES FROM

UC-SANTA BARBARA WHO IS A

PHYSICAL ANTHROPOLOGIST AND

STUDYING INDIGENOUS PEOPLES.

WHAT HE FOUND IS THAT AS FOLKS

WHO HAVE BEEN SEPARATED A BIT

FROM THE WORLD FIND OUT WHAT

THEIR PLACE IN THE WORLD IS, IT

OFTEN ISN'T WHAT THEY THOUGHT IT

WAS AND THAT CAN HAVE NEGATIVE

HEALTH IMPACTS, SO ATTITUDE IS A

UNIQUE FEATURE WE THINK OF

RURAL, ALONG WITH GENETICS AND,

YOU KNOW, FOOD, NUTRITION, AND

HEALTH BEHAVIORS, ETCETERA.

>> Cat: SO BRIEFLY HERE, HOW

LONG DO YOU EXPECT UVM TO BE

INVOLVED WITH THIS STUDY?

>> Tracy: WELL, THE FIRST PHASE

OF THIS I THINK IS SIX OR SEVEN

YEARS, DEPENDING ON HOW YOU WANT

TO COUNT WHEN WE STARTED.

WE'RE CERTAINLY INVOLVED FOR

THAT.

WE ARE THE CENTRAL LABORATORY

FOR LABORATORY MEASUREMENTS, BUT

WE'RE ALSO THE BIO-REPOSITORY AS

I MENTIONED, SO THERE'S A BIG

COLLECTION OF SAMPLES WILL COME

FROM THIS, HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS

OF SAMPLES THAT WILL BE MADE

AVAILABLE TO THE BROAD RESEARCH

COMMUNITY IN THE COUNTRY AND THE

WORLD TO A CERTAIN EXTENT, AND

THOSE SAMPLES WILL HAVE RESEARCH

LIFE EVEN LONG AFTER THE FIRST

PART OF THIS STUDY IS OVER.

SO PEOPLE WILL BE ABLE TO APPLY

FOR THEM AND GET THEM AND GET

THE DATA WE COLLECTED TO GO WITH

THEM, BUT THEN MEASURE SOME NEW

MARKER THAT THEY BELIEVE THEY

HAVE OR LOOK AT THE GENES

SOMEWHAT DIFFERENTLY THAN HAVE

BEEN LOOKED BEFORE, SO THERE'S A

LONG TAIL TO ALL OF THIS,

PROBABLY LONG AFTER I'M GONE.

>> Cat: DR. RUSSELL TRACY,

THANKS SO MUCH FOR JOINING US

THIS MORNING AND THAN ALL OF YOU

FOR JOINING US AS WELL.

THE CHANNEL 3 NEWS CONTINUES

NEXT WITH SCOTT FLEISHMAN.

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