YCQM July 14, 2019

BURLINGTON, Vt. >> 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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