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Dr. Elizabeth Barrett-Connor is a professor of family and preventive medicine at the UCSD School of Medicine. An internationally recognized expert in epidemiology, Barrett-Connor's main focus is on the factors promoting a healthy old age. She is founder and director of the three-decade-old Rancho Bernardo Heart and Chronic Disease Study, which has produced data defining causal factors for diabetes, cancer and osteoporosis as well as cardiovascular disease. Her research focuses on healthy aging and gender differences in disease, with strong emphasis on women's health.

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My research focuses on cardiovascular genomics and aging, with the primary goal of identifying and characterizing genetics variants underlying complex human disease. Traditional approaches to identify genes involved in cardiovascular disease have relied upon screening candidate genes or family-based linkage studies in families with rare monogenic forms of disease. Given the limited success of these approaches to identify genes contributing to common disease, our group has pioneered the use of genome-wide association studies.

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Annie Burke-Doe is a faculty member at the University of St. Augustine's San Diego campus. Previously, she was an assistant professor of physical therapy at California State University, Fresno. She received her Ph.D. in pharmaceutical sciences from the University of the Pacific in Stockton and her master's in physical therapy from University of the Pacific. She works with children and adults with neurologic disorders, including cerebral palsy, spina bifida, duchenes muscular dystrophy, metabolic disorders, stroke, Parkinson's, multiple sclerosis and spinal cord injury.

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Dr. America Bracho is the founder, president and CEO of Latino Health Access, a center for health promotion and disease prevention in Santa Ana, Calif. This center was created under her leadership to assist with the multiple health needs of Latinos in Orange County. Latino Health Access encourages empowerment for the Latino community and uses participatory approaches to community health education. The programs train community health workers as leaders of wellness and change. Dr. Bracho worked as a physician in her native Venezuela for several years. She came to the U.S.

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As of 2007, almost 8 percent of Americans – nearly 24 million people – suffer from diabetes, a serious and chronic condition that can lead to complications such as blindness, amputations or even death, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About a quarter of them don't know they have the disease. In recent years, rising obesity rates have been linked to a striking rise in the number of Type 2 diabetes cases, particularly among children and teens.

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The development of a cocktail of powerful antiretroviral drugs has transformed what was once an all-but-certain killer into a chronic illness that can be managed (at least for those who have access to treatment). In the United States, annual deaths have fallen from a peak of nearly 51,000 in 1995 to more than 14,100 in 2007, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But there is still no cure or effective vaccine for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome or the Human Immunodeficiency Virus that causes it.

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With as many as 5 million Americans suffering from this mind-robbing illness, and their numbers soaring as the population ages, scientists are working feverishly on strategies for prevention and treatment. But more than 100 years after the disease was discovered, scientists still aren't sure what causes it. The only approved treatments barely dull the symptoms, and there is no cure. Yet, numerous new approaches that have “cured” Alzheimer’s in mice are now being tested in people, with funding from the government and drug companies.

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Get tips on covering medical research stories from veteran AP reporter Lauran Neergaard.

 

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Journalists have to ask hard questions about where sources get their money – and about the science they are promoting. Following the money trail can be daunting. But journalists and whistleblowers are doing just that and uncovering important connections. Here's what to look for.

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The first step in asking a stranger to open up to you is to follow the golden rule: Treat others as you would like to be treated. Get more tips on interviewing patients from a veteran broadcast journalist.

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