Good News: Bricker resolution tips, vote for Open Science Prize, 425 Magazine salute to HIV research

Celebrating faculty and staff achievements
Video by Bo Jungmayer / Fred Hutch News Service

5 steps for keeping resolutions in the new year

Many people start the new year with well-intentioned resolutions — from eating less junk food and exercising more to quitting cigarettes for good — which by mid-January often seem a distant memory, as stale as the gingerbread cookie crumbs lurking under the sofa.

In this short video, psychologist Dr. Jonathan Bricker, a member of the Public Health Sciences Division at Fred Hutch, offers five tips for making resolutions stick. Essentially, they boil down to:

  1. Figuring out your values (such as health, family, spirituality) and then tapping into those values to guide behavior change.
  2. Setting long- and short-term goals, as well as target dates for achieving them.
  3. Creating an action plan, outlining specific steps toward achieving your resolution(s).
  4. Assessing any barriers, emotional or logistical, that may get in the way.
  5. Coming up with steps for overcoming those barriers.

Bricker and his team are leaders in an innovative behavior-change approach called acceptance and commitment therapy, or ACT. While they are studying its effectiveness in smoking cessation, evidence suggests that the ACT model could help adults cope with many other addictions and harmful behaviors.

Bricker and his team are delivering the ACT approach for quitting smoking through a variety of modalities, from group therapy to web-based tools to a smartphone app called SmartQuit 2.0, which is free to Washington residents. He has received more than $14 million in federal research funding to study ACT.

Unlike traditional quit-smoking approaches, which focus on willpower and avoiding the urge to smoke, ACT focuses on increasing one’s willingness to accept the physical, mental and emotional challenges of quitting while also encouraging commitment to engage in values-based behavior change.

Preliminary research shows that Bricker’s programs are 50 to 300 percent more effective than traditional approaches to quitting smoking.

For more information about ACT and how to make lasting lifestyle changes that matter, check out Bricker’s TEDxRainier talk, “The Secret to Self Control,” which has received more than 1.1 million views.

 Kristen Woodward / Fred Hutch News Service

Dr. Trevor Bedford
Dr. Trevor Bedford is one of six finalists for the first-ever Open Science Prize; voting is open through Friday. Photo by Bo Jungmayer / Fred Hutch News Service

Vote by Friday on first-ever Open Science Prize

A software tool for tracking viral disease outbreaks developed by Fred Hutch virologist Dr. Trevor Bedford and Max Planck Institutes physicist Dr. Richard Neher was named last May as one of six finalists in the first-ever Open Science Prize, an international competition aimed at making both the results and the process of research widely accessible to the public.

Now the public is invited to vote on which three of the six finalists to shortlist for the prize. Voting is open through Friday, Jan. 6.

Listed on the ballot as “Real-time evolutionary tracking for pathogen surveillance and epidemiological investigation,” Bedford and Neher's project is better known as nextstrain. They developed the prototype to analyze and track genetic mutations during the Ebola and Zika outbreaks, but they envision it as adaptable for any virus.

Anyone can download the source code from GitHub (which is kind of like Twitter for sharing code), run genetic sequencing data for whatever outbreak they are following through the pipeline and build a web page showing a phylogenetic tree, or genetic history, in a few minutes, Bedford said.

“Everyone is doing sequencing, but most people aren’t able to analyze their sequences as well or as quickly as they might want to,” Bedford said in a recent interview. “We’re trying to fill in this gap so that the World Health Organization or the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — or whoever — can have better analysis tools to do what they do. We’re hoping that will get our software in the hands of a lot of people.”

Real-time tracking of genetic mutations during disease outbreaks helps scientists discern what makes viruses so severe and inform public health efforts to contain them, whether setting up treatment and isolation units for Ebola or instituting mosquito control for Zika. The tool can be used to model something as small as a single hospital outbreak or as large as a global pandemic.

Bedford and Neher’s project was chosen as a finalist from 96 entries representing 450 innovators and 45 countries. The competition is sponsored by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, the British-based charitable foundation Wellcome Trust and the U.S.-based Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

— Mary Engel / Fred Hutch News Service

Michael Louella
Michael Louella Photo courtesy of 425 Magazine

425 Magazine salutes Fred Hutch HIV researcher, community advocate

In its January issue, 425 Magazine highlighted the Puget Sound region as a hub of HIV/AIDS research and saluted local trailblazers who are making a global impact in the field. Of the four leaders profiled, two are from Fred Hutch — a reflection of the center’s reputation for groundbreaking work not just in cancer but in HIV and infectious diseases.

Featured are former Fred Hutch president and director and pioneering infectious disease researcher Dr. Larry Corey and defeatHIV community advisory board coordinator Michael Louella.

Corey has worked in every arena of the HIV/AIDS pandemic. As a physician-scientist, he treated AIDS patients in the epidemic’s earliest and darkest days. His early work in developing antiviral treatment for herpes paved the way for lifesaving HIV therapies. He founded and still leads the world’s largest global HIV vaccine clinical trials network, which last year launched two major trials, one of which could lead to the first licensed HIV vaccine. Most recently, he began working with the Fred Hutch-based defeatHIV collaborative to investigate the potential of using CAR T-cell immunotherapy to cure HIV.

Dr. Larry Corey
Dr. Larry Corey Photo courtesy of 425 Magazine

As coordinator for defeatHIV’s community advisory board, Michael Louella makes sure that the science is understandable to the community most affected by HIV and that the research goals and methods are transparent to those who will be taking part in clinical trials. He does the same as outreach coordinator for the University of Washington AIDS Clinical Trials Unit and community liaison for the UW Center for AIDS Research.  As the 425 profile so accurately portrays, Louella’s “bellowing laugh” and positive attitude help people with HIV and people at risk of infection feel at ease in what can be an unfamiliar world of research. Most of all, he has their backs, whether linking them to resources or battling the stigma still associated with HIV.

The other two leaders saluted by the Eastside magazine were HIV education activist Jodie Howerton, who created the organization Redefine Positive to produce HIV-related videos for elementary, middle and high school students to educate kids and combat stigma, and Dr. Peter Hashisaki of Overlake Medical Center, who has been caring for HIV patients on the Eastside since 1983.

— Mary Engel / Fred Hutch News Service

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