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2011: The Year in (peer) Review: The World and Home

Looking back at 2011, AIBS supported the peer review of science that brought a spectrum of social and life sciences to bear on human burdens as ancient and seemingly intractable as malaria, cancer, and wound infection, and as contemporary as blast-induced trauma, the reintegration of returning warriors home, and designing wildlife-sensitive green energy infrastructure.

SPARS reviewed the military "neglected tropical diseases" research that, this year, culminated in the phase III clinical trials of the RST,S vaccine. The trials over 15,000 children under the age of five across seven African countries. All over the world, 800,000 people a year die from this ancient disease, and half the world's population is at risk. This year, RTS.S reduced the risk of clinical malaria in treated children by 56% and severe malaria by 47%, SPARS helped.

The science we reviewed this year took a world view, and SPARS supported the Philadelphia's QED program that works to move science out of the lab and into the marketplace. Because of our peer review support, a portable, radiation-free, breast-scanning device, about the size of a calculator, secured licensing to bring breast cancer screening to women in remote, poor, or underserved regions of the globe.

This year too, we hosted the review of the CDC's President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, PEPFAR, the largest effort by any nation to combat a single disease internationally. SPARS peer review screened good science that aimed to develop effective combination anti-retroviral therapy, train 140,000 new health care workers, care for twelve million HIV-infected people and orphans, and prevent twelve million new infections worldwide.

The life and social science we reviewed this year was innovative and wildly diverse: harnessing novel strategies that worked within - rather than against - biological systems: some developed therapeutic predatory bacteria to combat the wound infection of trauma victims, some designed rugged prosthetic ankles that let people run if they wanted to with less pain, and science that helped count Golden Eagles in order to site wind energy stations that respects the hunting, breeding, and migration life history of raptors, their landscape, and their prey.

While the science we reviewed this year reflected the needs of humanity and the planet, it frankly reflected the needs of our nation. We reviewed biomedical and bioengineering science that addressed the physical and psychological injuries of wounded warriors, and social science that addressed the needs of returning warriors, their families, and society as a whole, as everyone reintegrates to home and work.


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