Ohio State trustee resigns, calls Meyer’s penalty too light
By JOHN SEEWER and KANTELE FRANKO
Thursday, August 30
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — An Ohio State University trustee who thought football coach Urban Meyer deserved more than a three-game suspension and resigned from the board over it said Thursday that he was alone in advocating a stiffer penalty when trustees discussed the matter.
Former board chairman Jeffrey Wadsworth resigned after Ohio State suspended Meyer and athletic director Gene Smith last week following a two-week investigation, which found they had tolerated bad behavior for years from a now-fired assistant coach also accused of but not charged with domestic violence.
“Since I fundamentally disagree with the outcome it would be hypocritical of me to continue as a Trustee,” Wadsworth told board chairman Michael Gasser in an Aug. 22 email, the day of the suspension, and released by the university on Thursday.
Wadsworth told Gasser he heard enough in the meeting that day that he didn’t want “to be a party, through endorsing today’s decision or remaining on the Board, to implicitly or explicitly support current or future actions on such issues.”
Wadsworth told the New York Times on Thursday he felt Meyer hadn’t demonstrated “high-integrity behavior” and that the findings of the investigation “raised an issue of standards, values — not how many games someone should be suspended for.”
The findings included that Meyer should have told university officials about domestic violence allegations made against the assistant in 2015 and that Meyer intentionally misled reporters about what he knew when asked about the matter this summer.
Wadsworth told the newspaper he left the Aug. 22 daylong meeting at lunch, learned of President Michael Drake’s resulting decision after it was publicized, and resigned that night.
He wouldn’t comment further about that move when reached by The Associated Press. He also isn’t sharing others details about the trustees’ private discussions on the matter, and no other members of the board have done so.
In an email to Wadsworth on Thursday, Gasser praised the investigative process.
Gasser said he was proud of the independence of Ohio State’s investigative committee, the work done by a group of nationally recognized outside experts, and “the deliberative nature of our board” finding common ground given a complex set of facts.
“As you know, we are always stronger when individuals representing a range of diverse opinions review a set of facts together in an effort to best serve the university,” Gasser said in the email, released by the university at AP’s request.
In a statement Thursday, Ohio State said the trustees and Drake “had a frank and comprehensive discussion last week” and that “a wide variety of perspectives were expressed in reaching a consensus.”
The school said Wadsworth, a retired president of Battelle Memorial Institute, was “an exceptionally valuable member of the board,” where he’d served since 2010.
The Meyer discussion certainly wasn’t his first involving the professional fate of a scrutinized employee with many fans. Wadsworth was board chairman in 2014 when Drake decided to fire marching band director Jonathan Waters after an investigation uncovered band traditions and rituals that were racy, raunchy or suggestive. Waters said he’d been trying to change such activities, but Drake and the university insisted that Waters controlled the band and answered for its practices, even those that came from old traditions.
Seewer reported from Toledo, Ohio. Associated Press reporter Andrew Welsh-Huggins contributed to this report.
Follow the reporters at https://twitter.com/jseewerap and https://twitter.com/kantele10 .
Trustees receive update on Strauss investigation
Ohio State University
Aug. 30, 2018
Fact-gathering phase could conclude this fall
COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio State University Board of Trustees heard an update today on the investigation of sexual misconduct allegations against Dr. Richard Strauss, a physician employed by the university from the mid-1970s to the 1990s. Strauss died in 2005.
In a meeting of the board’s Audit and Compliance Committee, Executive Vice President and Provost Bruce A. McPheron presented a letter from Kathleen Trafford of Porter Wright Morris & Arthur LLP, appointed by the Ohio Attorney General’s Office as special counsel to the university in connection with the Strauss investigation. The letter contained an update on the status of the investigation being conducted by the firm Perkins Coie LLP.
To date, the Perkins Coie team has conducted 335 interviews with former Ohio State students and staff and searched 520 boxes of university records believed to potentially contain materials relevant to the investigation. Additional searches for relevant university records are ongoing, and investigators also anticipate reviewing any new documents or information retrieved from third parties unaffiliated with Ohio State.
Though interviews and documentation reviews continue, investigators estimate the fact-gathering phase of the investigation could conclude this fall as long as no additional avenues of inquiry emerge.
“I can confirm that the investigators are working as expeditiously as possible, are covering a tremendous amount of ground, and are working with the independence and professionalism that will validate both the investigative process and integrity of the results,” Trafford wrote.
The witness interviews include approximately 150 former students who have reported firsthand accounts of physical sexual misconduct committed by Strauss.
The misconduct allegations date from 1979 to 1997, and were reported by former students who were treated in Student Health Services or were student-athletes with the following programs: wrestling, swimming and diving, cheerleading, volleyball, lacrosse, gymnastics, ice hockey, football, fencing, soccer, baseball, tennis, track and cross country, golf and the club sport of water polo. Perkins Coie is also investigating reports of a sexually exploitative atmosphere in Larkins Hall, the university gymnasium and natatorium demolished in 2005.
Additionally, former students have reported acts of sexual misconduct that occurred at a private medical office in Columbus that Strauss established off campus in August 1996.
The investigation into what the university knew about misconduct allegations against Strauss has so far entailed interviews with approximately 100 individuals who worked at Ohio State during the relevant time period. They include staff and faculty from the Department of Athletics, Wexner Medical Center and the Student Health Center, as well as administrators, human resources professionals and legal counsel.
Perkins Coie is seeking to interview additional former university staff based on investigative leads, and is using all reasonable means to locate and interview any former employees who are believed to have relevant information relating to Strauss’ time at Ohio State.
“It must be recognized that, as a result of the temporal span of this undertaking, the investigators are searching for documentary evidence dating back several decades, from the largely ‘pre-digital’ age,” Trafford wrote. “The significant passage of time that has occurred since Strauss’ tenure at the university brings with it the additional challenge of scattered witnesses who must first be identified, then located, and then willing to cooperate. In fact, some key witnesses are no longer alive.
“The Perkins team has committed significant resources and is moving as rapidly as possible given the number of interviews conducted, documents retrieved and reviewed, and outreach efforts launched.”
The university continues to encourage anyone with information about Strauss’ conduct to contact email@example.com. The identity of those who contact Perkins Coie will be treated with the utmost confidence and sensitivity permitted by law, and individuals may report anonymously if they wish.
Ohio State will continue to provide updates on the independent investigation and, upon completion, will report the outcome.
Time-restricted eating can overcome the bad effects of faulty genes and unhealthy diet
August 30, 2018
Professor of Regulatory Biology at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, Adjunct Professor of Cell and Developmental Biology at UCSD, University of California San Diego
Satchin Panda receives funding from National Institute of Health, Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, American Federation of Aging Research, the Glenn Center for Aging; the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust. He is affiliated with the Center for Circadian Biology at the University of California, San Diego.
University of California provides funding as a founding partner of The Conversation US.
Timing our meals can fend off diseases caused by bad genes or bad diet. Everything in our body is programmed to run on a 24-hour or circadian time table that repeats every day. Nearly a dozen different genes work together to produce this 24-hour circadian cycle. These clocks are present in all of our organs, tissues and even in every cell. These internal clocks tell us when to sleep, eat, be physically active and fight diseases. As long as this internal timing system work well and we obey them, we stay healthy.
But what happens when our clocks are broken or begin to malfunction?
Mice that lack critical clock genes are clueless about when to do their daily tasks; they eat randomly during day and night and succumb to obesity, metabolic disease, chronic inflammation and many more diseases.
Even in humans, genetic studies point to several gene mutations that compromise our circadian clocks and make us prone to an array of diseases from obesity to cancer. When these faulty clock genes are combined with an unhealthy diet, the risks and severity of these diseases skyrocket.
My lab studies how circadian clocks work and how they readjust when we fly from one time zone to another or when we switch between day and night shift. We knew that the first meal of the day synchronizes our circadian clock to our daily routine. So, we wanted to learn more about timing of meals and the implications for health.
Eating within an eight- to 12-hour window could diminish the impact of a bad diet and a broken body clock.
A few years ago we made a surprising discovery that when mice are allowed to eat within a consistent eight- to 12-hour period without reducing their daily caloric intake, they remain healthy and do not succumb to diseases even when they are fed unhealthy food rich in sugar or fat.
The benefit surpasses any modern medicine. Such an eating pattern – popularly called time restricted eating – also helps overweight and obese humans reduce body weight and lower their risk for many chronic diseases.
Decades of research had taught us what and how much we eat matters. But the new discovery about when we eat matters raised many questions.
How does simply restricting your eating times alter so many elements of personal health? The timing of eating is like an external time cue that signals the internal circadian clock to keep a balance between nourishment and repair. During the eating period, metabolism was geared toward nourishment. The gut and liver better absorbed nutrients from food, and used some for fueling the body while storing the rest.
During the fasting period, metabolism switched to rejuvenation. Unwanted chemicals were broken down, stored fat was burned and damaged cells were repaired. The next day, after the first bite, the switch flipped from rejuvenation to nourishment. This rhythm continued every day. We thought that timing of eating and fasting was giving cues to the internal clock and the clock was flipping the switch between nourishment and rejuvenation every day. However, it was not clear if a normal circadian clock was necessary to mediate the benefits of time restricted eating or whether just restricted eating times alone could flip the daily switch.
Eating late at night can disrupt circadian rhythms and raise the risk of chronic diseases including obesity.
What if you have a broken internal clock?
In a new study, we took genetically engineered animals that lacked a functioning circadian clock either in the liver or in every cell of the body.
These mice, with faulty clocks don’t know when to eat and when to stay away from food. So, they eat randomly and develop multiple diseases. The disease severity increases if they are fed an unhealthy diet.
To test if time restricted eating works with a damaged or dysfunctional clock, we simply divided these mutant mice into two different groups – one group got to eat whenever they wanted and the other group was only given access to food during restricted times. Both groups ate the identical number of calories, but the restricted eaters finished their daily ration within nine to 10 hours.
We thought that even though these mice had restricted eating times, having the bad clock gene would doom them to obesity and many metabolic diseases. But to our utter surprise the restricted eating times trumped the bad effects of faulty clock genes. The mice without a functioning clock that were destined to be morbidly sick, were as healthy as normal mice when they consumed food during a certain period.
The results have many implications for human health.
The good news
First of all, it raises a big question: What is the connection between our genetically encoded circadian clock timing system and external time of eating? Do these two different timing systems work together like co-pilots in a plane, so that even if one is incapacitated, the other one can still fly the plane?
As we age, our body clocks become less accurate, and we become more prone to chronic diseases. Keeping regular, restricted eating times can keep us healthy longer.
Deep analyses of mice in our experiment revealed that time restricted eating triggers many internal programs that improve our body’s resilience – enabling us to fight off any unhealthy consequences of bad nutrition or any other stress. This boost in internal resilience may be the key to these surprising health benefits.
For human health the message is simple, as I say in my new book “The Circadian Code.” Even if we have faulty circadian genes as in many congenital diseases, such as Prader-Willi syndrome or Smith-Magenis syndrome, or carry a malfunctioning copy of nearly a dozen different clock genes, as long as we have some discipline and restrict eating times, we can still fend off the bad effects of bad genes.
Similarly, other researchers have shown as we get older our circadian clock system weakens. The genes don’t function correctly so our sleep-wake cycles are disrupted – just as if we had a faulty clock. So, lifestyle becomes more important for older people who are at higher risk for many chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol, fatty liver disease and cancer.
As a potential translation to human health, we have created a website where anyone from anywhere in the world can sign up for an academic study and download a free app called MyCircadianClock and start self-monitoring the timing of eating and sleeping.
Research has shown that our daily eating, sleeping and activity patterns can affect health and determine our long-term risk for various diseases. This app is part of a research project that uses smartphones to advance research into biological rhythms in the real world, while also helping you understand your body’s rhythms.
The app provides tips and guidance on how to adopt a time restricted eating lifestyle to improve health and prevent or manage chronic diseases. By collecting data from people with varying risk for disease, we can explore how eating times can help to increase our healthy lifespan.
We understand everyone’s lifestyle around home, work and other responsibilities is unique and one size may not fit all. So, we hope people can use the app and some tips to build their personalized circadian routine. By selecting their own time window of eight to 12 hours for eating that best fits their lifestyle, they may reap many health benefits.
Want to live longer? Consider the ethics
August 31, 2018
John K. Davis
Professor of Philosophy, California State University, Fullerton
John K. Davis is a Professor of Philosophy at California State University, Fullerton. His research on life extension ethics was partially supported by a grant from The Templeton Foundation through the Immortality Project.
Life extension – using science to slow or halt human aging so that people live far longer than they do naturally – may one day be possible.
Big business is taking this possibility seriously. In 2013 Google founded a company called Calico to develop life extension methods, and Silicon Valley billionaires Jeff Bezos and Peter Thiel have invested in Unity Biotechnology, which has a market cap of US$700 million. Unity Biotechnology focuses mainly on preventing age-related diseases, but its research could lead to methods for slowing or preventing aging itself.
From my perspective as a philosopher, this poses two ethical questions. First, is extended life good? Second, could extending life harm others?
Is living forever a good thing?
Not everyone is convinced that extending life would be good. In a 2013 survey by the Pew Research Center’s Religion and Public Life project, some respondents worried that it might become boring, or that they would miss out on the benefits of growing old, such as gaining wisdom and learning to accept death.
Philosophers such as Bernard Williams have shared this concern. In 1973 Williams argued that immortality would become intolerably boring if one never changed. He also argued that, if people changed enough to avoid intolerable boredom, they would eventually change so much that they’d be entirely different people.
On the other hand, not everyone is persuaded that extended life would be a bad life. I’m not. But that’s not the point. No one is proposing to force anyone to use life extension, and – out of respect for liberty – no one should be prevented from using it.
Nineteenth-century philosopher John Stuart Mill argued that society must respect individual liberty when it comes to deciding what’s good for us. In other words, it’s wrong to interfere with someone’s life choices even when he or she makes bad choices.
However, Mill also held that our liberty right is limited by the “harm principle.” The harm principle says that the right to individual liberty is limited by a duty not to harm others.
There are many possible harms: Dictators might live far too long, society might become too conservative and risk-averse and pensions might have to be limited, to name a few. One that stands out to me is the injustice of unequal access.
What does unequal access looks like when it comes to life extension?
Available only to the rich?
Many people, such as philosopher John Harris and those in the Pew Center survey, worry that life extension would be available only to the rich and make existing inequalities even worse.
Indeed, it is unjust when some people live longer than the poor because they have better health care. It would be far more unjust if the rich could live several decades or centuries longer than anyone else and gain more time to consolidate their advantages.
Some philosophers suggest that society should prevent inequality by banning life extension. This is equality by denial – if not everyone can get it, then no one gets it.
However, as philosopher Richard J. Arneson notes, “leveling-down” – achieving equality by making some people worse off without making anyone better off – is unjust.
Indeed, as I argue in my recent book on life extension ethics, most of us reject leveling-down in other situations. For example, there are not enough human organs for transplant, but no one thinks the answer is to ban organ transplants.
Moreover, banning or slowing down the development of life extension may simply delay a time when the technology gets cheap enough for everyone to have it. TV sets were once a toy for the wealthy; now even poor families have them. In time, this could happen with life extension.
Justice requires that society subsidize access to life extension to the extent it can afford to do so. However, justice does not require banning life extension just because it’s not possible to give it to everyone.
Another possible harm is that the world will become overcrowded. Many people, including philosophers Peter Singer and Walter Glannon, are concerned that extending human life would cause severe overpopulation, pollution and resource shortages.
One way to prevent this harm, as some philosophers have proposed, is to limit the number of children after life extension.
This would be politically very difficult and very hard on those who want longer lives, but trying to ban life extension would be equally difficult, and denying people longer lives would be just as hard on them – if not more so. Limiting reproduction, as hard as that may be, is a better way to follow the harm principle.
Will death be worse?
Another possible harm is that widespread life extension might make death worse for some people.
All else being equal, it is better to die at 90 than nine. At 90 you’re not missing out on many years, but at nine you lose most of your potential life. As philosopher Jeff McMahan argues, death is worse the more years it takes from you.
What will be the right measure of age? fizkes/Shutterstock.com
Now imagine that people living in a far wealthier neighborhood don’t have to die at 90 or so. They can afford life extension, and will live to 190. You can’t afford it, and you are dying at 80. Is your death not so bad, for you’re losing only a few years, or is your death now far worse, because – if only you had life extension – you might live to 190? Are you losing 10 years, or are you losing 110 years?
In a world where some people get life extension and some don’t, what’s the right measure for how many years death takes from you?
Perhaps the right measure is how many years life extension would give you, multiplied by the odds of getting it. For example, if you have a 20 percent chance of getting 100 years, then your death is worse by however many years you’d get in a normal lifespan, plus 20 years.
If so, then the fact that some people can get life extension makes your death somewhat worse. This is a more subtle kind of harm than living in an overpopulated world, but it’s a harm all the same.
However, not just any harm is enough to outweigh liberty. After all, expensive new medical treatments can extend a normal lifespan, but even if that makes death slightly worse for those who can’t afford those treatments, no one thinks such treatments should be banned.
I believe that life extension is a good thing, but it does pose threats to society that must be taken seriously.
It’s 2018. Do you know where your medical records are?
August 31, 2018
Bita A. Kash
Associate Professor and Director of Center for Outcomes Research at Houston Methodist, Texas A&M University
Stephen L. Jones
Assistant Professor of Medical Informatics Surgery, Cornell University
Bita A. Kash, PhD, MBA received funding from the Texas Medical Center Health Policy Research grant for this research.
Stephen L. Jones, MD, MSHI, received funding from the Texas Medical Center Health Policy Institute.
Texas A&M University provides funding as a founding partner of The Conversation US.
Can you imagine a future where the question “Did you bring a copy of your test results?” becomes entirely unnecessary?
That could happen, but the methods that most health care providers use to exchange health care information are little different than they were 5,000 years ago, when physicians caring for the same patient exchanged scrolls of papyrus and clay tablets.
Since the inception of computing technology, health care systems and doctors have been trying to find ways to dispense with the inefficiency and to share information electronically.
One of the building blocks for this information bridge is something called a health information exchange. These exchanges allow for the transfer of electronic health information, such as your medical records, laboratory test results and medication lists, among hospitals and providers. Yet, our recent research showed that, despite clear benefits of health information exchanges, they are not being utilized as often as they could be.
How the exchanges work
Think of a health information exchange as a switchboard that connects participating hospitals, emergency departments and physicians’ practices with the intent of securely sharing information that the patients they care for have authorized to share.
First, a patient must consent to his or her primary health care facility or physician to share information via the health information exchange.
Then, let’s say your primary care doctor has referred you to a specialist. With a health information exchange, you wouldn’t have to ask for your records or images, pay for them, wait for them and pick them up. All you have to do is authorize your doctors to securely share your information with each other. Ultimately, patients won’t have to bring copies of their medical records with them when they see a new doctor.
There are several different ways in which a health information exchange can be implemented. In the most common model, the patient medical record information is stored at the home institution or physician’s practice where it was created. When the patient is admitted to a hospital or emergency department or even goes to see a new doctor in another practice that also participates in the exchange, the new hospital or new physician can easily connect to the health information exchange electronically to pull relevant information on the new patient from other hospitals and doctors.
Health information exchanges vary in scope, from national to regional to local, such as sharing within a city. Health information exchanges can also be developed within a health care system to connect affiliated hospitals and physicians in their network. About 40 percent of hospitals and health systems have incorporated health information exchange capabilities into their technology strategy.
Not being used to full advantage
Studies show that about two in three hospital systems and about half of physician practices utilize a default “opt in” for sharing of patient information through the health information exchange.
But even so, participation in the health information exchange does not always mean effective use of it toward better medical care and health outcomes.
Prior research suggests that there is very little health information exchange penetration into health systems. Additionally, our recent research shows that relatively few hospitals, about 12 percent, are using the health information exchange as a strategy to reduce avoidable hospital readmissions, which is important to controlling costs and improving health outcomes. Readmissions cost Medicare an estimated US$26 billion a year.
Providers who do effectively use the health information exchange as part of their practice have expressed financial benefits, such as those that accrue from lack of repeat testing, and improved outcomes for their patients as reasons for participating. The savings from unnecessary duplicate imaging and tests also help patients. And, doctors have access to highly relevant information about their patients, such as lists of prior diagnoses, past and current medications and allergies, which can improve care.
There have also been financial and clinical benefits from use of health information exchanges in the emergency department, allowing emergency physicians to detect potential bad behaviors, such as doctor-shopping for pain medication.
Complications can occur
To be sure, health information exchanges are complicated.
There are numerous technological and social barriers to overcome. For example, there are several technical standards defined for the electronic exchange of health information, but they are often implemented in obtuse ways. Or, different standards may be used on different ends of the exchange, necessitating some sort of “translation” from one system to another.
We believe that there are many implications from studies of health information exchanges, including our most recent study. First, hospital administrators and physician leaders should ensure they are actively integrating electronic health data into established health information exchanges to improve care coordination, reduce avoidable tests, and optimize use and access to important patient information.
And patients can ask their providers about their use of these exchanges. So, the next time you are at your doctor’s office or the emergency room, ask about their ability to pull information from a recent CT scan or lab test. You can educate your provider about their ability to pull your data from the health information exchange.