My Teen Is Moody – Is It Normal?

Some reassuring news from science this week, on the mood swings of teens. A Dutch study published in Child Development has a bunch of outcomes that should put at least some parents’ minds at ease:

Most Teen Mood Swings Decline with Age

Adolescence is typically regarded as a period of heightened emotionality. Although the teen years are an important time for youth to learn to regulate their emotions, little research has looked at the development of teens’ emotional stability. Now a new longitudinal study has found that adolescents’ mood swings decline gradually as they get older, which should reassure parents about their moody teens while also helping identify when instability is considered risky and requires intervention.

The study, conducted by researchers at VU University Amsterdam, the EMGO Institute for Health and Care Research, Utrecht University, and Tilburg University, all in the Netherlands, appears in the journal Child Development.

“We found that early adolescence is the period of the greatest volatility, but adolescents gradually stabilize in their moods,” according to Hans M. Koot, professor of developmental psychology at VU University Amsterdam and the EMGO Institute for Health and Care Research, a coauthor of the study. “An important message to teens, parents, and teachers is that temporary mood swings during early adolescence might actually be normal and aren’t necessarily a reason to worry.”

Researchers followed 474 middle- to high-income Dutch adolescents from ages 13 to 18. Forty percent of these adolescents were at high risk for externalizing behaviors (e.g., aggressive or delinquent behavior) at age 12. Using Internet diaries, the teens rated their daily moods in terms of happiness, anger, sadness, and anxiety during three weeks of the school year for five years (that is, a total of 15 weeks spread over five years). Using these daily assessments, the researchers calculated fluctuations in day-to-day mood and then analyzed whether these showed any developmental changes across the five-year period.

During the course of adolescence, teens’ moods became more stable for happiness, anger, and sadness, the study found. Although girls had higher variability than boys in happiness and sadness, the rate of change across adolescence was similar for both sexes.

The researchers posited that teens’ moods could become more stable because events that are new in early adolescence (such as first romances, which can be exciting, and conflicts with parents about leisure time, which can be frustrating) happen less frequently as teens grow older. And it’s likely that adolescents figure out over time how to deal more effectively with changes in their moods.

Anxiety was the only mood that didn’t fit in with this overall pattern. The variability in teens’ anxious moods waxed and waned, with an initial increase, then a decrease, followed by an increase again toward the end of adolescence. This trend could be explained by the transition toward adulthood, the researchers suggest, which might induce more anxiety swings in late adolescence due to teens’ increasing responsibilities (such as leaving school, going on to higher education, or getting a job).

“In general, heightened mood variability will eventually pass,” notes Dominique F. Maciejewski, a Ph.D. student at VU University Amsterdam and the EMGO Institute for Health and Care Research, and the study’s first author. “By demonstrating that most teens get less moody across adolescence, our study provides a solid basis for identifying adolescents who develop in a deviant way. In particular, teens who continue to be extremely moody or who get even moodier across adolescence may need to be monitored more closely since earlier studies have shown that extreme mood swings are related to more emotional, behavioral, and interpersonal problems.”

So there you have it – though there’s one very important point to make. You are likely to know your teen best so if you think something’s up, then perhaps there is an issue to discuss or get help for. If in doubt, seek guidance from a qualified professional such as a psychologist, counsellor or general practitioner.

[For the research nerds to full citation is: Child Development, A Five-Year Longitudinal Study on Mood Variability Across Adolescence using Daily Diaries by Maciejewski, DF, van Lier, PAC (VU University Amsterdam and EMGO Institute for Health and Care Research), Branje, SJT (Utrecht University), Meeus, WHJ (Utrecht University and Tilburg University), and Koot, HM (VU University Amsterdam and EMGO Institute for Health Care Research). Copyright 2015 The Society for Research in Child Development, Inc. All rights reserved.]

Does Triclosan Cause Tumours In Humans?

14741409496_4e463f8de1_oYou may have seen some media around some recent research that looked at the impact of high levels of Triclosan on mice. You can look at the study here. Thanks to the brilliant team at the Australian Science Media Centre (via the UK Science Media Centre), there’s some expert feedback on the study and its implications for humans:


Dr Oliver A.H. Jones, Lecturer in Analytical Chemistry at RMIT University Melbourne, said:

“The results of this study are certainly interesting but I do not think they are a cause for concern for human health.

“Firstly the mice used in the study were primed with a tumor promoting chemical before being exposed to triclosan (which humans would not be) and the concentrations of triclosan used were much higher than those found in the environment.

“It is also worth remembering that mice are not mini humans and what happens in a mouse liver is often very different from what happens in human livers, or even in those of other rodents. For example, previous studies on rats, and hamsters treated with triclosan did not show any tumor formation at all. Thus the present study, whilst interesting, does not show the full picture.”


Dr Nick Plant, Reader in Molecular Toxicology at the University of Surrey, said:

“This study has been undertaken robustly and the experimental findings are reasonable. Note that the authors study only mice, and draw conclusion only on mice. Their comments on human health are very circumspect.

“As the authors state, it is difficult to assess if the dose that they use in mice is relevant to human exposure levels, but at a simple examination it appears to be much higher than I would expect to see in a human. This further complicates extrapolation to the human situation as we are not comparing equivalent exposures.

“The data does support the action of triclosan on the nuclear receptor constitutive androstane receptor(CAR), and that this could act as a tumour promoter.  The suggestion that this action could be further exacerbated by the regenerative hyperplasia seen in humans suffering from liver disease is reasonable, but there is no real evidence to support this.

“However, the authors do not address a key point in their paper, which is whether the proposed mechanism is conserved across species.  The previously reported effects of Triclosan on the nuclear receptor PPARalpha do not impact human health as the PPARalpha signalling pathway is different between rodents and humans (and the authors dispute these anyway). In this paper, the authors suggest that the tumourogenic mechanism is via another nuclear receptor CAR.  For this nuclear receptor there is also a considerable species difference in response, with chemicals (including carcinogens) acting differently between rodents and man.

“On this basis, it is not valid to state that the effect of triclosan in mice will occur in humans as well, indeed the historical body of evidence suggests a species-dependent effect is more likely.  However, as with all new signals, it is important to examine them and decide if they are biologically plausible in the species of concern (in this case humans).  I would treat this paper as interesting, but would not see it as the basis for a shift in triclosan use at present.  There are simply too many unanswered questions as to whether the findings are relevant to humans, and indeed the body of evidence currently suggests that they are not.”


Prof Tony Dayan, Emeritus Toxicologist, said:

“The report describes a sophisticated set of investigations into the molecular biological and pathological consequences of prolonged exposure of  laboratory mice to TCS, culminating in promotion of the development of liver cancer in mice pre-treated with a powerful cancer-causing chemical, i.e. tumours occurred more often in mice co-treated with TCS over a long period.

“The authors themselves point out that the dose of TCS was very considerably higher than the average amount that humans might ingest from toothpaste and other products or in drinking water if the normal procedures of water purification had not removed any that might have been present in raw water sources. They did not explore whether lower doses had similar actions nor did they investigate the relevance of the gene changes shown to human tumour development.

“High doses of many substances have been shown to act as ‘promoters’ of liver tumours in experimental animals, including a number that have been sufficiently well studied to show that the same effect has not occurred in humans, including phenobarbitone, a well known treatment for certain types of seizures, and certain [>] other medicines.

“Any study of the means by which a chemical can act as [>] a promoter in the laboratory can provide important information about cellular mechanisms. However, it is not possible to draw a direct link based on the artificial nature of those experiments and a risk to people. That would require much more information particularly whether the chemical  had any relevant action after the much lower doses to which we might be exposed and if the same pathways were affected in a similar way in humans.”


Prof Alan Boobis, Professor of Biochemical Pharmacology, Imperial College London, said:

“This is not the first study of the carcinogenicity of triclosan, even in mice.  Previous, guideline compliant, studies have established that triclosan is carcinogenic to the liver of mice but not to rats or hamsters.  The mechanism of tumour formation has not been established, but it does not involve damage to DNA (genotoxicity).  The present study extends information on the possible mechanism for liver tumours in mice.  This appears to involve initial damage to the liver, leading to fibrosis which then acts to exacerbate any pro-carcinogenic incidental or induced DNA damage, by compounds that can interact directly with DNA.

“The dose used in the present study was similar to that at which tumours had been observed previously in mice. Studies in primates showed no hepatic damage at doses greater than those used in the present study, when administered for 12 months. Whilst it is possible that the carcinogenic effect in mice is relevant to humans, it should be noted that mouse liver tumours are induced by many chemicals, and often they are not relevant to humans.  Further information on the mode of action for the liver tumours observed in the present study would be necessary to determine the relevance if any for triclosan.

“Notwithstanding this uncertainty, the tumours in mice are secondary to hepatic damage, an effect that shows a threshold.  Hence, ensuring exposure to triclosan is below that causing liver damage would be more than sufficient to avoid the risk of any carcinogenic effects in humans.”


Prof Sir Colin Berry, Emeritus Professor of Pathology at Queen Mary University of London, said:

“Triclosan is metabolised in the liver by sulphation and glucuronidation; i.e. groups are added to the compound to make it soluble enough to excrete. So this is work for liver cells (like alcohol) and if you have damaged them, any continued stimulus to activity will result in growth with increased tumour numbers in experimental situations where DNA damage has been induced. Tylenol uses the same mechanisms and would probably act in the same way.

“Initiation and promotion are long standing concepts in oncogenesis but anything increasing division rates in liver cells will work – more cirrhotics get hepatocellular cancer now as we keep them alive longer with their liver nodules growing.”


So the summary of all that? Nothing’s proven as far as human impact and that most likely you’d need to be ingesting levels of Triclosan that damaged your liver before there’d be a likelihood of tumours.


2013 Mental Health Symposium in Second Life

virtual-abilitySome more great work from Virtual Ability, Inc, with this Saturday seeing a Mental Health Symposium. You can find out more on the Virtual Ability blog but here’s the schedule:

Will you Treat ME?  Funding mental health care treatment – now and under the Affordable Health Care Act
Presenter: Jayme Nelson, RN, MS (SL Avatar: Jayme Xaris)
Saturday April 27, 2013 7-8 am PDT

Sudden Violent Loss: Its Impact on Every Member of the Community
Presenter: Deborah Houston-Schrenzel (SL Avatar: Brede McDonnell)
Saturday April 27, 2013 10-11 am PDT

Poetry and Mental Health
Readers: Eliza Madrigal, Zen Arado, Szavannah Resident
Saturday April 27, 2013 11:30am-12:30pm PDT

Introducing the Whole Brain Health Fair to Second Life
Presenter: Lissena Resident
Saturday April 27, 2013 1-2pm PDT

Exploring New Ways of Evaluating Mental Capacity of Seniors
Presenter: Kara Bennett, Ph. D. (SL Avatar: Dancers Yao)
Saturday, April 27, 2013 2:30-3:30pm PDT

Herbal Medicine and Mental Health
Presenter: Richard Roth (SL Avatar: Farm Gartenberg)
Saturday, April 27, 2013 4-5pm PDT

Virtual Ability Island: Big Week of Activities

virtual ability islandLongstanding hub for health and community services information, Virtual Ability Island, has a big week of activities ahead that I wanted to give a plug to.

First, the summary of the events:

Virtual Ability Community Events, week of Feb. 4-10

**Events marked are open to the public. All other events are for VAI community members and their invited guests.

2:30pm SLT- Woodget’s Weekly Quiz Night- VAI Sanctuary Beach Cafe

**1pm SLT- SL Limits (Part 2)- Yellow Hibiscus Cabana

**10am SLT- Shot in the Dark (flu vaccination)- Healthinfo Island Research Pavilion
1pm SLT- The Content Tab- VAI Sanctuary Building Classroom

**11am SLT- Second Life’s Little Secret- Sojourner Auditorium
**noon SLT- What is One Billion Rising About?- Sojourner Auditorium

**8am SLT- About VWBPE 2013- Sojourner Auditorium
1pm SLT- Swim and Chat- VAI Sanctuary Beach Cafe

**noon SLT- Self-Advocacy: Who, How, and Why- Yellow Hibiscus Cabana
2-4pm- Pun-off Party and Dance- Dance Pavilion, VAI Sanctuary

All events brought to you by the Virtual Ability community. Please see individual event notecards below. If you have ideas for future VAI events, please contact iSkye Silverweb.

And then the detail on the key events:

SL Limits (Part 2)
PRESENTER: Slatan Dryke
WEDNESDAY February 6, 1pm SLT
Yellow Hibiscus Cabana, Virtual Ability Island

How many…? How long…? As much as…? Second Life numerical limits that affect your inworld experience.

PRESENTER BIO: Slatan Dryke has extensive experience in Second Life, including volunteering as an Ex-SL Mentor/Trainer, RHN Q&A Group Co-Owner, PWT advisor, SAM/VAI Mentor, and Ajuda Brasil Mentor.

Presented in text, with optional Voice transcription.

(Part 1 of this mini class is not a prerequisite.)


A Shot in the Dark: Just how effective are Flu Vaccines?
THURSDAY February 7, 10am SLT
Healthinfo Island Research Pavilion

Have you gotten your flu shot? How effective are flu vaccinations anyway? Research will be presented in plain language, so you can make an informed decision.

PRESENTER BIO: Kaznats Oh (Richard Stanzak in RL) is a critical care nurse. He also worked as a molecular biologist for fourteen years, seven of them for Eli Lilly pharmaceuticals in both research and development.

As a traveling ICU nurse he has been employed at 26 different assignments. He has worked in major trauma units, transplant units, cardiac units and hospitals from 1150 beds to 8 beds. He has experienced first-hand the problems of healthcare and can certainly attest this is a national problem.

Stanzak is the author and/or co-author of several papers and also has several patents. He is the lead author of a benchmark paper on the cloning of genes responsible for the production of erythromycin. He was engaged in research at Eli Lilly when Prozac was first discovered and Genentech first licensed the insulin gene to Lilly. As a critical care nurse, he is responsible for providing teaching to patients or families about drugs, diseases and procedures.

Presentation in text, with optional Voice transcription.
(Repeat of session given Jan 17.)


Second Life’s Little Secret: A discussion
PRESENTER:  Saffia Widdershins
FRIDAY, 8 February 2013, 11am SLT
The Sojourner Auditorium, Virtual Ability

Over the years, the question of gender in virtual worlds has formed the fodder for a wide variety of newspaper and magazine articles and several well-regarded academic studies in the wider world, and some fascinating blog posts from inworld. But one area that has been comparatively overlooked – and one that may have an important bearing on some of the problems that Second Life faces today, and some of its potential strengths that could ensure its longevity – is the demographic of age.
Saffia Widdershins discusses one of Second Life’s open secrets – the fact that the inhabitants of Second Life may well be older than they appear.

Saffia Widdershins is the editor of Prim Perfect Magazine, the executive producer of‘s Designing Worlds, Happy Hunting! and Metaverse Arts, and of the annnual telethon for Relay for Life. She helped organise SL9B, and runs regular talk and discussion events at major events, such as the Birthdays, the Home and Garden Expo and the Christmas Expos. She’s taken a role in publicising concerns over Second Life issues such as Intellectual Property Rights and griefing.  Currently she’s one of the team behind One Billion Rising in Second Life.

Presented in voice, with text transcription.


What is One Billion Rising About?
PRESENTER: Honour McMillan
FRIDAY 8 February, noon SLT
The Sojourner Auditorium, Virtual Ability

What is One Billion Rising about? Honour McMillan explains!

One out of every 3 women in the world will experience violence during her lifetime which totals more than one billion. Women, and the men who love them, will participate will walk away from their homes, businesses and jobs on Valentine’s Day and join together to dance in a show of collective strength.

One Billion Rising in Second Life is an officially registered event associated with the real live movement. 24 hours, 24 performers and 24 artists on 4 sims.

PRESENTER BIO: Honour McMillan is an explorer, blogger and community event organizer in Second Life.

Presented in both Voice and text.


About VWBPE 2013
PRESENTER:  Kevin Feenan (SL: Phelan Corrimal)
SATURDAY February 9, 8am SLT
The Sojourner Auditorium, Virtual Ability Island

Phelan Corrimal presents highlights on the upcoming Virtual Worlds Best Practices in education conference being scheduled for this July 2013. Find out about opportunities to present, volunteer, or just plain have fun at the conference.

PRESENTER BIO:  Kevin Feenan, also known as Phelan Corrimal in Second Life, is the President of Rockcliffe University Consortium and one of the Executive Directors of the VWBPE Conference. Originally started as a grassroots educational conference, the Virtual Worlds Best Practices in Education conference brings together over 2000 educators, researchers, and institutional professional from around the world to discuss issues facing education and how virtual technologies can best be applied to solving these dilemmas. The conference is run as an open source conference and is free for anyone to attend.

Presented in both text and Voice simultaneously.


Self-Advocacy: Who, How, and Why
PRESENTER: SIster Abeyante
SUNDAY, February 10, noon SLT
Yellow Hibiscus Cabana, Virtual Ability Island

What is self-advocacy? Who can most effectively self- advocate? What are some tips to make self-advocacy more effective? What should you try if it doesn’t “work”? Why bother? Find out a bit more, and share some tips of your own in this presentation and discussion about self-advocacy for people with disabilities. Great for beginners and intermediates, but the experts and wisdom figures will help us too!

Sister Abeyante (Sister Patrice Colletti, SDS, a Sister of the Divine Savior from Milwaukee, WI) is a long time disability rights advocate who has been widely involved in personal and systemic advocacy efforts. Starting at age seven, when she became deaf, she’s developed some “pretty darn effective!” approaches to helping people make better and more just choices, particularly related to inclusion and civil rights for people with disabilities. She currently works as an Inclusion Coordinator in an innovative, inclusive urban housing project near Milwaukee, WI.

Presented in text, with optional Voice transcription.

Mayo Clinic in Second Life

Looks like an interesting session of the non-profit commons in SL this Friday:


This Friday, September 14th, Nonprofit Commons is happy to feature Brian Kaihoi (Svea Morane in SL), of the Mayo Clinic. The Mayo Clinic has had a presence in Second Life since January 1, 2009, which has grown now to 4 regions. They have been working to provide consumer health information, patient care services, internal work team support, and even modeling physical spaces inside SL before they build the buildings. Most significantly, they have found many partners in SL who share similar goals and values, that can work with the Mayo Clinic to have a larger impact on patient care. This presentation will report on Mayo Clinic’s virtual world activities in the areas of patient care, research, education and administrative services.

Brian Kaihoi has been with Mayo Clinic for 35 years. During that time he has held a variety of administrative and operational positions. As a member of the consulting staff of Mayo Clinic, Brian has worked with the Mayo Medical School and Mayo School of Continuing Medical Education on content development and delivery strategies. Currently, Brian is the Mayo Foundation Web Administrator, working with all Mayo Clinic Web activities, and works with the Center for Innovation, which is finding ways to transform the way health care is experienced and delivered.

Follow him on twitter at @bkaihoi

About the Mayo Clinic:

Mayo Clinic:  Mayo Clinic is a nonprofit worldwide leader in medical care, research and education for people from all walks of life. Doctors from every medical specialty work together to care for patients, joined by common systems and a philosophy of “the needs of the patient come first.” Mayo Clinic is governed by a 33-member Board of Trustees.  Every year, more than a million people from all 50 states and nearly 150 countries come to Mayo Clinic for care.
www.mayoclinic.orgJoin us in Second Life!

Nonprofit Commons Weekly Meeting
Friday, September 14th, 8:30 AM SLT / PST
Plush Nonprofit Commons Amphitheater


• 8:30 am Introductions
• 8:40 am TechSoup Announcements
• 8:45 am Mentors Central
• 8:55 am Main Speaker: Brian Kaihoi (Svea Morane)
• 9:30 am Open Mic / Announcements

The mission of the Nonprofit Commons in Second Life is to create a community for nonprofits to explore and learn about virtual worlds, foster connections, and discover the many ways in which nonprofits might utilize the unique environment of Second Life to achieve their missions.

Virtual Ability Mental Health Symposium 2012

I received a message today from Alice Krueger (SL:Gentle Heron) at Virtual Ability Inc, about an upcoming symposium. Save April 28 as the date – there’s an amazing array of speakers and topics. You can read the schedule below or check out Virtual Ability’s blog.

The full details:

Our society too often takes mental health for granted and too frequently stigmatizes people with mental health issues. The Virtual Ability Mental Health Symposium 2012, on Saturday, April 28, offers a variety of perspectives for thinking positively about mental health.

Presentations will take place at various locations in Second Life.  The full schedule is posted below, and at

Alice Krueger, president of Virtual Ability, Inc., notes, “A symposium is a formal meeting where individual presentations are followed by discussion. We intend these sessions to encourage audience participation with the presenters and especially with the content the presenters share. Mental health is too important a topic to ignore.”




PRESENTER: Dr. Tina Garcia

Saturday April 28, 2012, 8:00 am PDT



READER: Alice Krueger (Second Life Avatar: Gentle Heron)

Saturday April 28, 2012, 9:00 am PDT

Health & Wellness Pavilion, Healthinfo Island, Second Life

Gentle Heron will read aloud (with text) a chapter from Paul Broks’ book Into the Silent Land. This essay explores the nature of self-understanding. We will discuss the viewpoints presented, and think about how we view ourselves as individuals unique among all of humanity.

Author Information: Broks is a consultant in neuropsychology at Derriford Hospital, Plymouth, UK. He was a runner-up for the Wellcome Trust Science Prize, and writes about his work as a neuropsychologist in magazines and newspapers as well as this book of essays.

Presented simultaneously in voice and text.



PRESENTER: Frank Hannah (Second Life Avatar: Frederick Hansome)

Saturday April 28, 2012, 10:00 am PDT

Blue Orchid Cabana, Virtual Ability Island, Second Life

This lecture introduces a concept of mental health that will probably be new to you. You will be able to use it to develop a rock-solid self concept, learn to make wise choices, accomplish more and improve your relationships.  This approach to optimum mental health helps prevent the mental and physical problems that may otherwise occur. Handicaps don’t count here: everyone can develop optimum mental health!

Presenter Bio:  Frank Hannah (SL avatar: Frederick Hansome) is a retired mental health counselor with over 20 years clinical experience in private practice. He holds a Masters degree in Counseling Psychology from Nova University (now NovaSoutheastern).

In SL, as the alt “Plato Greybeard”, Hannah moderated a philosophical discussion group for about 2 1/2 years at Plato’s Academy. He closed the Academy to use his SL time to promote mental health. Please visit his website:

Presented simultaneously in voice and text.



(Keynote Presentation)

PRESENTER:  Dick Dillon (Second Life Avatar: Coughran Mayo)

Saturday April 28, 2012, 11:00 am PDT

The Sojourner Auditorium, Virtual Ability Island, Second Life

We will discuss a variety of ways in which the characteristics of virtual world platforms, when used in the service of counseling, are not only as good as “real life,” but usually better.

Among the issues to be reviewed are “24/7 durability,” role plays and scene changes, and “I am my Avatar and my Avatar is me – or NOT”

Presenter Bio:  Dick Dillon has been in the mental health field for over 30 years in a variety of management and administrative positions. He recently left his position as Senior VP of Planning and Development for Preferred Family Healthcare to open his own consultation firm, Innovaision, LLC – dedicated to helping nonprofits realize the potential of using virtual worlds and other technologies.  Through his SL avatar, Coughran Mayo, Dillon has spent over 5 years actively involved in Second Life, working for the NonProfit Commons initiative and building and hosting the Preferred Family HC sim. He has made numerous presentations and been interviewed on Metanomics,  Rockcliffe University’s “Inside The Avatar Studio” program and other inworld news and issues programs.

Presented in voice, with text transcription.



PRESENTERS: Dr. Debra London and Dr. Marty Jencius

Saturday April 28, 2012, Noon PDT




Saturday April 28, 2012, 1:00 pm PDT

The Sojourner Auditorium, Virtual Ability Island, Second Life

The brain is an amazing organ. Injuries such as those which are associated with PTSD may never heal. But the brain is “plastic,” which means the functions damaged by the brain injury can be relearned by other parts of the brain.

Presenter Bio:  Anya Ibor is the Founder and Executive Director of Fearless Nation PTSD Support, a 501c3 NonProfit Organization dedicated to providing free public education, support and advocacy for the understanding of PTSD. Since 2009 Fearless Nation has provided a virtual therapeutic support group.

Presented in voice, with text transcription.



PRESENTER:  MermaidSue Bailey

Saturday April 28, 2012, 3:00 pm PDT

Yellow Hibiscus Cabana, Virtual Ability Island, Second Life

MermaidSue Bailey will lead a discussion on the importance of peer support to good mental health.

Presenter Bio:  MermaidSue Bailey is facilitator of the self-help group “When Life Goes Out of Control,” which is in its second year now and becoming a useful weekly fixture for its increasing group of members, all of whom either have a disability themselves or a family disability which impacts on daily life.  In RL, Sue works as a psychoanalytic psychotherapist in the United Kingdom, in private practice and within the hospice movement. She has two teenage daughters and is a school governor.   In theory she doesn’t bring her professional life into Second Life, but experience in group therapy, as well as being a woman with a disability, gives her useful skills in facilitating more informal groups in virtual settings – but very much as a member of the group also in need of support from other people with disabilities.

Presented in text, with voice transcription.



PRESENTER: Roberto Salvatierra (Second Life Avatar: Roberto Salubrius)

Saturday April 28, 2012, 4:00 pm PDT

The Sojourner Auditorium, Virtual Ability Island, Second Life

Roberto was diagnosed with agoraphobia. He was unable to continue medical school, and became confined to his home. He will tell about his experiences, and what he learned about his health.

Presenter Bio:  Roberto Salvatierra, (SL avatar Roberto Salubrius), was born in San Jose, Costa Rica, in 1975. He had a bilingual education, and since an early age he worked with computers. At age 19, he started having panic attacks, until it evolved to agoraphobia by the time he was 24. He went to Medical School, where he got a minor on medical sciences and was going for his degree as Medical Doctor until his agoraphobia caught up with him, short of finishing Medical School. Since then he has been working on Second Life as a full time programmer for his own company, Techno Kitty Development, and for co-owned animation company Medhue Animations. In his free time he does a lot of medical research, especially on Mental Health, Cardiology, Endocrinology and Dysautonomias.

Presented in text, with voice transcription.



PRESENTER:  DyVerse Jeffery-Steele

Saturday April 28, 2012, 5:00 pm PDT

Yellow Hibiscus Cabana, Virtual Ability Island, Second Life

April is (US) National Minority Health Month. Minority communities face unique problems related to mental health.

Living in poverty has the most measurable effects on the rates of mental illness. Minorities are overrepresented among the lowest socioeconomic groups, and thus have higher rates of mental illness than do non-Hispanic whites. Racism and discrimination cause increased levels of stress, which can adversely affect mental health.

Presenter Bio:  DyVerse Jeffery-Steele is a peer support leader for chronic illness and the issues that arise from illness.  He has been a peer support leader in Second Life and in real life for HIV/AIDS and diabetes, and the mental health issues that come with those diseases.  A strong supporter and user of social media and virtual worlds for health support and education, DyVerse has an office on Health Commons island.

Presented simultaneously in voice and text.

Have genital herpes? Read this

Great to see Aussie innovation delivering some benefits to society as a whole. If you’ve got herpes, you don’t need me to tell you how awful it can be, let alone the infection risk to others. Even better, the company are touting that it may actually help current herpes sufferers. Here’s hoping!

University start-up research results offer hope for herpes sufferers

Coridon Pty Ltd, a University of Queensland (UQ) start-up company established to commercialise Professor Ian Frazer’s work in developing next generation DNA vaccines, has successfully completed pre-clinical efficacy testing of its prototype Herpes Simplex Virus 2 (HSV-2) vaccine, with outstanding results. The company will now look to progress the program into clinical studies.

Collaborating with Professor David Koelle and his colleagues at the University of Washington in Seattle, Coridon tested a number of different formulations of Coridon’s prototype vaccine. These proved 100% effective at protecting animals against HSV-2 infection, confirming an earlier study with the University of Washington which also demonstrated 90-100% protection against infection. These results were presented at the 5th Vaccine and ISV Annual Global Congress in Seattle earlier this month.

Coridon has now secured additional funding from major investor Allied Heal thcare Group (ASX: AHZ) to begin manufacturing the vaccine and conduct pre-clinical safety studies before testing the vaccine in a Phase I clinical study.

“The results of our herpes vaccine mark the beginning of an exciting period,” said Professor Frazer.

“Over the next 12 months, we expect pivotal data showing that our HSV vaccine, which incorporates Coridon optimisation technology, produces similar immune responses in the clinic to those seen in the animal trials.”

Working at UQ Diamantina Institute, Coridon is developing DNA vaccines for the prevention and treatment for a range of infectious diseases and cancers in humans, utilising the company’s patented technology.

David Henderson, Managing Director of UQ’s main commercialisation company, UniQuest Pty Limited, said Coridon’s recent results and support from investors such as Allied Healthcare Group demonstrated the valuable contribut ion Australian university-based research is having on concerted efforts to address a global health challenge and on Queensland’s reputation in the biotechnology industry.

“Coridon’s DNA vaccine technologies differ from conventional vaccines in that they offer both preventative and therapeutic value,” Mr Henderson said.

“With extremely common infections such as HSV-2, pre-clinical results like this offer hope to people suffering from the pain and fear of spreading the contagion, as well as to governments looking to ease the enormous economic burden – it’s costing larger countries like the US more than $1 billion a year to manage.

“Collaborating with other universities to find a preventative and therapeutic solution, and partnering with companies like Allied Healthcare, will help Professor Frazer and his research team translate their ideas into a vaccine much sooner,” Mr Henderson said.

Allied Healthcare Group’s Managing Director, Mr Lee Rodne, said: “These data provide fantastic validation to the Coridon platform which could be applied to a number of infectious diseases. We are excited about the path forward for the program as it moves toward clinical studies.”

Professor Frazer’s work at Coridon follows the success of his discovery with the late Dr Jian Zhou of a basis for a cervical cancer vaccine (Gardasil), which was also commercialised by UniQuest.

On the fly 3D surface reconstruction: KinectFusion

Microsoft’s Kinect is rightfully getting a lot of attention from researchers. One snippet that caught my attention is a collaboration between Microsoft and a number of UK and Canada-based researchers. The result is KinectFusion.

Have a look for yourself:

The implications for virtual worlds are fairly obvious. The thing that particularly struck me is the dynamic capability of the approach even at this early stage – if something changes with the physical world environment, it is reflected virtually. For the education, science and health fields, to name three, this is huge.

One obvious example within my pet area of clinical simulation: a camera (with consent) is placed in a busy emergency department in a large teaching hospital. Emergency nursing students based at a rural university receive that feed, had it convert on the fly to 3D for use within their virtual learning environment. Students may actually ‘work’ a full shift virtually, needing to respond to the challenges of the changing environment as they occur.

As I said, there’s a long way to go (for starters, KinectFusion is about surfaces only), but the progress is rapid and exciting. Over to you: what applications could you see this being good for?

Emergency birth at home simulation

This article originally appeared over at our sister-site Metaverse Health.

One of the biggest challenges with online or PC-based simulations is the infrastructure required to run them. The move to web-based simulations is key to resolving that issue although web-based currently can come with a trade-off on complexity in a lot of cases.

That said, sometimes simplicity can still cover key concepts and that’s evident with a nice little simulation developed by the Engender Game Group at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.

It provides a home-based scenario where a woman needs support through delivering her baby. It covers everything from the initial meeting through to initial post-natal care until medical assistance arrives. Have a go for yourself.

For the record I’ve confirmed the validity of my choice not to become a midwife, as I got barely more than half the questions in the scenario correct!

[via Serious Games Market]

Unlimited Detail: simulation implications

I ran across a fascinating video via New World Notes, that shows an alternate way of rendering 3D environments. The seven-minute video provides a fascinating (albeit hyperbole-filled) overview of the atom-based approach, called Unlimited Detail.

The driving force behind the project is Queensland, Australia-based Bruce Dell, working for an outfit called Euclideon (whose website is unavailable strangely).

Before I go on any further, you should have a look at the video yourself:

One more external pointer: Popsci covers the issue well, but it’s worth reading the comments on that article to pick up on some of the scepticism around about Unlimited Detail.

Of course, whether Unlimited Detail is a near reality or a pipe dream is partly a moot point: it still raises some interesting points for me on how enhancing the current approach to graphical detail is pivotal to the success of 3D environments in a range of areas, including my pet topic of clinical simulation. Until there’s the ability to replicate complex behaviours or procedures in a graphically realistic way, true simulation will remain problematic in these environments.

Let’s take even a ‘simple’ procedural simulation like inserting an endotracheal tube (ETT). The need for graphical reality is critical if any attempt is to be made to translate the practice to the physical world environment – the state of the ‘patient’, their position on the bed, the anatomical correctness of their trachea, the flexibility of the tube and so on. That;s why I’m encouraged by developments like Unlimited Detail.

Of course the real test is whether it sees the light of day in environments accessible to the general public.

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