From immunization to blood pressure medication to insulin delivery systems, the field of biomedical research has given those in public health numerous ways to help people live better and longer lives. And, there are more advancements happening all the time.
If you’re considering—or already have—a public health career, you’ll want to stay up on the latest medical research and treatments. It’s a great way to stay in touch with industry happenings and the information could be of interest to the communities you’re serving. Here are four recent advancements the National Institutes of Health considers highly significant:*
Treatments for Autoinflammatory Disease
Like autoimmune disease, autoinflammatory disease is a malfunction of our immune system. The problems arise in what’s known as our innate immune system, which is the component that causes the heat, redness, and swelling that accompanies infection. In those suffering from autoinflammatory disease, the innate immune system activates without an infection, causing persistent fevers and inflammation that puts the patient’s overall health—and life—at risk.
For years, the rarity of this condition slowed our ability to understand it. But now, thanks to global medicine and modern research techniques, researchers not only better understand the disease, they’ve developed treatments targeting the underlying molecular pathways that cause the inflammatory symptoms. With the help and vigilance of those in the public health field, we can diagnosis the condition quicker than ever before and provide new treatments that can stave off the disease’s severest health consequences.
Treatments for Lost Neural Function
While we’ve long understood that electrical stimulation can affect systems throughout our body, it’s taken many decades to understand the complex ways our neural pathways use and transmit electrical impulses. Now, we understand enough to develop life-changing treatments for those suffering from a loss of neural functioning. For instance, cochlear implants enable people with hearing loss—even severe loss—to hear and understand speech. In the not-too-distant future, we may have treatments that restore lost vision and treatments that help those with paralysis regain movement. Such treatments can allow those in public health to dramatically impact lives across the world, particularly in poorer nations where neural-functioning disabilities can make basic survival difficult.
Molecular Medicine That Fights Cancer
Cancer is one of the most widespread—and complicated—diseases we face. Numerous treatments already exist, but some of the newest are the most promising ever. In 2001, the FDA approved Gleevec®, a medicine designed to precision-target the gene responsible for chronic myeloid leukemia (CLM). The drug has proven enormously successful, raising the 5 year survival rate for patients with CLM from under 30% to almost 90%. Now, researchers are using the same techniques that led to the development of Gleevec® to develop precision-targeting medicines for other types of cancers. Currently, 8.2 million people die of cancer every year, worldwide.† Imagine the public health benefits that could come from having truly effective treatments available for all types of cancer.
A Cure for a Common Cause of Childhood Bacterial Meningitis
While there are multiple pathogens that can cause bacterial meningitis, one of the most common causes is Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib). Or, rather, it was one of the most common. Thanks to the development of a Hib vaccine, cases of Hib infection in U.S. children have dropped 99%‡, saving children from long-term consequences such as deafness, blindness, brain damage, and intellectual disability. Now, dispersing the Hib vaccine across the world is one of the top goals for public health workers. While the vaccine is available in over 180 countries, many areas are still falling far short of targeted levels for immunization.§ It will take much more effort to ensure all the world’s children are protected from this potentially devastating disease.
How Can You Learn More About Using Biomedical Advancements to Improve Public Health?
If you want to help improve knowledge of and access to the latest in biomedical advancements, one of the best choices you can make is to earn a Doctor of Public Health (DrPH). Like a PhD in Public Health, the DrPH is a terminal public health degree that can help you gain expert knowledge in the field. However, where public health PhD programs have a primarily academic focus, Doctor of Public Health programs are designed for public health practitioners who want to bring new knowledge and skills to their public health career.
A DrPH is a particularly good public health program if you’re currently working in the public health field. But can you really find the time to complete a degree at a top public health school? You can if you choose to enroll in an online DrPH program. Thanks to the advantages of online learning, an online DrPH program can allow you to complete the majority of your coursework from home and on a schedule designed to let you continue working full time. It’s a great choice if you don’t want to pause your career in order to advance your career, and it’s why online education is so popular with working adults.
Biomedical advancements happen all the time. But it takes committed public health workers to ensure the best treatments reach the most people. With an online DrPH program, you can become a leader in advancing health around the world.
Walden University is an accredited institution offering an online Doctor of Public Health degree program. Expand your career options and earn your degree in a convenient, flexible format that fits your busy life.
*National Institutes of Health, Our Stories, on the internet at www.nih.gov/about-nih/what-we-do/impact-nih-research/our-stories.
†National Cancer Institute, Cancer Statistics, on the internet at www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/understanding/statistics.
‡National Institutes of Health, Fighting Cancer: Ushering In a New Era of Molecular Medicine, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, on the internet as a PDF at: www.nih.gov/sites/default/files/about-nih/impact/fighting-cancer-case-study.pdf.
§World Health Organization, Immunization Coverage, on the internet at www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs378/en.
Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, www.hlcommission.org.