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[afro-nets] Supercourse newsletter, June 13 2004

  • Subject: [afro-nets] Supercourse newsletter, June 13 2004
  • From: Ron LaPorte <super1+@pitt.edu>
  • Date: Sun, 13 Jun 2004 19:20:19 +0200

Supercourse newsletter, June 13 2004


Dear Friends,

Back Pain and Broken Wrist:
Sorry about the slow delay in sending to you a newsletter. I had
a severe case of low back pain. It is amazing the new network of
people you find who has low back pain! While being horizontal,
it was interesting in reading the LBP literature as 70% of us
will be exposed to it. Man and women were never meant to stand.
Perhaps we need a lecture on the prevention of low back pain by
walking on all fours. In addition, Mita was at the park a week
ago and slipped. She put her hand out and suffered a severe com-
pound fracture of her wrist. Mita is essential for the newslet-
ter. But we are all recovering.

Big 2 week period:
During a two week period we received enormous publicity. We
first published the report on e-recruiting (or "net centric re-
cruiting"), then the BMJ wrote a wonderful article about our
work. Finally, on my birthday, Ali and Faina with several others
in Iran and the US wrote a very nice paper in THE LANCET showing
how we can use the Internet, a telephone, and the Supercourse to
develop a very inexpensive system for global education. At the
end of this we include the publication. Ali has been great in
linking the Supercourse with Iran.

We are as fast as Jesse Owens with the Olympic lecture. The lec-
ture on exercise and health developed by Soni has been looked at
by a lot of people. Eugene put it up on the web in seconds (what
an incredible Russian Internet expert):

We would appreciate if you could examine it and write comments
to Soni as to how it would work in your country. We have re-
ceived some very positive responses, one of which is from the
head of the Olympic Committees and others in Iran, Pakistan,
Kirabi, Jordan, and several others. The Olympic idea is fasci-
nating and in many ways parallels the Supercourse to break down
political barriers in the spirit of competition. The Supercourse
team has learned to collaborate together to improve global
health, apolitically. The Olympics movement has done the same
but in the area of Sport. Soni and I talked with the head of the
US Sports medicine group, Ed Ryan. He was wonderful. Soni cre-
ated a very nice lecture showing how the Olympic ideals fit with
the Supercourse ideals. In addition, a really good friend of the
Supercourse, Gil Omenn, who is the president of AAAS and at the
University of Michigan contacted the chairperson of the board of
the USOC who is also at Michigan. The Olympic lecture could have
powerful ramifications for health. What if Pele said that pre-
vention lectures should be in the schools of Brazil? The lec-
tures would be in the schools in about 14 nanoseconds. As one
person indicated to us, the Olympics have an incredible pull.
There are many ways we can collaborate with them. We would love
to have your thoughts.

Hispanic Supercourse:
Fernando Arena for the National Cancer Institute is considering
the building of a Hispanic Network for cancer across the Ameri-
cas. We have been talking with him about helping to build the
network, as we are "human expert scientists", and also to build
a Cancer Supercourse on top of it.

Eugene and Julia are on their way to the Crimea. Eugene knows
every Internet Café on the way.

Lectures: 1,792... fantastic

Best regards from Pittsburgh: Ron, Mita, Faina, Soni, Akira,
Ali, Abed, Pele, Denish, Arin, Charles, Kip Kino, and others.

Lancet, Volume 363, Number 9423 29 May 2004

Sir--In their 2002 Commentary, Stuart Spencer and David Sharp
[1] complimented the quality of the existing standards of medi-
cal education in Iran and argued that further development of
medical education in Iran needs to be encouraged and supported.
Here, we demonstrate the feasibility of bridging public health
education between Iran and the USA.

The Iranian Federation of Public Health Schools has 18 schools
in the country, of which two are epidemiology training centres.
Iran publishes 76 medical journals, [2] of which six are in Eng-
lish, but none is recognised by the world's major indexing and
citation organisations.[1] This situation leads to poor informa-
tion sharing in the area of medicine and public health between
Iran and the rest of the world. The tragic events surrounding
the Bam earthquake in 2003 demonstrated the importance of shar-
ing public health information in Iran and worldwide for prevent-
ing excessive morbidity and mortality after natural and manmade

One of us (AA) recently presented a lecture dedicated to the Bam
earthquake to students on the chronic disease epidemiology
course at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public
Health. The audio component of the lecture was delivered over
the telephone from Tehran University of Medical Sciences, and a
teaching assistant in Pittsburgh operated the PowerPoint slides.
The US students had a chance to ask questions about the earth-

The interaction with Iran greatly enhanced the students' learn-
ing experience and stimulated their understanding of earthquake
prevention and Iran itself. To our knowledge, this was one of
the first efforts to conduct a distance education lecture be-
tween an Iranian instructor and US students. The cost-
effectiveness of this approach was remarkable: instead of spend-
ing thousands of dollars to bring a faculty member to Pitts-
burgh, only US$ 50 were spent on a long-distance phone call to

There is a growing need for better information exchange mecha-
nisms in the area of public health internationally. Supercourse,
the online library of lectures funded by the US National Library
of Medicine (http://www.pitt.edu/~super1), offers one way to ex-
change prevention information. The Supercourse network has more
than 13,000 participants in 150 countries who worked together to
establish a library of more than 1,700 lectures. The importance
of establishing Supercourse networks in the Islamic world has
already been discussed.[3] Distance education with Supercourse,
PowerPoint, and the telephone offers a very cost-effective
mechanism for the globalisation of classroom education.

The Bam lecture
(http://www.pitt.edu/ ~super1/lecture/lec15221/index.htm) may be
used by anyone. In addition, AA (mailto:ali_ardalan@hotmail.com)
is available to present the lecture to interested parties using
the teaching technology discussed above. We thank Eugene Shub-
nikov (Novosibirsk, Russia) for his help in preparation of the
Bam lecture.

Ali Ardalan, *Faina Linkov, Kourosh Holakouie Naieni, Ronald E
LaPorte, Eric Noji

Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, School of Public
Health and Institute of Public Health Research, Tehran Univer-
sity of Medical Sciences, Iran (AA, KHN); *Department of Epide-
miology, Graduate School of Public Health, University of Pitts-
burgh, Pittsburgh, PA 15261, USA (FL, REL); and Centers for Dis-
ease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA, USA (EN)

[1] Spencer S, Sharp D. Bridges to Iran. Lancet 2002; 359: 1960.

[2] Latest approved list of journals by Medical Journal Commis-
sion, Ministry of Health and Medical Education.
http://www.hbi.ir/ persian/fa_hbi/fa-commision/contact.htm (ac-
cessed Apr 10, 2004).

[3] Husseini A, Saad R, LaPorte RE. Health Supercourse to end
Arab isolation. Nature 2002; 417: 788.