Baltimore Sun — (Featuring APHA Executive Director Georges C. Benjamin) Michael Bloomberg gives $300 million to Hopkins for U.S. health initiative
Businessman and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has given the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health $300 million to focus on five challenges the school’s experts say are contributing to a decline in Americans’ life expectancy. The gift, which coincides with the school’s 100th anniversary, is the largest donation ever made to the school, and the first to focus solely on domestic health challenges, rather than the global illnesses, such as HIV and malaria, on which the school has made its mark. Dr. Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association, said the investment is significant at a time when research funding is shrinking and the public health employee pool is aging. “It is one of the few real serious investments we have had in this country to a public health school to invest in the idea of really building capacity,” Benjamin said. “It will go right to the heart of some of the core problems we have in our communities.”

Washington Post — (American Journal of Public Health) New study finds that medical marijuana may be helping to curb the opioid epidemic
After states pass laws permitting medical marijuana, drivers in those states become less likely to test positive for opioids after fatal car accidents, a new study from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health has found. Researchers analyzed federal crash data in 18 states over the period from 1999 to 2013. States that passed a medical marijuana law during this period saw a reduction in opioid involvement in fatal car accidents, relative to states without such a law. The reduction was greatest among drivers aged 21 to 40, the age group most likely to use medical marijuana where it’s available.

POLITICO — Bassett applauds Black Panthers for their public health ideals
City health commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett is trying to heal the reputation of the Black Panthers, the revolutionary political movement founded 50 years ago next month. Bassett volunteered at a Black Panther health clinic in Roxbury, Mass., in the early 1970s. Writing in the latest issue of the American Journal of Public Health, Bassett said the group was more complex than is suggested by the iconic images of black-clad, black-bereted members in military formation.

Fox News — Study confirms Zika causes brain birth defects, questions remain
Early results from a crucial case-control study in Brazil have confirmed a direct causal link between Zika virus infection in pregnant women and the brain damaging birth defect microcephaly in their babies, scientists said on Thursday. But while preliminary findings from the first 32 cases involved in the study confirm causality, the researchers said, the true size of the effect will become clear only after full analysis of all 200 cases and 400 controls. The study, published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases journal, was requested by the Brazilian health ministry to investigate the causes of the microcephaly epidemic that the World Health Organization (WHO) declared an international public health emergency earlier this year.