×
FOLLOW THE WEEK ON FACEBOOK
February 5, 2015

Thanks to engineers at Columbia University, you might soon be able to test yourself for HIV and syphilis using only your smartphone. Scientists there have developed a dongle that can produce results via an on-screen app in just 15 minutes, using only blood from a finger-prick.

The device, which simultaneously tests for the HIV antibody and two markers for syphilis, can replace traditional in-lab tests by drawing power from the smartphone. Its ability to function independent of grounded electricity means it may be incredibly beneficial to areas with scarce access — including Rwanda, where it was initially tested.

During that pilot study, healthcare workers successfully tested 96 patients after only 30 minutes of training. The researchers estimate the dongle could cost as little as $34 to manufacture, making it exponentially more affordable than traditional testing equipment. Read the full study here, and watch the device in action below.—Kimberly Alters

9:02 p.m. ET
George Frey/Getty Images

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is often referred to as the Mormon Church and its members Mormons, but the church's president is asking people — members of his church included — to stop using that nickname.

Russell M. Nelson said Thursday the "Lord has impressed upon my mind the importance of the name he has revealed for his church." In a news release, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said it is requesting people stop using the term "Mormon" and instead say "members of the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints" or "Latter Day Saints," and to also refrain from using the abbreviation "LDS." The term "Mormonism" is also inaccurate, the church said, and should not be used. The only time "Mormon" should be used is in proper names like the Book of Mormon.

There are 16 million members of the church, and people around the world have heard of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, seen the "I'm a Mormon" ads, and visited mormon.org. The news release stated that over the next few months, websites and materials will be updated to reflect Nelson's directive. Catherine Garcia

8:13 p.m. ET
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

On Thursday, the Food and Drug Administration approved the first generic version of the EpiPen, used to treat severe allergic reactions to everything from food to insect bites.

Teva Pharmaceuticals is now authorized to sell the generic versions of EpiPen and Epi Pen Jr., made by Mylan. "This approval means patients living with severe allergies who require constant access to life-saving epinephrine should have a lower-cost option, as well as another approved product to help protect against potential shortages," FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in a statement.

EpiPen is the most widely-prescribed epinephrine auto-injector in the U.S. Mylan has come under fire for charging as much as $600 for a package of two pens. Teva has not said how much its generic version will cost. Catherine Garcia

7:00 p.m. ET
Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images

Retired Navy Adm. William H. McRaven is standing in solidarity with former CIA Director John Brennan, whose security clearance was revoked by President Trump on Wednesday.

As commander of the U.S. Joint Special Operations Command from 2011 to 2014, McRaven oversaw the 2011 Navy SEAL raid that killed Osama bin Laden. In an open letter to Trump published Thursday in The Washington Post, McRaven called Brennan "one of the finest public servants I have ever known," a man of "unparalleled integrity, whose honesty and character have never been in question, except by those who don't know him."

McRaven said he would consider it "an honor" if Trump would revoke his security clearance as well, "so I can add my name to the list of men and women who have spoken up against your presidency." McRaven said he was hopeful Trump would "rise to the occasion and become the leader this great nation needs," but his actions have instead "embarrassed us in the eyes of our children, humiliated us on the world stage, and worst of all, divided us as a nation. If you think for a moment that your McCarthy-era tactics will suppress the voices of criticism, you are sadly mistaken. The criticism will continue until you become the leader we prayed you would be." Catherine Garcia

5:40 p.m. ET
Oliver Contreras-Pool/Getty Images

President Trump's military parade has racked up quite the bill. A defense official told Reuters on Thursday that the event could cost about $92 million.

Trump earlier this year instructed the Pentagon to organize a military parade for Veterans Day, and preliminary estimates pegged the cost around $12 million. That number has quickly risen, as White House budget director Mick Mulvaney first ticked it up to $30 million and internal Pentagon memos fretted about the expense of a "heavy air component at the end of the parade."

The new budget — three times as large as Mulvaney's estimate — hasn't been approved by Defense Secretary James Mattis and could still be changed, notes Reuters. But Mulvaney said that the taxpayer-funded act of patriotism would come from money that Congress has already appropriated. CNBC reports that $40 million will come from the Pentagon, while $42 million will come from other agencies like the Department of Homeland Security.

Memos from the Pentagon's 50-member party planning committee show that the parade will "include wheeled vehicles only, no tanks," in an effort to "minimize damage to local infrastructure." Other parade features include helicopters, fighter jets, and historical military equipment to be displayed alongside 5,000 troops wearing uniforms that represent the "past, present, and future forces." The parade will march through Washington, D.C., in an attempt to "top" the Bastille Day parade in Paris that inspired Trump in the first place. Summer Meza

4:56 p.m. ET
Mike Coppola/Getty Images for Peabody Awards

Kenya Barris is leaving ABC Studios for Netflix.

Famous for creating the hit sitcom Black-ish and writing the Tiffany Haddish-starring Girls Trip, Barris will now produce new shows exclusively for the streaming service. The three-year deal is reportedly worth $100 million, Variety reports.

Barris originally wasn't so sure about making a new home for himself at Netflix, but after some thought — and convincing — he was able to change his tune. "I started to believe that maybe this mom-and-pop shop with only 130 million subscribers might just be something," he quipped in a statement to Variety. "So I decided to take a swing ... a leap of faith if you will, and take a chance with the new kids on the block."

Cindy Holland, Netflix's vice president of original content, referred to Barris as "one of our great modern storytellers." Barris will join the ranks of Shonda Rhimes and Ryan Murphy as one of the streaming service's premiere creators. Just last year, the writer and producer had renewed his contract with ABC Studios through 2021, but he was able to secure his release from the studio several months ago after a public fraying of their relationship.

Fans of Black-ish and its spin-off Grown-ish have nothing to fear, however, as Barris will continue to be an executive producer on both series. If anything, it just means a whole lot more of Kenya Barris. Read more about the deal at Variety. Amari Pollard

4:49 p.m. ET
OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images

Serena Williams is still crushing her opponents after more than two decades as one of the top tennis players in the world — and now she does it with a baby in tow.

In an interview with Time, Williams described her complicated comeback to tennis after giving birth, and promised she was nowhere near ready to call it quits. Williams' daughter, Olympia, was born in 2017, and Williams describes a fierce desire to bond with her during any moment that she's not on the court.

Williams worries that her time-consuming training schedule cuts into her time with Olympia, but says that she ultimately knows that she wants to show her daughter that it's possible to have a thriving career no matter what, she told Time. After recovering from a life-threatening childbirth experience, Williams wanted to dive back into tennis. "I'm not done yet, simple," she said. "My story doesn't end here."

But Williams had to learn how to view her career through the lens of motherhood. After nursing Olympia for eight months, her coach told her she should stop in order to get back in shape. "It's absolutely hard to take from a guy," Williams said of the recommendation. “He's not a woman, he doesn't understand that connection." She said she eventually came around to the idea, and had "a really good conversation" with Olympia about needing to commit to her coach's training plan.

Read more about Williams' plan to reach the all-time record of Grand Slam singles titles — as well as her admiration for quarterback and activist Colin Kaepernick — at Time. Summer Meza

2:54 p.m. ET
iStock

A young pharmaceutical startup wants to develop a groundbreaking new treatment for a relatively common cancer. Yet it struggles to find funding.

That's because the startup in question is Antiva Biosciences, and the cancer it aims to treat is cervical cancer. Stat reported Thursday on the company's struggles to attract investment, as well as its constant fight to receive buy-in from male doctors, quoting Antiva's top executives discussing frankly their perceptions of the problem: "It's very safe to say that we got more traction in [venture capital] firms where there was a woman partner who was in a decision-making role," Antiva CEO Gail Maderis told Stat.

Antiva's proposal is to replace the most common treatment prescribed for women who develop the precancerous cervical lesions that result from being infected with HPV, which is surgery. The operation removes the lesions by "essentially cutting off the tip of the cervix," Stat reports. The surgery has proven effective in eradicating the problem cells, but "women of childbearing age who undergo the surgery may later have difficulty conceiving, recurrent miscarriages, and preterm delivery," Stat explains.

Antiva says about 500,000 women undergo this procedure every year. Instead of surgery, the company is proposing a topical treatment that patients can administer themselves. But the reception has been lukewarm: Maderis told Stat of how one prospective male investor who appeared unenthused during Maderis' pitch. But after their meeting, he called Maderis to explain how his wife had pressed him to investigate the deal further after he'd told her about the company's mission.

One man, David Kabakoff, did invest in Antiva through his firm. His team has been calling gynecologists to glean their reactions to the topical treatment. "The trend was unmistakable," Stat wrote: "Male physicians tended to express skepticism ... Female physicians tended to say new treatment options are badly needed." Read more about Antiva at Stat. Kimberly Alters

See More Speed Reads