'Hotel Influenza' Will Pay You $3500 to Come Get the Flu

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iStock

Miami Beach. The Caribbean. Cabo. All of these vacation spots may sound appealing, but they can cost thousands. Why not plan a getaway where your hotel not only pays your travel expenses but also gives you a little extra just for coming?

Thanks to St. Louis University’s Center for Vaccine Development, now you can. The only catch? You’ll be purposely exposed to influenza. And most sightseeing is out, since you’ll be quarantined.

As Forbes reports, the university just announced that it has converted part of its on-campus hotel into a research hub for flu. “Guests” of “Hotel Influenza” will be paid volunteers in a human challenge study that aims to evaluate the efficacy of vaccines. Rather than follow subjects in the real world who may or may not contract the virus, the center will make sure of it, exposing occupants to germs and then evaluating their response. Researchers are offering $3500 to cover each volunteer's travel expenses, leaving the rest as compensation for marinating in their own snot.

That exposure doesn’t necessarily guarantee they’ll experience flu symptoms. If a guest happens to have been treated with a working vaccine rather than a placebo, they might not get sick, and can pass away the time in the center’s modest quarters, which include catered meals and a common room with a television. If they do fall ill, 24-hour medical care will keep their discomfort to a minimum. Owing to the risk of transmission, they won’t be allowed to leave until they stop shedding the virus. The typical duration of stay is about 10 days.

The center is hoping this kind of targeted research will help improve seasonal flu vaccines with a long-term goal of developing a universal vaccination that can cover multiple strains of flu. Organizers expect a pilot study will be up and running within the next six months.

There will only be 24 slots available, so be sure to book early.

[h/t Forbes]

This Is Not a Drill: Oscar Mayer's Wienermobile Is Hiring New Drivers for 2020

Tim Boyle, Getty Images
Tim Boyle, Getty Images

The Oscar Mayer Wienermobile has had many navigators over its 84-year history, including performers and a race car driver. Now, the Oscar Mayer company is looking for a new generation of 'hotdoggers' to get behind the wheel of the iconic ride.

Food & Wine reports that applications are being accepted for the one-year position now through January 31. Hotdoggers tasked with commandeering the Wienermobile will be responsible for doing media interviews and appearing at grocery store and charity events across the country. The position is primarily a PR job, and candidates with a BA or BS in public relations, journalism, communications, advertising, or marketing are preferred.

Carl Mayer, Oscar Mayer's nephew, introduced the first Wienermobile in 1936, and today there are six vehicles on the road making up to 1400 stops a year. After disappearing for a couple decades, the Wienermobile was revived in 1986 for its 50th anniversary. Oscar Mayer hires 12 new hotdoggers each year and usually receives more than 1000 applications.

The job comes with benefits and a competitive salary in addition to the impressive title. The new hires must be ready to hit the road in June of this year; for a shot at becoming Oscar Mayer's next Wienermobile driver, apply by the end of the month here.

[h/t Food & Wine]

Meet the Two Women Who Give Prescription Drugs Their Generic Names

bong hyunjung/iStock via Getty Images
bong hyunjung/iStock via Getty Images

You don’t have to be a marketing professional or pharmacist to understand why certain drug brands chose their names. “DiaBeta” sounds like it would help those with diabetes (it does), and “Lopressor” must have something to do with low pressure (it lowers your blood pressure). But the reasons for drugs’ generic names—glyburide and metoprolol for the aforementioned, respectively—aren’t so obvious.

Maybe you assumed that the generic names are chosen through a highly scientific process, or at least devised by the scientists who first manufactured each drug. In reality, the generic names are invented by the two women who compose the United States Adopted Names program (USAN), reports David Lazarus for the Los Angeles Times.

Director Stephanie Shubat and her colleague Gail Karet operate out of Chicago, where they dream up names for about 200 drug applications each year. The five-person USAN council, which only meets biannually and mainly communicates by email, then votes on their ideas.

There is some structure to the naming process. Shubat and Karet come up with uniform “stems” that they use for groups of similar drugs, much like similar English words have prefixes, suffixes, or root words from Latin. Many are intuitive, like estrogen-related drugs containing “estr-” or derivatives of the steroid prednisone containing “pred-” [PDF].

Sometimes drug manufacturers will submit their own suggestions for the generic names, which is where it gets a little tricky, because USAN doesn’t want the generic name to sound too similar to the name-brand drug. If it does, it can cause problems when the patent expires and other generic drug manufacturers try to compete with the name-brand company. For example, the generic name for the arthritis drug Celebrex is celecoxib. Since they contain many of the same letters, consumers might end up continuing to search for “Celebrex” even after cheaper alternatives have hit the market. That name was devised in the 1990s—Shubat said they never would have approved the name today.

In the last 50 years, USAN and international naming associations have masterminded around 11,000 generic drug names. As you can imagine, it’s getting more difficult to come up with new ones—especially considering that Shubat and Karet steer clear of the letters W, K, H, J, and Y, which can be complicated for non-English speakers to pronounce. They also do their best to prevent drug names that could be offensive or distasteful in another language.

For inspiration, Shubat doesn’t always stick to science or etymology. “Sometimes I look at license plates,” she said. “Sometimes I borrow from the names of cats or dogs.”

[h/t Los Angeles Times]

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