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  • richardmitnick 4:01 pm on December 7, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: A dire omen for sea level rise, Applied Research & Technology, , greenland Ice Sheet,   

    From The University at Buffalo: “A dire omen for sea level rise “ 

    SUNY Buffalo

    SUNY Buffalo

    December 7, 2016
    Charlotte Hsu

    New research reveals surprising information about the Greenland Ice Sheet’s volatility, UB expert says

    Greenland is losing ice rapidly today, and the study suggests that this could proceed more rapidly than previously thought. Here, icebergs discharged from Allison Glacier float near Kullorsuaq, western Greenland. Credit: Margie Turrin/Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory

    In climate science, the conventional wisdom is that the Greenland Ice Sheet — the world’s second-largest block of ice — formed some 2.5 million years ago and endured continuously until modern times.

    But a new study is challenging this notion, hinting that Greenland may have been nearly free of ice for much of this period, says Jason Briner, a University at Buffalo geologist who co-authored the research. This finding comes from geologic evidence, from a sample of the bedrock that lies below the ice sheet. An analysis found that this surface was exposed to open sky for at least 280,000 of the last 1.4 million years.

    The results were a “complete surprise,” Briner says. They point to an unsuspected volatility in the ice sheet, suggesting that it may not take much more warming for the ice to disappear completely, causing a spike in sea levels worldwide, he says.

    Scientists drilled nearly two miles down through the summit of the Greenland ice sheet (white dot, left), to reach bedrock. Isotopes found in the rock indicate that this site and most of Greenland were nearly ice free (right) during the recent geologic past. Credit: Schaefer et al., Nature, 2016

    The study, which will be published on Dec. 8 in the journal Nature, was led by Joerg Schaefer, PhD, at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.

    Briner was one of several co-authors on the multi-institution project, which also included the University of California, Berkeley; the Berkeley Geochronology Center; Pennsylvania State University; Purdue University; and the U.S. Army Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory.

    To arrive at their conclusions, the scientists investigated the bedrock beneath a key part of the ice sheet: the summit, a location that climate models show would be one of the last to lose its ice in the event of a complete meltdown.

    The bedrock contains aluminum and beryllium isotopes, and the ratio of these isotopes to one another reveals information about how long the bedrock has been exposed to the sky over a given length of time.

    In the case of the chosen site, an analysis showed that the bedrock had been bared to the sky — and, therefore, free of ice — for at least 280,000 of the last 1.4 million years. While it’s possible that all of the exposure occurred during a single ice-free period, it’s more likely that the ice vanished multiple times for shorter stretches, the scientists say.

    “The Greenland Ice Sheet likely shrank down to almost zero during extended periods of time when we thought it was much more stable,” says Briner, PhD, an associate professor of geology in UB’s College of Arts and Sciences. “We’ve just learned that the ice sheet has a weak underbelly, that it may not take much more warmth for it to go away completely.”

    “Unfortunately, this makes the Greenland Ice Sheet look highly unstable,” said Schaefer, a paleoclimatologist. “If we lost it in periods of natural forcing, we may lose it again.”

    The bedrock sample the researchers used came from a rock core — a cylindrical sample of rock — recovered in July 1993 by a U.S. scientific team working in southeast Greenland. It took them five summers to drill through 3,056 meters (about 10,000 feet) of ice and sediment. Then they punched 1.55 meters (5 feet) into the underlying bedrock. Scientists tried early on to analyze the rock, but only in the last year or so have lab techniques become sophisticated enough to tease out the needed information, says co-author Robert Finkel of the University of California, Berkeley.

    Briner, an expert on the history of Arctic ice, contributed to the project by helping to interpret data, assisting the team in telling the story of why the scientific results were significant in the context of the region’s past.

    While scientists have known for some time that ice sheets in Canada and the United States repeatedly expanded over vast distances before completely disappearing again over the past 2 million years, the Greenland Ice Sheet was thought to be more stable — until now.

    “Because the forcing of climate has a heartbeat, with ice sheets expanding and shrinking in a periodic pattern, our results suggest that the Greenland Ice Sheet likely zeroed out at multiple points in the past 2.5 million years,” Briner says.

    “If that happens again — this time due to global warming — it would raise sea level by about 24 feet and add to sea level rise from melting in Antarctica,” he adds. “This would have devastating consequences, ranging from profound economic burden to a widespread coastal refugee crisis.”

    To better understand the sensitivity of the Greenland Ice Sheet to climate change, Briner, Schaefer and colleagues are collaborating on a new National Science Foundation-funded study. This new research, led by Briner, will examine how anticipated changes in Arctic precipitation could influence the ice sheet’s rate of decline.

    See the full article here .

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    UB is a premier, research-intensive public university and a member of the Association of American Universities. As the largest, most comprehensive institution in the 64-campus State University of New York system, our research, creative activity and people positively impact the world.

  • richardmitnick 3:38 pm on December 7, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Applied Research & Technology, , ,   

    From MIT Tech Review: “Personalized Cancer Vaccine Prevents Leukemia Relapse in Patients” 

    MIT Technology Review
    M.I.T Technology Review

    December 7, 2016
    Emily Mullin

    Shortly after Ernest Levy of Cooperstown, New York, returned from a trip to South Africa with his son for the 2010 World Cup, he was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia. The prognosis didn’t look good for Levy, now 76. Just over a quarter of adult patients survive five years after developing the disease, a type of cancer that affects bone marrow.

    Levy joined a clinical trial led by the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, a teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School in Boston, testing a cancer vaccine for acute myeloid leukemia. After an initial round of chemotherapy, he and the other trial participants received the experimental vaccine, a type of immunotherapy intended to “reëducate” the immune cells to see cancer cells as foreign and attack them, explains David Avigan, chief of Hematological Malignancies and director of the Cancer Vaccine Program at Beth Israel.

    Now results from the trial suggest that the vaccine was able to stimulate powerful immune responses against cancer cells and protect a majority of patients from relapse—including Levy. Out of 17 patients with an average age of 63 who received the vaccine, 12 are still in remission four years or more after receiving the vaccine, Avigan and his co-authors at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute report. The researchers found expanded levels of immune cells that recognize acute myeloid leukemia cells after vaccination. The results appear today in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

    Acute myeloid leukemia is typically treated with a combination of chemotherapies, but the cancer often relapses after initial treatment, with older patients having a higher chance of relapse.

    Therapeutic cancer vaccines are designed to work by activating immune cells called T cells and directing them to recognize and act against cancer cells, or by spurring the production of antibodies that bind to certain molecules on the surface of cancer cells. But producing effective therapeutic vaccines has proved challenging, with many of these vaccines either failing outright or showing only marginal increases in survival rates in clinical trials.

    Avigan and his colleagues created a personalized vaccine by taking leukemia cells from patients and then freezing them for preservation while they received a traditional chemotherapy. Then scientists thawed the cancer cells and combined them with dendritic cells, immune cells that unleash tumor-fighting T cells. The vaccine took about 10 days to manufacture and another three to four weeks before it was ready for administration.

    Many cancer vaccine strategies have homed in on a single target, or antigen. When the antigen is introduced in the body via injection, it causes an immune response. The body begins to produce T cells that recognize and attack the same antigen on the surface of cancer cells. The vaccine Avigan and his team created uses a mixture of cells that contain many antigens in an attempt to generate a more potent approach.

    Though the number of patients in the trial was small, Avigan says, “this was enough of a provocative finding” that the researchers will be expanding the trial to include more patients. At the same time, the personalized vaccine approach is already being tested in other types of cancers.

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  • richardmitnick 9:55 am on December 7, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Applied Research & Technology, , , Johns Hopkins leads U.S. universities in research spending for 37th consecutive year   

    From Hopkins: “Johns Hopkins leads U.S. universities in research spending for 37th consecutive year” 

    Johns Hopkins
    Johns Hopkins University

    Dennis O’Shea

    Johns Hopkins University led U.S. universities in research and development spending for the 37th straight year in fiscal year 2015, putting a record $2.306 billion into projects to cure disease, promote human health, advance technology, and expand knowledge of the universe and ourselves.

    That total R&D expenditure in fiscal year 2015—the most recent year for which nationwide data is available—was 2.8 percent larger than Johns Hopkins’ research spending in 2014, according to the recently released annual National Science Foundation report on institutional R&D.

    The University of Michigan again ranked second in total R&D with $1.369 billion spent. Rounding out the rest of the top five were the University of Washington, Seattle, at $1.181 billion; the University of California, San Francisco, at $1.127 billion; and the University of California, San Diego, at $1.101 billion.


    The NSF also again ranked Johns Hopkins first on its separate report on research expenditures that were paid for with federal dollars. The university spent $1.993 billion in 2015—also a record and up 2.2 percent—on projects that were sponsored by NSF, the National Institutes of Health, NASA, the Department of Defense, and other federal agencies.

    Federally sponsored research expenditure at Johns Hopkins grew last year from $1.950 billion in 2014, while the total of R&D backed by the federal government at all U.S. universities fell for the fourth straight year. From a high of $40.77 billion in fiscal 2011, federal support for higher education R&D was down to $37.88 billion in 2015.

    “Johns Hopkins researchers have more than held their own. They continue to win federal support for work that produces critical new knowledge,” said Denis Wirtz, the university’s vice provost for research and a professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering, pathology, and oncology. “Whether in health or engineering, the sciences, social sciences or humanities, the knowledge generated here ultimately benefits all of humankind. We’re proud at the same time to be supporting the economy in Baltimore and Maryland by doing so much of this work in our home city and state.”

    Johns Hopkins has led the NSF’s total research expenditure ranking each year since 1979, when the agency’s methodology changed to include spending by the university’s Applied Physics Laboratory—a research-focused division based in Howard County—in the university’s totals. APL reported $1.328 billion in total R&D expenditures in FY 2015, $1.283 billion of that federally funded.

    In fiscal year 2002, Johns Hopkins became the first university to reach the $1 billion mark on both the total and federal R&D spending lists, recording $1.4 billion in total research and $1 billion in federally sponsored work that year. The total funding ranking includes research support not only from federal agencies, but also from the state, foundations, corporations, and other sources.


    Johns Hopkins research is also supported by the return on investment made in past discoveries. In fiscal year 2015, Johns Hopkins reported earning $17.9 million by licensing patented technology, a figure that more than tripled to $58 million in 2016. The university also spun off 16 new companies and received 112 new patents in 2015, figures that increased to 22 and 153, respectively, in the most recent fiscal year.

    The largest components of Johns Hopkins R&D spending in fiscal 2015 were in the fields of engineering, at $992 million; and the life sciences, at almost $868 million.

    Looking at all U.S. colleges and universities—905 were included in the survey—total research spending in 2015 rose slightly, to $68.808 billion in fiscal 2015 from $67.351 billion in 2014. The portion that came from federal agencies fell, however, for the fourth straight year to $37.877 billion, dipping just 0.22 percent from 2014 but nearly 7.1 percent since 2011. When adjusted for inflation, federal support for university science has fallen 13 percent in that time.

    The fiscal year 2015 NSF survey results and links to related data tables are available online.


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    Johns Hopkins Campus

    The Johns Hopkins University opened in 1876, with the inauguration of its first president, Daniel Coit Gilman. “What are we aiming at?” Gilman asked in his installation address. “The encouragement of research … and the advancement of individual scholars, who by their excellence will advance the sciences they pursue, and the society where they dwell.”

    The mission laid out by Gilman remains the university’s mission today, summed up in a simple but powerful restatement of Gilman’s own words: “Knowledge for the world.”

    What Gilman created was a research university, dedicated to advancing both students’ knowledge and the state of human knowledge through research and scholarship. Gilman believed that teaching and research are interdependent, that success in one depends on success in the other. A modern university, he believed, must do both well. The realization of Gilman’s philosophy at Johns Hopkins, and at other institutions that later attracted Johns Hopkins-trained scholars, revolutionized higher education in America, leading to the research university system as it exists today.

  • richardmitnick 9:22 am on December 7, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Applied Research & Technology, , , Professor Pier Paolo Pandolfi   

    From Harvard: “Fresh ways to fight cancer” 

    Harvard University
    Harvard University

    December 6, 2016
    Alvin Powell

    Professor Pier Paolo Pandolfi speaks about revolutionary developments in cancer care and how he sees treatment evolving. “We will defeat cancer. Conceptually, we can. But it will take time.”
    Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographer

    In recent years, cancer patients have benefited from a new array of weapons to fight the disease. Traditional chemotherapy and radiation therapy — blunt clubs aimed at any fast-growing cell in the body — have been augmented by “targeted therapy” drugs that interfere with specific cellular functions in an attempt to block cancer growth.

    More recently, therapies that unleash the body’s immune system on cancer have been making their way to the clinic, offering new “immunotherapy” weapons in what has become an expanding clinical arsenal.

    Researchers came to Boston in November for a daylong symposium on curing cancer. The session at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) was hosted by Pier Paolo Pandolfi, George C. Reisman Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and director of BIDMC’s Cancer Center and Cancer Research Institute.

    Pandolfi talked to the Gazette about the encouraging progress in the fight against cancer and about a promising new avenue of investigation opened by the discovery of another type of RNA.

    GAZETTE: You wrote in 2013 that we’re in a period of unprecedented opportunity in cancer research. Do you still believe that, and, if so, why?

    PANDOLFI: Absolutely. … I haven’t changed my mind a bit. Actually, there is more enthusiasm now, and our symposium was a testament to the enthusiasm. It was well attended because everyone is [asking] about the revolution in immune therapy. … But there is a second aspect, which is the noncoding RNA revolution. I don’t know if you’ve heard about it?

    GAZETTE: What can you tell me about it?

    PANDOLFI: This eye-opening, almost inconvenient truth emerged that our genome is a bit more complex than anticipated.

    We are [now] able to not only sequence the genome, but to sequence the transcriptome, the RNA that comes from the DNA.

    We realized that our protein-coding genome is only 2 percent of the [entire genome], [but] the rest of the genome — the other 98 percent — is not silent and does more than regulate protein-coding gene expression. In fact, it’s heavily transcribed and … at last count, we may have as many as 100,000 RNAs in our cells that don’t code for proteins.

    These include circular RNAs, circRNAs, which we didn’t see until now because we didn’t have the bioinformatics tools. Now, we appreciate that this species is one of the most abundant RNAs in our cells.

    We discovered that these RNAs are functional or profoundly dysfunctional, driving disease as well as protein-coding genes. This new knowledge will allow us to find new disease genes, to develop new drugs and new medicines. We are talking about RNA medicine. In our Cancer Center, we launched the Institute for RNA Medicine, a research initiative [that] is expected soon to become Harvard-wide.

    GAZETTE: What about treatments in the mainstream today or moving into the mainstream?

    PANDOLFI: There are two major breakthroughs. One is the targeted therapy revolution.

    Conceptually, we’ve moved from chemotherapy and radiotherapy, which are based on the only thing that we [once] knew about cancer: that it is characterized by proliferation.

    The idea was that if you block proliferation, the cancer will suffer. [But] resistance ensues, and toxicity is huge because our body also has [noncancer] cells that proliferate.

    Then we discovered cancer is driven by protein-coding genes. … We could develop drugs that do not necessarily kill the cancer cell, but rather fix the molecular problem [within the cell].

    This approach led to great success. The reason why I’m here and director of this Cancer Center is … the story of a leukemia, APL [acute promyelocytic leukemia], which we cured.

    We developed a combinatorial treatment, which eradicated the disease. We found two drugs that go after the oncogene. Now this concept is accepted, with hundreds of targets, hundreds of oncogenes or tumor suppressors. The pharmaceutical industry is working hard in that space.

    The second new weapon is immune therapy. Cancer cells shut down the immune response in many ways. Cancer basically develops a shield to protect itself from the immune system. Now scientists have cracked this shield with approaches that go after it and break it down.

    The fruition of this new approach is what we are experiencing now. There are immune therapies that can really cure, meaning you can deploy the drug that breaks the shield and the immune system wipes the cancer out. The beauty of all this is … you can develop vaccines.

    You can create vaccines whereby the immune system remembers … so if there’s residual disease, as soon as the cancer tries to resurface, it will be again attacked by the immune system.

    GAZETTE: We know a lot more about cancer than we did before, but part of what we know is that even within different types of cancer — lung cancer, liver cancer, breast cancer — there are different genetic profiles …

    PANDOLFI: We already know that cancer is not one disease, but many. Complexity is very high.

    So the challenge is twofold. We have hundreds of new [drug candidate] molecules, for each and every pathway of cancer. The first hurdle is to understand very rapidly which cancer they may work on, which cancer they may not, and why.

    Then, say the cancer [has] many mutations. Which mutation would confer resistance to that drug, and which combination of drugs will overcome that resistance? How can we combine them with immune therapies? The challenge now is how do we test all these things because if we did it in a human being, it would take forever.

    We came up with this idea of the “mouse hospital,” which is one of the signatures of our Cancer Center. We re-created the complexity of human cancer at three levels.

    First, we made mice that are genetically engineered to harbor all these genes that we are talking about, and now the noncoding RNAs. So the idea is to make a mouse which is a phenocopy of the cancer of Mr. Smith, who is treated at the Cancer Center, by engineering the mouse to express the genes of Mr. Smith.

    The second way is that you take the tumor of Mr. Smith, a biopsy, and you put it in a mouse. This is called an “avatar approach” or “patient-derived xenograft.” So you put the tumor in a mouse, and then you retransplant it in many mice. You have 100 mice, then you treat them with several drugs to very quickly understand which [drug] would work and which one would not.

    Meanwhile, Mr. Smith gets his standard therapy. They offer him drug X, then he fails and they offer him drug Y. As soon as he fails everything standard, there is what I call the panic phase. If you have the [mouse] avatar, while the patient is given the standard treatment, you can find a new drug or new drug combination that you can offer.

    The third approach is even faster. Again, Mr. Smith comes to the center, we biopsy his tumor or we take a leukemia sample and we put it in a [lab] dish. We grow mini tumors — organoids — and again test with several drugs. The organoid has the advantage that it is much less expensive and much faster. You can go from biopsy to drug testing in a matter of weeks.

    The next hurdle is very simple: Who pays for it? Maybe we’ll convince the insurers to pay for organoids. You don’t want to spend a huge amount of money to give Mr. Smith a drug that doesn’t work. So … why don’t you give us a little more money to do genotyping analysis and organoids? This prescreening allows you to know if the drug is needed.

    But we are not yet there. [Now] this approach is funded by government through grants, by philanthropy, and by the cancer center.

    GAZETTE:: How long until these new therapies become the standard of care? People are still getting chemo and radiation therapy …

    PANDOLFI: This is a big ongoing argument. We still offer a standard of care that is oftentimes obsolete. We know it doesn’t work. Why don’t we flip the approach? Why don’t we offer the targeted therapies first and then maybe we follow with the standard of care?

    The other thing happening now is the need to deliver combination therapy. But the FDA still doesn’t allow you to try a combination or cocktail of drugs in [clinical trials]. You have to do it one at a time, which is never-ending. There are a number of people who are pushing to do a cocktail of drugs up front. You would combine them all and do phase 1 and phase 2 and phase 3 [trials].

    At the moment all this is done, almost invariably, at the end of the journey when the panic phase ensues.

    GAZETTE: And when the person is much sicker.

    PANDOLFI: And when the patient is much sicker, when the cancer is much more complex because it has evolved in your body.

    The last point I would make is that there is only one way to fight the complexity of cancer, which is to diagnose it earlier and earlier and earlier. We will defeat cancer. Conceptually, we can. But it will take time.

    We need to push the envelope [of] early diagnosis. [If] you have three nanoparticles in your body that signal there is something wrong, you go in and take them out. If you can do that, you’re treating a cancer which is simpler … the genetic complexity is smaller, the size is smaller, and the targeted therapy and immune therapy will be much easier to deploy.

    I think the noncoding RNA will help. We need to find biomarkers that we can use and can monitor on almost a regular basis. We will probably introduce a panel of genes or RNAs that you can detect in your blood that will spy for possible cancer development.

    GAZETTE: Would you do that every year at your annual checkup?

    PANDOLFI: Why not? Men over 50 have the PSA [prostate specific antigen] test … and the PSA is one marker. Imagine that you can test 100 markers and increase the accuracy. You have a test that is all cancer, “pan-cancer,” you have 50 genes, and you are sure that if one of them is regulated, it’s either prostate or colon. You follow up with imaging and if you find something wrong, you get it out.

    GAZETTE: Which cancers do you think are most likely to be cured?

    PANDOLFI: The ones for which we have more knowledge. Although leukemia is not entirely cured, the first successes that we experienced were in leukemias, the first real cures were in leukemias.

    The other factor is that you need to have some time to play the game, so I think slowly developing cancers that give time to the operators to use this panoply of drugs, such as prostate cancer or cancers that are already impacted by current therapies, will be cured first.

    See the full article here .

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    Harvard University campus

    Harvard is the oldest institution of higher education in the United States, established in 1636 by vote of the Great and General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. It was named after the College’s first benefactor, the young minister John Harvard of Charlestown, who upon his death in 1638 left his library and half his estate to the institution. A statue of John Harvard stands today in front of University Hall in Harvard Yard, and is perhaps the University’s best known landmark.

    Harvard University has 12 degree-granting Schools in addition to the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. The University has grown from nine students with a single master to an enrollment of more than 20,000 degree candidates including undergraduate, graduate, and professional students. There are more than 360,000 living alumni in the U.S. and over 190 other countries.

  • richardmitnick 5:31 am on December 7, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Applied Research & Technology, NJ.com, , Rutgers financial whizzes beat Ivy League teams to win championship   

    From Rutgers via NJ.com: “Rutgers financial whizzes beat Ivy League teams to win championship” 

    Rutgers University
    Rutgers University



    December 05, 2016
    Kelly Heyboer

    A team of undergraduates from Rutgers University compete in a regional competition of the Fed Challenge, a national economics contest, in New York in November. On Dec. 1, the Rutgers team won the national finals in Washington, D.C. (Rutgers University photo)

    Standing in the boardroom where top economists chart the nation’s financial future, a team of Rutgers University students beat out competition from Princeton and Dartmouth Thursday to win one of the nation’s most prestigious economic competitions.

    The Rutgers team, made up of five undergraduates from the New Brunswick campus, were crowned the winners of the 13th annual College Fed Challenge, a national competition about the U.S. economy and monetary policymaking.

    The Rutgers competitors gave a 15-minute presentation analyzing economic and financial conditions, then answered questions from top federal officials at the Federal Reserve in Washington, D.C.

    The state university students impressed the judges enough to win the competition over other finalists from Dartmouth College, Princeton University, the University of Chicago and Appalachian State University.

    Rutgers previously beat teams from Columbia University and other schools to win the regional championship and advance to the finals.

    “Our team was awesome,” said Thomas Prusa, professor and chairman of the Department of Economics at Rutgers. “How about some Scarlet Knight pride! Don’t let anybody talk down the pride of the Raritan!”

    The Federal Reserve, known as the Fed, is the nation’s central bank. It helps set the nation’s monetary policy, including interest rates and regulates the nation’s banks.

    The Fed Challenge, which has both college and high school divisions, is designed to encourage students to learn more about the U.S. economy. Students are asked to analyze the nation’s economic conditions and come up with recommendations, as if they were on the Federal Open Market Committee that sets the nation’s monetary policy.

    “Preparation for the Fed Challenge broadens students’ understanding of the workings of the U.S. economy and the Federal Reserve,” Federal Reserve Board Chair Janet L. Yellen said in a statement. “The competition provides a forum for participants to apply their knowledge in the areas of economics and finance and is intended to promote further study and perhaps even careers in these fields.”

    The finalists, who had all won regional competitions, gave their final presentations in the Board Room of the Federal Reserve’s Board of Governors in Washington, D.C.

    The winning Rutgers team members were: Karn Dalal, Ali Haider Ismail, Andrew Lee, Shivram Viswanathan, and Ashton W. Welles. The team’s faculty adviser was Jeffrey Rubin, a professor emeritus in the economics department.

    See the full article here .

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    Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, is a leading national research university and the state’s preeminent, comprehensive public institution of higher education. Rutgers is dedicated to teaching that meets the highest standards of excellence; to conducting research that breaks new ground; and to providing services, solutions, and clinical care that help individuals and the local, national, and global communities where they live.

    Founded in 1766, Rutgers teaches across the full educational spectrum: preschool to precollege; undergraduate to graduate; postdoctoral fellowships to residencies; and continuing education for professional and personal advancement.

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  • richardmitnick 3:04 pm on December 6, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Applied Research & Technology, , , Meet Keith Uplinger,   

    From WCG: “Meet a World Community Grid Team Member: Keith Uplinger” 

    New WCG Logo


    World Community Grid (WCG)

    6 Dec 2016
    No writer credit

    World Community Grid’s technical lead not only relishes tackling all sorts of difficult challenges, he enjoys helping others do so as well. Meet Keith Uplinger in this article.

    Whether he’s coaching his children’s sports teams, or helping scientists deploy a new sampling protocol on World Community Grid, Keith Uplinger is always up for a challenge, especially when it means helping others.

    Earlier this year, Keith co-starred in a video of our acceptance speech for the People’s Voice Webby Award.

    Keith grew up in a technology-oriented family in Austin, Texas, where his father worked for IBM. Always drawn to math and technology, Keith began programming while still in grade school. Once his family installed a dedicated internet connection, he became even more focused. “I was online almost 24/7, programming and researching computer components,” he says.

    He earned a bachelor’s degree in computer science at Texas Tech University, and began interning for IBM during his sophomore year. From the beginning, his work focused on grid technology, which involves linking computer resources from multiple locations to reach a common goal. Upon graduation, he was hired full-time to work at World Community Grid, which had recently launched.

    Since then, he has touched nearly all parts of World Community Grid’s platform, including developing project screensavers, server management, running the testing environment, website development, and working closely with the BOINC group to help with the open source platform on which World Community Grid runs. “I’ve stayed with World Community Grid for the challenges,” Keith says. “Many people work on a single product, but our scope is broader. Every few months we have a new project that needs to go out to large groups of people all over the world.”

    Keith is currently World Community Grid’s technical lead. His latest work-related challenge is leading World Community Grid’s work on asynchronous replica exchange, a new sampling protocol being developed by the research team for FightAIDS@Home – Phase 2. He explains, “When World Community Grid receives completed work units (research tasks) back from volunteers’ devices, we don’t send the results back to the researchers until the entire batch of work units is complete. This isn’t always ideal for researchers like the Fight AIDS@Home team, who need to process their results more quickly. With asynchronous replica exchange, these researchers will get their data back more quickly, which will help them analyze their data more quickly.”

    “We have not done anything like this with our work units before. Asynchronous replica exchange has the potential to expand the scientific capabilities of World Community Grid,” says Keith. “It not only helps the science, but also could be beneficial for the technology side of the other projects.”

    When he’s not solving complex problems for World Community Grid, Keith’s pastimes center around his family, which includes wife Erica and their two young children. He enjoys coaching his kids’ soccer, basketball, football, and baseball teams. At a height of 6’4″ (193 cm), he’s a formidable basketball opponent and likes to play whenever he can. His family also enjoys traveling in the United States (by car whenever possible) and throughout the world. Recently, he and his wife participated in the Baatan Death Memorial March, a challenging hike through the New Mexico desert that honors the military personnel who defended the Philippine Islands during World War II.

    To the many volunteers that he has served over the years, Keith says, “Thanks for your ongoing efforts to help find answers to science’s toughest questions. I hope we can grow to millions of volunteers, and someday I’d like to see us cure cancer.”

    See the full article here.

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    World Community Grid (WCG) brings people together from across the globe to create the largest non-profit computing grid benefiting humanity. It does this by pooling surplus computer processing power. We believe that innovation combined with visionary scientific research and large-scale volunteerism can help make the planet smarter. Our success depends on like-minded individuals – like you.”

    WCG projects run on BOINC software from UC Berkeley.

    BOINC is a leader in the field(s) of Distributed Computing, Grid Computing and Citizen Cyberscience.BOINC is more properly the Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing.

    BOINC WallPaper



    “Download and install secure, free software that captures your computer’s spare power when it is on, but idle. You will then be a World Community Grid volunteer. It’s that simple!” You can download the software at either WCG or BOINC.

    Please visit the project pages-

    FightAIDS@home Phase II

    FAAH Phase II

    Rutgers Open Zika

    Help Stop TB
    WCG Help Stop TB
    Outsmart Ebola together

    Outsmart Ebola Together

    Mapping Cancer Markers

    Uncovering Genome Mysteries
    Uncovering Genome Mysteries

    Say No to Schistosoma

    GO Fight Against Malaria

    Drug Search for Leishmaniasis

    Computing for Clean Water

    The Clean Energy Project

    Discovering Dengue Drugs – Together

    Help Cure Muscular Dystrophy

    Help Fight Childhood Cancer

    Help Conquer Cancer

    Human Proteome Folding


    World Community Grid is a social initiative of IBM Corporation
    IBM Corporation

    IBM – Smarter Planet

  • richardmitnick 2:36 pm on December 6, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Applied Research & Technology, , , , Don DiMarzio   

    From BNL: “Q&A with CFN User Don DiMarzio” 

    Brookhaven Lab

    December 6, 2016
    Ariana Tantillo

    Don DiMarzio. No image credit

    Don DiMarzio is an engineering fellow at Northrop Grumman and a senior scientist within the company’s advanced research, development, design, and demonstration group NG Next, where he studies nanomaterials and radio-frequency metamaterials. He is also an adjunct professor at Stony Brook University, where he teaches a nanotechnology class. Since March 2016, he has been using the advanced characterization labs at the Center for Functional Nanomaterials (CFN)—a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science User Facility at Brookhaven Lab—primarily to investigate nanostructures whose self-assembly is directed through DNA scaffolds. CFN physicist Oleg Gang has been developing this DNA-based technique for several years.

    Northrop Grumman is typically known for building aircraft, such as the U.S. Air Force’s B-2 stealth bomber, as well as unmanned autonomous aircraft and satellites. How does basic research come into play?

    About two years ago, Tom Vice, corporate vice president and president of Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems, began discussing with his leadership team how to reconstitute the basic research activity that had existed in various forms earlier in the company’s history. NG Next, which includes basic research, applied research and technology development, advanced design, and rapid prototyping, emerged from these discussions. The goal of NG Next is to position Northrop Grumman at the cutting edge of science and technology and to attract the best and brightest young talent.

    NG Next’s basic research group is led by Tom Pieronek, vice president of basic research. The group has eight thrusts or topic areas relevant to the aerospace industry. One of these topics is nanomaterials, which is the focus of the Nanomaterials Group, led by Jesse Tice. I belong to this group. Other thrusts within the basic research group include semiconductor materials, plasmonics, and cognitive autonomy. The charter of our basic research organization is to do real science that is nonproprietary and publishable, in collaboration with the nation’s top universities and government labs. Any fundamental new discoveries that we think are promising may be transferred over to our applied research and prototyping groups within NG Next.

    The Center for Functional Nanomaterials (CFN) is one of five U.S. Department of Energy Nanoscale Science Research Centers and is among the many nanoscale facilities located at universities across the United States. What influenced your decision to submit a user proposal to CFN?

    After I got my PhD in solid-state physics, I did a postdoc at Brookhaven’s National Synchrotron Light Source (NSLS) in the late 1980s and really enjoyed working at Brookhaven.

    BNL NSLS Interior

    After my postdoc, I became a scientist at the Grumman Corporate Research Center in Bethpage, NY, but continued my collaborations with Brookhaven on and off throughout the years.

    When Northrop Grumman leadership began planning for the new basic research group last year, I got involved. Part of my planning and development work for the group included helping to organize workshops—one in nanomaterials and the other in radio-frequency metamaterials—at our regional headquarters in southern California. For these invite-only workshops, the goal was to learn what was at the cutting edge in research, where we should focus our efforts, and who we could collaborate with.

    Our Nanomaterials Workshop provided a broad perspective on cutting-edge research, from nanomaterials synthesis and structures fabrication through fundamental properties and applications. One area that showed great potential was in nanoparticle self-assembly, and one of the major players in that field is the CFN. Although I had been working with various nanotechnologies before the establishment of NG Next, the CFN was either not established yet or our research was both applied and highly proprietary. But with the establishment of the basic research group within NG Next, it became clear that there was a definite opportunity for collaboration, especially considering that the way CFN is set up aligns with NG Next’s charter to publish, make presentations, and collaborate.

    When I learned about CFN physicist Oleg Gang’s work on exploiting DNA to direct the self-assembly of nanoparticles, I became very intrigued. I was particularly impressed with the strength and flexibility of this DNA origami scaffolding to fabricate a wide range of structures relevant for device and materials applications, and the ability to transition these assemblies from “soft” to “hard” while preserving key functionalities. Northrop Grumman sees this work as a potentially ground-breaking area that may lead to revolutionary new fabrication capability for everything from sensor systems to structural composites.

    While most of NG Next’s basic research group is in California, I am here on Long Island (at our Bethpage facility), so CFN is conveniently located near where I work and live. The group in California is currently building out its own labs that will be separate from our traditional applied laboratories. As an existing facility with state-of-the-art equipment and expertise in nanomaterials synthesis, device fabrication, and advanced characterization, CFN was the perfect complement to our West Coast research operations.

    Gold nanoparticles are coordinated by DNA origami octahedron into the prescribed cluster, as obtained from the 3D transmission electron microscopy reconstruction (based on Y. Tian et al. Nature Nanotechnology 10, 637–644, 2015).

    Are you working on any other projects at CFN besides the directed self-assembly?

    In nanomaterials research, I am supporting principal investigators who are using CFN’s advanced characterization tools, particularly those in microscopy, to look at cutting-edge 2D materials like tin selenide (SnSe) and black phosphorous, in collaboration with our university partners.

    For our nanomaterials work, I am also collaborating with an NG Next group involved in plasmonics research, leveraging our DNA assembly work to fabricate new and unique optical structures.

    What are some of the characterization techniques you use at CFN?

    To probe the composition of the DNA-based nanostructures, we focus on small-angle x-ray scattering (SAXS) and transmission electron microscopy (TEM). To probe the chemical states of 2D materials and devices, we use energy-dispersive x-ray spectroscopy and electron energy-loss spectroscopy. In addition to these traditional microscopy techniques, we employ aberration-corrected low-energy electron microscopy (LEEM) and angle-resolved photoemission spectroscopy (ARPES) for some of our 2D materials. This latter technique is important because the band structure, or electronic energy levels, of 2D materials often has directional dependence.

    Your work at CFN sounds like it could also benefit from the advanced characterization methods at the National Synchrotron Light Source II (NSLS-II). Are you collaborating with NSLS-II or do you have plans to?

    BNL NSLS Interior

    Plans are in the works for experiments at the NSLS-II, building on our current efforts at the CFN. We will be working with CFN scientists Dario Stacchiola and Jerzy Sadowski on the new LEEM/ARPES system during its commissioning in January, and we are evaluating the use of synchrotron SAXS for large-volume data acquisition from nanomaterials for additive manufacturing.

    Our leadership is very supportive of our interactions with Brookhaven’s DOE Office of Science User Facilities and would like to solidify relationships for the long term.

    How has it been coming back to Brookhaven more than 30 years later?

    Even though I work for Northrop Grumman, I feel like I am part of the family here at CFN. I am working at CFN pretty much every day. From the start, CFN leadership has been very accommodating. They helped us get rapid access while we started negotiations on our CRADA [cooperative research and development agreement] and submitted our long-range user proposals for the directed assembly and 2D materials projects.

    Since I arrived, CFN staff scientists have been very helpful with training on laboratory equipment such as the SAXS, TEM, and scanning TEM (STEM) systems. The CFN group leads have been particularly helpful in facilitating timely sample preparation, such as that with the focused-ion beam, and with scheduling the use of characterization tools.

    You mentioned you are at CFN basically every day. What keeps you coming back?

    I feel like a kid in a candy shop here. Everyone who works here is passionate about what they do, so coming in every day is something I look forward to. I have my own spare office, close to the group leaders who I am working with. Although I primarily work with Oleg, I get to interact with many other staff scientists and postdocs, not only through my research but also through my volunteer work at CFN. I am the elected vice chair of the CFN Users’ Executive Committee and co-chair of the 2017 NSLS-II & CFN Joint Users’ Meeting.

    How did you become interested in nanomaterials?

    Years ago, I was doing applied research in photocatalysis involving the use of titanium dioxide nanoparticles to create self-decontaminating surfaces—a DARPA [Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency] project. Subsequently, I got involved in developing lightweight carbon nanotube based electrical cables for Department of Defense applications. The carbon nanotube work is ongoing at Northrop Grumman, with applications for space systems and air platforms. Although these applications are important, my turn to basic research was rooted in the NG Next vision to investigate fundamental phenomena that will enable new game-changing technologies that will have applications to both Northrop Grumman’s traditional customers and future technology marketplaces.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition
    BNL Campus

    One of ten national laboratories overseen and primarily funded by the Office of Science of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Brookhaven National Laboratory conducts research in the physical, biomedical, and environmental sciences, as well as in energy technologies and national security. Brookhaven Lab also builds and operates major scientific facilities available to university, industry and government researchers. The Laboratory’s almost 3,000 scientists, engineers, and support staff are joined each year by more than 5,000 visiting researchers from around the world.Brookhaven is operated and managed for DOE’s Office of Science by Brookhaven Science Associates, a limited-liability company founded by Stony Brook University, the largest academic user of Laboratory facilities, and Battelle, a nonprofit, applied science and technology organization.

  • richardmitnick 1:55 pm on December 6, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Applied Research & Technology, , , , This genius map explains how everything in physics is connected   

    From Science Alert: “This genius map explains how everything in physics is connected” 


    Science Alert


    1 DEC 2016

    Physics is a huge, complex field. It also happens to be one of the most fascinating, dealing with everything from black holes and wormholes to quantum teleportation and gravitational waves.

    But unless you have an innate knowledge of the field, it’s pretty hard to figure out how all these concepts actually fit together – and how they tie in with the stuff like the physics of inertia and circuits that we learned in high school.

    After all, everyone is constantly trying to prove Einstein wrong, and Stephen Hawking has famously struggled to come up with a ‘theory of everything’, so it’s easy to get confused about how things do actually fit together in physics (if at all).

    To straighten that out once and for all, YouTuber Dominic Walliman has created a map that shows how the many branches of physics link together, from the earliest days of classical physics and Isaac Newton, all the way through to Einstein’s relativity and quantum physics (with a little bit of philosophy thrown in there for good measure).

    If just the thought of a physics map breaks you out in an anxious sweat, but we promise it’s a lot less scary when you see it.

    You can buy a poster version of the map here, and also download a higher res version.

    If that still just makes you feel a little nauseous, don’t worry, because Walliman has also created an amazing animation that takes you through this map step by step, and summarises the history of physics, in just 8 delightful minutes.

    Access the mp4 video here .

    It takes you all the way from Newton’s falling apple to today’s scientists trying to peer inside black holes and find a theory to unify gravity with quantum mechanics.

    The video shows that there’s a gaping “chasm of ignorance” that physicists need to fill in before we can truly understand how the Universe works. This includes things like dark matter and energy, which work in theory, but so far have never been directly observed or explained.

    The bottom line in all of this is that, the more we learn, the more we realise how much we have left to discover, and that’s one of the things we love the most about science.

    So, for anyone who’s ever hurt their brain by trying to think about what the Universe is expanding into, or what exactly space-time is made of, this is for you. Because when the history of physics is broken down into a palatable 8 minutes, it suddenly doesn’t seem so scary after all.

    Access the mp4 vfideo here .

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

  • richardmitnick 1:31 pm on December 6, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: American Association for the Advancement of Science, Applied Research & Technology, , , FSU, , Yan-Yan Hu   

    From FSU: Women in STEM – “FSU chemistry professor wins prestigious women in science award” 

    FSU bloc

    Florida State University

    December 5, 2016
    Kathleen Haughney

    Assistant Professor of Chemistry Yan-Yan Hu. No image credit

    A Florida State University chemistry professor has won a prestigious award from the American Association for the Advancement of Science that recognizes promising female scientists in the early stages of their career.

    Assistant Professor of Chemistry Yan-Yan Hu will receive the 2017 Marion Milligan Mason Award along with $50,000 to help fund her research endeavors. The other four awardees are from Duke University, University of Texas at Austin, Johns Hopkins University and Stanford University.

    “It was such a surprise and honor,” Hu said. “And I think it’s a tribute to all my colleagues at Florida State University and the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory who have welcomed, guided and supported my research group and me. I’m at the best place with the best resources and best people for what we do.”

    Hu was hired by Florida State University in 2014 as part of a cluster of faculty dedicated to studying energy and materials. She focuses on fundamental chemistry that is critical to energy conversion and storage technologies.

    She plans to use the award to help fund some of her graduate students as they pursue research on interface chemistry of organic-inorganic composite materials for energy and health.

    In addition to outlining the research proposal, Hu received nomination letters from FSU Associate Vice President of Research Ross Ellington, Department of Chemistry Chair Tim Logan, Professor of Chemistry Alan Marshall and University of Cambridge Professor Clare Grey.

    In his nomination letter, Ellington wrote Hu’s work ethic was “beyond reproach” and said she was the “poster child” for the university’s energy and materials initiative due to her close collaboration with other experts in the Department of Chemistry and at the MagLab.

    Logan added that Hu was an “outstanding young scientist.”

    “She is an exemplary role model for women in science and actively mentors female undergraduate and graduate students through FSU’s Women in Math, Science and Engineering program,” Logan said. “We are extremely pleased to have someone of her caliber on our faculty.”

    Hu will accept her award at a ceremony in Washington, D.C., in December.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    FSU campus

    One of the nation’s elite research universities, Florida State University preserves, expands, and disseminates knowledge in the sciences, technology, arts, humanities, and professions, while embracing a philosophy of learning strongly rooted in the traditions of the liberal arts.

    FSU’s welcoming campus is located on the oldest continuous site of higher education in Florida, in a community that fosters free inquiry and embraces diversity, along with championship athletics, and a prime location in the heart of the state capital.

    Founded in 1851; oldest continuous site of higher education in Florida

    Carnegie Commission classification: “Doctoral Universities: Highest Research Activity”

    41,473 students from every Florida county and 140 countries

  • richardmitnick 1:08 pm on December 6, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Applied Research & Technology, , ,   

    From UCLA: “Brains of people with autism spectrum disorder share similar molecular abnormalities” 

    UCLA bloc


    December 05, 2016
    Jim Schnabel

    Brains typically have a standard pattern for which genes are active and which are inactive (left). In the brains of people with autism (right), genes don’t follow that pattern, but they do have their own consistent patterns from one brain to the next. Neelroop Parikshak/UCLA Health

    Autism spectrum disorder is caused by a variety of factors, both genetic and environmental. But a new study led by UCLA scientists provides further evidence that the brains of people with the disorder tend to have the same “signature” of abnormalities at the molecular level.

    The scientists analyzed 251 brain tissue samples from nearly 100 deceased people — 48 who had autism and 49 who didn’t. Most of the samples from people with autism showed a distinctive pattern of unusual gene activity.

    The findings, published Dec. 5 in Nature, confirm and extend the results of earlier, smaller studies, and provide a clearer picture of what goes awry, at the molecular level, in the brains of people with autism.

    “This pattern of unusual gene activity suggests some possible targets for future autism drugs,” said Dr. Daniel Geschwind, the paper’s senior author and UCLA’s Gordon and Virginia MacDonald Distinguished Professor of Human Genetics. “In principle, we can use the abnormal patterns we’ve found to screen for drugs that reverse them — and thereby hopefully treat this disorder.”

    According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 1.5 percent of children in the U.S. have autism; the disorder is characterized by impaired social interactions and other cognitive and behavioral problems. In rare cases, the disorder has been tied to specific DNA mutations, maternal infections during pregnancy or exposures to certain chemicals in the womb. But in most cases, the causes are unknown.

    In a much-cited study in Nature in 2011, Geschwind and colleagues found that key regions of the brain in people with different kinds of autism had the same broad pattern of abnormal gene activity. More specifically, researchers noticed that the brains of people with autism didn’t have the “normal” pattern for which genes are active or inactive that they found in the brains of people without the disorder. What’s more, the genes in brains with autism weren’t randomly active or inactive in these key regions, but rather had their own consistent patterns from one brain to the next — even when the causes of the autism appear to be very different.

    The discovery suggested that different genetic and environmental triggers of autism disorders mostly lead to disease via the same biological pathways in brain cells.

    In the new study, Geschwind and his team analyzed a larger number of brain tissue samples and found the same broad pattern of abnormal gene activity in areas of the brain that are affected by autism.

    “Traditionally, few genetic studies of psychiatric diseases have been replicated, so being able to confirm those initial findings in a new set of patients is very important,” said Geschwind, who also is a professor of neurology and psychiatry at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. “It strongly suggests that the pattern we found applies to most people with autism disorders.”

    The team also looked at other aspects of cell biology, including brain cells’ production of molecules called long non-coding RNAs, which can suppress or enhance the activity of many genes at once. Again, the researchers found a distinctive abnormal pattern in the autism disorder samples.

    Further studies may determine which abnormalities are drivers of autism, and which are merely the brain’s responses to the disease process. But the findings offer some intriguing leads about how the brains of people with autism develop during the first 10 years of their lives. One is that, in people with the disorder, genes that control the formation of synapses — the ports through which neurons send signals to each other — are abnormally quiet in key regions of the brain. During the same time frame, genes that promote the activity of microglial cells, the brain’s principal immune cells, are abnormally busy.

    This could mean that the first decade of life could be a critical time for interventions to prevent autism.

    The study also confirmed a previous finding that in the brains of people with autism, the patterns of gene activity in the frontal and temporal lobes are almost the same. In people who don’t have autism, the two regions develop distinctly different patterns during childhood. The new study suggests that SOX5, a gene with a known role in early brain development, contributes to the failure of the two regions to diverge in people with autism.

    The study’s lead authors are Neelroop Parikshak, Vivek Swarup and Grant Belgard of UCLA; other co-authors are Gokul Ramaswami, Michael Gandal, Christopher Hartl, Virpi Leppa, Luis de la Torre Ubieta, Jerry Huang, Jennifer Lowe and Steve Horvath of UCLA; Manuel Irimia of the Barcelona Institute of Science and Technology; and Benjamin Blencowe of the University of Toronto.

    The research was funded in part by the National Institutes of Health.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    UC LA Campus

    For nearly 100 years, UCLA has been a pioneer, persevering through impossibility, turning the futile into the attainable.

    We doubt the critics, reject the status quo and see opportunity in dissatisfaction. Our campus, faculty and students are driven by optimism. It is not naïve; it is essential. And it has fueled every accomplishment, allowing us to redefine what’s possible, time after time.

    This can-do perspective has brought us 12 Nobel Prizes, 12 Rhodes Scholarships, more NCAA titles than any university and more Olympic medals than most nations. Our faculty and alumni helped create the Internet and pioneered reverse osmosis. And more than 100 companies have been created based on technology developed at UCLA.

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