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  • richardmitnick 10:12 am on January 13, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Applied Research & Technology, Could affect future treatments for some types of infertility, Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research, , , Metabolic proteins relocate to jump-start an embryo’s genome, UCLA study finds   

    From UCLA: “Metabolic proteins relocate to jump-start an embryo’s genome, UCLA study finds” 

    UCLA bloc


    January 12, 2017
    Sarah C.P. Williams


    No image caption. No image credit.

    To turn on its genome — the full set of genes inherited from each parent — a mammalian embryo needs to relocate a group of proteins, researchers at the Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research at UCLA have discovered. The metabolic proteins, normally found in the energy-generating mitochondria of cells, move to the DNA-containing nuclei about two days after a mouse embryo is fertilized, according to the new study, led by senior author Utpal Banerjee.


    Early in development, a mammalian embryo — or zygote — has all the materials it needs to grow and divide from genes and proteins that were contained in the egg cell. But after a few cell divisions, the zygote needs to activate its own genome. Researchers have never fully understood how this shift is made. They knew that certain metabolic compounds, such a pyruvate, were required, but had also observed that the mitochondria — which normally process pyruvate into energy — were small and inactive during this stage of development.


    Banerjee, a professor of molecular, cell, and developmental biology and co-director of the UCLA Broad Stem Cell Research Center, and colleagues confirmed that pyruvate was required for zygotes to activate their genomes by growing mouse zygotes in a culture dish lacking pyruvate. Then, in both mouse and human embryos, researchers used a number of methods to determine the location of proteins that process pyruvate through a metabolic program called the TCA cycle. Just before the embryos activated their genomes, the two-cell stage in mice, the TCA cycle proteins moved from the mitochondria to the nuclei of cells, the researchers discovered. While mouse cells grown in dishes lacking pyruvate normally stopped growing at the two-cell stage, the researchers could rescue these cells by adding a metabolic compound that’s produced by the TCA cycle. Repeating some of the experiments in human embryos, they confirmed that the metabolic proteins move from the mitochondria to the nucleus just as the genome is activated — at the six- to eight-cell stage for humans.


    The importance of metabolic proteins to early embryonic development could affect future treatments for some types of infertility. In addition, the researchers hypothesize that some stem cells that have similar metabolic properties to early zygotes — including cancer stem cells — may relocate the TCA cycle proteins. Better understanding of the relocation could shed light on stem cell biology and alter cancer treatments.


    In addition to Banerjee, the first authors of the study are Raghavendra Nagaraj and Mark Sharpley; the co-authors are Daniel Braas, Fangtao Chi, Amander Clark, Rachel Kim and Yonggang Zhou, all of UCLA.


    The study was published in the journal Cell.


    The study was funded by an NIH Director’s Pioneer Award (DP1DK098059-04) and by the UCLA Broad Stem Cell Research Center.

    See the full article here .

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    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.

  • richardmitnick 9:09 am on January 13, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: 2016 in review, Applied Research & Technology, ,   

    From Science Node: “2016 in review: A big first year for Science Node” 

    Science Node bloc
    Science Node

    20 Dec, 2016
    Sarah Engel

    Science Node celebrated its first full year in September. As we look back on these last 12 months, we noticed a few patterns worth highlighting.

    By December, we were also celebrating over 24,000 connections across our newsletter and social media platforms.

    This growth is due in no small part to partners like XSEDE, Internet2, Open Science Grid, ESnet, and, of course, Indiana University. We’re also grateful for past support from the US National Science Foundation, CERN (the European Organization for Nuclear Research), and the European Commission (via the e-Science Talk project, as well as others).

    Our growth is about more than connections, though. It’s due in large part to the persistence of Managing Editor Lance Farrell – and behind the scenes help from Indiana University’s Greg Moore. In late 2016, we also welcomed two new writers, Alisa Alering and Tristan Fitzpatrick. You’ve seen some of their work already, and you can expect even more in the coming months.

    Science gets personal

    Citizen science and personalized medicine are two examples of how science now reaches into our daily lives – and promises to, on the one hand, hold us close to discovery and, on the other hand, improve our ability to avoid and manage disease.

    Check out Alisa’s take on how science is closer to us than ever before.

    For the history books

    2016 was also a year of amazing discoveries. Scientists confirmed Albert Einstein’s 100-year-old prediction of gravitational waves when LIGO heard the echo of a massive merger of black holes. Science Node was there to cover the computational collaboration that made the discovery possible.

    We also cheered when astrophysicists revved up galactic-sized supercomputer simulations and discovered evidence of a dark planet lurking at the distant edge of our solar system. All that remains is for Konstantin Batygin to actually locate this planet that the models say must be there!

    Find these stories and more in Tristan’s article about the big science news of the year.

    An international focus

    We’re very proud of our global science community – like the German scientist who used a Swiss supercomputer to spot a lake of lava under an island in the Sea of Japan, and the Australian scientists who adapted a firefighting technique to a supercomputing environment and found a smart way to combat invasive species.

    Explore these examples in Lance’s around the world article.

    See the full article here .

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    Science Node is an international weekly online publication that covers distributed computing and the research it enables.

    “We report on all aspects of distributed computing technology, such as grids and clouds. We also regularly feature articles on distributed computing-enabled research in a large variety of disciplines, including physics, biology, sociology, earth sciences, archaeology, medicine, disaster management, crime, and art. (Note that we do not cover stories that are purely about commercial technology.)

    In its current incarnation, Science Node is also an online destination where you can host a profile and blog, and find and disseminate announcements and information about events, deadlines, and jobs. In the near future it will also be a place where you can network with colleagues.

    You can read Science Node via our homepage, RSS, or email. For the complete iSGTW experience, sign up for an account or log in with OpenID and manage your email subscription from your account preferences. If you do not wish to access the website’s features, you can just subscribe to the weekly email.”

  • richardmitnick 8:47 am on January 13, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Applied Research & Technology, , , NASA's Earth science activities   

    From JPL-Caltech: “NASA Plans Another Busy Year for Earth Science Fieldwork” 

    NASA JPL Banner



    January 12, 2017
    Alan Buis
    Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

    Steve Cole
    NASA Headquarters, Washington

    Patrick Lynch
    Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.

    Three new NASA field research campaigns get underway around the world this year and nine continue fieldwork to give scientists a deeper understanding of how our home planet works. Credit: NASA

    NASA scientists, including many from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, are crisscrossing the globe in 2017 — from a Hawaiian volcano to Colorado mountaintops and west Pacific islands — to investigate critical scientific questions about how our planet is changing and what impacts humans are having on it.

    Field experiments are an important part of NASA’s Earth science research. Scientists worldwide use the agency’s field data, together with satellite observations and computer models, to tackle environmental challenges and advance our knowledge of how Earth works as a complex, integrated system.

    “At NASA we are always pushing the boundaries of what can be done from space to advance science and improve lives around the world,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. “These field campaigns help us build better tools to address such issues as managing scarce water resources and alerting the public to natural disasters.”

    New Investigations

    Three new field campaigns kick off this month. Scientists preparing for a future Hyperspectral Infrared Imager (HyspIRI) mission will take to the skies above Hawaii to collect airborne data on coral reef health and volcanic emissions and eruptions.

    NASA HyspIRI spacecraft
    NASA HyspIRI spacecraft

    This airborne experiment supports a potential HyspIRI satellite mission to study the world’s ecosystems and provide information on natural disasters.

    Scientists working on another future satellite — the Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud, ocean Ecosystem (PACE) mission — set sail in January from Hawaii.

    NASA PACE spacecraft
    NASA PACE spacecraft

    The month-long sea campaign across the Pacific on the research vessel Falkor will monitor the diversity of oceanic phytoplankton, microscopic plant-like organisms, and their impact on the marine carbon cycle. Novel measurements will be compared to existing satellite observations and used in preparation for the PACE mission.

    In February, the SnowEx airborne campaign begins flights over the snow-covered forests of Colorado for the first of a multiyear effort to determine how much water is stored in Earth’s terrestrial snow-covered regions.

    Continuing Investigations

    In addition to the new field campaigns, eight Earth science projects will continue this year. The second deployment of NASA’s Atmospheric Tomography (ATom) mission begins in January with a 28-day flight around the world.


    ATom will gather measurements of more than 200 different gases, as well as aerosols from the air near the ocean surface to approximately 7 miles (11 kilometers) altitude. The goal is to understand the sources, movement and transformation of short-lived greenhouse gases, such as ozone and methane, which are important contributors to climate change.

    The Atmospheric Carbon and Transport — America (ACT-America) research team returns to the skies over the eastern half of the United States in January to continue tracking the movement of atmospheric carbon, the objective being to better understand the sources and sinks of greenhouse gases. Flights will originate from Louisiana, Nebraska and Virginia.


    Three field campaigns are heading to the Arctic. In March, Oceans Melting Greenland (OMG) will conduct its second set of airborne surveys of glacier heights around the edge of Greenland and coastal ocean conditions. The mission is providing the first comprehensive look at how glaciers and oceans change year to year.


    Operation IceBridge returns in March to the Arctic for the ninth straight year to measure changes in the elevation of the Greenland ice sheet and sea ice extent. In the fall, the team also will begin its yearly measurements of land and sea ice in Antarctica.


    This summer, the Arctic Boreal Vulnerability Experiment (ABoVE) will start the airborne component of its decade-long campaign that began last year to study the ecology of the fast-changing northern reaches of Alaska and Canada. A diverse suite of instruments will be flown to investigate the region’s permafrost, carbon cycle, vegetation and water bodies and inform future satellite missions. Scientists will also go into the field to support the airborne measurements.


    Two experiments head back to the Pacific Ocean this year. In February, the Coral Reef Airborne Laboratory (CORAL) project team will continue its airborne and in-water investigations in the Hawaiian Islands to assess the condition of threatened coral-based ecosystems.


    In the spring, CORAL will target the waters off Palau and Guam and the rest of the Mariana Islands. In October, NASA’s second Salinity Processes in the Upper Ocean Regional Study (SPURS-2) returns to the eastern tropical Pacific to recover instruments installed in September to investigate the oceanic and atmospheric processes that control changes in salinity.

    On the other side of the world, two field campaigns are returning to the Atlantic Ocean. From its base in Namibia, the Observations of Clouds above Aerosols and their Interactions (ORACLES) study will use airborne instruments this fall to probe the impact on climate and rainfall of the interaction between clouds over the southeastern Atlantic Ocean and smoke from vegetation burning in southern Africa.


    The North Atlantic Aerosols and Marine Ecosystems Study (NAAMES) will take to the sea and air, for the third year, to study how the world’s largest plankton bloom gives rise to small organic particles that influence clouds and climate.


    To follow all of NASA’s 2017 Earth science field campaigns, visit:


    NASA collects data from space, air, land and sea to increase our understanding of our home planet, improve lives and safeguard our future. NASA develops new ways to observe and study Earth’s interconnected natural systems with long-term data records. The agency freely shares this unique knowledge and works with institutions around the world to gain new insights into how our planet is changing.

    For more information about NASA’s Earth science activities, visit:


    See the full article here .

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    NASA JPL Campus

    Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) is a federally funded research and development center and NASA field center located in the San Gabriel Valley area of Los Angeles County, California, United States. Although the facility has a Pasadena postal address, it is actually headquartered in the city of La Cañada Flintridge [1], on the northwest border of Pasadena. JPL is managed by the nearby California Institute of Technology (Caltech) for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The Laboratory’s primary function is the construction and operation of robotic planetary spacecraft, though it also conducts Earth-orbit and astronomy missions. It is also responsible for operating NASA’s Deep Space Network.

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  • richardmitnick 9:02 am on January 12, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Applied Research & Technology, Fethya Ibrahim, ,   

    From U Washington: Women in STEM – “Passion never rests: Fethya Ibrahim’s journey through mechanical engineering” 

    U Washington

    University of Washington

    January 10, 2017
    Chelsea Yates

    First in her family to attend college, senior Fethya Ibrahim is making the most of her time at the UW.

    ME senior Fethya Ibrahim in the Machine Shop. Photo credit: Mark Stone / University of Washington.

    Fethya has been a research assistant in ME’s Cell Biomechanics lab, a 2015-16 McNair Scholar, and she has held multiple mechanical engineering internships at Physio-Control, Inc. Since 2013, she has worked as a tutor in the Engineering Academic Center, and this year she is serving as President of the UW Chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers.

    We recently sat down with Fethya to talk about her involvement and volunteerism on and off campus and why — thanks in part to her experiences in ME’s Machine Shop — she decided to pursue a degree in ME.

    ME: Why did you decide to attend UW and study ME?
    FI: The “Why UW?” part is easy! In the sixth grade, my teacher arranged a class field trip to the UW. As soon as I stepped on campus, I knew I wanted to come to school here. Being at the UW has been a pretty big deal for me; I’m the first in my family to attend college, and I feel very lucky to have the opportunity to do so.

    But the “Why study ME?” part is a little more complicated. I loved math and science, so engineering made perfect sense. I explored a few programs before settling into mechanical engineering. The turning point happened the summer I worked in Nathan Sniadecki’s Cell Biomechanics lab. The design and prototyping work I did there — along with the encouragement I received from Professor Sniadecki — is what helped me decide that ME was what I wanted to do. But I wasn’t sure that I’d succeed in the department. One class in particular that I was extremely hesitant about was ME 355, “Introduction to Manufacturing Processes.” It’s a very “hands on” class that involves learning how to use all of the major machines in the Machine Shop, and every ME student has to take it to graduate.

    Photo credit: Mark Stone / University of Washington.

    ME: Tell us more about your experience in the Machine Shop.
    FI: I was incredibly nervous — I found the Shop to be an intimidating space. I had no prior experience with hand tools, let alone machinery. And all of the equipment seemed to be designed and built for users who were taller than me, with bigger hands than mine, and certainly more upper body strength. I wanted to do well in the Shop but feared it just wasn’t for me. I was also worried that my attire would present a safety concern and that I wouldn’t be able to use the machinery and would fail the class.

    ME: So what happened?
    FI: I met Eamon and Reggie, the Shop instructors. And suddenly the Shop became a very different space — full of possibility, and fun! The instructors made sure everyone in class knew how to safely use the equipment. They worked with me to ensure that my clothing would not present a safety issue (I wear a jacket or my favorite UW sweatshirt over my dress to keep my scarf, sleeves and fabric draping tucked in and tight). And then they encouraged me to, well, just start machining.

    Over time, I became more comfortable with tooling and machining. I discovered that I really liked to operate the lathe. The amount of work it can do is incredible — shaping, cutting, polishing, finishing. Once I found my rhythm for running it, the lathe began to feel quite intuitive.

    ME: What other skills did you develop while working in the Machine Shop?
    FI: I had to learn how to be patient with the machines, and with myself. I’m the type of person who likes to “get” things immediately — and do them well — and with the equipment in the Machine Shop, that just wasn’t going to happen right away. I often had to ask for help reaching things, lifting things, and getting the machines to work. But there’s a lot of help around if you just ask. And people really like to help! It’s funny that this idea was so novel to me as helping others means a lot to me personally. So, it was good for me to learn how to ask.

    I also started watching the instructors’ hands during demos. They were always so still, so quiet. For them it was all about sensing the flow of the machine, and once I relaxed into this idea, things started to come a little more easily. By the end of the quarter, I was surprised by how much I could do, how quickly I could work the machines, and how much self-confidence I’d developed.

    ME: Tell us about your experiences tutoring in the Engineering Academic Center (EAC).
    FI: I started tutoring at the EAC through the Minority Scholars Engineering Program when I was a sophomore. I just love it! I help students with calculus-based physics and math courses in one-on-one sessions and workshops. Tutoring has been a wonderful way for me to contribute to the UW community and also to sharpen my skills! I’m constantly practicing my math, science and communications skills.

    Photo credit: Mark Stone / University of Washington.

    ME: In addition to tutoring students on campus, you also go home on weekends to mentor students at your community center. Why?
    FI: I’m thankful that my community has been supportive of my educational pursuits and for the opportunities I’ve had at the UW, and it’s important to me to give back. I come from an immigrant community here in Seattle; our older generations didn’t have the resources to pursue education due to war and conflict in their home countries. As a result, most older men and women in our community are not college-educated, and very few have a high school education.

    On the weekends, I’m a youth mentor and teach Arabic at our community center, where we host a range of college readiness workshops. I also facilitate discussions about current events, social issues and try to help the younger generations understand why they should be proud of who they are. If I can be a mentor for young women in particular — to show them that it’s possible for women to earn engineering degrees and have professional careers — then that’s just as important to me as earning the degree itself.

    ME: This year you’re also serving as President of the UW chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), correct?
    FI: Yes! NSBE is a student-led organization that’s fun, supportive and inspiring. It provides professional development and networking opportunities on campus and outreach to high school students, which I find very meaningful. I’m eager to take NSBE to the next level. As President, I’m focusing on the organization’s growth. I want to establish a sustainable administrative structure that future leaders can build from.

    ME: You’ll be graduating this spring. What’s next?
    FI: I hope to get a job doing design work at Boeing. That would be ideal. I’ll also continue advocating for and mentoring the girls in my community. I want to help them break the glass ceiling and know that they have a place in STEM fields and professions.

    See the full article here .

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    The University of Washington is one of the world’s preeminent public universities. Our impact on individuals, on our region, and on the world is profound — whether we are launching young people into a boundless future or confronting the grand challenges of our time through undaunted research and scholarship. Ranked number 10 in the world in Shanghai Jiao Tong University rankings and educating more than 54,000 students annually, our students and faculty work together to turn ideas into impact and in the process transform lives and our world. For more about our impact on the world, every day.

    So what defines us — the students, faculty and community members at the University of Washington? Above all, it’s our belief in possibility and our unshakable optimism. It’s a connection to others, both near and far. It’s a hunger that pushes us to tackle challenges and pursue progress. It’s the conviction that together we can create a world of good. Join us on the journey.

  • richardmitnick 1:11 pm on January 11, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Applied Research & Technology, , , We Must Learn How to Talk about Science--Fast   

    From SA: “We Must Learn How to Talk about Science–Fast” 

    Scientific American

    Scientific American

    January 10, 2017
    Paul A. Hanle

    Global warming is just one area where public ignorance about science is extremely dangerous. Credit: NASA Scientific Visualization Studio,Goddard Space Flight Center Wikimedia

    Today in Washington, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine are convening a public discussion of their December report on communicating science effectively. It could not come at a more relevant moment, the day confirmation hearings begin for the President-Elect’s cabinet choices. Arguably it should have happened long before, as we find astonishing disdain for evidence-based thinking among many of the leaders and their advisors who are now taking the reins of government.

    The report identifies “cross-cutting themes” common to the range of issues that were addressed, from climate change to genetically modified organisms. One major finding is about the “deficit model”—the idea that non-scientists, if only informed of the facts of science, will think and act more in line with scientific evidence—which the authors say is widespread among scientists and science communicators. As those of us whose mission is to reach wide and diverse audiences know, and the Academies state unequivocally, this deficit model is wrong. Not always wrong, but mostly wrong, especially where the science communication bears on issues that are contentious like climate change. In such a context, people rely on their own values and beliefs, knowledge and skills, goals and needs—and on those in their communities and peer groups–more than on expert opinion. Not surprising, really, but quite clear and useful.

    In climate change, that finding translates to this: there is no use in just beating those who doubt climate change—the vast majority of whom are conservative in politics—over the head with the facts.

    But it does not translate, either, to the scientific community doing nothing to convey those facts and what they imply for action to address the climate problem. On the contrary, confronting falsehoods and lies about climate change is critically important in this moment when misrepresentations threaten to recur like cancer after years of remission. As more than one leading climate scientist has noted in the wake of the election, it falls to the expert scientific community—with virtual unanimity in accepting the reality, human cause, and urgency of addressing the climate problem—to communicate these facts to the people about to take power and to the public who are their constituency.

    The question is, how do we do that in the face of disdain for evidence and attacks on evidence-based thinking that have permeated so much of recent politics? The report contains gems for scientists—indeed for anyone—practicing science communication, and a call for better and more work to understand the huge amount we still don’t know about how to do this. And we need to do this right now, with real threats, based on falsehoods already evident, to potentially dismantle and discard the edifice of Federal science funding at such agencies as NASA, NOAA, DOE, and the NSF, which has been a foundation of U.S. greatness in science.

    One of these gems is the Academy’s reiteration (in this newly charged context) of the conclusion of many researchers that “science as an institution possesses norms and practices that restrain scientists and offer means for policing and sanctioning those who violate its standards,” while “those who are not bound by scientific norms have at times intentionally mischaracterized scientific information to serve their financial or political interests.” It’s an asymmetrical game we must play. Science in contention needs social and behavioral science to help it determine how authoritative voices from science can be heard when authority is important and in question.

    Not everyone is qualified to judge scientific truth, but everyone must know how to grasp what’s needed to make informed judgments about science that affects their lives in issues like climate change. Alas, explaining how exactly to make that happen is not in the purview of the report because it is a research agenda, and no doubt also aims to stay above the fray of politics. This would be too bad, if it weren’t for the commitment of researchers and organizations that communicate about climate to undertake the research that the report recommends. The Academy calls for a pragmatic, systems approach, developing explanatory models with predictive value at the outset—with practitioners and researchers working in partnership across multiple disciplines.

    Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures. Science communicators need to act now and learn quickly, with proper deliberation but real urgency. One idea is to do practical research about what works in science communication with different audiences, building on the existing body of knowledge, in real time. There are at least three strong reasons to take this “build the airplane while flying” approach. First, as President Kennedy said, because it is hard. In this case, because it lends real-world tempering that is measurable in effectiveness.

    Second, a key measure of the robustness of a scientific explanation is its capacity to predict—essentially the same requirement as that which guides practice, and which bears fruit as soon as it is recognized. With no lag time required to translate an academic insight into a point of practice, we will benefit immediately from research on communication while communicating the scientific truth. Third, and most important, science communicators must use these tools as soon as possible in the face of what appears to be an historic turn against science in key places. Apparently, we have failed to impress a massive swath of the American public, and this failure threatens the very foundations of science through denial of facts, falsehoods, and elevation of ideological thinking above facts. This is the wolf at the door…and if science doesn’t figure out how to counter it quickly, we might just as well throw the door open.

    See the full article here .

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    Scientific American, the oldest continuously published magazine in the U.S., has been bringing its readers unique insights about developments in science and technology for more than 160 years.

  • richardmitnick 10:34 am on January 11, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Applied Research & Technology, , , , A healthy lifestyle may help you sidestep Alzheimer’s   

    From HMS: “A healthy lifestyle may help you sidestep Alzheimer’s” 

    Harvard University

    Harvard University

    Harvard Medical School

    Harvard Medical School

    January 09, 2017
    Heidi Godman

    No image caption. No image credit

    January is an inspiring time to make resolutions about eating a healthy diet and exercising more, maybe because you want to look or feel better. Personally, those reasons aren’t always enough to keep me from skipping a workout if I have too much on my schedule. I guess I’m a typical mom, putting my family and my job first.

    But this year, I have plenty of renewed inspiration to put my health first, and it’s the kind that will keep me up at night if I don’t stick to it: evidence suggests that adopting healthier lifestyle habits may help you thwart or even prevent the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Dementia runs in my family.

    About Alzheimer’s

    Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia, is characterized by the accumulation of two types of protein in the brain: tangles (tau) and plaques (amyloid-beta). Eventually, Alzheimer’s kills brain cells and takes people’s lives.

    What causes Alzheimer’s? We still aren’t sure. “For 1% of all cases, there are three genes that determine definitively whether you will have Alzheimer’s, and all three relate to amyloid-beta production, which in these cases is likely the cause of Alzheimer’s,” says Dr. Gad Marshall, associate medical director of clinical trials at the Center for Alzheimer Research and Treatment at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “For the other 99%, amyloid and tau are closely associated with Alzheimer’s, but many things may contribute to the development of symptoms, such as inflammation in the brain, vascular risk factors, and lifestyle.”

    Promising evidence

    So far, evidence suggests that several healthy habits may help ward off Alzheimer’s. Consider the following steps.

    Exercise. “The most convincing evidence is that physical exercise helps prevent the development of Alzheimer’s or slow the progression in people who have symptoms,” says Dr. Marshall. “The recommendation is 30 minutes of moderately vigorous aerobic exercise, three to four days per week.”

    Eat a Mediterranean diet. “This has been shown to help thwart Alzheimer’s or slow its progression. A recent study showed that even partial adherence to such a diet is better than nothing, which is relevant to people who may find it difficult to fully adhere to a new diet,” says Dr. Marshall. The diet includes fresh vegetables and fruits; whole grains; olive oil; nuts; legumes; fish; moderate amounts of poultry, eggs, and dairy; moderate amounts of red wine; and red meat only sparingly.

    Get enough sleep. “Growing evidence suggests that improved sleep can help prevent Alzheimer’s and is linked to greater amyloid clearance from the brain,” says Dr. Marshall. Aim for seven to eight hours per night.

    Not as certain

    We have some — but not enough — evidence that the following lifestyle choices help prevent Alzheimer’s.

    Learn new things. “We think that cognitively stimulating activities may be helpful in preventing Alzheimer’s, but the evidence for their benefit is often limited to improvement in a learned task, such as a thinking skills test, that does not generalize to overall improvement in thinking skills and activities of daily living,” says Dr. Marshall.

    Connect socially. “We think that greater social contact helps prevent Alzheimer’s,” explains Dr. Marshall, but so far, “there is only information from observational studies.”

    Drink — but just a little. There is conflicting evidence about the benefit of moderate alcohol intake (one drink per day for women, one or two for men) and reduced risk of Alzheimer’s. “It is thought that wine in particular, and not other forms of alcohol, may be helpful, but this has not been proved,” says Dr. Marshall.

    What you should do

    Even though we don’t have enough evidence that all healthy lifestyle choices prevent Alzheimer’s, we do know they can prevent other chronic problems. For example, limiting alcohol intake can help reduce the risk for certain cancers, such as breast cancer. So it’s wise to make as many healthy lifestyle choices as you can. “They’re all beneficial, and if they wind up helping you avoid Alzheimer’s, all the better,” says Dr. Marshall.

    But don’t feel like you need to rush into a ramped-up routine of living a healthier lifestyle. All it takes if one small change at a time, such as:

    exercising an extra day per week.
    getting rid of one unhealthy food from your diet.
    going to bed half an hour earlier, or shutting off electronic gadgets half an hour earlier than normal, to help you wind down.
    listening to a new kind of music, or listening to a podcast about a topic you’re unfamiliar with.
    or having lunch with a friend you haven’t seen in a while.

    Once you make one small change, try making another. Over time, they will add up. My change is that I’m going to add 15 more minutes to my exercise routine; that way, I’ll rack up more exercise minutes per week, and I won’t feel bad if I have to skip a workout now and then. By putting my health first, I’ll be in better shape for my family and my job, and hopefully, I’ll be better off in older age.

    See the full article here .

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    HMS campus

    Established in 1782, Harvard Medical School began with a handful of students and a faculty of three. The first classes were held in Harvard Hall in Cambridge, long before the school’s iconic quadrangle was built in Boston. With each passing decade, the school’s faculty and trainees amassed knowledge and influence, shaping medicine in the United States and beyond. Some community members—and their accomplishments—have assumed the status of legend. We invite you to access the following resources to explore Harvard Medical School’s rich history.

    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 10:13 am on January 11, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Applied Research & Technology, Here’s how to build a whirligig, Inspired by a whirligig toy Stanford bioengineers develop a 20-cent hand-powered blood centrifuge, , ,   

    From Stanford: “Inspired by a whirligig toy, Stanford bioengineers develop a 20-cent, hand-powered blood centrifuge” 

    Stanford University Name
    Stanford University

    January 10, 2017
    Kris Newby

    Stanford bioengineers have developed an ultra-low-cost, human-powered blood centrifuge. With rotational speeds of up to 125,000 revolutions per minute, the device separates blood plasma from red cells in 1.5 minutes, no electricity required.

    Access mp4 video here .
    Inspired by a toy, Stanford bioengineers have developed an inexpensive, human-powered blood centrifuge that will enable precise diagnosis and treatment of diseases like malaria, African sleeping sickness and tuberculosis in the poor, off-the-grid regions where these diseases are most prevalent. Video by Kurt Hickman

    Here’s how to build a whirligig: Thread a loop of twine through two holes in a button. Grab the loop ends, then rhythmically pull. As the twine coils and uncoils, the button spins at a dizzying speed.

    Now, using the same mechanical principles, Stanford bioengineers have created an ultra-low-cost, human-powered centrifuge that separates blood into its individual components in only 1.5 minutes. Built from 20 cents of paper, twine and plastic, a “paperfuge” can spin at speeds of 125,000 rpm and exert centrifugal forces of 30,000 Gs.

    “To the best of my knowledge, it’s the fastest spinning object driven by human power,” said Manu Prakash, an assistant professor of bioengineering at Stanford.

    A centrifuge is critical for detecting diseases such as malaria, African sleeping sickness, HIV and tuberculosis. This low-cost version will enable precise diagnosis and treatment in the poor, off-the-grid regions where these diseases are most prevalent.

    The physics and test results of this device are published in the Jan. 10 issue of Nature Biomedical Engineering.

    No electricity required

    When used for disease testing, a centrifuge separates blood components and makes pathogens easier to detect. A typical centrifuge spins fluid samples inside an electric-powered, rotating drum. As the drum spins, centrifugal forces separate fluids by density into layers within a sample tube. In the case of blood, heavy red cells collect at the bottom of the tube, watery plasma floats to the top, and parasites, like those that cause malaria, settle in the middle.

    Prakash, who specializes in low-cost diagnostic tools for underserved regions, recognized the need for a new type of centrifuge after he saw an expensive centrifuge being used as a doorstop in a rural clinic in Uganda because there was no electricity to run it.

    “There are more than a billion people around the world who have no infrastructure, no roads, no electricity. I realized that if we wanted to solve a critical problem like malaria diagnosis, we needed to design a human-powered centrifuge that costs less than a cup of coffee,” said Prakash, who was senior author on the study.

    Inspired by spinning toys, Prakash began brainstorming design ideas with Saad Bhamla, a postdoctoral research fellow in his lab and first author on the paper. After weeks of exploring ways to convert human energy into spinning forces, they began focusing on toys invented before the industrial age – yo-yos, tops and whirligigs.

    “One night I was playing with a button and string, and out of curiosity, I set up a high-speed camera to see how fast a button whirligig would spin. I couldn’t believe my eyes,” said Bhamla, when he discovered that the whirring button was rotating at 10,000 to 15,000 rpms.

    After two weeks of prototyping, he mounted a capillary of blood on a paper-disc whirligig and was able to centrifuge blood into layers. It was a definitive proof-of-concept, but before he went to the next step in the design process, he and Prakash decided to tackle a scientific question no one else had: How does a whirligig actually work?

    The other string theory

    Bhamla recruited three undergraduate engineering students from MIT and Stanford to build a mathematical model of how the devices work. The team created a computer simulation to capture design variables like disc size, string elasticity and pulling force. They also borrowed equations from the physics of supercoiling DNA strands to understand how hand-forces move from the coiling strings to power the spinning disc.

    “There are some beautiful mathematics hidden inside this object,” Prakash said.

    Once the engineers validated their models against real-world prototype performance, they were able to create a prototype with rotational speeds of up to 125,000 rpm, a magnitude significantly higher than their first prototypes.

    “From a technical spec point of view, we can match centrifuges that cost from $1,000 to $5,000,” said Prakash.

    In parallel, they improved the device’s safety and began testing configurations that could be used to test live parasites in the field. From lab-based trials, they found that malaria parasites could be separated from red blood cells in 15 minutes. And by spinning the sample in a capillary precoated with acridine orange dye, glowing malaria parasites could be identified by simply placing the capillary under a microscope.

    Bhamla and Prakash, who recently returned from fieldwork in Madagascar, are currently conducting a paperfuge field validation trial for malaria diagnostics with PIVOT and Institut Pasteur, community-health collaborators based in Madagascar.

    A frugal science toolbox

    Paperfuge is the third invention from the Prakash lab driven by a frugal design philosophy, where engineers rethink traditional medical tools to lower costs and bring scientific capabilities out of the lab and into hands of health care workers in resource-poor areas.

    The first was the foldscope, a fully functional, under-a-dollar paper microscope that can be used for diagnosing blood-borne diseases such as malaria, African sleeping sickness and Chagas. To date there are 50,000 foldscopes in the hands of people around the world, and a spinoff company recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to ship 1 million more.

    The second was a $5 programmable kid’s chemistry set, inspired by hand-crank music boxes, which enables the execution of precise chemical assays in the field.

    Prakash’s dream is that these tools will enable health workers, field ecologists and children in the most remote areas of the world to carry a complete laboratory in a backpack.

    “Frugal science is about democratizing scientific tools to get them out to people around the world,” said Prakash.

    Prakash is also a member of Stanford Bio-X and Stanford ChEM-H, a senior fellow at the Stanford Center for Innovation in Global Health and an affiliate of the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment.

    Other co-authors on the paper are Brandon Benson, Chew Chai, Georgios Katsikis and Aanchal Johri.

    This work was supported by the Stanford-Spectrum Clinical and Translational Science Award from the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS), a Stanford School of Medicine Dean’s Postdoctoral Fellowship, the Pew Foundation, the Moore Foundation, a National Science Foundation Career Award and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) New Innovator Award.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.
    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    Leland and Jane Stanford founded the University to “promote the public welfare by exercising an influence on behalf of humanity and civilization.” Stanford opened its doors in 1891, and more than a century later, it remains dedicated to finding solutions to the great challenges of the day and to preparing our students for leadership in today’s complex world. Stanford, is an American private research university located in Stanford, California on an 8,180-acre (3,310 ha) campus near Palo Alto. Since 1952, more than 54 Stanford faculty, staff, and alumni have won the Nobel Prize, including 19 current faculty members

    Stanford University Seal

  • richardmitnick 9:00 am on January 11, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Applied Research & Technology, , ,   

    From Hopkins: “Johns Hopkins scientists zero in on how cancers resist immunotherapy treatment” 

    Johns Hopkins
    Johns Hopkins University

    Jan 6 2017
    Vanessa Wasta

    Results of an initial study of tumors from patients with certain cancers shed light on the widespread acquired resistance to immunotherapy drugs known as checkpoint inhibitors.

    The study, conducted by researchers on five patients at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center, suggests the resistance is due to the elimination of certain genetic mutations that enable the immune system to recognize and attack malignant cells. The results of their research is described online in Cancer Discovery.

    “Checkpoint inhibitors are one of the most exciting recent advances for cancers, but the mechanism by which most patients become resistant to these therapies has been a mystery,” says Victor E. Velculescu, program leader in the Bloomberg–Kimmel Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy at Johns Hopkins and professor of oncology.

    Checkpoint inhibitors help the immune system recognize cancer cells by revealing evidence of mutated proteins called neoantigens on the surface of cancer cells. Clinical trials have shown that nearly half of patients with lung cancers eventually develop resistance to this class of drugs for reasons that have been unclear.

    To investigate why checkpoint inhibitors so often stop working, Velculescu joined Valsamo Anagnostou, instructor of oncology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine; Kellie N. Smith, a cancer immunology research associate at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine; and their colleagues at the Bloomberg–Kimmel Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy.

    The team studied tumors of four patients with non-small cell lung cancer and one patient with head and neck cancer who developed resistance to two different checkpoint inhibitors: a drug called nivolumab that can be used alone or in combination with the second drug, ipilimumab.

    Using biopsies of the patients’ tumors collected before the start of treatment and at the time patients developed resistance, the researchers performed large-scale genomic analyses to search for mutations specific to the cancer cells in all of each patient’s 20,000 genes.

    The search uncovered genes that code for the production of antigens, which serve as a source of identification to the immune system. Cancer cells may contain mutations in genes that code for antigens, producing misshapen or otherwise altered antigens that scientists call neoantigens. Such neoantigens are foreign to the immune system, and thus, the cancer cell is flagged for destruction, usually with the help of immunotherapy drugs.

    The scientists found that after the patients developed resistance to immunotherapy, all of their tumors had shed between seven and 18 mutations in neoantigen-coding genes. By getting rid of those mutations, the tumor cells’ neoantigens look less foreign to the immune system and may go unrecognized, say the scientists.

    The researchers found that the tumors had lost these mutations by various means, including immune-mediated elimination of cancer cells containing these mutations, leaving behind cancer cells without the mutations, or by deleting large regions of their chromosomes in all cancer cells.

    “In some instances,” says Anagnostou, “we found that chromosomes in the cancer cells’ nuclei were missing an entire arm containing these mutated genes.”

    Between one and six of the eliminated neoantigens were shown to generate a specific immune cell response in each of the patients, researchers found.

    “Our findings offer evidence about how cancer cells evolve during immunotherapy,” Velculescu says. “When the cancer cells shed these mutations, they discard the evidence that would normally lead them to be recognized by the body’s protective immune cells.”

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.
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    Stem Education Coalition

    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 8:48 am on January 11, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Applied Research & Technology, CSE, , Zillow   

    From U Washington: “Zillow Group pledges $5 million for new UW Computer Science and Engineering building” 

    U Washington

    University of Washington

    January 10, 2017
    Jennifer Langston

    The 3,000-square-foot Zillow Commons will be a flexible events space in the new building that can host faculty meetings and departmental gatherings, workshops, conferences, research talks, industry recruiting events and other functions to benefit UW CSE, the campus and the broader community.LMN Architects

    Zillow Group, which houses a portfolio of the largest real estate and home-related brands on mobile and web, has committed $5 million toward the development of a second Computer Science & Engineering (CSE) building on the University of Washington’s Seattle campus.

    The new building will allow the university to double the number of CSE degrees it awards each year, and reduce the number of qualified students who are turned away from the program each year.

    Zillow Group’s pledge is a natural extension of its longtime partnership with UW CSE. The company’s donation will help fund construction of a new 130,000-square foot, state-of-the-art facility — slated for completion in 2019 — that will provide much-needed classroom, laboratory and collaborative spaces. One of the building’s highlights will be the “Zillow Commons,” a 3,000-square-foot event and multiuse space to be used by students, faculty and the community.

    “The University of Washington’s CSE program plays a vital role in our region’s technology ecosystem and is a recognized leader in education, as well as diversity in tech,” said Zillow Group COO Amy Bohutinsky. “Having founded our company in Seattle, we have long benefited from this wealth of talent and are proud to be able to support the expansion of such an extraordinary program. As Zillow Group’s first corporate donation, our hope is that this gift will help expand the education opportunities in our state and ensure more young people have access to high quality STEM education.”

    “We’re truly grateful for this gift both because of what it will mean for our students and state, and because of how it represents Zillow Group’s commitment to our region,” said UW President Ana Mari Cauce. “It’s heartening to have such tremendous support from a home-grown company. Zillow Group’s dedication to innovation and education has helped it grow as an industry leader and as a strong partner in Washington’s innovation ecosystem.”

    “Students are clamoring for a CSE education, but we have to turn away roughly two-thirds of students who meet the prerequisites due to lack of space,” said Ed Lazowska, the Bill & Melinda Gates Chair in Computer Science & Engineering. “At the same time, our innovative companies are clamoring for more CSE graduates. By generously supporting our expansion, Zillow Group is laying the foundation for a brighter future for Washington’s students and our economy.”

    For more information, contact Lazowska at lazowska@uw.edu or Camille Chotzen, Zillow Group, at press@zillow.com.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    The University of Washington is one of the world’s preeminent public universities. Our impact on individuals, on our region, and on the world is profound — whether we are launching young people into a boundless future or confronting the grand challenges of our time through undaunted research and scholarship. Ranked number 10 in the world in Shanghai Jiao Tong University rankings and educating more than 54,000 students annually, our students and faculty work together to turn ideas into impact and in the process transform lives and our world. For more about our impact on the world, every day.

    So what defines us — the students, faculty and community members at the University of Washington? Above all, it’s our belief in possibility and our unshakable optimism. It’s a connection to others, both near and far. It’s a hunger that pushes us to tackle challenges and pursue progress. It’s the conviction that together we can create a world of good. Join us on the journey.

  • richardmitnick 4:23 pm on January 10, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: 27 projects, and (as of November) 3 billion research results later, Applied Research & Technology, , Twelve years,   

    From WCG: “Community Achievements in 2016” 

    New WCG Logo


    World Community Grid (WCG)

    27 Dec 2016

    We’re grateful for the volunteers and scientists who worked with us this year to launch two new research efforts, make progress on existing projects, and spread the word about volunteer computing to new audiences. Here are some of the highlights of 2016, which wouldn’t be possible without each of you.

    Two new research projects, two awards, several conferences…and volunteers around the globe whose support made all of this progress possible. Because of you, 2016 was a great year for World Community Grid! Below are a few of this year’s highlights.

    Helping Stop a Global Killer

    Tuberculosis is one of the world’s deadliest disease, killing approximately 1.5 million people every year. In March, researchers at The University of Nottingham launched Help Stop TB on World Community Grid to study the molecular structure of the bacterium that causes tuberculosis, so that scientists can learn how to overcome it.

    Access mp4 video here .

    Reaching a New Audience

    Thanks to votes from volunteers and supporters, an influential audience at South by Southwest (SXSW) learned how World Community Grid volunteers have supported humanitarian research projects since 2004, and heard how these volunteers helped scientists make a breakthrough that could bring clean water to millions. Listen to audio of our full presentation, which was given in March, or read about our experience.

    Researcher Francois Grey, who was part of the Computing for Clean Water project, and program manager Juan Hindo presented the results of the project at South by Southwest 2016.

    Searching for Potential Treatments for Zika

    The Zika virus began spreading rapidly through the Americas in 2015. In 2016, it continued moving north and was also reported in Asia. There is no effective treatment for Zika, no vaccine, and the virus as been linked to serious complications, including lifelong brain-related issues for infants whose mothers contract Zika while pregnant. In response to volunteer requests, we looked for a project to fight the virus, and in May, an international team of researchers launched the OpenZika project on World Community Grid to search through millions of chemical compounds for those that may become treatments.

    Access mp4 video here .

    Getting Inspired by Changemakers

    Program manager Juan Hindo was invited to attend South by South Lawn 2016 at the White House in October. This first-time event brought together leaders in art, technology, innovation, and social change who are helping to improve the world. Read about Juan’s experience and how it inspired us to re-ssue our call for research projects that address climate change.


    Winning Awards

    We appreciate awards because they recognize and raise awareness for the important work made possible by World Community Grid volunteers.

    Thanks to votes from volunteers and supporters, we were honored to receive a People’s Voice Webby Award in the Corporate and Social Responsiblity category. This award recognized our new online experience to help people learn about and join World Community Grid, which helped improve our sign-up rate. The Webby statuette traveled around the U.S. this summer and fall to spend time with each team member, as shown in the video below.

    Thank You

    Twelve years, 27 projects, and (as of November) 3 billion research results later, we are very grateful to the volunteers all over the world who are supporting basic science by donating unused computing time. Thanks for making 2016 a year of new beginnings and continued progress. Stay tuned for exciting news in early 2017!

    See the full article here.

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.
    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    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

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