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  • richardmitnick 7:58 am on July 14, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Biomechatronics, Carnegie Mellon University, Developing designs for exoskeletons and prosthetic limbs, New software algorithms,   

    From Carnegie Mellon: “Carnegie Mellon Develops Landmark Achievement in Walking Technology” 

    Carnegie Mellon University logo
    Carnegie Mellon University

    July 11, 2017
    Lisa Kulick
    lkulick@andrew.cmu.edu

    Researchers in Carnegie Mellon University’s College of Engineering are using feedback from the human body to develop designs for exoskeletons and prosthetic limbs.

    Published in Science, their technique, called human-in-the-loop optimization, customizes walking assistance for individuals and significantly lessens the amount of energy needed when walking. The algorithm that enables this optimization represents a landmark achievement in the field of biomechatronics.

    “Existing exoskeleton devices, despite their potential, have not improved walking performance as much as we think they should,” said Steven Collins, a professor of mechanical engineering. “We’ve seen improvements related to computing, hardware and sensors, but the biggest challenge has remained the human element — we just haven’t been able to guess how they will respond to new devices.”

    The software algorithm is combined with versatile emulator hardware that automatically identifies optimal assistance strategies for individuals.

    During experiments, each user received a unique pattern of assistance from an exoskeleton worn on one ankle. The algorithm tested responses to 32 patterns over the course of an hour, making adjustments based on measurements of the user’s energy use with each pattern. The optimized assistance pattern produced larger benefits than any exoskeleton to date, including devices acting at all joints on both legs.

    “When we walk, we naturally optimize coordination patterns for energy efficiency,” Collins said. “Human-in-the-loop optimization acts in a similar way to optimize the assistance provided by wearable devices. We are really excited about this approach because we think it will dramatically improve energy economy, speed and balance for millions of people, especially those with disabilities.”

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    Carnegie Mellon Campus

    Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) is a global research university with more than 12,000 students, 95,000 alumni, and 5,000 faculty and staff.
    CMU has been a birthplace of innovation since its founding in 1900.
    Today, we are a global leader bringing groundbreaking ideas to market and creating successful startup businesses.
    Our award-winning faculty members are renowned for working closely with students to solve major scientific, technological and societal challenges. We put a strong emphasis on creating things—from art to robots. Our students are recruited by some of the world’s most innovative companies.
    We have campuses in Pittsburgh, Qatar and Silicon Valley, and degree-granting programs around the world, including Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe and Latin America.

     
  • richardmitnick 10:13 am on May 25, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Carnegie Mellon University, Rebecca Doerge Appointed Dean of Mellon College of Science,   

    From CMU: “Rebecca Doerge Appointed Dean of Mellon College of Science” Women in Science 

    Carnegie Mellon University logo
    Carnegie Mellon University

    1

    Rebecca Doerge, the Trent and Judith Anderson Distinguished Professor of Statistics at Purdue University, has been appointed as the next dean of the Mellon College of Science at Carnegie Mellon University, effective Aug. 1.

    Doerge also will hold joint faculty appointments in the Department of Biological Sciences in the Mellon College of Science and the Department of Statistics in the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences.

    Doerge, who joined Purdue in 1995, holds a joint appointment in Purdue’s College of Agriculture and College of Science. Her research focuses on statistical bioinformatics, which brings together multiple scientific disciplines to investigate and disseminate biologically interesting information, and further understand the ultimate function of DNA and epigenomic associations.

    “Rebecca brings more than 25 years of experience as a scholar, educator and leader to CMU,” CMU Provost Farnam Jahanian said. “Collaboration across disciplinary borders is a hallmark of her own scholarship and her academic leadership, and she has demonstrated a deep appreciation for supporting basic research. Those qualities make Rebecca an ideal leader for the Mellon College of Science and a champion for science throughout Carnegie Mellon at this important moment. Science is in our DNA as a university, and touches on the work that all of us do, across colleges and centers.”

    As head of Purdue’s Department of Statistics from 2010-2015, Doerge oversaw the unit’s growth into one of the largest departments of statistics in the country. She led efforts that doubled both the number of undergraduate students and the number of tenured female faculty, while also increasing the department’s number of online and hybrid course offerings.

    “Carnegie Mellon’s focus on educating the whole student across disciplinary boundaries is essential for addressing both societal and global challenges,” Doerge said. “I am deeply honored to be a member of the university’s leadership team and look forward to working with the Mellon College of Science faculty, staff and students to advance discovery, collaboration and innovation.”

    Doerge is an elected fellow of the American Statistical Association and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. She is a member of the board of trustees for the National Institute of Statistical Sciences and the Mathematical Biosciences Institute.

    A recipient of multiple awards at Purdue, Doerge has authored more than 120 scientific articles, published two books and worked with 23 doctoral degree candidates to the successful completion of their studies.

    Doerge earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mathematics from the University of Utah and a doctoral degree in statistics from North Carolina State University. She spent two years as a postdoctoral scholar at Cornell University.

    Doerge will succeed Dean Fred Gilman, who will be stepping down after serving in the position since 2007.

    See the full article here .

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    Carnegie Mellon Campus

    Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) is a global research university with more than 12,000 students, 95,000 alumni, and 5,000 faculty and staff.
    CMU has been a birthplace of innovation since its founding in 1900.
    Today, we are a global leader bringing groundbreaking ideas to market and creating successful startup businesses.
    Our award-winning faculty members are renowned for working closely with students to solve major scientific, technological and societal challenges. We put a strong emphasis on creating things—from art to robots. Our students are recruited by some of the world’s most innovative companies.
    We have campuses in Pittsburgh, Qatar and Silicon Valley, and degree-granting programs around the world, including Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe and Latin America.

     
  • richardmitnick 5:12 pm on January 25, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Carnegie Mellon University,   

    From CMU: “In Galaxy Clustering, Mass May Not Be the Only Thing That Matters” 

    Carnegie Mellon University logo
    Carnegie Mellon University

    January 25, 2016
    Jocelyn Duffy

    First Observational Evidence for Assembly Bias Could Impact Understanding of the Universe

    Galaxy clusters of similar masses density maps of Credit Kavli IPMU
    Density maps of galaxy clusters of similar masses. Credit: Kavli IPMU

    An international team of researchers, including Carnegie Mellon University’s Rachel Mandelbaum, has shown that the relationship between galaxy clusters and their surrounding dark matter halo is more complex than previously thought. The researchers’ findings, published in Physical Review Letters today (Jan. 25), are the first to use observational data to show that, in addition to mass, a galaxy cluster’s formation history plays a role in how it interacts with its environment.

    There is a connection between galaxy clusters and their dark matter halos that holds a great deal of information about the universe’s content of dark matter and accelerating expansion due to dark energy. Galaxy clusters are groupings of hundreds to thousands of galaxies bound together by gravity, and are the most massive structures found in the universe. These clusters are embedded in a halo of invisible dark matter. Traditionally, cosmologists have predicted and interpreted clustering by calculating just the masses of the clusters and their halos. However, theoretical studies and cosmological simulations suggested that mass is not the only element at play — something called assembly bias, which takes into account when and how a galaxy cluster formed, also could impact clustering.

    “Simulations have shown us that assembly bias should be part of our picture,” said Mandelbaum, a member of Carnegie Mellon’s McWilliams Center for Cosmology. “Confirming this observationally is an important piece of understanding galaxy and galaxy cluster formation and evolution.”

    In the current study, the research team, led by Hironao Miyatake, Surhud More and Masahiro Takada of the Kavli Institute for the Physics and Mathematics of the Universe, analyzed observational data from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey’s DR8 galaxy catalog.

    SDSS Telescope
    SDSS telescope at Apache Point, NM, USA

    Using this data, they demonstrated that when and where galaxies group together within a cluster impacts the cluster’s relationship with its dark matter environment.

    The researchers divided close to 9,000 galaxy clusters into two groups based on the spatial distribution of the galaxies in each cluster. One group consisted of clusters with galaxies aggregated at the center and the other consisted of clusters in which the galaxies were more diffuse. They then used a technique called gravitational lensing to show that, while the two groups of clusters had the same mass, they interacted with their environment much differently. The group of clusters with diffuse galaxies were much more clumpy than the group of clusters that had their galaxies close to the center.

    “Measuring the way galaxy clusters clump together on large scales is a linchpin of modern cosmology. We can go forward knowing that mass might not be the only factor in clustering,” Mandelbaum said.

    Additional authors include: David N. Spergel, Princeton University; Eli S. Rykoff, Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics & Cosmology; and Eduardo Rozo, University of Arizona.

    This research was supported by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, the World Premier International Research Center Initiative, the FIRST program, the National Science Foundation (NSF) (AST-1311756), NASA and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). The Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS-III) is funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the SDSS-III participating institutions, NSF and the DOE Office of Science.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    Carnegie Mellon Campus

    Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) is a global research university with more than 12,000 students, 95,000 alumni, and 5,000 faculty and staff.
    CMU has been a birthplace of innovation since its founding in 1900.
    Today, we are a global leader bringing groundbreaking ideas to market and creating successful startup businesses.
    Our award-winning faculty members are renowned for working closely with students to solve major scientific, technological and societal challenges. We put a strong emphasis on creating things—from art to robots. Our students are recruited by some of the world’s most innovative companies.
    We have campuses in Pittsburgh, Qatar and Silicon Valley, and degree-granting programs around the world, including Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe and Latin America.

     
  • richardmitnick 10:04 am on August 21, 2015 Permalink | Reply
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    From CMU: Carnegie Mellon-Led Team Identifies Structure of Tumor-Suppressing Protein 

    Carnegie Mellon University logo
    Carnegie Mellon university

    August 20, 2015
    Jocelyn Duffy, jhduffy@andrew.cmu.edu, 412-268-9982

    1
    An activated PTEN dimer that contains two non-mutant proteins (A) can transform the functional lipid (D) on the cellular membrane (E) into a chemical form that tunes down cancer predilection. Dimers that contain a mutated protein (B), or PTEN monomers can not transform the functional lipid.

    An international group of researchers led by Carnegie Mellon University physicists Mathias Lösche and Frank Heinrich have established the structure of an important tumor suppressing protein, PTEN. Their findings provide new insights into how the protein regulates cell growth and how mutations in the gene that encodes the protein can lead to cancer. The study is published online in Structure, and will appear in the Oct. 6 issue.

    Phosphatase and tensin homolog (PTEN) is a known tumor suppressing protein that is encoded by the PTEN gene. When expressed normally, the protein acts as an enzyme at the cell membrane, instigating a complex biochemical reaction that regulates the cell cycle and prevents cells from growing or dividing in an unregulated fashion. Each cell in the body contains two copies of the PTEN gene, one inherited from each parent. When there is a mutation in one or both of the PTEN genes, it interferes with the protein’s enzymatic activity and, as a result inhibits its tumor suppressing ability.

    “Membrane-incorporated and membrane-associated proteins like PTEN make up one-third of all proteins in our body. Many important functions in health and disease depend on their proper functioning,” said Lösche, who with other researchers within Carnegie Mellon’s Center for Membrane Biology and Biophysics aim to understand the structure and function of cell membranes and membrane proteins. “Despite PTEN’s importance in human physiology and disease, there is a critical lack of understanding of the complex mechanisms that govern its activity.”

    Recently, researchers led by Pier Paolo Pandolfi at Harvard Medical School found that PTEN’s tumor suppressing activity becomes elevated when two copies of the protein bind together, forming a dimeric protein.

    “PTEN dimerization may be the key to understanding an individual’s susceptibility for PTEN-sensitive tumors,” said Lösche, a professor of physics and biomedical engineering at Carnegie Mellon.

    In order to reveal how dimerization improves PTEN’s ability to thwart tumor development, researchers needed to establish the protein’s dimeric structure. Normally, protein structure is identified using crystallography, but attempts to crystallize the PTEN dimer had failed. Lösche and colleagues used a different technique called small-angle X–ray scattering (SAXS) which gains information about a protein’s structure by scattering X-rays through a solution containing the protein. They then used computer modeling to establish the dimer’s structure.

    They found that in the PTEN dimers, the C-terminal tails of the two proteins may bind the protein bodies in a cross-wise fashion, which makes them more stable. As a result, they can more efficiently interact with the cell membrane, regulate cell growth and suppress tumor formation.

    Now that more is known about the structure of the PTEN dimer, researchers will be able to use molecular biology tools to investigate the atomic-scale mechanisms of tumor formation facilitated by PTEN mutations. The researchers also hope that their findings will offer up a new avenue for cancer therapeutics.

    In addition to Lösche and Heinrich, who are also research associates at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and Pandolfi, co-authors of the study include: Srinivas Chakravarthy of Argonne National Laboratory and the Illinois Institute of Technology; Hirsh Nanda of Carnegie Mellon and NIST; Antonella Papa of Monash University in Melbourne; Alonzo H. Ross of the University of Massachusetts Medical School; and Rakesh K. Harishchandra and Arne Gericke of Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

    The research was funded by the Department of Commerce, the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of General Medical Sciences (GM101647) and National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NS021716), and the National Science Foundation (1216827). The research used resources of the Advanced Photon Source, a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science User Facility and the NIGMS-supported BioCAT facility.

    See the full article here.

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    Carnegie Mellon Campus

    Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) is a global research university with more than 12,000 students, 95,000 alumni, and 5,000 faculty and staff.
    CMU has been a birthplace of innovation since its founding in 1900.
    Today, we are a global leader bringing groundbreaking ideas to market and creating successful startup businesses.
    Our award-winning faculty members are renowned for working closely with students to solve major scientific, technological and societal challenges. We put a strong emphasis on creating things—from art to robots. Our students are recruited by some of the world’s most innovative companies.
    We have campuses in Pittsburgh, Qatar and Silicon Valley, and degree-granting programs around the world, including Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe and Latin America.

     
  • richardmitnick 2:10 pm on August 5, 2015 Permalink | Reply
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    From CMU: “Milky Way-Like Galaxies May Have Existed in the Early Universe” 

    Carnegie Mellon University logo
    Carnegie Mellon university

    August 5, 2015
    Jocelyn Duffy, jhduffy@andrew.cmu.edu, 412-268-9982

    Large-Scale Simulation Provides Theoretical Evidence of Early Disk Galaxies

    1

    A new, large-scale computer simulation has shown for the first time that large disk galaxies, much like our own Milky Way, may have existed in the early days of the universe.

    The simulation, created by physicists at Carnegie Mellon University’s McWilliams Center for Cosmology and the University of California Berkeley, shows that the early universe —a mere 500 million years after the Big Bang — might have had more order and structure than previously thought.

    Their findings, which will be published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters, will help guide researchers using next-generation telescopes like the Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST) and the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) as they search the sky for evidence of the first galaxies.

    NASA WFIRST telescope
    WFIRST

    NASA Webb Telescope
    Webb

    “It’s awe inspiring to think that galaxies much like our own existed when the universe was so young,” said Tiziana Di Matteo, professor of physics at Carnegie Mellon. “The deepest Hubble Space Telescope observations have thus only covered small volumes of space and have found very irregular, clumpy galaxies at these early epochs. It is not surprising that in these small volumes some of the small galaxies do not have regular morphologies like large disk galaxies. Similarly, numerical simulations have been limited in size so they have only made predictions for the smaller, clumpier galaxies at these early times.”

    Di Matteo and fellow CMU Physics Professor Rupert Croft have long been at the forefront of simulation cosmology, completing some of the largest simulations ever created. Their current simulation, called BlueTides, is 100 times larger than previous simulations. It was so large that it monopolized all of the National Science Foundation (NSF) supercomputer BlueWater’s memory and almost 1 million CPUs in order to complete the simulation.

    Di Matteo, Croft and their former graduate student Yu Feng, now a post-doctoral researcher at UC Berkeley, began by seeding their simulation with constraints provided by the cold dark matter theory, the prevailing theory that explains what may have happened in the universe after the Big Bang.

    After the simulation was completed, the researchers looked at their data to see what they could find, much like observational cosmologists would do with data gathered using a telescope. They were surprised to find a number of disk galaxies in the universe at 500 million years post-Big Bang. Since disk galaxies are so large and complex, most researchers assumed that they would take a very long time to form and would be rare, if they existed at all, in the early universe.

    “Theoretically we thought that when the universe was only 5 percent of its present age, it would be a place full of chaos and disorder,” Croft said. “Our simulation showed that the early universe might be far from being just this. It might contain beautiful symmetrical galaxies, like the Milky Way.”

    From their simulation, the researchers were able to make predictions about the galaxies’ luminosities, angular sizes, morphologies, colors and expected number. When telescopes like WFIRST and JWST come online, they will be able to search for galaxies that fit the descriptions developed by the BlueTides simulation. If simulation and observational results match, it could be a strong proof of the cold dark matter theory.

    “Right now, we’re converging on an exciting time in cosmology. Previously, we couldn’t study disk galaxies in the early universe using telescopes because the galaxies were so faint and rare. We couldn’t study them in a computer because no computers were large enough to cope,” Di Matteo said. “The technology has caught up, and we can complete the simulations using today’s large supercomputers, and we will be able to use telescopes like WFIRST to make the observations.”

    This research was funded by the NSF (OCI-0749212, AST-1009781). BlueWaters is located at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois.

    See the full article here.

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    Carnegie Mellon Campus

    Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) is a global research university with more than 12,000 students, 95,000 alumni, and 5,000 faculty and staff.
    CMU has been a birthplace of innovation since its founding in 1900.
    Today, we are a global leader bringing groundbreaking ideas to market and creating successful startup businesses.
    Our award-winning faculty members are renowned for working closely with students to solve major scientific, technological and societal challenges. We put a strong emphasis on creating things—from art to robots. Our students are recruited by some of the world’s most innovative companies.
    We have campuses in Pittsburgh, Qatar and Silicon Valley, and degree-granting programs around the world, including Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe and Latin America.

     
  • richardmitnick 5:59 am on March 21, 2015 Permalink | Reply
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    From CMU: “Researchers Show Forest Fragmentation from Shale Development Could Be Reduced by Placing Natural Gas Lines Along Roadways” 

    Carnegie Mellon University logo
    Carnegie Mellon university

    March 20, 2015
    Tara Moore / 412-268-9673 / trmoore@andrew.cmu.edu

    1
    Forest fragmentation occurs when the key infrastructure related to Marcellus shale natural gas extraction — specifically the well pads themselves, as well as gathering lines and access roads — cuts through the forest, dividing it into smaller sections.

    A team of researchers in Carnegie Mellon University’s College of Engineering found that forest fragmentation from natural gas development in Pennsylvania is caused by gathering lines, the smaller pipelines that carry extracted natural gas to the main distribution pipes.

    In a paper in the journal Ecological Indicators, the scientists report that redirecting the lines so they follow the routes of existing roadways would greatly reduce fragmentation.

    The research group includes Leslie Abrahams, a doctoral student in engineering and public policy (EPP) and civil and environmental engineering (CEE), and co-authors W. Michael Griffin, an EPP associate research professor, and CEE Professor H. Scott Matthews.

    While it may seem at first glance that the well pads, which can require anywhere from three to nine acres of cleared forest land, would be the biggest culprit of fragmentation, the team discovered the main cause to be the gathering lines. While gathering lines are buried underground, the surfaces above them, called right of ways, are cleared of all trees, causing almost 19 acres of loss per well pad.

    “If something cuts a cleared path through the forest, it could be dividing a species’ habitat in half,” Abrahams explained. “Flying squirrels, for example. The natural gas infrastructure can create openings in the forest that are too wide for them to glide across and suddenly their habitat is greatly decreased.”

    The gathering line right of ways also create pathways that allow invasive species to access inner parts of the forest. Suddenly, indigenous animals are introduced to predators they’ve never learned how to avoid before, making survival much more difficult.

    The research team used computer-modeling software to develop strategies to greatly reduce forest fragmentation.

    The team’s major suggestion for future infrastructure development is to build future gathering lines, the major culprits of fragmentation, so they follow the same routes as existing roads. This way, no additional corridors are built, keeping future fragmentation to a minimum.

    Additionally, requiring natural gas companies to collaborate on infrastructure development would help eliminate unnecessary fragmentation by forcing multiple companies to use the same pipelines.

    “Eliminating the need for multiple pipelines that go to the same place would save developers money, while helping to protect core forest ecosystems,” Griffin said.

    Another strategy is to reduce the number of necessary well pads by simply drilling more wells at each pad.

    “One of the benefits of unconventional natural gas development is that you can develop multiple wells per pad because instead of drilling straight down, you go down and then out horizontally so you can have six or 12 different wells per pad,” Abrahams said.

    “By simply drilling more wells per pad, and drilling those wells farther, you can still drill the same number of wells without clearing as much forested land. However, while it does reduce the level of fragmentation over the business as usual case, this strategy does not stop additional future fragmentation from occurring altogether because it does not address the placement of the gathering lines,” Abrahams said.

    This work was funded in part by the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program, the Center for Climate and Energy Decision Making, and by the Department of Engineering and Public Policy.

    Read the full paper, titled “Assessment of policies to reduce core forest fragmentation from Marcellus shale development in Pennsylvania,” at http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1470160X14005664.

    See the full article here.

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    Carnegie Mellon Campus

    Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) is a global research university with more than 12,000 students, 95,000 alumni, and 5,000 faculty and staff.
    CMU has been a birthplace of innovation since its founding in 1900.
    Today, we are a global leader bringing groundbreaking ideas to market and creating successful startup businesses.
    Our award-winning faculty members are renowned for working closely with students to solve major scientific, technological and societal challenges. We put a strong emphasis on creating things—from art to robots. Our students are recruited by some of the world’s most innovative companies.
    We have campuses in Pittsburgh, Qatar and Silicon Valley, and degree-granting programs around the world, including Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe and Latin America.

     
  • richardmitnick 2:10 pm on March 16, 2015 Permalink | Reply
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    From CMU: “CMU, Pitt, UPMC Form Alliance To Transform Health Care Through Big Data” 

    Carnegie Mellon University logo
    Carnegie Mellon university

    March 16, 2015
    By Ken Walters / Carnegie Mellon / 412-480-4396 / walters1@andrew.cmu.edu
    Wendy Zellner/ UPMC / 412-586-9777 / ZellnerWL@upmc.edu
    Ken Service / Pitt / 412-624-2795 / kservice@pitt.edu

    Today’s health care system generates massive amounts of data — patient information in the electronic health record, diagnostic imaging, prescriptions, genomic profiles, insurance records, even data from wearable devices. Information has always been essential for guiding the care of individuals, but computer tools now make it possible to use that data to provide deeper insights into disease itself.

    Leveraging “big data” to revolutionize health care and wellness is the focus of the new Pittsburgh Health Data Alliance, a powerful collaboration announced today by Carnegie Mellon University, the University of Pittsburgh and University of Pittsburh Medical Center (UPMC).

    1

    Today’s health care system generates massive amounts of data — patient information in the electronic health record, diagnostic imaging, prescriptions, genomic profiles, insurance records, even data from wearable devices. Information has always been essential for guiding the care of individuals, but computer tools now make it possible to use that data to provide deeper insights into disease itself.

    Leveraging “big data” to revolutionize health care and wellness is the focus of the new Pittsburgh Health Data Alliance, a powerful collaboration announced today by Carnegie Mellon University, the University of Pittsburgh and UPMC.

    For example, the use of smart data could help hospitals and doctors rapidly detect potential new outbreaks and immediately alert staff and authorities to take appropriate actions. Systems based around this principle of finding emerging events in complex data sets have already been made possible by collaborations among UPMC, Pitt, and CMU.

    This one-of-a-kind alliance is a wide-reaching commitment to advance technology and create new data-heavy health care innovations over the coming years, resulting in spinoff companies and furthering economic development in the region.

    The alliance, funded by UPMC, will see its work carried out by Pitt-led and CMU-led centers, with participation from all three institutions. The centers will work to transform the explosion of health-related data into new technologies, products and services to change the way diseases are prevented and how patients are diagnosed, treated and engaged in their own care.

    Using health care data to its full potential will require close collaboration among the leading health sciences research at Pitt, world-class computer science and machine learning at CMU, and the clinical care, extensive patient data and commercialization expertise at UPMC. The close proximity and world-leading talent among these organizations provide the ideal setting to transform all aspects of health care, not only in western Pennsylvania but around the world.

    “The complementary strengths of the alliance’s partner institutions will allow us to re-imagine health care for millions of people in our shared, data-driven world,” said Subra Suresh, president of CMU. “Through this collaboration, we will move more rapidly to immediate prevention and remediation, further accelerate the development of evidence-based medicine, and augment disease-centered models with patient-centered models of care.”

    The new research centers at CMU and Pitt will be funded with $10 million to $20 million per year over the next six years by UPMC and also will benefit from several hundred million dollars in existing research grants at all three institutions. They promise to create what UPMC CEO Jeffrey Romoff calls an “innovation ecosystem” for health data in the region.

    “We are unlocking the potential of data to tackle some of our nation’s biggest challenges: raising the quality and reducing the cost of health care. Not only will this effort benefit patients, but it also will accelerate Pittsburgh’s revitalization,” Mr. Romoff said. Corporate partners and entrepreneurs from around the world will want to be close to this health care data hub, he predicted, just as Google, Apple and Disney already have space in or near Oakland to be close to CMU’s and Pitt’s talented faculty and students.

    The alliance will support applied research and commercialization, along with basic foundational research in medicine and computer science. “Through this partnership, our brilliant scientists at Pitt and CMU will have unprecedented resources for turning their innovative ideas into products and services that can truly better the lives of patients and society,” said Patrick Gallagher, chancellor of the University of Pittsburgh. “The knowledge created here will result in the spinoff of many new companies and thousands of new jobs over the next decade.”

    Initially, the Pittsburgh Health Data Alliance will include two research and development centers: the Center for Machine Learning and Health (CMLH), led by founding director Eric Xing, Ph.D., a CMU professor in the Department of Machine Learning; and the Center for Commercial Applications of Healthcare Data (CCA), spearheaded by Michael Becich, M.D., Ph.D., chair of the Department of Biomedical Informatics at Pitt. Scientists from all three institutions will participate in the work of each center.

    The CMLH will work on challenging problems at the intersections of health care and machine learning. Data from sources as varied as electronic medical records, genomic sequencing, insurance records and wearable sensors will be utilized to directly improve health care. For example, imagine a smartphone app that suggests the single dietary change that will most improve your health, based on your genetic makeup and medical history. Or suppose a physician receives an automatic alert when a patient enters the earliest stages of rejecting a transplanted organ and can react while the condition is most easily treatable. The center will focus on five areas: big health care data analytics; personalized medicine and disease modeling; issues of privacy, security and compliance in the context of big data; data-driven patient and provider education and training; and a new general framework for big data in health care.

    The CCA at the University of Pittsburgh will research and invent new technology for potential use in commercial theranostics and imaging systems for patients and doctors. (Theranostics works to develop individualized therapies for various diseases, and to combine diagnostic and therapeutic capabilities.) These technologies will be based on intelligently engineered big data solutions. Some areas of focus for CCA will be: personalized medicine for understanding diseases such as cancer and various lung disorders; genomics and imaging data; and methods for data capture and health care analytics. A key goal is new technologies and methods to create actionable information.

    UPMC Enterprises, the commercialization arm of UPMC, will lead the efforts to turn these innovative ideas into new, for-profit companies and jobs, building on its nearly 20-year track record of investing in and growing companies that solve health care problems.

    For more information about the Pittsburgh Health Data Alliance, visit http://www.healthdataalliance.com.

    See the full article here.

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    Carnegie Mellon Campus

    Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) is a global research university with more than 12,000 students, 95,000 alumni, and 5,000 faculty and staff.
    CMU has been a birthplace of innovation since its founding in 1900.
    Today, we are a global leader bringing groundbreaking ideas to market and creating successful startup businesses.
    Our award-winning faculty members are renowned for working closely with students to solve major scientific, technological and societal challenges. We put a strong emphasis on creating things—from art to robots. Our students are recruited by some of the world’s most innovative companies.
    We have campuses in Pittsburgh, Qatar and Silicon Valley, and degree-granting programs around the world, including Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe and Latin America.

     
  • richardmitnick 6:18 pm on March 4, 2015 Permalink | Reply
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    From CMU: “Intermediary Neuron Acts as Synaptic Cloaking Device, Says Carnegie Mellon Study” 

    Carnegie Mellon University logo
    Carnegie Mellon university

    February 26, 2015
    Jocelyn Duffy / 412-268-9982

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    Neuroscientists believe that the connectome, a map of each and every connection between the millions of neurons in the brain, will provide a blueprint that will allow them to link brain anatomy to brain function. But a new study from Carnegie Mellon University has found that a specific type of neuron might be thwarting their efforts at mapping the connectome by temporarily cloaking the synapses that link a wide field of neurons.

    If you’re a Star Trek fan, think of it as a Romulan or Klingon cloaking device, which hides a warship. The cloaked ship is invisible, until it fires at an enemy. In the study published in the March 16 issue of Current Biology, the researchers found that a class of inhibitory neurons, called somatostatin cells, send out a signal — much like a cloaking device — that silences neighboring excitatory neurons. Synapses, like a cloaked warship, can’t be seen if they aren’t firing; activating the somatostatin cells makes the synapses and local network of neurons invisible to researchers.

    Furthermore, by silencing certain parts of the neuronal network, the activity of the somatostatin neurons also can change the way the brain functions, heightening some perceptual pathways and silencing others.

    “It was totally unexpected that these cells would work this way,” said Alison Barth, professor of biological sciences and a member of BrainHubSM, Carnegie Mellon’s neuroscience research initiative. “Changing the activity of just this one cell type can let you change the brain’s circuit structure at will. This could dramatically change how we look at — and use — the connectome.”

    The Carnegie Mellon researchers discovered this synaptic cloaking device, much in the same way Starfleet would detect a cloaked Klingon warship — they were conducting their normal research and noticed that something just didn’t look quite right.

    Joanna Urban-Ciecko, a research scientist in Barth’s lab, noticed that the synapses in her experiments were not behaving the way that previous experimenters had reported. Prior studies reported that the synapses should be strong and reliable, and that they should always grow and strengthen in response to a stimulus. But the neurons Urban-Ciecko looked at were weak and unreliable.

    The difference between Urban-Ciecko’s research and the previously completed work was that her research was being done under real-life conditions. Prior research on synapse function was done under conditions optimized for observing synapses. However, such experimental conditions don’t reflect the noisy brain environment in which synapses normally exist.

    “There’s this big black box in neuroscience. We know how to make synapses stronger in a dish. But what’s going on in the brain to initiate synaptic strengthening in real life?” Barth asked.

    To find out, Urban-Ciecko looked at neurons in the brain’s neocortex that were functioning under normal, noisy conditions. She took paired-cell recordings from pyramidal cells, a type of excitatory neuron, and found that many of the synapses between the neurons were not functioning, or functioning at an unexpectedly low level. Urban-Ciecko then recorded the activity of somatostatin cells, a type of inhibitory neuron, and found that those neurons were much more active than expected.

    “The somatostatin cells were so active, I wondered if they could possibly be driving the inhibition of synapses,” Urban-Ciecko said.

    To test her hypothesis, Urban-Ciecko turned to optogenetics, a technique that controls neurons with light. She used light to trigger an enzyme that activated and deactivated the somatostatin neuron. When the somatostatin cells were turned off, synapses grew big and strong. When the cells were turned on, the synapses became weaker and in some cases, disappeared entirely.

    “You have inputs coming at you all the time, why do you remember one thing and not the other? We think that somatostatin neurons may be gating whether synapses are used, and whether they can be changed during some important event, to enable learning,” said Barth, who is also a member of the joint CMU/University of Pittsburgh Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition (CNBC).

    The researchers found that when the somatostatin neurons were turned on, this triggered the cloaking device. The neuron activated the GABAb receptors on hundreds of excitatory neurons in the immediate area. Activating this receptor suppressed the excitatory neurons, which prevented them from creating and strengthening synapses — and made them invisible to researchers.

    The researchers next plan to see if the somatostatin cells behave similarly in other areas of the brain. If they do, it could represent a novel target for studying and improving learning and memory.

    Erika E. Fanselow, a research biologist formerly with Carnegie Mellon and the CNBC, also contributed to this paper.
    The research was funded by the McKnight Foundation and the National Institutes of Health (DA0171-88).

    As the birthplace of artificial intelligence and cognitive psychology, Carnegie Mellon has been a leader in the study of brain and behavior for more than 50 years. The university has created some of the first cognitive tutors, helped to develop the Jeopardy-winning Watson, founded a groundbreaking doctoral program in neural computation, and completed cutting-edge work in understanding the genetics of autism. Building on its strengths in biology, computer science, psychology, statistics and engineering, CMU recently launched BrainHubSM, a global initiative that focuses on how the structure and activity of the brain give rise to complex behaviors.

    See the full article here.

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    Carnegie Mellon Campus

    Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) is a global research university with more than 12,000 students, 95,000 alumni, and 5,000 faculty and staff.
    CMU has been a birthplace of innovation since its founding in 1900.
    Today, we are a global leader bringing groundbreaking ideas to market and creating successful startup businesses.
    Our award-winning faculty members are renowned for working closely with students to solve major scientific, technological and societal challenges. We put a strong emphasis on creating things—from art to robots. Our students are recruited by some of the world’s most innovative companies.
    We have campuses in Pittsburgh, Qatar and Silicon Valley, and degree-granting programs around the world, including Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe and Latin America.

     
  • richardmitnick 11:09 am on February 19, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Carnegie Mellon University, Man in the news   

    From CMU: “Prepared for What’s Next” 

    Carnegie Mellon University logo
    Carnegie Mellon university

    December 2014
    Matthew Moon

    1
    Tom Hu at the imaging facility he launched at Georgia Regents University’s Medical College of Georgia. Hu continues his imaging research and recently published a textbook, “Pharmaco-imaging in Drug and Biologics Development”, with Brian Moyer and Narayan Cheruvu. Image courtesy of Georgia Regents University

    Anthrax-laced letters mailed to the White House. A dirty bomb detonated in New York. An Ebola outbreak in Atlanta. These are just a few of the nightmare scenarios that might cross Tom Hu’s (S’01) mind and desk on a daily basis. Working across an alphabet soup of federal agencies—the CDC, NIH, FDA, DOD, EPA, DOT, to name a few—Hu leads an interagency network of experts who create medical countermeasures that will prevent the next public health crisis—nature- or man-made.

    “It’s almost like an insurance policy that you buy just in case something really bad happens,” Hu explains. “In our case, the bad thing is a huge anthrax attack or chemical attack or a radiologic or nuclear attack. We have all the necessary tool kits of drugs to take care of those issues.”

    As a project officer in the Division of Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear Countermeasures at the Biomedical Advancement Research and Development Authority at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Hu’s job is to create safeguards for the nation’s health. But he’s never been one to play it safe in his career. For example, when he started his new job at HHS, Hu didn’t have any training in science policy.

    “I was very nervous,” he recalls. “I had never done it before. But, true to my nature, I said to myself: Oh, that could be interesting. I’ll try it out to see how well I do.”

    That sense of adventure and exploration has served Hu well as he’s charted a decidedly unique career path, thanks in large part to the strong network of friends and colleagues he made at CMU.

    “Carnegie Mellon created a very good networking base, not only for my career but also for my scientific development.”

    Born in Taiwan, Hu was a teenager when he moved to Philadelphia with his family. His oldest brother Chih-Kao (S’94, GSIA’97), also a CMU Chemistry Department alumnus, was a source of inspiration to the teenaged Hu.

    “When he was in graduate school, I would spend time visiting him during the summer,” Hu recalls. “I would talk to him about science, sometimes even visiting the lab and helping him out.”

    His time helping his brother led Hu to pursue a bachelor’s in chemistry with an emphasis in biology at the University of Pittsburgh. Hu continued his education at Carnegie Mellon, earning his M.S. and Ph.D. in chemistry and writing his dissertation on manganese as a potential contrast agent in cardiac magnetic resonance imaging.

    Hu credits his time at Carnegie Mellon with providing him the tools necessary to launch his unconventional career path.

    “Carnegie Mellon provides a very, very strong analytical base. I think that’s the most critical thing. Because with strong critical and analytical thinking skills, you can make a lot of good life and career decisions. It’s a good starting point to continue to explore and learn.”

    After completing a postdoctoral fellowship at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Hu joined GlaxoSmithKline, where he worked as a principal scientist in the pharmaceutical giant’s Center for Excellence in Drug Development, which was at the forefront of cardiac imaging technology. Faced with the choice between a purely technical career track or one that led to executive leadership positions, Hu decided to earn his MBA to keep his options open.

    That decision paid off right before he completed his MBA when he got a call from a friend at NIH.

    “She told me ‘There’s this position that I think is ideal for you. It’s an assistant professor position.’ I said politely, ‘Oh, that’s interesting, but I was really hoping to get into business development.’ ”

    But when Hu learned that the position would entail starting up a brand new pre-clinical imaging program in the Department of Radiology at Georgia Regent University’s Medical College of Georgia, he was intrigued. He applied for and got the job.

    After only a year, Hu built the Small Animal Imaging Program from the ground up, turning it into a core facility for pre-clinical imaging and basic research that benefits the entire campus. Six years into his tenure at the Medical College of Georgia, Hu received an email from a friend of his, a radiation oncologist at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, who thought Hu would be a perfect fit for a job working on science policy at HHS.

    The job was very different from any of the other things Hu had done in his career, but his friend was persuasive.

    See the full article here.

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    Carnegie Mellon Campus

    Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) is a global research university with more than 12,000 students, 95,000 alumni, and 5,000 faculty and staff.
    CMU has been a birthplace of innovation since its founding in 1900.
    Today, we are a global leader bringing groundbreaking ideas to market and creating successful startup businesses.
    Our award-winning faculty members are renowned for working closely with students to solve major scientific, technological and societal challenges. We put a strong emphasis on creating things—from art to robots. Our students are recruited by some of the world’s most innovative companies.
    We have campuses in Pittsburgh, Qatar and Silicon Valley, and degree-granting programs around the world, including Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe and Latin America.

     
  • richardmitnick 7:20 pm on January 12, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Carnegie Mellon University,   

    From Carnegie-Mellon: “Carnegie Mellon’s Six-legged “Snake Monster” Is First of New Breed of Reconfigurable Modular Robots” 

    Carnegie Mellon University logo
    Carnegie Mellon university

    January 12, 2015
    Byron Spice / 412-268-9068

    Carnegie Mellon University’s latest robot is called Snake Monster, however, with six legs, it looks more like an insect than a snake. But it really doesn’t matter what you call it, says its inventor, Howie Choset — the whole point of the project is to make modular robots that can easily be reconfigured to meet a user’s needs.

    Choset, a professor in CMU’s Robotics Institute, said the walking robot, developed in just six months, is only one example of the robots that eventually can be built using this modular system. His team already is working on modules such as force-sensing feet, wheels and tank-like treads that will enable the assembly of totally different robots.

    “By creating a system that can be readily reconfigured and that also is easy to program, we believe we can build robots that are not only robust and flexible, but also inexpensive,” Choset said. “Modularity has the potential to rapidly accelerate the development of traditional industrial robots, as well as all kinds of new robots.”

    s
    The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency sponsored this work through its Maximum Mobility and Manipulation (M3) program, which focuses on ways to design and build robots more rapidly and enhance their ability to manipulate objects and move in natural environments. Snake Monster, as well as some of Choset’s other robots, will be demonstrated at the finals of the DARPA Robotics Challenge, June 5-6 in Pomona, Calif.

    For years, Choset’s lab has concentrated on building and operating snake-like robots — chains of repeated component joints. By careful coordination of these joints, the robots can be made to move in ways that are similar to a snake’s natural undulations and in other ways not seen in nature, such as rolling. Applications for these robots include urban search and rescue, archaeological exploration and, thanks to the robots’ ability to move through pipes, inspection of power plants, refineries and sewers.

    The name Snake Monster harkens to those research origins and the similarity between the snake robots and the legs of the Snake Monster. The six legs have a reach of 12 inches (30 cm), and are connected to a rectangular body, with the whole robot weighing 18 pounds (8 kg). The robot moves with an alternating tripod gait, with three legs in the air at all times — two on one side and one on the other. A YouTube video of the walking robot is available.

    To build it, Choset’s team used the hardware expertise developed in snake robots to build small, powerful modules and used the lessons learned in controlling the snakebots to create a system architecture that can be easily programmed to control robots with a wide variety of configurations.

    “The architecture is built on Ethernet computer networking technology,” Choset said. “Ethernet doesn’t require that the computers connected to it be of a specific type, but that they all communicate with each other in the same way.” The interfaces used in the modular architecture allow robot designers to focus on specific capabilities without having to worry about detailed systems issues or having to modify the robot later, he added.

    Also key to the modular approach was the team’s development of a series elastic actuator — a motor that has a spring in series with its output shaft. The spring helps protect the motor from high impacts but, more importantly, allows the actuator to measure and regulate the force it exerts, as well as the forces exerted on it.

    “When we push the Snake Monster forward, the joints in the leg ‘feel’ the force of the robot being pushed and, then, in an effort to zero-out the force it feels, the robot walks in the direction it is being pushed,” said Choset, who noted the force feedback allows very simple controls to adapt to a wide range of terrains. “When the robot goes over bumpy terrain, the springs in the series elastic actuators allow us to not perfectly plan the foot steps, but rather let the robot automatically conform to the environment the way animals do.”

    The Robotics Institute is part of Carnegie Mellon’s top-ranked School of Computer Science.

    See the full article here.

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    Carnegie Mellon Campus

    Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) is a global research university with more than 12,000 students, 95,000 alumni, and 5,000 faculty and staff.
    CMU has been a birthplace of innovation since its founding in 1900.
    Today, we are a global leader bringing groundbreaking ideas to market and creating successful startup businesses.
    Our award-winning faculty members are renowned for working closely with students to solve major scientific, technological and societal challenges. We put a strong emphasis on creating things—from art to robots. Our students are recruited by some of the world’s most innovative companies.
    We have campuses in Pittsburgh, Qatar and Silicon Valley, and degree-granting programs around the world, including Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe and Latin America.

     
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