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  • richardmitnick 10:53 am on March 20, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Biology Research Building provides new home for the life sciences at Stanford", , , Medicine,   

    From Stanford University: “Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Biology Research Building provides new home for the life sciences at Stanford” 

    Stanford University Name
    From Stanford University

    March 20, 2019

    Ker Than

    1
    The Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Biology Research Building, Stanford’s newest research building devoted to the life sciences, will be formally dedicated this week. (Image credit: Thom Sanborn)

    The Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Biology Research Building provides laboratory space for Stanford’s top-ranked Biology Department faculty and staff, as well as hundreds of graduate students and postdoctoral fellows.

    In the new Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Biology Research Building, which will be formally dedicated this week, Stanford biology faculty and students once spread across campus are now together under one roof. Here, experts in areas such as ecology and evolution are working next to molecular and cellular biologists in communal spaces that promote both intellectual and social interactions.

    Bass Biology is dedicated solely to research in the life sciences and provides laboratory space for Biology Department faculty and staff, as well as hundreds of graduate students and postdoctoral fellows. Construction of the five-story structure was completed last summer. Faculty have been gradually relocating their labs into the building since the fall.

    “The Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Biology Research Building is becoming a place of collaboration and discovery,” said Stanford President Marc Tessier-Lavigne, a neurobiologist whose lab is located in the new building. “Here, faculty members and students from across the biological sciences will work side by side in state-of-the-art laboratories and gain new insights into the building blocks of life. I am very grateful to Anne and Bob, whose generous gift to Stanford is a testament to their vision for science research and discovery.”

    A vision for the life sciences

    The building was made possible by a gift from Anne T. Bass, MLA ’07, and Robert M. Bass, MBA ’74, longtime Stanford volunteers and donors. The couple have provided counsel and extraordinary philanthropic support to four university presidents, many deans, and dozens of faculty to advance Stanford’s mission of teaching and research.

    2
    Bass Biology features an interactive “media mesh” that displays biology-themed abstract images that can be controlled through a touch-screen interface. (Image credit: Thom Sanborn)

    “Our top-ranked Biology Department could have no better champions than Anne and Bob,” said Martin Shell, vice president and chief external relations officer. “This building brings to completion the science, engineering and medical campus plan that Bob was instrumental in shaping during the early days of The Stanford Challenge. During that campaign, Anne’s service on the H&S Council inspired others to follow their lead by endowing faculty positions. Together, Anne and Bob worked with academic leaders to ensure that this building will best serve our faculty and students.”

    Anne Bass is a longtime children’s health advocate, both at home in Fort Worth, Texas, and at Stanford. She has been a member of the board of directors for the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford since 2000 and co-chaired two of the hospital’s campaigns. She is a long-serving member of the H&S Council and also served multiple terms on the Stanford Athletic Board and the Parents’ Program Advisory Board.

    Robert Bass is founder of the American aerospace firm Aerion Corp., president of his investment holding company Keystone Group LP and the founder of the Oak Hill family of investment funds. At Stanford, he served five terms as a member of the Board of Trustees, from 1989 to 2018, including as board chair from 1996 to 2000. His primary focus was on the Land and Buildings Committee, reshaping the campus as it has grown. He is a director of the Stanford Management Company (SMC), which oversees the university’s endowment. He was a founding director of the SMC Board in 1991 and served as chairman from 2000 to 2004.

    Robert is a trustee of Rockefeller University, Middlesex School, and the Amon Carter Museum. He is chairman emeritus of the National Trust for Historic Preservation and Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth.

    Together, the Basses have been active in many of Stanford’s major fundraising campaigns. They endowed five chairs in the School of Humanities and Sciences during Stanford’s Centennial Campaign. They served as co-chairs for The Campaign for Undergraduate Education and created the Bass University Fellows in Undergraduate Education Program, which recognizes faculty for their exceptional contributions to undergraduate education. During The Stanford Challenge, they served on both the steering committee and leadership council.

    In 2013, the Stanford Associates awarded the couple the Degree of Uncommon Woman and the Degree of Uncommon Man, the university’s highest honor for rare and extraordinary service.

    Anne Bass said that she and her husband have been inspired by the discoveries made by Stanford biologists as they seek to unravel the mysteries of life. “The key to curing childhood leukemia could lie in a fundamental discovery about cancer cells that has already been made but whose significance hasn’t been realized yet,” she said. “Stanford’s world-class biologists are well-poised to make discoveries like these in the future, and Bob and I are proud to help them in their endeavor.”

    Treating diseases begins with an understanding of biology, Robert Bass added. “Foundational research in the biological sciences is essential, affecting everything from how we perceive ourselves and our relationship to the rest of the planet to advances in medicine and agriculture. Across Campus Drive is the research building that houses Bio-X. The X refers to the innovative collaborations from engineering, to chemistry, and beyond, but bio is the foundation,” he said. “Bass Biology is the transition from the academic campus to the medical center, and that influenced the architecture.”

    3
    Biology-themed artwork is incorporated throughout Bass Biology. (Image credit: Thom Sanborn)

    4
    Bass Biology’s first-floor lobby features an art installation called Pacific Cadence that provides a visual presence for Hopkins Marine Station on campus. (Image credit: Thom Sanborn)

    Beneficial adjacencies

    Situated on Campus Drive between the Clark Center and the Sapp Center for Science Teaching and Learning, Bass Biology is the cornerstone of Stanford’s new quad, which connects with the School of Medicine via Discovery Walk. This walkway, which runs through the medical school to Stanford Bio-X in the Clark Center, highlights the connection between foundational and applied research in the quest to improve human health.

    The building’s close proximity to other departments at Stanford – such as computer science, statistics and engineering – will help promote collaborations and interactions among faculty and students from different academic disciplines. “Biology is at the nexus of the sciences at Stanford. Development of a quad, with Bass Biology as one of its anchors, is very exciting because it creates a new focus for the natural sciences on the campus,” said Tim Stearns, the Frank Lee and Carol Hall Professor at Stanford and chair of the Biology Department.

    In the past, the Biology Department’s faculty and students were split across five aging buildings. This physical separation ran counter to the collaborative nature of modern science. In Bass Biology, faculty and their labs are purposefully arranged to create beneficial adjacencies that enhance collaboration. The 133,000-square-foot building is divided into wet labs for hands-on research and computational or “dry” labs. Hybrid research spaces combining both types of labs are also available.

    “We’re extremely excited about and grateful for this new space, which seems ideally designed for sparking creativity across teams,” said Gretchen Daily, whose lab has relocated to the new building. Daily has been honored for her contributions to undergraduate teaching as a Bass University Fellow in Undergraduate Education. She is also the Bing Professor of Environmental Science and director of the Natural Capital Project, which is advancing a systematic, science-based approach for integrating the values of nature into policy and finance worldwide.

    “Bass Biology will give us a huge boost within the Biology Department, as we have many innovative collaborations with different labs and with the nearby Medicine and Engineering schools,” Daily said.

    Telling a story

    Designed by Flad Architects and Ennead Architects, the limestone-clad, two-wing structure is connected by an enclosed bridge on the upper floors. The slats in the multi-story pergola that shade the building’s entry are meant to be an evocative reflection of the bands in gel electrophoresis, a common laboratory technique.

    Incorporated throughout the building are multiple storytelling elements. For example, a two-story interactive “media mesh,” visible from Campus Drive and the medical school, displays biology-themed abstract images that are controllable through a touch-screen interface near the building’s entrance. The first-floor lobby and entranceway of Bass Biology also features an art installation called “Pacific Cadence” to provide a visual presence on campus for Hopkins Marine Station, which is affiliated with the Biology Department. “Pacific Cadence” is made up of photographic collages of the ocean’s surface that are seamlessly knitted together to give a sense of the vast, complex and ever-changing nature of the Pacific Ocean.

    An open house event for Bass Biology will be held on March 21.

    See the full article here .


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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Stanford University campus. No image credit

    Stanford University

    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 9:29 am on March 17, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Ebola Epidemic in Congo Could Last Another Year C.D.C. Director Warns", , Medicine,   

    From The New York Times: “Ebola Epidemic in Congo Could Last Another Year, C.D.C. Director Warns” 

    New York Times

    From The New York Times

    March 16, 2019
    Denise Grady

    1
    A health care worker washing protective gear in Beni, Democratic Republic of Congo, in December. Credit Goran Tomasevic/Reuters

    The Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo is not under control and could continue for another year, Dr. Robert R. Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said in an interview on Friday.

    “Let’s not underestimate this outbreak,” he said.

    His outlook was less optimistic than that of the director general of the World Health Organization, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who said at a news conference on Thursday that his goal was to end the outbreak in six months.

    Dr. Redfield has just returned from a trip to the region that included a visit on March 9 to a treatment center in Butembo that, just hours before, had come under gunfire by attackers who killed a police officer. It was the second attack on that center.

    Another was attacked on Thursday.

    Also on Thursday, Dr. Redfield related his observations from the region, telling a Senate subcommittee that sometime between May and mid-September, Congo could run out of an Ebola vaccine that is widely believed to have kept the epidemic from becoming even worse.

    More than 87,000 people have received the vaccine, which is being donated by its manufacturer, Merck. The vaccine is not yet licensed and cannot be sold. So far, Merck has donated 133,000 doses.

    In response to Dr. Redfield’s warning that vaccine supplies could become dangerously low, Pamela L. Eisele, a spokeswoman for Merck, said in an email that the company could not comment on the C.D.C.’s projections. She also said that Merck keeps a stockpile of 300,000 doses, which it replenishes by making more vaccine whenever doses are deployed for outbreaks.

    “Our commitment is to keep at least 300,000 doses,” she said.

    This outbreak began in August. There had been 932 cases and 587 deaths as of Wednesday, according to the World Health Organization. The epidemic is the second largest ever, after the one in West Africa from 2014 to 2016, which killed more than 11,000 people.

    The disease has struck two of Congo’s northeastern provinces, North Kivu and Ituri, a conflict zone where people have for decades lived in fear of armed militias, the police and soldiers. The most heavily affected areas are urban, with a surrounding population of about one million.

    The region is close to Rwanda, South Sudan and Uganda, and tens of thousands of people cross those borders every day. Some 20 million have gone back and forth from the outbreak zone since August, Dr. Redfield estimated, and added, “Truly, it’s nearly miraculous that we haven’t seen cross-border spread yet.”

    The C.D.C. has worked with the neighboring countries to set up screening stations to stop the disease from reaching them. Some travelers with suspicious symptoms have been tested, but so far none have been infected.

    Dr. Redfield said that experts from his agency could do more to help stop the disease, but that so far, because of violence in the area, the United States government had not permitted them to work where they are needed most, in the epicenters of the outbreak. Some were deployed in August to Beni, but were quickly relocated because of unrest in the area. C.D.C. employees are working in other parts of Congo, however, to train health workers and help coordinate the response.

    The State Department decides whether it is safe for government employees to work in other countries.

    “We’re ready to deploy as soon as they tell us it’s time,” Dr. Redfield said.

    He noted that health workers from the World Health Organization, Doctors Without Borders, Alima and other aid groups, had been working nonstop in the region for more than seven months. Fatigue was setting in, he said, and workers needed reinforcements, especially leaders with deep experience in this kind of outbreak.

    Several red flags indicate that the outbreak is not under control, Dr. Redfield said. One is that too many people — about 40 percent — are dying at home and never going to treatment centers. There is a high risk that they have infected family members, health workers and other patients at local clinics they might have gone to for help. The disease is spread by bodily fluids and becomes highly contagious when symptoms start.

    Corpses are very infectious and pose a big risk to relatives who may wash, dress and prepare them for burial.

    To control an outbreak, at least 70 percent of patients need to be isolated and treated safely in isolation units so that they do not infect anyone else, and that percentage needs to be maintained for several months. In the epicenters in Congo now, that figure is only about 58 percent, Dr. Redfield said.

    Another bad sign is that too many new cases are turning up who were not known contacts of patients and were not being monitored, meaning they could have infected yet more unknown people.

    Also problematic is that a high percentage of patients, about 25 percent, became infected at local health centers, and about 75 health workers from those centers have also been infected. Rates that high indicate that information about the disease and how to avoid spreading it have not reached those clinics.

    Many patients in the current outbreak, about 30 percent, have been children, and doctors say they think some caught Ebola when they were taken to local clinics for other illnesses.

    In addition, the contact tracing has not always been effective. In some cases, if contacts missed a scheduled appointment to be checked for symptoms, their names were simply dropped from the list, Dr. Redfield said.

    He said one incentive to encourage contacts to cooperate was to offer food if they showed up. But then a decision was made locally to hand out the food at a central location, which defeated the purpose of using it as an incentive.

    He said local workers needed on-the-ground training in person from experts in this kind of epidemiologic work — something the C.D.C. can offer if its employees are given permission to deploy into the hot zones.

    Dr. Redfield also echoed a concern expressed by Dr. Joanne Liu, the president of Doctors Without Borders, that medical teams had not fully gained the trust of the affected communities. Without that connection, people will continue to avoid testing and treatment, and decline help in carrying out safe funerals and burials.

    “How exactly to accomplish that is going to take some time, some thought,” Dr. Redfield said. “I haven’t seen evidence to date that we have an effective partnership with the community.”

    Speaking to the Senate subcommittee, he said: “The community doesn’t trust its own government. And it sure doesn’t trust outsiders.”

    2
    Health workers with a coffin of a child suspected of dying from Ebola in Beni, Democratic Republic of Congo, in December. Credit Goran Tomasevic/Reuters

    See the full article here .

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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

     
  • richardmitnick 7:40 am on March 8, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Autism TDF, Medicine   

    From Autism TDF Theatre Initiative: “TDF Autism Friendly Performances Audience-thrilling. Autism-friendly” 

    Austim TDF

    tdf

    TDF Autism Friendly Performances present Broadway musicals and plays in a friendly, supportive environment for children and adults who are diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder or other sensitivity issues and their families and friends. Since 2011, TDF has presented more than 15 autism-friendly shows on Broadway, starting with Disney’s landmark musical The Lion King.

    Some of the many autism-friendly performances on Broadway since then include Mary Poppins, Spider-Man, Wicked, Matilda, Phantom of the Opera, Aladdin and more. TDF’s autism-friendly performance of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time was the first autism-friendly performance of a non-musical in Broadway history.

    Beyond Broadway, TDF’ works with theatres across the country as part of its National Autism Friendly Performances to help create environments that are accessible to all.

    TDF Autism Friendly Performances present Broadway musicals and plays in a friendly, supportive environment for children and adults who are diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder or other sensitivity issues and their families and friends. Since 2011, TDF has presented more than 15 autism-friendly shows on Broadway, starting with Disney’s landmark musical The Lion King.

    Some of the many autism-friendly performances on Broadway since then include Mary Poppins, Spider-Man, Wicked, Matilda, Phantom of the Opera, Aladdin and more. TDF’s autism-friendly performance of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time was the first autism-friendly performance of a non-musical in Broadway history.

    Beyond Broadway, TDF’ works with theatres across the country as part of its National Autism Friendly Performances to help create environments that are accessible to all.

    Upcoming autism-friendly shows for the 2018-2019 season:

    The Lion King, Sunday September 30, 2018 at 1 p.m. — SOLD OUT
    Frozen, Sunday November 4, 2018 at 1 p.m. — SOLD OUT
    Aladdin, Sunday March 3, 2019 at 1 p.m. —
    SOLD OUT
    My Fair Lady, Sunday May 5, 2019 at 1 p.m.

    Performance Schedule
    TUESDAY & THURSDAY @ 7 PM
    WEDNESDAY, FRIDAY & SATURDAY @ 8 PM
    WEDNESDAY & SATURDAY @ 2 PM
    SUNDAY @ 3 PM

    3
    The most beloved musical of all time, Lerner & Loewe’s MY FAIR LADY returns to Broadway in a lavish new production from Lincoln Center Theater, the theater that brought you the Tony-winning revivals of South Pacific and The King and I. Now nominated for 10 Tony Awards, including Best Musical Revival!

    Directed by Tony winner Bartlett Sher, the stellar cast tells the story of Eliza Doolittle, a young Cockney flower seller, and Henry Higgins, a linguistics professor who is determined to transform her into his idea of a “proper lady.” But who is really being transformed?

    The classic score features “I Could Have Danced All Night,” “The Rain in Spain,” “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly” and “On the Street Where You Live.” The original 1956 production won six Tony Awards including Best Musical, and was hailed by The New York Times as “one of the best musicals of the century.”

    What makes a performance autism-friendly?

    Slight adjustments to the production are made, including reduction of any jarring sounds or strobe and spot lights that shine into the audience. House lights are faintly dimmed but remain on. TDF works closely with professionals in the field and with consultants on the autism spectrum to make each show accessible and enjoyable for everyone.

    TDF creates resources for each production that help prepare audience members for a day at the theatre. A team of volunteers and autism specialists are available throughout the theatre. Break areas are available to anyone who may need to leave their seats during the performance.

    TDF Autism Friendly Performances are funded in part by:

    Darlene & Stuart Altschuler; The Theodore H. Barth Foundation; Helene and Ilene Berger; The FAR Fund; The Joseph H. Flom Foundation; Harry S. Black and Allon Fuller Fund, NEXT for AUTISM from the proceeds of Night of Too Many Stars; Stavros Niarchos Foundation; Adolph and Ruth Schnurmacher Foundation; Seventh District Foundation; and The Taft Foundation.

    This program is supported, in part, by public funds from New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.

    This program is made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

    If you too would like to support the work of the Autism Friendly Performances, please make a donation.

    We can make no assurances that these performances will be suitable for everyone with autism. Parents and guardians are solely responsible for their child’s viewing and engagement with these performances.

    See the full article here .

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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    About TDF
    A not-for-profit organization
    What is TDF?

    TDF is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to bringing the power of the performing arts to everyone.

    Mission Statement

    TDF sustains live theatre and dance by engaging and cultivating a broad and diverse audience and eliminating barriers to attendance.

    Vision Statement

    TDF envisions a world where the transformative experience of attending live theatre and dance is essential, relevant, accessible and inspirational.
    Manifesto

    For everyone who ever saw something live on stage
    or dearly wished they could.
    For every kid who wonders what if.
    For every teacher who’s looking to light the spark.
    For everyone who wants to know the thrill
    of the live experience, but thinks it’s not for them.
    We’re here to say: it’s for all of us.
    For the enthusiasts, the young, the old,
    the newbies and the nostalgics, the critics,
    the purists and the innocents.
    For those electric moments that change
    how we see, think, feel, live.
    For all those players, producers and creators
    who make the magic.
    For today’s shows and audiences – and tomorrow’s.
    For everyone who wants to feel the power
    of the performing arts.
    We’re here.
    We’re tdf.

     
  • richardmitnick 5:02 pm on February 20, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Brain clock ticks differently in autism, Medicine,   

    From RIKEN: “Brain clock ticks differently in autism” 

    RIKEN bloc

    From RIKEN

    February 15, 2019
    Adam Phillips
    RIKEN International Affairs Division
    Tel: +81-(0)48-462-1225
    Fax: +81-(0)48-463-3687
    Email: pr@riken.jp

    The neural ‘time windows’ in certain small brain areas contribute to the complex cognitive symptoms of autism, new research suggests. In a brain imaging study of adults, the severity of autistic symptoms was linked to how long these brain areas stored information. The differences in neural timescales may underlie features of autism like hypersensitivity and could be useful as a future diagnostic tool.

    Sensory areas of the brain that receive input from the eyes, skin and muscles usually have shorter processing periods compared with higher-order areas that integrate information and control memory and decision-making. The new study, published in the journal eLife on February 5, shows that this hierarchy of intrinsic neural timescales is disrupted in autism. Atypical information processing in the brain is thought to underlie the repetitive behaviors and socio-communicational difficulties seen across the spectrum of autistic neurodevelopmental disorders (ASD), but this is one of the first indications that small-scale temporal dynamics could have an outsized effect.

    Magnetic resonance imaging of the brains of high-functioning male adults with autism were compared to those of people without autism. In the resting state, both groups showed the expected pattern of longer timescales in frontal brain areas linked to executive control, and shorter timescales in sensory and motor areas. “Shorter timescales mean higher sensitivity in a particular brain region, and we found the most sensitive neural responses in those individuals with the most severe autistic symptoms,” says lead author Takamitsu Watanabe of the RIKEN Center for Brain Science. One brain area that displayed the opposite pattern was the right caudate, where the neural timescale was longer than normal, particularly in individuals with more severe repetitive, restricted behaviors. These differences in brain activity were also found in separate scans of autistic and neurotypical children.

    The team of Japanese and UK researchers think that structural changes in small parts of the brain link these local dynamics to ASD symptoms. They found changes in grey matter volume in the areas with atypical neural timescales. A greater density of neurons can contribute to recurrent, repetitive neural activity patterns, which underlie the longer and shorter timescales observed in the right caudate and bilateral sensory/visual cortices, respectively. “The neural timescale is a measure of how predictable the activity is in a given brain region. The shorter timescales we observed in the autistic individuals suggest their brains have trouble holding onto and processing sensory input for as long as neurotypical people,” says Watanabe. “This may explain one prominent feature of autism, the great weight given by the brain to local sensory information and the resulting perceptual hypersensitivity.”

    See the full article here .


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    stem

    Stem Education Coalition

    RIKEN campus

    RIKEN is Japan’s largest comprehensive research institution renowned for high-quality research in a diverse range of scientific disciplines. Founded in 1917 as a private research foundation in Tokyo, RIKEN has grown rapidly in size and scope, today encompassing a network of world-class research centers and institutes across Japan.

     
  • richardmitnick 2:20 pm on February 13, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Adults With Autism to Benefit From New Employment Center at Rutgers, , , Medicine, Rutgers Center for Adult Autism Services, , The first program of its kind in the country   

    From Rutgers University: “Adults With Autism to Benefit From New Employment Center at Rutgers” 

    Rutgers smaller
    Our Great Seal.

    From Rutgers University

    February 14, 2019
    Megan Schumann
    MEGAN.SCHUMANN@rutgers.edu

    2
    Craig Lillard of Princeton (left) who works at Harvest in the Institute for Food Nutrition and Health as part of the Rutgers Center for Adult Autism Services with mentor Doug Stracquadanio. Courtesy of Rutgers University

    Rutgers Center for Adult Autism Services, the first program of its kind in the country, will more than double in size

    The Rutgers University Board of Governors today approved a proposal by the Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology to build a new facility for the Rutgers Center for Adult Autism Services (RCAAS) on Rutgers-New Brunswick’s Douglass campus.

    The two-year-old center, the first of its kind at a higher education institution in the United States, currently provides employment, vocational training and other services to 12 participants who commute from home. The expansion will enable the program to serve up to 30 participants. The project, estimated to cost $9.5 million, will be paid for through philanthropic funds.

    Christopher Manente, executive director of RCAAS, said, “We are committed to serving adults with autism by providing meaningful paid employment, full integration into the Rutgers community and ongoing research and training related to helping adults with autism lead full lives. We serve as a model that can be replicated at colleges and universities, or within small communities across the country.”

    Current participants have paying jobs on campus, five days a week, in food service, horticulture maintenance, university mail services, document and records management, the Rutgers Cinema, computer retail services, and other areas. Participants also benefit from individualized services to help them succeed on the job and maintain their independence in the community.

    The new facility will include a multifunctional gathering space and vocational training space, administrative offices for faculty and clinical staff and support spaces and provide community-based job training, life skills and recreational opportunities.

    Autism and autism spectrum disorder are among the fastest-growing developmental disabilities in the United States. Rutgers-New Brunswick’s Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology created the center to address the well-documented shortage of quality services that help adults with autism lead meaningful and productive lives, and to conduct research that can inform the development of other programs for adults with autism.

    The new building will be at the location of the former Corwin Dormitories on Nichol Avenue between Comstock Street and Dudley Road in New Brunswick. Its development will include demolition of the vacant Corwin residential buildings. Groundbreaking is expected later this year.

    Rutgers-New Brunswick is a leader in autism research facilities. The Rutgers University Cell and DNA Repository, containing the world’s largest collection of autism biomaterials, and the Douglass Developmental Disabilities Center, which includes an on-campus K-12 day school for children with autism from across New Jersey, are among many research and educational programs for autism at the university.

    See the full article here .


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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    rutgers-campus

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

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

    As a ’67 graduate of University college, second in my class, I am proud to be a member of

    Alpha Sigma Lamda, National Honor Society of non-tradional students.

     
  • richardmitnick 3:14 pm on February 12, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Medicine, Stoney Brook U-SUNY   

    From Stoney Brook University – SUNY: “Is Autism Truly a Spectrum?” 

    Stoney Brook bloc

    From Stoney Brook University – SUNY

    New Research Suggests Classification More Complex

    February 8 , 2019
    Gregory Filiano

    1
    A new study of children and adolescents suggests classifying autism is complex and not an all-or-nothing diagnosis.

    A new Stony Brook University-led study that compared two large independent samples of children and adolescents totaling about 6,000 people with and without diagnosed autism reveals that autism may be better understood as several interrelated spectra rather than a spectrum. The study is published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

    According to the lead researchers – Stony Brook University Professor Matthew Lerner and graduate student Hyunsik Kim – the study findings may have vast implications with the way professionals classify autism and better understand and map the array of experiences of autistic people.

    Kim explained that the results indicate autism is combined of three related domains of atypical behavior – social interaction difficulties, interpersonal communications difficulties, and repetitive or restrictive thoughts or actions. And each of these domains can range in severity from very mild to severe.

    “All of this suggests autism is not best understood as an all-or-nothing diagnosis, nor a single spectrum, but rather related spectra of behavioral traits across a population.”

    The research is supported in part by grants from the National Institute of Mental Health and the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative.

    See the full article here .

    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Stoney Brook campus

    Stony Brook University-SUNY reach extends from its 1,039-acre campus on Long Island’s North Shore–encompassing the main academic areas, an 8,300-seat stadium and sports complex and Stony Brook Medicine–to Stony Brook Manhattan, a Research and Development Park, four business incubators including one at Calverton, New York, and the Stony Brook Southampton campus on Long Island’s East End. Stony Brook also co-manages Brookhaven National Laboratory, joining Princeton, the University of Chicago, Stanford, and the University of California on the list of major institutions involved in a research collaboration with a national lab.

    And Stony Brook is still growing. To the students, the scholars, the health professionals, the entrepreneurs and all the valued members who make up the vibrant Stony Brook community, this is a not only a great local and national university, but one that is making an impact on a global scale.

     
  • richardmitnick 1:46 pm on January 20, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Developing New Technologies to Extend Care to All Families Affected by Autism Spectrum Disorder, Medicine, THE BIG IDEA,   

    From UC Davis: “Developing New Technologies to Extend Care to All Families Affected by Autism Spectrum Disorder” 

    UC Davis bloc

    From UC Davis

    January 14, 2019
    Katherine Lee

    UC Davis Has the Big Idea to Make It Happen

    The prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) has almost tripled since 2000, affecting one in 59 children identified in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

    1

    “Everyone knows someone affected by autism. It’s time for us to take responsibility for the growing number of families in need of quality care,” said Leonard Abbeduto, director of the UC Davis Medical Investigation of Neurodevelopmental Disorders (MIND) Institute.

    The MIND Institute, which recently celebrated its 20th anniversary, was founded by families for families to advance scientific discovery and improve access to interdisciplinary, cutting-edge care. The Institute’s mission is “to use the best science we can to help as many families as we can.”

    Although ASD is a lifelong condition, effective treatments can reduce the disabilities associated with ASD and lead to happier, more fulfilling lives for families and individuals, but these treatments must be made more widely available. Currently, gaps in access to providers and affordable care make it especially hard for families who come from under-resourced populations or rural areas. Moreover, gaps in care delay early identification and intervention, affecting developmental outcomes.

    “Families in rural areas and other underserved communities may not be able to see experts without traveling long distances, which creates a financial burden and can delay treatment,” explained Abbeduto, who is also the champion of the Autism, Community and Technology Big Idea. “Technology can be used to overcome such barriers and get help to families in need everywhere.”

    3
    This Big Idea will harness the university’s unique strengths in health, neuroscience, engineering, education, community engagement, and social sciences, involving a variety of disciplines and perspectives to find innovative solutions for ASD.

    UC Davis’ Big Ideas are forward-thinking, interdisciplinary programs and projects that will build upon the strengths of the university to positively impact the world for generations to come. Researchers, scientists, clinicians and others are working on innovative and ambitious initiatives in the field of health, sustainability and more to solve both California’s and the world’s most pressing problems.

    The Autism, Community and Technology Big Idea will pioneer a first-of-its-kind lifespan approach for everyone living with autism. By building partnerships with communities, driving innovation in affordable and accessible technologies, and training doctors, nurses, teachers, employers, and family members, UC Davis will create new ways of advancing science and helping people with autism.

    “Every field of study will be relevant to adding its expertise and creativity to the solutions being proposed by this idea,” added Abbeduto. “However, without donor support, we won’t be able to help families in the way they deserve.”

    UC Davis poised to address urgent needs

    Home to more than 50 faculty and staff across five UC Davis schools and colleges, the MIND Institute will be a hub for the Big Idea, bringing together experts from various disciplines, as well as community groups, businesses, and families, to address autism on a grand scale. This expert knowledge will then be used to train doctors, nurses, teachers, employers and community leaders throughout the country. Such partnerships will address the needs of underserved populations and the unique challenges they face, using innovative technologies and solutions to help individuals living with autism and their families across communities.

    One such partner is Sergio Aguilar-Gaxiola, director of the UC Davis Center for Reducing Health Disparities. For more than 10 years, he has worked on projects with the MIND Institute to improve access to and utilization of services for families affected by autism, fragile X syndrome and other developmental disabilities.

    “When there is an urgent need such as this, we need big ideas to make real progress in advancing solutions,” Aguilar-Gaxiola said.

    Aguilar-Gaxiola and his team serve Solano County and other areas in California and focus on Latino, Filipino, LGBTQ and other diverse families as well as those who are low income or for whom English is not their first language. Children in these populations tend to be diagnosed with autism later than urban or white families – leading to delayed treatment and worse outcomes over time.

    “Some families live two to three hours away from providers, with more than one child with autism at home, so it is critically important for UC Davis to reach them where they are,” Aguilar-Gaxiola said.

    Telemedicine expands access to care

    Telehealth, which is remote access to health services and provider care, makes it possible for UC Davis to care for families affected by autism and other ASD conditions no matter where they live. The face-to-face interaction in their own home through video conferencing, and the use of other technology, allow parents to affordably receive direct feedback and input on how to improve interactions and build important skills in their child.

    The use of telemedicine more broadly and effectively can improve ASD screening and offer treatments in a variety of spoken languages and to families in all areas across California and the country.

    4
    Many children with ASD have challenging behaviors or problems with the change of routine associated with travel. Technology allows these families to overcome this access barrier, bringing care into their own home.

    Abbeduto recalls several patient families who were empowered through telemedicine. During a three- to four-month video conference training series with team members at the MIND Institute, these families learned how to become their child’s language therapist and were empowered to contribute to their child’s care. They were given strategies to support their child’s language development and to reduce the kinds of behaviors that impede social interaction.

    “Originally, family members were skeptical that they would be able to engage their child in play for longer periods of time by themselves,” Abbeduto said. “But at their exit interviews, without exception they each talked about how close they felt to their child and the unexpected positive changes in their life.”

    He concluded, “This kind of knowledge helps parents and caregivers overcome the need to depend on someone else to help their family. It allows them to feel more connected and competent and have more impact on their children.”

    Fostering independence and opportunity

    As part of the Big Idea, the MIND Institute is also developing interventions for adolescents and adults, a subgroup of individuals living with ASD who often experience a sudden lack of services after high school.

    Technology will allow interventions from the MIND Institute to better address the needs of these individuals. Virtual reality, apps, artificial intelligence and facial recognition software will be further developed and tested to support positive behaviors in communication and social skills needed for daily life.

    “We can use advances in technology to continue to monitor and support individuals living with autism so they can have fulfilling jobs and take part in a wider range of social activities throughout their lifespan,” explains Abbeduto.

    Furthermore, virtual support groups could connect individuals with autism or their families to additional social skills workshops, helping them move to independence and easing some of the burden on caregivers. Smart homes, for example, could be used to provide prompts for when it’s time to take medication or a bath, and give cues for getting ready for work or making a meal. Autism experts partnering with engineers could also utilize robotics to realize new ways of providing therapies and medications.

    The vision of this Big Idea will extend the reach of this technology, employing it in communities where experts in autism or specialized services are limited or non-existent. Through virtual conferences or workshops, UC Davis will be able to train the next generation of providers, teachers and administrators. This will empower and promote positive change at the individual level and create opportunities at a systems level.

    “Through this Big Idea, and with the help of donors, we will be able to create technologies that will take the expertise of the MIND Institute and extend its reach all over the world,” said Abbeduto. “It has the ability to make a positive impact on families everywhere.”

    See the full article here .

    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    UC Davis Campus

    The University of California, Davis, is a major public research university located in Davis, California, just west of Sacramento. It encompasses 5,300 acres of land, making it the second largest UC campus in terms of land ownership, after UC Merced.

     
  • richardmitnick 11:56 am on January 8, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Medicine,   

    From Science Alert: “One of The Most Common Assumptions About Autism May Be a Complete Misunderstanding” 

    ScienceAlert

    From Science Alert

    8 JAN 2019
    CARLY CASSELLA

    1
    (Chalabala/iStock)

    Putting yourself in another person’s shoes is never easy, and for those with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), the practice is thought to be especially challenging.

    But even though this neurological condition is often considered a barrier to understanding complex emotions,recent research suggests this may be nothing more than a simple misunderstanding.

    For the first time, researchers have shown in a small study that adults with ASD can recognise regret and relief in others just as easily as those without the condition, and in some cases, they are even better at it.

    “We have shown that, contrary to previous research that has highlighted the difficulties adults with autism experience with empathy and perspective-taking, people with autism possess previously overlooked strengths in processing emotions,” says senior author Heather Ferguson, an expert in neurolinguistics, semantics and syntax at the University of Kent.

    Using state-of-the-art eye-tracking methods, the researchers analysed 48 adult participants – half with ASD and half without – as they read a story about a character who experiences either regret or relief.

    In the narrative, the protagonist makes a decision that results in either a good outcome or a bad outcome, and the final sentence sums up the character’s mood explicitly, saying whether their choice left them feeling regret or relief (for instance, “… she feels happy/annoyed about her decision… “).

    As predicted, when the final emotion did not match up with the rest of the story (for instance, “she bought new shoes that she loved, and she felt annoyed about her decision”), the majority of participants spent longer reading through the text. They also looked back at previous sentences more often.

    There was only one plausible explanation: the readers were trying to make sense of a story that didn’t make sense.

    Because they understood the protagonist’s desires and actions, most of the readers were able to predict whether the character would feel regret or relief – a psychological concept called counterfactual thinking.

    Previous studies have shown that this sort of thinking can be disrupted in people with ASD, but the new findings suggest something completely different.

    Instead, the results were surprisingly similar for both adults with ASD and adults without ASD. Not only were participants with ASD equally adept at recognising regret, they were actually faster at computing relief.

    Together, this suggests that adults with ASD are remarkably savvy when it comes to feeling empathy and processing emotions.

    “Thus, our findings reveal that adults with ASD can employ sophisticated processes to adopt someone else’s perspective, and use this in real-time as the reference for future processing,” the authors conclude.

    At first, the results appear to fly in the face of previous research – and it’s a small study, so we can’t get too carried away just yet. But when taking a closer look, there is another explanation.

    The authors think that the differing results may simply stem from the method.

    By removing the need for participants to describe their own emotions or the emotions of others, the new research takes a more direct route to the truth.

    Using eye-tracking, the authors were able to tap into a participant’s immediate, neurological response to emotional content. This is a useful technique because it completely cancels out the bias that a participant might exhibit when describing their understanding of another person’s emotional state.

    The authors are therefore suggesting that adults with ASD can implicitly and correctly read another person’s emotions, they just aren’t able to accurately describe those emotions to researchers.

    In other words, the past studies on counterfactual thinking may have simply been conflating expression with understanding.

    “These findings suggest that the previously observed difficulty with complex counterfactual emotions may be tied specifically to difficulties with the explicit expression of emotions rather than any difficulty experiencing them implicitly at a neurocognitive level,” the authors conclude.

    This study has been published in Autism Research.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

     
  • richardmitnick 12:03 pm on December 26, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Fruit bats in Sierra Leone, Marburg virus in Sierra Leone, Medicine,   

    From UC Davis: “Deadly Marburg Virus Found in Sierra Leone Bats” 

    UC Davis bloc

    From UC Davis

    December 20, 2018
    Kat Kerlin

    1
    Scientists detected Marburg virus in five Egyptian fruit bats, like this one, in Sierra Leone. (Getty)

    Scientists have discovered Marburg virus in fruit bats in Sierra Leone. This is the first time the deadly virus has been found in West Africa. Five Egyptian rousette fruit bats tested positive for active Marburg virus infection. Scientists caught the bats separately in three health districts: Moyamba, Koinadugu and Kono.

    The virus was found in advance of any reported cases of illness in people in Sierra Leone, and there remain no reported cases of Marburg in humans there. However, the virus’s presence in bats means people who live nearby could be at risk for becoming infected with Marburg virus, a cousin to Ebola virus that causes similar disease in people.

    The Marburg virus co-discovery occurred through two projects — one by the USAID-funded PREDICT project led by University of California, Davis, and the University of Makeni; and another by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Njala University.

    “That the discovery was made in bats before the recognition of any known human illnesses or deaths is exactly what PREDICT’s One Health approach to disease surveillance and capacity building are designed to do,” said Brian Bird from the UC Davis One Health Institute and global lead for Sierra Leone and Multi-Country Ebola operations for PREDICT-USAID.

    Natural reservoir

    Scientists had previously shown that the Egyptian rousette bat (Rousettus aegyptiacus) is the natural reservoir for Marburg virus, which means the bats can carry the virus long-term and pass it on to animals or humans without getting sick themselves. Sequencing of virus genetic material from the five Marburg-positive bats found multiple genetically diverse strains, suggesting Marburg virus has been present in these bat colonies in Sierra Leone for many years.

    “We have known for a long time that the bats that carry Marburg virus live in West Africa, so it makes sense that we’d find the virus in bats there,” said CDC ecologist Jonathan Towner, who led the CDC team. “This discovery is an excellent example of how this type of ecology work can help us identify a threat and warn people before they get sick.”

    2
    Thousands of Egyptian fruit bats roost in a cave in Uganda’s Queen Elizabeth National Park. (Getty)

    Egyptian fruit bats live in caves or underground mines throughout much of Africa. Marburg virus has been detected in Egyptian rousette bats caught in sub-Saharan Africa, primarily in Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, but also Gabon, Kenya and South Africa. In eastern and central Africa, these bats can roost in colonies of more than 100,000 animals.

    However, the colonies of Egyptian fruit bats identified in Sierra Leone so far have been much smaller, which may explain why there haven’t been any known Marburg virus disease outbreaks in people in Sierra Leone like those found in eastern and central Africa.

    Angolan strains detected in bats for first time

    To date, there have been 12 known Marburg virus outbreaks with direct links to Africa, with the most recent in Uganda in 2017. The largest and deadliest Marburg virus outbreak occurred in Angola in 2005. It killed 227 of 252 cases, or about 90 percent of those infected. Two of the four strains identified among the five Marburg-positive bats in Sierra Leone are genetically similar to the strain that caused the outbreak in Angola. It is the first time scientists have detected these Angolan strains in bats.

    Egyptian rousette bats primarily feed on fruit. When infected, the bats shed the virus in their saliva, urine and feces. These Egyptian rousette bats are known to test-bite fruits, urinate and defecate where they eat, potentially contaminating fruit or other food sources consumed by other animals like monkeys or people, particularly children. Due to their significant size, these types of bats sometimes serve as a food source for local populations, as well. People may be exposed to Marburg virus through bat bites as they catch the bats.

    Community engagement

    In Sierra Leone, researchers and government officials are in the process of meeting with local communities to present their findings, answer questions about Marburg virus, and address how to reduce people’s risk of exposure and live safely with bats.

    Bats play important ecological and agricultural roles. Fruit bats pollinate important crops, and insect-eating bats eat thousands of insects each night, including mosquitoes, which helps control pests that transmit disease and damage crops.

    Scientists emphasize that people should not attempt to kill or eradicate bats in response to the discovery. Killing and coming into direct contact with bats can actually increase the risk of virus transmission, not halt it.

    Finding viruses before they find us

    The PREDICT team at UC Davis/University of Makeni and the team led by CDC/Njala both began work in Sierra Leone in 2016 following the massive Ebola outbreak in West Africa. They each sought to discover the Ebola reservoir, the animal that helps maintain the virus in nature by spreading it without getting sick.

    The Marburg discovery and the PREDICT-team’s report earlier this year of the discovery of a new ebolavirus species, Bombali virus, illustrate the strengths and mission of USAID’s PREDICT project, which is to find viruses before they spill over into humans and become epidemics.

    Media contact(s)

    Brian Bird, UC Davis PREDICT and One Health Institute, 530-752-7544, bhbird@ucdavis.edu

    Tracey Goldstein, UC Davis PREDICT and One Health Institute, 415-902-1486, tgoldstein@ucdavis.edu

    Kat Kerlin, UC Davis News and Media Relations, 530-752-7704, kekerlin@ucdavis.edu

    See the full article here .

    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    UC Davis Campus

    The University of California, Davis, is a major public research university located in Davis, California, just west of Sacramento. It encompasses 5,300 acres of land, making it the second largest UC campus in terms of land ownership, after UC Merced.

     
  • richardmitnick 11:21 am on December 12, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Medicine, , Two Compounds in Coffee May Team Up to Fight Parkinson's   

    From Rutgers University: “Two Compounds in Coffee May Team Up to Fight Parkinson’s” 

    Rutgers smaller
    Our Great Seal.

    From Rutgers University

    December 12, 2018
    Rutgers Today
    Media Contact
    Neal Buccino
    732-668-8439
    neal.buccino@rutgers.edu

    December 10, 2018
    Caitlin Coyle
    caitlin.coyle@rutgers.edu

    1
    M. Maral Mouradian of Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School has found a compound in coffee that when paired with caffeine may help to fight Parkinson’s disease and Lewy body dementia. Photo by Steve Hockstein/Harvard Studio

    Caffeine plus another compound in coffee beans’ waxy coating may protect against brain degeneration, Rutgers study finds.

    2

    Rutgers scientists have found a compound in coffee that may team up with caffeine to fight Parkinson’s disease and Lewy body dementia – two progressive and currently incurable diseases associated with brain degeneration.

    The discovery, recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggests these two compounds combined may become a therapeutic option to slow brain degeneration.

    Lead author M. Maral Mouradian, director of the Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School Institute for Neurological Therapeutics and William Dow Lovett Professor of Neurology, said prior research has shown that drinking coffee may reduce the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease. While caffeine has traditionally been credited as coffee’s special protective agent, coffee beans contain more than a thousand other compounds that are less well known.

    The Rutgers study focused on a fatty acid derivative of the neurotransmitter serotonin, called EHT (Eicosanoyl-5-hydroxytryptamide), found in the bean’s waxy coating. The researchers found that EHT protects the brains of mice against abnormal protein accumulation associated with Parkinson’s disease and Lewy body dementia.

    In the current research, Mouradian’s team asked whether EHT and caffeine could work together for even greater brain protection. They gave mice small doses of caffeine or EHT separately as well as together. Each compound alone was not effective, but when given together they boosted the activity of a catalyst that helps prevent the accumulation of harmful proteins in the brain. This suggests the combination of EHT and caffeine may be able to slow or stop the progression of these diseases. Current treatments address only the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease but do not protect against brain degeneration.

    Mouradian said further research is needed to determine the proper amounts and ratio of EHT and caffeine required for the protective effect in people.

    “EHT is a compound found in various types of coffee but the amount varies. It is important that the appropriate amount and ratio be determined so people don’t over-caffeinate themselves, as that can have negative health consequences,” she said.

    According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Parkinson’s disease is a brain disorder that can lead to shaking, stiffness and difficulty with walking, balance and coordination. Nearly one million people in the United States are living with Parkinson’s disease. Lewy body dementia, one of the most common forms of dementia, affects more than one million people in the United States. It causes problems with thinking, behavior, mood and movement.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    rutgers-campus

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

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

    As a ’67 graduate of University college, second in my class, I am proud to be a member of

    Alpha Sigma Lamda, National Honor Society of non-tradional students.

     
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