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  • richardmitnick 1:27 pm on March 21, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Alex Perryman, , , Rutgers,   

    From OpenZika at WCG: “OpenZika Researchers Continue Calculations and Prepare for Next Stage” 

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    World Community Grid (WCG)


    By: The OpenZika research team
    21 Mar 2017

    Summary
    The OpenZika researchers are continuing to screen millions of chemical compounds as they look for potential treatments for the Zika virus. In this update, they report on the status of their calculations and their continuing work to spread the word about the project.

    Project Background

    While the Zika virus may not be getting the continuous press coverage that it received in 2015 and 2016, it is still a threat to the health of people across the globe. New infections continue to be reported in both South America and North America, and medical workers are just beginning to assess the effects of the virus on young children whose mothers were infected while pregnant.

    The search for effective treatments is crucial to stemming the tide of the virus. In addition to the OpenZika project, several other labs are doing cell-based screens with drugs already approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) agency, but few to none of the “hit” compounds that have been identified thus far are both potent enough against Zika virus and also safe for pregnant women.

    Also, there are a number of efforts underway to develop a vaccine against the Zika virus. However, vaccines do not help people who already have the infection. It will be several years before they are proven effective and safe, and before enough doses can be mass produced and distributed. And even after approved vaccines are available and distributed to the public, not all people will be vaccinated. Consequently, in the meantime and in the future, cures for Zika infections are needed.


    ZIKV NS3 helicase bound to RNA with the predicted binding modes of five approved drugs (from our second set of candidates) selected by virtual screening. These candidates are shown as surfaces with different shades of green. The identification of these candidates and the video were made by Dr. Alexander L. Perryman at RWJ Rutgers University.

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    Alex Perryman

    We began the analysis phase of the project by focusing on the results against the apo NS3 helicase crystal structure (apo means that the protein was not bound to anything else, such as a cofactor, inhibitor, or nucleic acid) to select our first set of candidates, which are currently being assayed by our collaborator at University of California San Diego, Dr. Jair L. Siqueira-Neto, using cell-based assays. The NS3 helicase is a component of the Zika virus that is required for it to replicate itself.

    In the second set of screening results that we recently examined, we used the new crystal structure of NS3 helicase bound to RNA as the target (see the images / animation above). Similar to the first set of candidates, we docked approximately 7,600 compounds in a composite library composed of the US Food and Drug Administration-approved drugs, the drugs approved in the European Union, and the US National Institutes of Health clinical collection library against the new RNA-bound structure of the helicase. Below are the results of this second screening:

    232 compounds passed the larger collection of different energetic and interaction-based docking filters, and their predicted binding modes were inspected and measured in detail.
    Of the compounds that were inspected in detail, 19 unique compounds passed this visual inspection stage of their docked modes.
    From the compounds that passed the visual inspection, 9 passed subsequent medicinal chemistry-based inspection and will be ordered soon.

    Status of the calculations

    In total, we have submitted 2.56 billion docking jobs, which involved the virtual screening of 6 million compounds versus 427 different target sites. We have already received approximately 1.9 billion of these results on our server. (There is some lag time between when the calculations are performed on your volunteered machines and when we get the results, since all of the results per “package” of approximately 10,000 different docking jobs need to be returned to World Community Grid, re-organized, and then compressed before sending them to our server.)

    Except for a few stragglers, we have received all of the results for our experiments that involve docking 6 million compounds versus the proteins NS1, NS3 helicase (both the RNA binding site and the ATP site), and NS5 (both the RNA polymerase and the methyltransferase domains). We are currently receiving the results from our most recent experiments against the NS2B / NS3 protease.

    A new stage of the project

    We just finished preparing and testing the docking input files that will be used for the second stage of this project. Instead of docking 6 million compounds, we will soon be able to start screening 30.2 million compounds against these targets. This new, massive library was originally obtained in a different type of format from the ZINC15 server. It represents almost all of “commercially available chemical space” (that is, almost all of the “small molecule” drug-like and hit-like compounds that can be purchased from reputable chemical vendors).

    The ZINC15 server provided these files as “multi-molecule mol2” files (that is, many different compounds were contained in each “mol2” formatted file). These files had to be re-formatted (we used the Raccoon program from Dr. Stefano Forli, who is part of the FightAIDS@Home team) by splitting them into individual mol2 files (1 compound per file) and then converting them into the “pdbqt” docking input format.

    We then ran a quick quality control test to make sure that the software used for the project, called AutoDock Vina, could properly use each pdbqt file as an input. Many compounds had to be rejected, because they had types of atoms that cause Vina to crash (such as silicon or boron), and we obviously don’t want to waste the computer time that you donate by submitting calculations that will crash.

    By splitting, reformatting, and testing hundreds of thousands of compounds per day, day after day, after approximately six months this massive new library of compounds is ready to be used in our OpenZika calculations. Without the tremendous resources that World Community Grid volunteers provide for this project, we would not even dream of trying to dock over 30 million compounds against many different targets from the Zika virus. Thank you all very much!!!

    For more information about these experiments, please visit our website.

    Publications and Collaborations

    Our PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases paper, OpenZika: An IBM World Community Grid Project to Accelerate Zika Virus Drug Discovery, was published on October 20, and it has already been viewed over 4,000 times. Anyone can access and read this paper for free. Another research paper Illustrating and homology modeling the proteins of the Zika virus has been accepted by F1000Research and viewed > 3800 times.

    A group from Brazil, coordinated by Prof. Glaucius Oliva, has contacted us because of our PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases paper to discuss a new collaboration to test the selected candidate compounds directly on enzymatic assays with the NS5 protein of Zika virus. They have solved two high-resolution crystal structures of ZIKV NS5, which have been recently released on the PDB (Protein Data Bank) (PDB ID: 5TIT and 5U04).

    Our paper entitled “Molecular Dynamics simulations of Zika Virus NS3 helicase: Insights into RNA binding site activity” was just accepted for publication in a special issue on Flaviviruses for the journal Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications. This study of the NS3 helicase system helped us learn more about this promising target for blocking Zika replication. The results will help guide how we analyze the virtual screens that we already performed against NS3 helicase, and the molecular dynamics simulations generated new conformations of this protein that we will use as input targets in new virtual screens that we perform as part of OpenZika.

    These articles are helping to bring additional attention to the project and to encourage the formation of new collaborations.

    Additional News

    We have applied and been accepted to present “OpenZika: Opening the Discovery of New Antiviral candidates against Zika Virus and Insights into Dynamic behavior of NS3 Helicase” to the 46th World Chemistry Congress. The conference will be held in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on July 7-14.

    Dr. Sean Ekins has hired a postdoc and a master level scientist who will get involved with the OpenZika project. We have also started to collate literature inhibitors from Zika papers.

    Also, Drs. Sean Ekins and Carolina Andrade have offered to buy some of the candidate compounds that we identified in the virtual screens from OpenZika, so that they can be assayed in the next round of tests.

    See the full article here.

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    World Community Grid (WCG) brings people together from across the globe to create the largest non-profit computing grid benefiting humanity. It does this by pooling surplus computer processing power. We believe that innovation combined with visionary scientific research and large-scale volunteerism can help make the planet smarter. Our success depends on like-minded individuals – like you.”
    WCG projects run on BOINC software from UC Berkeley.
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    BOINC is a leader in the field(s) of Distributed Computing, Grid Computing and Citizen Cyberscience.BOINC is more properly the Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing.

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    CAN ONE PERSON MAKE A DIFFERENCE? YOU BET!!

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

    Please visit the project pages-

    FightAIDS@home Phase II

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    Help Stop TB
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    Uncovering Genome Mysteries
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    The Clean Energy Project

    Discovering Dengue Drugs – Together

    Help Cure Muscular Dystrophy

    Help Fight Childhood Cancer

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  • richardmitnick 11:01 am on February 27, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Father’s Mental Illness Spurs Iranian-Born Woman to Seek Cures for Disease, , Rutgers, Sheida Hayati,   

    From Rutgers: Women in STEM – “Father’s Mental Illness Spurs Iranian-Born Woman to Seek Cures for Disease” Sheida Hayati 

    Rutgers University
    Rutgers University

    February 27, 2017
    Robin Lally
    robin.lally@rutgers.edu
    848-932-0557

    1
    Sheida Hayati wants to help find cures for diseases like cancer using scientific data and computer science.

    Sheida Hayati was only 5 when her father left their home in 1980 and went to fight in the war between Iraq and Iran. Two years later – after being on the front line – the army officer came home to Tehran a broken man.

    The 35-year-old father of four was paranoid, heard voices and saw things that weren’t there. “I watched my father suffering every day,” said Hayati, who became an American citizen three years ago. “He was the first love of my life and there was nothing I could do.”

    The Rutgers doctoral student may not have been able to help her father, who suffered with a severe form of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) for 30 years until he died in 2011. But Hayati has made it her life’s mission to use scientific data to try and find answers for incurable diseases that continue to take the lives of millions of people each year and wreak havoc on the families they leave behind.

    “I think this need goes all the way back to my childhood,” said Hayati who is working toward her Ph.D. in Biomedical Informatics in the Rutgers School of Health Professions, an interdisciplinary field that combines computer science and medicine in order to find treatment and cures by computationally analyzing available scientific and clinical data.

    “At the time nobody in my family or in the medical field in Iran knew what was wrong with my father or how to help him,” she said. “As a child, it was devastating.”

    Hayati’s father’s illness left her thinking that she might go to medical school and become a physician. She was an exceptional student, aced math and physics in school and was encouraged by her teachers to either become an engineer or a doctor.

    But Hayati wanted answers and discovered that research was her passion. She studied clinical laboratory sciences in Iran and graduated with the highest honors from Iran University of Medical Sciences, known for training prominent graduates in medicine and allied sciences. After graduating, Hayati managed a hematology laboratory in Iran for five years before she met her husband, an American citizen, who was visiting relatives in Iran.

    When Hayati decided to move to the United States and get married, she entered the country on a K-1 Fiancée Visa. She had never been to the United States, and although 60 percent of women in Iran are educated, life here is much different.

    “You come here and learn about the multi-cultural aspects of this society, and the fact that there is no limit in advancing your goal and turning your dreams into reality.” said Hayati whose mother and three siblings still live in Iran.

    After graduating from a master’s degree program in biotechnology at William Paterson University, Hayati decided to fulfill her dream of finding treatments and cures for diseases like the one that tore her family apart and enrolled in the doctorate program at Rutgers.

    Her goal as a scientist is to collaborate with other researchers to find a cure for cancer, in large part, because of the impact it has on young children whose parents get cancer and the data that is available to study.

    “Considering the 20 percent chance of being diagnosed with cancer at age 20-55, many young children will experience a distressing time that might influence their entire life,” Hayati said.

    Working in the laboratory of Antonina Mitrofanova, a professor of Biomedical and Health Informatics at the Rutgers School of Health Professions, Hayati will begin a three-month internship at the National Institutes of Health in Washington D.C. in May. There she will analyze data from a clinical trial and try to unlock the riddle of what might predispose one leukemia patient to benefit from immunotherapy, while another patient doesn’t. It’s a big question for every doctor in cancer research, she said.

    “As I grew up the pain of seeing my father in so much suffering has stayed with me,” said Hayati. “I would like to help prevent that from happening to other children.”

    See the full article here .

    Follow Rutgers Research here .

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

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

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  • richardmitnick 11:36 am on February 23, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Antibiotic resistance in downstream sediments, Fracking Alter Microbes in West Virginia Waters, Rutgers   

    From Rutgers: “Oil and Gas Wastewater Spills, including Fracking Wastewater, Alter Microbes in West Virginia Waters” 

    Rutgers University
    Rutgers University

    February 23, 2017
    Todd B. Bates

    1
    The hydraulic fracturing (fracking) water cycle includes withdrawing water, adding chemicals, injecting fracking fluids through a well to a rock formation, and pumping wastewater to the surface for disposal or reuse. Photo: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

    Wastewater from oil and gas operations – including fracking for shale gas – at a West Virginia site altered microbes downstream, according to a Rutgers-led study.

    The study, published recently in Science of the Total Environment, showed that wastewater releases, including briny water that contained petroleum and other pollutants, altered the diversity, numbers and functions of microbes. The shifts in the microbial community indicated changes in their respiration and nutrient cycling, along with signs of stress.

    The study also documented changes in antibiotic resistance in downstream sediments, but did not uncover hot spots, or areas with high levels of resistance. The findings point to the need to understand the impacts on microbial ecosystems from accidental releases or improper treatment of fracking-related wastewater. Moreover, microbial changes in sediments may have implications for the treatment and beneficial reuse of wastewater, the researchers say.

    “My hope is that the study could be used to start making hypotheses about the impacts of wastewater,” said Nicole Fahrenfeld, lead author of the study and assistant professor in Rutgers’ Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. Much remains unknown about the impacts of wastewater from fracking, she added.

    “I do think we’re at the beginning of seeing what the impacts could be,” said Fahrenfeld, who works in the School of Engineering. “I want to learn about the real risks and focus our efforts on what matters in the environment.”

    Underground reservoirs of oil and natural gas contain water that is naturally occurring or injected to boost production, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), whose scientists contributed to the study. During fracking, a fracturing fluid and a solid material are injected into an underground reservoir under very high pressure, creating fractures to increase the porosity and permeability of rocks.

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    Nicole Fahrenfeld, assistant professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. Photo: Nick Romanenko

    Liquid pumped to the surface is usually a mixture of the injected fluids with briny water from the reservoir. It can contain dissolved salt, petroleum and other organic compounds, suspended solids, trace elements, bacteria, naturally occurring radioactive materials and anything injected into wells, the USGS says. Such water is recycled, treated and discharged; spread on roads, evaporated or infiltrated; or injected into deep wells.

    Fracking for natural gas and oil and its wastewater has increased dramatically in recent years. And that could overwhelm local infrastructure and strain many parts of the post-fracking water cycle, including the storage, treatment, reuse, transportation or disposal of the wastewater, according to the USGS.

    For the Rutgers-USGS study, water and sediment samples were collected from tributaries of Wolf Creek in West Virginia in June 2014, including an unnamed tributary that runs through an underground injection control facility.

    The facility includes a disposal well, which injects wastewater to 2,600 feet below the surface, brine storage tanks, an access road and two lined ponds (now-closed) that were used to temporarily store wastewater to allow particles to settle before injection.

    Water samples were shipped to Rutgers, where they were analyzed. Sediment samples were analyzed at the Waksman Genomics Core Facility at Rutgers. The study generated a rich dataset from metagenomic sequencing, which pinpoints the genes in entire microbial communities, Fahrenfeld noted.

    “The results showed shifts in the microbial community and antibiotic resistance, but this site doesn’t appear to be a new hot spot for antibiotic resistance,” she said. The use of biocides in some fracturing fluids raised the question of whether this type of wastewater could serve as an environment that is favorable for increasing antimicrobial resistance. Antimicrobial resistance detected in these sediments did not rise to the levels found in municipal wastewater – an important environmental source of antimicrobial resistance along with agricultural sites.

    Antibiotics and similar drugs have been used so widely and for so long that the microbes the antibiotics are designed to kill have adapted to them, making the drugs less effective, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. At least 2 million people become infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria each year in the U.S., with at least 23,000 of them dying from the infections.

    “We have this really nice dataset with all the genes and all the microbes that were at the site,” Fahrenfeld said. “We hope to apply some of these techniques to other environmental systems.”

    Study authors include Rutgers undergraduate Hannah Delos Reyes and Rutgers doctoral candidate Alessia Eramo. Other authors include Denise M. Akob, Adam C. Mumford and Isabelle M. Cozzarelli of the U.S. Geological Survey’s National Research Program. Mumford earned a doctorate in microbiology at Rutgers.

    See the full article here .

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

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

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  • richardmitnick 11:13 am on February 16, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , INTERCEPT program, Laura Fabris, Rutgers, TIPs – therapeutic interfering particles,   

    From Rutgers: Women in STEM – “Attacking the Flu by Hijacking Infected Cells” Laura Fabris 

    Rutgers University
    Rutgers University

    February 16, 2017
    Todd B. Bates

    1
    An influenza virus. Photo: Jezper/Shutterstock

    They’re called TIPs and their task would be to infiltrate and outcompete influenza, HIV, Ebola and other viruses.

    Soon, Rutgers’ Laura Fabris will play a key role in a project aimed at designing TIPs – therapeutic interfering particles to defuse the flu.

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    Laura Fabris, associate professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering. Photo: Kate Woodside

    For the first time in virology, Fabris and her team will use imaging tools with gold nanoparticles to monitor mutations in the influenza virus, with unprecedented sensitivity, when it enters cells. Fabris will soon receive a $820,000 grant from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). It’s part of a four-year, $5.2 million INTERfering and Co-Evolving Prevention and Therapy (INTERCEPT) program.

    Fabris’s work is beginning as New Jersey weathers a high rate of influenza activity this year.

    “Before we can understand how to make these therapeutic particles, we need to understand how viral mutation works,” said Fabris, an associate professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering.

    DARPA says it wants to harness TIPs – tiny virus-like entities with engineered genetic material that encodes defective viral proteins. TIPs, like viruses, can enter cells, but they don’t replicate unless the cells are also infected with the virus. RNA viruses like influenza are coated by a protein-studded membrane envelope, Fabris noted.

    In a cell infected with both a flu virus and a TIP, the cell makes copies of the TIP genome that compete for viral proteins. The goal is for harmless TIPs to outnumber flu virus genetic elements so infected cells would generate relatively few infectious viruses and a bumper crop of “dud viruses” with TIP genes, rapidly diluting the harmful viruses and halting the infection, according to DARPA.

    In preliminary studies funded by DARPA, TIPs in cells grown in culture dishes slashed viral counts by nearly 20-fold. But the INTERCEPT program, seeking enhanced anti-viral performance, will support testing of TIP safety and effectiveness in animal models, DARPA says. It also seeks to determine whether TIPs, through spontaneous mutations, can keep up with new tricks that viruses may develop while evolving.

    The INTERCEPT program features a multidisciplinary team of virologists, evolutionary biologists, mathematicians and materials scientists from North Carolina State University (Ruian Ke), Duke University (Katia Koelle), University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (Christopher Brooke), Montana State University (Connie Chang), and Rutgers. The focus is on discovering how the influenza virus mutates at the cellular, animal and population levels, said Fabris, who works in the School of Engineering. One goal is to predict whether TIPs will keep up with flu virus mutations.

    “Ideally, the TIPs will be introduced into influenza virus populations and compete for protein, so the virus will starve and not be able to reproduce,” she said.

    Her role will be to provide imaging and quantification methods to study, in cells and eventually animals, which parts of the influenza virus genome have mutated and to what degree. It will be the first time that surface enhanced Raman scattering, which measures vibrations in molecules and therefore reports on their chemical composition and structure, will be used in virology, she said.

    Each molecule has a unique vibration frequency, and complex molecules have complex vibration patterns, said Fabris, who began using the technique 11 years ago.

    She and her team will use gold nanoparticles to examine and quantify the nanoparticles inside cells. She uses gold nanoparticles because they localize the light similarly to a lens and enhance the observed signal intensity.

    “Our research will have repercussions, for example, in how to do sequencing of genes in a way that is cheaper and deeper compared with traditional sequencing,” Fabris said.

    See the full article here .

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

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  • richardmitnick 10:07 am on February 14, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, , Rutgers   

    From Rutgers: “Alzheimer’s May Be Linked to Defective Brain Cells Spreading Disease” 

    Rutgers University
    Rutgers University

    February 13, 2017
    Robin Lally

    Rutgers study finds toxic proteins doing harm to neighboring neurons.

    1
    Rutgers scientists have discovered that toxic proteins may be spreading neurodegeneration and diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. No image credit.

    Rutgers scientists say neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s may be linked to defective brain cells disposing toxic proteins that make neighboring cells sick.

    In a study published in Nature, Monica Driscoll, distinguished professor of molecular biology and biochemistry, School of Arts and Sciences, and her team, found that while healthy neurons should be able to sort out and rid brain cells of toxic proteins and damaged cell structures without causing problems, laboratory findings indicate that it does not always occur.

    These findings, Driscoll said, could have major implications for neurological disease in humans and could possibly be the way that disease can spread in the brain.

    “Normally the process of throwing out this trash would be a good thing,” said Driscoll. “But we think with neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s there might be a mismanagement of this very important process that is supposed to protect neurons but, instead, is doing harm to neighbor cells.”

    Driscoll said scientists have understood how the process of eliminating toxic cellular substances works internally within the cell, comparing it to a garbage disposal getting rid of waste, but they did not know how cells released the garbage externally.

    “What we found out could be compared to a person collecting trash and putting it outside for garbage day,” said Driscoll. “They actively select and sort the trash from the good stuff, but if it’s not picked up, the garbage can cause real problems.”

    Working with the transparent roundworm, known as the C. elegans, which are similar in molecular form, function and genetics to those of humans, Driscoll and her team discovered that the worms – which have a lifespan of about three weeks — had an external garbage removal mechanism and were disposing these toxic proteins outside the cell as well.

    Ilija Melentijevic, a graduate student in Driscoll’s laboratory and the lead author of the study, realized what was occurring when he observed a small cloud-like, bright blob forming outside of the cell in some of the worms. Over two years, he counted and monitored their production and degradation in single still images until finally he caught one in mid-formation.

    “They were very dynamic,” said Melentijevic, an undergraduate student at the time who spent three nights in the lab taking photos of the process viewed through a microscope every 15 minutes. “You couldn’t see them often, and when they did occur, they were gone the next day.”

    Research using roundworms has provided scientists with important information on aging, which would be difficult to conduct in people and other organisms that have long life spans.

    In the newly published study, the Rutgers team found that roundworms engineered to produce human disease proteins associated with Huntington’s disease and Alzheimer’s, threw out more trash consisting of these neurodegenerative toxic materials. While neighboring cells degraded some of the material, more distant cells scavenged other portions of the diseased proteins.

    “These findings are significant,” said Driscoll. “The work in the little worm may open the door to much needed new approaches to addressing neurodegeneration and diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.”

    See the full article here .

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

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  • richardmitnick 11:58 am on February 6, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , New York's NBC 4 station and Telemundo 47, , Rutgers, StormTracker 4, The most powerful weather radar system in the tri-state area   

    From Rutgers via nj.com: “Rutgers will host NBC’s powerful new weather radar system” 

    Rutgers University
    Rutgers University

    1

    nj.com

    February 02, 2017
    Adam Clark

    2
    NBC’s new StormTracker 4 radar will be on the Rutgers University campus. (Courtesy of NBC)

    Rutgers University is now home to the most powerful weather radar system in the tri-state area via a new deal with New York’s NBC 4 station and Telemundo 47, the station announced Thursday.

    The new StormTracker 4, powered by one million watts of the “latest, most cutting edge technology,” is owned and operated by the station but located on land it’s leasing at Rutgers’ Cook Campus. The university’s meteorology students will have access to the radar for their classes, according to Rutgers, which has not yet disclosed the terms of the lease.

    StormTracker 4 will track storms in real time directly from ground level, providing greater insight on water droplets, hail, sleet, and approaching snow. It can even analyze weather data for a precise street location, according to the station.

    The radar can generate 1,000 pulses within the blink of human eye and has a range of 50,000 square miles, NBC said.

    “There is nothing like StormTracker 4,” said Janice Huff, the station’s chief meteorologist.

    NBC 4 previously used data from the National Weather Service. The new data will offer an important window into the formation of powerful and dangerous weather systems and should provide local residents with extra time to prepare when bad weather looms, Huff said.

    Rutgers, which has the state’s only meteorology program that meets federal standards, was selected as the home for StormTracker 4 in part because of its proximity to Manhattan, the university said.

    NBC is granting Rutgers’ meteorology students access to the radar imagery to examine it and develop a long-term analysis of climate trends and weather patterns. It will also be used in weather broadcasts produced by RU-TV, the student television station, according to the university.

    “We’re excited to give our meteorology students the opportunity to observe the weather as it is developing,” said Anthony J. Broccoli, chair of the Department of Environmental Sciences at Rutgers.

    Al Cope, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service’s regional forecast office in Mount Holly, said it is not yet known whether the weather service will have access to the weather data that comes from the new radar system at Rutgers.

    For now, the two primary radar systems used by the Mount Holly office are at the Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst military complex in Burlington and Ocean counties and at the Dover Air Force base in Delaware. The weather service’s Upton, N.Y., office, which oversees five counties in northern and eastern New Jersey, primarily uses a radar system based on Long Island.

    Those systems are part of a network of radar systems across the United States, Cope said.

    “They are quite powerful,” he said.

    See the full article here .

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

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

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    Please give us back our original beautiful seal which the University stole away from us.

     
  • richardmitnick 11:44 am on February 6, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: A Freshman English Major at Age 79, Bob Mostello, Rutgers   

    From Rutgers: “A Freshman English Major, at Age 79” Bob Mostello 

    Rutgers University
    Rutgers University

    February 6, 2017
    Jacqueline Cutler

    Rutgers student Bob Mostello has a doctorate in chemical engineering and 20 patents to his name.

    1
    During his career as a chemical engineer, Bob Mostello had little time for the humanities. Now, he says, “I can really get to appreciate the wealth of culture available in English literature.”
    Photo: Nick Romanenko

    English majors often endure raised eyebrows and the exasperated question: Just what do you plan to do with that degree? If only those dreamy students would take more STEM classes, then perhaps, they could have careers.

    Bob Mostello has had one. Yet, at 79, Mostello is a freshman at Rutgers University New Brunswick’s School of Arts and Sciences majoring in English literature.

    Over the years, he earned a BS from what’s now NJIT and master’s and doctoral degrees from Stevens Institute of Technology, all in chemical engineering. He forged a successful professional life.

    Mostello is the author or co-author of about 20 patents in industrial gas production. One of which was responsible for bringing in several hundred million dollars in sales over the last 25 years, “of which I earned $300,” he said.

    Good humor aside, the lapses in his knowledge nagged at him.

    “I have had a technical education which leaves little time for the humanities,” the soft-spoken Newark native said.

    Married in 1965 to Kelly, Mostello lives in Somerville. He raised four daughters and had various positions as a chemical engineer. Now, however, “I am working half-time and my family is grown,” he said. “I can really get to appreciate the wealth of culture available in English literature.”

    Mostello enrolled in the fall and took two classes, “Poets and Power in Late Medieval England” and “Principles of Literary Study. “ Like most English majors, he admitted that he’s barely keeping up with the reading. Still, he earned an A and a B.

    “I think the grades were based on looks,” he joked. “It has been largely poetry with a sprinkling of other literature in both courses.”

    None of it came easily, but Mostello remained enthused over the challenge. He thumbed through Paradise Lost and read aloud:

    Those spake for false dissembler unperceived for neither man nor angel can discern hypocrisy, the only evil that walks invisible except to God alone.

    Mostello delighted in the words, allowing them to wash over him. “It is about the devil, who fools an angel in his speech,” he said. “It is terrific. I guess I have a right brain and a left brain so I really love that stuff and it’s the beauty of it.”

    Mostello’s Catholic faith let him pick up on meanings sometimes lost on others, said his instructor, Danielle Allor, a graduate student. As old as some students’ grandfathers, Mostello naturally brought an alternate point of view to class.

    “He brings a very different educational background,” Allor said. “On the first day of class I gave out a map of England and asked who could find London, and he was the only one who immediately knew where it was. It’s just that difference, just the experiences we have had. He has a much greater knowledge base of which to draw from. He has the background in technical writing instead of the writing we are doing in class.”

    Humbly, Mostello doesn’t mention that. Instead he praised his classmates, fresh out of high school, for knowing much that he doesn’t. They’re familiar with writers he was unaware of.

    “I don’t think I am well read – that is the issue,” he said.

    Mostello is at ease introducing himself in class but unlike some older students, does not try to take over.

    “Maybe I am still regarded as a bit of oddity in the class, but an acceptable one,” he said. “So if I had any advice that I could offer I would be happy to do that. They are all wondering about their careers or futures.”

    Career advice from an English major, even a 79-year-old one, might be fanciful to many. But Mostello embodies the ultimate goal of a humanities education, said his professor, Colin Jager.

    “There is all of this stuff right now, the value of a college degree in general, especially a degree in the liberal arts, all of this push toward STEM,” Jager said. “He is such a great example. He had a career in science, he is a great example of why anyone should get an English degree – he loves to talk, loves to think, his motives are utterly pure. He is doing it for himself.

    “We are at a moment where everything is being instrumentalized,” Jager continued. “What are you going to do with that? He does not have to answer that question. He is a pure example of why you would pursue a liberal arts degree.”

    See the full article here .

    Follow Rutgers Research here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    rutgers-campus

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    Stem Education Coalition

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

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

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    Please give us back our original beautiful seal which the University stole away from us.

     
  • richardmitnick 2:42 pm on January 26, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Rutgers, Scarlet Fire New Pink Dogwood Adds Breakthrough Color to the Landscape   

    From Rutgers: “Rutgers’ New Pink Dogwood Adds Breakthrough Color to the Landscape” 

    Rutgers University
    Rutgers University

    January 26, 2017
    Andrea Alexander
    aalexander@ucm.rutgers.edu

    1
    The Scarlet Fire dogwood tree is available for sale through mail order from nurseries. Photo: Tom Molnar

    After decades of breeding, researchers released the Scarlet Fire, the first Asian dogwood of its kind with deep pink color.

    Rutgers researchers have developed a hardy, pink dogwood tree that promises to add vibrant color to the landscape in New Jersey and beyond.

    The new dogwood, called Scarlet Fire, is the answer to a riddle that has eluded plant biologists for decades. It achieves the brilliant color associated with the native Cornus florida species that has been plagued by blight in the hardier Cornus kousa – an Asian species that is resistant to most diseases but lacked some of the color that made the native species so attractive.

    Sold in limited quantities last spring, the Scarlet Fire dogwood will be widely available for the first time in 2017 through mail order from nurseries.

    “I would say almost every yard in New Jersey has a dogwood tree in it,’’ said Tom Molnar, a plant biologist who oversees the ornamental tree breeding program for the Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station.

    “These are trees that are supposed to be pretty, but powdery mildew and other diseases make them look ugly most of the year,’’ Molnar said.

    Irv Paulus, the general manager of RareFind Nursery in Jackson, one of the first retail-mail order nurseries to sell the Scarlet Fire dogwood, started off with 40 plants available last winter. He sold out in less than a month and then began filling orders off of a waiting list of more than 100 customers. This year he has about 250 in stock for the start of the season.

    Paulus said the Scarlet Fire offers something special that has been missing from the landscape.

    “Before blight came through and wiped out a lot of dogwoods, pink was very prevalent,’’ Paulus said. “I would walk up the street in my neighborhood and see masses of white and pink in late spring and then one by one they all died.’’

    “A 20-foot or 30-foot tree in pink is stunning,’’ Paulus said. “It’s a great tree to have in the landscape, and, of course, here in New Jersey the fact that it was developed at Rutgers makes it more special.’’

    Molnar took over the project to develop a pink Asian dogwood tree about a decade ago from retired plant biologist Elwin Orton, who had been working on the breeding program for decades. Orton knew the landscape industry was searching for a tree to replace the native dogwood that was being ravaged by insects and disease.

    2
    Researcher Tom Molnar between rows of young Scarlet Fire dogwood trees growing at Hidden Hollow Nursery in Tennessee. Photo: Alex Neubauer/Hidden Hollow Nursery

    The Asian dogwood had the hardiness and disease resistance the industry wanted but not the color to set it apart – it bloomed each spring with white or very light pink flowers.

    “The desire was to get something as tough as the Asian dogwood with that great pink color,’’ Molnar said.

    He tested genetic combinations that built on the previous generations of work of Orton, crossing trees that produced light pink flowers and then grew out thousands of plants until he found the desired brightness.

    “I was very lucky, he gave me all these parents to work with through his decades of work and one of the crosses we made gave us this really bright color,’’ Molnar said. “When we first saw it flower we were all blown away. It was a breakthrough color.’’

    The Scarlet Fire stands out in the landscape for its timing and shade of pink. The dogwood flowers toward the end of May and early in June, later in the season than most flowering trees. Molnar said he chose the name Scarlet to honor Rutgers 250th anniversary and Fire for the hue of the flower.

    “It gives this new splash of color we have never seen before on the landscape,’’ Molnar said. “At its peak it’s close to a fuchsia color. What is most pleasing about it is that from a distance it reflects light and you see this really brilliant splash of pink.’’

    The Scarlet Fire has a similar range as the native dogwood, Molnar said. It can grow in USDA plant hardiness zones 5 through 8, as far south as Florida north of New Jersey into Connecticut and as far west as central Pennsylvania and Ohio.

    “This is a tougher plant that takes the heat and drought better and is resistant to different diseases,’’ Molnar said. “It’s the first of its kind with such color and we are hoping it becomes very popular when everyone sees it.’’

    See the full article here .

    Follow Rutgers Research here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    rutgers-campus

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    Stem Education Coalition

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

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

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    Please give us back our original beautiful seal which the University stole away from us.

     
  • richardmitnick 3:28 pm on January 18, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , C. Vivian Stringer, , Gianna DeVeitro, Rutgers, Rutgers Women's Basketball   

    From Rutgers: “Rutgers Alumna Gains Strength in Battle Against Cancer from Supporters” 

    Rutgers University
    Rutgers University

    January 17, 2017
    Sherrie Negrea

    1
    Gianna DeVeitro, right, with C. Vivian Stringer, head coach of the Scarlet Knights. Gianna is a former student manager of the women’s basketball team. Photo: Courtesy of Larry Perfetti

    Gianna DeVeitro ‘16 had just graduated from Rutgers and celebrated the end of college by visiting a friend in Florida. She was back home in New Jersey looking for a job at a TV station or magazine when she suddenly began having severe abdominal pain and a fever.

    Her family physician suspected acid reflux, but when her pain intensified, DeVeitro was sent to Inspira Medical Center Woodbury, near her home in Deptford. She was released but readmitted two days later when her fever reached 102, and this time, her doctor ordered a blood analysis. “When the pathologist was looking at the blood smear, they then noticed I had abnormal cells, and they knew I had leukemia,” DeVeitro says.

    Her diagnosis of acute myeloid leukemia last July began a roller-coaster of treatment that has consumed DeVeitro’s life, from her first round of chemotherapy (which failed) to the second, followed by a bone marrow transplant at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. A week after her potentially life-saving transplant, a drug she was allergic to caused her temperature to spike to nearly 107.

    Through it all, however, DeVeitro has been comforted in her battle against cancer by the support of a close-knit group of Rutgers alumni, athletes and coaches who have one thing in common: Rutgers women’s basketball. Since her diagnosis, Scarlet Knights team members, coaches and fans have all rallied round DeVeitro, who was a student manager of the team and a member of the Rutgers Women’s Club Basketball.

    As a student manager for the team for two years, DeVeitro spent up to five hours a day scheduling and tracking the players’ practice, timing their drills and buying groceries and drinks for the girls. “Everyone wants to give back to Gianna because she gave so much to us,” says C. Vivian Stringer, head coach of the Scarlet Knights. “She’s so young and beautiful, and the world’s ahead of her – and then for this to happen.”

    Just five days before her bone-marrow transplant in November, Stringer and the entire team visited DeVeitro at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania after their game at Drexel University in Philadelphia. Stringer recalls how impressed she was with DeVeitro’s positive attitude toward her treatment.

    “It did us well to feel the energy and see what it means to have a spirit of fight inside,” says Stringer, adding that DeVeitro reminded her of her father, who had both his legs amputated but then went back to work as a coal miner. “Gianna is a living spirit for all of us.”

    DeVeitro’s fight to overcome leukemia also attracted the attention of Larry Perfetti, a three-time Rutgers graduate and retired psychologist whose daughter Kiersten died of cancer when she was 22. Like her parents, Kiersten, who had attended Goucher College for one year before her diagnosis, was a loyal Scarlet Knights fan.

    “She was the most fanatic of the Rutgers women’s basketball fans,” says Perfetti, a Highland Park resident who once brought his family to France to accompany the basketball team on tour. “She considered Coach Stringer her basketball mother. Coach Stringer taught her how to play basketball, and she was very encouraging. And Coach Stringer flew back from Iowa to attend our daughter’s wake.”

    2
    Coach Stringer and the Scarlet Knights team visit DeVeitro, center, at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. Photo: Courtesy of Larry Perfetti

    A year before she died in 2008, Kiersten founded a nonprofit called Kier’s Kidz to raise money to help children and young adults with cancer by funding organizations such as the Ronald McDonald House and Alex’s Lemonade Stand. Since Kier’s Kidz received tax-exempt status in 2012, it has provided direct financial and emotional support to children and young adults with cancer and their families.

    In October, Perfetti, the CEO of Kier’s Kidz, created a crowd-funding site on the platform youcaring.com to help DeVeitro’s family with their financial hardships. DeVeitro mother, Tina, who is single, was forced to quit her job as a medical assistant last August so she could provide round-the-clock care for Gianna. The crowd-funding campaign has so far raised $3,725 of its targeted $35,000 needed to help the family survive financially until Tina can return to work, Perfetti says.

    Since her release from the hospital the day after Thanksgiving, DeVeitro has been recovering at home while recording her daily progress on her Facebook page, One Cell At A Time. She still plans to use her journalism and media studies degree from Rutgers’ School of Communication and Information to find a job but also hopes to write a book about her experience battling leukemia.

    Her goal is to educate people about the disease and the need for bone marrow donors to help patients overcome it. “I just want to bring as much awareness about leukemia as possible,” she says. “And I just want more people to become donors, because it really does save lives.”

    For media inquiries, contact Carla Cantor at ccantor@ucm.rutgers.edu or 848-932-0555.

    See the full article here .

    Follow Rutgers Research here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    rutgers-campus

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    Stem Education Coalition

    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.

    Rutgers smaller
    Get us back our original seal, one of the most beautiful seals of any university, stolen from our use by the University.

     
  • richardmitnick 2:15 pm on December 20, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: BOLD Center at Rutgers Douglass Residential College, Rutgers, Rutgers Research   

    From Rutgers Research: “New BOLD Center Prepares Douglass Students for Success in the Workplace” 

    Rutgers University
    Rutgers University

    12.20.16
    No writer credit

    1

    The BOLD Center at Rutgers Douglass Residential College is helping students find the job of their dreams while making sure they can enjoy their success when it happens.

    Since opening this fall, the center has brought together existing career and leadership programs with a new wellness initiative to help students cope with the challenges they may encounter along their job path.

    In addition to cover letter and resume writing help, a leadership retreat, externship program and career conference, the center has launched a new Friday morning “coffee and chat” that has covered topics including mindfulness and happiness. Discussions about meditation and emotional intelligence – which includes the ability to navigate conflict – are being considered for the spring.

    “We want students to get and succeed in the job of their dreams,’’ said Leslie Danehy, an assistant dean and director of the BOLD Center, which stands for Building Opportunities for Leadership and Development.

    “But you can get going in your career and get so stressed out that it’s hard to appreciate having that job,’’ she said.

    Celese Lindsey, a sophomore business major from Franklin Township in Gloucester County, visited the BOLD Center for help with her resume, sought out advice to prepare for a job interview via Skype and has attended the Friday morning coffee and chat.

    “It’s really an open and welcoming environment,’’ Lindsey said. “It’s like you are talking to a friend who wants you to do well. They know who you are, they know your strengths and weaknesses so they know how to help you.’’

    The BOLD Center, which has a mission to “position Douglass students for excellence in work and life” added wellness programs this semester after hearing about the need from students. The center works to address issues unique to women in the workplace that have been identified through research including the gender wage gap and barriers to leadership.

    See the full article here .

    Follow Rutgers Research here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    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.

    Rutgers smaller
    Give us back our wonderful original seal.

     
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