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  • richardmitnick 10:37 am on September 20, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Cold Pool at the bottom of the Mid-Atlantic Bight, Hurricane Sandy, Rutgers, Rutgers robot gliders   

    From Rutgers: “Lessons from Sandy: Hurricanes Behaving Oddly” 

    Rutgers University
    Rutgers University

    Sep 18 2017
    Ken Branson

    1
    Travis Miles, with the submersible robot glider he and Greg Seroka deployed in front of Superstorm Sandy in 2012. Notice the velocity sensor attached to the top of the hull. Photo: Nick Romanenko, Rutgers University

    Five years ago next month, four days before Superstorm Sandy made landfall in New Jersey, Rutgers University-New Brunswick marine scientists launched a data-collecting, submersible robot glider in front of the massive storm.

    Their paper on the data gathered by that swimming robot – published recently in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans – explains the peculiar ocean systems that helped make Sandy so destructive. Their data has also contributed to models now being used to forecast the intensity, size and track of such storms. The authors are Travis Miles, Greg Seroka and Scott Glenn.

    “There’s a cold water mass, called the Cold Pool, at the bottom of the Mid-Atlantic Bight (the coastal ocean from Cape Cod to Cape May),” said Travis Miles, now an assistant research professor at Rutgers-New Brunswick’s Department of Marine and Coastal Sciences. “Sandy, as it turned left across the continental shelf, pushed that cold water out to sea as much as 70 kilometers, which meant that the water it passed remained warm, which prevented the storm from weakening as it came ashore.”

    The robot glider they used was one of a fleet that the Rutgers University Center for Ocean Observing Leadership (RU COOL) is deploying in oceans across the globe, along with other new technologies such as high-frequency radar, that have helped change the field of oceanography and the way scientists understand weather, marine life, and related areas.

    The Rutgers robot gliders – about 6 feet long, bright yellow and resembling jet airplanes – carry sensors measuring conductivity, temperature and depth. For their Sandy deployment, Miles and co-author Greg Seroka added a velocity sensor outside the hull, to measure the speed of the water through which the robot passed. That sensor provided the data on the effects of Sandy’s winds on the Cold Pool.

    Seroka is now a staff scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. He and Miles were graduate students on October 25, 2012, the day they launched their robot glider in front of Sandy. The study’s other co-author, Scott Glenn is Distinguished Professor of marine and coastal sciences in Rutgers-New Brunswick’s School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, and co-director of RU COOL.

    Though the science generated by that glider’s collected data was rigorous, the deployment itself was a bit spur-of-the-moment, Miles recalls. The group wasn’t certain their glider would survive the storm, or that they’d be able to recover it if it did. When the storm was over, they had trouble finding an available boat and functioning dock from which to recover the device. But given the data’s usefulness in helping to forecast storms and potentially save lives, the effort was a clear success.

    Miles and Glenn are now working on creating a network of “sentinel” gliders to cruise continuously off the Atlantic coast, helping to provide data for the models used to forecast hurricanes.

    See the full article here .

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    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
    Please give us back our original beautiful seal which the University stole away from us.
    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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  • richardmitnick 9:01 am on August 7, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Parasitic intestinal worms, Rutgers, tuberculosis and hepatitis so prevalent in developing nations?, Why are malaria   

    From Rutgers: “Worms May Hold Answers to Curbing Disease in Developing World” 

    Rutgers University
    Rutgers University

    August 7, 2017
    Lisa Intrabartola

    1
    A parasitic worm in the small intestine is surrounded by immune system cells. Photo: Courtesy of Nature Medicine

    Why are malaria, tuberculosis and hepatitis so prevalent in developing nations? Any why are most vaccines against these pathogens so ineffective?

    Two Rutgers New Jersey Medical School scientists believe they may have found an answer in parasitic intestinal worms – which infect more than 1.5 billion people worldwide and can weaken the immune system’s ability to fend off disease, rendering vaccines less effective.

    George Yap and William Gause received a $3 million grant from the National Institutes of Health this spring to study how worms prevent vaccinations from bolstering the immune system. Their results could aid in the fight against diseases including malaria and tuberculosis, which kill more than 1 million and 1.8 million each year respectively, according to the World Health Organization.

    “We want to find out how to make vaccines effective even if someone has a worm infection,” said Yap, an associate professor with the Center for Immunity and Inflammation whose research focuses on the development of CD8 cells. “It could save millions of lives and resource dollars.”

    The pair previously found that worm infections weaken the immune system’s fighter cells – also called CD8 cells. Yap and Gause will spend the next five years studying CD8 cells in worm-infected mice trying to pinpoint exactly how secretions produced by worms impair those fighter cells.

    “Worms’ capacity to regulate the human immune response never ceases to amaze me,” said Gause, professor of medicine at NJMS and senior associate dean for research and director of the RHS Institute for Infectious and Inflammatory Diseases. “When they travel through tissues in the body, they damage the tissues and the tissues themselves release danger signals that can trigger immune responses.”

    The hope is that understanding how fighter cells are weakened by worms will lead to the development of vaccines that can circumvent this response and remain effective in non-industrialized nations where worm infections are rampant.

    Why do doctors not just treat worms – also known as helminth – instead?

    Parasitic worms – coevolving with vertebrates for 400 million years – are among the world’s most common infections and affect the most deprived communities. They are spread by eggs in human feces which contaminate soil in areas with poor sanitation.

    “Helminths are quite difficult to get rid of in parts of the world,” said Gause. “You can give a person an anti-helminth drug, but they go back to their village and get re-infected again.”

    Over treating populations for worm infections may lead to the development of drug-resistant strains, said Gause, who has been researching helminths and their impact on the human immune system since 1985 and is conducting a tandem study on the parasite with another NJMS peer, George Hasko. This second five-year, $3.2 million study, also awarded by the NIH, will examine how the immune system actually detects the worm infection, and then becomes activated to protect against the parasite while weakening the very immune components that protect us against microbes, like tuberculosis.

    When combined, the results of both NIH funded studies will help guide scientists working to help those living with too many worms – as well as those living with too few.

    “That is the double-edged sword of the immune response we’ve developed while co-evolving with worms,” said Gause. “One hypothesis is we are living in too hygienic a world, so the immune system doesn’t develop normally.”

    Scientists, including Gause and Yap, theorize that without worms to attack, the immune system attacks itself, leading to a rise in immune disorders like allergies, diabetes and IBD (inflammatory bowel disease).

    See the full article here .
    No science papers are cited in this article.

    Follow Rutgers Research here .

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    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
    Please give us back our original beautiful seal which the University stole away from us.
    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 8:04 am on July 7, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Rutgers   

    From Rutgers: “Cutting the Cost of Ethanol, Other Biofuels and Gasoline” 

    Rutgers University
    Rutgers University

    July 5, 2017
    Todd B. Bates

    1
    Enzymes, genetically engineered to avoid sticking to the surfaces of biomass such as corn stalks, may lower costs in the production of cellulose-based biofuels like ethanol. Shishir Chundawat/Rutgers University and U.S. Department of Energy

    Biofuels like the ethanol in U.S. gasoline could get cheaper thanks to experts at Rutgers University-New Brunswick and Michigan State University.

    They’ve demonstrated how to design and genetically engineer enzyme surfaces so they bind less to corn stalks and other cellulosic biomass, reducing enzyme costs in biofuels production, according to a study published this month on the cover of the journal ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering.

    “The bottom line is we can cut down the cost of converting biomass into biofuels,” said Shishir P. S. Chundawat, senior author of the study and an assistant professor in the Department of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering at Rutgers University-New Brunswick.

    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.

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

    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 for non-tradional students.

     
  • richardmitnick 9:51 pm on July 1, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Cloning Thousands of Genes for Massive Protein Libraries, , , LASSO (long-adapter single-strand oligonucleotide) probes, New DNA-based LASSO molecule probe can bind target genome regions for functional cloning and analysis, Rutgers, University of Trento   

    From Rutgers: “Cloning Thousands of Genes for Massive Protein Libraries” 

    Rutgers University
    Rutgers University

    June 26, 2017
    Todd B. Bates

    1
    New DNA-based LASSO molecule probe can bind target genome regions for functional cloning and analysis. Photo: Jennifer E. Fairman/JHU

    Discovering the function of a gene requires cloning a DNA sequence and expressing it. Until now, this was performed on a one-gene-at-a-time basis, causing a bottleneck. Scientists at Rutgers University-New Brunswick in collaboration with Johns Hopkins University and Harvard Medical School have invented a technology to clone thousands of genes simultaneously and create massive libraries of proteins from DNA samples, potentially ushering in a new era of functional genomics.

    “We think that the rapid, affordable, and high-throughput cloning of proteins and other genetic elements will greatly accelerate biological research to discover functions of molecules encoded by genomes and match the pace at which new genome sequencing data is coming out,” said Biju Parekkadan, an associate professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Rutgers University-New Brunswick.

    In a study published online today in the journal Nature Biomedical Engineering, the researchers showed that their technology – LASSO (long-adapter single-strand oligonucleotide) probes – can capture and clone thousands of long DNA fragments at once.

    As a proof-of-concept, the researchers cloned more than 3,000 DNA fragments from E. coli bacteria, commonly used as a model organism with a catalogued genome sequence available.

    “We captured about 95 percent of the gene targets we set out to capture, many of which were very large in DNA length, which has been challenging in the past,” Parekkadan said. “I think there will certainly be more improvements over time.”

    They can now take a genome sequence (or many of them) and make a protein library for screening with unprecedented speed, cost-effectiveness and precision, allowing rapid discovery of potentially beneficial biomolecules from a genome.

    In conducting their research, they coincidentally solved a longstanding problem in the genome sequencing field. When it comes to genetic sequencing of individual genomes, today’s gold standard is to sequence small pieces of DNA one by one and overlay them to map out the full genome code. But short reads can be hard to interpret during the overlaying process and there hasn’t been a way to sequence long fragments of DNA in a targeted and more efficient way. LASSO probes can do just this, capturing DNA targets of more than 1,000 base pairs in length where the current format captures about 100 base pairs.

    The team also reported the capture and cloning of the first protein library, or suite of proteins, from a human microbiome sample. Shedding light on the human microbiome at a molecular level is a first step toward improving precision medicine efforts that affect the microbial communities that colonize our gut, skin and lungs, Parekkadan added. Precision medicine requires a deep and functional understanding, at a molecular level, of the drivers of healthy and disease-forming microbiota.

    Today, the pharmaceutical industry screens synthetic chemical libraries of thousands of molecules to find one that may have a medicinal effect, said Parekkadan, who joined Rutgers’ School of Engineering in January.

    “Our vision is to apply the same approach but rapidly screen non-synthetic, biological or ‘natural’ molecules cloned from human or other genomes, including those of plants, animals and microbes,” he said. “This could transform pharmaceutical drug discovery into biopharmaceutical drug discovery with much more effort.”

    The next phase, which is underway, is to improve the cloning process, build libraries and discover therapeutic proteins found in our genomes, Parekkadan said.

    Other authors include Lorenzo Tosi, Viswanadham Sridhara, Yunlong Yang, Dongli Guan and Polina Shpilker of Harvard Medical School; Nicola Segata of the University of Trento in Trento, Italy; and H. Benjamin Larman of Johns Hopkins University.

    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.

    Rutgers smaller
    Please give us back our original beautiful seal which the University stole away from us.
    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 10:17 am on June 19, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , In the hunt for new antibiotics scientists hit pay dirt, Pseudouridimycin (PUM for short), Richard Ebright, Rutgers, , Waksman Institute of Microbiology   

    From Rutgers via The Washington Post: “In the hunt for new antibiotics, scientists hit pay dirt” 

    Rutgers University
    Rutgers University

    1

    The Washington Post

    June 15, 2017
    Jenna Gallegos

    2
    Soil is full of microbes that produce toxins to kill their neighbors — a great source of antibiotic drugs. (Wendy Galietta/The Washington Post)

    Scientists have discovered a new kind of antibiotic — buried in dirt. Tests in animals show that it is effective against drug-resistant bacteria, and it could lead to desperately needed treatments for deadly antibiotic-resistant infections.

    Almost our entire arsenal of antibiotics was discovered in soil, but scientists haven’t gone digging for drugs in decades. That’s because, “screening microbial extracts from soil is thought to be a tapped-out approach,” said Richard Ebright, a scientist at the Waksman Institute of Microbiology at Rutgers.

    3
    Waksman Institute of Microbiology at Rutgers

    Soil has been “over-mined,” agreed Kim Lewis, director of the Antimicrobial Discovery Center at Northeastern University. But there is still a wealth of useful compounds under foot; we just have to take a closer look.

    The “golden age of antibiotic discovery” began 65 years ago with a simple strategy: Scoop up dirt, grow the soil-dwelling bacteria in the lab, and screen them for useful compounds. Bacteria in the soil compete fiercely for nutrients. To get an advantage, they produce toxins that kill their neighbors. According to Lewis, soil bacteria “fight with each other. We borrow those compounds and use them as medicine.”

    Now scientists at the Waksman Institute — named for Selman Waksman, who developed the soil-screening technique — and colleagues have combined the tried-and-true approach with new technologies to discover a new weapon in our molecular arms race against killer pathogens.

    A study published Thursday in the journal Cell describes a compound called pseudouridimycin (PUM for short) discovered in Italian soil that could be a game changer in bacterial defense.

    Ebright described PUM as the inaugural member of “an entirely new class of antibacterial compounds effective against drug-resistant bacteria.” Lewis, who was not involved with this study, calls PUM’s discovery “very surprising and completely unanticipated.”

    Most antibiotics kill bacteria that are happily multiplying in infected patients. But PUM is predicted to also kill dormant bacteria, such as those that persist in slime layers on our desks and door handles. It does this by inhibiting an enzyme that is required for virtually every function in every organism: polymerase. Polymerase transcribes DNA into molecular messages called RNA. RNA serves as instructions for the construction of all our cellular proteins.

    Ebright specializes in polymerase. He and his team have been searching for more than a decade for compounds like PUM that disrupt polymerase. In the new study, they show that PUM not only inhibits polymerase, but it does so in a surprising way.

    PUM mimics one of the building blocks of RNA. These building blocks fit into polymerase like a lock and key. To evolve resistance, the bacteria would have to change its polymerase just enough to exclude the impostor PUM while still allowing all the right keys to fit. That makes PUM about 10 times less likely to trigger antibiotic resistance than traditional antibiotics.

    In the lab, PUM killed 20 species of bacteria. It is primarily effective against strains that cause strep and staph infections, some of which are resistant to multiple antibiotics. PUM also cured mice infected with a strain of bacteria that causes scarlet fever.

    Importantly, PUM specifically interacts with polymerase in bacteria and not human polymerase. This is surprising, because the polymerase for bacteria and humans is thought to have a very similar shape.

    Compounds that act by impersonating RNA building blocks have been used in the past to treat viruses including HIV and hepatitis C, but scientists didn’t think that was possible for bacteria. Now that we know this approach can also work against bacteria, libraries of polymerase inhibitors that have been used against viruses can be screened as possible antibiotics.

    PUM could move to human clinical trials within three years, and to market within a decade. In the meantime, Waksman’s legacy might again spur a whole new wave of antibiotic discovery. Perhaps most important, said Rolf Muller of the Helmholtz Institute for Pharmaceutical Research in an email, the results of this study “show once again that soil bacteria are still one of the best (if not THE best) source for novel antibiotics.”

    Read more:

    The world’s leaders are finally holding a summit on superbugs

    These 12 superbugs pose the greatest threat to human health

    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.

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

    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 for non-tradional students.

     
  • richardmitnick 10:11 am on June 5, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Rutgers, Stony Corals More Resistant to Climate Change Than Thought   

    From Rutgers: “Stony Corals More Resistant to Climate Change Than Thought, Rutgers Study Finds” 

    Rutgers University
    Rutgers University

    June 1, 2017
    Todd B. Bates

    1
    Stylophora pistillata, a well-studied stony coral common in the Indo-Pacific. Photo: Kevin Wyman/Rutgers University

    Stony corals may be more resilient to ocean acidification than once thought, according to a Rutgers University study that shows they rely on proteins to help create their rock-hard skeletons.

    “The bottom line is that corals will make rock even under adverse conditions,” said Paul G. Falkowski, a distinguished professor who leads the Environmental Biophysics and Molecular Ecology Laboratory at Rutgers University-New Brunswick. “They will probably make rock even as the ocean becomes slightly acidic from the burning of fossil fuels.”

    The Rutgers team, including lead author Stanislas Von Euw, a post-doctoral research fellow in Falkowski’s lab, details its findings in a pioneering study published online today in the journal Science. Using a materials science approach, the team tapped several high-tech imaging methods to show that corals use acid-rich proteins to build rock-hard skeletons made of calcium carbonate minerals.

    “What we’re showing is that the decades-old general model for how corals make rock is wrong,” Falkowski said. “This very careful study very precisely shows that corals will secrete proteins, and the proteins are what really forms the mineral and the proteins are very acidic, which will surprise a lot of people.”

    Corals are largely colonial organisms that harbor hundreds to hundreds of thousands of polyps (animals). Reefs built by stony, shallow-water coral species are among the world’s most diverse ecosystems. Thousands of species of fish and other sea life rely on reefs for survival, and thousands of human communities count on reefs for food, protection and jobs, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

    But corals face several environmental threats over the long-run: potentially deadly bleaching from global warming and rapid temperature changes; nutrient pollution; the physical destruction of coral reefs; and ocean acidification linked to carbon dioxide emissions, Falkowski said.

    The ocean absorbs carbon dioxide from fossil fuel burning and land use changes, leading to lower pH and greater acidity, according to NOAA. Ocean acidification is reducing levels of calcium carbonate minerals in many areas, which will likely hamper the ability of some organisms to create and maintain their shells.

    See the full article here .

    Follow Rutgers Research here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    rutgers-campus

    STEM Icon

    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
    Please give us back our original beautiful seal which the University stole away from us.
    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 11:19 am on May 24, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Andres Villegas, , Mental Illness, Rutgers   

    From Rutgers: “His Research Mission: Solving the Mysteries of Mental Illness” 

    Rutgers University
    Rutgers University

    5.23.17
    John Chadwick

    1

    Andres Villegas grew up in Elizabeth, the son of a single mom who had emigrated from Ecuador.
    He was uncertain about his future, and undecided about college.

    “I felt lost in high school,” Villegas says. “I didn’t know what I wanted to do in life.”

    But at Rutgers he found his calling in the research labs of scientists breaking new ground in the study and treatment of mental illness. Villegas emerged as a top student in the competitive field of neuroscience, leaving a lasting impression on his professors.

    “Andres is among the brightest undergraduate students that I have encountered in 30 years at Rutgers,” says Sidney Auerbach, a professor in the Department of Cell Biology and Neuroscience, who advised Villegas.

    Villegas graduates May 14 from the School of Arts and Sciences, and has been accepted into a prestigious Ph.D program in neurobiology and behavior at Columbia University. He’s committed to working on research aimed at finding new treatments for psychiatric illnesses such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

    See the full article here .

    Follow Rutgers Research here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    rutgers-campus

    STEM Icon

    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
    Please give us back our original beautiful seal which the University stole away from us.
    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 1:36 pm on May 18, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Computational modeling to the understanding of psychiatric diseases, , Rutgers, Rutgers-Princeton Center for Computational Cognitive Neuropsychiatry   

    From Rutgers and Princeton: “New Rutgers-Princeton center uses computational models to understand psychiatric conditions” 

    Rutgers University
    Rutgers University

    Princeton University
    Princeton University

    Feb. 8, 2017 [Just found this, could not pass it up.]
    Catherine Zandonella, Office of the Dean for Research, Princeton

    A new center is bringing together researchers from Princeton and Rutgers universities to apply computational modeling to the understanding of psychiatric diseases. The Rutgers-Princeton Center for Computational Cognitive Neuropsychiatry, which will open its doors this month, aims to improve the diagnosis of mental disorders, better predict their progression and eventually aid in developing treatments.

    The center fosters collaboration between computational neuroscientists, who develop models of brain activity and cognitive processes, and clinical researchers who work directly with patients. The studies conducted at the center will address disorders ranging from depression, anxiety and schizophrenia to obsessive-compulsive disorder and substance abuse.

    The center, located at Rutgers University Behavioral Health Care in Piscataway, features a 1,400-square foot facility with rooms for conducting patient intake and testing. It is supported by matching funds from Princeton and Rutgers.

    “We can learn a lot about how the brain controls behaviors when we create computational models of how life events affect brain circuits, and how these circuits change over time. This center will allow us to bring this knowledge into the patient setting,” said Yael Niv, who co-directs the new center and is an associate professor of psychology and the Princeton Neuroscience Institute.

    “We still lack an understanding of the biological basis of many of the symptoms of psychiatric disorders, and computational approaches can help us start to close that gap,” said Steven Silverstein, co-director of the center with Niv. Silverstein is the director of the Division of Schizophrenia Research at Rutgers University Behavioral Health Care, and a professor of psychiatry at the Rutgers-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.

    Over the last decade or so, neuroscientists have turned to computational modeling to help them understand how brain activity gives rise to behaviors. For example, researchers can build a computer model that represents how two areas of the brain communicate to generate behavior, and then block that communication to see what happens to the behavior.

    The researchers can then test the model’s predictions by comparing them to the real-life behavior of human volunteers. At present, most of these tests are done with community members or students. The new center will enable researchers to test models of disorders like depression and bipolar disorder in individuals living with those conditions.

    One goal of the research is to better understand the brain’s circuitry and what goes awry in mental disorders — how brain regions are connected, what is the role of each brain area, and how disruptions in brain circuitry can give rise to symptoms.

    “With computational models, you can quickly find out which of your hypotheses about how the brain works are likely to be true, and which are unlikely to be true,” said Silverstein. “This can accelerate scientific progress by maximizing the chances that follow-up experiments with people will lead to useful results, and avoiding long and expensive studies that are unlikely to succeed.”

    Models can also help improve diagnosis, Niv said. “Models allow us to describe behaviors in a precise, quantitative way,” Niv said. “For example, we can quantify the extent to which getting an unexpected reward affects your mood, and how this differs between patients and healthy control. This allows us to start to think about diagnosing psychiatric disorders in a more definitive way, with tools that are more like a blood test rather than a self-report of symptoms.”

    As the models improve, and researchers gain confidence that computational models accurately represent human conditions, it should be possible to use the models to develop new treatments, Silverstein said. “You can ask, what happens to behavior if I add a treatment effect to the model, and this can help us understand what might happen in patients.”

    Rutgers has one of the country’s largest academically affiliated mental health care systems, serving over 12,500 people each year. Princeton is a leading institution in the field of computational neuroscience. Also participating are collaborators at the Max Planck-UCL Centre for Computational Psychiatry and Ageing Research.

    See the full article here .

    Follow Rutgers Research here.

    Princeton University Campus

    About Princeton: Overview

    Princeton University is a vibrant community of scholarship and learning that stands in the nation’s service and in the service of all nations. Chartered in 1746, Princeton is the fourth-oldest college in the United States. Princeton is an independent, coeducational, nondenominational institution that provides undergraduate and graduate instruction in the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences and engineering.

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

    rutgers-campus

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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  • richardmitnick 12:31 pm on May 8, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Dianne Barba, , Nursing, Rutgers,   

    From Rutgers: Women in STEM – “Major Surgery Prompted Graduate to Become a Nurse” Dianne Barba 

    Rutgers University
    Rutgers University

    May 4, 2017
    Carla Cantor

    1
    Though her dream is to work in a neonatal intensive care unit, Dianne Barba will be happy with whatever the future holds. Photo: William Noel

    Dianne Barba changed her career trajectory after an operation to remove brain tumor.

    Dianne Barba’s decision to become a nurse came upon her, suddenly, a little more than two years ago as she lay in a hospital bed the day after undergoing brain surgery.

    She had just gotten word that the tumor removed from the frontal lobe of her brain, as doctors had suspected, was benign.

    “The machines whirring, the pace of the hospital, the nursed who cared for me, I loved everything. I was in a lot of pain, but I also felt happy, because I didn’t have cancer, and I realized in that moment I would become a nurse,” said Barba, 27, who will earn her B.S. degree this month from Rutgers’ School of Nursing, her second undergraduate degree.

    Until that experience, Barba had no desire to enter the nursing profession. “My mother is a nurse, and my sister is a nurse in the Navy,” she said. “But I was never interested. I just didn’t think it was for me.” She majored in early childhood and special education at the University of Scranton and, after graduating in 2011, taught at several preschools in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

    On April 2, 2015, after fighting an excruciating headache all day, at home in Elmwood Park that night she had a seizure. “One minute I was on the couch playing on my iPhone. The next, I was in the ER,” said Barba. With her parents by her side and her boyfriend RJ holding her hand, she heard the doctor’s terrifying words: “There’s a mass in your brain.”

    During a four-hour operation at St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Paterson, a surgical team removed a “benign mature teratoma” – the size of a lemon – which she was later told may have been growing slowly in her brain from birth.

    Barba came home to a grueling recovery. “I didn’t get out of bed for a month. It was hard to walk, to feed myself. I was dizzy, and my head hurt,” she recalled. But during that period she had enough strength to begin investigating nursing schools, and was particularly excited about the Second Degree Baccalaureate Program at Rutgers’ School of Nursing, which one of the nurses in the hospital had told her about.

    Deciding to give up teaching, she applied to the Rutgers program in May and that summer enrolled in prerequisite courses in microbiology, chemistry and nutrition online and at Bergen Community College. In November, she found out she’d gotten in.

    “I was so excited to be accepted at Rutgers, and by the time I started school in January, I felt totally normal,” Barba said.

    Through the 14-month program, she’s gained hands-on skills in clinical rotations at hospitals in New Brunswick, Edison, Perth Amboy and Old Bridge. She’s worked on medical-surgical floors, in pediatrics, the psychiatric ward, the intensive care unit and the mother-baby unit, which is her favorite.

    “I love babies and taking care of new mothers. It’s such an amazing time in their lives and I feel honored being able to share it with them,” Barba said.

    She also has made great friends. The program is intimate, with a graduating class of about 70. “Each of us is coming to nursing from a different place – psychology, finance, biology, education – and the students are from so many ethnic backgrounds, said Barba, who emigrated with her family from the Philippines to New Jersey as a toddler.

    Since March, she’s been working per diem as a nursing assistant at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center. Along with looking forward to graduation, she is busy studying for her NCLEX- RN exam (National Council Licensure Examination), which will allow her to practice as a registered nurse.

    And though her dream is to work in a NICU (neonatal intensive care unit), she’ll be happy with whatever the future holds, which sometime during the next two years will include a wedding.

    In December, RJ proposed at Rockefeller Center in New York City.

    “I feel pretty lucky,” Barba says. “When you get sick, it gives the people around you the chance to show how much they love you. My family has been so supportive, and RJ, too, is amazing. What we went through together is a good test for a marriage.”

    See the full article here.

    Follow Rutgers Research here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    rutgers-campus

    STEM Icon

    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
    Please give us back our original beautiful seal which the University stole away from us.
    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 11:39 am on May 8, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Rutgers, Traumatic Brain Injuries May be Helped with Drug Used to Treat Bipolar Disorder   

    From Rutgers: “Traumatic Brain Injuries May be Helped with Drug Used to Treat Bipolar Disorder” 

    Rutgers University
    Rutgers University

    May 8, 2017
    Robin Lally

    Rutgers research indicates lithium may prevent brain cell damage.

    A drug used to treat bipolar disorder and other forms of depression may help to preserve brain function and prevent nerve cells from dying in people with a traumatic brain injury, according to a new Rutgers University study.

    In research published in Scientific Reports on May 8, Rutgers scientists discovered that lithium – used as a mood stabilizer and to treat depression and bipolar disorder – and rapamycin, a treatment for some forms of cancer, protected nerve cells in the brain and stopped the chemical glutamate from sending signals to other cells and creating further brain cell damage.

    “Many medications now used for those suffering with traumatic brain injury focus on treating the symptoms and stopping the pain instead of protecting any further damage from occurring,” said lead author Bonnie Firestein, professor in the Department of Cell Biology and Neuroscience in the School of Arts and Sciences at Rutgers University-New Brunswick. “We wanted to find a drug that could protect the cells and keep them from dying.”

    According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a major cause of death and disability in the United States with an estimated 1.7 people sustaining a TBI annually. About 30 percent of all deaths due to injury are due, in part, to a TBI.

    The symptoms of a TBI can include impaired thinking or memory, personality changes and depression, as well as vision and hearing problems. The CDC reports that every day 153 people in the U.S. die from injuries that include a TBI. Children and older adults are at the highest risk, according to the CDC.

    When a TBI occurs, Firestein said, a violent blow to the head can result in the release of abnormally high concentrations of glutamate, which under normal circumstances is an important chemical for learning and memory. But an overproduction of glutamate, she said, causes toxicity which leads to cell damage and death.

    In the Rutgers research, scientists discovered that when these two FDA-approved medications were added to damaged cell cultures in the laboratory, the glutamate was not able to send messages between nerve cells. This stopped cell damage and death, Firestein said.

    Further research needs to be done, she said, in animals and humans to determine if these drugs could help prevent brain damage and nerve cell death in humans after a traumatic brain injury.

    “The most common traumatic brain injury that people deal with every day is concussion which affects thousands of children each year,” said Firestein. “Concussions are often hard to diagnose in children because they are not as vocal, which is why it is critical to find drugs that work to prevent long-term damage.”

    The Rutgers research was funded by a three-year grant from the New Jersey Commission on Brain Injury Research. The commission is funded, in part, by traffic tickets for moving violations like speeding, using a cell phone or driving without a license, and provides $1 to the fund from every ticket issued.

    See the full article here .

    Follow Rutgers Research here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    rutgers-campus

    STEM Icon

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

    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 for non-tradional students.

     
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