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  • richardmitnick 9:24 am on March 17, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Double hit to malaria from new drug candidate", , , More than 600000 people – predominantly pregnant women and children under the age of five – die from malaria every year., The new compound named WM382 packs a one-two punch – targeting two essential molecules that interrupt several critical stages of the parasite’s life cycle., University of Melbourne   

    From University of Melbourne: “Double hit to malaria from new drug candidate” 

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    From University of Melbourne

    3.17.20
    Dr Nerissa Hannink, University of Melbourne
    Liz Williams, Walter and Eliza Hall Institute

    New antimalarial compounds target two essential molecules required for critical stages of the parasite’s life cycle, holding promise for overcoming the threat of drug resistance.

    For centuries, one of the biggest challenges for medical research has been controlling malaria.

    More than half of the world’s population is at risk of contracting the disease, which is caused by Plasmodium parasites.

    1
    More than 600,000 people, predominantly pregnant women and children under the age of five, die from malaria every year. Picture: Shutterstock.

    Humans are infected by the bite of a disease-carrying mosquito. The parasites first migrate to the human liver, where they multiply undetected by their host’s immune system.

    The parasites mature and are released into the blood, causing the classic symptoms of malaria – fever, headache and chills. Once in the blood, a mosquito then picks up the parasite from the infected individual, and transmits it to the next victim.

    Most current antimalarial drugs are active against the malaria parasite during this blood stage of infection, but many parasites have now developed resistance to commonly used drugs. In some areas, parasites are resistant to all three frontline malaria treatments, so novel drugs are urgently needed.

    Now, researchers from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute and global pharmaceutical company MSD have developed a novel class of antimalarial compounds [Cell Host & Microbe] that has been shown to effectively kill the malaria parasites at multiple stages of its life cycle.

    Hitting the targets

    The new compound, named WM382, packs a one-two punch – targeting two essential molecules that interrupt several critical stages of the parasite’s life cycle, says Professor Alan Cowman, deputy director at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, who led the Australian research team.

    “WM382 not only killed malaria parasites in the blood in preclinical testing, it also killed parasites in the liver and prevented parasites in the blood being transmitted to mosquitoes,” says Professor Cowman.


    WATCH: This visualization reconstructs malaria infection of a human child via mosquito bite, through invasion of cellular tissues including the liver and blood. Video: WEHImovies

    “This new class of drug candidates has the potential to not only cure people with malaria, but also prevent transfer of the parasite to the mosquito and halt further transmission of the disease.

    “It is an exciting prospect, as current antimalarial drugs kill the malaria parasite in the blood but don’t fully prevent transmission back to the mosquito. These new compounds have the potential to fill a critical and widening gap in our efforts to control and eliminate malaria.”

    Preclinical testing in laboratory models showed WM382 was also effective against different species of malaria parasites, including the deadly Plasmodium falciparum, which is responsible for almost all malaria cases and deaths in Africa.

    The team hope that drugs based on these compounds will soon progress to human phase I clinical trials.

    A global problem

    More than 600,000 people – predominantly pregnant women and children under the age of five – die from malaria every year. According to the World Health Organization, one child in Africa dies from malaria every two minutes.

    There are five species of Plasmodium parasite that can infect humans, but two – Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax – cause almost all cases worldwide.

    Much like antibiotic resistance, malaria resistance is an emerging crisis. Effective antimalarial drugs aren’t just critical for the infected individual, they are also critical for breaking the cycle of infection and an important way for us to reach our goal of eliminating malaria from highly endemic regions.

    3
    Plasmodium falciparum (pictured inside red blood cells) is the most lethal of all malaria parasites. Picture: Getty Images.

    “WM382 targets plasmepsin IX (PMIX) and plasmepsin X (PMX), two ‘master regulators’ that are critical for parasite survival.

    “PMIX and PMX are involved in multiple stages of the parasite lifecycle including red blood cell invasion. Because the compound hits both these targets, it is harder for parasites to develop resistance,” Professor Cowman says.

    Research project that never sleeps

    The development of WM382 started five years ago when Dr David Olsen, the head of the MSD US team, contacted Professor Cowman to ask if he was interested in a collaboration to develop new antimalarial drugs. This began an exciting research project that ‘never sleeps’.

    “In the US, when scientists at MSD finished their work day, our team at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute would take up the baton, fast-tracking the discovery and development of these exciting novel antimalarial compounds,” says Professor Cowman.

    In recent years, the focus of international efforts to develop new malaria drugs have centred on two criteria; they must target a novel process or pathway to avoid pre-existing resistance to current drugs; and they must be active at multiple stages of the parasite lifecycle.

    Professor Cowman said WM382 successfully met both of these criteria.

    “A major problem with current antimalarial drugs is that malaria parasites evolve and develop resistance to the drugs over time,” says Professor Cowman.

    “An exciting feature of WM382 is that it kills the malaria parasite in a very different way to current antimalarial drugs. In preclinical testing, malaria parasites that were resistant to the lethal effects of current antimalarial drugs were fully susceptible to WM382,” Professor Cowman says.

    “It was also very difficult to induce resistance to this compound in malaria parasites in the lab. This is uncommon in drug discovery, and is a positive sign, suggesting it will be harder for malaria parasites to acquire resistance in the field.”

    See the full article here .


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    u-melbourne-campus

    The University of Melbourne (informally Melbourne University) is an Australian public research university located in Melbourne, Victoria. Founded in 1853, it is Australia’s second oldest university and the oldest in Victoria. Times Higher Education ranks Melbourne as 33rd in the world, while the Academic Ranking of World Universities places Melbourne 44th in the world (both first in Australia).

    Melbourne’s main campus is located in Parkville, an inner suburb north of the Melbourne central business district, with several other campuses located across Victoria. Melbourne is a sandstone university and a member of the Group of Eight, Universitas 21 and the Association of Pacific Rim Universities. Since 1872 various residential colleges have become affiliated with the university. There are 12 colleges located on the main campus and in nearby suburbs offering academic, sporting and cultural programs alongside accommodation for Melbourne students and faculty.

    Melbourne comprises 11 separate academic units and is associated with numerous institutes and research centres, including the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health, the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research and the Grattan Institute. Amongst Melbourne’s 15 graduate schools the Melbourne Business School, the Melbourne Law School and the Melbourne Medical School are particularly well regarded.

    Four Australian prime ministers and five governors-general have graduated from Melbourne. Nine Nobel laureates have been students or faculty, the most of any Australian university.

     
  • richardmitnick 11:11 am on March 13, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "What causes an ice age to end?", Ice ages over the last million years ended when the tilt angle of the Earth's axis was approaching higher values., Longer and stronger summers melted the large Northern Hemisphere ice sheets., , Since the mid 1800s scientists have long suspected that changes in the geometry of Earth's orbit are responsible for the coming and going of ice ages., University of Melbourne, Using the latest techniques in radiometric dating the international team determined the age of two terminations that occurred about 960000 and 875000 years ago.   

    From University of Melbourne via phys.org: “What causes an ice age to end?” 

    u-melbourne-bloc

    From University of Melbourne

    via


    phys.org

    March 13, 2020
    Lito Vilisoni Wilson, University of Melbourne

    1
    Galleria delle Stalattiti, Corchia Cave. Credit: Linda Tegg

    New University of Melbourne research has revealed that ice ages over the last million years ended when the tilt angle of the Earth’s axis was approaching higher values.

    During these times, longer and stronger summers melted the large Northern Hemisphere ice sheets, propelling the Earth’s climate into a warm ‘interglacial’ state, like the one we’ve experienced over the last 11,000 years.

    The study by Ph.D. candidate, Petra Bajo, and colleagues also showed that summer energy levels at the time these ‘ice-age terminations’ were triggered controlled how long it took for the ice sheets to collapse, with higher energy levels producing fast collapse.

    Researchers are still trying to understand how often these periods happen and how soon we can expect another one.

    Since the mid 1800s, scientists have long suspected that changes in the geometry of Earth’s orbit are responsible for the coming and going of ice ages—the uncertainty has been over which orbital property is most important.

    Petra Bajo’s paper, “Persistent influence of obliquity on ice age terminations since the Middle Pleistocene transition,” published today in Science, moves closer to resolving some of the mystery of why ice ages end by establishing when they end.

    The team combined data from Italian stalagmites with information from ocean sediments drilled off the coast of Portugal.

    “Colleagues from the University of Cambridge and Portugal’s Instituto Português do Mar e da Atmosfera compiled detailed records of the North Atlantic’s response to ice-sheet collapse,” said Associate Professor Russell Drysdale, from the research team.

    “We could identify in the stalagmite growth layers the same changes that were being recorded in the ocean sediments. This allowed us to apply the age information from the stalagmite to the ocean sediment record, which cannot be dated for this time period.”

    Using the latest techniques in radiometric dating, the international team determined the age of two terminations that occurred about 960,000 and 875,000 years ago. The ages suggest that the initiation of both terminations is more consistent with increases in Earth’s tilt angle. These increases produce warmer summers over the regions where the Northern Hemisphere ice sheets are situated, causing melting.

    3
    Drilling a core from the subaqueous speleothem, Corchia Cave. Credit: Adriano Roncioni, Gruppo Speleologico Lucchese

    “Both terminations then progressed to completion at a time when Northern Hemisphere summer energy over the ice sheets approached peak values,” said Dr. Drysdale. “A comparison of these findings with previously published data from younger terminations shows this pattern has been a recurring feature of the last million years.”

    The team plan to have a closer look next at the Middle Pleistocene Transition when the average length of ice-age cycles suddenly doubled in length.

    See the full article here .


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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    About Science X in 100 words

    Science X™ is a leading web-based science, research and technology news service which covers a full range of topics. These include physics, earth science, medicine, nanotechnology, electronics, space, biology, chemistry, computer sciences, engineering, mathematics and other sciences and technologies. Launched in 2004 (Physorg.com), Science X’s readership has grown steadily to include 5 million scientists, researchers, and engineers every month. Science X publishes approximately 200 quality articles every day, offering some of the most comprehensive coverage of sci-tech developments world-wide. Science X community members enjoy access to many personalized features such as social networking, a personal home page set-up, article comments and ranking, the ability to save favorite articles, a daily newsletter, and other options.
    Mission 12 reasons for reading daily news on Science X Organization Key editors and writersinclude 1.75 million scientists, researchers, and engineers every month. Phys.org publishes approximately 100 quality articles every day, offering some of the most comprehensive coverage of sci-tech developments world-wide. Quancast 2009 includes Phys.org in its list of the Global Top 2,000 Websites. Phys.org community members enjoy access to many personalized features such as social networking, a personal home page set-up, RSS/XML feeds, article comments and ranking, the ability to save favorite articles, a daily newsletter, and other options.

    u-melbourne-campus

    The University of Melbourne (informally Melbourne University) is an Australian public research university located in Melbourne, Victoria. Founded in 1853, it is Australia’s second oldest university and the oldest in Victoria. Times Higher Education ranks Melbourne as 33rd in the world, while the Academic Ranking of World Universities places Melbourne 44th in the world (both first in Australia).

    Melbourne’s main campus is located in Parkville, an inner suburb north of the Melbourne central business district, with several other campuses located across Victoria. Melbourne is a sandstone university and a member of the Group of Eight, Universitas 21 and the Association of Pacific Rim Universities. Since 1872 various residential colleges have become affiliated with the university. There are 12 colleges located on the main campus and in nearby suburbs offering academic, sporting and cultural programs alongside accommodation for Melbourne students and faculty.

    Melbourne comprises 11 separate academic units and is associated with numerous institutes and research centres, including the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health, the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research and the Grattan Institute. Amongst Melbourne’s 15 graduate schools the Melbourne Business School, the Melbourne Law School and the Melbourne Medical School are particularly well regarded.

    Four Australian prime ministers and five governors-general have graduated from Melbourne. Nine Nobel laureates have been students or faculty, the most of any Australian university.

     
  • richardmitnick 3:17 pm on February 20, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Victoria’s volcanic history confirms the state’s Aboriginal inhabitation before 34000 years", , Budj Bim Australian World Heritage property., , , University of Melbourne   

    From University of Melbourne: “Victoria’s volcanic history confirms the state’s Aboriginal inhabitation before 34,000 years” 

    u-melbourne-bloc

    From University of Melbourne

    19 February 2020
    Dr Erin Matchan
    Professor David Phillips

    9
    Lake Surprise at Budj Bim, as it is today. (cafuego/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0)

    8
    Eugene von Guerard’s Tower Hill, 1855.

    New techniques for dating volcanic eruptions, a lone axe and Indigenous oral traditions give us a new minimum age for human occupation in Victoria.

    The questions of when people first arrived in Australia and the nature of their dispersal across the continent are subjects of ongoing debate.

    A lack of ceramic artefacts and permanent structures has resulted in an apparent scarcity of dateable archaeological sites older than about 10,000 years, yet what evidence there is suggests occupation across much of the continent for 30,000 or more years.

    1
    Budj Bim is the only Australian World Heritage property listed exclusively for its Aboriginal cultural values. Picture: AAP

    In western Victoria, the Budj Bim Cultural Landscape World Heritage Site in Victoria contains the world’s oldest known aquaculture system, built by the Gunditjmara People more than 6,000 years ago, near a volcano called the Budj Bim Volcanic Complex.

    3
    Crater of Mount Eccles (Victoria). Flickr: Crater of Mount Eccles (Victoria)

    4
    The Budj Bim Cultural Landcape was inscribed on the World Heritage List on 6 July 2019. https://www.environment.gov.au

    However, the Gunditjmara have lived in this area for much longer than this, and now, using a new volcanic activity dating technique and matching this with physical archaeological evidence and the rich oral traditions of the Gunditjmara people we have confirmed human habitation in this region at least 34,000 years ago [GeoScience World-Geology].

    Existing evidence for the oldest known human habitations in Australia comes largely from radiocarbon (¹⁴C) dating of charcoal, and optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) dating of quartz grains in rock shelter sediments.

    In southeastern Australia, only six sites (located in what are now Tasmania, New South Wales, and South Australia) older than 30,000 years are considered definitively dated by ¹⁴C and/or OSL methods, with ages spanning 37,000 – 50,000 years.

    There is a need for independent age constraints to test some of the more controversial ages and add to the sparse age record.

    The oral traditions of Australian Aboriginal peoples have enabled perpetuation of ecological knowledge across many generations, providing a valuable resource of archaeological information.

    Some surviving traditions appear to reference geological events such as volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, and meteorite impacts, and it has been proposed that some of these traditions may have been transmitted for thousands of years.

    Examples include oral traditions around the 7,000 year old Kinrara volcano in north Queensland [Quaternary Geochronology], and a number of oral traditions implying much lower sea levels than present day and dramatic differences in vegetation reflecting cooler climates that existed thousands of years ago.

    3
    Schematic map showing the location of recent lavas and confirmed >30,000 year-old occupation sites in south-eastern Australia. Picture: Supplied/Modified from Allen & O’Connell, 2014.

    The plains of western Victoria and south eastern South Australia are punctuated by a number of conspicuous small hills and remarkably circular lakes.

    These striking features are the remnants of volcanoes that are geologically very young. While the more than 400 individual volcanoes are considered to be extinct, the volcanic province of which they are a part, the Newer Volcanic Province, is regarded as active.

    This region includes the youngest volcanoes in Australia, Mount Gambier and Mount Schank, both around 5,000 years old.

    Although precise ages remain elusive, a number of other volcanoes in the Newer Volcanic Province are thought to have erupted within the last 100,000 years, and the people living in this region tens of thousands of years ago would no doubt have witnessed volcanic activity.

    However, in Australia, little archaeological evidence has been found beneath volcanic ash deposits and lava flows – perhaps because very few studies have looked for this.

    A single stone artefact, the ‘Bushfield axe’, was serendipitously discovered in the 1940s during sinking of a post hole through a sequence of finely layered volcanic ash from the Tower Hill Volcanic Complex, about 40 kilometres southeast of the Budj Bim Volcanic Complex (formerly Mount Eccles).

    This ash from Tower Hill has not previously been dated.

    4
    The age of Tower Hill, associated as it is with the Bushfield axe, represents the minimum age for human presence in Victoria. Picture: Mertie/Flickr

    The only previous estimation of the eruption age is from a combined OSL and ¹⁴C dating study of sediments above and below the volcanic ash, which gave an age of 35,000 ± 3,000 years.

    However, that study did not consider the archaeological implications of this age, probably because the existence of the Bushfield axe is not widely known.

    Previous ages for the Budj Bim Volcanic Complex are variable, largely derived from ¹⁴C dating of sediments in the crater lake (Lake Surprise) and swamps that formed after the lava modified the regional drainage system.

    The oldest of these swamp sediment ages, ~31,400 ± 400 years, represents a minimum age for eruption of the Budj Bim Volcanic Complex.

    This is consistent with ages of 33,600 ± 5,200 years and 39,600 ± 7,000 years determined by lava surface exposure dating methods, but the precise eruption age was not definitively known until now.

    Another dating technique, called argon-argon (or ⁴⁰Ar/³⁹Ar dating) has been used to date much older volcanoes, including nearby Mount Rouse (284,400 +/- 1,800 years.

    Technological improvements over the last decade, including work in our lab at the University of Melbourne’s School of Earth Sciences, have firmly established that ⁴⁰Ar/³⁹Ar dating, which relies on the rate of natural radioactive decay of potassium into argon in minerals, can be successfully applied to archaeological timescales.

    5
    Schematic geological map showing the location of volcanoes in the study area and the ⁴⁰Ar/³⁹Ar sampling locations. Picture: Supplied.

    In our study, published in the journal Geology, in collaboration with Professor Fred Jourdan and Dr Korien Oostingh at Curtin University, we applied the ⁴⁰Ar/³⁹Ar dating technique to a ‘lava bomb’ from the Tower Hill eruption sequence and to a sample from the Tyrendarra lava flow, the biggest lava flow from the Budj Bim Volcanic Complex.

    This study was supported by a University of Melbourne McCoy Seed Fund grant with Museum Victoria and an ARC Discovery Grant.

    These analyses produced lava eruption ages of 36,800 ± 3,800 ka for Tower Hill and 36,900 ± 3,100 for the Budj Bim Volcanic Complex.

    These ages fall within the range of ¹⁴C and OSL ages reported for the six earliest known occupation sites in southeastern Australia. The age of Tower Hill, associated as it is with the Bushfield axe, represents the minimum age for human presence in Victoria.

    And if oral traditions surrounding Budj Bim do indeed reference volcanic activity, this could mean that these are some of the longest-lived oral traditions in the world.

    See the full article here .


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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    u-melbourne-campus

    The University of Melbourne (informally Melbourne University) is an Australian public research university located in Melbourne, Victoria. Founded in 1853, it is Australia’s second oldest university and the oldest in Victoria. Times Higher Education ranks Melbourne as 33rd in the world, while the Academic Ranking of World Universities places Melbourne 44th in the world (both first in Australia).

    Melbourne’s main campus is located in Parkville, an inner suburb north of the Melbourne central business district, with several other campuses located across Victoria. Melbourne is a sandstone university and a member of the Group of Eight, Universitas 21 and the Association of Pacific Rim Universities. Since 1872 various residential colleges have become affiliated with the university. There are 12 colleges located on the main campus and in nearby suburbs offering academic, sporting and cultural programs alongside accommodation for Melbourne students and faculty.

    Melbourne comprises 11 separate academic units and is associated with numerous institutes and research centres, including the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health, the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research and the Grattan Institute. Amongst Melbourne’s 15 graduate schools the Melbourne Business School, the Melbourne Law School and the Melbourne Medical School are particularly well regarded.

    Four Australian prime ministers and five governors-general have graduated from Melbourne. Nine Nobel laureates have been students or faculty, the most of any Australian university.

     
  • richardmitnick 11:57 am on September 14, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , , , University of Melbourne   

    From from the University of Melbourne and Australia’s ARC Centre of Excellence for All Sky Astrophysics in 3 Dimensions (ASTRO 3D) via COSMOS: “The hunt for a 12-billion-year-old signal” 

    From

    u-melbourne-bloc

    From University of Melbourne

    and

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    From ARC Centres of Excellence

    via

    10 September 2019
    Nick Carne

    1
    In this image the Epoch of Reionization, neutral hydrogen, in red, is gradually ionised by the first stars, shown in white.
    Paul Giel and Simon Mutch / UNIVERSITY OF MELBOURNE DARK-AGES REIONIZATION AND GALAXY OBSERVABLES FROM NUMERICAL SIMULATIONS (DRAGONS) PROGRAM

    Astronomers believe they are closing in on a signal that has been travelling across the Universe for 12 billion years.

    In a paper soon to be published in The Astrophysical Journal, an international team reports a 10-fold improvement on data gathered by the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA), a collection of 4096 dipole antennas set in the remote hinterland of Western Australia.

    SKA Murchison Widefield Array, Boolardy station in outback Western Australia, at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO)

    The MWA was built specifically to detect electromagnetic radiation emitted by neutral hydrogen – a gas that made up most of the infant Universe in the period when the soup of disconnected protons and neutrons spawned by the Big Bang started to cool down.

    Eventually those atoms began to clump together to form the very first stars, initiating the major phase in the evolution of the Universe known as the Epoch of Reionization, or EoR.

    2
    Epoch of Reionization. Caltech/NASA

    “Defining the evolution of the EoR is extremely important for our understanding of astrophysics and cosmology,” says research leader Nichole Barry from the University of Melbourne and Australia’s ARC Centre of Excellence for All Sky Astrophysics in 3 Dimensions (ASTRO 3D).

    “So far, though, no one has been able to observe it. These results take us a lot closer to that goal.”

    The neutral hydrogen that dominated space and time before and in the early period of the EoR radiated at a wavelength of approximately 21 centimetres.

    Stretched now to somewhere above two metres because of the expansion of the Universe, the signal persists – and detecting it remains the theoretical best way to probe conditions in the early days of the Cosmos.

    But that’s difficult to do, the researchers say, as the signal is old and weak and there are a lot of other galaxies in the way.

    That means the signals recorded by the MWA and other EoR-hunting devices, such as the Hydrogen Epoch of Reionisation Array (HERA) in South Africa and the Low Frequency Array (LOFAR) in The Netherlands, are extremely messy.

    UC Berkeley Hydrogen Epoch of Reionization Array (HERA), South Africa

    ASTRON LOFAR Radio Antenna Bank, Netherlands

    Using 21 hours of raw data, Barry and colleagues explored new techniques to refine analysis and exclude consistent sources of signal contamination, including ultra-faint interference generated by radio broadcasts on Earth.

    The result was a level of precision that significantly reduced the range in which the EoR may have begun, pulling in constraints by almost an order of magnitude.

    “We can’t really say that this paper gets us closer to precisely dating the start or finish of the EoR, but it does rule out some of the more extreme models,” says co-author Cathryn Trott, from Australia’s Curtin University.

    “That it happened very rapidly is now ruled out. That the conditions were very cold is now also ruled out.”

    The research was conducted by researchers from a number of institutions in Australia and New Zealand, in collaboration with Arizona State University, Brown University and MIT in the US, Kumamoto University in Japan, and Raman Research Institute in India.

    See the full article here .


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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    The objectives for the ARC Centres of Excellence are to:

    undertake highly innovative and potentially transformational research that aims to achieve international standing in the fields of research envisaged and leads to a significant advancement of capabilities and knowledge
    link existing Australian research strengths and build critical mass with new capacity for interdisciplinary, collaborative approaches to address the most challenging and significant research problems
    develope relationships and build new networks with major national and international centres and research programs to help strengthen research, achieve global competitiveness and gain recognition for Australian research
    build Australia’s human capacity in a range of research areas by attracting and retaining, from within Australia and abroad, researchers of high international standing as well as the most promising research students
    provide high-quality postgraduate and postdoctoral training environments for the next generation of researchers
    offer Australian researchers opportunities to work on large-scale problems over long periods of time
    establish Centres that have an impact on the wider community through interaction with higher education institutes, governments, industry and the private and non-profit sector.

    u-melbourne-campus

    The University of Melbourne (informally Melbourne University) is an Australian public research university located in Melbourne, Victoria. Founded in 1853, it is Australia’s second oldest university and the oldest in Victoria. Times Higher Education ranks Melbourne as 33rd in the world, while the Academic Ranking of World Universities places Melbourne 44th in the world (both first in Australia).

    Melbourne’s main campus is located in Parkville, an inner suburb north of the Melbourne central business district, with several other campuses located across Victoria. Melbourne is a sandstone university and a member of the Group of Eight, Universitas 21 and the Association of Pacific Rim Universities. Since 1872 various residential colleges have become affiliated with the university. There are 12 colleges located on the main campus and in nearby suburbs offering academic, sporting and cultural programs alongside accommodation for Melbourne students and faculty.

    Melbourne comprises 11 separate academic units and is associated with numerous institutes and research centres, including the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health, the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research and the Grattan Institute. Amongst Melbourne’s 15 graduate schools the Melbourne Business School, the Melbourne Law School and the Melbourne Medical School are particularly well regarded.

    Four Australian prime ministers and five governors-general have graduated from Melbourne. Nine Nobel laureates have been students or faculty, the most of any Australian university.

     
  • richardmitnick 10:33 am on July 29, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , SABRE (Sodium-iodide with Active Background Rejection), , , University of Melbourne   

    From Swinburne University and University of Melbourne: “Swinburne goes underground in search for dark matter” 

    Swinburne U bloc

    From Swinburne University

    and

    u-melbourne-bloc

    University of Melbourne

    29 July 2019

    Swinburne
    Media enquiries
    0455 502 999
    media@swinburne.edu.au

    Melbourne Media contact
    Emma Sun
    emma.sun@unimelb.edu.au
    +61 466 133 480

    1
    Swinburne Associate Professor Alan Duffy (left) at the site of the future Stawell Underground Physics Laboratory, where Minister for Regional Development Jaclyn Symes (centre) announced the funding.

    Swinburne University of Technology will be a key institution in the international project to explore and search for dark matter, following an announcement that Victoria’s state government will contribute $5 million to build the Stawell Underground Physics Laboratory.

    The funding has been announced by Victoria’s state Minister for Regional Development, Jaclyn Symes, and matches the federal government’s funding commitment confirmed in April.

    The laboratory will be built one kilometre underground, within the Stawell Gold Mine, as a bespoke excavated cavity 30 metres long, 10 metres wide and 10 metres high. It will provide ultra-low background research facilities (free from the particles that form background radiation) needed in the ground-breaking search for dark matter.

    Swinburne is one of six international institutes involved in the project, led by the University of Melbourne.

    The search for dark matter

    Swinburne astrophysicist, Associate Professor Alan Duffy, says understanding dark matter is one of the greatest scientific challenges of this century.

    “Astronomers have seen the movement of stars pulled by the gravity of an unseen companion. We now think that this unseen companion, dark matter, makes up five times more of the Universe than everything we can see combined,” he says.

    “The attention of the world’s physicists will now be on regional Victoria as a leader in the search for dark matter.”

    Associate Professor Duffy says that the establishment of Stawell as a physics research hub will also provide local education benefits.

    “This Lab will undoubtedly inspire local students to study physics in school and at university, but it also means that if they want to be part of a global scientific experiment, they can do that right here in Stawell.”

    The project is expected to deliver economic value to the region of $180.2 million in its first ten years, and support ongoing jobs.

    Ms Symes says: “With nearly 80 ongoing jobs connected to the Lab, this project will diversify Stawell’s economy – attracting a new highly-skilled workforce to the region to live and work.”

    University of Melbourne project leader, Professor Elisabetta Barberio, says the laboratory will be home to important scientific experiments.

    “The investment by both the state and federal governments ensure the Lab is large enough to host dark matter experiments as well as everything from fundamental cancer research into how radiation affects cells growing, to creating new ultra-sensitive detectors and novel geological exploration techniques,” she says.

    The project is a collaboration between six international partners. It will be led by the University of Melbourne alongside Swinburne, the University of Adelaide, the Australian National University, the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) and the Italian National Institute for Nuclear Physics.

    The Southern Hemisphere’s first dark matter detector

    Swinburne is heavily involved in building the largest experiment to take place in the Stawell Underground Physics Laboratory – SABRE (Sodium-iodide with Active Background Rejection), which is the Southern Hemisphere’s first dark matter detector.

    The vessel will be arriving at Swinburne’s Wantirna campus in August, where it will undergo a rigorous assembly and electronics fit-out process, including leak testing and internal reflective surface coating. Only once the international team is satisfied that it meets the exacting standards for this kind of precision experiment will it move to the underground laboratory where the search for dark matter can begin.

    See the full article here .

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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    University of Melbourne

    Swinburne U Campus

    Swinburne is a large and culturally diverse organisation. A desire to innovate and bring about positive change motivates our students and staff. The result is in an institution that grows and evolves each year.

     
  • richardmitnick 3:44 pm on February 23, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Magnetic resonance imaging, , University of Melbourne   

    From MIT Tech Review: “This Microscope Reveals Human Biochemistry at Previously Unimaginable Scales” 

    MIT Technology Review
    M.I.T Technology Review

    February 23, 2017

    1

    Magnetic resonance imaging is one of the miracles of modern science. It produces noninvasive 3-D images of the body using harmless magnetic fields and radio waves. And with a few additional tricks, it can also reveal details of the biochemical makeup of tissue.

    1
    Atomic-scale MRI holds promise for new drug discovery | The Melbourne Newsroom

    That biochemical trick is called magnetic resonance spectroscopy, and it is a powerful tool for physicians and researchers studying the biochemistry of the body, including metabolic changes in tumors in the brain and in muscles.

    But this technique is not perfect. The resolution of magnetic resonance spectroscopy is limited to length scales of about 10 micrometers. And there is a world of chemical and biological activity at smaller scales that scientists simply cannot access in this way.

    So physicians and researchers would dearly love to have a magnetic resonance microscope that can study body tissue and the biochemical reactions within it at much smaller scales.

    Today, David Simpson and pals at the University of Melbourne in Australia say they have built a magnetic resonance microscope with a resolution of just 300 nanometers that can study biochemical reactions on previously unimaginable scales. Their key breakthrough is an exotic diamond sensor that creates magnetic resonance images in a similar way to a light sensitive CCD chip in a camera.

    Magnetic resonance imaging works by placing a sample in a magnetic field so powerful that the atomic nuclei all become aligned; in other words, they all spin the same way. When these nuclei are zapped with radio waves, the nuclei become excited and then emit radio waves as they relax. By studying the pattern of re-emitted radio waves, it is possible to work out where they have come from and so build up a picture of the sample.

    The signals also reveal how the atoms are bonded to each other and the biochemical processes at work. But the resolution of this technique is limited by how closely the radio receiver can get to the sample.

    Enter Simpson and co, who have built an entirely new kind of magnetic resonance sensor out of diamond film. The secret sauce in this sensor is an array of nitrogen atoms that have been embedded in a diamond film at a depth of about seven nanometers and about 10 nanometers apart.

    Nitrogen atoms are useful because when embedded in diamond, they can be made to fluoresce. And when in a magnetic field, the color they produce is highly sensitive to the spin of atoms and electrons nearby or, in other words, to the local biochemical environment.

    So in the new machine, Simpson and co place their sample on top of the diamond sensor, in a powerful magnetic field and zap it with radio waves. Any changes in the state of nearby nuclei causes the nitrogen array to fluoresce in various colors. And the array of nitrogen atoms produces a kind of image, just like a light sensitive CCD chip. All Simpson and co do is monitor this fireworks display to see what’s going on.

    To put the new technique through its paces, Simpson and co study the behavior of hexaaqua copper(2+) complexes in aqueous solution. Hexaaqua copper is present in many enzymes which use it to incorporate copper in metalloproteins. However, the distribution of copper during this process, and the role it plays in cell signaling, is poorly understood because it is impossible to visualize in vivo.

    Simpson and co show how this can now be done using their new technique, which they call quantum magnetic resonance microscopy. They show how their new sensor can reveal the spatial distribution of copper 2+ ions in volumes of just a few attoLitres and at high resolution. “We demonstrate imaging resolution at the diffraction limit (~300 nm) with spin sensitivities in the zeptomol (10‐21) range,” say Simpson and co. They also show how the technique reveals the redox reactions that the ions undergo. And they do all this at room temperature.

    That’s impressive work that has important implications for the future study of biochemistry. “The work demonstrates that quantum sensing systems can accommodate the fluctuating Brownian environment encountered in ‘real’ chemical systems and the inherent fluctuations in the spin environment of ions undergoing ligand rearrangement,” says Simpson and co.

    That makes it a powerful new tool that could change the way we understand biological processes. Simpson and co are optimistic about its potential. “Quantum magnetic resonance microscopy is ideal for probing fundamental nanoscale biochemistry such as binding events on cell membranes and the intra‐cellular transition metal concentration in the periplasm of prokaryotic cells.”

    Ref: arxiv.org/abs/1702.04418: Quantum Magnetic Resonance Microscopy

    See the full article here .

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