EquiSeq CEO LexiPalmerPalmer was brought on as CEO by the company’s founder, genetic researcher Paul Szauter, in 2015.EquiSeq, which tests horses for genetic diseases, is developing an equine genome database.TechNewsWorld: How did you get involved with EquiSeq?Lexi Palmer: I met Paul Szauter at a community networking event hosted by 1 Million Cups. I was just finishing up my degree in interpersonal communications at the University of New Mexico, and he told me about the company he’d started. I told him I knew everything about horses and said I could learn everything he did and market it.Two weeks later we were discussing my title. He asked, “Where do you see yourself? What title do you want?” I said “CEO,” and he said, “OK, is this something you want to do?”I knew I needed a challenge, and this was the challenge that presented itself. Since I came on in November 2015, we’ve launched our first four products and are about to publish our first patent. Paul was willing to give me an opportunity, and I took it and ran with it.TNW: What is your background with horses?Palmer: I’ve been riding horses since second grade, when I started taking lessons. The first horse I had was in sixth grade. He was abandoned in a backyard, and he was sold to us for a penny. I loved that horse, and I kept riding all through high school and have worked at horse camps and been involved with horses ever since.A lot of the way I approach problems comes from horseback riding. When you’re jumping, for example, it can be intimidating. Your trainer, though, will make you jump jumps that are higher than you’re comfortable with, so that you’ll be ready for a show.There are a couple of ways you can approach a jump when you’re scared. You can shy away from it. You can fall over it. Or you can act like you’re not scared at all and jump better than you’ve ever jumped before.That’s my approach to everything. It’s not that I’m fearless. It’s just that I know the worst that can happen is that I will fail. That’s my approach to everything. Go at it, and most of the time everything ends up working out.TNW: What are some of the challenges you’ve faced as a young CEO of a biotech firm?Palmer: Some are because of age, and some because of gender. People think that millennials haven’t worked, haven’t paid their dues. I’ve had a few instances where I was told that I need to pay my dues.I’ve also had men refuse to speak to me, saying they’ll only talk to Paul. I get questioned a lot. The thing is, though, I’m aware that I’m young, and that there’s a lot to learn — but I’m making this company successful, and that’s all that matters.TNW: What are some of your daily tasks as CEO of EquiSeq?Palmer: A lot of isn’t so glamorous. A lot is strategy. We’re in the middle of fundraising, so a lot of it is following leads and talking with people. I do pitches at pitch competitions.I do volunteer work to talk about STEM topics, and I stay active in the community.I work with the team, strategize, and do customer service, making sure that orders are filled and things are getting paid.I oversee all operations and work as the voice for the company. I present EquiSeq in a way that makes sense to others, explaining genetic testing to people.I am just enthralled with everything that we do. Understanding your DNA is understanding your core, everything that makes you you.TNW: In what ways can young girls be encouraged to go into biotech fields?Palmer: I’m passionate about inspiring younger girls to go into tech. The best way to do that is to have role models out in the community whose merit is in their success.That’s really resonated when I’ve talked with young girls. I’m not that much older than they are, and they can envision themselves in my shoes.We need to have more stories like mine. We need to let girls know that it’s OK to feel beautiful by being smart. It’s not just about looking pretty.TNW: What’s in the future? How is EquiSeq evolving?Palmer: Our main goal is to help people stop breeding horses with diseases. Our entire business model is that you deserve a life with your best friend, so we’ll do whatever we can to make sure that happens.There are a few different potential directions we might go. There could be an eHarmony for breeders, for instance.Our goal is to keep discovering things about the horse genome and harvesting that data. While we’re doing genetic tests we’re collecting data, so we’re also a data company.That data might be of great interest to pharmaceutical and pet insurance companies. It could be great for a website that helps people vet horses. There are a lot of different applications.It’s all a matter of what opportunities present themselves, and what aligns with our company. Lexi Palmer is CEO of EquiSeq, a biotech firm that does genetic testing of horses. Vivian Wagner has been an ECT News Network reporter since 2008. Her main areas of focus are technology, business, CRM, e-commerce, privacy, security, arts, culture and diversity. She has extensive experience reporting on business and technology for a varietyof outlets, including The Atlantic, The Establishment and O, The Oprah Magazine. She holds a PhD in English with a specialty in modern American literature and culture. She received a first-place feature reporting award from the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists.Email Vivian.
I spent last week at Nvidia’s GPU Technology Conference, and I expect this will be the last year it will go by that name. The company has evolved significantly during the last decade with robotics, artificial intelligence, and even complete workstations and servers taking it well beyond its GPU roots. My bet is this will become Nvidia’s Developer Conference going forward, as the firm displaces Intel in the hearts and minds of developers and buyers.One interesting pivot I’m anticipating is that as Nvidia watches the Qualcomm/Apple/Intel battle, something like that might be in its future with Intel, and it may need to pivot to IBM Power or AMD Epic (AMD actually partners with Nvidia better than Intel does). This is because Intel’s long-term plan is to make Nvidia redundant, and it is about 24 months out from executing it. If Nvidia doesn’t pivot away from Intel by that time, it will be facing the possibility of the same near-death experience Qualcomm just experienced. Nvidia isn’t stupid and clearly has to see this coming.One thing that is missing from Nvidia — largely because its change has been gradual, and it doesn’t fully get that it is no longer primarily a parts vendor but a solutions vendor — is an effective way to convey how all the things it is doing will change the world.Corning created several videos that it used to showcase its vision, called “A Day Made of Glass.” While I don’t have the resources to create a video of what the future will look like when all of this Nvidia technology matures, I think I can describe it.I’ll do that this week and then close with my product of the week: a new HP headset I saw at GTC, called the “Reverb,” that I think now sets the bar for virtual reality headsets. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ECT News Network. Foundational Elements An Imaginary ‘Day Imagined by Nvidia’ HP Reverb VR Headset Wrapping Up: Reality The video begins with a black screen. First, a compelling tune can be heard softly in the background. At the bottom of the screen is a digital dialog that says “Monday Morning 2025 AI-generated music, unique, based on a collection of favorite songs by [your name here]. That music builds and light increases as if you were opening your eyes. Colors around you are fluid, as what you see alters through scenes ranging from fantasy to science fiction, highlighting the breadth of what is possible and finally locking down on a contemporary setting that clearly has been digitally rendered.A voice in the background, sounding a lot like the Avengers’ Jarvis, asks for a preference. Another voice, evidently belonging to the person whose eyes you are looking through, says “surprise me.” The room alters to look like something out of the movie Avatar, which itself was rendered for the most part. Text at the bottom of the screen says “RTX real time rendering room scale.”The video bypasses any initial trip to the bathroom for obvious reasons, and the Jarvis voice asks what you would like for breakfast, offering a series of choices. It reminds you that you have a virtual meeting in 15 minutes and asks for your preference on appearance. By way of advice, it tells you the attendees are Japanese native speakers, conservative, and they dislike the colors green and yellow.A virtual screen then appears that looks like three mirrors with what looks like the user’s image with three choices of formal clothing, none with green or yellow, and all conservative with Asian influence.The user’s voice is heard selecting choice two, and that image comes alive with a mirror image of the user. Jarvis asks if you want him to enter the meeting for the user as the user or as himself if the user hasn’t finished breakfast on time, suggesting that the people he is meeting with value starting on time.The user indicates he wants the avatar to open as him while he walks into the kitchen, which has small versions of what look to be industrial robots putting the finishing touches on breakfast. As the user approaches the table, a reflection off one of the appliances shows us the user’s face, and we see that he is wearing a set of augmented reality glasses, which is why the room has been changing its appearance on command.We fast-forward through breakfast until Jarvis speaks again, saying it is time for the user to enter the meeting. The user gives the command “proceed,” and he suddenly appears to be transported into a rich conference room with floating virtual displays and other users all well dressed, with some of the clothing actually appearing to morph and change as we watch.We observe a short meeting, during which the people talking are enhanced by dynamic displays that emerge and vanish on command to highlight key points or elaborate on certain subjects. We drift away from this virtual meeting to get an overhead view of a child’s room that is just starting to brighten as virtual animals line up at attention waiting for the user’s daughter to get out of bed.The child scolds some of the virtual animals and engages with others who appear to be talking about today’s assignments, thus helping the child think through her day at school. We skip the bathroom visit, fast-forwarding to the child being advised on what to wear. The video then advances to the child fully dressed and eating breakfast in the same kitchen.A reflection shows that the child is wearing a smaller set of AR glasses. The Jarvis voice announces that it is time to leave for class, and a door that we didn’t see before opens to a small windowed room with a chair that has seatbelts.The child enters the room, sits on the chair, and we now move out of the house to see that the chair isn’t a chair at all but an autonomous personal transport that whisks the child off to school to the sound of the old Jetsons’ theme song. We follow the child into class where other children are drawing simple stick figures and lines on active screens.Those screens — also using RTX technology, based on what we see on the bottom of the screens — instantly translate the rough drawings into photorealistic images of what the children intend to create. The kids all appear to be having fun when the teacher asks them to be seated.The teacher then begins a lecture on protecting endangered animals.As she speaks, the screen behind her dynamically reflects what she is talking about, highlighting the animals. A child raises her hand and asks a question. One of the animals perks up and asks if it can answer. After getting a “yes” response, the virtual animal then takes over the class and continues the lesson.We then transition out of the school and visually travel across the globe to find a woman who appears to be the wife and mother, watching her child perform in school real time. She speaks her child’s name and her child instantly perks up as her mother compliments her on the question she just asked. They enter into a side dialog that appears private to them.We now realize the child never actually went to school. That transport was just a simulation. Instead, that child and all the other children are attending virtual classrooms while remaining in their respective homes, safe from contact with disease or any travel-related risks.We see a series of short scenes showing pets being fed by robots and robot pets playing with actual pets, along with robots doing much of the maintenance around the home, which is actually located in a beautiful remote setting. It isn’t clear whether that location actually exists or is rendered.At the end of the day the family gathers, with the mother attending virtually (we’ll put time zone differences aside for now), and they enjoy what appears to be movie together. However, the actors often seem to look and sound like the family members, and they often are asked what the character should do next, with the answer having a dynamic impact on the direction and end of the film.We shift to a shot of the mother getting into a strange vehicle that starts on wheels and then lifts off and flies to the airport. We look over her shoulder while she clearly is creating a dynamic birthday card for her daughter, which she evidently plans to give her when she arrives.We follow her path at high speed and notice she is guided through the airport, which uses biometrics to identify and authenticate her, noticing there are no lines. When she boards, a very Jarvis-like voice welcomes her, tells her that the personalized meal she wants will be ready after takeoff, and offers her favorite beverage, which has been stocked specifically for her. You’ll note that it appears everything just happened like clockwork, and there is no attendant in site.The camera pulls back as the sun sets, showing robotic farming machines, cleaning machines, delivery machines, and an impression of millions of people mostly working from home but interacting digitally as if they all were in the same place. Everyone appears to be happy, because much of the stress associated with what they do has been removed. This new headset sets the bar with regard to how light it is on your head, and how comfortable and easy-to-use the mounting straps are (no adjustments, you just slide it on your head). It even has decent speakers on it, though I’d likely pull them off and use one of my own noise-canceling over-the-ear headsets.In use, the extra resolution — around 2K per eye like my Goovis — made it feel like I was actually in virtual environments. While I have yet to find a VR game title I like, this headset would be ideal for business or most medium usage commercial deployments. Heavy use would likely require the device to be a bit more robust. The headset will work with most laptop and desktop PCs, but the perfect use likely would couple it with HP’s backpack computers.There are cameras on the headset, so when we finally see hand recognition it should work with that solution. For now, it still uses the Microsoft controllers. Although they are good for games, I prefer hand interfaces for commercial use, similar to what Microsoft has showcased with its HoloLens 3.In the end, this is the first VR headset I think I could live with (the Goovis is mostly for movies and TV), which makes the HP Reverb Virtual Reality Headset my product of the week. Rob Enderle has been an ECT News Network columnist since 2003. His areas of interest include AI, autonomous driving, drones, personal technology, emerging technology, regulation, litigation, M&E, and technology in politics. He has an MBA in human resources, marketing and computer science. He is also a certified management accountant. Enderle currently is president and principal analyst of the Enderle Group, a consultancy that serves the technology industry. He formerly served as a senior research fellow at Giga Information Group and Forrester. Email Rob. Now, much like Corning Effort, this is a best-case scenario that depicts a world that likely will never actually exist in total. Still, the fact is that what Nvidia is creating could eliminate not only the jobs we don’t like doing, but also all of the waiting and wasted time we currently suffer through.Ideally the video I think Nvidia actually may create also will highlight the gaps that it may not yet realize exist in the solutions its AI, graphics, and computing technology anticipate.What I want to leave you with is that we all need to be thinking more about the world as we want it to be. Otherwise, we likely will be surprised by the world we get. As I flew back from Nvidia’s conference, I finally got around to watching Blade Runner 2049, the sequel to the 1980s classic, which portrays an alternative world that I personally wouldn’t want to live in, but using much of the same technology in very different ways.In short, if more of us don’t imagine a very different future, many of us may not want to live in the future we get. Nvidia is one of the companies that could make a far better future. Here’s hoping we get to live in it. I have a lot of VR headsets in my office, most of which I wouldn’t give to someone I didn’t like. The resolution is bad, they are uncomfortable, and the only thing I can think they’d be good for is to make fun of the poor idiot wearing them.A lot of this is due to the fact that the first set of headsets based on the Microsoft specification focused too much on being inexpensive and not enough on providing a good experience. The two exceptions are the Goovis Cinego and the Samsung Microsoft headset, as both companies pushed resolution to create a far better offering.Well I had a chance to try the HP Reverb Virtual Reality Headset at GTC, and I was impressed. The price point is closer to US$600 for the base configuration and $650 for the pro configuration (you’ll want the pro, though, because it comes with leather face pads that easily can be wiped down and should both wear and feel better, making them well worth the $50 upcharge in my opinion). The elements I’m going to use to build this story range from Nvidia’s new small form factor Jetson AI products for edge computing to its Data Science Workstations and Servers, its autonomous car and robotics solutions, its graphics and imaging products and enhancements, and its coming advances in networking and interconnect.I’m not going to name the products, but I will walk you through what “A Day Imagined by Nvidia” might be.
Reviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Oct 30 2018University of Maryland physician-scientists have treated the first patient in the United States with MRI-guided focused ultrasound for neuropathic leg pain as part of a pilot clinical trial.”If we can interrupt or carefully destroy the nucleus in the brain responsible for processing and amplifying pain signals, then we can disrupt this network and stop the neuropathic pain,” says principal investigator Dheeraj Gandhi, MBBS, professor of diagnostic radiology and nuclear medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM) and director of neurointerventional radiology at the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC).An estimated 100 million Americans suffer from neuropathic pain, a type of chronic pain caused by nerve damage or a malfunctioning nervous system that carries pain signals to the brain. The pain is not precipitated by a physical event such as accidentally hitting your thumb with a hammer. It can be a result of a number of things, including injury, infection, metabolic disease or a traumatic event. People often describe neuropathic pain as burning, tingling, pins and needles, and shooting or stabbing pain.Chronic neuropathic pain is difficult for doctors to treat because it doesn’t respond well to common pain medications. Current treatments include medications, nerve blocks, implantable devices and physical therapy. Approximately $530 billion is spent annually in caring for people with neuropathic pain. It can cause marked disability in some people, with many unable to work or be productive. Patients not only have pain, but they can become depressed, have trouble thinking clearly or falling sleep. The medications prescribed often impact cognition and executive function, and there are significant risks for drug toxicity and addiction. There is an unmet need for safe and more effective pain therapies.Tammy Durfee of Kansas City, Missouri, woke up one morning with a pain in her hip that was so severe she couldn’t get out of bed. Doctors couldn’t figure out what was causing the pain, and nothing seemed to relieve it. “I couldn’t sit still. I was always fidgeting and moving around to try and get comfortable, but I never could,” says the 56-year-old pharmacy supervisor. Over the next eight years, she would try electronic nerve stimulators, cortisone shots, narcotics and other medications. Some treatments didn’t work at all; others would work for a little while, and then stop.An evaluation of her brain activity showed that brainwaves were misfiring, sending phantom pain signals to parts of her body. Her neurosurgeon diagnosed cerebral dysrhythmia as the cause of her neuropathic pain, and recommended a radiation procedure. But after learning her insurance wouldn’t cover it, Durfee started researching alternative treatment options. She found a center in Switzerland that treats patients like her with MRI-guided focused ultrasound, and then saw that the University of Maryland Medical Center was recruiting for a clinical trial of the same procedure. “After reading about the Switzerland study and how it was successful there, I just went for it,” says Durfee. She travelled to Baltimore and had the focused ultrasound procedure on September 13, 2018.Related StoriesNew computational model explores daily pain sensitivity rhythmsDistractions and exercise may be key to managing chronic painCannabis users could be more tolerant to anesthesia agentsMRI-guided focused ultrasound is a novel approach to treating neuropathic pain that does not use radiation or invasive surgery. Instead, doctors use acoustic energy to ablate cells within the body. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) allows doctors to define the target inside the body and create a heat map so they know exactly where to aim. In this case, doctors guided ultrasound waves through Tammy Durfee’s skin and skull to precisely target the central lateral nucleus of the thalamus, which serves as the brain’s message relay center.”We have pioneered a technique for high-resolution structural imaging of the thalamus and brain, which allows us to perfectly localize and target the nucleus responsible for amplifying the neuropathic pain network,” says Dr. Gandhi. He notes that every person’s skull shape and brain structure is different; for this reason, a personalized approach for every patient is necessary.Before starting the procedure, Durfee’s head was shaved and a metal frame affixed. She laid face up in an MRI machine as the surgical team attached her head frame to the focused ultrasound transducer, which converts sound energy to heat energy. Chilled water circulated around her head to keep it cool during the three-hour procedure. Durfee was awake the entire time. Doctors gradually heated up the target, all the while getting real-time feedback from Durfee to learn whether she was experiencing more or less pain, and to make sure she wasn’t having any unwanted side effects.”Imagine a race where all the runners have different obstacles on their way to the finish, but they all must reach the target at the exact same moment,” says Howard M. Eisenberg, MD, professor and chair of neurosurgery at UMSOM and neurosurgeon at UMMC. “That is what we are doing with focused ultrasound.”Once doctors were sure they had identified the exact target, they increased the temperature and created bilateral lesions, effectively destroying the part of the brain responsible for sending pain signals to Durfee’s hip and leg.When the treatment was over, Tammy Durfee got up off of the MRI table and did something she hadn’t been able to do in years. She danced. “I feel great,” Durfee says. “I’m able to do fun things with my grandkids again, like go to Legoland and the zoo.”Currently, the study is limited to treat certain indications of neuropathic pain, which are radiculopathy (sciatica), spinal cord injury and phantom limb pain. If this study is a success, then the next step is to hold a larger trial and expand to other types of neuropathic pain that are widespread, such as diabetic neuropathy pain.The clinical trial of focused ultrasound to treat neuropathic pain is currently recruiting qualified patients. UMMC is the only treatment site. The Focused Ultrasound Foundation is funding the study. Dr. Eisenberg is a consultant to Insightec. For more information about the trial, please contact Charlene Aldrich, RN, MSN, clinical research manager, at 410-328-5332. Source:https://www.umms.org/
Reviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Dec 6 2018Laws to ban or curb drivers’ use of cell phones and other handheld devices have greatly reduced the rate of fatalities for motorcyclists, according to a new study by faculty at Florida Atlantic University and the University of Miami.The study’s findings, recently published in Social Science & Medicine, show that states with moderate to strong bans have motorcycle fatality rates that differ by as much as 11 percent compared to states with no bans.”In the case of motorcycles, these laws seem to be effective,” said study co-author Gulcin Gumus, Ph.D., an associate professor in health administration in the Department of Management Programs at FAU’s College of Business. “While it’s not clear that these laws have had an impact on reducing the overall number of traffic fatalities, when we focus specifically on motorcycles, we find that these laws are having a major impact in reducing deaths among motorcycle riders. “Motorcyclists account for a much higher proportion of traffic fatalities relative to the share of motorcycles among all motor vehicles and vehicle miles driven in the U.S. The study’s authors obtained annual data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System on total and motorcycle-specific traffic fatalities for all 50 states during the period of 2005-2015. Those data were then merged with state-specific characteristics, texting/handheld device laws, as well as other traffic policies to estimate the effectiveness of strong, moderate and weak bans compared to no bans.While automobile safety has greatly improved over the last several decades, bringing the overall fatality rates down with it, motorcycle fatality rates have not declined. Although research is mixed on the effectiveness of texting/handheld bans for overall traffic fatalities, the study’s findings indicate that motorcyclists are at elevated risk of being a victim of distracted driving and thus could greatly benefit from these policies. This result is driven mainly by multiple-vehicle crashes (e.g., car hitting motorcycle) as opposed to single-vehicle crashes.Related StoriesComprehensive cell atlas of the human liverStudy: Megakaryocytes play an important role in cell migrationAbcam Acquire Off-The-Shelf Diploid Library of Over 2,800 Knockout Cell Lines”Every day about nine Americans are killed and more than 1,000 are injured in traffic crashes that involve distracted drivers,” said study co-author Michael T. French, professor of health economics in the Miami Business School’s Department of Health Management and Policy and an avid motorcycle rider. “While our initial goal was to understand whether these laws save lives on the road, the broader application of our findings is even more powerful.”The researchers argue policy makers should consider strengthening texting/handheld bans along with their enforcement to improve safety and save lives, especially among motorcyclists.?”We have a better appreciation for the range of policies across states and years, and what makes texting/handheld bans strong and effective, especially for motorcyclists,” French said. “Hopefully these results will facilitate a more informed discussion between legislators, law enforcement officers, and the general public about distracted driving and traffic safety.” Source:http://www.fau.edu/newsdesk/articles/laws-to-curb-use-of-cell-phones-save-lives-of-motorcyclists.php
Jan 30 2019Fight for Sight has today announced funding for research to investigate the causes of keratoconus. The condition, which usually affects young people, results in progressive damage to the cornea – the window at the front of the eye – and has a profound impact on vision and quality of life.Dr Mouhamed Al-Aqaba and his team of researchers at Nottingham University will be taking corneal samples from patients with keratoconus and using biological ‘markers’ to investigate the underlying nerve structures.The aim of the research is to understand the role that nerves play in the progression of the condition with a view to developing new treatments. Genetic, biochemical and other factors have been implicated as causes but the underlying reasons remain poorly understood.Related StoriesBridging the Gaps to Advance Research in the Cannabis IndustryAXT enhances cellular research product portfolio with solutions from StemBioSysNerve transfer surgery restores upper limb function in people with tetraplegiaKeratoconus symptoms usually appear in late teens and progress into adulthood. Initially young people living with the condition wear corrective contact lenses to help manage symptoms. Ultimately corneal transplants are required in up to 60 percent of patients, with symptoms continuing to have impact in the long term.Marcin Bugaj is a keratoconus patient. He said: “Keratoconus has had a huge impact on my sight and as a result I needed a corneal transplant to restore some of my vision. The more we know about this condition the easier it will be to develop new treatments to combat it, which is why this research is so important.”Dr Neil Ebenezer said: “Keratoconus affects thousands of people across the country, which has a profound impact on their day to day life. Our research will help to find answers to the questions around this condition, and ultimately lead to treatments that could transform people’s lives.”Dr Al-Aqaba said: “We’re building on previous research that shows the nerves have a role to play in this condition but exactly how and why still needs to be determined. Our research will help us to understand more about how this disease progresses and how we can tackle it.”Keratoconus is a condition that affects the cornea, the clear front surface of the eye. The cornea becomes thinner and more cone-shaped over time, instead of having a rounder curve. The change of shape causes blurred and distorted vision in the early stages, whilst in the late stages there can be an increase in blurred and distorted vision, poor night vision, halos and ghosting around lights.The number of people affected with keratoconus varies across studies and countries with between 1 in 375 and 1 in 1,750. Source:http://www.fightforsight.org.uk/
Reviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Mar 6 2019First-time women principal investigator scientists received considerably less funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) compared to first-time male principal investigators, even at top research institutions, reports a new study from Northwestern Medicine and the Kellogg School of Management.Previous research showed women receive lower startup funds from their universities to launch their research. This is the first study to show women get less money when they submit grants to the federal government.The study will be published March 5 in JAMA.”If women are receiving less grant support from the very beginning of their career, they are less likely to succeed,” said co-corresponding author Teresa Woodruff, the Thomas J. Watkins Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and director of the Women’s Health Research Institute. “This shows women are disadvantaged from the very first NIH grant they submit relative to their male counterparts. This represents an early stumbling block of $41,000.”Women get less lab equipment, fewer research assistants”With less federal funding, women can’t recruit the same number of grad students to work on their research or buy the same amount of equipment as their male counterparts,” Woodruff said. “A funding disadvantage in the formative years of a women scientist’s career can be especially handicapping because research shows that it is likely to snowball over time.””If you don’t have the right kind of grant from NIH, you are less likely to be promoted,” said co-corresponding author Brian Uzzi, professor of management and organizations at Kellogg. “The prestigiousness of a grant award are the things that make or break someone’s career.”The backgrounds of the 53,000 first-time principal investigators in the study (57 percent men and 43 percent women) showed the men and women had statistically indistinguishable records prior to receiving their first NIH grant. They had published the same average number of articles, which received the same average number of citations across the same range of fields.Related StoriesTAU’s new Translational Medical Research Center acquires MILabs’ VECTor PET/SPECT/CTAMSBIO offers new, best-in-class CAR-T cell range for research and immunotherapyTrump administration cracks down on fetal tissue research”This means women are performing at a level on par with men, despite the fiscal disparity,” according to Woodruff.Uzzi’s team analyzed grant amounts to first-time female and male grant awardees from 2006 to 2017 from the NIH Principal Investigators database.They found: Grant inequity overall –For first-time principal investigators across all grant types (225) and institutions (2,766), women received an average grant amount of $126,615 versus $165,721 for men. For the 10 highest-funded grant types across all institutions, female principal investigators received an average award amount of $305,823 versus $316, 350 for male principal investigators. One exception was R01 grants where women received $15,913 more than men.Inequity varies by institution –Female principal investigators at the Big Ten universities received an average grant amount of $66,365 versus $148,076 for male principal investigators; at Ivy League schools, women received an average grant amount $52,190 versus $71,703; and at the top 50 NIH-funded institutions, first-time female awardees received an average grant amount of $93,916 versus $134,919 for men.Science suffers as a result of these inequities, Uzzi said.”Having women in science increases the rate of discovery in science and the quality of science overall,” Uzzi said. “Women in science don’t only add to discovery by bringing in the brain power from the other half of the human race, but also the culture of science. So much of science today is done in teams, and women on teams promote different points of view, increasing our comprehension of problems whether in medicine, business organizations or education institutions.”This study is based on work supported by grant R01GM112938 from the National Institutes of Health, grant 1747631 from the National Science Foundation and funding from the Northwestern Institution on Complex Systems and the Kellogg School of Management. Source:http://www.northwestern.edu/
By Dr. Ananya Mandal, MDMar 18 2019Powerful gene editing tools could soon face a global regulations on their use on human embryos, sperms or eggs. There have been instances of outrageous use of these powerful tools on modifying the DNA of sperm, eggs or embryos that would go on to become live human beings by rogue and unethical researchers. This call for stricter regulations comes in the wake of such instances.The leading researchers have said that they wish to put a stop to any such ongoing research and also mandate all nations to register and declare any such experiments being conducted. An international body speculated to be run by the World Health Organisation (WHO) may soon be created to look at all such research activities. They have also said that broad public support would be necessary before any such research could be undertaken.Eric Lander, founding director of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard in Cambridge, Massachusetts in a statement said, “What we want to see are wise and open decisions. We want to make sure that countries don’t do things secretly, that we declare what we’re thinking, discuss it openly, and be prepared for debate and disagreement.” Lander was a co-chairperson of Barack Obama’s council of advisors on science and technology. He is joined by 16 other researchers. The team writes in the latest issue of the journal Nature. Two of the researchers on the team were Emmanuelle Charpentier and Feng Zhang who were also part of the team that created the powerful gene editing tool called the CRISPR/cas9. 3D Rendering Crispr DNA Editing. Image Credit: Nathan Devery / Shutterstock A few months back a Chinese researcher He Jiankui had announced the result of his experiment to rewrite the DNA of twin baby girls’ embryos that made them resistant to HIV. He had disabled the CCR5 gene to provide a natural protection against the virus. The babies Lulu and Nana were born healthy after which the announcement was made. There was a global outrage after the announcement with He being removed from his position at the Southern University of Science and Technology in Shenzhen. He was criticized for his unethical experiment.There are a substantial number of experts who believe that tools like CRISPR could help in the treatment of genetic medical conditions such as cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy and some forms of genetic blindness etc. It could be used for “germline editing” of the DNA and also knowledge and screening of the donor eggs, sperms or embryos. However a large number of researchers believe that we know little about the multiple effects of genetic alterations and genetic editing may not be understood as of now as 100 percent safe.Related StoriesGene modulation goes wireless hacking the “boss gene”Study urges genetic testing before abdominal-based free-flap breast reconstructionResearch opens possibility of developing single-dose gene therapy for inherited arrhythmiasThe team writes, “Although techniques have improved in the past several years, germline editing is not yet safe or effective enough to justify any use in the clinic. There is wide agreement in the scientific community that, for clinical germline editing, the risk of failing to make the desired change or of introducing unintended mutations (off-target effects) is still unacceptably high.”US National Institute of Health has backed this effort and said so in a statement. “We have to make the clearest possible statement that this is a path we are not ready to go down, not now, and potentially not ever,” said NIH director, Francis Collins. In an accompanying letter to Nature, the Royal Society, the US National Academies of Science and the US National Academy of Medicine also said that they had similar concerns regarding gene editing. Collins said, “The Royal Society has been particularly reluctant to go down this path because of a concern that it might in some way slow down research that ultimately could be valuable,” speaking of their reluctance to call for the moratorium. He added, “They risk being seen as self-serving, as scientists who want to do science and don’t want to have others say: ‘No, for now, you shouldn’t’. We have not had the beginnings of a serious discussion about going down this path of modifying our own instruction book. Of all the things that science has made possible in the past several decades that would have massive consequences for humanity, this has to be top of the list.”Lander added in explanation, “In this case, random bad actors will not ruin the world, the choices that nations make are what’s important. We’re trying to plan the world we’re going to leave for our children. Is it a world where we’re deeply thoughtful about medical applications, and we’re using it in serious cases, or is it a world where we just have rampant commercial competition?”The researchers write, “We recognize that a moratorium is not without cost. Although each nation might decide to proceed with any particular application, the obligation to explain to the world why it thinks its decision is appropriate will take time and effort. Certainly, the framework we are calling for will place major speed bumps in front of the most adventurous plans to re-engineer the human species. But the risks of the alternative — which include harming patients and eroding public trust — are much worse.” Source:https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-00726-5
Reviewed by Alina Shrourou, B.Sc. (Editor)Mar 18 2019The more sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) people consumed, the greater their risk of premature death–particularly death from cardiovascular disease, and to a lesser extent from cancer, according to a large long-term study of U.S. men and women. The risk of early death linked with drinking SSBs was more pronounced among women.The study, led by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, also found that drinking one artificially sweetened beverage (ASB) per day instead of a sugary one lowered the risk of premature death. But drinking four or more ASBs per day was associated with increased risk of mortality in women.The study will be published March 18, 2019 in the journal Circulation.”Our results provide further support to limit intake of SSBs and to replace them with other beverages, preferably water, to improve overall health and longevity,” said Vasanti Malik, research scientist in the Department of Nutrition and lead author of the study.Studies have shown that SSBs–carbonated and noncarbonated soft drinks, fruit drinks, energy drinks, and sports drinks–are the single largest source of added sugar in the U.S. diet. Although SSB consumption in the U.S. has been dropping over the past decade, there’s been a recent uptick among adults, with intake levels from SSBs alone nearly exceeding the dietary recommendation for consuming no more than 10% of daily calories from added sugars. SSB intake is also on the rise in developing countries, spurred by urbanization and beverage marketing, according to the authors.Previous studies have found links between SSB intake and weight gain and higher risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke, although few have looked at the connection between SSB intake and mortality. In the new study, researchers analyzed data from 80,647 women participating in the Nurses’ Health Study (1980-2014) and from 37,716 men in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study (1986-2014). For both studies, participants answered questionnaires about lifestyle factors and health status every two years.Related StoriesHeart disease is still the number 1 killer in Australia, according to latest figuresUltra-fast new technology to detect bacteriaAlmost 3 million deaths linked to low fruit and vegetable intake, warns studyAfter adjusting for major diet and lifestyle factors, the researchers found that the more SSBs a person drank, the more his or her risk of early death from any cause increased. Compared with drinking SSBs less than once per month, drinking one to four sugary drinks per month was linked with a 1% increased risk; two to six per week with a 6% increase; one to two per day with a 14% increase; and two or more per day with a 21% increase. The increased early death risk linked with SSB consumption was more pronounced among women than among men.There was a particularly strong link between drinking sugary beverages and increased risk of early death from cardiovascular disease. Compared with infrequent SSB drinkers, those who drank two or more servings per day of SSBs had a 31% higher risk of early death from CVD. Each additional serving per day of SSBs was linked with a 10% increased higher risk of CVD-related death.Among both men and women, there was a modest link between SSB consumption and early death risk from cancer.Researchers also looked at the association between drinking artificially sweetened beverages (ASBs) and risk of early death. They found that replacing SSBs with ASBs was linked with a moderately lower risk of early death. But they also found a link between high intake levels of ASBs (at least four servings/day) and slightly increased risk of both overall and CVD-related mortality among women, so they cautioned against excessive ASB consumption.”These findings are consistent with the known adverse effects of high sugar intake on metabolic risk factors and the strong evidence that drinking sugar-sweetened beverages increases the risk of type 2 diabetes, itself a major risk factor for premature death. The results also provide further support for policies to limit marketing of sugary beverages to children and adolescents and for implementing soda taxes because the current price of sugary beverages does not include the high costs of treating the consequences,” said Walter Willett, professor of epidemiology and nutrition. Source:https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/press-releases/sugary-beverages-linked-with-higher-risk-of-death/
Class 1 mutations are FAST. They cause the transcription factor to travel more quickly through the DNA, allowing the partnering androgen receptor to activate expression of cancer-promoting genes. Imagine the driver racing forward at high speed. These mutations are seen in early stage prostate cancer and are likely what triggers the disease.Class 2 mutations are FURIOUS. The mutation causes a portion of the FOXA1 molecule to be cut off. This truncated molecule binds very strongly to the DNA, preventing normal FOXA1 from binding. These mutations are found in lethal hormone-therapy resistant prostate cancer and promote the cancer’s spread to distant sites. Think of the mutant as furiously binding DNA and dominantly enabling the cancer’s aggressive features.Related StoriesTrends in colonoscopy rates not aligned with increase in early onset colorectal cancerStudy reveals link between inflammatory diet and colorectal cancer riskNew study to ease plight of patients with advanced cancerClass 3 mutations are LOUD. They involve complex rearrangements of the FOXA1 genomic position, creating duplications in which FOXA1 or other oncogenes are overexpressed. In other words, the amplified oncogenes work at top volume to be biologically heard. This can occur in both early stage and metastatic cancer.Fast and furious mutations are mutually exclusive but loud rearrangements can exist by themselves or mingle with either of the other two.FOXA1 was previously known to be mutated in prostate cancer, but its biological functions were poorly understood. Scientists were uncertain if FOXA1 was an oncogene that fueled cancer or a tumor suppressor that hit the brakes. The Rogel Cancer Center team now clarified FOXA1’s role as a driver oncogene, in addition to classifying the three novel FOXA1 alterations.The researchers discovered its increased prevalence by using RNA sequencing data from 1,546 prostate cancer samples from multiple collections, including the Rogel Cancer Center’s Mi-ONCOSEQ program.”Oncogenes tend to be easier to develop therapies for as you could theoretically block them with targeted medicines,” Chinnaiyan says. “However, FOXA1 is a challenging target because it is a transcription factor, a class of proteins notoriously difficult to inhibit with small molecules. However, scientists are now developing innovative strategies to go after these ‘undruggable’ targets.”Chinnaiyan says this information can also be used to identify patients with more aggressive disease or begin to understand why patients respond to therapy differently.The authors also showed that the three classes of FOXA1 alterations are found in breast cancer, presumably impacting the estrogen receptor in a way similar to how it impacts the androgen receptor. FOXA1 alterations are implicated in bladder cancer and some salivary gland cancers as well. Source:Michigan Medicine – University of Michigan Reviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Jun 27 2019The Fast and the Furious movie franchise meets the Fast N’ Loud television series to define an oncogene that drives 35% of prostate cancers.A new study from researchers at the University of Michigan Rogel Cancer Center finds that the gene FOXA1 overrides normal biology in three different ways to drive prostate cancer. They refer to the three classes as FAST, FURIOUS, and LOUD to reflect their unique features. The findings are published in Nature.”It’s quite intriguing and complex biology,” says senior study author Arul M. Chinnaiyan, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Michigan Center for Translational Pathology and S.P. Hicks Endowed Professor of Pathology at Michigan Medicine. We found that the same gene can be turned into an oncogene in three different ways. One moves fast in the nucleus, the second binds to chromatin furiously and the third amplifies itself to be loud. These three alteration classes have different clinical implications for patients.”Abhijit Parolia, a molecular and cellular pathology graduate student and co-first author on this study