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Wenatchee Womans Death Ruled Accidental DrowningInslee Announces 12 M to Help Immigrants

first_imgThe death of 43 year old Danielle Rea Combs of Wenatchee has been ruled an accidental drowning. Grant County Coroner Craig Morrison completed the autopsy on Tuesday.Combs was riding in a vehicle with a companion early Friday morning when they stopped to rest around 3:30 a.m. While her companion slept in the car, Combs apparently walked to the lake’s edge and fell in. Her companion called for help around 8:30 a.m. when Combs couldn’t be found. Deputies located Combs’ body near the shoreline around 11 a.m.At this point, investigators have found no signs of foul play.last_img

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ICON announces results of new survey that examines key challenge of RD

first_imgMay 9 2018ICON plc, a global provider of drug development solutions and services to the pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical device industries, today announced the results from a new survey of pharmaceutical executives and professionals by ICON and Pharma Intelligence, which examines the key challenge of declining research and development (R&D) efficiency.A roundtable of pharmaceutical industry executives discussed the survey findings, alongside the key challenges affecting the pharmaceutical industry. The discussion enabled industry experts to identify the potential for generating savings and improving trial efficiency, as well as assessing how digital disruption is forcing change.Related StoriesOlympus Europe and Cytosurge join hands to accelerate drug development, single cell researchBridging the Gaps to Advance Research in the Cannabis IndustryResearch reveals how mirror therapy relieves phantom limb painThe challenges most frequently cited by survey respondents are patient enrolment (56%), site start-up (43%) and regulatory approval delays and changes (43%). Respondents also identified study start up, patient recruitment and retention, and protocol development as three key areas with the most potential for generating savings and efficiencies.”ICON recognizes the challenges our customers are facing and is focused on building our integrated site and patient network to improve trial start up, as well as patient recruitment and retention.” commented Dr. Steve Cutler, Chief Executive Officer, ICON, on the survey findings.Opinions of which technology trends will have the greatest impact on clinical trial operations varied. 36% of survey respondents noted that leveraging big data and AI technologies would have the most impact on improving clinical trial efficiency. 35% reported that risk-based approaches toward monitoring held greater opportunity for impact on clinical development.The survey demonstrates that industry have realized the need for a holistic effort to transform trials, however, only one in five survey respondents (22%) stated their organization currently has an integrated effort to drive clinical trials transformations. A further 83% of respondents believe strategic partnerships with CROs will be important to the success of clinical trials over the next five years.Informed by the survey responses, the Improving Pharma R&D Efficiency whitepaper proposes a three-part framework for guiding strategy in transforming clinical trials. The whitepaper argues that while adopting disparate tactics can improve elements of clinical trial efficiency, the potential is even greater when change is applied in a coordinated fashion to reimagine and reinvent the R&D enterprise. Source:https://www.iconplc.com/news-events/news/icon-sponsors-industry-wi/index.xmlcenter_img Adopting a radical patient focus; A greater use of adaptive clinical trials and other alternate trial models; Automating data collection and analysislast_img read more

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KFU medical departments seek to find treatments for hereditary syndromes

first_imgJun 6 2018Newest results were showcased at the International Myology School in Moscow on 16th – 19th May 2018. KFU was represented by Junior Research Associate Mikhail Mavlikeev. In particular, he spoke about an expedition to the Republic of Dagestan, a multiethnic region in Southern Russia, conducted by a combined team of researchers from Kazan, Ryazan, Moscow, and Saint-Petersburg.As he explained, “We work on diagnostics of orphan diseases and aim to create medications to alleviate such conditions.Related StoriesOlympus Europe and Cytosurge join hands to accelerate drug development, single cell researchComplement system shown to remove dead cells in retinitis pigmentosa, contradicting previous researchAMSBIO offers new, best-in-class CAR-T cell range for research and immunotherapy”Dagestan is a mountainous land with many isolated villages, and marriages between first and second cousins are rather widespread, which leads to higher prevalence of hereditary syndromes. During one of such trips we found an extremely rare ailment – limb-girdle muscular dystrophy type 2Q. It had only been described in literature once before we published our inquiry.”Another voyage to Dagestan was aimed to gather material for a general hereditary syndrome registry, and hundreds of patients were inducted.”Those patients have rare genetic diseases, and there is a lack of experts who can tackle such cases. There is also a significant portion of undiagnosed individuals. We fill in our registry to speed up medication research. For instance, currently there are works on a drug to fight the most widespread hereditary disease of muscles – Duchenne muscular dystrophy. 1 in 3,500 boys are affected. Last year, driaspersen, a drug based on exon skipping, was registered in the United States. Other research is ongoing in various countries for other diseases. To that end, our registry can be of great assistance.”In other news, DMGP works together with the Gene and Cell Technologies Lab to find new ways to battle another neuromuscular disease – dysferlinopathy. Researchers test their findings on transgene animals.Importantly, students of all ages are deeply involved in this cutting-edge research. This year, 46 students submitted their course projects at DMGP. Source:https://kpfu.ru/eng/news-eng/muscular-nervous-hereditary-syndromes-research.htmllast_img read more

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Study Food insecurity strongly linked to mortality rates in adults

first_imgReviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Aug 28 2018A wide array of negative health outcomes have been associated with food insecurity including diabetes, depression, and cardiovascular disease. But could food insecurity lead to an increased risk of mortality? According to University of Illinois agricultural economist Craig Gundersen, no one has researched this relationship until now.In a new study published in PLOS ONE, Gundersen and his co-authors find that household food insecurity is strongly associated with mortality rates in adults. Researchers took data from adults living in Ontario, Canada who participated in the Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS) in 2005, 2007-08, and 2009-10.Related StoriesNutritional supplements offer no protection against cardiovascular diseases, say researchersReplacing a small amount of red meat with healthier foods may improve life expectancyNew drug provides hope for patients with Duchenne muscular dystrophyFrom an 18-question module, participants were classified as “food secure,” “marginally food insecure,” “moderately food insecure,” or “severely food insecure.” The researchers then matched the answers to information about the participants’ subsequent mortality from the Ontario Registered Persons Database.Researchers found that the more severe level of food insecure of an individual, the higher the risk of mortality. “We know that those with more severe levels of food insecurity have worse health outcomes and we found the same with mortality.”Gundersen says the results call for an expansion of policy interventions to reduce food insecurity. “Fortunately, there are proven methods to reduce food insecurity in the U.S. – the most critical being the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) program. And this is one of the most effective ways we can reduce mortality rates, along with other social safety-net programs.”In light of the proven benefits of SNAP in reducing food insecurity and its consequences, Gundersen argues that a reconsideration of the costs associated with SNAP should be revisited. “When we think about the cost associated with SNAP, of course there’s a dollar figure to how much it costs to get people SNAP, but we also have to think about the benefits of it: people living longer because they are getting sufficient levels of food.” Source:https://emails.illinois.edu/newsletter/181945.htmllast_img read more

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Push to gamble big on mass production of Ebola vaccines

first_img Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe Email Pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) of Rixensart, Belgium, is now testing an Ebola vaccine for safety in volunteers at no risk of contracting the disease. A second one, made by NewLink Genetics of Ames, Iowa, is expected to enter clinical trials later this month. If the vaccines prove safe and able to trigger the desired immune responses, an earlier WHO consultation found wide support for shortcutting the standard progression of vaccine clinical trials and jumping straight from these phase I trials to phase III efficacy tests in Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone, the three hard-hit countries.In early November, GSK expects to have enough data from the phase I studies to decide whether to launch phase III trials, says Ripley Ballou, who heads GSK’s Ebola program. Health care workers—now broadly defined to include everyone from hospital janitors to burial teams—will be first in line. GSK earlier predicted it would have 10,000 doses by the end of the year that could be used in phase III trials, but Ballou says production has been going extremely well, and there may be as many as 20,000 doses by then.But that would still be nowhere near enough doses to stop the outbreak in West Africa. That’s why there’s a push to ramp up production to millions of doses as soon as the phase III trials launch. What the world can’t afford, Farrar says, is “to be in a position where the vaccine proves to be safe and effective in small scale-randomized trials and then we have to wait another 3 to 6 months to produce it.” Doctors Without Borders (MSF), which has been the main provider of care from the epidemic’s start, agrees. “Production should be scaled up rapidly even before end results on efficacy because this will permit that more people can benefit faster from the vaccines once efficacy has been demonstrated,” says MSF’s Annick Antierens, who was also at last week’s meeting.How many shots are available will depend in part on how much product constitutes a “dose.” GSK is testing its vaccine at two different doses, and if the lower one works, they’ll have twice as much vaccine. NewLink Genetics, a small company with less experience in vaccines, is lagging behind GSK, but safety studies could start later this month. The doses tested in those trials will have an even greater range. “If one of the lower doses proves to be effective, every vial would yield several shots,” says Gary Kobinger, a scientist who helped develop the vaccine at the Public Health Agency of Canada in Winnipeg. If that happens, the amount of vaccine available would multiply at a stroke.Just how fast vaccinemakers can spit out product presents a major unknown. Even a multinational company like GSK, which has large vaccine manufacturing plants, is asking itself how rapidly it can make millions of doses, given other vaccine production schedules. Money is an issue, too. Funding for the phase III trials does not yet exist, Ballou says, let alone for churning out millions of shots. “There is simply no budgeting model for this,” he says.Ballou says a “back of the envelope” calculation based mainly on personnel expenses shows that GSK could produce up to half a million doses for $25 million, and that cost would drop with increased quantity. But the company does not yet have any reliable cost estimates for production at a larger scale, he says, especially given the fact that no one can accurately estimate how much is needed now or in the future, and what the vaccine’s shelf life is. Ballou does know this much with certainty, however: “There are very substantial capital investments going from where we are now to what would be needed for millions of doses.”Politically, ordering vaccines without knowing if they’ll work is a hard sell. Marie-Paule Kieny, an assistant director-general at WHO, notes that there will be plenty of criticism if vaccine is purchased as an insurance policy and then not used. “At the end, when the analysis is made, people are always much cleverer,” she says.Kieny should know. She led WHO’s vaccine efforts during the H1N1 influenza pandemic in 2009. Then, too, vaccine manufacturers raced to provide many millions of doses, but most of them arrived after the pandemic had peaked in many places. “People said: Why did you waste all this money on this vaccine?” Kieny says, and the same could happen with an Ebola vaccine. “There will be inquiries, parliaments asking: How can you invest hundreds of millions of dollars in something that has not even been proven effective?”Many are looking to the United States government to foot the bill, or the majority of it, but no commitment has yet been made. A U.S. government official who is involved with these discussions and asked not to be named says the government is helping to set up the efficacy studies as quickly as possible, and says their results should be awaited “before large sums of money need to be invested in scale up of production.” The official assured that “things that can be done now are being done, including technology transfer.”Even if the vaccine works, and is produced in large quantities, rolling it out on a mass scale will be a struggle, especially in places where there is distrust of government, medical officials, big pharma, and clinical trials in general. The populations of the affected countries would need to be well-informed in advance, but even that carries an ethical risk: They might prepare for a vaccine that may never come, or may come too late. Yet there is no choice, Kieny says: A big education campaign “is very much needed and likely to start early in January.”*The Ebola Files: Given the current Ebola outbreak, unprecedented in terms of number of people killed and rapid geographic spread, Science and Science Translational Medicine have made a collection of research and news articles on the viral disease freely available to researchers and the general public.center_img The world needed an Ebola vaccine months ago to stop the epidemic that has exploded in West Africa—but none existed. Now, the race is on to develop vaccines in a matter of months, instead of the years it typically takes. But even if one of the current candidates works, many questions remain. How fast can companies make millions of vaccine doses? When should they start production? And who will foot the multimillion-dollar bill?At the end of a World Health Organization (WHO) meeting held in Geneva, Switzerland, last week to discuss Ebola vaccines, several participants were convinced that mass production of experimental products should begin in parallel with studies that aim to determine whether they actually work. “I’d pull out all the stops,” says Ira Longini, a statistician at the University of Florida at Gainesville who attended the meeting. “I’d try to make 30 to 40 million doses to cover at risk West African populations.”Jeremy Farrar, an infectious disease researcher and head of the Wellcome Trust in London—which has provided funding for Ebola vaccine testing—agrees. “We may come to regret that we have to throw those vaccines away if they prove not to be effective,” Farrar says, “but I think that is a risk we have to take.” Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Countrylast_img read more

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Armored lizard was ancestor of todays turtles

first_imgIt’s a primitive turtle, but it looks nothing like today’s dome-shelled reptiles. Resembling a broad-bodied, short-snouted lizard, the 240-million-year-old creature—dubbed Pappochelys rosinae—appears to be a missing link between prototurtles and their modern relatives, according to a new study. If so, the find could fill in a number of pieces about turtle evolution.The findings are “a very important contribution in addressing who turtles are related to, as well as the evolutionary origin of the turtle shell,” says Tyler Lyson, a vertebrate paleontologist at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science who was not involved with the study. “These have been two vexing questions for evolutionary biologists for the last 200 years.”About two dozen or so fossils of the creature have been recovered, all of them from 240-million-year-old rocks deposited as sediment on the floor of a shallow, 5-kilometer-long lake in what is now southern Germany. Most of the remains include only bits of bone and are from individuals of various sizes, says Hans-Dieter Sues, a vertebrate paleontologist at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. But between the two most complete specimens yet found, he and Rainer Schoch, a paleontologist at the State Museum of Natural History Stuttgart in Germany, have put together a full skeleton and most of a skull. P. rosinae adults likely measured about 20 centimeters long, with half of that being a long, whiplike tail. (The species name is a combination of the Greek words for “grandfather turtle” and the person who helped clean rock from the fossils to prepare them for analysis.) Its peglike teeth suggest the animal fed on worms and other soft-bodied prey, Sues says. Yet skeletal anatomy reveals Pappochelys was no run-of-the-mill lizard, Sues and Schoch report online today in Nature.  Unlike lizards, but much like the earliest known relative of turtles (Eunotosaurus, which lived in what is now South Africa about 20 million years earlier), Pappochelys’s ribs are broad, dense, and have a T-shaped cross section. In later, full-shelled species of turtles, those ribs are even wider and have fused with each other and certain bones in the shoulder girdle to form a carapace, or upper shell. But unlike the earlier Eunotosaurus, Pappochelys has gastralia, or belly ribs. These free-floating bones developed within the tissue of the underbelly, Sues says; in more evolved species of turtles, these gastralia broaden and fuse to form a plastron, or lower shell.Because the fossils were originally entombed in lake floor sediments, the researchers suggest that Pappochelys spent a lot of its time in the water and around the lakeshore—a lifestyle similar to that of today’s marine iguanas, Sues says. So having broad, dense bones and gastralia would have acted like a diver’s weight belt, helping Pappochelys fight buoyancy and forage on the lake’s bottom. But these bones would also have had a beneficial side effect: They would have offered some degree of protection from predators, such as large amphibians or fish living in the lake, by deflecting or blunting their bites.“In the water, predators can get you from all angles,” Sues notes. Over millions of years, evolution sculpted the bones to create the full set of body armor seen in modern-day turtles. The first full-shelled turtles show up in the fossil record about 205 million years ago.The two distinctive holes on the side of the head behind each eye of Pappochelys provide vital clues to the evolutionary heritage of turtles, says Torsten Scheyer, a vertebrate paleontologist at the University of Zurich in Switzerland who was not involved in the work. Those holes mark the species as a member of the diapsid (“two arches”) group of reptiles. That diapsid group includes crocodiles, lizards, snakes, dinosaurs, and their surviving kin, birds. But because modern turtle skulls lack these holes, some scientists have proposed that turtles were the last surviving members of an anapsid (“no arches”) lineage of reptiles. But now, he adds, these fossils of turtle progenitors firmly back up the results of genetic analyses of living reptiles: Turtles belong on the diapsid branch of the reptilian family tree.Scheyer says fossils that are even more complete, or ones that have the bones preserved in more lifelike arrangements, would provide better information about the species. “I’m really looking forward to see more research done on these outstanding fossils.” Email Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*)center_img Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! 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Lawmakers decry Trump plan to slash NIH 2018 budget

first_img Collins made no mention of the president’s 2018 budget request, which will officially be released next week, in his oral testimony. Appearing alongside the heads of five of NIH’s 27 institutes and centers, Collins instead offered examples of how NIH research has led to new drugs for cystic fibrosis and cancer treatments that help the immune system fight tumors.“You don’t have to comment on the budget, but we have to comment,” DeLauro observed at one point. The closest any lawmaker came to asking Collins for his thoughts on the White House’s plans for NIH was when Lowey asked whether private investment could make up for the cuts. In response, Collins described a White House meeting last week where biotech CEOs and academic scientists explained how companies relied on NIH-funded basic research. The biotech leaders “were quite clear … that their stockholders would not necessarily appreciate their putting money into things that are not directly connected to a product,” Collins said.DeLauro asked NIH officials to explain the role of the Fogarty International Center, which the Trump proposal would eliminate. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in Bethesda, reeled off examples of how Fogarty has trained health experts in Africa and South America to fight diseases such as HIV and Zika that are threats to the United States. “Even though they [the people being trained] are foreigners, they are helping us to be protected from disease,” Fauci said.Legislators also asked about the payments that NIH makes to universities to cover the overhead costs of NIH-funded research. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price has suggested that eliminating these so-called indirect cost payments could shrink NIH’s budget by $5.8 billion without reducing the level of research funded. At the hearing, Representative Andy Harris (R–MD), who shares that view, asked why NIH pays out about 30% per grant in indirect costs whereas many foundations pay only 10%.Collins defended the payments, noting that universities are able to accept grants from funders that reimburse at a much lower rate only because they represent a small portion of overall research funding. Even NIH’s rate doesn’t cover the full costs of supporting NIH-funded research, Collins added. If the payments matched what foundations paid, he said, some universities, particularly state schools, would not be able to continue hosting NIH-funded research.Another question concerned a new NIH policy to boost the fortunes of young scientists by capping the number of grants held by an individual investigator. Collins said that this Grant Support Index, which in effect would limit an individual to three bread-and-butter grants, is a topic of “intense conversations” at NIH and in the community. “We will need to have an exceptions process” to avoid doing harm to exceptionally productive labs, Collins said.The White House plans to release details of Trump’s 2018 budget request on Tuesday. Congress then will have barely 4 months to take action before the 1 October start of the 2018 fiscal year. Email Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle in the U.S. House of Representatives today voiced their displeasure with the Trump administration’s proposed $5.8 billion cut next year to the budget of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland. But they avoided asking NIH Director Francis Collins for his thoughts on the topic, perhaps knowing that it would put him in a very uncomfortable spot.During a hearing on “advances in biomedical research”, Representative Tom Cole (R–OK), who chairs the House appropriations panel that oversees NIH’s budget, said he was “very proud” of a $2 billion increase, to $34.1 billion, that Congress approved for NIH in 2017. That action overrode President Donald Trump’s request for a $1 billion cut. Cole added that he was “disappointed” with Trump’s 2018 proposal in his “skinny budget” released in March to cut NIH by 18%. That would “stall progress” and “potentially discourage promising young scientists” from pursuing biomedical research, Cole said.Representatives Rosa DeLauro (D–CT) and Nita Lowey (D–NY) said the president actually wants to cut NIH’s next budget by $8 billion, using as a baseline the amount that NIH had been appropriated for 2017 when the skinny budget was issued. That 24% drop would mean 5000 to 8000 fewer grants. Such a decline would “decimate biomedical research and the economy” by eliminating 90,000 jobs, said Lowey, citing a new analysis by United for Medical Research, an advocacy group based in Washington, D.C. Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Stephen Voss/Redux Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Countrycenter_img Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe By Jocelyn KaiserMay. 17, 2017 , 5:15 PM Lawmakers decry Trump plan to slash NIH 2018 budget National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins in 2013.last_img read more

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Revolutionary malaria tests have unexpected downsides

first_img Even more concerning, Hopkins says, is that in several settings more than 30% of patients who tested negative for malaria received ACTs, whereas more than 20% who were positive did not, leaving them at risk of severe disease or death.The work is a synthesis of data from 10 studies conducted by the ACT Consortium in five sub-Saharan countries and Afghanistan between 2007 and 2013, covering 562,368 individual patient visits—an “extraordinary” number, says Patricia Walker, president of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene in Oakbrook Terrace, Illinois, which published the paper online yesterday. The prescribers tended to be volunteers from the community trained as health workers, or shopkeepers who sell toilet paper and soft drinks along with dispensing medicine.The researchers don’t have firm explanations for the unexpected effects of RDT introduction, which varied from place to place. Health care workers are doing their best, Hopkins says, but they lack a simple test  to tell which fevers are caused by bacterial infections, much less which antibiotic to use. So when a malaria test is negative, they may think it’s safer to prescribe drugs than not.What’s more, patients come with clear expectations. If a mother has trudged many kilometers with a feverish child, it’s hard for a health worker to send her away without something “powerful,” such as an antibiotic or an antimalarial, Hopkins says. That may help explain why fewer than 25% of patients were given fever-suppressing drugs such as ibuprofen or paracetamol to relieve their symptoms, when that might have been all they needed. Why some patients diagnosed with malaria did not receive ACTs is more baffling, because there was no shortage of these drugs in the study settings. Hopkins speculates that prescribers who were used to frequent shortages may have saved ACTs for the sickest patients. Figuring out why health workers make these decisions is key, the authors say.“It’s not so easy to get physicians in the United States to follow recommendations, so it shouldn’t come as a big surprise that community health workers and private shopkeepers in some of the world’s poorest countries have a hard time diagnosing and prescribing drugs correctly,” says Chris Plowe, who heads the Institute for Global Health (IGH) at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore. “If anything, this study probably overestimates how well things are done by workers with even less training and follow up.”Monitoring can help, says Abigail Pratt, who spent 10 years working on malaria with Population Services International (PSI) in remote parts of Southeast Asia and Africa and is now getting her doctorate at LSHTM. (She was not involved in the study.) In Cambodia, for instance, PSI collects bags of used RDTs from health providers each month and crosschecks the results with ACT use, with follow-up training, if needed.But she and others see a bigger need: Community health workers must be equipped to diagnose and treat fever from all causes, not malaria alone. That means donors need to move beyond funding specific diseases to helping build up the health system, says Myaing Myaing Nyunt, also of IGH. And scientists need to replicate the RDT revolution for bacterial infections. Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) A health official takes a drop of blood to test a woman for malaria in Lagos in 2016. A simple fix to a major public health challenge has turned out to be not so simple after all.In the early 2000s, researchers developed rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) for malaria, a major childhood killer. Simple as a home pregnancy kit, RDTs need just one drop of blood from a finger prick to detect the malaria parasite. They enabled health workers in remote villages in Africa and Asia to accurately and almost instantly diagnose malaria, making them less likely to overuse the new generation of “wonder drugs,” artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs), which were in danger of being lost to drug resistance.The use of RDTs skyrocketed after the World Health Organization in 2010 recommended that all suspected cases of malaria be confirmed by a test before treatment; roughly 314 million tests were procured in 2014. Together with ACTs, they have transformed malaria treatment in poor countries. It shouldn’t come as a big surprise that community health workers and private shopkeepers in some of the world’s poorest countries have a hard time diagnosing and prescribing drugs correctly. Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Pius Utomi Ekpei/AFP/Getty Images Email But now the largest analysis of RDT use yet, in poor settings in Africa and South Asia, suggests that along with its enormous benefits, the roll-out had unintended—and undesirable—effects. Where RDTs were used, the number of ACT prescriptions dropped, as hoped. But antibiotic prescriptions surged; at most study sites, 40% to 80% of patients walked away with the drugs, considerably more than needed them. (In one study in Zanzibar, just 22% of children with fever needed an antibiotic.) Such overuse could contribute to the global rise in antibiotic-resistant infections; it’s a classic example of when fixing one problem exacerbates another, says Heidi Hopkins of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), who, along with colleague Katia Bruxvoort, led the international team. By Leslie RobertsAug. 8, 2017 , 1:00 PM Revolutionary malaria tests have unexpected downsides Chris Plowe, University of Maryland School of Medicine Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwelast_img read more

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Hurricane Harvey provides lab for US forecast experiments

first_img Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Caution should be taken in interpreting such results, though, says Chris Davis, a meteorologist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado. “I do not believe meaningful conclusions about model performance can be reached for a single storm.” Still, Lin says, “If you count the full history of Harvey … I think FV3 global is likely the top performer.” FV3 may help with hurricane prediction when it starts powering U.S. forecasts, probably next year.Intensity can be even harder to predict than storm paths, and here NASA may be able to help. Many models missed that Harvey would grow to a category-4 storm just prior to landfall, in part because data on wind speeds are spotty and difficult to collect. Last December, NASA launched a constellation of eight identical microsatellites, called the Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System (CYGNSS), to fill the gap. CYGNSS works by detecting the surface roughness of the ocean—a proxy for wind speeds—from the reflected radio signals of GPS satellites. These long-wavelength signals can pass through the veil of rain that cloaks hurricanes and blocks the microwaves that traditional weather satellites detect.Harvey was the first test for CYGNSS in severe winds. On 25 August, before Harvey made landfall, Christopher Ruf, an atmospheric scientist and engineer at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, strapped himself into a P-3 turboprop, an NOAA hurricane hunter, bound for the storm’s eye. His seat fell out beneath him again and again as the aircraft repeatedly plunged into the eyewall. Each time the wind grew more severe: The storm was rapidly intensifying.It will take weeks to know whether CYGNSS captured this sharp intensification, Ruf says. The weather service will be following his results closely. The constellation is technically only a 2-year experiment, but it’s possible the satellites could be pressed into operational service for NOAA, Ruf says. “Our simulations have shown that the forecast skill is improved. Now we need to demonstrate it for real.”With additional reporting by Julia Rosen. Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) NOAA’s offering is a brand-new forecasting model. Two years ago, NOAA’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL) in Princeton, New Jersey, won a competition to provide the computer code for the next-generation weather model of NWS. Current NWS models must wait for results from a time-consuming global simulation before they can zoom in on a smaller area and run a high-resolution model for hurricanes. With GFDL’s new code, the next-generation model will be able to simulate storms at the same time as it runs globally, in theory, improving forecasts for hurricane paths because its fine-scaled predictions feed immediately into the model’s next run, rather than lagging behind.Last week, GFDL anxiously watched the developing storm to see how it compared with a test run of the next-generation model. On Thursday, a day prior to landfall, the experiment agreed with the European model that Harvey would plow inland, stall, then head back out over the Gulf of Mexico before making a second landfall near Houston, Texas. That progression, close to what’s happening, helps explain the sustained, catastrophic rainfall that has battered the Texas coast. Human influence may prolong ocean cycle that gave birth to Harvey NOAA In Colorado, a global flood observatory keeps a close watch on Harvey’s torrents For years, U.S. forecasters have envied their colleagues at the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) in Reading, U.K., whose hurricane prediction models remain the gold standard. Infamously, the National Weather Service (NWS) in 2012 failed to predict Hurricane Sandy’s turn into New Jersey, whereas ECMWF was spot on. But two innovations tested during Hurricane Harvey, one from NASA and another from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), could help level the playing field. By Paul VoosenAug. 28, 2017 , 4:24 PM Hurricane hunters fly in a modified P-3 Orion during Hurricane Harvey. center_img Email Hurricane Harvey provides lab for U.S. forecast experiments The GFDL model, called FV3, also correctly forecasted that Harvey would develop a double eyewall—a second circular band of storms around the band enclosing the eye. The model’s zoomed-in view also predicted the extreme rainfall totals seen by Houston some 5 days in advance, says Shian-Jiann Lin, the GFDL scientist who led the development of the code powering FV3. Update: Life after Harvey—scientists take stock of the damage, and their luck View of the eyewall of 2005’s Hurricane Katrina from a P-3 hurricane hunter.  Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe NOAA Related Harvey storieslast_img read more

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It can take a decade for species endangered by wildlife trade to

first_img In just a decade, the number of black-winged myna birds found in the species’ home range in Indonesia has declined by more than 80%. A big reason is the wild bird trade: The ravishing black and white plumage and bright, complex trills of the myna (Acridotheres melanopterus) have made it a coveted prize among collectors. Now, less than 50 remain in the wild.Despite the myna’s descent toward extinction, however, international policymakers have taken no steps to protect it. And according to new research, the myna’s situation is no outlier: On average, it can take 10 years for nations to agree on protections for species already known to be at risk from the wildlife trade.The study “underscores the need for quicker action to protect species threatened by the wildlife trade,” says Ginette Hemley, senior vice president of wildlife conservation at the World Wildlife Fund in Washington, D.C., who was not involved in the research. “Identifying this gap is a great starting point for a lot more work to come.”  Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe Though elephants, rhinos, and tigers headline the trade in endangered wildlife, thousands of other lesser-known species are also hunted, captured, or maimed to turn a profit. To see whether species scientists consider imperiled are also getting attention from global policymakers, the researchers compared two lists. The first is an authoritative tally of 958 threatened species affected by the international wildlife trade compiled by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in Gland, Switzerland. The second is of species protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), the primary international agreement aimed at curbing the wildlife trade.“We thought we would see tight agreement” between the IUCN and CITES lists, says Eyal Frank, an economist at the University of Chicago and co-author of the paper. But the researchers found that more than one-quarter, or 28%, of IUCN’s at-risk species are not protected under CITES, the authors report today in Science. And they found that once IUCN lists a species as threatened, it takes an average of 10 years to receive protection under CITES. Some species are still waiting, 24 years after making the IUCN list.The study suggests that while “the wildlife trade is so dynamic … the process by which we evaluate and respond to it with policy is often too slow—trade can drive a species to extinction before we realize it’s happening,” says Julie Lockwood, an ecologist from Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, who was not involved in the study.These findings are not all bad news, Hemley says. CITES protects 95% of species flagged by IUCN as being most severely threatened by the wildlife trade, the researchers found.IUCN scientist Dan Challender in Oxford, U.K., says his organization has had productive conversations with CITES leadership about how to more effectively provide conservation data to CITES member countries. “We are working with CITES to close the gap this paper identifies, but these two lists are very different conservation tools—a CITES listing requires very different criteria,” Challender says.For a species to be protected by CITES, one of the member countries must recommend adding the species the protected list and the proposal must receive a two-thirds majority vote. But nations sometimes oppose a listing because of political or economic concerns. For example, proposals to ban trade in the Atlantic bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus) have been blocked by countries interested in continuing to catch and consume the hulking fish.CITES member countries should clear the backlog of threatened but unprotected species by creating an automatic pathway from the IUCN list to CITES proposals, argue Frank and co-author David Wilcove, an ecologist Princeton University. The authors also suggest countries should move to use IUCN’s information to unilaterally protect threatened species within their own borders.CITES members and the international conservation community will meet in May in Sri Lanka to discuss and vote on new proposals. CITES Secretary-General Ivonne Higuero says a number of the species identified by this study are among the 57 proposals set to be discussed and voted on at the meeting. The study’s findings, she adds, “provide valuable food for thought.”“CITES and the IUCN are by far some of our most important conservation institutions,” Frank says. “We are simply trying to equip both with a measure of how we are applying scientific knowledge to guide policy now and in the future.” It can take a decade for species endangered by wildlife trade to get protection Email By Alex FoxFeb. 14, 2019 , 2:00 PMcenter_img Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country JOEL SARTORE/NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC PHOTO ARK The black-winged myna of Indonesia is one of 271 species threatened by the wildlife trade, but it has not been protected under international law.last_img read more

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Holbrook royalty

first_imgPhoto by Kellie Spangler/spanglerpics.comHolbrook High School celebrated Homecoming last Friday, crowning Cody Keyonnie as king and Makenzie Thompson as queen. Please turn to Page for more photos of the celebration. Holbrook royalty October 4, 2017center_img RelatedSubscribe or log in to read the rest of this content. Bottom Adlast_img

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Compensation for ranchers impacted by Mexican wolf

first_imgJune 28, 2018 Compensation for ranchers impacted by Mexican wolf By Toni Gibbons On June 12, the Navajo County Board of Supervisors approved a letter to U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, requesting that the U.S. Department of Interior engage with the State ofSubscribe or log in to read the rest of this content. Bottom Adlast_img

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35 France Telecom employees end lives bosses may go to jail

first_img Related News Today the former top executives of France Télécom — once the national phone company, and now one of the nation’s biggest private enterprises, Orange — are on trial for “moral harassment.” It is the first time that French bosses, caught in the vise of France’s strict labor protections, have been prosecuted for systemic harassment that led to worker deaths.The trial has riveted a country deeply conflicted about capitalism and corporate culture, and may help answer a question that haunts the French as they fitfully modernize their economy: How far can a company go to streamline, shed debt and make money?If convicted, the ex-executives face a year in jail and a $16,800 fine. But even before the trial wraps up Friday, with a verdict sometime later, it has become a landmark in the country’s often hostile relations between labor and management.As President Emmanuel Macron has sought to make France more business friendly, he has run into a buzz saw of strikes and faced a revolt among yellow vest protesters who accuse him of being the president of the rich. While many workers complain they struggle to make ends meet, employers say a system of generous social benefits and worker protections makes hiring onerous and stifles job creation. France President Emmanuel Macron vows to protect women from abusive partners Karnataka trust vote today: Speaker’s call on resignations, says SC, but gives rebel MLAs a shield Explained: Treaty of Versailles 100 years on — A fragile peace and a fraught legacy After Masood Azhar blacklisting, more isolation for Pakistan Weeks of wrenching testimony about despairing employees who hanged themselves, immolated themselves, or threw themselves out of windows, under trains, and off bridges and highway overpasses, have suggested that the former executives went very far in “pushing the company into the new century,” as corporate strategy dictated.The executives include Didier Lombard, the former chief executive officer; Louis-Pierre Wenès, his No. 2; Olivier Barberot, the former head of human resources; and four others.A grim universe of underemployment, marginalization, miscasting and systematic harassment was established at the huge company, according to testimony at the trial.The executives “sought the destabilization of the workers,” prosecutor Francoise Benezech said in her summing up last Friday.“People who had worked outside their whole career were suddenly put in front of a computer,” Frédérique Guillon, a worker advocate who testified at the trial, said in an interview. “There were people whose work was simply taken away from them.”Among those victims, the youngest was Nicolas Grenouville, 28, who was wearing a company T-shirt when he put an internet cable around his neck and hanged himself in a garage, Ledoux told the court this week.“I can’t stand this job anymore, and France Télécom couldn’t care less,” Grenouville wrote shortly before his death in August 2009. “All they care about is money.”An introspective technician used to working alone on the phone lines, praised for his scrupulousness, Grenouville was suddenly pitched into a sales job dealing with customers. He couldn’t stand it. “They threw him out into the arena without a speck of training,” Ledoux told the court.The day before his suicide he had worked a 12-hour day with one 30-minute break. “Little Nicolas took this violence right smack in the face,” Ledoux said.Camille Bodivit, 48, had been a planner at the company when suddenly his job description began to shift. He threw himself off a bridge in Brittany in 2009. “Work was everything for him,” his partner’s lawyer, Juliette Mendès-Ribeiro, told the court Tuesday.“You killed my father — why?” asked Noémie Louvradoux last week, turning to the defendants, in one of the trial’s most widely reported moments. Her father, Rémy, set himself on fire in 2011 in front of a France Télécom office near Bordeaux, in despair over successive marginal reassignments.In their defense, the former executives have cited the intense pressure of a competitive and changing marketplace.“The company was going under and it didn’t even know it,” Lombard, the ex-chief executive, testified. “We could have gone about it much more gently if we hadn’t had the competition banging on our door.”Unfortunately for Lombard, he was recorded saying in 2007 that he would reach the quota of layoffs “one way or another, by the window or by the door.” The window is what a number of the employees chose.“This isn’t going to be lacework here,” Barberot said in 2007. “We’re going to put people in front of life’s realities.”To the mounting signs of distress management turned a deaf ear, testimony at the trial suggested.Noëlle Burgi, a sociologist who worked with the employees during the suicide wave and testified at the trial, said that it was “a process of humiliation.”“You were put in an office, underground,” Burgi said. “There was one guy who was literally kicked out of his office. He didn’t understand.”The suicides and testimony made clear that France’s chronically high unemployment rate had left many of the workers feeling especially vulnerable.“Before, when there was full employment, if you were unhappy at work, you could tell your boss to go to hell,” Guillon said.But those conditions haven’t existed for years in France, where the labor market is stagnant and immobile by American standards, and workers have little culture of moving cross-country for a new job.It is clear that these France Télécom employees had signed on expecting to finish their careers at the company. “Eighty percent were there to stay until the end of their professional life,” said Pascale Abdessamad, a France Télécom worker who also testified.Most of the employees were deeply dedicated to their work, testimony indicated. A company like France Télécom, iconic in French life for years, was an apparent lifelong security blanket.“These companies were considered family,” Ledoux told the court.France’s executive caste, normally mutually supportive, has been notably silent about the executives on trial, while France’s workers have watch the proceedings with special glee.The courtroom is filled with current and former company employees who look on with disapproval at the silent row of jacketed defendants.“Even if the penalties are low, it will be a nice stain on their jackets,” said Noel Rich, a France Télécom employee who had come to observe the trial. “These are guys who are used to hanging out with ministers,” Rich added. “There’s been no words of compassion for the little guy.” Advertising The trial has become a searing demonstration of those lingering tensions.France Télécom was caught flat-footed by the digital revolution, as fixed-line subscribers dropped away by the thousands. The state ordered the company to go private in 2003, and by 2005, it was more than $50 million in debt.Company executives thought they needed to get rid of 22,000 workers out of 130,000 — a necessity contested by the prosecution — to ensure survival.“They were stuck, cornered,” said Michel Ledoux, one of the plaintiffs’ lawyers. “The only possibility was to make them leave, one way or another.” Best Of Express Advertising More Explained Cabinet asks finance panel to consider securing funds for defence By New York Times |Paris | Published: July 11, 2019 8:32:56 am France Telecom, France Telecom suicide, France suicide case, France Telecom workers suicide, France company suicide, Indian Express, world news French union members outside the Paris courthouse at the start of the trial of France Telecom in May. (NYT)(Written by Adam Nossiter) In their blue blazers and tight haircuts, the aging men look uncomfortable in the courtroom dock. And for good reason: They are accused of harassing employees so relentlessly that workers ended up killing themselves.The men, all former top executives at France’s giant telecom company, wanted to downsize the business by thousands of workers a decade ago. But they couldn’t fire most of them. The workers were state employees — employees for life — and therefore protected.So the executives resolved to make life so unbearable that the workers would leave, prosecutors say. Instead, at least 35 employees — workers’ advocates say nearly double that number — committed suicide, feeling trapped, betrayed and despairing of ever finding new work in France’s immobile labor market. Advertising European heatwave: France roasts at 44.3 degrees Celsius, two die in Spain Taking stock of monsoon rain Post Comment(s)last_img read more

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Shocked someone placed on pedestal was accused MJ Akbars defence witness

first_img Karnataka: Supreme Court to rule today, says Speaker’s powers need relook Top News NRC deadline approaching, families stranded in Assam floods stay home MJ Akbar, Priya Ramani, MeToo, MJ Akbar metoo, defamation case against priya ramani, sexual misconduct, Indian Expres M J Akbar’s cross-examination had ended on July 6. (Photo: Tashi Tobgyal/File)Hearing in the defamation case filed by former Union minister M J Akbar against journalist Priya Ramani resumed on Monday, with one witness testifying in favour of Akbar.Akbar’s cross-examination had ended on July 6. Advertising Written by Anand Mohan J | New Delhi | Published: July 16, 2019 4:29:12 am In undecided Congress, first open call for Priyanka: She should be party chief Advertising Akbar had resigned as a Minister of State after Ramani levelled allegations of sexual misconduct against him. He had subsequently filed a defamation lawsuit.During Monday’s hearing before the court of Additional Metropolitan Magistrate Samar Vishal, senior journalist Veenu Sandal, who wrote a column in The Asian Age on astrology, said that she was “shocked and it came as a huge jolt” when Ramani called Akbar a predator. Sandal said she was deeply distressed that someone she had placed on a pedestal could do what was alleged, and that Akbar’s “image and his persona fell before her eyes” and “his reputation was dragged through the mud”.She also told the court that she had never met Ramani, and did not “read anything prior to Ramani’s tweets about any allegations against Akbar by any other woman”. Ramani’s counsel Rebecca John asked Sandal whether she wrote an article titled ‘Partnering with ghosts of the other world’ in The Sunday Guardian on October 13, 2018, and whether it was written in the context of the “Me Too movement”. Sandal told the court that the article was on ghosts, and Me Too was only mentioned in the introduction. John also showed the witness an article titled ‘Humans during day, snakes at night’, which Sandal said she had written.John asked Sandal, “Is it correct that in your column… you frequently write on existence of ghosts… ichadhari snakes and communicating with the dead?”Sandal replied, “I don’t write about them frequently. I write about them always.” She said her brief was to write about “paranormal activities”. 1 Comment(s)last_img read more

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IBM Chief Sounds Cautionary Note on Deep Data AI Quantum Computing

first_imgRetraining the Workforce A Great Message Openness and Transparency Appearing with Rometty during her presentation were Ed Bastian, CEO of Delta Air Lines and Charles Redfield, executive vice president of food for Walmart’s U.S. stores. Both had stories to tell about efficiencies their organizations have gained through technology.In 2010, Delta had a canceled flight on every day of the year, including 5,600 maintenance cancellations, Bastion noted. By 2018, thanks to technology, the airline had 251 cancellation-free days, and only 55 maintenance cancellations.In the past, Walmart had problems tracing the origin of food, Redfield recalled. For example, it took seven days to trace a package of mangoes from the shelf to the farm. However, with the use of blockchain technology, the trace took 2.2 seconds.”Blockchain is one of those technologies that is going to drastically change the market because it’s going to cut out a lot of the people in the middle in a lot of transactions,” McGregor said. “The market is latching onto blockchain faster than I would have predicted.” For the near future, Rometty’s vision of artificial intelligence augmenting mankind, not replacing it, seems like a good bet.”When I talk about AI with people, I talk about assisted intelligence,” said Jack E. Gold, principal analyst at J.Gold Associates, a technology consulting firm in Northborough, Massachusetts.”If you look where AI is going, at least over the next decade, it’s about making our lives easier and helping us do stuff, not replacing us,” he told TechNewsWorld.”Sometime in the future, is there a possibility that we’ll be replaced by certain things? Sure, but automation always replaces things,” Gold added.Over the past half century, computing technologies have caused massive disruptions in many industries and professions, Pund-IT’s King observed, but they also have created new companies, jobs and workplace benefits.”By focusing on how new technologies will augment man, Rometty is taking — and asking others to take — the long view on these developments,” he said. “The changes won’t happen overnight, but when they do occur, disruptions in some places will be offset by new opportunities in others.” Mankind’s Little Helper Powerful technologies like deep data, artificial intelligence and quantum computing should be introduced into society carefully, IBM CEO Ginni Rometty declared in Tuesday’s keynote address kicking off CES in Las Vegas.”These tools are so powerful they will solve some of the most enduring problems — like food safety, waste,” she said, “but like all powerful tools, we’ve got to usher them in safely into society.”In order for those technologies to thrive, trust and security will be necessary, Rometty observed. “A competitive differentiator for all … will be trust.”She urged development teams to “always remember the purpose of these technologies is to augment man. It is not to replace man.”Rometty also made a case for people owning the data they create.All data belongs to the owners, she suggested, and it is with their permission that we use it to gain insights.center_img Rometty called for the new technologies to be open and transparent, “but more than anything, that they are explainable, and they are free of bias.”The biggest challenges to the adoption of emerging technologies, like AI and quantum computing, are creating transparency and preventing bias, suggested Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT, a technology advisory firm in Hayward, California.”In the former case, many or even most people don’t fully understand how these technologies work, so they’re unlikely to fully trust systems to perform important or crucial tasks,” he told TechNewsWorld.”Moreover, in compliance-regulated areas, like banking, insurance and healthcare, decisions and findings need to be provably correct for businesses to avoid penalties and fines,” King pointed out.”As a result, IBM is working on a range of solutions designed to make AI systems and results explainable to business owners and other interested parties,” he said. “The company also offers solutions — like AI OpenScale, that is designed to automatically determine if AI systems have become biased, and to then take corrective measures.” To deal with displacement by technology, workforces must be retrained, Rometty said in her keynote. She cited one public-private partnership program IBM is involved in, called “P-Tech,” a six-year program that combines a high school diploma with an associates degree. Students graduate from the program debt free.There are 400 P-Tech schools with 125,000 students in 11 states and 13 countries.”We’ve been at now it a while — graduation rates are 400 percent greater than community colleges,” Rometty said.The graduates are on a new career path, one to fill “new collar” jobs, she added. “We’re trying to say there’s not a stigma in not necessarily having to have a four-year college degree.”Although retraining is seen as a way to address job displacement due to technology, it’s had minimal impact in the past.”Politicians are always saying they’re going to retrain the workforce. It never happens,” Tirias’ McGregor remarked.”So whenever you have a technology shift, you always have displaced workers,” he said. “It’s left for society to evolve the workforce, because governments are very ineffective at doing that.” John P. Mello Jr. has been an ECT News Network reportersince 2003. His areas of focus include cybersecurity, IT issues, privacy, e-commerce, social media, artificial intelligence, big data and consumer electronics. He has written and edited for numerous publications, including the Boston Business Journal, theBoston Phoenix, Megapixel.Net and GovernmentSecurity News. Email John. Rometty’s cautious optimism about artificial intelligence contrasts with the attitudes of some other high-profile tech leaders, who see AI as the beginning of the end for humanity.”The message that we all need to look at how to use technology for the good of society as a whole is a great message,” said Jim McGregor, principal analyst at Tirias Research, a high-tech research and advisory firm in Phoenix, Arizona.”Everyone who says that, though, almost has to put that disclaimer in there of ‘We have to be careful. We have to use it wisely,'” he told TechNewsWorld.”IBM’s view is that for something as potentially volatile as artificial intelligence, it’s almost like nuclear technology,” noted Roger L. Kay, president of Endpoint Technologies Associates, a technology advisory firm in Boston, Massachusetts.”We can’t just let it come completely out of the bottle. It has to be managed in some way,” he told TechNewsWorld. “There’s a submessage in there, too. It’s inevitable that it comes out. It’s coming no matter what.”A reminder to proceed cautiously may be in order, given the pace of business today.”There is a race to capture and analyze data at massive scale because the information that results can redefine competitions, ranging from political and military areas, to healthcare, to weather, to all aspects of business,” said Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group, an advisory services firm in Bend, Oregon.”People racing often take shortcuts, and shortcuts in data integrity, accuracy or bias could change what should be incredibly powerful, helpful tools into disasters at near-epic scale,” he told TechNewsWorld. Canceling Cancellationslast_img read more

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Research finds reasons for sudden cardiac death in patients with stable ischemic

first_imgReviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Feb 18 2019In the current issue of Cardiovascular Innovations and Applications (Special Issue on Stable Ischemic Heart Disease, Volume 3,Number 3, 2019, pp. 317-319(3); DOI: https://doi.org/10.15212/CVIA.2016.0007 C. Richard Conti from the University of Florida Medical School, Gainesville, FL, USA considers sudden cardiac death in adult patients with stable ischemic heart disease.Sudden death in patients with stable ischemic heart disease is not a common occurrence and is sparsely reported. There are approximately one half million patients with stable ischemic heart disease (SIHD) in the United States. Patients with stable ischemic heart disease who die suddenly do not maintain a Stable Ischemic profile. Benchimol, et al., reported 319 consecutive stable angina patients without clinical heart failure or a recent myocardial infarction but who had multiple risk factors and proven coronary disease which made them more prone to acute myocardial infarction or unstable angina. In the APSIS (angina prognosis in Stockholm) study, Hjemdahl reported that signs of ischemia or previous manifestations of coronary artery disease, i.e., myocardial infarction or revascularization, were found in 69% of both male and female patients at baseline. Little, retrospectively reported that minor plaques may disrupt and result in unstable angina or occlusive coronary disease which then may result in acute myocardial infarction. Stable angina patients, by definition, are stable and are not high risk unless they have multiple factors or which may make them prone to evolve an acute coronary syndrome or develop a serious arrhythmia but sudden death does occur in some patients. Source:https://compuscript.com/last_img read more

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New Marko system could provide insights into peoples behavior and health

first_imgReviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)May 9 2019We live in a world of wireless signals flowing around us and bouncing off our bodies. MIT researchers are now leveraging those signal reflections to provide scientists and caregivers with valuable insights into people’s behavior and health.The system, called Marko, transmits a low-power radio-frequency (RF) signal into an environment. The signal will return to the system with certain changes if it has bounced off a moving human. Novel algorithms then analyze those changed reflections and associate them with specific individuals.The system then traces each individual’s movement around a digital floor plan. Matching these movement patterns with other data can provide insights about how people interact with each other and the environment.In a paper being presented at the Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems this week, the researchers describe the system and its real-world use in six locations: two assisted living facilities, three apartments inhabited by couples, and one townhouse with four residents. The case studies demonstrated the system’s ability to distinguish individuals based solely on wireless signals — and revealed some useful behavioral patterns.In one assisted living facility, with permission from the patient’s family and caregivers, the researchers monitored a patient with dementia who would often become agitated for unknown reasons. Over a month, they measured the patient’s increased pacing between areas of their unit — a known sign of agitation. By matching increased pacing with the visitor log, they determined the patient was agitated more during the days following family visits. This shows Marko can provide a new, passive way to track functional health profiles of patients at home, the researchers say.”These are interesting bits we discovered through data,” says first author Chen-Yu Hsu, a PhD student in the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL). “We live in a sea of wireless signals, and the way we move and walk around changes these reflections. We developed the system that listens to those reflections … to better understand people’s behavior and health.”The research is led by Dina Katabi, the Andrew and Erna Viterbi Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and director of the MIT Center for Wireless Networks and Mobile Computing (Wireless@MIT). Joining Katabi and Hsu on the paper are CSAIL graduate students Mingmin Zhao and Guang-He Lee and alumnus Rumen Hristov SM ’16.Predicting “tracklets” and identitiesWhen deployed in a home, Marko shoots out an RF signal. When the signal rebounds, it creates a type of heat map cut into vertical and horizontal “frames,” which indicates where people are in a three-dimensional space. People appear as bright blobs on the map. Vertical frames capture the person’s height and build, while horizontal frames determine their general location. As individuals walk, the system analyzes the RF frames — about 30 per second — to generate short trajectories, called tracklets.A convolutional neural network — a machine-learning model commonly used for image processing — uses those tracklets to separate reflections by certain individuals. For each individual it senses, the system creates two “filtering masks,” which are small circles around the individual. These masks basically filter out all signals outside the circle, which locks in the individual’s trajectory and height as they move. Combining all this information — height, build, and movement — the network associates specific RF reflections with specific individuals.Related StoriesNovel bed system with VR brainwave-control for sleep blissLiving a healthy lifestyle may help offset genetic risk of dementiaI’m a CPAP dropout: Why many lose sleep over apnea treatmentBut to tag identities to those anonymous blobs, the system must first be “trained.” For a few days, individuals wear low-powered accelerometer sensors, which can be used to label the reflected radio signals with their respective identities. When deployed in training, Marko first generates users’ tracklets, as it does in practice. Then, an algorithm correlates certain acceleration features with motion features. When users walk, for instance, the acceleration oscillates with steps, but becomes a flat line when they stop. The algorithm finds the best match between the acceleration data and tracklet, and labels that tracklet with the user’s identity. In doing so, Marko learns which reflected signals correlate to specific identities.The sensors never have to be charged, and, after training, the individuals don’t need to wear them again. In home deployments, Marko was able to tag the identities of individuals in new homes with between 85 and 95 percent accuracy.Striking a good (data-collection) balanceThe researchers hope health care facilities will use Marko to passively monitor, say, how patients interact with family and caregivers, and whether patients receive medications on time. In an assisted living facility, for instance, the researchers noted specific times a nurse would walk to a medicine cabinet in a patient’s room and then to the patient’s bed. That indicated that the nurse had, at those specific times, administered the patient’s medication.The system may also replace questionnaires and diaries currently used by psychologists or behavioral scientists to capture data on their study subjects’ family dynamics, daily schedules, or sleeping patterns, among other behaviors. Those traditional recording methods can be inaccurate, contain bias, and aren’t well-suited for long-term studies, where people may have to recall what they did days or weeks ago. Some researchers have started equipping people with wearable sensors to monitor movement and biometrics. But elderly patients, especially, often forget to wear or charge them. “The motivation here is to design better tools for researchers,” Hsu says.Why not just install cameras? For starters, this would require someone watching and manually recording all necessary information. Marko, on the other hand, automatically tags behavioral patterns — such as motion, sleep, and interaction — to specific areas, days, and times.Also, video is just more invasive, Hsu adds: “Most people aren’t that comfortable with being filmed all the time, especially in their own home. Using radio signals to do all this work strikes a good balance between getting some level of helpful information, but not making people feel uncomfortable.”Katabi and her students also plan to combine Marko with their prior work on inferring breathing and heart rate from the surrounding radio signals. Marko will then be used to associate those biometrics with the corresponding individuals. It could also track people’s walking speeds, which is a good indicator of functional health in elderly patients. Source:http://news.mit.edu/2019/movement-tracking-system-marko-behavioral-data-0508last_img read more

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Vaginal microbiome composition linked to preterm birth risk in AfricanAmerican women

first_imgReviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)May 30 2019A research project funded by the National Institutes of Health has identified differences in the vaginal bacteria that may raise the risk of preterm birth among pregnant African-American women. The findings could be a first step toward the development of a screen for the early identification of preterm birth risk in this population. The study was conducted by Jennifer Fettweis, Ph.D., of Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond and colleagues. It appears in Nature Medicine.The researchers analyzed a subset of more than 1,500 women participating in the NIH Common Fund’s Human Microbiome Project. They obtained samples of vaginal bacteria from 45 pregnant women who ultimately delivered preterm and compared them to similar samples from 90 pregnant women who delivered at term. Nearly 80% of the women in this subset, both those who delivered preterm and at term, were African-American, and the remainder were white, Hispanic, and American Indian/Alaska native.Related StoriesDiet and nutrition influence microbiome in colonic mucosaFood responses are governed by the gut microbiome, finds new studyPlant foods may transmit antibiotic-resistant superbugs to humansThe women who delivered preterm had a much more diverse microbiome in early pregnancy, compared to their peers. The preterm group had lower levels of the bacterium Lactobacillus crispatus, higher levels of BVAB1, a bacterium associated with a condition called bacterial vaginosis, and 12 other bacterial groups. The researchers linked this combination of bacterial species to the presence of immune system factors that promote inflammation. Previous studies have found higher levels of inflammation-promoting factors in women who deliver preterm. The authors note that larger studies are necessary to confirm their findings.Source:NIH/Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human DevelopmentJournal reference:Fettweis, J.M, et al. (2019) The vaginal microbiome and preterm birth. Nature Medicine.  doi.org/10.1038/s41591-019-0450-2last_img read more

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Artisanal allure of Lamborghini marvels of modernity

© 2018 AFP The Lamborghini factory in Sant’Agata Bolognese feels like an Aladdin’s Cave of luxury Italian cars—a winning mix of modernity and craftsmanship which saw the company celebrate record production levels last year. Lamborghini last year delivered a record number of cars, including models such as this Aventador S Roadster. The supercar manufacturer, founded in 1963, delivered 3,815 vehicles in 2017, boosting its year-on-year sales by 10 percent.But there is little time for champagne quaffing: this summer will see the company release a Super SUV, dubbed the Urus and designed for all terrains, from road, to off road, on ice but also sand dunes.Widening horizons also meant widening floor space, and the company doubled the site in size from 80,000 square metres to 160,000 square metres (860,000 to 1.72 million square feet), an expansion that will allow it to double production in 2019.For now, five new Urus SUVs are being produced here a day—a figure that will top 20 when the plant is running at full capacity.The new building, inaugurated in May, boasts a new production line and cutting-edge technologies, including “cooperative robots”, designed to make life easier for both fellow robots and human operators.”It’s a very modern factory, but some of the production is still done by hand and is essential, it’s in the brand’s DNA,” Matteo Martini from the manufacturing engineering department told AFP.Tractors to treasureThe historic quarter of the factory, refurbished in 2014, produces the Huracan and Aventador super sports cars, rattling out a dozen of the first and half a dozen of the second per day.The waiting time for a Huracan can be eight months. The production line is divided into 23 stations, with workers given 37 minutes to perform their tasks as the seconds tick away on digital clocks.For the Aventador, workers get 75 minutes at 12 stations. There is more work done by hand here, and it takes 44 days to manufacturer the car.Its monocoque, a technological jewel, weighs only 147 kilos (324 pounds) and is moulded of carbon fiber.The cars cost a pretty penny: the simplest Huracan model will set buyers back some 180,000 euros ($215,000) and around 337,000 euros for the Aventador, but the price tag on limited series models can top one million euros.Lamborghini devotees have the son of grape farmers to thank. Ferruccio Lamborghini made a fortune in tractors before turning his hand to the luxury sports sector and setting out to make “the perfect car”.Only 120 copies were ever made of the first commercialised model, the 350 GT, and though production numbers increased, the company is keen to maintain the idea of exclusivity.Customers can personalise their cars, from wheel rims to seam colours.German perfectionismThe leather for the interiors is checked extremely carefully for possible imperfections or damage such as mosquito bites.The cars are not only road tested but are also given the ‘waterfall’ treatment.”They are bombarded with 400 litres of water per minute to check for possible seepage”, says Attilo Mandetta, head of the finishing department.Any defects, spotted by eagle-eyed workers armed with lamps, are marked with a small sticker so they can be fixed.”The whole factory is clinically clean. Everything is done with a very German rigour, established over the years following Lamborghini’s 1998 takeover by Volkswagen,” Julien Diez, journalist for Sport Auto magazine, told AFP.The factory boasts 1,600 workers currently, with another 200 to join the team by the end of this year.Lamborghini, which claims to offer above-average salaries in the automotive sector, recently won the “Top Employer Italia” award for the fourth year in a row thanks to its treatment of staff and its medical care and extra-curricular offers.And employees such as Claudio Lammana and Simone Occari say they are treated like “family” and “made to feel like people and not just numbers”. Lamborghini drives into crowded SUV market Citation: Artisanal allure of Lamborghini marvels of modernity (2018, January 15) retrieved 18 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-01-artisanal-allure-lamborghini-marvels-modernity.html Explore further This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. read more

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Why AI robot toys could be good for kids

first_img Explore further Cozmo is little in size, bigger in brains and social skills Anna Koop, director of applied machine learning at the U of A’s Alberta Machine Intelligence Institute, gives her Vector AI robot a fist bump. “I still greet it every morning when I come into the office,” she says. Credit: Bev Betkowski Provided by University of Alberta A new generation of robot toys with personalities powered by artificial intelligence could give kids more than just a holiday plaything, according to a University of Alberta researcher.center_img Citation: Why AI robot toys could be good for kids (2018, December 20) retrieved 17 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-12-ai-robot-toys-good-kids.html Unlike previous electronic pets like the Furby and Tamagotchi that sparked holiday crazes in the late ’90s, some of the robotic drones and droids on store shelves this season are packing genuine AI technology, said Anna Koop, director of applied machine learning at the Alberta Machine Intelligence Institute.”They’re doing face recognition, they respond to voice commands with reasonable consistency, and they have sophisticated processors,” she said.An object of particular curiosity for Koop is Cozmo and its more advanced cousin, Vector. Developed by Anki, a company founded by three graduates of Carnegie Mellon’s robotics Ph.D. program, the little tank-like robots are so full of personality that even Koop has to take an educated guess at just how intelligent their artificial intelligence is.”I’m still not sure how much they’re learning from interaction. There is a big difference between running the script that triggers the face recognition routine and actually changing its behaviour in some small way every time I say ‘good robot,'” she said of Vector. “This is a complicated enough routine that it’s hard to tell.”In fact, Koop and a colleague have a difference in expert opinion about whether Vector is truly showing adaptive learning in its responses, or just using a progression of preprogrammed responses to fool its adoptive human companions.There’s one thing she’s sure of, though: “The ability to adapt based on interactions is huge. We have serious doubts that it’s happening right now, but a lot of what they’re marketing is ‘coming soon.’ It’s explicitly designed with the expectation that you’re going to be updating it.”Pushing limitsFor Koop, mass-market robots like Vector offer a new way to explore her research into one of the most challenging problems in the field—how to make AI systems transfer their “knowledge” to tasks beyond the specific problems they’re designed to solve.”If a human expert can do it, AI probably can,” she explained. “But if a baby or puppy can do it, AI probably can’t.”Our biological brains’ ability to adapt what we learn to new situations also raises big questions about what humans might be able to learn from smart robots that act a lot like us, said Koop.She noted the Anki designers spent a lot of time making the expressions rendered in Vector’s big blue digital eyes seem like genuine emotions—even bringing a former Pixar animator on board as “character director.””Having a robot do eye contact is hard, even though it’s not real eyes,” she said. “But it does have cameras, and the eyes are animated to express something that is going on internally. That is the correct direction to go for robotics.”If all that effort means a child comes to regard their little robot friend as something that can feel fear or pain if it’s mistreated, so much the better, Koop said.”If they interact with these toys in an empathetic way, that’s got to be a good thing. Whether it’s an imaginary friend, a live pet or a robot, you’re reinforcing habits. Practising skills of whatever variety improves them.”Koop is anxious to get her hands on yet-to-be-released developer tools for Vector so she can get inside its head and see just what—and how—it’s learning. In the meantime, she said, the most immediate benefit kids stand to gain from AI toys is learning the basics of skills that will only get more important in an AI-powered world.”It’s a fun platform for coding. A key skill in programming and computing science is the ability to break down a problem into steps. You’re not going to get super-sophisticated programming from the drag-and-drop interface (in Cozmo’s app), but it’s a nice, tangible way to see what’s happening.” This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.last_img read more

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