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Category Archives: Molecular Genetics

C. Oregonians react to OSU study that says sunscreen with zinc loses effectiveness, becomes toxic – KTVZ

Posted: October 16, 2021 at 2:17 am

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) --Sunscreen that includes zinc oxide, a common ingredient, has been found to lose much of its effectiveness and becomes toxic after two hours of exposure to ultraviolet radiation, according to a study that included Oregon State University scientists.

The OSU study was meant to question how stable, safe, and effective are sunscreen ingredients in combination rather than as individual compounds.

It also looked into the safety of any chemical products that result from reactions caused by exposure to sunlight.

Diana Stevens, a Bend resident, said Thursday she has never liked applying sunscreen on herself or her children. Shes always questioned its ingredients and how safe it is to wear.

Ive tried really hard to find sunscreen that is not toxic, mainly for the health of my children and myself, and its hard to find one, Stevens said.

Instead, she chooses to find shady areas and wear protective clothing when going outdoors.

It actually feels safer not to have the chemicals around my face and mouth, Stevens said.

What the public thinks about sunscreen safety has caused manufacturers who often have on limited data to use lots of some ingredients while limiting others. For example, oxybenzone has effectively been discontinued because of concerns that it harms coral reefs.

The study of measuring toxicity in sunscreen involved using zebrafish, which share a similarity to humans at the molecular genetics and cellular levels, meaning many zebrafish studies are relevant to people.

Chris Martindale, who was out enjoying the Bend Whitewater Park Thursday afternoon, has become conscious of the sunscreen products, and suggests others do the same.

When it comes to the sunscreen products that we use, I would probably just take a second look at what youre putting on your body -- how it affects you, how it affects the environment around you," Martindale said. "If it's worth paying the extra $3 or $4 for a sunscreen that is going to do good in the long term, thats probably the best route to take.

The researchers exposed a number of sunscreen mixtures to ultraviolet radiation for two hours to look into what sunlight did to the compounds in the mixtures and their UV-protective capabilities.

The zinc-oxide-induced mixtures caused significant increases in defects to the zebrafish used to test toxicity. OSU faculty suggest zinc oxide particles are leading to degradants whose introduction to aquatic ecosystems is environmentally hazardous.

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C. Oregonians react to OSU study that says sunscreen with zinc loses effectiveness, becomes toxic - KTVZ

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UT Southwestern joins Dallas, the state, and the nation in mourning the loss of Peter O’Donnell Jr., a visionary philanthropist and catalyst for…

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Peter ODonnell Jr.

DALLAS October 11, 2021 Peter ODonnell Jr., whose vision, legendary generosity, and cherished friendship graced UTSouthwestern Medical Center for many decades, passed away Oct. 10 at the age of 97.

Throughout a lifetime of inspired philanthropy, Mr. ODonnell and his late wife, Edith, along with the ODonnell Foundation they established in 1957, contributed more than $300 million to UTSouthwestern, supporting some of the most innovative and impactful programs at the Medical Center. The ODonnells gifts to UTSouthwestern, almost all made anonymously and without public recognition at the time, transformed the Medical Center into an internationally recognized research leader.

Excellence was a watchword for Mr. ODonnell in everything he did and touched. He was a giant of our institution and a quiet driving force in advancing medical science, said Daniel K. Podolsky, M.D., President of UTSouthwestern.

As Chairman of the ODonnell Foundation, Mr. ODonnell committed himself to developing and funding model programs designed to strengthen education, research, and clinical care.

Peter ODonnell helped foster an environment of innovation and discovery at UTSouthwestern that has enabled transformative progress in biomedical research, said Dr. Podolsky. As we mourn the passing of one of UTSouthwesterns most stalwart supporters, we are grateful to have had the opportunity to publicly recognize Mr. ODonnells magnificent generosity for the first time in 2015 through the naming of the Peter ODonnell Jr. Brain Institute at UTSouthwestern.

Recognizing brain injury in its various forms as one of the greatest challenges of our time, Mr. ODonnell committed $36 million to create a new institute dedicated to unraveling the mysteries of the brain from the molecular level of brain function to the root causes of diseases and damage that occur with such conditions as traumatic brain injury and Alzheimers.

Recent and rapid advancements in neuroscience and neurotechnology offer great promise, making this a particularly important time to invest in this critical field, said Mr. ODonnell at the time he made the gift. UTSouthwestern has repeatedly proven its ability to take on some of the most difficult scientific challenges and advance the field of medicine, benefiting patients today and for generations to come.

The establishment of the ODonnell Brain Institute was the capstone of a remarkable 40-year partnership between Mr. ODonnell and UTSouthwestern, which was set in motion in 1981 when he founded the Friends of the Center for Human Nutrition. His investments in the Center for Human Nutrition for more than three decades enabled UTSouthwestern investigators to make key discoveries that have expanded our understanding of the role nutrition plays in the prevention and treatment of chronic conditions such as heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, and cancer.

Thanks to Peters ongoing support, the Center was able to conduct some of the first tests on the effectiveness of statin medications to lower cholesterol levels, as well as influence the development of numerous national guidelines, notably the determination of safe and unsafe dietary fats and the importance of weight loss and exercise for reducing cardiovascular risk, said Scott Grundy, M.D., Ph.D., the Centers longtime Director and a close friend of Mr. ODonnell. He helped us apply rigorous science to the field of nutrition.

Peter ODonnell, Jr., center, meets with Nobel Laureates Drs. Alfred Gilman, Joseph Goldstein, Michael Brown, and Johann Hans Deisenhofer.

Mr. ODonnell was passionate in his support for addressing the problem of obesity and, consequently, the myriad economic, societal, and medical complications derived from it. In addition to his support for the Center for Human Nutrition, he made significant contributions to support research in the Department of Molecular Genetics. This support helped propel the work of Nobel Laureates Michael Brown, M.D., and Joseph Goldstein, M.D., whose research served as the foundation for the development of statin drugs now used to control cholesterol in tens of millions of people around the globe.

Peter ODonnell was not only a wise and generous philanthropist he was an inventor. When he saw a need, he invented a program to meet it. He challenged us to make it work, and then he followed it closely to make certain that we were living up to his vision. We would not have a Nutrition Center, an Endowed Scholars Program, or a Brain Institute without Mr. ODonnells vision. He was a true hero of UTSouthwestern, said Dr. Goldstein, Chair of Molecular Genetics, and Dr. Brown, Director of the Erik Jonsson Center for Research in Molecular Genetics and Human Disease.

Mr. ODonnell understood the importance of assembling the best and brightest researchers to tackle medicines most difficult problems and providing them with the resources necessary to take bold risks that often lead to paradigm-shifting discoveries. In addition to the unwavering support he provided to Dr. Brown and Dr. Goldstein, many of Mr. ODonnells gifts helped UTSouthwestern recruit, retain, and support the work of some of the most brilliant minds in biomedical research, including Nobel Laureate Bruce Beutler, M.D., who has advanced medical sciences collective understanding of the genetics of the immune system through his work as Director of the Center for the Genetics of Host Defense.

Mr. ODonnell was committed to supporting early career medical researchers who represent the future of science and medicine. He provided a challenge grant in 1997 to UTSouthwestern that was the impetus for the Endowed Scholars Program in Medical Science. Armed with the knowledge that more than half of all scientists awarded the Nobel Prize began their work under the guidance of current Nobel Laureates, Mr. ODonnell worked to ensure UTSouthwestern would stand apart from other institutions in the nurturing of scientific protgs. To encourage the careers of scientists and engineers more broadly across the state of Texas, he established the annual Edith and Peter ODonnell Awards, presented by The Academy of Medicine, Engineering & Science of Texas (TAMEST) to honor and help fund outstanding early career researchers in science, medicine, and engineering. Continuing his commitment to support the best and brightest researchers, in July 2014 Mr. ODonnell further invested in rising stars with a gift to propel clinical innovation in cancer by establishing the Eugene P. Frenkel, M.D., Clinical Scholars Program.

Although Mr. ODonnells impact on UTSouthwestern was most expansive in advancing its research programs, his efforts extended to all dimensions of UTSouthwesterns mission. It was his challenge and support that led UTSouthwestern to be among the first institutions to implement an electronic medical record for both inpatient and outpatient care. The ODonnell Foundation also provided a lead gift to help launch UTSouthwesterns Clinical Services Initiative.

The school is already known for its excellence in basic science and in recruiting outstanding scientists and clinical physicians, said Mr. ODonnell when he made the gift in 2003. However, the explosion of patient loads and the complexities of managed care make it important to recruit more outstanding clinical faculty, increase their productivity with state-of-the-art technology, provide a quality nursing staff, and support clinical research programs so patients benefit sooner from the great discoveries in basic science.

While Mr. ODonnell has left an especially indelible imprint on UTSouthwestern, he and Edith have also left a legacy at many other educational and civic organizations across our region, our state, and our country.As but one example, his support of Advanced Placement programs in science across this state and the country, particularly in high schools serving students from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds, has promoted STEM education and opportunity that will undoubtedly have an impact that will be felt for generations to come.

In public education, Mr. ODonnell founded the Advanced Placement Incentive Program and served as Chairman of AP Strategies (APS). This program dramatically increased the number of high school students, especially Hispanic and Black students, who pass college-level exams in math, science, and English. The incentive program served as the model for both the state of Texas and the federal Advanced Placement incentive programs.

In addition, he established Laying the Foundation, a teacher-training organization for grades six through 12 with the goal of better preparing students to enter the Advanced Placement pipeline. Mr. ODonnell also was instrumental in creating the National Math + Science Initiative, which has enhanced math and science education programs nationally through teacher-training programs and other efforts to recruit and prepare more college students to become dedicated teachers.

In higher education outside of UTSouthwestern, the ODonnell Foundation provided a challenge grant of $32 million for the creation of science and engineering chairs at UT Austin and developed a plan that created the Oden Institute for Computational Engineering and Sciences.

At the state, national, and international levels, Mr. ODonnell was a member of the Presidents' Circle of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, where he served on a committee that produced a report to Congress, Rising Above the Gathering Storm, recommending the priority actions the United States should take to ensure its ability to compete in the 21st century global economy.He served on President Ronald Reagans Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, and as a Trustee of the Cooper Institute, a nonprofit research and education organization dedicated globally to preventive medicine. In Texas, he served as Commissioner of the Texas National Research Laboratory Commission; as a member of the Texas Select Committee on Higher Education; and as a founding member of The Academy of Medicine, Engineering & Science of Texas.

Perhaps the most important aspect of any community is the health of its citizens, said William T. Solomon, a current Trustee and former Chairman of the Board of Southwestern Medical Foundation. The citizens of Dallas have benefited enormously from the vision and generosity of Peter ODonnell and the indelible mark he has left on research, education, and health care in our city.

Edith and Peter ODonnell Jr.

Along with Edith, Mr. ODonnell was a major supporter of many arts organizations in Dallas, the state, and the nation. The ODonnells developed the plan to endow the Dallas Symphony Orchestra Principal Musician Chairs, and provided significant support to the Dallas Opera, the Dallas Museum of Art, and the AP Arts & Music Theory incentive program. They launched Met: Live at the Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts free live viewings of New Yorks Metropolitan Opera performances for Dallas public school students, their immediate families, and their teachers.

In 2008, Mr. ODonnell was elected as a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences for his outstanding philanthropic leadership. That same year, Edith and Peter ODonnell together received honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degrees from Southern Methodist University for their pivotal roles in advancing the arts and education, and they were presented the College Boards Lifetime Achievement Award for excellence in education. In 2013, Mr. ODonnell was awarded UT Austin Presidential Citation and the Cooper Institute Legacy Award, both in honor of his visionary leadership and extraordinary contributions to transforming lives.

A Dallas native who pursued careers in investments and philanthropy, Mr. ODonnell received a Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics from The University of the South and a Master of Business Administration degree from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

The contributions cited are just some of the many ways in which Peter ODonnell, together with Edith, supported UTSouthwestern.

With his determination to stay out of the spotlight, the full extent of Mr. ODonnells impact on society is likely not known by many of those who have benefited from his vision and generosity, Dr. Podolsky said. He touched legions with compassion, an uncommon generosity, and an earnest love of mankind. The scope and depth of ways in which he advanced the work of the Medical Center is truly remarkable. He will be deeply missed.

Dr. Beutler holds the Raymond and Ellen Willie Distinguished Chair in Cancer Research, in Honor of Laverne and Raymond Willie, Sr.

Dr. Brown holds The W. A. (Monty) Moncrief Distinguished Chair in Cholesterol and Arteriosclerosis Research and the Paul J. Thomas Chair in Medicine.

Dr. Goldstein holds the Julie and Louis A. Beecherl, Jr. Distinguished Chair in Biomedical Research and the Paul J. Thomas Chair in Medicine.

Dr. Podolsky holds the Philip O'Bryan Montgomery, Jr., M.D., Distinguished Presidential Chair in Academic Administration and the Doris and Bryan Wildenthal Distinguished Chair in Medical Science.

About UTSouthwestern Medical Center

UTSouthwestern, one of the nations premier academic medical centers, integrates pioneering biomedical research with exceptional clinical care and education. The institutions faculty has received six Nobel Prizes, and includes 25 members of the National Academy of Sciences, 16 members of the National Academy of Medicine, and 14 Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigators. The full-time faculty of more than 2,800 is responsible for groundbreaking medical advances and is committed to translating science-driven research quickly to new clinical treatments. UTSouthwestern physicians provide care in about 80 specialties to more than 117,000 hospitalized patients, more than 360,000 emergency room cases, and oversee nearly 3 million outpatient visits a year.

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UT Southwestern joins Dallas, the state, and the nation in mourning the loss of Peter O'Donnell Jr., a visionary philanthropist and catalyst for...

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New CRP: Radiation-induced crop diversity and genetic associations for accelerating variety development (D24015) – International Atomic Energy Agency

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The IAEA is launching a new Coordinated Research Project (CRP) on radiation-induced crop diversity and genetic associations, with a time frame of five years from 2022 to 2026.

Induced genetic diversity and breeding with promising mutations for farmer-preferred traits in agronomically sound genetic backgrounds have paved the way for crop improvement across the globe for over seven decades now. Testament to this is the more than 3300 mutant varieties in over 220 plant species from more than 70 countries represented in the Mutant Variety Database.

Induced mutations fortify plant germplasm pools and enable faster genetic gain, especially where the genetic base is narrow. Mutation breeding thus has the potential to facilitate larger genetic gain than conventional breeding. This advantage, coupled with emerging front end technologies for efficient and precise selection, can both accelerate the pace of crop improvement and increase the rate of genetic gain.

Breeding with induced genetic diversity has remained a highly effective avenue for the improvement of both simple and complex crop traits in developing Member States of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the IAEA.

Mutation breeding has so far mainly relied on gamma rays, says Shoba Sivasankar, Head of the IAEAs Plant Breeding and Genetics Section. Most recently the ion beam, electron beam, proton beam and space irradiation cosmic rays are coming into increasing use at least in some countries, though the effect of these different sources on the plant genome remain to be assessed systematically.

Newer genomic technologies that establish genetic associations for marker and candidate gene discovery are also yet to be applied to mutation breeding for increased precision and breeding efficiency. Mutant populations generated from induced genetic variation are traditionally used directly as source germplasm for breeding and variety development. However, they can also render themselves to the establishment of genetic associations for marker-assisted breeding and gene editing. Theoretically, mutant populations can also be used for genomic predictions for increased efficiency of the breeding process.

Technical support of the Joint FAO/IAEA Centre of Nuclear Techniques in Food and Agriculture has led to capacity building in crop improvement and the development of improved varieties in more than a hundred Member States since 1964. This technical support has centred on mutation induction, phenotypic selection and variety development, advancing very recently to explore molecular markers for increased precision in selection and efficiency in breeding.

The proposed CRP is aimed at addressing three important emerging trends and needs in the field of mutation breeding: (1) newer mutagen sources; (2) establishment of genetic associations for marker-assisted breeding, gene editing, and potentially, genomic selection; and (3) bioinformatic platforms and computational tools for trait analysis.

CRP Overall Objective

To strengthen the ability of the Agency and its Member States to develop and test emerging technologies in mutation induction, genomics and big data to facilitate the accelerated development of crop varieties for food security and climate change adaptation.

Specific Research Objectives


How to join this CRP

Up to three research/technical contracts are expected to be awarded on the study of the effect of mutagen sources on crop genome, five to six research/technical contracts on the study of genetic associations in established, structured plant populations built on clear phenotypes for simple traits (one or few genes expected to be involved), and one research/technical contract addressing genomic selection in mutation breeding. Proposals submitted on the study of genetic associations are encouraged to include data on expression of the phenotype and the status of populations amenable for genetic analysis. Up to five no-cost agreement holders from advanced laboratories are also expected to participate. Research institutes with recognized expertise in the targeted technologies will be invited to share their experience with the contract holders and contribute to the development and validation of the planned technical packages. Coordination and technical management will be handled by the scientific secretary in the IAEAs Plant Breeding and Genetics Section with involvement of the Plant Breeding and Genetics Laboratory.

Please submit your Proposal for Research Contract or Agreement by email, no later than 15 December 2021, to the IAEAs Research Contracts Administration Section, using the appropriate template on the CRA web portal. Same form can be used for the research contract and the technical contract.

For further information related to this CRP, potential applicants should use the contact form under the CRP page.

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New CRP: Radiation-induced crop diversity and genetic associations for accelerating variety development (D24015) - International Atomic Energy Agency

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CDC, ClinGen Partner to Develop Curated List of Important Variants for Use in NGS Genetic Testing – GenomeWeb

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NEW YORK The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Monday that its Genetic Testing Reference Materials Program (GeT-RM) has partnered with the Clinical Genome Resource (ClinGen) to develop a publicly available list of 546 curated clinically important variants in 84 genes for use in next-generation sequencing genetic testing.

By defining variants that are either major contributors to disease or difficult to detect, the list will serve as a resource for the design of comprehensive analytical validation studies, as well as the creation of computer-modulated or simulated reference materials for clinical genomic test development, the partners said.

Genetic testing has grown from the analysis of small sets of known pathogenetic variants in one or a few genes to the analysis of hundreds or thousands of genes simultaneously using NGS, they added. But it's difficult, or even impossible, to obtain DNA reference materials containing the full scope of variants and variant types needed to perform a comprehensive validation study. It can also be challenging for laboratories to maintain the expert knowledge to identify variants that are appropriately representative of the spectrum of disease for inclusion in validation studies.

The new variant list, they said, will help address these complexities.

The CDC and ClinGen first proposed the curated list in a paper published in August in the Journal of Molecular Diagnostics. The variant types include 346 SNVs, 104 deletions, 37 copy number variants, 25 duplications, 18 deletion-insertions, five inversions, four insertions, two complex rearrangements, three difficult-to-sequence regions, and two fusions. They were nominated for a variety of reasons, including being major contributors to disease, analytically difficult to detect, or inadvertently filtered out due to high allele frequency.

The authors also noted that the list of 84 genes include 29 of the 73 genes recommended by the American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics for reporting of incidental or secondary findings.

The ClinGen Allele Registry was used to standardize nomenclature for all nominated variants, and ClinVar Variation IDs and associated disorders were added where available. The Food and Drug Administration has also recognized ClinGen's curation process and its resulting classifications as a regulatory-grade variant database, and the curated variants are available via the National Center for Biotechnology Information's ClinVar database and ClinGen's Evidence Repository.

"This important novel approach will remove a critical bottleneck for test developers and may help harmonize test development and validation across laboratories," co-lead investigator Birgit Funke, VP of genomic health at Sema4, said in a statement.

Co-lead investigator and GeT-RM Director Lisa Kalman also noted that the partners have started a pilot project to demonstrate how the curated variants "could be used to create reference materials by in silico mutagenesis of NGS sequencing files. The pilot will examine whether the added variants can be detected by the clinical laboratories that generated the NGS files and demonstrate a general process that labs can use to develop electronic reference materials to fit their own needs."

GeT-RM and ClinGen will continue to add to the current variant list as needed, and are inviting input from the genetics community about the list and the processes used to generate it.

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Bionano Genomics to Acquire BioDiscovery, Furthering Bionano’s Vision of Creating the Most Comprehensive Variant Analysis Platform in Genomics -…

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SAN DIEGO, Oct. 12, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Bionano Genomics, Inc. (BNGO) today announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire BioDiscovery, Inc., a leading software company with best-in-class solutions for analysis, interpretation and reporting of genomics data. The transaction is expected to accelerate and broaden Bionano’s market leadership in digital cytogenetics and comprehensive genome analysis. As a result of the transaction, Soheil Shams, PhD, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of BioDiscovery, will join Bionano’s leadership team as Chief Informatics Officer.

Over the last twenty years, BioDiscovery’s talented team has developed best-in-class software solutions to enable broader adoption of genomics technologies. NxClinical is one of the most promising tools that integrates NGS and microarray data across the genome in one consolidated view, and we are thrilled to welcome Soheil and his team to Bionano as we work to transform the way the world sees the genome," said Erik Holmlin, PhD, Chief Executive Officer of Bionano Genomics. This acquisition accelerates our efforts to make OGM ubiquitous by enabling us to simplify the assessment of clinically-relevant variants in cytogenomics applications, potentially reducing interpretation time per sample and expanding our reach into the discovery and translational research markets where the combination of NGS and OGM can reveal more answers in genetic disease and cancer research.”

Dr. Shams added, I believe Bionano Genomics is a natural fit for BioDiscovery, with a shared passion for delivering an exceptional customer experience and revealing all answers across the genome. Bionano’s Saphyr system, which delivers OGM data today, enables Bionano to offer the most comprehensive genome analysis by combining NGS with OGM data in one integrated workflow so all variants across the genome, from single base to full chromosomes, can be assessed for better insights towards elevating human health.”

Strategic Benefits of the Transaction

BioDiscovery specializes in delivering superior data analysis, visualization, interpretation and reporting solutions with an emphasis on structural variation. BioDiscovery has been delivering platform-agnostic data interpretation solutions tailored for cytogenomics and molecular pathology labs in genetic disease and cancer research markets globally for over 20 years.

Transaction Details Bionano’s transaction consideration will be up to $100 million, consisting of a combination of cash and equity. A portion of the equity is subject to vesting based on continued service of key employees and a portion of the cash is contingent on achieving full integration of OGM data into BioDiscovery’s software platform. The acquisition is expected to close before October 22, 2021.

Conference Call and Webcast The Company will host a conference call and live webcast today, Tuesday, October 12, 2021 at 8:30 a.m. ET to discuss this announcement. To participate in the conference call, please dial one of the following numbers 15 minutes before the scheduled start time: United States: +1 (855) 940-5312 international: +1 (929) 517-0416 Conference ID: 5945674 Webcast:

About Bionano Genomics Bionano is a genome analysis company providing tools and services based on its Saphyr® system to scientists and clinicians conducting genetic research and patient testing; it also provides diagnostic testing for those with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and other neurodevelopmental disabilities through its Lineagen business. Bionano’s Saphyr system is a research use only platform for ultra-sensitive and ultra-specific structural variation detection that enables scientists and clinicians to accelerate the search for new diagnostics and therapeutic targets and to streamline the study of changes in chromosomes, which is known as cytogenetics. The Saphyr system is comprised of an instrument, chip consumables, reagents and a suite of data analysis tools. Bionano offers genome analysis services to provide access to data generated by the Saphyr system for researchers who prefer not to adopt the Saphyr system in their labs. Lineagen has been providing genetic testing services to families and their healthcare providers for more than nine years and has performed more than 65,000 tests for those with neurodevelopmental concerns. For more information, visit or

About BioDiscovery BioDiscovery provides the most comprehensive and up-to-date solution for cytogenetics and molecular genetics in one solution for analysis and interpretation of genomic variants from microarray and NGS data. BioDiscovery has been an established leader in genomic bioinformatics for more than 20 years with a mission of improving patient care through effective use of genomic data. BioDiscovery offers an agnostic cross-platform data interpretation and clinical reporting software that integrates NGS and microarray data and provides visualization of CNVs, SNVs, and absence of heterozygosity (AOH) across the genome for a fully integrated analysis in one view. For more information, visit

Forward-Looking Statements of Bionano Genomics This press release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Words such as may,” will,” expect,” plan,” anticipate,” estimate,” intend” and similar expressions (as well as other words or expressions referencing future events, conditions or circumstances) convey uncertainty of future events or outcomes and are intended to identify these forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements include statements regarding our intentions, beliefs, projections, outlook, analyses or current expectations concerning, among other things: the anticipated benefits of the acquisition of BioDiscovery; our growth and product development strategy, including increased adoption of OGM; the anticipated timing of the closing of the acquisition; expanded capabilities of software solutions developed by the combined companies; and market perception of our products. Each of these forward-looking statements involves risks and uncertainties. Actual results or developments may differ materially from those projected or implied in these forward-looking statements. Factors that may cause such a difference include the risks and uncertainties associated with: the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our business and the global economy; general market conditions; changes in the competitive landscape and the introduction of competitive products; integration of BioDiscovery; changes in our strategic and commercial plans; our ability to obtain sufficient financing to fund our strategic plans and commercialization efforts; the ability of medical and research institutions to obtain funding to support adoption or continued use of our technologies; the loss of key members of management and our commercial team; and the risks and uncertainties associated with our business and financial condition in general, including the risks and uncertainties described in our filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including, without limitation, our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2020 and in other filings subsequently made by us with the Securities and Exchange Commission. All forward-looking statements contained in this press release speak only as of the date on which they were made and are based on management’s assumptions and estimates as of such date. We do not undertake any obligation to publicly update any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of the receipt of new information, the occurrence of future events or otherwise.

CONTACTS Company Contact: Erik Holmlin, CEO Bionano Genomics, Inc. +1 (858) 888-7610

Investor Relations: Amy Conrad Juniper Point +1 (858) 366-3243

Media Relations: Michael Sullivan Seismic +1 (503) 799-7520

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Does 1918 pandemic offer clues on emerging from COVID-19? – Lock Haven Express

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Jason Cato/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review via APA monument to victims of the 1918 influenza pandemic stands at the Springdale Cemetery in Springdale, Pa.

PITTSBURGH Karen Baldridge rolled up her sleeve to get her COVID-19 booster vaccine.

Im trying to baby myself and (am) doing everything that I can to keep healthy, she said this past week while at Excela Square at Norwin. I feel theres about a 90% chance I wouldnt get (COVID), but if I get it, I dont feel that Ill get it as bad and I dont feel that it will last as long.

Baldridge, a North Huntingdon resident in her 70s, is among the 56% of people in the U.S. who are fully vaccinated against COVID. In Pennsylvania, she is among nearly 58% of the total population and nearly 69% of those 18 or older who are fully vaccinated, as tracked by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Vaccines have been hailed by the medical community as societys quickest, safest path to emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic. Their availability is arguably the biggest difference between todays pandemic and the 1918 influenza pandemic.

That historical event, some medical experts say, can help frame the current one and offer clues about where COVID-19 might lead.



The United States recently surpassed the death toll from what became known as the Spanish flu pandemic a mark unthinkable 18 months ago. On Friday, the U.S. eclipsed 700,000 deaths, and there have been about 4.8 million COVID deaths worldwide, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.

The 1918 pandemic killed at least 675,000 lives nationwide and 50 million worldwide, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The United States, however, has tripled its population in the last century.

Were 100 years more advanced than we were then, said Dr. Nate Shively, an infectious disease expert with Allegheny Health Network. I think many would find that somewhat dispiriting, just that the pandemic continues to burn despite having really all the tools at our hands now to bring it close to an end. And were just not using all those tools effectively.

Medical experts cite the vaccine as the most effective tool. The Pfizer booster shot recently was approved by the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to extend protection for Americans who are older or have underlying medical conditions.

Yet many remain skeptical.

Dr. Amesh Adalja, a Pittsburgh-based infectious disease expert and senior scholar at the John Hopkins Center for Health Security, called it inexcusable that the COVID-19 death total in the U.S. eclipsed that of the 1918 pandemic.

When people died of the flu in 1918, they didnt have access to vaccines and todays modern science. With the significant medical advancements made over the past 100 years, Adalja said, America should be handling this pandemic much better.

What were doing in the United States is self-inflicted, he said. We can account for it by people not being receptive to science and openly defying it.

Rates matter more

Dr. Donald Burke, a distinguished professor and former dean at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, is an expert at using computer modeling and simulation to guide public health decision-making.

He said its important to consider the death rate and not simply the death total.

In Pennsylvania, COVID-19 has killed more than 29,000 people, according to the state Department of Health. The Keystone State was among the hardest hit in the 1918 pandemic, which claimed more than 60,000 lives here, according to the University of Pennsylvania.

The 1918 flu is believed to have caused about 4,500 deaths in Pittsburgh and another 2,000 in Westmoreland County. COVID-19 deaths so far have reached 2,100 in Allegheny County and 840 in Westmoreland.

Even though the death totals are similar, the death rates that is the rate per 100,000 people, or per-unit population are lower now from COVID than it was for influenza by about three-fold, Burke said. Total numbers are important, but the rates matter more in understanding the impact.

The 1918 flu pandemic largely impacted younger populations, with a large proportion of the deaths in individuals between the ages of 18 and 30. That was unusual for influenza and particularly straining for society, Burke said, as the day-to-day functions of society are more dependent on that age group.

Never went away

There is no straightforward definition for when a pandemic ends, said Seema Lakdawala, an associate professor who researches flu viruses in Pitt School of Medicines Department of Microbiology & Molecular Genetics.

The first U.S. cases of the 1918 pandemic were reported in March of that year, when more than 100 soldiers in Fort Riley, Kansas, became ill, according to the CDC. That was nearly a year after the United States entered World War I, with troop movements cited as a factor in spreading the disease.

Influenza remained rampant in Paris in early 1919, when the treaty to end the war was negotiated.

Lakdawala noted the H1N1 virus that was responsible for the 1918 pandemic never went away and continued to kill many people each year.

It wasnt until the 1930s that the virus was recognized as the cause. A vaccine to combat it was first recommended in 1960.

Even with vaccines, tens of thousands of Americans die each year from the flu, Lakdawala pointed out. In 2017-18, 80,000 people died from seasonal influenza, she said.

Still, Lakdawala, who also is a member of Pitts Center for Vaccine Research, said vaccines are the safest way to bring the spread of viruses under control rather than trying to reach herd immunity through natural infection.

Beyond the risk of death, she said, There are obviously long-term consequences of getting the virus. Weve had it now for over a year, and we have long-term COVID symptoms, including adverse effects on breathing and pulmonary function.

As viruses replicate and spread through the population, they will evolve, she said. If we had a higher level of vaccination, wed have less transmission and less diversity in the COVID virus. Its not that it would go away, but it would definitely get slower.

Pandemic is going to ease

Burke said he anticipates that the COVID-19 pandemic will end much like the 1918 flu epidemic did by morphing into a seasonal virus that never really leaves.

The 1918 flu blew through the worlds population, he said, infecting huge swaths, which gained natural immunity the only answer at the time because vaccines were not yet a reality.

But COVID-19 vaccines are available and highly effective, Burke said. Once enough people have immunity either from contracting the disease or from being inoculated the pandemic will lessen, he said.

Even if vaccine uptake doesnt improve, Adalja said, the pandemic will still taper down. But it will do so because people contract the virus and gain natural immunity rather than from being vaccinated. With infection, however, comes the risk of death, Adalja said.

No matter what, the pandemic is going to ease because people get infected. Vaccines dampen the impact of the pandemic, but the final common pathway is going to be the same, Adalja said.

Thats what happened with the 1918 flu, Burke said.

It didnt cause a major new pandemic again, but it caused seasonal flu, and it continues to mutate and evolve and cause significant disease but never pandemic proportions, Burke said. I wouldnt be surprised if COVID does pretty much the same thing. Its unlikely to go away after a year or two because there are huge parts of the world that are not immune and are not vaccinated.

As long as there are any populations on the planet that are susceptible, the virus will transmit.

One positive outcome of the 1918 pandemic, though it was long in coming, was creation of the World Health Organization. Excela Latrobe pediatrics physician Dr. David Wyszomierski, who has studied the earlier pandemic, noted WHO in 1952 developed a global surveillance system to track different strains of influenza.

He said the COVID virus, like the flu, can switch some of its genetic material to become more contagious or more pathologic. That is what has occurred with the emergence of the delta variant, which has been cited in the recent increase in hospitalizations and deaths.

With another flu season approaching, Wyszomierski stressed the importance of getting a COVID-19 vaccine and an influenza vaccine for those who are eligible.

Absolutely not spared

It may take over 90% of the population gaining some form of immunity before the pandemic tapers off, Shively said. Once it becomes controlled, it will likely become another of the endemic coronaviruses.

Four other coronaviruses circulate in the human population as common colds, Burke said. COVID-19 will likely join their ranks.

If you look at the molecular evolutionary pattern, it looks like (coronaviruses) entered humans at least hundreds of years ago, he said. Maybe this happens every century or so, that a virus jumps and makes it into humans and then settles into this equilibrium.

Still, theres always a risk of another serious pandemic, experts warn.

We are absolutely not spared from a new pandemic happening be it 100 years in the future or later this year before this one is gone, Shively said.

The risk of pandemics spreading is higher now than ever, Burke said. As the world becomes more interconnected, viruses have an easier time traveling globally whereas many epidemics in the past died off on one continent or a lone corner of the world.

Several viruses in recent years, like Ebola and H1N1, had the potential to cause a devastating worldwide pandemic, Shively said. They just didnt.

Preparation for the next pandemic and learning lessons from this one is something that we as a country and an international community can gain, he said. When another pandemic will happen is hard to say, but another pandemic will happen. We need to take steps to make sure that were prepared for when it does.

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Eden Slezins Path to Success: From Academy of Art University to House of Harlow and Beyond – TechBullion

Posted: at 2:17 am





When it comes to fashion, professional designers need a rare blend of personal drive, creative sparks, educational direction, and entrepreneurial opportunity. Students who enroll in the School of Fashion at Academy of Art University bring their unique vision and talent to cultivate under leading faculty who are also artists and creatives in their own right. The result is a stand-out curriculum designed for hands-on learning that prepares students for specific industries and professions.

Fashion designer and Academy of Art University graduate Eden Slezin experienced this firsthand. As a student in the Academys School of Fashion, Slezin benefited from numerous opportunities to develop his skills in an environment that encouraged learning by doing. From practical classes in design to a full-scale fashion show put on by the School of Fashion, Slezin developed a firm foundation for a successful career ripe with creativity and celebrity collaborations.

No matter where Eden Slezin finds himself in his journey, he brings with him the passion and desire to achieve his goals. He is also quick to follow his changing interests, which allows him to pivot careers as his interests evolve.

Starting out in plant molecular genetics, Slezin found his undergraduate experience was just one of many career adventures. After a stint with the U.S. Marines, he returned to civilian life in outdoor guiding and retail management roles before deciding on fashion design as the next step.

At 39 years old, Slezin was hesitant to return to school. I didnt have a design background, said Slezin. I think I have always loved fashion, but I didnt think it was a career possibility. But with the right mentors and supports, his drive found the opportunity he needed with Academy of Art University.

Slezin earned his Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Fashion with the Academy and got to work growing his own mens clothing line. He also worked with his sister, a budding designer in her own right, on her Etsy shop offerings ranging from loungewear to home dcor. Before the duo knew it, Nicole Ritchies House of Harlow 1960 came calling and invited the D and E Discovered brand to collaborate on a limited Etsy line.

How did Slezin go from a creative with zero fashion experience to designing a collection with House of Harlow? He credits his time at Academy of Art University with giving him the foundation he needed to operate a business and learn to make his ideas a reality.

Since most masters programs limit who can apply based on past experience in the field they desire, entrance is restricted to the few who already fit the mold. Academy of Art University, however, operates with an open admission policy and encourages applicants to share their personal goals as part of the admission process. The acknowledgment that life experience, passion, and hard work are important factors in pursuing a higher education enables students like Slezin to chase their academic and professional dreams at Academy of Art University.

Specifically in the Academys School of Fashion, faculty guide students through the development of their own, personal vision. Coursework is structured to create awareness of industry standards and the ins and outs of market operations while creating room for students to establish their own design philosophy.

Slezin shared, I went back to school and started really digging into the craft of it all. The MFA in Fashion establishes a clear foundation with courses in construction, design, editing, and presenting ready-to-wear collections. Courses place these topics within the framework of historical, global, and current industry influences to help students contextualize their own aesthetic.

Technology also plays a role in design at Academy of Art University. Fashion design students learn how to use 3D design platforms to draft fabrics, garments, and storyboards that have a practical purpose in the businesses they hope to run one day. Everything I feel like I need to be a successful designer, Ive gotten from the Academy of Art University, said Slezin.

Academy of Art University also gave Slezin the opportunity to show at New York Fashion Week, one of the biggest platforms for designers to present their work. That is the grand showcase, and its where you make your mark, said Slezin. The show was a culmination of six semesters of hard work including directed study with hands-on instruction from faculty and an internship to practice skills in real-world settings.

The flexible curriculum at Academy of Art University encourages every creative to pursue what makes them unique, acting as a catalyst rather than a conformist for success. Coursework is also comprehensive. To graduate, students are required to demonstrate fundamentals in design, technical specifications, and business practice in the context of their personal goals and their chosen field.

Ever committed to following his dreams and going where his passions take him, Slezins work reflects his understanding of the global marketplace, design trends, and designer personas. During the Etsy collaboration with House of Harlow 1960, he demonstrated his design and business acumen in spades. I essentially took over as lead designer for the collection, explained Slezin.

Armed with a mood board, he set to work to create a design presentation by drawing from his MFA experience. This training helped me understand the assignment. I couldnt have done any of that without the Academys training, said Slezin. The result was a collection of soft textures and flowing garments that matched the vibe House of Harlow desired.

Slezin hasnt left his roots behind, either. He incorporates inspiration from his six years in the military in many of his designs for his own line. Sustainability is also important to him, and he reuses textiles as well as uses organic fabrics and natural dyes. Academy of Art University has allowed me to transition from a career which I was not that excited about to my dream career of being a fashion designer, said Slezin.

Academy of Art University instructors encourage students like Eden Slezin to pursue their passion with a solid foundation of translatable skills. Rather than requiring students to commit to a single aesthetic or brand persona, instructors help creatives learn to channel their talents in meaningful ways that can be practically applied.

For Academy students and graduates like Slezin, there is no limit to where their creativity can take them. The next big thing can always be around the corner, and it can be completely different than their last pursuit or have a completely different look, feel, or objective. Academy of Art University students can start out with a dream and no experience, only to soar to new creative heights.

Established in 1929, Academy of Art University has a storied history of providing industry-based curriculum learning to artists, designers and creatives. Students can choose from more than 120 accredited degree options, all taught by instructors who are experienced professionals in a course of study. Academy coursework is a hands-on experience that combines a solid foundation of core skills with the freedom for students to express themselves creatively. To learn more about the bachelors, masters, certificate and continuing education programs available, visit

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A new group of natural sciences professors brings cutting-edge science research and instruction to USC Dornsife > News > USC Dornsife – USC…

Posted: at 2:17 am

Faculty who arrived during the pandemic study cell function, genetics and symplectic geometry, among other topics. [4 min read]

The natural sciences faculty across departments welcomed new members who arrived at USC Dornsife during the pandemic lockdown. (Composite: Dennis Lan.)

A new group of natural sciences faculty arrived at the USC Dornsife College of Letters Arts and Sciences in 2020 and didnt let the COVID-19 pandemic stop them from setting up labs, engaging with students and conducting important scientific research.They recently shared their academic work and personal interests.

Xianrui Cheng| Assistant Professor ofBiological Sciences

Academic focus:Im researching how the spatial pattern of a living cell is assembled and how it contributes to cellular functions. We have recently discovered that in a plastic dish, the juice (cytoplasm) from frog eggs can spontaneously re-organize into patterns seen in living cells.

More strikingly, these patterns recapitulate cellular functions; they can repeatedly self-replicate like cells do. My lab is using this egg extract system as a model to study the mechanism of pattern formation within cells.

What do you like to do in your spare time?Gardening and photography.

What inspires you?Nature, people and art.

Peter Chung| Assistant Professor ofPhysics and Astronomy

Academic focus:I study proteins that do not fold into stable structures but rather behave structurally like spaghetti in boiling water (adopting many conformations over time). Using a framework of polymer physics, I aim to understand the physiological function and diseased dysfunction of these proteins. The latter is especially important, as nearly every major neurodegenerative disease is unequivocally linked to these unstructured proteins.

What do you like to do in your spare time?Financially sustaining every nearby food truck within a two-block radius of my apartment.

If you could invite one person to dinner, living or dead, who would you select? What would be on the menu?Robert Oppenheimer lived a fascinating life that spanned theoretical physics and leadership in the Manhattan Project, the government program that led to the deployment of the most terrible weapons to ever exist. As he loved his adopted home state of New Mexico, Im sure wed both enjoy tacos.

What inspires you?The students I see at USC. Theyre full of energy and enthusiasm!

Michael Doc Edge| Assistant Professor ofQuantitative and Computational Biology

Academic focus:I develop and use new ways to analyze genetic data with an eye toward understanding our evolutionary history. People who work in my lab are also interested in ways we can use evolutionary thinking to do other jobs that require genetic data, such as finding disease-associated genetic variants or protecting privacy in forensic genetics.

Where is your favorite place to travel?I didnt realize my feelings about the American Southwest could be embarrassing until I saw them embodied in Will Ferrells character onThe Office. But Ive never had a bad trip anywhere.

If you could invite one person to dinner, living or dead, who would you select? What would be on the menu?I cant narrow it down. I will give you a top three among those who use the first name George: Eliot (aka Mary Ann Evans), Saunders, Clinton (the musician, not the U.S. founding father). They can eat whatever they want.

What food or condiments will we always find in your kitchen?Paprika is my favorite crutch.

Geoffrey Fudenberg| Assistant Professor of Quantitative and Computational Biology

My work aims to connect molecular-scale mechanisms with their genome-wide consequences and uses machine-learning and biophysical modeling approaches to decode connections between 3D genome organization and function.

Cornelius Gati| Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences

Academic focus:Im interested in neurotransmission at the atomic scale. Our group focuses on the structure determination of membrane proteins involved in synaptic transmission using the powerful technique ofcryo-electron microscopy.

What inspires you?I get my best ideas while driving (coincidentally something I spend a lot of time doing).

What do you like to do in your spare time?I like to spend time outdoors; hiking and camping are some of my favorites.

Where is your favorite place to travel?Hawaii.

Kyler Siegel| Assistant Professor of Mathematics

Academic focus:I work in symplectic geometry, a relatively young branch of mathematics that aims to understand the fundamental properties of various geometric structures from theoretical physics. It lies at the crossroads of a number of subfields of mathematics including algebraic geometry, topology and differential geometry and also has interactions with string theory.

What do you like to do in your spare time?Jazz guitar, rock climbing, hiking, tinkering, reading and exploring cities by bike.

Favorite book youve read lately?The Code Breakerby Walter Isaacson

Harold Williams| Assistant Professor ofMathematics

Academic focus:I study geometric and algebraic structures that appear in high energy physics.

What do you like to do in your spare time?I like to play my guitars.

If you could invite one person to dinner, living or dead, who would you select? What would be on the menu?Brian May. Whatever happens to be on the menu at Noma that night.

What inspires you?How interesting the universe is.

Learn about other faculty who joined USC Dornsife during the 202021 academic year >>

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E.O. Wilsons wars – The Boston Globe

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Scientist, Richard Rhodess biography of Wilson, born in 1929, however, does not begin with those formative years. Instead, it depicts him on his hands and knees collecting and classifying ants, many previously unknown to science, in the jungles of New Guinea. Despite the oppressive heat and mosquitoes, hes an elated Indiana Jones of insect hunters.

As fascinating as this material is, its all been conveyed to much better effect in Wilsons 1994 autobiography, Naturalist. In fact, Rhodes relies almost entirely on quotations from that book, supplemented by letters Wilson wrote to his sweetheart and eventual wife, Irene Kelley. Oddly enough, Wilsons lively, vivid prose, at the heart of every chapter, consistently outshines that of the professional writer, whose best-known work is the prize-winning The Making of the Atomic Bomb.

Except for his bio-nerd leanings, Wilson led a typical Southern boyhood. He briefly attended a military school. At 14, he was born again at First Baptist Church of Pensacola, though a bit later he decided his faith lay more in science than Christianity. He loved to fish, at least until an accident with a pinfish left him blind in the right eye. Though skinny and underweight, he managed a brief flirtation with football.

In Wilsons autobiography, he claimed that perennial football power the University of Alabama had saved him. The truth is, this whiz-kid saved himself. When he first arrived on campus, he knocked on the biology department chairs door and showed him his large insect collection. He was given lab space and became a sort of departmental mascot.

Wilson would make Harvard, possessor of the largest ant collection in the world, his professional home. As a young assistant professor, he was almost lured away to Stanford by a visit from its dean and president! until Harvard matched the poachers offer and granted him tenure. In this first phase of his career, he concentrated on linking insect field work and classification to evolutionary theory. Looming on the horizon, though, lay a challenge from the hot new field of molecular biology. To his credit, Rhodes conveys useful background information on what Wilson termed the molecular wars.

When James Watson, co-discoverer of the structure of DNA, joined the Harvard faculty, the battle was on. Wilson remembers this brilliant but arrogant and rude man as the most unpleasant human being I have ever met. Watson, a Nobel Prize winner, harrumphed that Wilson was nothing but an old-fashioned stamp collector? (Ironically, Wilson previously had helped persuade the department to hire this adversary, despite his abrasive personality.) Eventually, in a win-win decision, evolutionary biology and molecular biology split into separate departments.

Wilsons focus on evolution, however, would prove troublesome in the wider public arena. His previous work on insect social behavior had been lauded, but his 1975 book, Sociobiology: The New Synthesis, provoked a firestorm. He was accused of giving a green light to eugenics, racism, and the socio-economic status quo. This time, Harvard geneticist Richard Lewontin led the charge. At a scientific conference in Washington, protesters doused him with ice water, chanting Wilson, youre all wet!

Rhodes implicitly sides with Wilson, arguing that the scientists effort to root all animal behavior, including that of humans, in genetics was misunderstood. But it seems to me that Wilsons theorizing in this classic nature-nurture debate clearly weights the scales toward something close to genetic determinism. Likewise, the author fails to subject Wilsons On Human Nature, in which the biologist explores the connections between genetic and cultural evolution, to tough-minded scrutiny.

An unabashed Wilson enthusiast, Rhodes reveals that he was the primary advocate for Wilson on the Pulitzer jury that recommended the general nonfiction prize go to The Ants, a comprehensive tome intended for scientists. (Wilson had won previously in the same category for On Human Nature his two awards an astonishing triumph for a scientist.)

Toward the end of the century, Wilson achieved renown in the newly ascendant field of ecology. He pleaded for conservation efforts to preserve wildlife habitats and halt the extinction of species. Millions upon millions of species, he warned, remained unidentified yet potentially lost forever. In Half-Earth he recommended setting aside half the worlds land to assure survival of our yet undiscovered genetic treasures.

In this effort, citizens were more likely to garland him with roses rather than drench him in cold water. Indiana Jones had become the Grand Old Man of ecological advocacy.

Researching this book, Rhodes conducted numerous interviews with Wilson, now in his 90s living outside Boston. Yet the effort hasnt yielded much, a few details but no major insights. The autobiographer has trumped the biographer. Naturalist was a pleasure, Scientist a disappointment.

Dan Cryer is author of the biography Being Alive and Having to Die: The Spiritual Odyssey of Forrest Church and the memoir Forgetting My Mother: A Blues from the Heartland.

Scientist: E.O. Wilson: A Life in Nature

Richard Rhodes

Doubleday, 288, $30

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Study identifies 579 genetic locations linked to anti-social behavior, alcohol use, opioid addiction and more – VCU News

Posted: August 31, 2021 at 2:04 am

By Brian McNeill

An analysis of data from 1.5 million people has identified 579 locations in the genome associated with a predisposition to different behaviors and disorders related to self-regulation, including addiction and child behavioral problems.

With these findings, researchers have constructed a genetic risk score a number reflecting a persons overall genetic propensity based on how many risk variants they carry that predicts a range of behavioral, medical and social outcomes, including education levels, obesity, opioid use disorder, suicide, HIV infections, criminal convictions and unemployment.

[This study] illustrates that genes dont code for a particular disorder or outcome; there are no genes for substance use disorder, or for behavior problems, said joint senior authorDanielle Dick, Ph.D., Distinguished Commonwealth Professor of Psychology and Human and Molecular Genetics at Virginia Commonwealth University. Instead, genes influence the way our brains are wired, which can make us more at risk for certain outcomes. In this case, we find that there are genes that broadly influence self-control or impulsivity, and that this predisposition then confers risk for a variety of life outcomes.

The study, Multivariate Analysis of 1.5 Million People Identifies Genetic Associations with Traits Related to Self-Regulation and Addiction, was published today in the journal Nature Neuroscience and was conducted by a consortium of 26 researchers at 17 institutions in the United States and the Netherlands.

It was led by Dick;Philipp Koellinger, Ph.D., professor of social science genetics at the University of Wisconsin Madison and Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam;Kathryn Paige Harden, Ph.D., professor of psychology at the University of Texas at Austin; andAbraham A. Palmer, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego.

The study is one of the largest genome-wide association studies ever conducted, pooling data from an effective sample size of 1.5 million people of European descent. The researchers genetic risk score has one of the largest effect sizesa measurement of the prediction powerof any genetic risk score for a behavioral outcome to date.

It demonstrates the far-reaching effects of carrying a genetic liability toward lower self-control, impacting many important life outcomes, said Dick, a professor in the Department of Psychology in the College of Humanities and Sciences and the Department Human and Molecular Genetics in the School of Medicine at VCU. We hope that a greater understanding of how individual genetic differences contribute to vulnerability can reduce stigma and blame surrounding many of these behaviors, such as behavior problems in children and substance use disorders.

The identification of the more than 500 genetic loci is important, the researchers said, because it provides new insight into our understanding of behaviors and disorders related to self-regulation, collectively referred to as externalizing and that have a shared genetic liability.

We know that regulating behavior is a critical component of many important life outcomesfrom substance use and behavioral disorders, like ADHD, to medical outcomes ranging from suicide to obesity, to educational outcomes like college completion, Dick said.

Characterizing the genetic contributions to self-regulation can be helpful in myriad ways, she said.

It allows us to better understand the biology behind why some people are more at risk, which can assist with medication development, and it can allow us to know who is more at risk, so we can put early intervention and prevention programs in place, she said. Identifying genetic risk factors is a critical component of precision medicine, which has the goal of using information about an individuals genetic and environmental risk factors to deliver more tailored, effective intervention specific to that individuals risk profile.

The researchers noted, however, that having a higher risk profile isnt necessarily a bad thing.

For example, CEOs, entrepreneurs and fighter pilots are often higher on risk taking, Dick said. DNA is not destiny. We all have unique genetic codes, and were all at risk for something; but understanding ones predisposition can be empoweringit can help individuals understand their strengths, and their potential challenges, and act accordingly.

For more information about the study and its findings, please visit thisFAQ.

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