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WVU names 2021 class of Ruby Fellows | WVU Today | West Virginia University – WVU Today

Posted: August 5, 2021 at 1:50 am

Six students pursuing doctoral degrees atWest Virginia Universityare receiving funding through the Ruby Scholars Graduate Fellows Program. This years fellows are Kelsey Bentley, Julia Ivey, Anuj Kankani, Claire Kelly, Zoe Pagliaro and Matthew Waalkes.

Recipients must be pursuing a graduate degree in one of the following fields: energy and environmental sciences, biological, biotechnical and biomedical sciences, or biometrics, nanotechnology and material science, security, sensing, forensic sciences and related identification technologies. The fellowships financial support allows incoming doctoral-level scholars to commit themselves fully to expanding their study and use their research to benefit the people of WVU, the nation and the world.

We are proud to welcome another extraordinary group of scholars to WVU this year with the support of the Ruby Fellows program, said Maryanne Reed, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs. I continue to be impressed by these Fellows and their ability to think across disciplines, their drive to explore the unknown and their desire to create change in their communities and the world. Our Ruby scholars are the next must watch innovators at WVU.

Established in 2011 by the Hazel Ruby McQuain Charitable Trust, the Ruby Fellows program includes a $34,000 stipend, a $2,000 travel grant and a waiver of tuition for each fellow to continue their research at WVU.

Kelsey Bentley

Driven by a love for animals, Kelsey Bentley, of Micro, North Carolina, initially entered college with the intention of becoming a veterinarian. She changed course when her undergraduate mentor showed her an alternative career path that focuses on helping animals by educating livestock producers about the science behind their work. She earned her bachelors degree in animal science, with a concentration in veterinary bioscience, at North Carolina State University, and came to WVU for a doctorate in animal and food science.

During her graduate assistantship, Bentley conducted research in partnership with Virginia Tech to understand the genetic basis for enhancing animals health by requiring fewer treatments of antibodies in their feed. Now, Bentley hopes to aid producers in making better decisions to manage their flocks.

Bentleys decision to proceed with her doctorate was two-fold: She ultimately hopes to teach at the collegiate level, and she understands the immense impact of higher education as a first-generation college student.

My parents really pushed me, saved for me and put their everything into making sure that, if I wanted to go to college, I had the opportunity, and that was my driving factor, she said.

For Bentley, the Ruby Fellowship builds upon her parents commitment to her success.

It gives me the ability to focus 110% into my research, and sink my heart and soul into my thesis, Bentley said. The financial freedom this brings means so much to this small-town girl with a big dream.

After completing her doctorate, Bentley hopes to join the faculty at North Carolina State University and pursue a position as an extension agent.

Julia Ivey

A West Virginia native from Oak Hill, Julia Ivey attended Shepherd University, where she earned a bachelors degree in biochemistry. Specifically, Ivey is interested in neuroscience and chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a brain disease resulting from repeated concussions that can only be diagnosed postmortem.

Im interested in research on the brain, Ivey said. Theres so much we still do not know about it, and research allows me to learn more about it and solve problems. I want to make a difference in neurodegenerative diseases.

During her time at Shepherd University, Ivey participated in the West Virginia IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence, a National Institutes of Health-funded summer research program led by WVU and Marshall University. In the laboratory of WVUs Paul Lockman, she conducted research focused on the efficacy of cannabidiol, alone and in combination with radiation, in treating breast cancer that metastasized to the brain.

Ivey was drawn to WVU because the University offers unique opportunities to participate in innovative research. One research study that fascinated her was a Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute project that uses focused ultrasound as a treatment for Alzheimers.

Additionally, being a Ruby scholar allows Ivey to focus on her research.

Im thankful for the scholarship because I can fully commit myself to my studies and research without having to worry about the financial stability, Ivey said. From my education so far, Ive realized you have to put in the work and people dont realize how difficult a STEM field can be, and theres always so much to learn.

Ivey wishes to continue conducting research to contribute to the discovery of new cures or treatment possibilities for neurodegenerative diseases after completing her doctorate in neuroscience.

Anuj Kankani

Anuj Kankani, of Katy, Texas, earned his undergraduate degree in physics at Texas A&M University. At WVU, Kankani plans on pursuing a doctorate in physics with a focus on astrophysics and studying extreme spacetimes, such as black holes and neutron stars.

The problems you work on are researching some of the biggest things in the universe some of the most complicated processes and you learn new tools, which to use and how to use them properly, Kankani said.

For the past two and a half years, Kankani has been a part of two different undergraduate research projects allowing him to combine his physics, computer science and astrophysics knowledge.

At WVU, Kankani will conduct research with Sean McWilliams, whose work with gravitational waves is the type of research Kankani wants to do in graduate school.

Kankani is excited for the opportunity to pursue this graduate program thanks to the Ruby Fellowship.

The fellowship will allow me to focus on learning more about astrophysics and my field, Kankani said. Also, I will be able to gain more skills both research and general, like collaborating with people and contributing to the field with my own research.

Additionally, Kankani hopes to finish his PhD and continue research in a professional setting.

Being a Ruby scholar means an opportunity to make the most out of my time at West Virginia University, he said. I like learning every year. You become better at learning and realize how much there is out there to learn, and how much you dont know.

Claire Kelly

Claire Kelly, a native of Morgantown, attended WVU for her undergraduate degree in immunology and medical microbiology. After her first biology class in high school, Kelly knew she wanted to pursue a doctorate in molecular biology.

Most people with a Ph.D. didnt know they wanted to pursue one, but Ive always been so curious about biology as a whole - specifically of how cells work and interact with each other, Kelly said.

As she progressed through her major, she realized her passion focused more on the immunology side and less on the microbiology side.

Especially with neuroimmunology, its a very niche field so my favorite part working in it is there are a lot of new things to learn, said Kelly. Every time I do an experiment and I get new data, thats a tiny piece of some puzzle that I get to contribute to.

Kellys focus in her graduate research is inflammation in immunological mechanisms in the brain and central nervous system and autoimmune diseases.

During her time at WVU, Kelly said one of the aspects she is most thankful for is the guidance and mentorship shes received from those around her.

I look at the older graduate students, and Im hoping Ill build to the point they are, Kelly said. Ive gotten where I am today from graduate students that helped me along my experience in the labs Ive worked in, and I want to be able to do that for others.

Kelly is pursuing a doctorate in the accelerated program for immunology in microbial pathogenesis and hopes to become principal investigator of her own research lab.

Zoe Pagliaro

Zoe Pagliaro graduated from Skidmore College in New York with a bachelors degree in environmental science. Originally from South Kingstown, Rhode Island, Pagliaro said she was drawn to WVU because of Edward Brzosteks lab focusing on sequestering biocarbon underground to make agricultural lands environmentally sustainable.

Before attending WVU, Pagliaro worked on a project focused on developing a rapid and efficient soil carbon assessment tool that provides accurate data to help farmers and land managers join carbon markets. She was among the first students to analyze soil samples to guide land management decisions on former Vice President Al Gores farm.

Additionally, Pagliaro co-authored a review paper on the biochemistry of the Amazon rainforest over the past 10 years. That data set was used, with Pagliaros participation, at a National Geographic Society convention in Brazil.

Pagliaros field research showed her the joy and impact of science.

Its an amazing feeling to be a small part of the puzzle to fix the bigger issue of climate change, she said.

Pagliaro was shocked when she received the news of becoming a Ruby scholar.

I thought it was a huge honor to receive, and a huge honor to even be nominated, Pagliaro said. It was really a proud moment to see that I can do great things and that this prestigious group believes in me.

Pagliaro aims to continue doing research to solve environmental issues related to climate change as she pursues her doctorate in biology.

I cant give enough thanks to those who made this possible for me, Pagliaro said. Ive felt so lucky to be as educated as I am, and education is empowering. This shows how much I can accomplish and achieve.

Matthew Waalkes

A native of Frederick, Maryland, who moved to Waynesboro, Virginia, in high school, Matthew Waalkes attended the Virginia Military Institute and received an undergraduate degree in biology. He became interested in biology because of his curiosity about the world.

You dont know what the answer is going to be, and your job is to explore this vast unknown, Waalkes said. Thats what particularly interested me in neuroscience no one knows a lot about it.

Waalkes has many years of lab experience, as he initiated an undergraduate research project examining the cross-sectional anatomy of soybean stems and branches that was published. Also, Waalkes conducted a study using zebrafish to assess the developmental and neurodevelopmental impact of potential toxins and pesticides with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to inform safety guidelines for chemicals.

Waalkes is now focused on the interaction between chemicals and the nervous system to treat disorders of the central nervous system. When he found out he was accepted into the Ruby Fellowship program, he was ecstatic.

Being a Ruby Fellow means its a challenge its a recognition and youve come this far, we recognize this, and we want you to meet these standards, Waalkes said. And I accept the challenge and hopefully exceed these standards.

After completing his doctorate in biology, he hopes to continue his research while teaching others as a middle school science teacher.

Learning new things always makes education exciting, and teaching the next generation is something that Ive always enjoyed and wanted to pursue, Waalkes said.

The charitable trust was established by Hazel Ruby McQuain, wife of the late J. W. Ruby. Before passing at 93 in 2002, she was involved in philanthropic giving to support WVU and local organizations for more than 20 years. One of her many gifts includes an $8 million gift toward the construction ofJ.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital, named after her husband.



CONTACT: Cassie RiceCommunications SpecialistWVU Foundation304.554.0217;

Call 1.855.WVU.NEWS for the latest West Virginia University news and information from WVUToday.

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Arbor Strengthens Focus on Therapeutics with Key Additions to Leadership Team – Yahoo Finance

Posted: July 21, 2021 at 2:02 am

- Pam Stetkiewicz, Ph.D., Appointed Chief Operating Officer - Kathryn McCabe, Ph.D., Named SVP, Head of Business Development

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., July 20, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Arbor Biotechnologies, an early-stage life sciences company discovering and developing the next generation of genetic medicines, announced today the appointments of Pam Stetkiewicz, Ph.D., as Chief Operating Officer, and Kathryn McCabe, Ph.D., as SVP, Head of Business Development. These appointments further expand Arbors leadership team and strengthen its focus on therapeutics.

Bringing Pam and Katy on at this time represents a significant milestone for Arbor as we drive our genetic medicines portfolio to the clinic and partner with leading companies to bring engineered cell therapies to patients, said Devyn Smith, Ph.D., CEO, Arbor Biotechnologies. Their scientific expertise, business acumen, and extensive experience in cell therapy and gene editing will help us execute on this strategy to develop therapeutics with our tailored library of CRISPR-based genetic editors and modifiers.

Pam Stetkiewicz is joining Arbor from Flagship Pioneering, where she was Senior Vice President, Global Program Leader at Flagship Pioneering Medicines. Dr. Stetkiewicz brings more than 20 years of extensive life-sciences pharmaceutical experience with recent experience at Editas Medicine as Vice President, Program and Alliance Management. At Editas, she led the team that filed the first IND for an in vivo CRISPR therapeutic (EDIT-101 for LCA10). Prior to Editas, Dr. Stetkiewicz worked at Novartis Institute of Biomedical Research for 13 years, in a variety of roles across science, alliance, project and portfolio management. Her last role at Novartis was as Executive Director, in Strategic Alliances which involved early business development and collaborations with external companies. She received her Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University and a B.S. from the University of Rhode Island.

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Im thrilled to be joining Arbor at this exciting time, said Dr. Stetkiewicz. The company has made significant progress in the discovery and development of innovative therapies, particularly in the genetic medicines space, and I am looking forward to helping fulfill the therapeutic promise of Arbors already impressive discoveries.

Kathryn (Katy) McCabe is joining Arbor from Roche where she was Senior Director of Business Development based in Cambridge, MA. Over the last 20 years, she has combined her scientific knowledge, entrepreneurial spirit, and business experience to help transform novel modalities into new medicines at Roche, Lilly, Baxalta and GSK. Dr. McCabe has focused much of her attention on cell and gene therapy and has closed deals for CAR-T, diabetes cell therapy, in vivo gene editing, and gene therapy as well as led large strategic initiatives in these areas. In addition, she has had close interactions with a number of venture funds as the scientific lead for Lillys limited partnerships. Early in her career, Dr. McCabe led a team of senior scientists to develop stem cells for retina and corneal transplantation. She was a Postdoctoral Fellow in Dr. Marianne Bronners lab at Caltech, received her Ph.D. in Neuroscience and Behavior from the University of Washington, and her B.A from the University of Pennsylvania.

I look forward to finding partners that share our vision of bringing curative therapies to patients, said Dr. McCabe.

About Arbor BiotechnologiesArbor Biotechnologies is an early-stage life sciences company discovering and developing the next generation of genetic medicines. Co-founded by Feng Zhang and David Walt, Arbor uses its proprietary discovery engine to uncover unique CRISPR-based genetic modifiers with differentiated genetic editing and delivery capabilities. Following its strategic partnership with Vertex Pharmaceuticals to accelerate the path to the clinic for Arbors technologies, Arbor recently announced an agreement with Lonza. These partnerships further validate the breadth of applications of Arbors gene editing platform that can be custom tailored to address the underlying pathology of each genetic disease. Arbors pipeline of genetic medicines is focused on bringing curative therapies to all patients with genetic disease.

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Donate Blood Stem Cells or Marrow | Rhode Island Blood Center

Posted: June 23, 2021 at 2:26 am

Donate Blood Stem Cells or Marrow

I Was Saved

After years of cancer treatment, Wesley needed her perfect match to cure her. She found it in aperfect stranger she now considers her blood sister

I Gave

Michaela's spur-of-the-moment decision turned out to be Wesley's life-saving match -- herperfectone-in-a-million match.

Research shows that cells from younger donors provide the greatest chance for transplant success. In fact, doctors request donors in the 18 to 44 age group more than 90% of the time.

18 to 44

45 to 60

One patient. One donor. That is how life-saving blood stem cell and marrow transplant matchesare made. Every three minutes someone is diagnosed with a blood cancer like leukemia. Thecure isin the hands of ordinarypeople, and it could be you.Through the Rhode Island Blood Center's partnership withBe The Match, the National Marrow Donor Program, you may find you are theone and only match forsomeone who doesn't have one in their family. Make today the day you sign up to save someone's life.

Complete some health questions and forms right here online to sign up. We will send you a cheek swab kit to do the rest.

A simple cheek swab you can easily complete yourself is all it takes. Donors and patients are matched by their HLA (human leukocyte antigen) type, which is different from matching blood types, and the results of the cheek swab tell us your type. Return your swabs right away!

Once you are on the registry, doctors search for a close match for their patients. You may match someone who has been waiting for a transplant now, or end up being someone's match in the future.

Stem cells arecollected right at the Rhode Island Blood Center througha process that is similar to donating blood platelets or red cells. It's called a PeripheralBlood Stem Cell Donation.You would receive five daily shots inyour armto boost thenumber of stem cells in your blood stream. Then you make thedonation, which takes 4 - 6 hours. Donors can experience bone pain from the stem cell boost. Recovery is usually quick, however --just one ortwo days after the donation is made.

Marrow donations are made at a hospital under anesthesia soyou do not feel any pain. Doctors remove a small amountof marrowfrom your pelvicbone with a needle. Recoveryis usually quick, though some donors may have aches and pains for several days to a few weeks. Your marrow naturally replenishes itself in fourto sixweeks.

I understand that:

If I match a patient:

I promise to:

Some conditions that would prevent you from becoming adonor:

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Donate Blood Stem Cells or Marrow | Rhode Island Blood Center

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Faithful America Confronts Religious Bigotry and Christian Teachings that Serve a Hateful Political Agenda – Between The Lines

Posted: December 20, 2020 at 4:59 pm

In the 1960s and 70s, the liberal wing of faith institutions was ascendant, with a progressive religious component to key struggles like civil rights, farmworkers rights and peace. But for the past almost 40 years, the right-wing has sucked most of the oxygen out of the faith sector of our society, including the explosion of conservative televangelists and the growth of organizations like the Family Research Council and a Catholic Church that has moved in a more conservative direction.

In 2004, progressive faith organizing began through the National Council of Churches, the umbrella group of mainline Protestant denominations in the U.S. The group doing the organizing, Faithful America, became independent in 2013.

Between The Lines Melinda Tuhus spoke with the Rev. Nathan Empsall, an Episcopal priest and campaigns director with Faithful America, which does online organizing and has involved more than 180,000 people in its campaigns. Here, Rev. Empsall talks about his groups past successes and what progressive people of faith have confronted during the Trump era.

THE REV. NATHAN EMPSALL: We describe ourselves as the largest online community of grassroots Christians putting faith into action for social justice, reclaiming Christianity from the religious right. We do that using online campaigns and online organizing. So, Credo, Indivisible, are now familiar to folks in a way they werent when we were first founded. There are a lot of great Christian organizations and progressive organizations out there that have a communications approach and a grass-tops approach and highlight faith leaders. Thats so important. But we help give people in the pews a voice to raise their faith and their religion and put that into action. Our members are both lay and ordained, and represent every major denomination in the U.S. Theyre from all 50 states, D.C. and Puerto Rico.

MELINDA TUHUS: What are some of the issues youve worked on?

THE REV. NATHAN EMPSALL: We were really involved with the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2009. We did a lot of work on climate change at that time. We helped a group of Catholic sisters beat a fracking pipeline in Kentucky; I believe it was in 2013. A lot of our organizing is around LGBTQ rights and full LGBTQ inclusion in the church, in Christianity. Every human being was created in Gods image and has God-given dignity, and the Gospel is all about love and says nothing about sexuality. We stand for that Gospel love and fully support LGBTQ rights and stand against all of the bigotry and discrimination we see coming from the religious right against LGBTQ persons.

Tony Perkins is the leader of the Family Research Council, which the civil rights group, the Southern Poverty Law Center, has identified as a hate group. Faithful Americas members in, I believe it was 2013 or 2014, helped persuade MSNBC to stop featuring Tony Perkins as a talking head and pundit representing Christianity on its programs and also curtailed his appearances on CBS and I believe on ABC. These networks would bring Perkins on to represent the Christian point of view not the right-wing point of view, but for the Christian point of view, as if theres only one. And then hed spew all kinds of hatred in Jesus name that in no way represented Jesus. And thanks to sustained long-term pressure from our members, MSNBC stopped bringing him on. That was a very important victory, we thought, certainly at the time.

Weve continued to pressure Catholic bishops and Catholic schools to stop firing teachers for marrying the people they love teachers and other staff members. And weve certainly spoken out about Franklin Graham and Jerry Falwell Jr. and their support for Donald Trump.

MELINDA TUHUS: Yay! And what about this year? You said you actually brought on more staff for 2020.

THE REV. NATHAN EMPSALL: 2020 has been a particularly big and successful year for Faithful America. As you might imagine, weve been very busy around the coronavirus pandemic. Unfortunately, there are a lot of religious bad actors out there, spreading false information about COVID-19, and refusing to take important public health actions, even though Jesus was a healer who taught us how to care for the sick, so from the very beginning of the pandemic, Faithful America members were working to a social justice response to the virus and stop the spread of that disinformation.

We continued working on social justice measures around the pandemic, helping pair asylum seekers and refugees who didnt have a place to stay, who would usually live with individual families. But those families had to close their doors due to the pandemic. We helped those refugees and asylum seekers find willing churches that were empty and had space to sponsor them and their requests for asylum.

Jim Bakker, the infamous televangelist from the 1980s, is back on the air now, and he was touting a fake cure for the coronavirus at the start of the virus. Our members sprang into action and helped get his show taken off at least two different networks. That was a really important victory for public health.

Weve continued to take action around the pandemic all year long. Right now, were working to stop disinformation around the vaccines. And Im proud to say since that campaign began, at least one bishop has changed their position and now supports the Pfizer vaccine, after previously incorrectly claiming it was made with stem cells and that no Catholic or Christian should take the vaccine. Well, thats not true; thats not how Pfizer and Moderna made their vaccines, and were helping to correct that misinformation in religious circles.

MELINDA TUHUS: I imagine some issues might be rather divisive. For example, have you done any work around abortion rights?

THE REV. NATHAN EMPSALL: As an organization, Faithful America, has not run campaigns specifically related to abortion access or reproductive rights. We have spoken out against the ex-communication or denial of the sacraments to politicians for taking pro-choice stances. We made a lot of headlines around both Tim Kaine and Joe Biden in their different elections, when bishops threatened to deny them communion, or local priests in Bidens case, in Rhode Island. We said that no one should be denied full participation in the church because of their political positions on those issues. And weve spoken out against folks who harass women outside abortion clinics in Jesus name.

For more information, visit Faithful America

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HEALTH CARE BRIEFING: Covid-19 Vaccinations to Begin Across US – Bloomberg Government

Posted: at 4:59 pm

The first coronavirus vaccine arrived in record time, an essential step toward delivering an end to the pandemic. Now comes another challenging phase of the fight: producing enough shots to immunize the majority of the U.S., and getting them into everyones arms by next summer.

If successful, the plan could help end a pandemic thats killed almost 300,000 Americans in the 47 weeks since the first case was recorded. FedEx Corp. and United Parcel Service Inc. picked up the first shipment of the Pfizer Inc.BioNTech SE vaccines from a Kalamazoo, Michigan, factory on yesterday morning.

Army Gen. Gustave Perna, who serves as the chief operating officer of Operation Warp Speed, said on Saturday the first doses of the Pfizers and BioNTechs vaccine will be delivered today. The initial delivery will be completed in all 50 states by Wednesday, he said.

Its an enormous and historic undertaking thats already been been marked by confusion and uncertainty. As late as Friday, some states were saying they werent sure how many doses theyll get. There have also been questions about whether the U.S. has ordered enough shots to meet its ambitious distribution schedule moving into 2021.

Were not taking a victory lap, Perna said on Saturday. We know that the road ahead of us will be tough. We know that situations will occur, but we will figure it out together, collectively, a whole-of-America approach to solve the problems.

Perna, donning battle fatigues and speaking without any preamble from political appointees, compared the moment to D-Day, the Allied invasion of France that marked the turning point in Europe in World War II. D-Day was the beginning of the end. Thats where we are today.

Photographer: Al Drago/Bloomberg

Gustave Perna

The Pfizer shot, and a similar vaccine from Moderna that is only a week away from a decision on emergency authorization, will be in short supply initially. Just 2.9 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine will be delivered in the first shipment, a fraction of whats needed to vaccinate health-care workers and nursing home residents, who are atop the priority list. Read more from Robert Langreth, John Tozzi and Angelica LaVito.

Another 2.9 million doses are being held back to make sure the second vaccine dose, to be given 21 days later, will be available for people who get the first round. Additionally, 500,000 are being held as an emergency reserve. The government is holding up the second dose just until we have ultimate confidence, and weve built up stocks to ensure that we can get the American people a second dose, Perna said, adding that he expects both doses could start to be sent out together in mid-January or February.

Complicating the distribution logistics is that the Pfizer vaccine must be stored at ultra-cold temperatures of minus-94 degrees Fahrenheit until a few days before use. Pfizer developed special dry-ice containers to make it easier to store for facilities that dont have the needed equipment. Make no mistake, Perna said, distribution has begun, with 40 million doses available by the end of the month if Modernas shot is authorized alongside Pfizers. Robert Langreth, John Tozzi, and Angelica LaVito have more.

Most of U.S. to Be Vaccinated by June, Slaoui Says: As many as eight in 10 people in the U.S. could be vaccinated by next summer, according to Slaoui, who heads Operation Warp Speed. After the FDA authorized emergency use of the the Pfizer-BioNTech shot, the Moderna vaccine likely will be approved by Friday, Slaoui told Fox News. We need to have immunized about 75% to 80% of the U.S. population before herd immunity can really be established, said Slaoui, adding that he hopes to achieve that level between May and June. Read more.

Sanofi Vaccine Setbacks Temper Optimism: Vaccine makers, including two of the biggest in the world, suffered setbacks in the push to get more shots across the finish line, tempering a run of optimistic news. Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline delayed late trials of their Covid-19 vaccine candidates after they failed to produce a strong enough response in older people, pushing its potential availability closer to 2022. In another blow, trials of a candidate being developed by CSL and the University of Queensland also saw some problems. Tim Loh and Suzi Ring report.

Island-Hopping Drones to Help Bridge Vaccine Divide: In the debate over whether the rich will receive Covid-19 inoculations before the poor, or city dwellers before rural communities, few places illustrate the difficulty of vaccine equity in a global economy better than in Miami. Home of Americas wealthiest zip code, Miami is also the main air-cargo bridge between the developed world and Haiti, Nicaragua and other impoverished nations across the Caribbean and Latin America. That puts Miami International Airport at a key crossroads in the effort to distribute shots quickly to the masses in the U.S. and its poorer neighbors to the south. Read more from Brendan Murray.

New Yorks Surge Deep but Less Deadly: Once the epicenter of the pandemic, New York sits on the brink of breaking its case record from spring. The impact of this latest surge, though, is almost unrecognizable from those nightmarish early days. For now, the state is staving off the repercussions of the current spike in cases, with ample hospital capacity and one of the lowest death rates in the U.S. Read more from Nic Querolo and Keshia Clukey.

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Full $908 Billion Pandemic Bill Coming Today: A bipartisan group of lawmakers will unveil a $908 billion coronavirus pandemic relief bill today, though theres no guarantee Congress will pass it, one of the key negotiators said. We were on a call all day yesterday, well get on a call again this afternoon to finish things up, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said on Fox News yesterday. Well have a bill produced for the American people tomorrow, $908 billion.

Democratic and Republican lawmakers engaged in the negotiations have said they completed detailed proposals on small business help, vaccine-distribution funds and other key areas. The sticking point is how to shield employers from virus-related lawsuits, a top demand of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). A competing, $916 billion relief proposal is also circulating from Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

Manchin, one of eight negotiators from both parties involved in the bills drafting, expressed confidence that Congress will pass a relief bill before the holiday break. The plan is alive and well and theres no way, no way that were going to leave Washington without taking care of the emergency needs of our people, he said. Whether that is enough to clear fiscal stimulus in both houses is an open question. Read more from Tony Czuczka.

Surprise Medical Billing Fix Emerges in House: House and Senate committee leaders have struck a deal on a bipartisan fix for surprise medical bills, likely paving a way for its passage soon. Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.) has signed onto legislation that would ban balance billing, where a doctor or hospital charges a patient fees their insurer wont cover, for most out-of-network care. It also seeks to hold patients harmless when they get emergency care from an out-of-network provider. Read more from Alex Ruoff.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) was quick to put her support behind the deal. On Friday she said the House would push for this critical legislation to end surprise billing to be passed as part of the end-of-year package.

Amazons Halo Raising Privacy Concerns: Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) is urging Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar to address privacy concerns around Amazons Halo health tracking bracelet. Halo enters the consumer market at a time where there are very few federal regulations in place to require privacy and security protections for consumers personal health data collected by these wearable fitness devices, Klobuchar said in a letter to Azar on Friday. Read more from Andrea Vittorio.

Wyden Criticizes IRS Pre-Obamacare Plan Tax Rule: Employers and health insurers will more easily be able to continue offering employer health plans that were in existence before Obamacare took effect under a final rule released by the IRS. These health plans were allowed to continue after the laws effective date in March 2010 even though they dont offer the same benefits as newer plans that must conform to the Affordable Care Act. They stem from President Barack Obamas statement about his signature health-care law, If you like your current plan, you can keep it.

The agency released the rules (T.D. 9928; RIN: 1545-BP67) on Friday. Senate Finance Committee ranking member Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said the rules potentially mean millions of Americans could face higher out-of-pocket costs for their health care. Read more from Fawn Johnson and Sara Hansard.

Hearings on the Hill:

Ex-Rep. Kennedy Bids to be Bidens Drug Czar: Patrick Kennedy, a former Rhode Island congressman and once the face of his familys Democratic dynasty, is seeking to head President-elect Joe Bidens drug-control office. Kennedy, who had his own public struggle with addiction and mental health, is collecting endorsements from key players around Biden in a bid to head the White Houses Office of National Drug Control Policy, often called the drug czar. The office coordinates drug policies ranging from law enforcement to treatment programs. Read more from Alex Ruoff.

Covid-19 Vaccines Triumph Raises Hope for Cancer Fight: The first vaccines against Covid-19 arent just a landmark in the fight against the coronavirus. Theyre also the stepping stone for an unconventional technology that could one day defeat other ailments that have eluded doctors, from cancer to heart disease. The shots from Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech employ genetic material known as messenger RNA to effectively transform the bodys own cells into vaccine factories. Such mechanism had never been used outside of clinical experiments, and just how well it worked against the coronavirus astounded even its most enthusiastic backers.

Now, with one vaccine having gained U.S. clearance and the other close behind, the pandemic validation could wrench open a whole new field of medicine. Were now entering the age of mRNA therapeutics, former Harvard University stem-cell biologist Derrick Rossi, who co-founded Moderna in 2010, said. Read more from Naomi Kresge and Robert Langreth.

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HEALTH CARE BRIEFING: Covid-19 Vaccinations to Begin Across US - Bloomberg Government

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This years SN 10 scientists aim to solve some of sciences biggest challenges – Science News

Posted: October 4, 2020 at 5:57 am

In the midst of a pandemic that has brought so much worry and loss, its natural to want to helpto do some small part to solve a problem, to counter pain, or to, importantly, remind others that there is beauty and wonder in the world. Scientists have long been doing just that. Many are chasing answers to the myriad challenges that people face every day, and revealing the rewards in the pursuit of knowledge itself. Its in that spirit that we present this years SN 10: Scientists to Watch.

For the sixth consecutive year, Science News is featuring 10 early- and mid-career scientists who are pushing the boundaries of scientific inquiry. Some of the researchers are asking questions with huge societal importance: How do we prevent teen suicide? What are the ingredients in wildfire smoke that are damaging to health? Is there a better way to monitor earthquakes to save lives? What about finding new ways to diagnose and treat diseases?

Others are trying to grasp how weird and wonderful the natural world isfrom exploring how many supermassive black holes are out there in space to understanding the minuscule genetic details that drive evolution. For instance, SaraH Zanders, one of this years SN10, is unveiling the drama that unfolds when life divvies up its genetic material.

A couple of the scientists on this years list have also taken steps to support people from groups that are underrepresented in the sciences. These researchers see how science benefits when people from diverse backgrounds contribute to the pursuit of answers.

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All of this years honorees are age 40 and under, and all were nominated by Nobel laureates, recently elected members of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences or previous SN 10 scientists. The world feels very different than it did at the start of 2020, when we first put out our call for SN 10 nominations, but the passion these scientists have for their work endures. The curiosity, creativity and drive of this crew offers hope that we can overcome some of our biggest challenges.

Though it often takes time, out of crisis comes action. Also out of crisis comes a renewed appreciation for small pleasures that give life meaning. These researchers find joy in the search for scientific answers. Heres how Zanders describes what motivates her work: Its just I like to solve puzzles. ElizabethQuill

Affiliation: Dartmouth CollegeHometown: Dhaka, BangladeshFavorite black hole: Cygnus X-1

Tonima Tasnim Ananna is bringing the heaviest black holes out of hiding. She has drawn the most complete picture yet of black holes across the universe where they are, how they grow and how they affect their environments. And she did it with the help of artificial intelligence.

As far as astronomers can tell, nearly every galaxy stows a black hole at its center, weighing millions or billions of times the mass of the sun. Though these supermassive black holes can heat surrounding material until it glows brighter than all the galaxys stars combined, the light can be concealed by gas and dust also drawn in by the black holes pull. High-energy X-rays cut through that dusty veil. So for her Ph.D., completed in 2019, Ananna gathered surveys from four X-ray telescopes, more datasets than any previous study had used. Her goal was to create a model of how black holes grow and change across cosmic history. It was supposed to be a short paper, Ananna says. But models that explained one or a few of the datasets didnt work for the full sample. It stumped us for some time.

To break the gridlock, she developed a neural network, a type of artificial intelligence, to find a description of the black hole population that explained what all the observatories saw. She just went off and taught herself machine learning, says astrophysicist Meg Urry of Yale University, Anannas Ph.D. adviser. She doesnt say, Oh, I cant do this. She just figures out a way to learn it and do it. One early result of the model suggests that there are many more active black holes out there than previously realized.

Black holes could be gobbling down gas as fast as theoretically possible.

Galaxies live and die by their black holes. When a black hole puts out energy into the galaxy, it can cause stars to form, Ananna says. Or it could blow gas away, shutting down star formation and stunting the galaxys growth (SN: 3/31/20). So understanding black holes is key to understanding how cosmic structures everything from galaxy clusters down to planets and perhaps even life came to be. Anannas model is built on data describing black holes at different cosmic distances. Because looking far in space is like looking back in time, the model shows how black holes grow and change over time. It could also help figure out how efficiently black holes eat. Early hints suggest black holes could be gobbling down gas as fast as theoretically possible, which may help explain how some got so big so fast (SN: 3/16/18).

When Ananna was a 5-year-old in Dhaka, Bangladesh, her mother told her about the Pathfinder spacecraft landing on Mars. Her mother was a homemaker, she says, but was curious about science and encouraged Anannas curiosity, too. Thats when I realized there were other worlds, she says. Thats when I wanted to study astronomy. There were not a lot of opportunities to study space in Bangladesh, so she came to the United States for undergrad, attending Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania. She chose an all-womens school not known for a lot of drinking to reassure her parents that she was not going abroad to party. Although Ananna intended to keep her head down and study, she was surprised by the social opportunities she found. The women at Bryn Mawr were fiercely feminist, articulate, opinionated and independent, she says. It really helped me grow a lot. Traveling for internships at NASA and CERN, the European particle physics laboratory near Geneva, and a year at the University of Cambridge, boosted her confidence. (She did end up going to some parties no alcohol for me, though.)

Now, Ananna is giving back. She cofounded Wi-STEM (pronounced wisdom), a mentorship network for girls and young women who are interested in science. She and four other Bangladeshi scientists who studied in the United States mentor a group of 20 female high school and college students in Bangladesh, helping them find paths to pursue science. LisaGrossman

Affiliation: Texas Tech UniversityHometown: Rome, ItalyFavorite telescope: Very Large Array, New Mexico

On September 3, 2017, Alessandra Corsi finally saw what she had been waiting for since mid-August: a small dot in her telescope images that was the radio afterglow of a neutron star collision. That stellar clash, discovered by the Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory team, or LIGO, which included Corsi, was the first direct sighting of a neutron star collision (SN: 10/16/17). The event, dubbed GW170817, was also the first of any kind seen in both gravitational waves and light waves.

Telescopes around the world spotted all kinds of light from the crash site, but one particular kind, the radio waves, took their sweet time showing up. Corsi had been waiting since August17, when the gravitational waves were spotted. Longest two weeks of my life, Corsi says. The radio waves were key to understanding a superfast particle jet launched by the colliding stars.

Early on, the jet appeared to have been smothered by a plume of debris from the collision (SN: 12/20/17). But follow-up radio observations made by Corsis team and others confirmed that the jet had punched through the wreckage (SN: 2/22/19). This jet was the first of its kind to be seen from the side, allowing Corsi and colleagues to probe its structure. The jet almost certainly would have gone unnoticed if the gravitational waves hadnt clued astronomers in.

Corsi is a pioneer in the new field of multimessenger astronomy, which pairs observations of light waves with spacetime ripples, or gravitational waves. The pairing is like having eyes and ears on the cosmos, Corsi says. You cannot learn all that you could with only one of the two. In the case of GW170817, gravitational waves revealed how the neutron stars danced around each other as they spiraled toward collision, and light waves unveiled the type of material left in the aftermath (SN: 10/23/19). Using this multimessenger approach could also give astronomers a more complete picture of other cataclysms, such as smashups between neutron stars and black holes, and the explosive deaths of massive stars. Such spectacular events reveal some of the most fundamental physics in our universe, Corsi says.

If gravitational wave signals were converted into sound, they would create their own kind of music.

Most researchers specialize in either gravitational waves or light, but Corsi is very well-versed in both messengers, says Wen-fai Fong, an astrophysicist at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. That makes her extremely versatile in terms of the types of multimessenger science she can study.

Corsi has now built a computational tool to scan LIGO data for gravitational waves stirred up by whatever is left behind in a neutron star merger. The tool is based on a paper she published in 2009 years before LIGO scored its first gravitational wave detection (SN: 2/11/16). The paper describes the gravitational wave pattern that would signal the presence of one possible remnant: a rapidly spinning, elongated neutron star. Alternatively, a neutron star smashup could leave behind a black hole. Knowing which tells us a lot about how matter behaves at densities way higher than we could ever explore in a lab, Corsi says.

Corsi taught herself to play the piano in high school, and now enjoys playing both classical music and tunes from favorite childhood movies, like Beauty and the Beast. The audio frequencies of piano notes are similar to the frequencies of spacetime tremors picked up by LIGO. If gravitational wave signals were converted into sound, they would create their own kind of music. Thats the thing I like to think of when Im playing, she says. MariaTemming

Affiliation: Colorado State UniversityHometown: Richmond, R.I.Favorite outdoor activities: Cross-country skiing and gardening

Emily Fischer has always cared about air pollution. Its innate. Its a calling, she says. Exposure to air pollution raises your risk for many common ailments, such as cardiovascular disease, asthma, diabetes and obesity. But unlike some other risk factors for these diseases, you cant choose not to breathe, right? You have to have clean air for everyone. In her youth, she organized rallies to clean up the cigarette smokefilled air of her Rhode Island high school. That interest led Fischer to study atmospheric chemistry and motivates her current work as a self-described air pollution detective. Air pollution may conjure images of thick black plumes billowing from smokestacks, but Fischer says most air pollution is invisible and poorly understood. She combines analytical chemistry with high-flying techniques to understand where air pollution comes from and how it changes as it moves through the air.

Wildfire smoke like that filling the skies in the American West this season is a major, but still mysterious, source of air pollution. Thousands of different solids, liquids and gases swirl together to form wildfire smoke, and its chemical composition changes as it blows through the atmosphere. This dynamic mixture, which is also affected by whats burning on the ground, is tricky to measure, since each of its many components requires highly specialized equipment and expertise to assess. The equipment also has to be airborne, typically lofted into the air via planes or balloons. There has been beautiful work on wildfire smoke, Fischer says, but in most studies, we just have not had all the measurements needed to really interpret things.

You cant choose not to breathe, right? You have to have clean air for everyone.

To get a fuller view, she dreamed big: Why not try to measure everything, and measure it systematically? She pulled together a diverse team of 10 lead researchers, and scores more graduate students and postdocs, to pull off the most comprehensive analysis of wildfire smoke ever attempted, a project dubbed WE-CAN. During the summer of 2018, Fischer led over a dozen six-hour flights over the West, chasing wildfire smoke plumes and systematically measuring the air in and around smoke plumes with nearly 30 different instruments crammed into the cargo hold of a C-130 plane.

[WE-CAN] is a big collaboration, says Ronald Cohen, an atmospheric chemist at the University of California, Berkeley. He says success stemmed in large part from the team that came together.

Making an environment for successful collaboration is really satisfying to me, Fischer says.

While team members are still analyzing the data, the project is already revealing some of the smokes secrets. For example, formaldehyde and hydrogen cyanide two chemicals linked to cancer and other health problems are abundant in wildfire smoke. Recent wildfires show how important it is to understand the role of climate change in fires, Fischer says, and who is most vulnerable in our society, and how we can best prepare and protect those communities.

Fisher is also planning to adapt some of what shes learned from WE-CAN to track ammonia emissions from farms and feed lots, which are another major source of air pollution.

Fischer is deeply committed to bringing more undergraduate women, especially women of color, into the geosciences. And shes using science to figure out how. She brought a team of social scientists and geoscientists together to study how different interventions can help. She and colleagues found that for every female role model a student has, her probability of continuing on in her geosciences major roughly doubles. Having someone to look up to who looks like them is key to building a sense of belonging and identity as a scientist, Fischer says. To help build that network, Fischer started PROGRESS, a workshop and mentorship program that aims to support undergraduate women in the geosciences. Started at Colorado State University in 2014, the program has since expanded, reaching over 300 women at institutions across the United States.

For her own mentees, Fischer tries to instill a willingness to take risks and go after big, bold questions. The easy things are done, she says. Pushing forward our understanding of pressing questions means chasing research projects that might lead nowhere, she says, or might crack open a new field of research. Its OK to be wrong, and its OK to take risks. Thats what science needs right now. JonathanLambert

Affiliation: University of Illinois at Urbana-ChampaignHometown: Mumbai, IndiaFavorite element:Gold

Prashant Jain explores how light interacts with matter such as how plants use sunlight to photosynthesize and applies that knowledge to new problems. He recently took lessons from nature to convert carbon dioxide into other useful molecules. In a paper last year in Nature Communications, Jain and Sungju Yu, also at Illinois at the time, reported using gold nanoparticles as a catalyst to drive chemical reactions between carbon dioxide and water.

When light hit the nanoparticles, it set off a series of reactions that converted carbon dioxide into hydrocarbon fuels such as methane and propane. In essence, the process not only sucked carbon dioxide a greenhouse gas out of the air, but it also made that carbon into fuel. No wonder the oil giant Shell is funding Jains work. The whole process isnt very efficient, so Jain is working to improve how much carbon dioxide gets used and how much fuel gets produced. But along the way he hopes to learn more about how nature uses energy to make matter and to inspire his lab to create more sustainable and renewable energy technologies.

I am myself still a student.

In another example of using chemistry to push toward future technologies, Jain and colleagues shined light on gold and platinum nanoparticles and triggered reactions that liberated hydrogen from ammonia molecules. Hydrogen is important in many industries fuel cells for zero-carbon vehicles use it, for example but it can be dangerous to transport because its flammable. Jains discovery could allow workers to transport ammonia instead, which is safer, and then free the hydrogen from the ammonia once it has arrived wheres it needed. The work was reported online in July in Angewandte Chemie.

Jain has a remarkable ability and optimism to see unsuccessful laboratory experiments as successful steps toward understanding the natural world, says Karthish Manthiram, a chemical engineer at MIT. As a first-year graduate student at the University of California, Berkeley, Manthiram remembers being frustrated that his experiments werent turning out as expected. But Jain, a postdoctoral fellow in the same lab, stepped in to helpand recast the problematic results. Hes always viewed what others see as failure as moments of clarity that build up to moments when things make more sense, Manthiram says. For me that was an important lesson in how to be a scientist.

Growing up in a family that worked mostly in business and finance, Jain fell in love with science as a preteen inspired in part by watching the movie Jurassic Park and its fictional depiction of what might be possible through understanding the molecular world. Soon he spotted a physics textbook for sale from a street vendor and bought it. I tried to read the book, nothing much made sense, he says. I wanted to be the one to figure out all these mysteries of nature. He chose to major in chemical engineering in college (inspired in part by a magazine published by the chemical company DuPont), and then switched to physical chemistry when he moved to the United States to get a Ph.D.

Promoted this year to full professor, Jain has never stopped pushing to acquire new knowledge; when he finished teaching this last spring semester, he enrolled in an online MIT course on quantum information science. I am myself still a student, he says. AlexandraWitze

Affiliation: Indiana UniversityHometown: Houston, TexasFavorite fieldwork: Observing rituals

Between 2000 and 2015, at a high school of about 2,000 students in the town of Poplar Grove (a pseudonym), 16 former and current students died by suicide; three other similar-aged individuals in the community, mostly at private schools, also took their own lives. A clinician who had grown up in the town reached out to Anna Mueller for help breaking the cruel cycle. Before that e-mail in fall 2013, Mueller was using big data to understand why teen and young adult suicide rates in the United States were spiking. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that suicides among 10- to 24-year-olds jumped 56 percent between 2007 and 2017.

Scholars theorized that suicidal people attracted other suicidal people. But Muellers work undercut that idea. In 2015 in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior, for instance, she reported that merely having a suicidal friend did not increase a teens suicide risk. A teens risk only went up with awareness that a teenage friend had made a suicide attempt. Knowledge of the attempt matters to transformingrisk, Mueller says. She carried an understanding of that contagion effect to Poplar Grove, where she worked with sociologist Seth Abrutyn of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, the half of the duo who is more focused on the theoretical.

Anna Muellers long-term goal is to create a sort of litmus test that identifies schools that could be at risk of a suicide cluster.

The team conducted 110 interviews and focus group meetings, lasting from 45 minutes to four hours, with Poplar Grove residents, plus some individuals outside the community for comparison. The teams research revealed that teens felt an intense pressure to achieve in their affluent, mostly white town, where everybody seemed to know everyone else. While teens and young adults in a first wave of suicides might have had mental health problems, peers and community members often attributed those deaths to the towns pressure cooker environment. That narrative, however incomplete, was especially strong when the youth who killed themselves were classic overachievers. Tragically, over time, that script became embedded in the local culture, making even youth who werent previously suicidal see suicide as a viable option (SN: 4/3/19), Mueller says.

Mueller and Abrutyn were among the first researchers to start chipping away at the underlying reasons for why suicide rates have been rising in high schoolers, particularly overachieving girls without obvious underlying mental health problems, says Bernice Pescosolido, a sociologist at Indiana University in Bloomington who helped bring Mueller into the schools sociology department. What Anna and Seth have really been able to show is how imitation works and what the contagion effect looks like on the ground.

Muellers long-term goal is to create a sort of litmus test that identifies schools that could be at risk of a suicide cluster. That way, school and community leaders can intervene before the first suicide and its resulting firestorm. Since fall 2018, she has been researching suicide trends in school districts in Colorado that are more diverse than Poplar Grove. When it comes to school culture, her early work shows, theres often a trade-off between academic or athletic excellence and a supportive environment.

In anticipation of her work in Poplar Grove, Mueller knew she needed a more boots-on-the-ground approach than her big data training allowed. So she trained in qualitative methods, including how to design a study; interview techniques, such as how to write questions to elicit desired conversations; and the detailed data analysis required for this research tactic.

Mueller also sees the value in observing interactions, a common sociological approach. This spring, with the pandemic in full swing, she spent a lot of time on her home computer watching socially distant graduation ceremonies in her Colorado schools. She found that a schools culture showed in the details, such as whether valedictorians addressed hot-button issues, such as the Black Lives Matter movement, in their speeches. Of all of my moments in the field, rituals are the ones that tug at my own heartstrings because Im watching kids graduate and thats just inherently beautiful, but it also is a very powerful data moment, she says. SujataGupta

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Affiliation: MITHometown: Adelaide, AustraliaFavorite subatomic particle: The gluon

When Phiala Shanahan was a graduate student, she was shocked to learn that experiments disagreed on the size of the proton (SN: 9/10/19). Protons and neutrons are the key building blocks of 99 percent of the visible matter in the universe, she says. And we know, in some sense, surprisingly little about their internal structure.

If theres something I dont understand, Im extremely stubborn when it comes to figuring out the answer.

That ignorance inspires her studies. She aims to calculate the characteristics of protons and neutrons based on fundamental physics. That includes not just their size, but also their mass and the nature of their components how, for example, the quarks and gluons that make them up are sprinkled around inside. Such calculations can help scientists put the standard model, the theory that governs elementary particles and their interactions, to the test.

Shanahan is known for her prowess calculating the influence of gluons, particles that carry the strong force, which binds the proton together. For example, when gluons contributions are included, the proton is squeezed to a pressure greater than estimated to exist within incredibly dense neutron stars, she and a coauthor reported in Physical Review Letters in 2019. Its a very remarkable calculation, says physicist Volker Burkert of the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility in Newport News, Va. Thats very fundamental, and its the first time it has been done. Because they have no electric charge, gluons tend to elude experimental measurements, and that has left the particles neglected in theoretical calculations as well. Shanahans gluon results should be testable at a new particle collider, the Electron-Ion Collider, planned to be built at Brookhaven National Lab in Upton, N.Y. (SN: 4/18/17).

Persistence. I hate not knowing something, she says. So if theres something I dont understand, Im extremely stubborn when it comes to figuring out the answer.

A technique called lattice QCD is the foundation for Shanahans work. Its named for quantum chromodynamics, the piece of the standard model that describes the behavior of quarks and gluons. QCD should allow scientists to predict the properties of protons and neutrons from the bottom up, but the theory is incredibly complex, making full calculations impossible to perform even on the best available supercomputers. Lattice QCD is a shortcut. It breaks up space and time into a grid on which particles reside, simplifying calculations. Shanahan is leading efforts to use machine learning to rev up lattice QCD calculations putting her persistence to good use. We dont have to rely on computers getting better. We can have smarter algorithms for exploiting those computers, she says. She hopes to speed up calculations enough that she can go beyond protons and neutrons, working her way up to the properties of atomic nuclei. EmilyConover

Affiliation: CaltechHometown: Kolomna, RussiaFavorite protein: He cant pick just one

Mikhail Shapiro believes that in the future, were going to have smart biological devices that are roaming our bodies, diagnosing and treating disease something akin to the submarine in the 1966 classic sci-fi film Fantastic Voyage. As the shrunken sub entered and repaired the body of a sick scientist, commanders on the outside helped control it. Similarly, were going to want to talk to the cells that we are going to send into the body to treat cancer, or inflammation, or neurological diseases, Shapiro says.

Shapiro and his colleagues are working on building, watching and controlling such cellular submarines in the real world. Such a deep view inside the body might offer clues to basic science questions, such as how communities of gut bacteria grow, how immune cells migrate through the body or how brains are built cell by cell.

Despite his futuristic visions, Shapiro is often drawn to the past. I like science history a lot, he says. Right now, hes in the middle of rereading the Pulitzer Prizewinning The Making of the Atomic Bomb. Just before that, he read a biography of Marie Curie.

There is not a protein that I learn about that I dont think about ways to misuse it, Shapiro says. But hes especially fond of the proteins that build the outer shell of gas vesicles in certain kinds of bacteria. These microscopic air bags have so many uses that were totally unanticipated, Shapiro says.

In addition to letting bacteria sink or float, these bubbles provide a communication system, Shapiro and colleagues have found. Over the last several years, they have coaxed both bacterial cells and human cells to make gas vesicles and have placed such cells within mice. Because the air-filled pockets reflect sound, the engineered cells can be tracked from outside a mouses body. Using patterns of sound waves, the researchers can also drive bacterial cells around in lab dishes.

There is not a protein that I learn about that I dont think about ways to misuse it.

In another nod to Fantastic Voyage, scientists can weaponize these cellular submarines. Weve essentially turned cells into suicide agents triggered by ultrasound, Shapiro says. This explosion could release chemicals into the surroundings and destroy nearby cells. This sort of targeted detonation could be damaging to tumors, for instance. Complete warfare is possible, he says.

By seeing the potential in these esoteric gas vesicles, Shapiro was ahead of his time and hugely innovative, says Jason Lewis, a molecular imaging scientist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. I think weve only scratched the surface of what his work will do in terms of a greater impact.

Frustration, Shapiro says, is what made him switch to engineering after studying neuroscience as an undergraduate at Brown University in Providence, R.I. He realized that existing tools for studying processes inside the brain fell short. And I didnt see enough people making better tools.

But he didnt stop at developing new neuroscience technologies. Oddly enough, once I got into the engineering part of things, I got so fascinated with weird proteins, and magnetic fields, and sound waves, and all the more physics-y side of things. Thats become as much, if not more, of my passion as the original neuroscience. In his Twitter bio, Shapiro describes his expertise as succinctly as possible: Bio-Acousto-Magneto-Neuro-Chemical Engineer at Caltech. LauraSanders

Affiliation: Stanford UniversityHometown: Nanjing, ChinaFavorite organism: Planarian

Planarians are the most charismatic of all flatworms, Bo Wang says. They have this childish cuteness that people just love. But the adorable facade isnt what drew Wang to study the deceptively simple worms, which resemble little arrows with eyes. It was planarians superpower: regeneration. Slice a planarian into pieces and, within a week or two, each chunk will grow into a new flatworm head and all. Studying the cells that drive this process could offer lessons for turning on regeneration in human tissues, to treat various diseases, regrow limbs and grow organs for next-generation transplants.

Wang uses statistical physics to figure out how planarians regenerate entire organs cell by cell. Newly formed brain cells, for instance, must physically position themselves to avoid turning into amorphous aggregates, Wang says. His interest in how things fit together began in graduate school at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. There, Wang trained as a physicist and worked on self-assembling materials. Wang now works to uncover the physical rules that living cells follow. Im fascinated by how molecules arrange themselves seemingly randomly, but there are still statistical rules that those molecules will follow, he says.

Bo Wang works to uncover the physical rules that living cells follow.

His physics-based approach is raising new questions and unveiling biological processes that would be hard for biologists to come by using traditional methods alone, says regeneration biologist Alejandro Snchez Alvarado of the Stowers Institute for Medical Research in Kansas City, Mo. Wang is a new breed of flatworm biologist, Snchez Alvarado says. He is occupying a very unique niche in the community of developmental biology.

Wang and colleagues recently found that nerve cells, or neurons, in regenerating planarian brains form a predictable pattern dictated by the types of cells in their midst. Planarians brains are akin to cities made up of neighborhoods of neurons. Within each neighborhood, no two neurons that do the same job will live next to each other; those cells repulse each other but stay close enough to communicate, the researchers reported in the May Nature Physics. Because of this behavior, increasing the types of neurons in a neighborhood limits the ways cells can pack together. The team dubbed this packing process chromatic jamming, after a famous mathematical puzzle called the four-color problem (SN: 3/6/09).

The finding is surprising and challenges what we think we understand about organogenesis and about organization of cells within an organ, says Snchez Alvarado. Chromatic jamming appears to be key to how the planarian brain comes together, guiding single cells into neighborhoods that are a driving force in organ development, he says. If similar physical rules apply to human cells, that could help scientists sketch blueprints for engineering and growing artificial organs. CassieMartin

Affiliation: Stowers Institute for Medical ResearchHometown: Glenwood, IowaFavorite organism: Fission yeast

An invitation to work in the lab of her genetics professor Robert Malone at the University of Iowa in Iowa City set SaraH Zanders on the path to becoming a scientist. It was a turning point in my life, Zanders says. Before that, she didnt really know how she would put her biology degree to use, or what it meant to be a scientist. In Malones lab, she fell in love with meiosis, the process by which organisms divvy up genetic information to pass on to future generations. The first step is julienning the genome and swapping pieces of chromosomes. That just seems like such a bad idea to basically shred your [DNA] in the process of getting it from one generation to the next, she says. She started studying the proteins involved in making the cuts. It was like I was born to do that. I never would have known without that push.

A different kind of push led Zanders to spell her first name with a capital H: An elementary school teacher kept leaving the letter off. Zanders has capitalized it for emphasis ever since. If I write it without the big H, it doesnt look like my name anymore, she says. It feels like somebody else.

Meiosis is full of conflict. For her postdoctoral work, Zanders focused on a particular type of dustup caused by some selfish genesgenes that propagate themselves even if it hurts the host. As the monk Gregor Mendel laid out in his study of pea plants, a particular version of a gene typically has a 50-50 chance of being passed on to the next generation. But the selfish genes Zanders was studying, a type called meiotic drivers because they propel themselves during meiosis, manage to get themselves inherited far more often. These kinds of systems do a complete end run around Mendels laws, says Daniel Barbash, an evolutionary geneticist at Cornell University.

In Schizosaccharomyces pombe, also called fission yeast, Zanders discovered, a family of selfish genes makes moves that would be right at home in a Game of Thrones story line. Zanders and colleagues were the first to work out the molecular tricks that thesegenes use to skirt Mendels laws, reporting the findings in eLife in 2017. The genes, known as wtf genes, produce both a poison and an antidote. All of the spores the yeasts gametes get the poison, but only those that inherit certain gene versions also get an antidote. Spores that dont get the antidote die, ensuring that only offspring with specific wtf gene versions survive to pass their genes on to the next generation. For the fission yeast, such predatory tactics can have big consequences, even driving two nearly identical strains toward becoming different species. Some selfish genes have made themselves essential for proper development (SN: 7/3/18). In humans and other animals, genetic conflicts may lead to infertility.

For the fission yeast, such predatory tactics can have big consequences, even driving two nearly identical strains toward becoming different species.

This extremely important family of meiotic cheaters has been just sitting in plain sight waiting for somebody who had the right kind of lens and the care to discover them, says Harmit Malik, an evolutionary geneticist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle and Zanders postdoctoral mentor. Zanders helped build a case that the skewed inheritance in these yeast was a real effect, not just fluctuations in the data. Before she began her work, virtually nothing was known about meiotic drivers in yeast. Now the wtf genes are among the best known meiotic drivers studied in any lab organism. Some selfish genes in worms also use the poison-antidote trick to beat the competition (SN: 5/11/17). Meiotic drivers in fruit flies, mice and maybe humans win genetic conflicts by other means (SN: 10/31/17; SN: 2/24/16).

Zanders is now on the lookout for other genetic fights in yeast. Understanding such conflicts more generally may help answer big questions in evolution, as well as shedding light on human infertility. As for what motivates her, Its just I like to solve puzzles, Zanders laughs. I wish it was a deep desire to help people, but its definitely not that. TinaHesmanSaey

Affiliation: CaltechHometown: Jinzhai County, ChinaFavorite hobby: Carpentry

As the Rose Parade wound through Pasadena, Calif., on January 1, 2020, Zhongwen Zhan listened to the underground echoes of the marching bands and dancers. With a sensitive technology known as distributed acoustic sensing, or DAS, Zhan tracked the parades progress. He even identified the most ground-shaking band. (It was the Southern University and A&M Colleges Human Jukebox.)

The study was a small but elegant proof of concept, revealing how DAS is capable of mapping out and distinguishing among small seismic sources that span just a few meters: zigzagging motorcycles, the heavy press of floats on the road, the steady pace of a marching band. But Zhan seeks to use the technology for bigger-picture scientific questions, including developing early warning systems for earthquakes, studying the forces that control the slow slide of glaciers and exploring seismic signals on other worlds.

Zhan has a crystal-clear vision of DAS scientific possibilities, says Nate Lindsey, a geophysicist at Stanford University who is also part of the small community of researchers exploring the uses of DAS. When you get such a cool new tool, you like to just apply it to everything, he adds. But Zhans expertise is very deep, and it goes into many different areas. He knows whats important.

So far, Zhan and other researchers have used the technology to study aftershocks following the 2019 Ridgecrest earthquakes in Southern California (SN: 7/12/19), to demonstrate that interactions between ocean waves produce tiny quakes beneath the North Sea, and to examine the structure of glaciers.

DAS piggybacks off the millions of fiber-optic cables that run beneath the ground, ferrying data for internet service, phones and televisions (SN: 6/14/18). Not all of the glass cables are in use all of the time, and these strands of dark fiber can be temporarily repurposed as seismic sensors. When pulses of light are fired into the fibers ends, defects in the glass reflect the light back to its source. As vibrations within the Earth shift and stretch the fibers, a pulses travel time also shifts.

Whole networks of seismic sensors could be deployed in places currently difficult or impossible to monitorat the ocean bottom, atop Antarctic glaciers, on other planets.

Over the last few years, scientists have begun testing the effectiveness of these dark fibers as inexpensive, dense seismic arrays which researchers call DAS to help monitor earthquakes and create fine-scale images of the subsurface. In these settings, Zhan notes, DAS is proving to be a very useful supplement to existing seismograph networks. But the potential is far greater. Whole networks of sensors could be deployed in places currently difficult or impossible to monitor at the bottom of the ocean, atop Antarctic glaciers, on other planets. Seismology is a very observation-based field, so a seismic network is a fundamental tool, he says.

Ive been interested in science since I was young, but wasnt sure what kind of science I wanted to do, Zhan says. In China, students usually have to decide on a field before they go to college, he adds, but I was fortunate. At age 15, Zhan was admitted to a special class for younger kids within the University of Science and Technology of China in Hefei. The program allowed him to try out different research fields. A nature lover, Zhan gravitated toward the earth sciences. Environmental science, chemistry, atmospheric science I tried all of them.

Then, in late 2004, a magnitude 9.1 earthquake ruptured the seafloor under the Indian Ocean, spawning deadly tsunamis (SN: 1/5/05). After hearing from a researcher studying the quake, Zhan knew he wanted to study seismology. I was amazed by how seismologists can study very remote things by monitoring vibrations in the Earth, Zhan says. The data are just wiggles, complicated wiggles, but so much info can be extracted. And when we do it fast, it can provide a lot of benefit to society. CarolynGramling

Scientists and journalists share a core belief in questioning, observing and verifying to reach the truth. Science News reports on crucial research and discovery across science disciplines. We need your financial support to make it happen every contribution makes a difference.

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This years SN 10 scientists aim to solve some of sciences biggest challenges - Science News

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COBRE Center for Stem Cells and Aging | Lifespan

Posted: April 16, 2020 at 9:41 pm

TheCOBRE Center for Stem Cells and Aging grant has four projects dealing with stem cells and various aspects of aging, fibrosis and cellular senescence. The projects focus on hematopoietic stem cells, their microenvironment and the impact of aging on the fibrotic component of that microenvironment, neural stem cells, and their regulation with aging.

The renewal of our grant allows Lifespan and Rhode Island Hospital to update research infrastructure for expanded studies into normal and malignant stem cells. In turn, these upgrades in infrastructure will enhance Lifespans focus on establishing a comprehensive cancer and stem cell program that will foster the development of novel treatment strategies, conduct nationally recognized research efforts, and devise effective methods of cancer prevention

Promising applications for our research include regeneration and repair for the treatment of leukemia, lymphomas, various neurodegenerative disorders, and different aspects of aging.

COBRE Phase II aims to:

Patrycja Dubielecka, PhDMentors: Sharon Rounds, MD and Philip Gruppuso, MD

Molecular mechanisms that contribute to the pathology of myeloproliferative neoplasms at the stem cell level are not well understood. JAK/STAT cascade was found to be dysregulated in all types of myeloproliferative neoplasms essential thrombocythemia, polycythemia vera and primary myelofibrosis. However, the extent to which currently available inhibitors that target JAK/STAT pathway alter the underlying disease and affect malignant hematopoietic stem cells is not clear.

Dr. Dubieleckas long-term goal is to better understand the molecular processes responsible for malignant transformation of hematopoietic stem cells, and identify new targets for pharmacological intervention in myeloproliferative neoplasms.

The overall objective of this application is to identify new signaling mechanisms involved in the initiation of age-induced myelofibrosis and related myeloproliferative neoplasms. Her recent findings indicate that (1) conditional deletion of the gene encoding the Abelson interactor-1 (Abi-1) adapter protein in mouse bone marrow induces myelofibrotic phenotype, (2) hematopoietic progenitors and granulocytes from patients with primary myelofibrosis show decreased Abi-1 protein and transcript levels, (3) loss of Abi-1 positively affects activity of Src Family Kinases (SFKs) and their downstream signaling to STAT3 and NFkB, and finally (4) loss of Abi-1 in malignant hematopoietic stem cells leads to dysregulation of adhesion and quiescence and induces their chemo resistance.

The central hypothesis is that loss of Abi-1, through a positive effect on SFKs signaling and its downstream cross-talk with STAT3 and NF-kB, is a factor that initiates fibrosis-inducing changes at the malignant stem cell level.

Olin D. Liang, PhD

Olin D. Liang, PhDMentors: Wentian Yang, MD, PhD and James Padbury, MD

Dr. Liang is studying the role of the aged bone marrow microenvironment in normal hematopoiesis, the critical cell types for the hematopoietic niche and the role of SHIP inhibition in vivo in reconstitution of the aged and preleukemic microenvironments.

The increasing number of elderly people affected by age-related blood malignancies, mainly of the myeloid subtype, is one of the most significant public health challenges today but currently there are no effective treatments. The overall objective of this project is to investigate the role of bone marrow microenvironment in hematopoiesis and age-related leukemia. The COBRE Center for Stem Cells and Aging previously discovered that deficiency of the lipid phosphatase SHIP enables long-term reconstitution of the hematopoietic bone marrow microenvironment. This proposed study is a continuation of our prior work.

Jill A. Kreiling, PhD

Jill A. Kreiling, PhDMentors: Susan Gerbi, PhD and Eric Morrow, PhD

Dr. Kreilings research investigatesthe triggers for cellular senescence in neural stem cells, the resulting changes in chromatin structure leading to activation of retrotransposable elements and the consequences of these processes on cellular physiology.

Neurodegenerative conditions and dementias, including Alzheimers disease, create a significant economic burden and are responsible for considerable human suffering. Aging is the primary risk factor for development of these conditions. The decline in neural stem cell (NSC) function that occurs with age is a major factor contributing to the development of these conditions. However, the mechanisms resulting in NSC functional decline are poorly understood.

Recent work from Dr. Kreilings laboratory, and those of others, reveals that chromatin undergoes global remodeling with age, with an opening of heterochromatic regions and a relative closing of euchromatic regions. The highly heterochromatic regions contain large numbers of retrotransposable elements (RTEs). RTE expression also increases with age and culminates in active transposition events. Somatic transposition can lead to insertional mutagenesis and genome rearrangements creating genome instability and triggering cellular senescence.

This leads to the hypothesis: Age-associated changes in chromatin structure lead to de-repression of RTEs, resulting in DNA damage and genome instability, ultimately triggering cellular senescence and a decline in NSC function.

To test this hypothesis, Dr. Kreilings lab will perform a set of experiments designed to determine the role of increased RTE expression with age in loss of NSC function.

Ashley Webb, PhD

Ashley Webb, PhDMentors: Gilad Barnea, PhDand Richard N. Freiman PhD

The overarching goal of research in the Webb laboratory is to understand the molecular mechanisms responsible for aging and how stem cells are transformed to tumorigenic cancer stem cells. There are currently three areas of focus in the laboratory. First, the use of mouse models and genomics approaches to study the molecular mechanisms that regulate stem cell function in the mammalian brain. Second, investigation of strategies to target stem populations that cause brain cancer, called glioma stem cells. Third, a genomics approach to investigate the extent to which the mechanisms discovered in rodents are responsible for aging in humans.

Formation of new neurons from neural stem cells (NSCs) in the brain declines with age, but the mechanisms responsible remain unknown. Dr. Webbs previous work has implicated the longevity-associated transcription factor FOXO3 as a key regulator of neural stem cell homeostasis in the adult brain. The goal of this study is to uncover the underlying mechanisms primarily through FACS-based approaches.

The overall outcome of this project will be the elucidation of the changes in NSCs that occur with age, and the mechanisms responsible for the loss of NSCs in aging mice. This work will lead to important advances in our understanding of the mechanisms coordinating NSC homeostasis in the young and old brain, and may uncover to reveal novel approaches to treat cognitive decline during normal aging and neurodegenerative disease.

Comparative Molecular Evaluation of Acute Myeloid Leukemia Blasts and their Microenvironment Changes at Diagnosis and Through TherapyDiana O. Treaba, MDMentor: Peter Quesenberry, MD

Aging, fat tissue, and inflammation: translating autoimmune responses into therapeutic interventionsMarco De Cecco, PhDMentor: John Sedivy, PhD

Mesenchymal stem cell derived vesicles therapy for mitigation of acute radiation syndromesSicheng Wen, MD, PhDMentor: Peter Quesenberry, MD

Genetic and metabolic mechanisms of quiescence in stem cellsNathalie Oulhen, PhDMentor: Gary Wessel, PhD

SHP2 regulation of cartilage stem cells for articular cartilage anti-degeneration and regenerationLijun Wang, PhDMentor: Wentian Yang, MD, PhD., Douglas Moore, MS

Redefining the murine hematopoietic stem cell population in marrowLaura Goldberg, MD, PhDMentor: Peter Quesenberry, M

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Insects are being deployed in the war against invasive species in Connecticut – Connecticut Magazine

Posted: at 9:41 pm

Claire Rutledge, associate agricultural scientist with the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, shaves the bark from a young ash tree looking for emerald ash borer larvae and parasitoids.

After wandering through the forest at Cromwell Meadows Wildlife Management Area, Claire Rutledge selects a dying ash tree and goes to work.

She pulls out her drawknife a foot-long sturdy blade with handles on either end and slams it into the tree at chest height, then draws it downward until the bark can be easily peeled from the tree in long vertical strips.

As she does so, she searches for evidence of emerald ash borers, an invasive beetle from Asia that is expected to kill all of the ash trees in the Northeast in the coming decade. After peeling away several strips of bark, she reveals a series of winding tunnels like switchbacks on a hiking trail that were created by the beetles larva as it consumed the tissue between the trees bark and wood. She also points out several holes in the bark created by adult beetles as they emerged from the tree to find a mate.

But Rutledge, an entomologist with the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station in New Haven, and her team of seven colleagues arent just seeking evidence of the beetle. Theyre also looking for tiny parasitic wasps, offspring of a species Rutledge had released several years earlier to kill the beetles. Its a strategy called biological control, whereby the natural predators of the beetle in its native range in the Far East are released locally in an effort to keep the beetle in check.

An emerald ash borer larvae under the bark of an ash tree.

The emerald ash borer was first discovered in the U.S. in 2002 near Detroit, and it slowly expanded into ash forests in nearby states. It was found in New York in 2008 and Connecticut and Massachusetts in 2012, though it probably arrived a few years earlier. Although its rampage through the region isnt expected to end before every mature ash tree is dead, scientists like Rutledge hope that efforts to control the insect by releasing the parasitic wasps will allow future generations of the trees to fend off the invader.

The wasps use their long stinger-like ovipositor to lay their eggs through the bark and into the beetle larvae. When the wasp larvae hatch, they kill the beetle larva by eating it from the inside out.

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For a little while, the beetle larva keeps eating the tree and looks fine, but eventually it stops looking so fine and looks like a bag of Cheetos with a bunch of wasp larvae in it, says Rutledge, who has released at least one of three species of parasitic wasps at 14 sites around the state, beginning in 2013.

She measures the success of her efforts by whether the wasps are sustaining themselves in the environment and by collecting and dissecting emerald ash borer larvae to determine how many have been parasitized by the wasps. Were recovering the wasps all over the place, so they seem to be doing pretty well, she says. And 20 to 40 percent of the beetle larvae we find are killed. So we consider it a success.

A beetle species native to Asia, the emerald ash borer was first spotted in the U.S. in 2002 and in Connecticut a decade later. Their larvae live within and feed on ash trees; with no native predators, these destructive insects have proliferated in the Northeast and now threaten the entire ash tree population.

Holes and bark damage on the stump of a removed ash tree, which was damaged by the emerald ash borer

Non-native insects and plants have been invading the U.S. for more than a century, costing billions of dollars and causing significant ecological harm. Removing these invaders by conventional means the application of chemical pesticides and herbicides or manual removal of plants is a labor-intensive exercise that seldom works for long. And although biological control does not completely eliminate the problem either, practitioners say it is a self-sustaining strategy that is cost-effective and causes less harm to the environment than chemical methods.

With biocontrol, were dealing with a pest that comes from someplace else, and it left all of its natural predators behind, Rutledge says. Were trying to reintroduce them to those predators to help keep them at manageable levels.

Jian Duan (left), entomologist with the USDA Agricultural Research Service, and Claire Rutledge, associate agricultural scientist with the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, look at emerald ash borer larvae under the bark of an ash tree in a study area at the Cromwell Meadows Wildlife Management Area.

Its a practice that has its origins as a means of controlling crop pests in China more than a thousand years ago. In the U.S., it was first used by the Department of Agriculture in the 1880s, and by the turn of the century it already had its first success story the eradication of an invasive insect called the cottony cushion scale that was wreaking havoc on Californias emerging citrus industry. When an Australian ladybug was released to kill the scale, it succeeded beyond all expectations. Since then, hundreds of insects have been identified to control exotic forest pests, aquatic weeds and many other invasive species.

In New England, one of the most successful biological control efforts focused on a sawfly called the birch leafminer, an insect native to Europe that was first discovered in Connecticut in 1923. The pest makes the leaves of birch trees turn brown and fall off. In the 1970s, several insects known to parasitize the leafminer in Europe were released at numerous sites from Pennsylvania to Newfoundland, and by 2007 the invader was no longer detected in the region.

Not every attempt has been as successful, however. Periodic news reports still raise the issues that resulted from hundred-year-old biocontrol efforts that have become unfortunate examples of what not to do. Most point to cane toads in Australia and mongooses in Hawaii, which were released to fight invasive pests but which became even bigger problems themselves. Similarly, several non-native parasitic insects were released to control gypsy moth caterpillars in the U.S. a century ago, but they were later found to also kill the caterpillars of numerous beneficial moths and butterflies.

The science has advanced significantly since those days, and a lot of it is with an eye toward avoiding horror stories like those, Rutledge says. We know a lot more about what works, and we do extensive testing to make sure that what we introduce is going to be specific to the host were targeting. Now we have a much better handle on things.

Or, as Rutledges colleague at the University of Massachusetts, Roy Van Driesche, says, You wouldnt judge your risk of having open heart surgery by outcomes from the 1950s, would you? Weve learned a lot since then.

The invader:Emerald ash borer, a beetle native to Asia thats killed untold numbers of ash trees in the U.S.

The defenders: Parasitic wasps, (from top)Spathius galinae, Tetrastichus planipennisi and Oobius agrili, whose larvae feast on the beetle larvae.

Today, testing of potential biological control agents is undertaken in high-security quarantine labs where years of host-specificity tests are conducted to ensure that the insect being released wont kill non-target native species. It can take up to 10 years of testing and about $1 million in research funding before scientists are convinced that an insect is safe to release. Then they must petition the U.S. Department of Agricultures Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service for a permit to release the insect.

At the quarantine lab at the University of Rhode Island, Lisa Tewksbury and a team of students are testing insects for the control of a variety of invasive plants and raising biocontrol agents for release around the region to fight pests. In collaboration with Gail Reynolds at the University of Connecticut Cooperative Extension, she is working to release a parasitic wasp known to control the lily leaf beetle, a blood-red beetle native to Asia and Europe that has killed populations of native and ornamental lilies throughout the Northeast. The beetle is no longer a serious problem in Rhode Island and eastern Massachusetts, thanks to the wasps, but control efforts in Connecticut are still underway.

The invader: Lily leaf beetle (left), aka scarlet lily beetle, indigenous to parts of Europe and Asia; feeds on the leaves, stem, buds and flowers of lilies.

The defenders: Parasitic wasps, Diaparsis jucunda (top right)andTetrastichus setifer, whose larvae feed on the beetle larvae.

According to Reynolds, the adult beetles graze on lily leaves and flowers, but the beetle larvae are more destructive, eating almost the entire plant and leaving nothing but a dead stalk. For people who love lilies, its heartbreaking, she says. Its a problem throughout Connecticut, especially for gardeners who like to grow Asiatic lilies, and its a really big problem for commercial growers. Although the beetles can be picked off by hand, thats not a practical solution for most gardeners.

Reynolds calls the parasitic wasps that control the beetles teeny tiny parasitoids you can barely see, like a tiny speck of dirt, but they can overpower the much-larger beetle. The beetle is an eye-catching red, but the larvae are not endearing because they have a fecal shield they carry all their poop on their back, she says. Theyre really disgusting.

Like the parasitic wasps that control the emerald ash borer, the wasps used against the lily leaf beetle insert their ovipositor into the larvae of the beetle to lay their eggs, and when they hatch, the wasp larvae kill the beetle larva from the inside. Then, when the wasps emerge, you have more wasps to keep the lily leaf beetle at bay, Reynolds says.

When the wasps are ready to be released, typically in May or June, Tewksbury sends them to Reynolds in a cooler via overnight mail, and Reynolds releases as many as 100 at a time at various sites around the state. Selecting those sites, however, has been more challenging than she imagined because the wasps arent an overnight success.

At first, I sent an email to garden clubs and master gardeners, and they were really interested, she says. But many people are impatient; theyre looking for a silver bullet. It takes four or five years for the wasp population to build up, and many people couldnt just sit on their hands and wait for it to happen. A lot of them sprayed pesticides or pulled their lilies out instead of waiting for the wasps to do their job.

The invader: Swallow-wort, a close relative to the milkweed plant that is toxic to the caterpillars of the struggling monarch butterflies.

The defender: Hypena opulenta moth, native to Eastern Europe and the Middle East; feeds exclusively on swallow-wort leaves.

But after finding enough people willing to give the wasps the necessary time, the wasps are spreading throughout the state and lily leaf beetle numbers are declining. The project will likely be discontinued in a year or two as biocontrol agents are approved for other pests and funding shifts to more damaging invasive species.

Next up is the release of a moth whose caterpillar feeds on swallow-wort, a European plant introduced as an ornamental by the horticulture industry that has spread into the wild. Swallow-wort is a close relative of milkweed, which monarch butterfly caterpillars feed on, but swallow-wort is toxic to monarch caterpillars.

RELATED:With a little help from their friends, monarch butterflies might soar again

Tewksbury has made test releases of the moth at the home of an entomologist in Redding who is tracking its success, and she hopes to release them this year at Bluff Point State Park in Groton, where a large area is covered in swallow-wort. The moth is already having modest success controlling the swallow-wort population in parts of southern Ontario, and releases have begun at several other Northeast states.

We release adult moths, egg laying happens soon after, and their larvae do the feeding damage on the plant, Tewksbury says. We want them to pupate and have a second generation of adults lay eggs and those larvae do some feeding damage. Then those pupate and remain in the soil and emerge next year to start the process over again. At least thats the hope.

Carole Cheah, a scientist at the Windsor office of the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, raises insects to be released to kill invasive pests.

At the Windsor office of the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, Carole Cheah raises poppyseed-size black ladybugs in her laboratory in an underground bunker. In dozens of clear plastic containers on shelves lining the walls are sprigs from native hemlock trees infested with a tree-killing pest from Japan called the hemlock woolly adelgid. And feeding on the pests are the nearly invisible ladybugs.

Cheah has been studying the adelgid for 26 years, beginning not long after it was first discovered in the New Haven area in the 1980s, though it first appeared in the U.S. in the 1950s at a private arboretum in Virginia. Her mentor, Mark McClure, traveled to Japan to identify the adelgids natural enemies and found a mite that he thought was promising as a biocontrol agent. In the course of studying the mite, he stumbled upon the ladybug, and Cheah was hired to investigate whether the ladybug was the adelgid predator they were looking for. It was. She has been raising and releasing them ever since.

The adelgid, an aphid-like insect that spins a white wooly cocoon around itself on the underside of hemlock needles, feeds on cells in the trees stems, which inhibits the trees ability to produce new foliage. Hemlocks throughout Connecticut except in the high elevations of the northwest part of the state were infested with the adelgid in the 1990s, but the ladybug appears to be succeeding at keeping it under control.

Beginning in 1995 at a town forest in Windsor, Cheah released about 10,000 of the ladybugs at 16 sites around the state a total of 178,000 ladybugs in an effort to quickly eradicate the adelgid.

The invader: Hemlock woolly adelgid (left), an aphid-like insect native to East Asia that feeds on hemlock and spruce trees.

The defender: Asian lady beetle (Sasajiscymnus tsugae), tiny, ladybug-like beetles that devour adelgids.

We came up with the idea of doing a high number of releases at each site, and it has really paid off, Cheah says. Our idea was to spread them around the landscape in every county of the state, and if it survived and multiplied, it would have the effect we wanted.

During a late-winter visit to Salmon River State Forest in Colchester, where 10,000 of the ladybugs were released in 2001, Cheah inspects each of the 15 trees she monitors every year and assesses their health using a variety of metrics. She stands back to look at the whole tree to estimate how much has live foliage, then stands beneath the tree and looks straight up to rate how much skylight can be seen through the foliage as a measure of foliage density.

After completing several other measurements, she approaches the next tree on her list. She grabs a low branch to look for signs of the adelgid and, with obvious satisfaction, says, no little wool balls here. At a third tree, she notes plenty of dead twigs, but she decides that the trees poor condition is more likely the result of a recent drought rather than the adelgid.

When I see a dying tree, I want to know why it died. Its not always the adelgid, Cheah says. When we started this, a lot of people said that the trees were going to die. But Ive got news for you; they dont die. Give them a chance; theyre resilient.

The next invasive pest that entomologists expect to fight using biocontrol methods is the spotted lanternfly, a planthopper native to China, India, Vietnam and eastern Asia that was first detected in Pennsylvania in 2014. It feeds by sucking the sap from the leaves, stems and trunks of more than 70 different plants, from wild and cultivated grapes to hardwood trees, vegetables and roses. It has already had a devastating impact on the wine industry in Pennsylvania. Officials in that state have been imploring residents to kill them on sight and scrape their egg masses off trees before they hatch in May. Although spotted lanternflies have not arrived in Connecticut in big numbers yet they werefirst spotted in Southbury last October staff at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station expect it to eventually threaten the states agriculture industry. So scientists are already working to identify the pests native predators in China and testing them in quarantine to see if they will be successful biocontrol agents. So far, a parasitic wasp and a fungal pathogen are showing promising results.

As she returns to the parking lot at the state forest, she smiles and says, These trees are all clear. Its better than I could have hoped for. The ladybug is doing equally well elsewhere around the state, and its doing a better job of beating back the adelgid than the three or four other biocontrol agents released in other states.

Its been a success, but its not all due to biological control, she acknowledges. Its important to know the whole ecology of the tree and all the factors that influence it. We had four years of severe winters that single-handedly brought down the adelgid population by a lot.

Determining the success of most biological control efforts usually takes many years of monitoring, which can be challenging for those seeking immediate results.

Are we going to have ash trees as a component of our forest in the future? asks Claire Rutledge, staring up at a dead tree. Thats going to be a 10- to 15-year answer. We have high hopes, and things are looking good so far, but we have to be patient, and that can be really hard.

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Insects are being deployed in the war against invasive species in Connecticut - Connecticut Magazine

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Rhode Island Stem Cells | Stem Cell TV | Page 3

Posted: September 7, 2019 at 4:26 pm

Posted: September 27, 2014 at 8:55 am

As we age, many of us experience the formation of deep lines and wrinkles in the face and a loss of volume in facial features that can give us a hollowed or sunken appearance in a number of areas including the lips and jaw-line folds between the cheeks and lips.

These very common aesthetic issues can be significantly improved with fat and stem cell injections, available from our Providence, Rhode Island plastic surgeon. Read on for more details on this effective procedure, and please contact Dr. Patrick K. Sullivan to schedule a consultation.

Fat and adipose derived stem cells are harvested from one part of the body (usually through a tiny incision in the belly button) and are injected in areas of the face where fat has been lost over time. It can be used to fill in the deep lines between the nose and cheek (nasolabial folds), the corners of the mouth (where the mouth may have a down-turned or frowning appearance), and/or deep creases in the forehead. Fat and stem cells can be used to augment the cheeks, lips, jaw-line, chin and other areas of the face. Fat and stem cell injections can be particularity beneficial in areas where there has been facial deflation that comes with the passage of time and from a host of other reasons.

Fat and stem cell injections are done under intravenous sedation without general anesthesia on an outpatient basis. The areas may be swollen for several weeks after surgery and it will take a number of weeks to see the final outcome.

I cannot express how delighted I am with the results from my surgery. It has made such a wonderful impact in my life and gave me a new outlook that was long overdue. I commend Dr. Sullivan for performing such a superb job. He is the best. Not only am I impressed with Dr. Sullivan but I am especially pleased with his staff. You all have been so kind to me. It is a breath of fresh air to see happy and professional people in one place. I am forever grateful. I will never forget this pleasurable experience. Name omitted for patient privacy

Dr. Patrick K. Sullivan can give you effective facial rejuvenation with results that bring out your natural beauty. With fat and stem cell injections, you can attain significant aesthetic enhancement in a variety of facial areas with results that are known to be long-lasting, as Dr. Patrick Sullivan has proven with his clinical research. He has followed hundreds of his patients over more than a ten year period and has proven that the transfer of fat maintains results for very long periods of time. Additionally, he has lectured to many of his peers about the latest techniques and the many benefits of utilizing fat and stem cell injections. Please contact us if you would like to learn more about this cutting-edge procedure and to schedule your private consultation with Dr. Sullivan.

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Posted: at 8:55 am

An Advanced Solution

Why Stem Cells?

Stem cells are tiny progenitor cells found in our body that can divide (through mitosis) and change (differentiate) into various cell types. All cells in our body are constantly dividing where new cells are formed, then cells age and die. It is a natural physiologic process of programmed cell death and is known as Apoptosis. Your stem cells are your bodys natural healing cells and can act as your repair system in your body by replenishing adult tissues. They are the source of all these cells that have died.

There are two broad types of stem cells: embryonic stem cells, which are isolated from the inner cell mass of blastocyst (early stage of embryo), and non-embryonic or adult stem cells. It is also referred to as mesenchymal stem cells MSCs and is found in various tissues. There are three accessible sources of autologous adult stem cells in humans:

Stem cells can also be taken from umbilical cord blood just after birth. Of all stem cell types, autologous harvesting (cells are obtained from one's own body) from Adipose tissue (Fat cells) involves the least risk. Adipose tissue (fat cells) is one of the richest sources of MSCs. When compared to bone marrow, there are more than 500 times more stem cells in 1 gram of fat when compared to 1 gram of aspirated bone marrow.

New England Stem Cell Treatment Center NESCTC has the technology to extract stem cells from your fat cells. Under investigational protocols, these cells can be deployed to treat a number of degenerative conditions and diseases. NESCTC in collaboration with New England Center for Hair Restoration is pioneering deploying stem cells to treat thinning hair and hair loss.


Hair follicles also contain stem cells, and some researchers predict research on these follicle stem cells may lead to successes in treating baldness through an activation of the stem cells progenitor cells. This therapy is expected to work by activating already existing stem cells on the scalp. Later therapy may be able to simply signal follicle stem cells to give off chemical signals to nearby follicle cells which have shrunk during the aging process, which in turn respond to these signals by regenerating and once again making healthy hair. Most recently, Dr. Aeron Potter of the University of California has claimed that stem-cell therapy led to a significant and visible improvement in follicular hair growth.

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Posted: September 6, 2014 at 4:56 am

There is no Rhode Island law that specifically restricts the use of human adult or embryonic stem cells for research purposes. The Rhode Island law that does restrict some uses of human cells explicitly permits research as long as the research is not for the purposes of cloning an entire human beingwhich is not part of stem cell research.

Starting in 2003 and continuing every year thereafter, bills were introduced that would have explicitly allowed all forms of stem cell research and created a procedure for unused embryos as a result of in vitro fertilization treatments to be donated for the purpose of stem cell research. These bills were sponsored in the House by Representative Edith Ajello, and in the Senate by Senator Rhoda Perry. A 2007 version of the bill, 2007 H-6082, was introduced again but failed to pass.

In 2006, a resolution sponsored by Representative Eileen Naughton was passed, creating a special House commission to promote and develop a nationally recognized cord blood program for the future of disease management in Rhode Island. That commission began meeting in February of 2007. In 2007, a resolution sponsored by Representative Naughton was passed creating the Rhode Island House of Representatives Regenerative Medicine and Research Advisory Study Commission.

In 2007, Lt. Governor Elizabeth Roberts released a report entitled Discovering Rhode Islands Stem Cell Future: Charting the Course Toward Health and Prosperity, outlining the potential that stem cell research holds for reducing human suffering and supporting economic growth in Rhode Island.

Contacts for IASCR: Adriana Thomas, Policy Analyst, Rhode Island House of Representatives, and Eli Zupnick, Policy Analyst, Office of the Lt. Governor

Excerpt from:Rhode Island | Interstate Alliance on Stem Cell Research

Posted: August 22, 2014 at 6:02 am

Rhode Island Stem Cell Therapy is one of the leading stem cell therapy and treatment providers for residents of Rhode Island and across the nation. Our cutting edge technology and compassionate staff truly set us apart from the competition. We are a US based company that understands your needs and concerns when looking for a stem cell treatment center. Our treatment center is located in Cancun, Mexico.

Conditions we treat include but not limited to:

Getting Started With Your Stem Cell Therapy and Treatments Here at World Stem Cells LLC we try to make the process of receiving stem cell transplants as easy as possible. We will help you figure out what your needs are and help you reach your goals as fast as possible. Follow the steps below on what to do.

Option 1 1.) Go to any page on our website and fill out the contact form. 2.) Fill in the required information and select the condition you would like to treat with stem cell therapy. 3.) Be sure to include any special information in the comments section. 4.) Click the submit button and we will contact you in a timely manner. 5.) Thats it, youre done!!!


Option 2

Call 800-234-1693 and speak with a representative regarding your stem cell therapy needs and requirements.

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Rhode Island Stem Cell Therapy | Stem Cell Treatments

Posted: at 6:02 am

Thousands of people suffer from diseases treatable with marrow or blood stem cell transplants. The National Marrow Donor Program finds donors for patients who don't have a match in their family.

First, volunteer. Join the Registry if you are 18-44 years old, in good health, and willing to give a swab of cheek cells.

Next, if you are a match, give blood samples to confirm it.

Then, you make a decision to give after an information session and a physical exam.

A Marrow Donation is donated in a hospital. After anesthesia is given, doctors remove a small amount of marrow from the back of the hip bones with a needle and syringe. Recovery is quick, though most donors have some bone pain and aches for several days or a few weeks. The marrow given naturally replenishes itself in four to six weeks. This method is selected 25 percent of the time.

A Peripheral Blood Stem Cell Donation is a special type of blood donation given at the Rhode Island Blood Center. Five daily injections of a stem cell growth factor are given to donors to increase the number of stem cells released from the marrow into the blood stream. Then an apheresis blood donation is made. Donors can experience bone pain as a result of receiving the growth factor. Recovery is quick, however, just one or two days after the donation is made. This method is selected 75 percent of the time.

For more information on joining the Be The Match Registry or to sponsor a marrow registration drive, please call 401-248-5720 or email Additional information is also available on

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Marrow Donor Program - Rhode Island Blood Center

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Stem Cell Treatment Rhode Island – Boston Stem Cell Center

Posted: at 4:26 pm

Stem cell treatment can treat a wide array of medical conditions. Learn more about what we can treat by reading the information below:

Constant knee problems can make it challenging to move from one part of your house to another. Some doctors may recommend knee surgery, knee joint replacement or a knee athroplasty to treat the pain in your knees.

However, choosing to undergo surgery may entail a long recovery time. After your operation, you may need to stay in the hospital for a few days. Moreover, you might not be allowed to drive or carry heavy things for the next 3 months.

Stem cell treatment is one method to help heal our body naturally. Found throughout our body, stem cells can developed into different cells, such as cartilage cells that can help joints. We use your stem cells for this procedure that we extract from the bone marrow in your hip bone. After that, we inject the cells together with platelet-rich plasma back into your knee.

Injuries, arthritis, and bursitis are some causes of hip pain. Without proper treatment, this can impair your movement and even cause difficulty in sleeping.

Hip surgery or hip joint replacement are common procedures for hip pain, mobility problems, and more. However, they may not have lasting effects. For example, you may need another hip replacement surgery after about 10 to 15 years.

At the Boston Stem Cell Center, we offer stem cell treatments as an alternative for patients experiencing hip pain. We use your own stem cells to help heal hip joints and help other local repair processes. Our stem cell treatment can help reduce inflammation, provide pain relief, and improve function.

Osteoarthritis and rotator cuff tendon tear are some reasons why you may experience shoulder pain. Sometimes, nonsurgical treatment such as medications may not be enough to alleviate the pain. Your doctor may recommend surgery if you are experiencing chronic pain.

If you are looking for alternatives to surgery, choosestem cell treatment. Stem cells can help with the natural healing process of the body. They can also keep your painful shoulder condition from progressing and suppress inflammation that can make injuries more painful.

Injuries and medical conditions can cause various ankle and foot pains. For example, you can get injured while running in an uneven plane in Providence, R.I. Severe foot pain can hamper your mobility and interfere with your daily activities.

Sometimes, nonsurgical treatments are not enough to treat severe ankle or foot pain. A doctor may subsequently recommend surgery as treatment. However, surgical procedures may cause complications, such as blood clots, infections, or muscle loss. Stem cell treatment is a viable alternative if you want to avoid surgery.

Elbow pain can limit your movement. Additionally, living in pain may require you to make drastic lifestyle changes. Surgeries can cure various elbow pain issues. However, you need to go through physical rehabilitation for up to 6 months as part of the recovery process.

Stem cell treatment is a reliable alternative in treating elbow pain naturally. We aspirate stem cells from bone marrow. After that, we can inject stem cells and platelet-rich plasma into the affected area. Normally, one stem cell treatment can address various elbow problems.

Medications and drug injections are some common ways of treating spine or back pain. Surgery is another viable procedure as well. However, if you are not comfortable with undergoing surgery, then consider some alternatives. Stem cell treatment can help heal affected joints, generate new tissue, and prevent further inflammation.

Strains, tears, and contusions may cause various skeletal muscle injuries. Nonsurgical procedures can treat muscle pain. Doctors may also recommend surgery in case nonsurgical procedures dont work.

In case you dont want to get surgery, there are other options available. Stem cell treatment can help cure tendon or muscle pain. This treatment can also promote muscle repair and speed up your recovery.

Medical conditions, injuries, or accidents may cause pain in your hands or wrists. Sometimes, doctors may recommend surgery to treat various conditions. If you are not comfortable with surgery, then you can opt for stem cell treatment. Improve mobility, speed up recovery, and minimize pain with the help of stem cell treatment.

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Stem Cell Treatment Rhode Island - Boston Stem Cell Center

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