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Category Archives: Vermont Stem Cells

The University of Vermont: Impactful research, healthier world – Study International News

Posted: July 21, 2021 at 1:56 am

At the University of Vermont, researchers are focusing on what matters. Here, in Burlington, Vermont, surrounded by majestic vistas, some of the brightest minds in the world are harnessing the power of research to achieve no small feat: supporting the health of our environment and our societies. They are striving for sustainable solutions with local, national, and global applications and impact.

Part of UVMs success lies in its cross-disciplinary research and collaboration made possible by a public research university of its size and scale. At the Larner College of Medicine, an innovative research model is shedding light on immune response in dengue infection, with the potential of saving hundreds of millions of lives per year. Another breakthrough is fast-tracking promising discoveries in the fight against cancer.

Over at the College of Education and Social Services (CESS), PhD students are unleashing human potential and in the process of making education accessible to people of all abilities.

To create a better future for all will take the entire might of nations and individuals working together. UVM has the unique strengths to lead this charge. Below are four stories that offer a window on a sliver of the work that UVM is doing to create new knowledge and build new practices to help societies thrive today and for generations to come.

What happens when grit is paired with opportunities

Hans Cabra

Hans Cabra, a Fulbright Scholar from Bogot, Colombia, knows what true courage is. The PhD in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies candidate grew up in a sketchy neighbourhood with a mother who only completed elementary school and a father who barely made it beyond middle school. Where other marginalised children from impoverished backgrounds dont see a way out of the trap, he dared to dream. He applied for a scholarship to Norway and got it.

Education gave me an opportunity to escape poverty and ignited a passion for helping young people to pursue their dreams, he shares. As a PhD scholar at UVM, hes doing just that.

Cabra is pursuing research on after-school programmes and how to cultivate grit and perseverance. I believe that grit is the main ingredient in achieving success, but it has to be paired with the right opportunities, he explains. These opportunities completely changed my life and the lives of my family members. I want to bring this transformative power of education to all the kids in my community and in my country.

Access for all abilities

Sefakor Komabu-Pomeyie grew up in a village in Ghana, marginalised because of her disability and gender. When she was eight years old, she was diagnosed with polio after being administered an expired vaccination. The virus left her unable to walk on her own. Stigma followed.

Sefakor Grateful Komabu-Pomeyie

The power of education helped Komabu-Pomeyie beat the odds of life. In 2011, she was selected as a Ford International Education Fellow, which enabled her to come to Vermont and earn a masters degree in sustainable development, with a concentration in policy analysis and advocacy, from the School for International Training.

Today, Komabu-Pomeyie is taking her education to new heights as she works toward a PhD in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies. She is also building an accessible and inclusive school in Ghana for students of all abilities. The odds may have been stacked against her, but armed with a UVM degree, shes ready to take her seat at the policy table when she returns to Ghana.

Recently, for her work as an education and disabilities advocate, she was honoured with the prestigious International Service Award from the Association of University Centres on Disabilities at a ceremony in Washington, DC.

Its a life-changing moment. Its a huge award. It means the work I have been doing from my village has been recognised internationally, she says, adding her gratitude for UVM professor Maria Mercedes Avila, PhD, for nominating her for the award.

Saving hundreds of millions of lives

The Aedes mosquito-borne dengue virus is a pathogen that plagues the tropical regions of the world. In 2019, it caused a record number of over 400 million cases. Its effects range from asymptomatic to severe diseases many times, it can be fatal.

Vaccines have been hard to develop, as there are four strains to protect equally against. Only one vaccine, Dengvaxia, has been approved for a subset of at-risk individuals in endemic areas.

A study by UVM is offering hope. Led by Associate Professor of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics (MMG) Sean Diehl, PhD, it set out to determine biomarker candidates and predictors for clinical and immunological responses resulting from dengue infection.

Associate Professor of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics Sean Diehl

These data offer new potential biomarkers for characterising dengue virus infection and novel pathways that could be leveraged to combat viral replication, explains Diehl. Our results also gave us some clues about how we might be able to boost protective immune responses, which is the goal of developing effective vaccines.

Diehl adds that for some of the genes identified in this study, little is known about their role in the response against dengue virus. This is very exciting, because it could lead to new ways to fight dengue, so we are now investigating these in the lab, shares Diehl.

A potential target for new cancer treatments

For two decades, UVM Cancer Centre researcher Jason Stumpff, PhD, has studied how cells divide and how mistakes in this process contribute to diseases, such as cancer. Every killer has a weak spot, and Stumpffs latest work has unearthed a vulnerability that could be a potential target for interrupting cancer cell growth.

Stumpffs recent work focuses on the role of a protein called KIF18A in driving cell division. In these new studies, his lab found that cancer cells are more dependent on KIF18A for growth than normal cells. Target KIF18A and its possible to stem or stop cancer.

This promising discovery was made possible by UVMs wide-ranging collaboration with national and international partners. Stumpffs findings mark a milestone in a long research journey that began with support from an American Cancer Society Institutional Research Grant pilot award through the UVM Cancer Centre, and then led to Susan G. Komen and National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding.

The collective impact of this research collaboration exemplifies the importance of sharing data and enhancing rigour of scientific studies to move fundamental science discovery effectively toward important progress in the fight against cancer, says Stumpff.

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Team Builds the First Living Robots – University of Vermont

Posted: June 20, 2020 at 2:50 am

A book is made of wood. But it is not a tree. The dead cells have been repurposed to serve another need.

Now a team of scientists has repurposed living cellsscraped from frog embryosand assembled them into entirely new life-forms. These millimeter-wide "xenobots" can move toward a target, perhaps pick up a payload (like a medicine that needs to be carried to a specific place inside a patient)and heal themselves after being cut.

"These are novel living machines," saysJoshua Bongard, a computer scientist and robotics expert at the University of Vermont who co-led the new research. "They're neither a traditional robot nor a known species of animal. It's a new class of artifact: a living, programmable organism."

The new creatures were designed on a supercomputer at UVMand then assembled and tested by biologists at Tufts University. "We can imagine many useful applications of these living robots that other machines can't do," says co-leader Michael Levin who directs theCenter for Regenerative and Developmental Biologyat Tufts, "like searching out nasty compounds or radioactive contamination, gathering microplastic in the oceans, traveling in arteries to scrape out plaque."

The results of the new research were published January 13 in theProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Bespoke living systems

People have been manipulating organisms for human benefit since at least the dawn of agriculture, genetic editing is becoming widespread, and a few artificial organisms have been manually assembled in the past few yearscopying the body forms of known animals.

But this research, for the first time ever, "designs completely biological machines from the ground up," the team writes in their new study.

With months of processing time on the Deep Green supercomputer cluster at UVM'sVermont Advanced Computing Core, the teamincluding lead author and doctoral student Sam Kriegmanused an evolutionary algorithm to create thousands of candidate designs for the new life-forms. Attempting to achieve a task assigned by the scientistslike locomotion in one directionthe computer would, over and over, reassemble a few hundred simulated cells into myriad forms and body shapes. As the programs randriven by basic rules about the biophysics of what single frog skin and cardiac cells can dothe more successful simulated organisms were kept and refined, while failed designs were tossed out. After a hundred independent runs of the algorithm, the most promising designs were selected for testing.

Then the team at Tufts, led by Levin and with key work by microsurgeon Douglas Blackistontransferred the in silico designs into life. First they gathered stem cells, harvested from the embryos of African frogs, the speciesXenopus laevis. (Hence the name "xenobots.") These were separated into single cells and left to incubate. Then, using tiny forceps and an even tinier electrode, the cells were cut and joined under a microscope into a close approximation of the designs specified by the computer.

Assembled into body forms never seen in nature, the cells began to work together. The skin cells formed a more passive architecture, while the once-random contractions of heart muscle cells were put to work creating ordered forward motion as guided by the computer's design, and aided by spontaneous self-organizing patternsallowing the robots to move on their own.

These reconfigurable organisms were shown to be able move in a coherent fashionand explore their watery environment for days or weeks, powered by embryonic energy stores. Turned over, however, they failed, like beetles flipped on their backs.

Later tests showed that groups of xenobots would move around in circles, pushing pellets into a central locationspontaneously and collectively. Others were built with a hole through the center to reduce drag. In simulated versions of these, the scientists were able to repurpose this hole as a pouch to successfully carry an object. "It's a step toward using computer-designed organisms for intelligent drug delivery," says Bongard, a professor in UVM'sDepartment of Computer ScienceandComplex Systems Center.

A manufactured quadruped organism, 650-750 microns in diametera bit smaller than a pinhead. (Credit: Douglas Blackiston, Tufts University.)

Living technologies

Many technologies are made of steel, concrete or plastic. That can make them strong or flexible. But they also can create ecological and human health problems, like the growing scourge of plastic pollution in the oceans and the toxicity of many synthetic materials and electronics. "The downside of living tissue is that it's weak and it degrades," say Bongard. "That's why we use steel. But organisms have 4.5 billion years of practice at regenerating themselves and going on for decades." And when they stop workingdeaththey usually fall apart harmlessly. "These xenobots are fully biodegradable," say Bongard, "when they're done with their job after seven days, they're just dead skin cells."

Your laptop is a powerful technology. But try cutting it in half. Doesn't work so well. In the new experiments, the scientists cut the xenobots and watched what happened. "We sliced the robot almost in half and it stitches itself back up and keeps going," says Bongard. "And this is something you can't do with typical machines."

University of Vermont professor Josh Bongard. (Photo: Joshua Brown)

Cracking the Code

Both Levin and Bongard say the potential of what they've been learning about how cells communicate and connect extends deep into both computational science and our understanding of life. "The big question in biology is to understand the algorithms that determine form and function," says Levin. "The genome encodes proteins, but transformative applications await our discovery of how that hardware enables cells to cooperate toward making functional anatomies under very different conditions."

To make an organism develop and function, there is a lot of information sharing and cooperationorganic computationgoing on in and between cells all the time, not just within neurons. These emergent and geometric properties are shaped by bioelectric, biochemical, and biomechanical processes, "that run on DNA-specified hardware," Levin says, "and these processes are reconfigurable, enabling novel living forms."

The scientists see the work presented in their newPNASstudy"A scalable pipeline for designing reconfigurable organisms,"as one step in applying insights about this bioelectric code to both biology and computer science. "What actually determines the anatomy towards which cells cooperate?" Levin asks. "You look at the cells we've been building our xenobots with, and, genomically, they're frogs. It's 100% frog DNAbut these are not frogs. Then you ask, well, what else are these cells capable of building?"

"As we've shown, these frog cells can be coaxed to make interesting living forms that are completely different from what their default anatomy would be," says Levin. He and the other scientists in the UVM and Tufts teamwith support from DARPA's Lifelong Learning Machines program and the National Science Foundationbelieve that building the xenobots is a small step toward cracking what he calls the "morphogenetic code," providing a deeper view of the overall way organisms are organizedand how they compute and store information based on their histories and environment.

Future Shocks

Many people worry about the implications of rapid technological change and complex biological manipulations. "That fear is not unreasonable," Levin says. "When we start to mess around with complex systems that we don't understand, we're going to get unintended consequences." A lot of complex systems, like an ant colony, begin with a simple unitan antfrom which it would be impossible to predict the shape of their colony or how they can build bridges over water with their interlinked bodies.

"If humanity is going to survive into the future, we need to better understand how complex properties, somehow, emerge from simple rules," says Levin. Much of science is focused on "controlling the low-level rules. We also need to understand the high-level rules," he says. "If you wanted an anthill with two chimneys instead of one, how do you modify the ants? We'd have no idea."

"I think it's an absolute necessity for society going forward to get a better handle on systems where the outcome is very complex," Levin says. "A first step towards doing that is to explore: how do living systems decide what an overall behavior should be and how do we manipulate the pieces to get the behaviors we want?"

In other words, "this study is a direct contribution to getting a handle on what people are afraid of, which is unintended consequences," Levin sayswhether in the rapid arrival of self-driving cars, changing gene drives to wipe out whole lineages of viruses, or the many other complex and autonomous systems that will increasingly shape the human experience.

"There's all of this innate creativity in life," says UVM's Josh Bongard. "We want to understand that more deeplyand how we can direct and push it toward new forms."

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2019 Stem Cell Conference- Lung Biology, Continuing …

Posted: May 10, 2020 at 8:43 pm

July 15-18, 2019Hosted by the University of Vermont, Burlington, VT

This bi-annual invitational event draws top researchers in the field, and their trainees, from around the globe. The purpose of the meeting is to discuss recent research, explore opportunities for new collaborations, and identify the most important needs and priorities for future programs in stem cell, cell therapy, and bioengineering approaches to explore lung biology and/or prevent and treat lung diseases.

Active participation by all participants is important for a conference of this size. Therefore, if you have never attended before and would like to attend without submitting an abstract, please tell us how you heard about the conference and the name of the lab with which you are associated (or simply why you would like to attend) so we can pass this information along to the course directors for their consideration. Your inquiry is welcome. Please email theconference assistant.

Oral Presentation Travel Awards will be awarded to Junior Investigators and Trainees whose abstracts are selected through a blinded review process. Each of the top nine abstracts will be selected for oral presentation to the conference. Included among these awards will be the John W. Walsh Memorial Travel Scholarship, as well as two awards for women-minority-those with disability. The oral presentation/travel awards will cover the conference fee and will provide a bursary to use toward travel and housing arrangements.

In addition to the oral awards, two additional abstracts will be awarded Poster Presentation Awards based on the presentation at the conference, and registration fees will be reimbursed.

All submissions for travel award consideration must be submitted by April 30, 2019 via an online abstract submission form.

In addition to abstracts not selected for an award, Poster Presentation consideration will be given to abstracts submitted by any registrant who submits an abstract by May 31, 2019.

For more details about submitting an abstract, see the Awards and Abstracts page.

Due to popular request, we will repeat an expanded hands-on session scheduled from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm on Monday, July 15, along with a new track for professional skills. The two workshop sessions will run in separate tracks and are geared primarily toward trainees and junior investigators, but all investigators are welcome to attend.

Track 1: Practical/Theoretical Course on State-of-the-Art Methods in Stem Cells, Cell Therapies and Bioengineering will explore the latest techniques for lung regenerative studies, including considerations for single-cell sequencing, 4D microscopy and virtual reality exploration of complex data sets.

Track 2: Professional Skills Course will develop scientific communication skills in the form of presentations, elevator pitches, and communicating with the public.

For more information, see our Pre-Conference Workshop page.

The 2019 conference will again feature an elevator pitch competition where interested Junior Investigators and Trainees are invited to present a one-minute synopsis of their research. This competition will be judged during Session III on Tuesday, July 16. The top two elevator pitches will receive reimbursement of conference fees. For more information, see our Elevator Pitch page.

We have discounted room rates available for conference registrants at both the Hotel Vermont and the Courtyard Burlington Harbor Hotel, near the waterfront in downtown Burlington, Vermont. Registrants for the conference should contact hotels directly or book online. Room rate discounts expire on Friday, June 14, 2019.

For hotel phone numbers and online-reservation links, see the Lodging Information page.

Cancellation Policy: If your plans change and you need to cancel your registration, please do so by contacting us in writing at least 21 days prior to the start of the meeting (by June 24, 2019). You will receive a full refund minus a $200 cancellation fee. Regrettably, cancellations received fewer than 21 days prior to the commencement of the conference are not eligible for a refund. Substitutions can be processed at no charge. Finally, if you cannot attend the entire conference for any reason, we will not be able to prorate your registration fee.

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Stem Cell therapy Gilman Vermont 05904

Posted: April 16, 2020 at 9:42 pm

Stem Cell Therapy Gilman VT 05904

Stem cell therapy has ended up being a popular argument in the worldwide medical scene. This extremely questionable treatment has actually received combined viewpoints from numerous stakeholders in the health care industry and has also attracted the interest of political leaders, spiritual leaders and the basic population at large. Stem cell therapy is thought about a revolutionary treatment for people suffering from a vast array of degenerative conditions. Some common concerns concerning this treatment are addressed below.

Are you a stem cell therapy provider in Gilman VT 05904?Contact us for more information.

Stem cells can be described as blank state or non-specialized cells that have the ability to become specialized cells in the body such as bone, muscle, nerve or organ cells. This indicates that these special cells can be utilized to regrow or develop a wide range of damaged cells and tissues in the body. Stem cell therapy is for that reason a treatment that targets at attaining tissue regrowth and can be used to cure health conditions and health problems such as osteoarthritis, degenerative disc disease, spine injury, muscular degeneration, motor nerve cell disease, ALS, Parkinsons, cardiovascular disease and a lot more.

Being a treatment that is still under studio, stem cell therapy has actually not been fully accepted as a practical treatment choice for the above pointed out health conditions and diseases. A great deal of studio is currently being carried out by scientists and medical specialists in different parts of the world to make this treatment practical and efficient. There are nevertheless different constraints enforced by federal governments on studio including embryonic stem cells.

Presently, there have not been numerous case studies carried out for this kind of treatment. Nevertheless, with the few case studies that have actually been carried out, among the significant issues that has actually been raised is the boost in a patients threat of developing cancer. Cancer is caused by the rapid multiplication of cells that tend not to die so easily. Stem cells have been associated with similar development factors that may result in formation of growths and other malignant cells in clients.

Contact us for more information about stem cell doctor in Gilman VT 05904

Stem cells can be drawn out from a young embryo after conception. These stem cells are frequently referred to as embryonic stem cells. After the stem cells are drawn out from the embryo, the embryo is terminated. This is generally among the major reasons for controversy in the field of stem cell research study. Lots of people argue that termination of an embryo is dishonest and undesirable.

New studio has however revealed pledge as researchers aim at establishing stem cells that do not form into growths in later treatment phases. These stem cells can therefore efficiently change into other types of specialized cells. This treatment is therefore worth researching into as numerous patients can gain from this innovative treatment.

Stem cells can still be acquired through other means as they can be discovered in the blood, bone marrow and umbilical cords of adult people. Normal body cells can also be reverse-engineered to become stem cells that have restricted capabilities.

stem cell therapy in Gilman VT 05904

Stem cell therapy has actually ended up being a popular dispute in the worldwide medical scene. This extremely controversial treatment has actually gotten combined viewpoints from numerous stakeholders in the health care market and has actually also attracted the interest of politicians, religious leaders and the basic population at large. Stem cell therapy is thought about an advanced treatment for individuals suffering from a wide range of degenerative conditions. Some common questions concerning this therapy are addressed below.

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Main address:Gilman, Vermont, 05904

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Scientists Have Created Living Robot Frogs, And They Just May Save Your Life – Parentology

Posted: January 28, 2020 at 2:47 pm

The day of the robot frog is here. Sort of. Researchers in the United States have taken stem cells from the tissue of African clawed frogs and put them together to build tiny living robots. These are the worlds first living machines, robots made from biological tissue that have advantages your run-of-the-mill plastic and metal robots dont have.

These lifeforms have never before existed on earth, Michael Levin, director of the Allen Discovery Center at Tufts University, which conducted the research alongside scientists from the University of Vermont, said. They are living, programmable organisms.

Researchers are calling these new creatures xenobots, derivedfrom Xenopus laevis, the scientific name for the African clawed frog. The botsare less than a millimeter wide, which is small enough to travel through thehuman body. And they dont look anything like the robots weve all seen before.Xenobots are basically tiny dollops of moving pink flesh.

According to CNN,the researchers took stem cells from frog embryos, left them to incubate, thenused a supercomputer to cut and shape the cells into body forms. For example,you can have a xenobot with a hole in the middle that could possibly be used todeliver medication inside the human body.

Once they were created, the robots operated on their own. Theskin cells bonded to form structure, and the heart cells would actually pulse,allowing the bots to propel themselves.

What else might the xenobots be used for? Scientists say theycould potentially be used to remove plaque from artery walls, locate anddestroy radioactive waste, and even clean up microplastic pollution in theoceans.

And although metal and plastic robots are strong and durable, there are good reasons to create bots from biological tissue. For one thing, the xenobots are self-healing. And once their task is complete, says The Guardian, they fall apart, just as natural organisms decay when they die. That makes them more environmentally friendly than traditional robots, as well.

Creating these xenobots does raise some ethical issues,particularly because future versions of them might actually have nervoussystems and cognitive abilities. And then what will they be, living creaturesor just machines?

Whats important to me, Sam Kriegman, a PhD student on the University of Vermont team, said, is that this is public, so we can have a discussion as a society and policymakers can decide what is the best course of action.

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World’s First ‘Living Machine’ Created Using Frog Cells and Artificial Intelligence – Livescience.com

Posted: January 18, 2020 at 7:47 pm

What happens when you take cells from frog embryos and grow them into new organisms that were "evolved" by algorithms? You get something that researchers are calling the world's first "living machine."

Though the original stem cells came from frogs the African clawed frog, Xenopus laevis these so-called xenobots don't resemble any known amphibians. The tiny blobs measure only 0.04 inches (1 millimeter) wide and are made of living tissue that biologists assembled into bodies designed by computer models, according to a new study.

These mobile organisms can move independently and collectively, can self-heal wounds and survive for weeks at a time, and could potentially be used to transport medicines inside a patient's body, scientists recently reported.

Related: The 6 Strangest Robots Ever Created

"They're neither a traditional robot nor a known species of animal," study co-author Joshua Bongard, a computer scientist and robotics expert at the University of Vermont, said in a statement. "It's a new class of artifact: a living, programmable organism."

Algorithms shaped the evolution of the xenobots. They grew from skin and heart stem cells into tissue clumps of several hundred cells that moved in pulses generated by heart muscle tissue, said lead study author Sam Kriegman, a doctoral candidate studying evolutionary robotics in the University of Vermont's Department of Computer Science, in Burlington.

"There's no external control from a remote control or bioelectricity. This is an autonomous agent it's almost like a wind-up toy," Kriegman told Live Science.

Biologists fed a computer constraints for the autonomous xenobots, such as the maximum muscle power of their tissues, and how they might move through a watery environment. Then, the algorithm produced generations of the tiny organisms. The best-performing bots would "reproduce" inside the algorithm. And just as evolution works in the natural world, the least successful forms would be deleted by the computer program.

"Eventually, it was able to give us designs that actually were transferable to real cells. That was a breakthrough," Kriegman said.

The study authors then brought these designs to life, piecing stem cells together to form self-powered 3D shapes designed by the evolution algorithm. Skin cells held the xenobots together, and the beating of heart tissue in specific parts of their "bodies" propelled the 'bots through water in a petri dish for days, and even weeks at a stretch, without needing additional nutrients, according to the study. The 'bots were even able to repair significant damage, said Kriegman.

"We cut the living robot almost in half, and its cells automatically zippered its body back up," he said.

"We can imagine many useful applications of these living robots that other machines can't do," said study co-author Michael Levin, director of theCenter for Regenerative and Developmental Biologyat Tufts University in Massachusetts. These might include targeting toxic spills or radioactive contamination, collecting marine microplastics or even excavating plaque from human arteries, Levin said in a statement.

Creations that blur the line between robots and living organisms are popular subjects in science fiction; think of the killer machines in the "Terminator" movies or the replicants from the world of "Blade Runner." The prospect of so-called living robots and using technology to create living organisms understandably raises concerns for some, said Levin.

"That fear is not unreasonable," Levin said. "When we start to mess around with complex systems that we don't understand, we're going to get unintended consequences."

Nevertheless, building on simple organic forms like the xenobots could also lead to beneficial discoveries, he added.

"If humanity is going to survive into the future, we need to better understand how complex properties, somehow, emerge from simple rules," Levin said.

The findings were published online Jan. 13 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Originally published on Live Science.

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US troops were injured in Iran’s Jan. 8 attack; Army cancels $45B vehicle competition; Riyadh gives US $0.5B for ops; Navy adding drone controllers to…

Posted: at 7:47 pm

Eleven American troops were wounded in Irans Jan. 8 missile attack on Iraqs al-Asad air base, U.S. defense and military officials confirmed to Defense Ones Kevin Baron on Thursday. This week, they were medically evacuated to U.S. military hospitals in Kuwait and Landstuhl, Germany, to be treated for traumatic brain injury and to undergo further evaluation, Baronreports.

While no U.S. service members were killed in the Jan. 8 Iranian attack on Al Asad Air base, several were treated for concussion symptoms from the blast and are still being assessed, Capt. Bill Urban, spox at U.S. Central Command in Tampa, Fla. said in a statement emailed to reporters after Barons report Thursday evening. As a standard procedure, all personnel in the vicinity of a blast are screened for traumatic brain injury, and if deemed appropriate, are transported to a higher level ofcare.

Flashback: No Americans were harmed in last nights attack by the Iranian regime, President Trump told the country in a live address on Jan.8.

Today, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei led Friday prayers in Tehran for the first time in eight years, AP reports. Khamenei used the rare occasion to call out American clowns who want to stick a poisoned dagger into the backs ofIranians.

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He also renewed his call for America to withdraw its forces from the Middle East, and said the Revolutionary Guard Corps protects oppressed nations across the region as fighters without borders. More from Reuters, here.

Eleven US Troops Were Injured in Jan. 8 Iran Missile Strike // Kevin Baron: The troops were medevaced this week to Germany and Kuwait to be treated for traumatic brain injury after experiencing concussionsymptoms.

US Army Cancels $45B Armored Vehicle Contest That Drew One Bid / Marcus Weisgerber: The service now plans to reboot its effort to replace the Bradley Fighting Vehicle, but with different biddingparameters.

Global Business Brief // Marcus Weisgerber: USN: send money; Changes coming to F-35 logistics; NGs new logo; andmore

The US Space Force Is Not a Joke // Marina Koren, The Atlantic: Its not all President Trump promised, but it existsnow.

Welcome to this Friday edition of The D Brief from Ben Watson and Bradley Peniston. If youre not already subscribed, you can do that here. On this day in 1917, the U.S. bought the Virgin Islands from Denmark for $25million.

The Taliban say theyre open to a 10-day ceasefire in Afghanistan, provided the U.S. agrees to the deal, Reuters reports from Kabul and Peshawar. Little else is known just yet about the possible deal; and A U.S. State Department spokeswoman declined to comment and the Pentagon referred queries to the State Department. Read on, here.

Libyan Gen. Khalifa Haftar visited Greece today, two days before a peace conference in Berlin, AP reports from Athens. Its unclear precisely what Haftar is looking to achieve in Greece; but its worth noting that In November, Turkey and the Libyan government in Tripoli [Haftars ostensible enemy] signed a controversial maritime deal delineating a boundary between the two countries in the Mediterranean.That maritime deal would give Turkey and Libya access to an economic zone across the Mediterranean despite the objections of Greece, Egypt and Cyprus, which lie between the two geographically. All three countries have blasted the deal as being contrary to international law.Also attending talks in Berlin on Sunday: Haftars foe, Fayez al-Serraj, as well as the leaders of Russia, Turkey, Egypt and other nations that are not specified in a Reuters report this morning.In case youd lost track, Haftar is backed by the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Jordan, Sudanese and Chadian fighters, and most recently Russian mercenaries. France has also given some support, Reuters writes. On the other side, Turkey has rushed to Serrajs rescue by sending troops to balance out recent gains by Russian snipers. Hundreds of pro-Turkey fighters from Syrias war have also been deployed.One goal of the Berlin talks: To get Haftar to sign a ceasefire agreement referenced in a six-page draft communique seen by Reuters. A bit more, here.Related: Theres now bipartisan U.S. congressional pushback against SecDef Espers plan (NYTs) to drawdown American forces from Africa, Defense News reported Thursday. House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith, D-Wash., and ranking member Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, wrote a letter to Esper warning, A decrease in our investment now may result in the need for the United States to reinvest at many more times the cost down the road.This could be an early indication of the political capital Esper may have to spend in order to push through a series of ambitious reform efforts in the coming months. The critics include Senate Armed Services Committee chairman Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., as well as Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Chris Coons, D-Del. Read on, here.

Dont miss our latest Defense One Radio podcast all about Russian private military contractors like Wagner and why theyve expanded to countries all across Africa. Listen (or read the transcript) here.

Want to understand much of American foreign policy over the past decade? Well before Trump took office, Republicans leaned toward a primacy/dominate stance in international affairs, while Democrats leaned toward a cooperate/share model, University of Chicago Professor Paul Poast explained in a Twitter thread Thursday. Since Trump took office, that dominate-vs.-cooperate disparity has grown.One curious consideration: Both parties could claim to be supporting a view of America as an exceptional nation: Republicans in that Americans must embrace the US ability to dominate others; and Democrats in that Americans should embrace the US as Indispensable for ensuring international cooperation, Poast writes.The bottom line: There is a key difference between how Republicans and Democrats view what it means for the U.S. to engage the world. And that difference, in turn, goes a long way towards explaining US foreign policy. More reading on this topic here and here.

European governments accused Iran of violating the nuke deal after Trump threatened them if they didnt, the Washington Post reports and the German defense minister has since confirmed. The threat of a 25% tariff on European automobiles reportedly shocked British, French, and German officials, who had been leaning toward the move anyway, the Post says.Jeremy Shapiro, research director at the European Council on Foreign Relations: The tariff threat is a mafia-like tactic, and its not how relations between allies typically work. Read on, here.

How POTUS45 set the tone with his generals. New details from a meeting inside the Pentagon on July 20, 2017, reveal the chilling effect Trumps comments and hostility had on the nations military and national security leadership that day and in the months since, according to the Washington Posts Carol D. Leonnig and Philip Rucker.Among the things Trump told former SecDef Jim Mattis and former Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford in thatmeeting:

Feel free to read on, whether or not any of this surprises you about Teflon Don, here. Or wait for the book that all this is a part of, called, A Very Stable Genius, which will be publishedTuesday.

Saudi Arabia paid the U.S. about $500 million toward the cost of supporting troops deployed there, a Pentagon spokeswoman told CNN Thursday. The payment was made in December, and more may be on the way.Said Cmdr. Rebecca Rebarich: Consistent with the Presidents guidance to increase partner burden-sharing, the Department of Defense has engaged Saudi Arabia on sharing the cost of these deployments, which support regional security and dissuade hostility and aggression. The Saudi government has agreed to help underwrite the cost of these activities and has made the first contributionDiscussions are ongoing to formalize a mechanism for future contributions that offset the cost of these deployments.Recall that last week Trump told Fox that Riyadh had deposited $1 billion in the bank. Asked about it earlier this week, Pentagon officials could only say that negotiations were ongoing.For the record: This is the first time this has happened since the Gulf War, CNN writes. Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and other Gulf states paid $36 billion towards the costs of liberating Kuwait in 1991.BTW: France has deployed a radar system on the eastern coast of Saudi Arabia to beef up its allys defenses, Reuters reports today in a shorty.

SecDef Esper and SecState Pompeo argue South Korea needs to pay up. Seoul can and should contribute more to its own national defense, Defense Secretary Mark Esper and State Secretary Mike Pompeo write in a Wall Street Journal op-ed.An alternate POV: There is zero negotiating value to the Secretaries of State and Defense writing in The WSJ that South Korea should pay more for defense, tweeted former State Department official Mintaro Oba. In fact, it harms the alliance and publicly raises the stakes so much its harder to get to an agreeablecompromise.

Control centers for U.S. drones are being built on Navy carriers, Capt. Chuck Ehnes, the Navys program manager for in-service aircraft carriers told the crowd at the Surface Navy Association on Thursday. According to SeaPower Magazine, Unmanned Aviation Warfare Centers (UAWCs) are being installed to operate the MQ-25A Stingray unmanned aerial tanker and any follow-on UAVs the Navy plans to operate from its aircraft carriers. Tiny bit more, here.

How do you drive away a pesky Chinese navy without escalating tensions? Indonesias recent actions present a fresh case study in pushing back against Beijings broad South China Sea claims, the Wall Street Journal reported this morning from Jakarta.The situation: In late December, several Chinese coast guard ships escorted more than three dozen Chinese fishing boats into the waters off Indonesias Natuna Islands China doesnt claim Indonesias Natuna Islands, near which the recent flare-up occurred, as its own, but says it has historical rights over a part of the surrounding waters that falls within an ill-defined nine-dash line Beijing has used to demarcate its claims.The latest developments played out last week when, during the standoff, Indonesian President Joko Widodo took a trip [to] the islands, where he met with local fishermen. At sea, the ships continued to crisscross and Indonesias military flew F-16s overhead. By the end of the week, on Saturday, the Chinese ships began moving northward, away from the area. The Indonesian navy shadowed them all the way out. Continue reading, here.Related: On Thursday, the BBC asked, Why are Chinese fishermen finding so many submarine spies? In that story, youll learn China is offering up to $72,000 for those who capture spy drones. That kind of money amounts to around 17 times the average disposable income inChina.

Now for something completely different: Blankets, canned tuna and faith in God how fleeing Venezuelans survive. The LA Times sent a reporter and a photographer on an incredible trip to the border of Colombia. The pictures and stories they brought back are worth a click this weekend, here.

And finally today: welcome, xenobots. Researchers at the University of Vermont and Tufts University programmed frog stem cells to develop into tiny blob-like organic robots that move with muscles and heal if damaged. These xenobots named for the species of frog that provided their cells are neither a traditional robot nor a known species of animal. Its a new class of artifact: a living, programmable organism, Joshua Bongard, one of the lead researchers at the University of Vermont, told CNN, here.

Have a safe weekend, everyone;and well see you again onMonday!

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US troops were injured in Iran's Jan. 8 attack; Army cancels $45B vehicle competition; Riyadh gives US $0.5B for ops; Navy adding drone controllers to...

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Scientists Move Us One Step Closer To A Real-Life Westworld As They Create Robots From Living Cells – BroBible

Posted: at 7:47 pm

For those unfamiliar, in the classic movie and on HBOs hit show Westworld there are androids that look, feel, and act just like humans. Scientists apparently want to make that really happen because they keep doing creepy things with artificial intelligence, implanting small human brains into animals, growing miniature human brains in a lab (which may be sentient and feel pain), and now, creating the worlds first living, self-healing robots made out of living cells.

They call these new robots xenobots (sounds like a type of Transformer, and in a way they are), which refers to the African clawed frog (Xenopus laevis) whose stem cells the researchers used to build these miniature robots with assisatance from some evolutionary algorithms (which sounds like something straight out of Westworld).

This new breakthrough was chronicled by researchers from Tufts Universitys Allen Discovery Center and the University of Vermont in a recent issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The scientists claim that these xenobots are entirely new life-forms, so thats reassuring.

Theyre neither a traditional robot nor a known species of animal. Its a new class of artifact: a living, programmable organism, said Joshua Bongard of the University of Vermont, co-leader of the research, in a press release.

The new creatures were designed on a supercomputer at UVM and then assembled and tested by biologists at Tufts University. We can imagine many useful applications of these living robots that other machines cant do, says co-leader Michael Levin who directs the Center for Regenerative and Developmental Biology at Tufts, like searching out nasty compounds or radioactive contamination, gathering microplastic in the oceans, traveling in arteries to scrape out plaque.

After much trial and error using the Deep Green supercomputer cluster at UVMs Vermont Advanced Computing Core, the cells were assembled into body forms never seen in nature and began to work together.

These reconfigurable organisms were shown to be able move in a coherent fashion and explore their watery environment for days or weeks, powered by embryonic energy stores. Turned over, however, they failed, like beetles flipped on their backs.

Thats good. At least they found out the robots weaknesses right from the jump.

Wired reports

The brainless blobs end up behaving in ways that are downright spooky. They change their movement from time to time, so they will move in a particular way, then theyll change it, then theyll turn around and go back, says [Tufts University developmental biophysicist Michael Levin]. When they encounter other loose cells, theyll herd them into little piles. Slice a xenobot open and itll pull itself together again, la T-1000 from Terminator 2. Two xenobots might join together and scoot around as a happy couple. A xenobot with a hole in it can pick up and carry things.

CNN says they can walk and swim, survive for weeks without food, and work together in groups.

On the plus side (for humanity), these xenobots cant reproduce or evolve.

However, their lifespan can increase to several weeks in nutrient-rich environments. And although the supercomputer a powerful piece of artificial intelligence plays a big role in building these robots, its unlikely that the AI could have evil intentions.

At the moment though it is difficult to see how an AI could create harmful organisms any easier than a talented biologist with bad intentions could, said the researchers website.

Riiiight thats probably what Dr. Robert Ford thought too.

Related Artificial intelligence can now recreate videos people are watching by reading their minds Humans one day soon will emotionally bond, fall in love and marry robots, claims philosopher Massachussetts police secretly used robot dogs for three months so the countdown to the robot uprising has begun Boston Dynamics robots have figured out how to work together and I guess humanity had a pretty good run Oh hell no, now theres a robot that bleeds, breathes, pees, and has a pulse? Were all so f**ked Elon Musk is planning on having cyborgs living side-by-side with humans in the near future Robots can now solve a Rubiks Cube, one-handed, in their latest step towards becoming our new overlords New study says robots will soon be able to recognize human emotions, which will be very helpful when their uprising begins The Marines are turning to artificial intelligence to combat enemies most deadly weapons These more than 25 creepy ways robots are becoming more human spells doom for us all

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The Democratic Debates Are Downers. That’s a Big Problem for All of Us. – Reason

Posted: at 7:47 pm

I found last night's Democratic presidential debate to be profoundly depressing and downbeat, yet I struggle to explain why exactly. As a small-l libertarian who is unaffiliated with any party, my vote is up for grabs and I pay attention to these sorts of events out of more than just a sense of professional responsibility. There is plenty wrong with the country, on levels big and small, and politics canand shouldaddress some of that.

Yet listening to the candidates last night, I mostly didn't recognize the country they were describing. They live in a world where dark, shadowy forcesbillionaires, corporations, Russian operatives especiallyconspire with near-perfect success to make us all poorer and sadder, dumber and sicker, more alienated and hopeless. According to the candidates, nobody can afford the doctor, college, or child care. The whole planet may be baked in a decade because of fossil fuels, but we shouldn't really talk about expanding nuclear power or even using natural gas and fracking as a bridge fuel. Sexism, racism, homophobia, Islamophobia, police violence, and more are worse than ever.

Ironically, their collective inability to see little if anything positive in contemporary America mirrors that of the man they seek to remove from power. President Donald Trump's fixations are of course different but the net effect is the same: These are the end times unless I wield power.

But being relentlessly negative is no way to unseat an incumbent president, even one as temperamental and divisive as Trump (this is the guy who invoked "American carnage" in his first inaugural and says he's been treated worse as president than good, old, shot-in-the-head Abe Lincoln). At least, it's no way to win my vote and, I suspect, the votes of the 41 percent who consider themselves independent. As CNN's Van Jones (a Democrat) put it, the level of "vitriol was very dispiriting. Tonight was dispiriting. Democrats are going to have to do better than what we saw tonight. There was nothing I saw tonight that would be able to take Donald Trump out."

As it happens, just a day before last night's debate, researchers from Tufts University and the University of Vermont announced the creationof what they're calling "xenobots,"the "world's first living, self-healing robots created from frog stem cells" that "could be used to clean up radioactive waste, collect microplastics in the oceans, carry medicine inside human bodies, or even travel into our arteries to scrape out plaque." Holy hell, it's like Fantastic Voyage, but without the high-grade Cold War hysteria! In profound ways, this sort of invention typifies life in the 21st century: a moment when we take life-enhancing technology for granted, surround ourselves with hot and cold streaming media that was unimaginable even a few decades ago, and, for the first time in human history, "half the world is now middle class or wealthier."

Even in a moment when military tensions are idling warm, opioids are still taking a toll, and the federal government has racked up a trillion-dollar deficit, this is a hell of a time to be alive. Forests are expanding, the amount of "stuff" we consume on a per-capita basis peaked around 2000, and infant mortality rates continue to decline, leading writer Matt Ridley to declare the 10 years that just concluded "the best decade in human history." The U.S. economy has been growing without interruption for over a decade, wage parity between women and men is growing, and the percentage of high school grads immediately attending college is at a historically high level. About "three in four adultsand the overwhelming majority of poor childrenlive better off than their parents after taking the rising cost of living into account," writes economist Scott Winship.

None of that made it onto the stage at last night's Democratic presidential debate, and unless it does, why would enough people vote for a Democrat to take over the country? I'm not talking about some sort of phony, upbeat, Panglossian messagethe electoral equivalent of telling a woman on the street that she should smile. But if you're promising (threatening might be the better term) major transformations of the economy, health care industry, education system, and more, having a positive vision of the future rather than a punitive one seems to be a prerequisite. Yet with the possible exception of Andrew Yang, the long shot candidate who didn't make the cutoff to appear last night anyway, all of the remaining Democrats talk more about settling scores than about creating a richer, smarter, more innovative world.

About a year ago, Trump spoke at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), shortly after progressive Democrats unveiled the Green New Deal, a set of programs whose sponsors promised would radically transform many aspects of American life. Sensing an advantage, Trump uncorked a two-hour stemwinder that was by turns mean, nasty, funny, and, above all, optimistic about the future. I prophesied then that he might win the 2020 election because "Trump is becoming sunnier and sunnier while the Democrats are painting contemporary America as a late-capitalist hellhole riven by growing racial, ethnic, and other tensions." The president has since retreated back to his darkness and will likely stay there, especially as impeachment proceedings get underway.

But as incumbent, Trump merely has to hold onto office while his challengers need to vault into power. If last night's rhetoric is any indication, the Democrats might have one more thing to be depressed about after election day. More importantly for the rest of us, we will still be without a major political party that can paint a positive vision for the country. And voters like me will still be searching for presidential candidates for whom we can vote.

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Stem Cell – Lung Biology | College of Medicine …

Posted: May 13, 2019 at 3:57 pm

July 15-18, 2019Hosted by the University of Vermont, Burlington, VT

This bi-annual invitational event draws top researchers in the field, and their trainees, from around the globe. The purpose of the meeting is to discuss recent research, explore opportunities for new collaborations, and identify the most important needs and priorities for future programs in stem cell, cell therapy, and bioengineering approaches to explore lung biology and/or prevent and treat lung diseases.

Active participation by all participants is important for a conference of this size. Therefore, if you have never attended before and would like to attend without submitting an abstract, please tell us how you heard about the conference and the name of the lab with which you are associated (or simply why you would like to attend) so we can pass this information along to the course directors for their consideration. Your inquiry is welcome. Please email theconference assistant.

Oral Presentation Travel Awards will be awarded to Junior Investigators and Trainees whose abstracts are selected through a blinded review process. Each of the top nine abstracts will be selected for oral presentation to the conference. Included among these awards will be the John W. Walsh Memorial Travel Scholarship, as well as two awards for women-minority-those with disability. The oral presentation/travel awards will cover the conference fee and will provide a bursary to use toward travel and housing arrangements.

In addition to the oral awards, two additional abstracts will be awarded Poster Presentation Awards based on the presentation at the conference, and registration fees will be reimbursed.

All submissions for travel award consideration must be submitted by April 30, 2019 via an online abstract submission form.

In addition to abstracts not selected for an award, Poster Presentation consideration will be given to abstracts submitted by any registrant who submits an abstract by May 31, 2019.

For more details about submitting an abstract, see the Awards and Abstracts page.

Due to popular request, we will repeat an expanded hands-on session scheduled from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm on Monday, July 15, along with a new track for professional skills. The two workshop sessions will run in separate tracks and are geared primarily toward trainees and junior investigators, but all investigators are welcome to attend.

Track 1: Practical/Theoretical Course on State-of-the-Art Methods in Stem Cells, Cell Therapies and Bioengineering will explore the latest techniques for lung regenerative studies, including considerations for single-cell sequencing, 4D microscopy and virtual reality exploration of complex data sets.

Track 2: Professional Skills Course will develop scientific communication skills in the form of presentations, elevator pitches, and communicating with the public.

For more information, see our Pre-Conference Workshop page.

The 2019 conference will again feature an elevator pitch competition where interested Junior Investigators and Trainees are invited to present a one-minute synopsis of their research. This competition will be judged during Session III on Tuesday, July 16. The top two elevator pitches will receive reimbursement of conference fees. For more information, see our Elevator Pitch page.

We have discounted room rates available for conference registrants at both the Hotel Vermont and the Courtyard Burlington Harbor Hotel, near the waterfront in downtown Burlington, Vermont. Registrants for the conference should contact hotels directly or book online. Room rate discounts expire on Friday, June 14, 2019.

For hotel phone numbers and online-reservation links, see the Lodging Information page.

Cancellation Policy: If your plans change and you need to cancel your registration, please do so by contacting us in writing at least 21 days prior to the start of the meeting (by June 24, 2019). You will receive a full refund minus a $200 cancellation fee. Regrettably, cancellations received fewer than 21 days prior to the commencement of the conference are not eligible for a refund. Substitutions can be processed at no charge. Finally, if you cannot attend the entire conference for any reason, we will not be able to prorate your registration fee.

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