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Stanford, CA, United States

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: | Award Amount: 173.25K | Year: 2013

When large mammalian predators are extirpated or hunting pressure from humans is insufficient, mammalian herbivores like white-tailed deer increase in density, exerting increased pressure on plant communities. Though such effects are well-documented, it remains untested how herbivore-induced changes in vegetation ricochet back up the new food chain in these altered plant communities. Making use of a unique long-term experiment where deer density was manipulated in large enclosures, preliminary data demonstrate that deer density during stand initiation (the first 10 yr following clear cut) causes significant legacy effects in forest canopies, including trees, insects, and birds, lasting at least 30 years. The current project investigates mechanisms by which this legacy operates from scales ranging from stand to individual tree to individual prey item. Preliminary data provide support for mechanisms such as reduced foliage density, reduced prey base per unit foliage, and reduced prey quality at high deer density, all due to stand-scale changes in tree species dominance caused by deer. New investigations in these stands include bird foraging observations and bird exclusion experiments to examine at what scale and by what mechanisms birds respond to changes in forest vegetation caused by historic deer browsing.

Results from this study are relevant to the ca. 30% or more of eastern US counties where deer are over-abundant. Findings will be disseminated directly to state, federal, and tribal land managers via training programs coordinated by the USDA Forest Service Northern Research Station. The project will broaden participation by under-represented minorities in three ways. First, the PI is Native American, a group that is under-represented in STEM disciplines, particularly so in ecology. Second, the PI will provide mentorship via Indiana University of Pennsylvanias McNair program, a research mentorship program for undergraduates from under-represented groups interested in pursuing a PhD. Third, the PI will work with IUP students to establish a SEEDS chapter, a program of the Ecological Society of America that seeks to enhance opportunities for students from under-represented group to pursue careers in ecology.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: FIELD STATIONS | Award Amount: 347.78K | Year: 2014

Carnegie Institute is awarded a grant to build a modern technical field laboratory to augment the research capacity of Powdermill Nature Reserve, the ecological research field station of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Pittsburgh. At Powdermill, current research programs include such topics as the occurrence of avian influenza in migratory birds, nonlinear boundary effects on decomposition in forensic entomology, regional sampling of water chemistry to assess health and quality, terrestrial toxicology and flow of metals into the ecosystem via pollen and nectar, as well as extensive and diverse programs related to forest succession. Modern ecologists use technical laboratory methods more than they did formerly, and leading field stations must provide support for such procedures. Increasing the capacity of the Powdermill field station will have strongly accelerate research in the diverse programs already executed at Powdermill, and lead to additional programs in the future. These investments will help the facility to provide a leading research platform for the central Appalachians, one of the most diverse temperate ecosystems on Earth.

The proposed addition will provide a standard wet laboratory with hood, sinks, centrifuges, heat blocks, refrigeration, freezers (including -80C), balances, electrophoresis gel rigs, and all the ordinary lab ware and starting materials typical of a basic laboratory capable of tissue preservation, DNA extraction, incubation, restriction digests, gel electrophoresis, and other such procedures. Investment into a modern laboratory will contribute to expanded use by visiting researchers and formal college and university classes. In 2012 and 2013, eight federally funded projects were executed in part at Powdermill, including work by four PIs with NSF funding. About 40 researchers and professors use this station, and building a support facility will significantly improve research and teaching capacity in this region and beyond, and have a great multiplier effect in the local community. For more information about the Powdermill Nature Reserve, visit the website at http://www.carnegiemnh.org/powdermill/.

News Article
Site: www.nature.com

Last month, in an extraordinary dispute before the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), university lawyers laid out their clients' legal strategies for claiming patents that cover the celebrated gene-editing technology CRISPR–Cas9. Over the next year, the USPTO will receive volumes of evidence centred on who first invented the technology. Battles over scientific priority are as old as science itself. But the CRISPR–Cas9 patent dispute is unusual because it pits two leading research institutions against one another for the control and industrial development of a foundational technology: the University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley), and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard in Cambridge, Massachusetts. As scientific institutions increase their involvement in the commercialization of research1, it is worth considering the potential consequences for science if more institutions follow the path of UC Berkeley and the Broad Institute. In May 2012, researchers at UC Berkeley, led by Jennifer Doudna and her collaborator, Emmanuelle Charpentier (then located at the University of Vienna in Austria) filed a patent application in the United States for CRISPR–Cas9. Seven months later, Feng Zhang, a researcher at the Broad Institute, filed a competing application that covered similar uses of the technology. After Zhang's lawyers requested that his application be fast-tracked, the USPTO awarded one patent to Zhang in April 2014, followed by a dozen more in the subsequent 12 months. Meanwhile, the application made by Doudna and her colleagues languished. Last April, Doudna's lawyers requested that the USPTO conduct a specialized legal trial, known as a patent interference, to determine the ownership of the US patents that cover the CRISPR–Cas9 system. This January, the USPTO formally agreed to carry out the proceeding. One conspicuous aspect of this case, in my opinion, is the degree to which UC Berkeley and the Broad Institute have weighed in on what is essentially a dispute over scientific priority. The Broad Institute has produced press releases, videos and a slick feature on its website that stress the importance of Zhang's contributions to the development of the CRISPR–Cas9 technology. And earlier this year, the central positioning of Zhang's work in a historical perspective of CRISPR published in Cell2 by the president and director of the Broad Institute, Eric Lander, prompted a storm of angry responses from scientists, including Doudna and Charpentier. Meanwhile, at UC Berkeley, a press release that discussed the potential of CRISPR described Doudna as “the inventor of the CRISPR–Cas9 technology”. The financial stakes are high. The CRISPR–Cas9 patents are widely viewed to be worth hundreds of millions, if not billions, of dollars. Both organizations have invested directly in spin-off companies that were co-founded by their researchers — the Broad Institute in Editas Medicine, co-founded by Zhang, and UC Berkeley in Caribou Biosciences, co-founded by Doudna. A report submitted by Editas in January to the US Securities and Exchange Commission lists the Broad Institute and other Harvard-affiliated institutions as owning a major equity stake in the company: about 4.2% of its common shares. Efforts to commercialize the research output from universities played out differently in the past. Since 1980, US universities have been able to patent the inventions of their researchers, thanks to the Bayh–Dole Act — legislation that determines the ownership of intellectual property arising from federally funded research. But for the most part, institutions have kept their distance from disputes over scientific priority. In fact, after factoring in the costs of filing patents and staffing, university technology-transfer offices have generally been money losers for their institutions3. Even in the case of lucrative patents, commercial development has frequently been left to venture capitalists and the researchers themselves. Take the Cohen–Boyer patents, which covered early gene-splicing technology and netted Stanford University and the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), both in California, hundreds of millions of dollars in licensing fees during the 1980s and 1990s. In this instance, Genentech, the company in South San Francisco, California, that was formed to commercialize the underlying technology, sprung from the efforts of Herbert Boyer, one of the founding researchers, and the financier Robert Swanson. The company was neither owned by, nor an exclusive licensee of, Stanford or UCSF. Research institutions in general are starting to play a bigger part in shepherding their researchers' projects through the commercialization process. A 2014 report from the Association of University Technology Managers in Oakbrook Terrace, Illinois — an organization that supports managers of intellectual property at academic research institutions, non-profit organizations and government agencies worldwide — documented that universities are increasing equity investments in their researchers' start-up companies. Of the patent licences granted by universities in 2014, 10% were tied to such investments1, compared with 6.7% in 1999 (ref. 4). I am concerned that such involvement in commercialization has the potential to clash with the broader, educational mission of research institutions. Universities worldwide have long strived to foster a culture of scientific collaboration. Even when universities have obtained broad patents, as the Carnegie Institute of Washington in Washington DC did in the early 2000s for a gene-expression control technology known as RNA interference, licences have been cheap and easy for researchers to obtain5. In other cases, scientists have simply ignored patents that cover fundamental technologies6. Academic research institutions now seem less shy about taking each other to court for patent infringement. In 2011, the University of Utah in Salt Lake City sued the Max Planck Society for the Advancement of Science in Germany over claims to a patent that covered a technology called short interfering RNA, which inhibits gene expression (see go.nature.com/vyujnp). And over the past four years, Stanford University and the Chinese University of Hong Kong in Sha Tin have engaged in a heated patent litigation over prenatal genetic diagnostic blood tests, a market that was worth US$530 million in 2013. In the current era of budget tightening, universities of all stripes might be tempted to use licensing fees as another funding mechanism. The University of South Florida in Tampa, for example — a public institution that had its state funding cut by $48 million in 2012 — holds a substantial number of patents that have not yet been licensed and has a famously low ratio of patent-licence revenue to research expenditure7. If its financial situation were to deteriorate further, the university might be compelled to extract licence fees from other research institutions for those patents. It would be wrong to suggest that patents, writ large, are failing educational research institutions. In the cases of gene splicing, RNA interference and human embryonic stem cells, patents have been major earners for institutions and researchers without damaging the scientific enterprise5. But an obvious danger of increasing the focus on commercialization is that educational institutions will view scientific research as a path to profit, above all else. It is not hard to imagine that patent disputes might lead to university administrators pushing certain views on their scientists, denigrating collaboration with researchers from competing institutions and tasking tenure committees with valuing patents over publications. Where scientific advances have the potential to be profitable, universities should support researchers to bring that work to fruition. This might include helping them to secure patents. But it is my view that serious commercialization efforts — such as granting exclusive licences or receiving equity ownership in researchers' start-ups — should be left to industry. The CRISPR–Cas9 dispute could have played out very differently. Zhang and Doudna were both co-founders of Editas. And UC Berkeley and the Broad Institute could have filed patent applications that listed the research teams from both institutions as co-inventors. Any resulting patents could then have been freely or cheaply licensed to other research institutions, or used to fund a joint academic organization dedicated to studying the technology. The patents could also have been widely, but not exclusively, licensed to a variety of industry competitors — promoting a robust, competitive market for commercial CRISPR–Cas9 applications and creating a funding stream for further academic research. Biomedical research in educational institutions has long prided itself on a culture of openness and sharing — one that both Zhang and Doudna have exercised by donating various components of the CRISPR–Cas9 system to the open-science consortium Addgene in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The incentives that patents create for educational institutions should not be allowed to erode scientific collaboration.

News Article
Site: www.materialstoday.com

Kempton H. Roll, founding executive director of the Metal Powder Industries Federation (MPIF) died on 4 November 2015, following a short illness. Well-known in the national and international metalworking communities, Roll retired in 1988 after a 40-year career. He joined the Lead Industries Association in 1948 as technical director with responsibilities for the former Metal Powder Association (MPA), forerunner of MPIF. He was named executive director of MPA in 1956 and helped found MPIF in 1957 as the umbrella organization representing different sectors of the metal powder producing and consuming industries. He was also executive director of APMI International, the professional society for powder metallurgy (PM) that he helped found in 1959, and served as publisher of the International Journal of Powder Metallurgy. He attended Carnegie Institute of Technology and graduated from Yale University in 1945 with a degree in metallurgical engineering and served in the Pacific during World War II as a bomb disposal officer with the U.S. Navy. He wrote extensively about the technology of powder metallurgy (PM) and was co-editor of six books in the series Perspectives in Powder Metallurgy, published by Plenum Publishing Corp and MPIF. He received the prestigious Powder Metallurgy Pioneer Award in 1992 and the Distinguished Service to Powder Metallurgy Award in 1988, both from MPIF. In 2007, to honor his lifetime accomplishments, MPIF created the Kempton H. Roll PM Lifetime Achievement Award which is presented every four years. He was named a Fellow of ASM International in 1987 and was a Legion of Honor member of the Minerals, Metals and Materials Society. This story is reprinted from material from the MPIF with editorial changes made by Materials Today. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of Elsevier.

Refsnider K.A.,University of Colorado at Boulder | Miller G.H.,University of Colorado at Boulder | Hillaire-Marcel C.,University of Quebec at Montreal | Fogel M.L.,Carnegie Institute | And 2 more authors.
Geology | Year: 2012

Subglacially precipitated carbonate crusts (SPCCs) formed on bedrock and till boulder surfaces adjacent to the Barnes Ice Cap (BIC), central Baffin Island, Arctic Canada, act as unique archives of Laurentide Ice Sheet basal conditions. Uranium-series dating of these features reveals that carbonate precipitation from subglacial meltwater occurred during the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM), requiring warm-based ice in the region at that time. However, the preservation of fragile SPCCs is unlikely beneath erosive warm-based ice, suggesting that the transition to subsequent cold-based conditions took place shortly after the LGM, and glacial erosion in the region occurred dominantly prior to the LGM. The oxygen isotopic composition of the meltwater from which the SPCCs precipitated is indistinguishable from that of the debris-rich BIC basal ice (δ18O -24‰ referenced to Vienna standard mean ocean water), but distinct from that of the overlying white Pleistocene ice (δ18O ~-35‰), demonstrating that SPCCs are reliable archives of the isotopic composition of only the basal ice of past ice sheets. © 2012 Geological Society of America.

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