News Article | May 18, 2017
Irvine, Calif., May 18th, 2017 -- By analyzing both the genes that control color detecting photoreceptors and the structural components of the eye itself, University of California, Irvine evolutionary biologists have discovered male and female butterflies of one particular species have the unique ability to see the world differently from each another because of sex-related evolutionary traits. The study, which appears in the journal Molecular Biology and Evolution, offers new insights into these selective environmental pressures that guide butterfly eye evolution. Led by Adriana D. Briscoe, UCI professor of ecology & evolutionary biology at the Ayala School of Biological Sciences, researchers discovered that the butterfly species Heliconius erato possesses a distinct set of visual photoreceptors based on species sex. Females of the species contain two types of the ultraviolet opsin gene (UVRh1 and UVRh2), while males lack UVRh1. The findings were surprising to the group, as no other animal has been found to have a sex-linked difference in the make-up of its eye that depends on the suppression of an opsin gene. The researchers also noted that the violet receptors controlled by the expression of the ultraviolet opsin genes may help facilitate species recognition between Heliconius erato and other butterflies. "We are only now beginning to appreciate that male and female Heliconius see the world through different eyes," said Briscoe. "Pollinator preference can have a huge impact on the evolution of flower coloration, just by virtue of which flower gets visited. Flowers may change their colors to match what butterflies can see; and sex differences add another layer to the story of these interactions." Briscoe and her colleagues were astonished by the sex differences found in the Heliconius erato species; however, it remains to be determined why such differences would evolve in the first place. Their findings shed light on a fascinating way that environmental pressure can give rise to the origins of a new visual receptor. "We think this study will inspire visual ecologists to look more closely at the behavior of each sex - how they see each other, how they see flowers and how they find places to lay their eggs," she said. We are testing this hypothesis by giving male and female Heliconius butterflies color vision tests in the lab." Briscoe and study co-leader, UCI post-doctoral scholar Kyle McCulloch, added "Finding this level of color receptor diversity in closely related butterflies supports other studies showing that eye evolution is not always a slow and conservative process. As a field, we are still not sure why some lineages diversify and use many more color receptors than others, but with this study, we can frame new hypotheses to answer these questions. In particular it will be exciting to learn what mechanisms during development lead to these sex and species differences in the eye, and what selection pressures - mate choice, foraging, oviposition - lead to these differences in Heliconius." Other researchers who contributed to this work are Furong Yuan and Gilbert Smith from UCI, Ying Zhen from Princeton University, Matthew Aardema and Peter Andolfatto from Princeton University and Sackler Institute for Comparative Genomics, Jorge Llorente-Bousquets from Universidad Nacional AutÓnoma de México. The research was supported by the Programa de Apoyo a Proyectos de Investigación e Innovación Tecnológica (DGAPA-UNAM IN-214212 to JL); UCMEXUS-CONACYT (CN-13-591 to AB and JL); and the National Science Foundation (IOS-1257627 to AB and PA). About the University of California, Irvine: Founded in 1965, UCI is the youngest member of the prestigious Association of American Universities. The campus has produced three Nobel laureates and is known for its academic achievement, premier research, innovation and anteater mascot. Led by Chancellor Howard Gillman, UCI has more than 30,000 students and offers 192 degree programs. It's located in one of the world's safest and most economically vibrant communities and is Orange County's second-largest employer, contributing $5 billion annually to the local economy. For more on UCI, visit http://www. . Media access: Radio programs/stations may, for a fee, use an on-campus ISDN line to interview UCI faculty and experts, subject to availability and university approval. For more UCI news, visit news.uci.edu. Additional resources for journalists may be found at communications.uci.edu/for-journalists.
News Article | April 17, 2017
Bernard Degrange, emeritus director of research at CNRS, has been awarded the 2016 André Lagarrigue Prize in acknowledgement of his exemplary career in experimental particle physics. Co-financed by the CNRS, the University Paris Sud, Linear Accelerator Laboratory (LAL), Eʹcole Polytechnique, CERN and CEA, with the support of the French Physical Society, the prize was created in 2005 in honour of André Lagarrigue. Director of LAL from 1969 to 1975, Lagarrigue played a leading role in the discovery of weak neutral currents in the Gargamelle bubble-chamber experiment at CERN, thus paving the way for electroweak theory. After completing his thesis in 1969, Degrange joined the Gargamelle collaboration where he contributed to the first measurement of the ratio of the neutrino and antineutrino cross-sections on nucleons and studied exclusive channels produced in neutral or charged-current interactions. In the early 1980s he moved into the study of cosmic rays and high-energy gamma-ray astronomy, helping to discover several “blazars” in the Crab Nebula with the CAT experiment. For the simultaneous observation of gamma and X-rays during the major bursts of these extragalactic sources, Degrange was awarded the silver medal of the CNRS in 1997. Anticipating the detection power of stereoscopy associated with fast high-granularity imagery, he made major contributions to the design and the results of the HESS experiment. The Czech Republic’s Academia Film Olomouc has decided to give its 2017 Award for Contribution to Science Communication to CERN, for its “long-lasting commitment not only to research in the edge of science but also to communication of its results and science in general to broader public”. The committee described CERN as a pioneer in developing new ways to communicate science via social media, film, traditional media and events such as CineGlobe. The award ceremony will take place on 29 April at Palacký University Interactive Science Centre in Olomouc. On 2 March, in collaboration with CERN and 20th Century Fox, the Pathé cinema in Geneva hosted an advance screening of the film Hidden Figures, followed by a debate on the position of women in science. The film tells the story of three African-American female scientists who played key roles in the US space conquest, contributing in particular to the preparations for putting astronaut John Glenn into orbit. After the film, Maite Barroso Lopez of CERN’s IT department, Stéphanie Beauceron and Anne-Marie Magnan from CMS, and Andry Rakotozafindrabe from ALICE shared their experiences of science careers with the audience in a debate. They answered questions about the alleged rivalry among women, about whether there is a link between CERN and NASA as pictured in the film, and about their mentors. The 2017 Rencontres de Moriond conference took place in La Thuile, Italy, from 18 March to 1 April, with around 270 participants attending the two-week-long event. The four main LHC experiments presented many fresh results, ranging from precise measurements of the Standard Model (SM) to searches for new physics, including the first obtained with the full 13 TeV data set collected during 2016. Numerous results from experiments outside CERN were also presented, especially in the neutrino field, and participants heard some of the latest developments in theory. Analyses of the Higgs boson presented by CMS included a precise new measurement of the Higgs mass. CMS also showed results from searches for associated Higgs-top production in final states with multiple leptons, which provides direct evidence for the existence of a top-quark Higgs coupling with a measured signal strength consistent with the SM. Both CMS and ATLAS showed new measurements of total and differential cross-sections of the Higgs boson decaying into four leptons or two photons, which agree with the SM. ATLAS also showed preliminary results from searches for the rare Higgs-boson decay to two muons, which are now approaching the sensitivity required to observe a signal. Concerning other SM particles, ATLAS presented its first measurement of the mass of the W boson with similar precision to the previous best result from a single experiment. The D0 and CDF collaborations at the former Tevatron collider, meanwhile, presented precise measurements of the top-quark mass. Among the highlights of searches for physics beyond the SM were new limits on supersymmetric particles from ATLAS, which now exclude models with particle masses above 2 TeV (see "ATLAS pushes SUSY beyond 2 TeV"). ATLAS also showed searches for new heavy particles decaying to jets of hadron particles, excluding non-elementary quarks with masses as large as 6 TeV. Both ATLAS and CMS are also looking for new heavy resonances decaying to a vector and a Higgs boson: ATLAS sees a 3.3 standard deviation local excess for a W´ → WH decay at masses around 3 TeV, whereas CMS sees a similar local excess but at a lower mass. Exotic searches from CMS using the full 2016 data sample place new limits on many scenarios including dark matter, new types of quarks, vector bosons and gravitons. No significant deviations from SM predictions have been observed so far by CMS and ATLAS. Results of searches for bottonium states at the Belle experiment and charmonium-like states at BESIII were also shown. In particular, the analysis of the Y(4260) appears to be inconsistent with a single peak at more than seven standard deviations. The heavy-flavour field also saw several new results presented by LHCb. Besides an update of the measurement of the rarest decay of a particle containing a b quark ever observed, and the recent observation of a new system of five particles all in a single analysis, LHCb presented the most precise single measurement of the CP-violating phase φ . The LHCb collaboration is also putting in place new analyses to shed light on two flavour anomalies: R(D*) and R(K), which remain around three standard deviations away from their SM values. A measurement of the angular coefficient P ´ in the flavour-changing neutral current decay of B mesons was also presented by ATLAS, CMS and Belle, and was found to be compatible with previous LHCb results. In the dedicated heavy-ion session, ALICE showed recent results from large samples of proton–proton, lead–lead, and proton–lead collisions collected in 2015 and 2016. One of the new results, concerning the azimuthal asymmetry of the production of J/ψ mesons, shows that heavy quarks directly “feel” the shape and size of the asymmetric quark–gluon plasma produced in the interaction region. With LHC Run 2 about to get under way with a similar integrated-luminosity target as achieved in 2016, the search for new physics is in full swing at CERN and elsewhere. The 8th High-Energy Physics (HEP) Madagascar International Conference (HEPMAD 2016) was held in Antananarivo, Madagascar, from 13 to 18 October. It was the event’s 15th anniversary and some 50 participants – including 15 invited high-energy physicists from abroad – were present. It is the only conference series in high-energy physics and indeed across all science held in sub-Saharan countries, and aims to be both pedagogical and topical, reviewing the latest experimental and theoretical results in high-energy physics. Recent results from the LHC, including precision tests of the Standard Model, Higgs properties and searches for new physics, were presented by ATLAS and CMS. Theory talks, meanwhile, covered topics including the status of the muon anomalous magnetic moment and determinations of the masses and couplings of charmonium and bottomium states using QCD spectral sum rule. The high-energy physics talks were complemented by national contributions about climate science and sustainable technologies for energy. The next HEPMAD event will take place in Antananarivo on 21–27 September 2017. In the digital era, where we are surrounded by ever more technological innovations, it is interesting to reflect on the enormous progress that modern physics has made following the quantum-mechanics revolution 90 years ago. The story began in 1900, with Max Planck’s suggestion that light is quantised, which Albert Einstein was the first to fully comprehend and exploit. Then, in the mid 1920s, a revolution in physics took place: quantum mechanics was formulated by Werner Heisenberg, Erwin Schrödinger, Paul Dirac and a handful of other young geniuses under the supervision of Niels Bohr and with Einstein as a critical voice. At the famous Fifth Solvay Conference in 1927, where 17 of the participants either already were or were to be Nobel laureates, much of the basic elements of quantum mechanics were ready and discussed. Never in the history of physics has so much been achieved by so few in such a short time. To commemorate the beginning of this revolution and its impact on the modern world, a special conference titled 90 Years of Quantum Mechanics was held at the Institute of Advanced Study at Nanyang University in Singapore on 23–26 January. The event gathered leading experts in the foundations of quantum mechanics, quantum cosmology, quantum gravity, quantum field theory, quantum condensed matter, quantum optics, quantum information and technology, and quantum chemistry. Altogether there were 30 talks, with six speakers being Nobel laureates. Some 300 participants attended from all over the world, with a strong emphasis on South East Asia and China. The Standard Model of particle physics has proved to be a consistent description of natureʼs fundamental constituents and their interactions, and its predictions have been confirmed by numerous experiments, most recently with the discovery of the Higgs boson at the LHC. However, the model fails to explain several phenomena in particle physics, astrophysics and cosmology, and it is expected that yet unknown particles or interactions are needed to explain these puzzles. Our inability to observe new particles possibly lies in their extremely feeble interactions. If true, this would imply that experiments are needed not just at the high-energy frontier but also at the “intensity frontier”, by increasing the number of collisions to search for rare events. In 2016, CERN created a Physics Beyond Colliders study group with a mandate to explore opportunities offered by the CERN accelerator complex to address outstanding questions in particle physics through projects complementary to high-energy colliders (CERN Courier November 2016 p28). A two-week-long “theory institute” took place at CERN from 20 February to 3 March to discuss the theory and phenomenology of possible new physics at low energy scales. More than 100 participants from 21 countries discussed the theoretical landscape, predicting new light particles and “dark forces”. The potential for the new physics reach of existing and planned intensity-frontier experiments – SHiP, NA62, DUNE, MATHUSLA and many others – was discussed. These future experiments are at different stages today, ranging from the preparation of a comprehensive design report (SHiP) to a letter of intent (MATHUSLA). The time is therefore ripe to ensure that any necessary changes to the experiment designs can still be made to the physics reach of intensity-frontier experiments. The annual Compact Linear Collider (CLIC) workshop took place at CERN on 6–10 March, attracting 220 collaborators from 26 countries to discuss the latest status of the CLIC accelerator and detector studies. CLIC is a future multi-TeV electron–positron linear collider at CERN envisaged for the era beyond the High-Luminosity LHC (HL-LHC). First beams in CLIC could be foreseen in 2035 and be the starting point of a 20–25 year-long physics programme. During the workshop particular focus was placed on the recently published updated staging scenario for the CLIC accelerator, where construction and operation are pursued in three stages with collision energies of 0.38, 1.5 and 3 TeV, respectively (CERN Courier November 2016 p20). At its initial energy, CLIC is optimised for Higgs and top measurements and enables a scan at the top-quark pair-production threshold, while the higher-energy stages provide the best sensitivity to new physics through direct and indirect searches. High-energy operation also provides access to rare processes such as double Higgs production, which is sensitive to the important Higgs self-coupling. CLIC week 2017 hosted a variety of sessions with 150 speakers, covering the activities of both the accelerator and detector-and-physics studies. The workshop also included meetings among the CLIC accelerator institutes and the detector-and-physics institutes. In both meetings the focus was on the steps necessary to submit a project-implementation plan in time for the European Strategy update in 2019–2020. Particular priority is given to the studies where cost and power can be reduced, presenting the initial CLIC project and further upgrades as a realistic option that is compatible with the level of resources available at CERN. Another highlight was the summary of the successful demonstration of key CLIC concepts obtained by the recently completed CTF3 test programme at CERN. Part of the CFT3 facility has now been approved for conversion into an electron accelerator facility called CLEAR (CERN Linear Electron Accelerator for Research), providing an open user facility for accelerator R&D, irradiation and training. The future CLEAR programme will include CLIC high-gradient and instrumentation studies. The successful operation of high-gradient accelerating structures and experience with advanced beam-dynamics techniques, developed for the small dimensions of these structures, have inspired a growing number of applications outside of particle physics. Applications of high-gradient and X-band technology include compact linacs and advanced diagnostics for photon sources, as well as medical applications. Many of the technologies under study for the CLIC detector are also of interest to the HL-LHC, where the high granularity and time-resolution needed for CLIC are equally crucial. Other communities also benefit: for example, software reconstruction techniques developed for particle flow at linear colliders have been applied to current and next-generation neutrino experiments. For many years the biennial Russian conference on accelerator physics and technology, RuPAC, was viewed by the international accelerator community as an internal event for representatives of the Soviet accelerator school. Although representatives of the latter have actively been working in accelerator centres around the world since the beginning of perestroika in the late 1980s, it is indeed rare to see a foreign specialist invited to a prominent position in Russia. But that situation is changing, and RuPAC16 held at St Petersburg State University (SPbSU) in November last year saw the worldʼs largest accelerator projects represented and more than 60 reports by participants from outside Russia. For the first time, the event also provided simultaneous translation from Russian to English. Today, RuPAC has become an excellent platform for information exchange between researchers working in accelerator science and technology and related issues. More than 40 reports from SPbSU students were presented at RuPAC16, and the geographical reach of the event extended to 260 participants from 67 institutions in 13 countries. In addition to traditional participants Ukraine, Belarus and Armenia, the event was attended by experts from China, South Africa, UK, Germany, Italy, Canada, US, Japan, Poland, Sweden and Switzerland. CERN’s High-Luminosity LHC and Future Circular Collider projects were presented, and several other reports were devoted to mutual research between Russian and European scientists. A particular focus was the FAIR-NICA collaboration concerning production and testing of superconducting accelerator magnets. Two new facilities have been commissioned at the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research (JINR) in Dubna for the international FAIR and NICA projects in Germany and Russia, respectively. The first is a high-tech assembly and testing hall for superconducting magnets, while the second is a heavy-ion linear accelerator that accelerates ions up to Au31+ to an energy of 3.2 MeV per nucleon. Status reports from all accelerator facilities of JINR were presented, as were activities at other major accelerator centres. The National Research Centre Kurchatov Institute carries out a broad range of activities, among them the development of a synchrotron radiation source and operation of the U-70 facility, Russiaʼs largest accelerator complex, with its new facility for carbon-beam medical applications and plans to attain high-power neutron fluxes. Important work also continues at the Institute for Nuclear Research of the Russian Academy of Sciences and the Budker Institute of Nuclear Physics (BINP). The latter facility has established itself as a manufacturer and supplier of high-tech accelerator facilities to the international market, such as electronic cooling systems, electron accelerators for industrial applications, components and synchrotron systems, magnetic systems and power systems, for example for the European X-FEL. BINP is also actively involved in the construction of FAIR and NICA, while continuing to develop domestic projects including a free electron laser, two electron–positron colliders (VEPP 2000 and VEPP4M) and facilities for radioisotope analysis. The conference concluded with a satellite meeting devoted to NICA, for which most Russian accelerator centres are already involved in manufacturing elements. Backed by the Russian government since 2016, NICA is a major factor driving current trends in the country’s accelerator science and technology. The success of this project will influence government support of other accelerator projects, such as the super C-tau factory project at BINP. Although Russia has a highly developed scientific infrastructure and potential to design complex accelerator facilities, the corresponding market is underestimated. Applied research projects such as medical beams for Russia’s first proton-therapy facility, along with the Russian “mega-science” projects, are thus a vital factor for accelerating Russian industry. As is clear, such projects are reinforcing the international outlook of Russian accelerator science and technology. The next RuPAC event will be held in autumn 2018. Marianne Thyssen, MEP and European commissioner for employment, social affairs, skills and labour mobility, toured CERN on 10 March, during which she visited CMS, ISOLDE and the new MEDICIS facility. She is pictured signing the guestbook with CERN Director-General Fabiola Gianotti. Enrique Cabrero Mandoza, director-general of CONACYT in Mexico, visited CERN on 23 March, immediately following the 9th CERN–Latin American School held in San Juan del Rio. He visited the ALICE experiment and the LHC tunnel before signing the guestbook with CERN’s head of relations with associate members and non-Member States, Emmanuel Tsesmelis, and director of international relations Charlotte Warakaulle. UK minister of state for universities, science, research and innovation Jo Johnson (top) came to CERN on 29 March, during which he visited the underground area at CMS. Two days later, chief scientific adviser to the UK government Mark Walport (bottom) also visited CERN, taking in the computing centre, ATLAS and the Antiproton Decelerator.
News Article | November 1, 2016
The national 10% tax on sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) in Mexico is projected to have a substantial impact on the burden of diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and mortality over the next 10 years, according to a modeling study published in PLOS Medicine. The study, conducted by Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo of the University of California San Francisco, and colleagues, indicates that 983 million international dollars in healthcare costs may be saved from the prevention of diabetes cases alone. The prevalence of obesity and diabetes in Mexico has risen dramatically in recent years, and the rate of diabetes in Mexico currently ranks among the highest in the world. In order to address the obesity and diabetes epidemic, the Mexican government implemented a 10% excise tax on SSBs in 2014. In this study, the researchers developed a Mexico version of an established model of cardiovascular disease in the US (the Cardiovascular Disease Policy Model) and used survey data on household consumption in Mexico since the tax implementation to project health and healthcare cost impact in the next 10 years. The researchers found that the 10% tax on SSBs will likely prevent approximately 189,300 (95% uncertainty interval [UI] 155,400-218,100) new cases of type 2 diabetes, 20,400 (95% UI 17,200-24,000) incident strokes and heart attacks, and 18,900 (95% UI 15,500-22,700) deaths over 10 years among adults 35-94 years of age, and is expected to result in 983 million international dollars (95% UI $769 million-$1,173 million) in savings in healthcare costs due to prevention of diabetes cases. The conclusions are limited by the assumptions in the model, and some epidemiologic parameters were drawn from populations outside Mexico. However, the findings suggest that, if consumption trends continue, the tax may confer significant benefits to people living in Mexico. The authors state, "[t]he SSB tax may be an important component in a multifaceted strategy by the Mexican government to curb the obesity and diabetes epidemic in Mexico." Research reported in this publication was supported by the Fogarty International Center of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number R03TW009061 (AF, KBD, SB) and by a Grant for Collaborative Projects from the University of California Institute for Mexico and the United States (UC MEXUS) and the National Council of Science and Technology (CONACYT) Mexico (KBD, SB). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. The authors have declared that no competing interests exist. Sánchez-Romero LM, Penko J, Coxson PG, Fernández A, Mason A, Moran AE, et al. (2016) Projected Impact of Mexico's Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Tax Policy on Diabetes and Cardiovascular Disease: A Modeling Study. PLoS Med 13(11): e1002158. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1002158 Center for Nutrition and Health Research, National Institute of Public Health, Cuernavaca, Morelos, Mexico Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London, London, United Kingdom Department of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, California, United States of America UCSF Center for Vulnerable Populations at San Francisco General Hospital, San Francisco, California, United States of America Division of General Internal Medicine, Columbia University Medical Center, New York, New York, United States of America Center for Health Systems Research, National Institute of Public Health, Cuernavaca, Morelos, Mexico Department of Epidemiology, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon, United States of America Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, California, United States of America IN YOUR COVERAGE PLEASE USE THIS URL TO PROVIDE ACCESS TO THE FREELY AVAILABLE PAPER: http://journals.
News Article | February 20, 2017
Researchers have found that chronic exposure to a common food additive may affect how cells in the small intestine absorb nutrients and protect against pathogens. In a study published in the journal NanoImpact, Gretchen Mahler and colleagues showed that titanium dioxide can significantly decrease small intestinal cell ability related to absorbing nutrients and acting as a pathogen barrier when nanoparticles of the food additive are consumed frequently. According to Mahler, titanium dioxide has been used as a common food additive for a long time and it's not dangerous. However, the researchers were interested in some of its more subtle effects and believed that consumers should be informed about these effects. Earlier works have delved on how the titanium dioxide nanoparticles affect microvilli, the absorptive projections found on intestinal cell surfaces, but Mahler pointed out that their research is focused on analyzing exposures at lower concentrations. "We also extended previous work to show that these nanoparticles alter intestinal function," she said. Supported by the CONACYT Fellowship, the National Institutes of Health, and the Binghamton University Research Foundation, the study also involved contributions from Elad Tako, Fabiola Moreno-Olivas, Nicole Martucci, and Zhongyuan Guo. For the study, the researchers exposed a culture model of small intestinal cells to the physiological equivalent of one meal's worth of the food additive for four hours to represent acute exposure and three meals' worth across five days to simulate chronic exposure. Based on their observations, the researchers saw that titanium dioxide did not affect function in the cells of the small intestine in acute exposures. However, in the culture simulated to show chronic exposure, there was a drop in the number of microvilli. With fewer of these absorptive projections, certain nutrients - particularly fatty acids, zinc, and iron - became harder to absorb, metabolism slowed, and the intestinal barrier weakened. Enzymatic functions were also negatively affected while inflammatory signals spiked. In January, the French government ordered an inquiry into titanium dioxide after a study found that it has cancer links. Based on that study's results, chronic oral exposure to the food additive caused non-malignant carcinogenesis, which occurs as normal cells turn cancerous. This effect was observed in 40 percent of the rat subjects the researchers exposed to the food additive for 100 days. Titanium dioxide is also known as E171. Generally considered safe by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, titanium dioxide is difficult to avoid because it is in a lot of food items, such as bread, chocolate, donuts, skimmed milk, and candy. However, it is also used for white pigments in plastics, paper, and paints; it functions as the active ingredient for mineral-based sunscreens to block UV light; and it can be ingested in other commonly used products such as toothpaste. A 2012 study examined 89 common food products and found that chewing gum, mayonnaise, and Twinkies all contain titanium dioxide. About 5 percent of the samples featured the food additive in nanoparticle form. To avoid food items high in titanium dioxide, the researchers suggested avoiding processed food, especially candy. © 2017 Tech Times, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.
News Article | February 20, 2017
The ability of small intestine cells to absorb nutrients and act as a barrier to pathogens is "significantly decreased" after chronic exposure to nanoparticles of titanium dioxide, a common food additive found in everything from chewing gum to bread, according to research from Binghamton University, State University of New York. Researchers exposed a small intestinal cell culture model to the physiological equivalent of a meal's worth of titanium oxide nanoparticles - 30 nanometers across - over four hours (acute exposure), or three meal's worth over five days (chronic exposure). Acute exposures did not have much effect, but chronic exposure diminished the absorptive projections on the surface of intestinal cells called microvilli. With fewer microvilli, the intestinal barrier was weakened, metabolism slowed and some nutrients - iron, zinc, and fatty acids, specifically - were more difficult to absorb. Enzyme functions were negatively affected, while inflammation signals increased. "Titanium oxide is a common food additive and people have been eating a lot of it for a long time - don't worry, it won't kill you! - but we were interested in some of the subtle effects, and we think people should know about them," said Biomedical Engineering Assistant Professor Gretchen Mahler, one of the authors of the paper. "There has been previous work on how titanium oxide nanoparticles affects microvilli, but we are looking at much lower concentrations," Mahler said. "We also extended previous work to show that these nanoparticles alter intestinal function." Titanium dioxide is generally recognized as safe by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and ingestion is nearly unavoidable. The compound is an inert and insoluble material that is commonly used for white pigmentation in paints, paper and plastics. It is also an active ingredient in mineral-based sunscreens for pigmentation to block ultraviolet light. However, it can enter the digestive system through toothpastes, as titanium dioxide is used to create abrasion needed for cleaning. The oxide is also used in some chocolate to give it a smooth texture; in donuts to provide color; and in skimmed milks for a brighter, more opaque appearance which makes the milk more palatable. A 2012 Arizona State University study tested 89 common food products including gum, Twinkies, and mayonnaise and found that they all contained titanium dioxide. About five percent of products in that study contained titanium dioxide as nanoparticles. Dunkin Donuts stopped using powdered sugar with titanium dioxide nanoparticles in 2015 in response to pressure from the advocacy group As You Sow. "To avoid foods rich in titanium oxide nanoparticles you should avoid processed foods, and especially candy. That is where you see a lot of nanoparticles," Mahler said. The research was supported by grants from the Binghamton University Research Foundation, the National Institutes of Health and the CONACYT Fellowship. Article: Titanium dioxide nanoparticle ingestion alters nutrient absorption in an in vitro model of the small intestine, Zhongyuan Guo, Nicole J. Martucci, Fabiola Moreno-Olivas, Elad Tako, Gretchen J. Mahler, NanoImpact, doi: 10.1016/j.impact.2017.01.002, published online 18 January 2017.
News Article | February 16, 2017
BINGHAMTON, NY - The ability of small intestine cells to absorb nutrients and act as a barrier to pathogens is "significantly decreased" after chronic exposure to nanoparticles of titanium dioxide, a common food additive found in everything from chewing gum to bread, according to research from Binghamton University, State University of New York. Researchers exposed a small intestinal cell culture model to the physiological equivalent of a meal's worth of titanium oxide nanoparticles--30 nanometers across--over four hours (acute exposure), or three meal's worth over five days (chronic exposure). Acute exposures did not have much effect, but chronic exposure diminished the absorptive projections on the surface of intestinal cells called microvilli. With fewer microvilli, the intestinal barrier was weakened, metabolism slowed and some nutrients--iron, zinc, and fatty acids, specifically--were more difficult to absorb. Enzyme functions were negatively affected, while inflammation signals increased. "Titanium oxide is a common food additive and people have been eating a lot of it for a long time--don't worry, it won't kill you!--but we were interested in some of the subtle effects, and we think people should know about them," said Biomedical Engineering Assistant Professor Gretchen Mahler, one of the authors of the paper. "There has been previous work on how titanium oxide nanoparticles affects microvilli, but we are looking at much lower concentrations," Mahler said. "We also extended previous work to show that these nanoparticles alter intestinal function." Titanium dioxide is generally recognized as safe by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and ingestion is nearly unavoidable. The compound is an inert and insoluble material that is commonly used for white pigmentation in paints, paper and plastics. It is also an active ingredient in mineral-based sunscreens for pigmentation to block ultraviolet light. However, it can enter the digestive system through toothpastes, as titanium dioxide is used to create abrasion needed for cleaning. The oxide is also used in some chocolate to give it a smooth texture; in donuts to provide color; and in skimmed milks for a brighter, more opaque appearance which makes the milk more palatable. A 2012 Arizona State University study tested 89 common food products including gum, Twinkies, and mayonnaise and found that they all contained titanium dioxide. About five percent of products in that study contained titanium dioxide as nanoparticles. Dunkin Donuts stopped using powdered sugar with titanium dioxide nanoparticles in 2015 in response to pressure from the advocacy group As You Sow. "To avoid foods rich in titanium oxide nanoparticles you should avoid processed foods, and especially candy. That is where you see a lot of nanoparticles," Mahler said. The paper, "Titanium dioxide nanoparticle ingestion alters nutrient absorption in an in vitro model of the small intestine," was published in NanoImpact. Biomedical Engineering Teaching Assistant and current graduate student Zhongyuan Guo was the lead author of the study, while Nicole J. Martucci '16, current Binghamton graduate student Fabiola Moreno-Olivas, and Elad Tako from the Plant, Soil and Nutrition Laboratory for Agricultural Research Services within the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Ithaca, N.Y. were all co-authors. The research was supported by grants from the Binghamton University Research Foundation, the National Institutes of Health and the CONACYT Fellowship.
News Article | February 15, 2017
Le centre de recherche en mathématiques de calibre mondial de Banff est une initiative conjointe du gouvernement du Canada, de l'Alberta, des Etats-Unis et du Mexique CALGARY, ALBERTA--(Marketwired - 10 fév. 2017) - Conseil de recherches en sciences naturelles et en génie du Canada Quand les mathématiciens et les autres scientifiques échangent et collaborent entre eux, il en ressort souvent des solutions inédites qui contribuent à résoudre certains des problèmes les plus pressants en matière d'environnement, de santé et d'économie. C'est pourquoi le gouvernement du Canada fait équipe avec l'Alberta, les États-Unis et le Mexique pour appuyer la recherche en mathématiques menée à la Banff International Research Station (BIRS), un des principaux centres de recherche et de découverte dans ce domaine. L'honorable Kent Hehr, ministre des Anciens Combattants, au nom de l'honorable Kirsty Duncan, ministre des Sciences, et Cameron Westhead, député provincial de Banff-Cochrane, au nom de l'honorable Deron Bilous, ministre du Développement économique et du Commerce de l'Alberta, ont annoncé aujourd'hui un nouveau financement de 12,8 millions de dollars pour la BIRS, plaque tournante mondiale de la recherche en mathématiques. Chaque année, ce centre de recherche international offre à plus de 2 000 chercheurs de plus de 60 pays la possibilité de se réunir pour échanger des idées aux frontières des connaissances en mathématiques. La collaboration entre ces grands esprits créatifs débouche sur des projets de recherche avant-gardistes dans le domaine des technologies de l'énergie propre, de l'informatique, des sciences du climat, de la prédiction et de l'atténuation des catastrophes naturelles, ainsi que de tout un éventail de sous-domaines de la biologie allant de la biologie cellulaire à l'écologie. Les percées qu'ils réalisent et les applications concrètes de celles-ci contribuent à créer des collectivités sures, un environnement sain et une classe moyenne forte et dynamique. « Nous sommes tout à fait enchantés d'avoir ici, en Alberta, un des meilleurs centres de recherche en mathématiques du monde. Des étudiants et des mathématiciens des quatre coins de la planète y viennent pour se familiariser avec les nouvelles méthodes et participer à des découvertes révolutionnaires. Je suis ravi que le gouvernement du Canada investisse dans un si bel exemple de l'excellence en recherche au pays. » « Le gouvernement du Canada est déterminé à appuyer tous les domaines de recherche fondamentale et appliquée, qu'il s'agisse de sciences, de génie, de technologie ou de mathématiques. Avec l'annonce d'aujourd'hui, il montre qu'il croit au rôle que jouent les chercheurs d'ici et d'ailleurs pour ce qui est de trouver des solutions innovantes qui favoriseront un environnement propre, une économie durable et une classe moyenne forte. » « Les mathématiques sont à la base de pratiquement tous les travaux scientifiques. Les spécialistes réunis à la Banff International Research Station apportent des points de vue nombreux et diversifiés, ce qui en retour donnera accès à de nouvelles techniques et à de nouveaux outils pour relever les plus grands défis en recherche dans le monde. Nous sommes fiers d'appuyer une collaboration internationale aussi exceptionnelle. » - B. Mario Pinto, président du Conseil de recherches en sciences naturelles et en génie du Canada « Le fait de réunir en Alberta des milliers de chercheurs parmi les meilleurs du monde procure des avantages dans tous les secteurs de la province, notamment ceux de l'énergie, des technologies, de la santé, de l'agriculture, de la foresterie et de la fabrication. En appuyant la BIRS, nous appuyons la recherche et l'innovation qui contribueront à créer une économie diversifiée pour l'avenir. » - L'honorable Deron Bilous, ministre du Développement économique et du Commerce de l'Alberta « C'est avec beaucoup d'enthousiasme que la Division des sciences mathématiques de la National Science Foundation des États-Unis poursuit sa collaboration fructueuse avec ses estimés partenaires nord-américains. Cette collaboration est unique en ce qu'elle vise à réunir des scientifiques travaillant en mathématiques, à favoriser la coopération et à avancer les travaux sur certains des problèmes mathématiques et scientifiques les plus épineux. Ce partenariat est précieux et nous sommes fiers de continuer à y participer. » - Michael Vogelius, directeur, Division des sciences mathématiques, à la National Science Foundation des États-Unis « Le renouvèlement de ce financement multinational sans précédent confirme l'importance et la vigueur de la recherche menée à la BIRS. Il s'agit d'une grande réussite pour cette collaboration nord-américaine à la fois remarquable et novatrice qui appuie la recherche en mathématiques dans le monde et ses applications dans les sciences, la technologie et la société. » - Doug Mitchell, président du conseil d'administration de la Banff International Research Station « L'association de nos meilleurs chercheurs à la BIRS a donné un essor considérable au milieu des mathématiques du Mexique. Le partenariat entre la BIRS et la Maison des mathématiques d'Oaxaca, qui inclut l'Institut de mathématiques de l'Université autonome nationale du Mexique et le Centre de recherche en mathématiques du CONACYT, représente un programme d'enseignement et de recherche scientifique mixte unique dans l'espace de l'ALENA. Nous espérons l'étendre aux autres sciences. » - Enrique Cabrero Mendoza, directeur du Conseil national des sciences et de la technologie du Mexique (CONACYT) Information sur le Programme d'appui aux ressources thématiques et collaboratives en mathématiques et en statistique Suivre la ministre Duncan dans les médias sociaux Suivre le CRSNG dans les médias sociaux Chaque année, le CRSNG investit plus d'un milliard de dollars dans la recherche en sciences naturelles et en génie au Canada. Grâce à ces fonds, plus de 11 000 professeurs, chercheurs de calibre mondial, font des découvertes et produisent des percées scientifiques. Ces fonds favorisent également les partenariats et les collaborations qui rapprochent les entreprises des découvertes et des découvreurs. Les partenariats que le CRSNG permet d'établir entre les chercheurs et les entreprises contribuent à orienter la R et D, à relever les défis que pose le passage du laboratoire au marché et à réduire les risques associés au développement de technologies à fort potentiel. Le CRSNG offre également des bourses et de la formation pratique à plus de 30 000 étudiants de niveau postsecondaire et stagiaires postdoctoraux. Ces jeunes chercheurs forment la prochaine génération de chefs de file en sciences et en génie au Canada.
News Article | February 15, 2017
Banff-based world leading math institute is a joint Canada, Alberta, U.S., and Mexico initiative When mathematicians and scientists connect and collaborate, they often come up with new ideas that can help solve some of the world's most pressing environmental, health and economic issues. That's why the Government of Canada is joining the province of Alberta, along with the United States and Mexico, in an effort to fund mathematics research at the Banff International Research Station (BIRS), one of the world's leading centres of mathematical research and discovery. The Honourable Kent Hehr, Minister of Veteran Affairs, on behalf of the Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science, and Cameron Westhead, MLA for Banff-Cochrane, on behalf of the Honourable Deron Bilous, Alberta Minister of Economic Development and Trade, today announced $12.8 million in new funding for BIRS, a global hub for math research. Each year the Station gives more than 2,000 researchers from more than 60 countries an opportunity to meet with peers to share ideas on the frontiers of mathematics knowledge. The collaboration among these brilliant and creative mathematical minds leads to groundbreaking research ventures in clean energy technology, computer science, climate science, a full range of biology areas from cell biology to ecology, and the prediction and mitigation of natural disasters. Their breakthroughs and resulting applications help to create safe communities, a healthy environment and a strong, vibrant middle class. "It is incredibly exciting to have one of the world's best mathematical institutes here in Alberta. Students and mathematicians come from across the globe in order to learn new methods and participate in groundbreaking discoveries. I am excited the Government of Canada is investing in such an excellent example of Canada's research excellence." "Our government is committed to supporting the full suite of fundamental and applied research, from science and engineering to technology and mathematics. Today's announcement is a testament to our government's belief in the role that researchers, be they from Canada or abroad, play producing evidence-based solutions that will support a clean environment, a sustainable economy and a strong middle class." "Mathematics forms the basis of virtually every scientific endeavour. Experts collaborating at the Banff International Research Station are providing us with multiple, diverse points of view that will ultimately provide new tools and techniques to help tackle the world's toughest research challenges. We are proud to support such a unique, international collaboration." "Bringing thousands of the world's best researchers to Alberta has benefits for every sector in our province including energy, technology, health, agriculture, forestry and manufacturing. By supporting BIRS we are supporting research and innovation that will help create a diversified economy for the future." - The Honourable Deron Bilous, Alberta Minister of Economic Development and Trade "It's with great enthusiasm that the Division of Mathematical Sciences at the U.S. National Science Foundation continues this productive collaboration with its esteemed North American partners. This collaboration represents a unique effort aimed at bringing together mathematical scientists, fostering collaboration and advancing work on some of the most challenging scientific and mathematical problems. We value this partnership and are proud to continue our participation!" "The renewal of this unprecedented multinational funding validates the importance, and vigour of the research conducted at BIRS. It is a tremendous success for a remarkable and groundbreaking North American collaboration in support of the world's mathematical sciences and their manifestations in science, technology, and society." - Doug Mitchell, Chair of the Board of Directors, Banff International Research Station "The association of our top researchers with BIRS has given a tremendous boost to Mexico's mathematical science community. The BIRS-CMO (Casa Matemática Oaxaca) partnership, which includes the Institute of Mathematics of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México and the CONACYT Centre, Centro de Investigación en Matemáticas, represents a unique joint educational and scientific research program in the NAFTA space, that we are hoping to emulate in the other sciences." Information on the Collaborative and Thematic Resources Support in Mathematics and Statistics Program Where NSERC Invests and Why NSERC invests over $1 billion each year in natural sciences and engineering research in Canada. Our investments deliver discoveries-valuable world-firsts in knowledge claimed by a brain trust of over 11,000 professors. Our investments enable partnerships and collaborations that connect industry with discoveries and the people behind them. Researcher-industry partnerships established by NSERC help inform R&D, solve scale-up challenges, and reduce the risks of developing high-potential technology. NSERC also provides scholarships and hands-on training experience for more than 30,000 post-secondary students and postdoctoral fellows. These young researchers will be the next generation of science and engineering leaders in Canada.
News Article | September 23, 2016
Lourdes Melgar SM '88, PhD '92, Mexico’s former deputy secretary of energy for hydrocarbons, has been named a Robert E. Wilhelm Fellow at the MIT Center for International Studies (CIS). Melgar will be in residence at CIS for the 2016-2017 academic year, during which time she intends to write on Mexico’s energy reform and further research on women’s role in political and social transformation. "It is an honor to welcome Lourdes back to MIT. She brings with her a prolific career of groundbreaking work in energy security and beyond," said Richard Samuels, director of the Center for International Studies and Ford International Professor of Political Science at MIT. "Her time with us will enrich the center’s scholarship. We certainly hope she finds her time here equally rewarding." Melgar earned her bachelor's from Mount Holyoke College and her MS and PhD, both in political science, from MIT. She would go on to play a key role in the design and implementation of Mexico’s historic energy reform. Melgar's vision and leadership resulted in the inscription of key elements, including the electricity reform and the social component of the sustainability principle in the new regulatory framework. Her work has begun to transform Mexico’s energy sector into a modern and competitive environment aimed at enhancing energy security, developing regional value chains, and positioning Mexico as an energy hub. Mexico’s first oil contracts and transparent bidding process were designed under her leadership. Melgar has also been a member of the board of Petroleos Mexicanos, Mexico’s National Oil Company, and of Commision Federal de Electricidad, Mexico’s public utility company. Previously, Melgar was undersecretary for electricity and held various diplomatic positions. She was a member of Mexico's foreign service from 1997 to 2005. In the academic realm, Melgar was founding director of the Center for Sustainability and Business at EGADE Business School of the Instituto Tecnológico de Monterrey. She has been a visiting scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and at the Center for International Energy and Environmental Policy of the University of Texas. She has authored articles on energy security, transboundary reservoirs, sustainable development, and the transition to a low carbon economy. Melgar is a national researcher of the Mexican Council for Science and Technology (CONACYT), a member of the Mexican Council on Foreign Relations, and president of the Mexican Chapter of the International Women’s Forum. She was recognized as the 2015 Mujer de Retos (translated as "Woman of Challenges"), and she has been awarded the Logro Energético Award and the Vasco de Quiroga Leadership Award, both in 2012. A generous gift from Robert E. Wilhelm supports the CIS Wilhelm fellowship. The fellowship is awarded to individuals who have held senior positions in public life and is open, for example, to heads of non-profit agencies; senior officials at the U.S. State Department or other government agencies, including ambassadors; or senior officials from the UN or other multilateral agencies. Previous Wilhelm Fellows include: Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe; British Labour politician David Miliband; Ambassador Barbara Bodine; Admiral William Fallon, a former head of CENTCOM; and Yukio Okamoto, a former special advisor to the prime minister of Japan.
News Article | November 10, 2016
Findings could help to trigger new applications of drugs for diagnostics and develop new materials An international team of researchers led by the University of Leicester has for the first time observed how a single two-atom-large molecule rotates in the coldest liquid known in nature. The team consists of researchers from the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Leicester, the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), Grenoble, France and the Department of Physics in Kerbala, Iraq. The interactions of molecules in liquids determines chemical reactions and biological processes. In ordinary liquids the interactions between the molecules is too strong and overshadows the subtle features of rotations. By choosing a very special liquid composed of helium atoms the researchers reduced the strength of the molecular interactions so that they had the chance to see single molecules rotating. Lead author Dr Klaus von Haeften from the University of Leicester Department of Physics and Astronomy said: "To introduce molecules into the liquid helium we had to excite the helium using a discharge. "This was necessary because ordinary molecules would freeze once they are introduced into liquid helium. By exciting helium in the discharge tiny gas bubbles were formed." The researchers observed that by applying pressure the molecules within these bubbles would collide with the ultra-cold liquid and begin to cool and slow down their rotations. This happened at a rate of more than 100 billion degrees Kelvin (centigrade) per second. At pressures of several atmospheres the molecules reached the slowest possible rotational speed. The researchers believe that with these molecules they can investigate liquid helium at even lower temperatures. At these temperatures friction disappears, and the team expects to be able to measure with great precision how molecules respond to this 'superfluid' state. Dr von Haeften added: "The results of these studies in liquid helium will also be important to understand ordinary liquids, where such observations are impossible to make. "This may trigger new applications of drugs for diagnostics and therapy and the development of new materials." Two of the international researchers involved in the project have conducted their PhD studies at the University of Leicester. Mrs Nagham Shiltagh (Iraq) is currently investigating how the technology developed in this project could be applied in other areas and Luis Guillermo Mendoza-Luna (Mexico) was involved in setting up the experiment and recording the data and has now assumed an academic position in Mexico. Luis was sponsored by CONACYT, a distinguished scholarship in Mexico. The paper 'Excimers in the Lowest Rotational Quantum State in Liquid Helium' is published in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters. The research was funded by British Council, The Leverhulme Trust, Royal Society, Iraqi Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research. Image of a micro discharge cell mounted on a low temperature fridge available here. In this test experiment fluorescence light emitted from the discharge can be seen in the centre (Credit: Dr Klaus von Haeften): https:/