Defense Threat Reduction Agency

Fort Belvoir, VA, United States

Defense Threat Reduction Agency

Fort Belvoir, VA, United States
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News Article | May 24, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

A new study by a multi-national research team, including scientists from the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID), explains how Zika virus entered the United States last year and how it might re-enter the country this year. The study was published online today in the journal Nature. In July 2016, mosquito-borne Zika virus transmission was first reported in the continental U.S. and since then, hundreds of locally-acquired infections have been reported in Florida. Through the Laboratory Response Network, scientists at USAMRIID and the Florida Department of Health (FLDOH) joined forces to understand how the virus entered and was spreading in Florida. They did this through near real-time genomic sequencing. Viral genome sequences were released publically, as they were generated, to help other scientists studying the Zika virus disease outbreak, many of whom are co-authors of this study. According to Jason Ladner, Ph.D., a scientist at USAMRIID and one of the study's co-lead authors, by sequencing the virus's genome from human and mosquito infections, the team created a "family tree" showing how the virus spread through space and time. They discovered that the Zika virus disease outbreak in Florida was actually the result of multiple independent introduction events, the earliest of which occurred in the spring of 2016, several months before initial detection. "There is a reason why the first local Zika virus infections in the U.S. occurred in Florida," says Ladner. Florida is home to year-round populations of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, the main species that transmits Zika virus to humans, and Miami is a significant travel hub, with more international air and sea traffic than any other city in the continental United States in 2016. However, the researchers show that sustained transmission of Zika virus in Florida is unlikely, making future outbreaks dependent on re-introductions of the virus. Their study also highlights the success of localized mosquito control efforts in preventing further spread of the virus in Florida. More broadly, the research illustrates the importance of establishing a robust capability for rapidly responding to emerging disease threats -- not just Zika virus. "Essentially, the sequencing approach that we used for this study is the first step and one of the most critical pieces of that capability," said Gustavo Palacios, Ph.D., a co-senior author on the paper and director of the Center for Genome Sciences at USAMRIID. Palacios and his colleagues had previously used genome sequencing technology to track the movement of Ebola virus in near real-time during the 2013-2016 outbreak in Western Africa. Their findings helped to shape outbreak response and disease control efforts on the ground. When Zika virus, which is carried by mosquitoes and has been linked to severe birth defects, entered the United States last year, his team put the same tools to work in an effort to track the virus's spread. According to Palacios, the recent outbreaks of Ebola and Zika virus disease underscore the need for a rapid and cohesive strategy to interrupt epidemics. Traditional research and development approaches rely on an academic model, with timelines that do not lend themselves to a prompt response. In addition, an integrated approach that allows for sharing of resources across agencies is critically important. USAMRIID and its partners have proposed to develop a platform called Accelerated Defense against Emerging Pathogen Threats (ADEPT) to provide a logical and effective plan for rapidly developing medical countermeasures. "The ADEPT platform was designed with a clear goal -- to quickly generate the information and medical countermeasures needed to stop an epidemic," Palacios said. "It provides a strong foundation with multiple parallel research and development efforts under one organizational structure." In addition, he said, ADEPT is not based on a specific type of medical countermeasure, but rather on the generation of information that will result in the development of the most appropriate product for any emerging disease outbreak. At the same time, it is vital that the information collected and generated by ADEPT is immediately available to the entire scientific community involved in the outbreak response. Consequently, ADEPT is completely open access and data will be shared in real time with the World Health Organization (WHO), the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), and the affected nations. An independent scientific panel convened by the WHO evaluated and selected ADEPT as a platform that could positively impact biological preparedness under the WHO Research and Development Blueprint. The panel's report is available at http://www. . The Nature study was a collaboration of more than 60 scientists from nearly 20 institutions, including study co-leaders at the Scripps Research Institute, the Florida Department of Health, Florida Gulf Coast University, the University of Oxford, the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. It also included authors from the University of Miami, the University of Birmingham, Colorado State University, St. Michael's Hospital (Toronto), the University of Toronto, the University of Washington, Tulane University, Miami-Dade County Mosquito Control, the University of Florida, the University of Edinburgh and the National Institutes of Health. USAMRIID's mission is to provide leading edge medical capabilities to deter and defend against current and emerging biological threat agents. Research conducted at USAMRIID leads to medical solutions-vaccines, drugs, diagnostics, and information-that benefit both military personnel and civilians. The Institute plays a key role as the lead military medical research laboratory for the Defense Threat Reduction Agency's Joint Science and Technology Office for Chemical and Biological Defense. USAMRIID is a subordinate laboratory of the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command. For more information, visit http://www. . Reference: Genomic epidemiology reveals multiple introductions of Zika virus into the United States. N.D. Grubaugh et al. DOI: 10.1038/nature22400. Funding: ZIKV sequencing at USAMRIID was supported by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.


News Article | February 15, 2017
Site: www.24-7pressrelease.com

WEST PALM BEACH, FL, February 15, 2017-- Lt. General (Retired) Robert D. Chelberg has been included in Marquis Who's Who. As in all Marquis Who's Who biographical volumes, individuals profiled are selected on the basis of current reference value. Factors such as position, noteworthy accomplishments, visibility, and prominence in a field are taken into account during the selection process.General Chelberg graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, with a Bachelor of Science degree in 1961. Later in his military career he earned a Master of Business Administration degree from New Mexico State University. Based on academic achievements, he is a member of the Phi Eta Sigma and Phi Kappa Phi honor societies. He has attended all the normal military educational schools including the National War College in Washington, D.C. General Chelberg has been listed in the Marquis editions of Who's Who in America since 1993, and Who's Who in the World since 2007.He has held numerous positions of increasing responsibility in the U.S. Army during his 32-year career. He has commanded at all levels of the Field Artillery, and served two tours in Vietnam as the operations officer of three different battalions. He served for two years as 528th Artillery Group Commander in the early 1980s. This unit had the responsibility of protecting and assembling all the nuclear weapons in Turkey. His assignments in the Pentagon have included the Army Staff and the Office of the Secretary of Defense, where he was a Deputy Director for Military Personnel Policy.In 1986 he held the position of Executive to the Supreme Allied Command Europe (SACEUR). He then served as the Chief Defense Planner in the Supreme Headquarters of Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE), the headquarters for all the military forces of NATO. In September 1990, he was reassigned to Brussels, Belgium, to serve in the private office as a Special Advisor to the NATO Secretary General. He was promoted to Lieutenant General in January 1991, and then served as the Chief of Staff, U.S. European Command (EUCOM) in Stuttgart, Germany. During his time at EUCOM, the command participated in Desert Storm, Operation Provide Comfort to save 455,000 Kurdish people in Northern Iraq, and in other numerous relief and rescue contingency operations in Africa.General Chelberg retired on July 31, 1993 and subsequently assumed the duties of the Deputy Director of the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies. In conjunction with the German Government the school taught students from the former WARSAW Pact Nations and from the former Soviet Union. From the initial development and continuing for two years, he had budgetary, personnel, logistics, and construction responsibilities. For his performance at the Marshall Center, he was presented with the Decoration for Exceptional Civilian Service.His military decorations include: the Defense Distinguished Service Medal; the Army Distinguished Service Medal; two Defense Superior Service Medals; the Legion of Merit; five Bronze Stars; two Meritorious Service Medals; ten Air Medals; three Army Commendation Medals; and the Presidential Unit Citation (Navy).General Chelberg was named the 1986 Outstanding Alumnus of Lake Superior State University, and he was for 1985 the Veteran of the Year for VFW Post 3676. He was presented the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award in 1990. Only four percent of Eagle Scouts receive this honor. While in Europe, he served as District Commissioner for the Transatlantic Council Boy Scouts of America in the United Kingdom, France and Belgium from 1987-90, and was the council vice president for membership from 2004-08. He was inducted into New Mexico State University's Business School Hall of Fame in 2001.After military and civilian service of 34 years, General Chelberg has worked for Cubic Applications as a Managing Director in Europe and a Special Advisor in the U.S. For seven years, he promoted providing advice on organizational structure and computer assisted training exercises to former Warsaw Pact Nations.He has served as a Senior Fellow at the Joint Forces Staff College in Norfolk, Virginia from 2001 to 2011. In January 2003, General Chelberg accepted the position of Program Manager for the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) Field Office located in Belgium. This organization had the responsibility of working nuclear, chemical and biological threats against SHAPE, NATO, and EUCOM. After spending three plus years in this position, he returned to the U.S., but made a number of trips in the next three years back to Europe to perform the role of a Senior Mentor for Foreign Consequence Management Exercises. These exercises were designed to develop solutions for weapons of mass destruction attacks made against NATO forces and NATO populations. During his time with DTRA and as a Senior Mentor, General Chelberg was employed by Northrop Grumman Information Systems. From 2010-16, he served as a senior advisor to TASC.He is a lifetime member of the Association of the United States Army, and the Military Officers Association of America. In the past he has been a member of Rotary International and was a Paul Harris Fellow. When he was in Europe in the mid 90's, he was a member of the Federation of German American Clubs, and served as the organization's president from 1994-96.General Chelberg currently serves as a volunteer President of sixteen volunteer Board Members for the Wounded Veterans Relief Fund which receives referrals from all the major Veterans Administration Medical Centers in Florida. This 501(c)3 organization provides temporary emergency financial needs to service connected disabled veterans who have served in our wars and conflicts since 9/11. The funds are paid to creditors to preclude eviction from a domicile for rent or mortgage payments, for electric, gas or water utilities, for car repair, license, insurance, and gas, home repairs, and other emergencies. Since 2014 over seven thousand veterans and their families have been assisted. The Military Officers Association of America presented their Community Hero's Assistance Award to the Wounded Veterans Relief Fund in October 2015.As for the future, Lt. General (Retired) Chelberg intends to continue serving his country and deserving veterans and assisting others as appropriate.About Marquis Who's Who :Since 1899, when A. N. Marquis printed the First Edition of Who's Who in America , Marquis Who's Who has chronicled the lives of the most accomplished individuals and innovators from every significant field of endeavor, including politics, business, medicine, law, education, art, religion and entertainment. Today, Who's Who in America remains an essential biographical source for thousands of researchers, journalists, librarians and executive search firms around the world. Marquis now publishes many Who's Who titles, including Who's Who in America , Who's Who in the World , Who's Who in American Law , Who's Who in Medicine and Healthcare , Who's Who in Science and Engineering , and Who's Who in Asia . Marquis publications may be visited at the official Marquis Who's Who website at www.marquiswhoswho.com


News Article | February 15, 2017
Site: phys.org

Understanding how carbon nanotubes (CNT) nucleate, grow and self-organize to form macroscale materials is critical for application-oriented design of next-generation supercapacitors, electronic interconnects, separation membranes and advanced yarns and fabrics. New research by LLNL scientist Eric Meshot and colleagues from Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL) and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has demonstrated direct visualization of collective nucleation and self-organization of aligned carbon nanotube films inside of an environmental transmission electron microscope (ETEM). In a pair of studies reported in recent issues of Chemistry of Materials and ACS Nano , the researchers leveraged a state-of-the-art kilohertz camera in an aberration-correction ETEM at BNL to capture the inherently rapid processes that govern the growth of these exciting nanostructures. Among other phenomena discovered, the researchers are the first to provide direct proof of how mechanical competition among neighboring carbon nanotubes can simultaneously promote self-alignment while also frustrating and limiting growth. "This knowledge may enable new pathways toward mitigating self-termination and promoting growth of ultra-dense and aligned carbon nanotube materials, which would directly impact several application spaces, some of which are being pursued here at the Laboratory," Meshot said. Meshot has led the CNT synthesis development at LLNL for several projects, including those supported by the Laboratory Directed Research and Development (LDRD) program and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) that use CNTs as fluidic nanochannels for applications ranging from single-molecule detection to macroscale membranes for breathable and protective garments. Explore further: 'Second skin' protects soldiers from biological and chemical agents More information: Viswanath Balakrishnan et al. Real-Time Imaging of Self-Organization and Mechanical Competition in Carbon Nanotube Forest Growth, ACS Nano (2016). DOI: 10.1021/acsnano.6b07251 Mostafa Bedewy et al. Measurement of the Dewetting, Nucleation, and Deactivation Kinetics of Carbon Nanotube Population Growth by Environmental Transmission Electron Microscopy, Chemistry of Materials (2016). DOI: 10.1021/acs.chemmater.6b00798


News Article | February 13, 2017
Site: www.rdmag.com

For the first time, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory scientists and collaborators have captured a movie of how large populations of carbon nanotubes grow and align themselves. Understanding how carbon nanotubes (CNT) nucleate, grow and self-organize to form macroscale materials is critical for application-oriented design of next-generation supercapacitors, electronic interconnects, separation membranes and advanced yarns and fabrics. New research by LLNL scientist Eric Meshot and colleagues from Brookhaven National Laboratory(link is external) (BNL) and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has demonstrated direct visualization of collective nucleation and self-organization of aligned carbon nanotube films inside of an environmental transmission electron microscope (ETEM). In a pair of studies reported in recent issues of Chemistry of Materials and ACS Nano, the researchers leveraged a state-of-the-art kilohertz camera in an aberration-correction ETEM at BNL to capture the inherently rapid processes that govern the growth of these exciting nanostructures. Among other phenomena discovered, the researchers are the first to provide direct proof of how mechanical competition among neighboring carbon nanotubes can simultaneously promote self-alignment while also frustrating and limiting growth. "This knowledge may enable new pathways toward mitigating self-termination and promoting growth of ultra-dense and aligned carbon nanotube materials, which would directly impact several application spaces, some of which are being pursued here at the Laboratory," Meshot said. Meshot has led the CNT synthesis development at LLNL for several projects, including those supported by the Laboratory Directed Research and Development (LDRD) program and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) that use CNTs as fluidic nanochannels for applications ranging from single-molecule detection to macroscale membranes for breathable and protective garments.


News Article | February 22, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

The human heart beats more than 2.5 billion times in an average lifetime. Now scientists at Vanderbilt University have created a three-dimensional organ-on-a-chip that can mimic the heart's amazing biomechanical properties. "We created the I-Wire Heart-on-a-Chip so that we can understand why cardiac cells behave the way they do by asking the cells questions, instead of just watching them," said Gordon A. Cain University Professor John Wikswo, who heads up the project. "We believe it could prove invaluable in studying cardiac diseases, drug screening and drug development, and, in the future, in personalized medicine by identifying the cells taken from patients that can be used to patch damaged hearts effectively." The device and the results of initial experiments demonstrating that it faithfully reproduces the response of cardiac cells to two different drugs that affect heart function in humans are described in an article published last month in the journal Acta Biomaterialia. A companion article in the same issue presents a biomechanical analysis of the I-Wire platform that can be used for characterizing biomaterials for cardiac regenerative medicine. The unique aspect of the new device, which represents about two millionths of a human heart, is that it controls the mechanical force applied to cardiac cells. This allows the researchers to reproduce the mechanical conditions of the living heart, which is continually stretching and contracting, in addition to its electrical and biochemical environment. "Heart tissue, along with muscle, skeletal and vascular tissue, represents a special class of mechanically active biomaterials," said Wikswo. "Mechanical activity is an intrinsic property of these tissues so you can't fully understand how they function and how they fail without taking this factor into account." "Currently, we don't have many models for studying how the heart responds to stress. Without them, it is very difficult to develop new drugs that specifically address what goes wrong in these conditions," commented Charles Hong, associate professor of cardiovascular medicine at Vanderbilt's School of Medicine, who didn't participate in the research but is familiar with it. "This provides us with a really amazing model for studying how hearts fail." The I-Wire device consists of a thin thread of human cardiac cells 0.014 inches thick (about the size of 20-pound monofilament fishing line) stretched between two perpendicular wire anchors. The amount of tension on the fiber can be varied by moving the anchors in and out, and the tension is measured with a flexible probe that pushes against the side of the fiber. The fiber is supported by wires and a frame in an optically clear well that is filled with liquid medium like that which surrounds cardiac cells in the body. The apparatus is mounted on the stage of a powerful optical microscope that records the fiber's physical changes. The microscope also acts as a spectroscope that can provide information about the chemical changes taking place in the fiber. A floating microelectrode also measures the cells' electrical activity. According to the researchers, the I-Wire system can be used to characterize how cardiac cells respond to electrical stimulation and mechanical loads and can be implemented at low cost, small size and low fluid volumes, which make it suitable for screening drugs and toxins. Because of its potential applications, Vanderbilt University has patented the device. Unlike other heart-on-a-chip designs, I-Wire allows the researchers to grow cardiac cells under controlled, time-varying tension similar to what they experience in living hearts. As a consequence, the heart cells in the fiber align themselves in alternating dark and light bands, called sarcomeres, which are characteristic of human muscle tissue. The cardiac cells in most other heart-on-a-chip designs do not exhibit this natural organization. In addition, the researchers have determined that their heart-on-a-chip obeys the Frank-Starling law of the heart. The law, which was discovered by two physiologists in 1918, describes the relationship between the volume of blood filling the heart and the force with which cardiac cells contract. The I-Wire is one of the first heart-on-a-chip devices to do so. To demonstrate the I-Wire's value in determining the effects that different drugs have on the heart, the scientists tested its response with two drugs known to affect heart function in humans: isoproterenol and blebbistatin. Isoproterenol is a medication used to treat bradycardia (slow heart rate) and heart block (obstruction of the heart's natural pacemaker). Blebbistatin inhibits contractions in all types of muscle tissue, including the heart. According to Veniamin Sidorov, the research assistant professor at the Vanderbilt Institute for Integrative Biosystems Research and Education (VIIBRE) who led its development, the device faithfully reproduces the response of cardiac cells in a living heart. "Cardiac tissue has two basic elements: an active, contractile element and a passive, elastic element," said Sidorov. "By separating these two elements with blebbistatin, we successfully characterized the elasticity of the artificial tissue. By exposing it to isoproterenol, we tested its response to adrenergic stimulation, which is one of the main systems responsible for regulation of heart contractions. We found that the relationship between these two elements in the cardiac fiber is consistent with that seen in natural tissue. This confirms that our heart-on-a-chip model provides us with a new way to study the elastic response of cardiac muscle, which is extremely complicated and is implicated in heart failure, hypertension, cardiac hypertrophy and cardiomyopathy." Other members of the VIIBRE research team are Professor of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology Jeffrey Davidson, former Assistant Professor of Medicine Chee Lim (now at NIH), Assistant Professor of Biostatistics Matthew Shotwell and Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering David Merryman, Senior R&D Engineer Philip Samson, postdoctoral fellow Tatiana Sidorova and doctoral student Alison Schroer. The I-Wire technology has been patented and is available for licensing. Interested parties should contact Ashok Choudhury or Masood Machingal at the Vanderbilt Center for Technology Transfer and Commercialization. The research was supported by National Institutes of Health grants 1R01118392-01, R01 HL118392, R01 HL095813 and 5R01-AR056138; National Science Foundation grants 1055384 and DGE-0909667; Defense Threat Reduction Agency grant CBMXCEL-XL1-2-001; American Heart Association grant 15PRE25710333; and by the Department of Veterans Affairs.


News Article | February 24, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

Scientists at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health are the first to report a method to accurately predict the timing and intensity of West Nile Virus (WNV) outbreaks. The study is published in the journal Nature Communications. Much like weather forecasting, these WNV forecasts use a computer model to generate multiple simulations that mimic the behavior of an outbreak and are knit together to generate an overall prediction. Since 2012, the Columbia scientists have used similar methods to create weekly forecasts for seasonal flu published online; and following the 2014-2015 outbreak, an analysis of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. In North America, where WNV is endemic, the virus is transmitted to humans by mosquitoes, with outbreaks happening in the summer and fall. Most of those infected have no symptoms, but about one in five will develop a fever with other symptoms. Less than 1 percent develops a serious, sometimes fatal, neurologic illness. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports 2,038 cases of WNV and 94 deaths for 2016. By contrast, the CDC reported 5,674 cases of WNV and 286 deaths for 2012. "There is a great deal of variation in outbreak intensity and duration year to year," says Nicholas B. DeFelice, the study's first author and a post-doctoral research scientist in Environmental Health Sciences at Columbia's Mailman School. "Absent a computer model, it's difficult to predict the impact of an outbreak, even once the outbreak is underway, and thus it is important that robust quantitative decision tools are developed to help guide control efforts." In the new study, DeFelice and Jeffrey Shaman, associate professor of Environmental Health Sciences at Columbia's Mailman School, developed the WNV forecasting model, drawing on field collection data documenting mosquito infection rates and reported human cases, and accounting for transmission between mosquitos and birds and spillover to humans. They used the model to create retrospective forecasts for WNV outbreaks in Suffolk County, Long Island, for 2001-2014. This model system accurately forecast mosquito infection rates prior to the week of mosquito peak infection, and accurately predicted the seasonal total number of human WNV cases up to nine weeks prior to the last reported case. The researchers also generated forecasts in Cook County Illinois during 2007-2014, reporting similar results to those in Suffolk County. They say the finding suggests that the forecast model will be effective in diverse settings, even those with different transmission dynamics. As more years of data become available, they hope to further refine their method, potentially incorporating environmental variables, including temperature. They also are working to implement a real-time forecast system. "Reliable West Nile Virus forecasts would give public health officials a leg up on efforts to control mosquito populations and reduce human West Nile Virus cases, and could even help them refine these efforts," says Jeffrey Shaman, who also leads the Climate and Health program at Columbia's Mailman School. "With weeks of advance notice, officials could better plan for spraying mosquito breeding grounds, alert the public, and determine if parks and camping grounds should be closed." Co-authors include Eliza Little of Columbia's Mailman School and Scott R. Campbell of the Suffolk County Department of Health Services. The study was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health (GM100467, ES009089, T32ES023770) and a Defense Threat Reduction Agency contract (HDTRA1-15-C-0018). Shaman is partial owner of SK Analytics; the remaining authors declare no competing financial interests.


TARPON SPRINGS, FL / ACCESSWIRE / February 15, 2017 / Dr. Ruggero M. Santilli, CEO and Chief Scientist of Thunder Energies Corporation (OTC PINK: TNRG), a publicly traded company with stock symbol TNRG, announces the filing of a grant application to the Defense Threat Reduction Agency of the Department of Defense, program HDTRA1-17-S-0002 Science and Technology New Initiatives, for the development of Nuclear Weapon Detection Stations. In preparation of this application, the company has completed all of the requirements to be admitted to federal procurement and has strengthened its technical team, including the hiring of a grant specialist (see the executive Summary www.thunder-energies.com/docs/DTRA-Proposal-FINAL.pdf ). A schematic view of the scanning of suitcases with Thunder Energies’ neutron source to detect smuggled nuclear weapons. Dr. Santilli continues, "Our governmental agencies have spent seven hundred million dollars for the detection of smuggled nuclear weapons without achieving a needed detection station. This is because the use of X-ray and other conventional technologies under which nuclear fuels, such as Uranium-235 cannot be effectively distinguished from ordinary materials since they are stable metals (for details, see: http://www.thunder-energies.com/docs/Detection-fissionable-material.pdf). Following decades of preparatory mathematical and theoretical research initiated when I was at Harvard University under support from the Department of Energy, Thunder Energies Corporation has developed a new source of low energy neutrons synthesized from the hydrogen gas (patent pending by Thunder Energies Corporation, see the review by Business Television: http://www.b-tv.com/thunder-energies-nuclear-corporate-video/ ). This neutron source is ideally suited to detect nuclear weapons smuggled in containers or suitcases because, when hit by low energy neutrons, Uranium-235 and other nuclear fuels disintegrate by releasing a variety of radiations, allowing the clear detection of smuggled nuclear weapons." "The application to the Defense Threat Reduction Agency," continues Dr. Santilli, "requests funds, as well as the collaboration of the U.S. National Laboratories and qualified corporations, for the development of remotely operated and properly shielded Nuclear Weapon Detection Stations comprising: Thunder Energies neutron source; a collection of radiation detectors; radiation shielding for the protection of operators and the environment; remote monitoring and controls; and various accessories. It is rewarding to see that the Defense Threat Reduction Agency has released a program specifically intended for new start up corporations, thus providing great opportunities for the development of new technologies." (see the review: www.thunder-energies.com/docs/ThunderEnergies16.CEOCFOMagazine-Article.pdf) A view of the Pulsing Power Unit developed by Thunder Energies Corporation Certain statements in this news release may contain forward-looking information within the meaning of Rule 175 under the Securities Act of 1933 and Rule 3b-6 under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, and are subject to the safe harbor created by those rules. All statements, other than statements of fact, included in this release, including, without limitation, statements regarding potential future plans and objectives of the company, are forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties. There can be no assurance that such statements will prove to be accurate and actual results and future events could differ materially from those anticipated in such statements. Technical complications, which may arise, could prevent the prompt implementation of any strategically significant plan(s) outlined above. The Company undertakes no duty to revise or update any forward-looking statements to reflect events or circumstances after the date of this release. TARPON SPRINGS, FL / ACCESSWIRE / February 15, 2017 / Dr. Ruggero M. Santilli, CEO and Chief Scientist of Thunder Energies Corporation (OTC PINK: TNRG), a publicly traded company with stock symbol TNRG, announces the filing of a grant application to the Defense Threat Reduction Agency of the Department of Defense, program HDTRA1-17-S-0002 Science and Technology New Initiatives, for the development of Nuclear Weapon Detection Stations. In preparation of this application, the company has completed all of the requirements to be admitted to federal procurement and has strengthened its technical team, including the hiring of a grant specialist (see the executive Summary www.thunder-energies.com/docs/DTRA-Proposal-FINAL.pdf ). A schematic view of the scanning of suitcases with Thunder Energies’ neutron source to detect smuggled nuclear weapons. Dr. Santilli continues, "Our governmental agencies have spent seven hundred million dollars for the detection of smuggled nuclear weapons without achieving a needed detection station. This is because the use of X-ray and other conventional technologies under which nuclear fuels, such as Uranium-235 cannot be effectively distinguished from ordinary materials since they are stable metals (for details, see: http://www.thunder-energies.com/docs/Detection-fissionable-material.pdf). Following decades of preparatory mathematical and theoretical research initiated when I was at Harvard University under support from the Department of Energy, Thunder Energies Corporation has developed a new source of low energy neutrons synthesized from the hydrogen gas (patent pending by Thunder Energies Corporation, see the review by Business Television: http://www.b-tv.com/thunder-energies-nuclear-corporate-video/ ). This neutron source is ideally suited to detect nuclear weapons smuggled in containers or suitcases because, when hit by low energy neutrons, Uranium-235 and other nuclear fuels disintegrate by releasing a variety of radiations, allowing the clear detection of smuggled nuclear weapons." "The application to the Defense Threat Reduction Agency," continues Dr. Santilli, "requests funds, as well as the collaboration of the U.S. National Laboratories and qualified corporations, for the development of remotely operated and properly shielded Nuclear Weapon Detection Stations comprising: Thunder Energies neutron source; a collection of radiation detectors; radiation shielding for the protection of operators and the environment; remote monitoring and controls; and various accessories. It is rewarding to see that the Defense Threat Reduction Agency has released a program specifically intended for new start up corporations, thus providing great opportunities for the development of new technologies." (see the review: www.thunder-energies.com/docs/ThunderEnergies16.CEOCFOMagazine-Article.pdf) A view of the Pulsing Power Unit developed by Thunder Energies Corporation Certain statements in this news release may contain forward-looking information within the meaning of Rule 175 under the Securities Act of 1933 and Rule 3b-6 under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, and are subject to the safe harbor created by those rules. All statements, other than statements of fact, included in this release, including, without limitation, statements regarding potential future plans and objectives of the company, are forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties. There can be no assurance that such statements will prove to be accurate and actual results and future events could differ materially from those anticipated in such statements. Technical complications, which may arise, could prevent the prompt implementation of any strategically significant plan(s) outlined above. The Company undertakes no duty to revise or update any forward-looking statements to reflect events or circumstances after the date of this release.


News Article | February 28, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- Agriculture consumes about 80 percent of all U.S. water. Making fertilizers uses 1 to 2 percent of all the world's energy each year. A new program hopes to develop better crops -- super plants that are drought-resistant, use less fertilizer and remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The program, ROOTS, or Rhizosphere Observations Optimizing Terrestrial Sequestration, is sponsored by the Department of Energy's Advanced Research Project Agency-Energy (ARPA-E). Sandia National Laboratories has received $2.4 million to adapt previously developed sensors to monitor root function and plant health in new, noninvasive ways through one ROOTS project. The insights gained from these sensors, with plant experts from The University of New Mexico (UNM) and the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, will guide breeding of better varieties of sorghum. Sorghum is a drought-tolerant grain mostly grown for animal fodder and biofuels in the U.S. but relied upon as an important food crop in Africa and parts of Asia. The sensors will be easy to adapt to other crops too, said Eric Ackerman, manager of Sandia's Nanobiology department and principal investigator for the ROOTS project. Though roots are hard to access and study, thoroughly understanding how they work and how to improve them is essential for drought-resistant crops that need less fertilizer. Deep roots can tap additional water sources and extensive root systems can gather more nutrients, Ackerman said. Roots also are critical for depositing carbon into the soil, instead of the air. "It is really exciting to see how Eric Ackerman and his team are repurposing miniaturized sensing technologies originally developed for national security applications, such as warfighter health monitoring or detection of chemical agents for real-time monitoring of hard-to-access root systems," said Anup Singh, director of Sandia's Biological and Engineering Sciences Center. One technology researchers will adapt is a microneedle-based fluidic sensor. This matchbox-size device was originally developed for biomedical applications, such as the painless detection of electrolyte levels of warfighters on arduous missions. However, due to its size, minimally invasive set-up and ability to constantly measure the levels of important chemicals, Sandia researchers believe it's valuable for other research, such as plant monitoring. For the ROOTS project, researchers are interested in monitoring the products of photosynthesis, such as simple sugars, important root excretions, such as oxalic acid, and water pressure. Water pressure, or turgor pressure, is an important measure of plant health, even before they wilt. Current methods for measuring these critical indicators are costly, too invasive or don't provide continual data. "The microneedles will help us measure sugars transported by the plant to and from the roots before soil microbes can use them, and will give us a better understanding of how plants add to soil carbon," said Ben Duval, a plant and soil expert at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology. Ronen Polsky, who leads the microneedles research, doesn't think the detection chemistry or the needles themselves will need much tweaking to work with plants, but one challenge will be determining the best way to attach the sensors to the plants. "The cool thing with our task on ROOTS," he said, "is that nobody has done this in plants before. It's such an intriguing project to take these sensors and apply them to plants." Initial support for developing the microneedle sensors came from Sandia's Laboratory Directed Research and Development program with additional funding by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA). The sensor was also the subject of doctoral work by Philip Miller, currently a postdoctoral researcher at Sandia working on the ROOTS project. The other Sandia technology used in the ROOTS project is a micro gas chromatography system, or micro-GC. Sandia has been working on hand-held systems that detect and analyze gases indicative of chemical, biological and other threats for almost 20 years. For ROOTS, researchers will use the micro-GC systems to measure volatile organic compounds (VOC) above and in the ground. Ethylene, a common VOC that triggers fruit ripening, also can signal drought stress. Plants also use chemicals related to menthol and a component of eucalyptus smell as distress signals, for instance, if they are plagued by pests. UNM plant biologist Dave Hanson, co-principal investigator, said the "micro-GCs will be used to detect signals from environmental stress, such as drought, heat and nutrients, and biological stress, such as insect and pathogen attacks, as well as assess root growth." By placing very thin sample collection spikes in the ground and using cutting-edge detectors, Ron Manginell, who leads the micro-GC research, plans to monitor normal plant VOCs and these stress signals in almost real-time. "First, we have to figure out what the important VOCs actually are, which is always a challenging problem," Manginell said. "Once we figure out what those are, the challenge is putting together the miniaturized system to go after those." Then Manginell's team will take their prototype hand-held system and test it in the field. Initial support for developing the micro-GC system came from Sandia's Laboratory Directed Research and Development program with additional funding from the DOE, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and DTRA. Systems based on the same body of research are being used to analyze water quality and could be used to monitor diseases by just "smelling" a patient's breath, said Manginell. Sandia's project is one of 10 ROOTS projects funded by ARPA-E. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and a number of universities will use other approaches and technologies to tackle the challenge of breeding better crops to reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide levels. "The microneedles and micro-GC developed by Sandia are extremely exciting because of their potential to provide critical data on plant function that have been unattainable in any setting," said Hanson. "If successful, these technologies will usher in a new era for research on plant function. They would also contribute to economic growth." Since both technologies are small, less expensive than alternatives and offer critical insights, the team hopes they could directly aid agricultural research and even commercial farming quickly and easily. Ackerman said, "The overall hope for Sandia is that this could open an important new national security area for the biology program to study beyond our current focus on bio-threats and biofuels. It brings us into the energy, water, climate, agriculture nexus, and we are hoping that there will be more opportunities in the future to use even more Sandia technologies." Sandia National Laboratories is a multimission laboratory operated by Sandia Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of Lockheed Martin Corp., for the U.S. Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration. With main facilities in Albuquerque, N.M., and Livermore, Calif., Sandia has major R&D responsibilities in national security, energy and environmental technologies and economic competitiveness.


News Article | February 10, 2017
Site: www.cemag.us

For the first time, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory scientists and collaborators have captured a movie of how large populations of carbon nanotubes grow and align themselves. Understanding how carbon nanotubes (CNT) nucleate, grow and self-organize to form macroscale materials is critical for application-oriented design of next-generation supercapacitors, electronic interconnects, separation membranes, and advanced yarns and fabrics. New research by LLNL scientist Eric Meshot and colleagues from Brookhaven National and Massachusetts Institute of Technology has demonstrated direct visualization of collective nucleation and self-organization of aligned carbon nanotube films inside of an environmental transmission electron microscope (ETEM). In a pair of studies reported in recent issues of Chemistry of Materials and ACS Nano, the researchers leveraged a state-of-the-art kilohertz camera in an aberration-correction ETEM at BNL to capture the inherently rapid processes that govern the growth of these exciting nanostructures. Among other phenomena discovered, the researchers are the first to provide direct proof of how mechanical competition among neighboring carbon nanotubes can simultaneously promote self-alignment while also frustrating and limiting growth. "This knowledge may enable new pathways toward mitigating self-termination and promoting growth of ultra-dense and aligned carbon nanotube materials, which would directly impact several application spaces, some of which are being pursued here at the Laboratory," Meshot says. Meshot has led the CNT synthesis development at LLNL for several projects, including those supported by the Laboratory Directed Research and Development (LDRD) program and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) that use CNTs as fluidic nanochannels for applications ranging from single-molecule detection to macroscale membranes for breathable and protective garments.


News Article | February 24, 2017
Site: www.futurity.org

The human heart beats more than 2.5 billion times in an average lifetime. Now, a new 3D organ-on-a-chip can mimic the heart’s amazing biomechanical properties. “We created the I-Wire Heart-on-a-Chip so that we can understand why cardiac cells behave the way they do by asking the cells questions, instead of just watching them,” says John Wikswo, professor of living state physics, biomedical engineering, molecular physiology, biophysics, and physics at Vanderbilt University. “We believe it could prove invaluable in studying cardiac diseases, drug screening, and drug development, and, in the future, in personalized medicine by identifying the cells taken from patients that can be used to patch damaged hearts effectively.” The device and the results of initial experiments show that it faithfully reproduces the response of cardiac cells to two different drugs that affect heart function in humans. The findings appear in the journal Acta Biomaterialia. A companion article in the same issue presents a biomechanical analysis of the I-Wire platform that can be used for characterizing biomaterials for cardiac regenerative medicine. The unique aspect of the new device, which represents about two millionths of a human heart, is that it controls the mechanical force applied to cardiac cells. This allows the researchers to reproduce the mechanical conditions of the living heart, which is continually stretching and contracting, in addition to its electrical and biochemical environment. “Heart tissue, along with muscle, skeletal, and vascular tissue, represents a special class of mechanically active biomaterials,” Wikswo says. “Mechanical activity is an intrinsic property of these tissues so you can’t fully understand how they function and how they fail without taking this factor into account.” “Currently, we don’t have many models for studying how the heart responds to stress. Without them, it is very difficult to develop new drugs that specifically address what goes wrong in these conditions,” says Charles Hong, associate professor of cardiovascular medicine at Vanderbilt’s School of Medicine, who didn’t participate in the research but is familiar with it. “This provides us with a really amazing model for studying how hearts fail.” The I-Wire device consists of a thin thread of human cardiac cells 0.014 inches thick (about the size of 20-pound monofilament fishing line) stretched between two perpendicular wire anchors. The amount of tension on the fiber can be varied by moving the anchors in and out, and the tension is measured with a flexible probe that pushes against the side of the fiber. The fiber is supported by wires and a frame in an optically clear well that is filled with liquid medium like that which surrounds cardiac cells in the body. The apparatus is mounted on the stage of a powerful optical microscope that records the fiber’s physical changes. The microscope also acts as a spectroscope that can provide information about the chemical changes taking place in the fiber. A floating microelectrode also measures the cells’ electrical activity. The I-Wire system can be used to characterize how cardiac cells respond to electrical stimulation and mechanical loads and can be implemented at low cost, small size, and low fluid volumes, which make it suitable for screening drugs and toxins. Because of its potential applications, Vanderbilt University has patented the device. Unlike other heart-on-a-chip designs, I-Wire allows the researchers to grow cardiac cells under controlled, time-varying tension similar to what they experience in living hearts. As a consequence, the heart cells in the fiber align themselves in alternating dark and light bands, called sarcomeres, which are characteristic of human muscle tissue. The cardiac cells in most other heart-on-a-chip designs do not exhibit this natural organization. In addition, the researchers have determined that their heart-on-a-chip obeys the Frank-Starling law of the heart. The law, which was discovered by two physiologists in 1918, describes the relationship between the volume of blood filling the heart and the force with which cardiac cells contract. The I-Wire is one of the first heart-on-a-chip devices to do so. To demonstrate the I-Wire’s value in determining the effects that different drugs have on the heart, scientists tested its response with two drugs known to affect heart function in humans: isoproterenol and blebbistatin. Isoproterenol is a medication used to treat bradycardia (slow heart rate) and heart block (obstruction of the heart’s natural pacemaker). Blebbistatin inhibits contractions in all types of muscle tissue, including the heart. The device faithfully reproduces the response of cardiac cells in a living heart, says Veniamin Sidorov, the research assistant professor who led the device’s development. “Cardiac tissue has two basic elements: an active, contractile element and a passive, elastic element. By separating these two elements with blebbistatin, we successfully characterized the elasticity of the artificial tissue. By exposing it to isoproterenol, we tested its response to adrenergic stimulation, which is one of the main systems responsible for regulation of heart contractions. “We found that the relationship between these two elements in the cardiac fiber is consistent with that seen in natural tissue. This confirms that our heart-on-a-chip model provides us with a new way to study the elastic response of cardiac muscle, which is extremely complicated and is implicated in heart failure, hypertension, cardiac hypertrophy and cardiomyopathy.” The National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, the American Heart Association, and the Department of Veterans Affairs funded the work.

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