UCT
Austin, TX, United States
Austin, TX, United States

The University of Cape Town is a public research university located in Cape Town in the Western Cape province of South Africa. UCT was founded in 1829 as the South African College, and is the oldest university in South Africa and the second oldest extant university in Africa. The language of instruction is English. Wikipedia.


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News Article | May 10, 2017
Site: news.yahoo.com

Data-intensive research is changing the way African researchers can work and the impact they can have. It is also opening up new career paths in the field of data science. By increasing the volume of data that researchers can analyze and work with at any given time, data-intensive technology allows them to make bigger strides in less time in their chosen disciplines. Data scientists assist this process by providing the skills to help researchers and managers first analyze large volumes of data and then use that analysis to make effective decisions. Big data is already making a big difference in fields ranging from banking and social media to healthcare and astronomy. Data-intensive research, or big data technology, has come to Africa by way of the stars: the establishment of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) pointed to the need for the continent to be able to analyze the extremely high volumes of data to be generated by the network of telescope dishes that will ultimately be placed across remote regions of southern Africa. The SKA project is an internationally renowned effort to build the world’s largest radio telescope with more than a square kilometer of collecting area. It is one of the largest scientific endeavors in history and drives one of the world’s most significant big data challenges of the coming decade. Three South Africa-based universities involved in the SKA project—North-West University, the University of Cape Town (UCT) and the University of the Western Cape (UWC)—established a partnership in 2015 to form the Inter-University Institute for Data Intensive Astronomy (IDiA). IDiA is mobilizing researchers in fields such as astronomy, computer science, statistics and eResearch technologies to create data science capacity for leadership in SKA precursor projects such as MeerKAT, which is scheduled to achieve full operation in early 2018. MeerKAT marks the beginning of a radio big data revolution in Africa. It will be operated as a South African national facility for about five years before it is incorporated into the SKA dish array. The IDiA is also establishing a data-intensive research and training program to develop capacity on the continent to use the data that MeerKAT will deliver. On its own, radio astronomy data is raw; it requires analysis to provide the kinds of answers astronomers and astrophysicists are seeking about the origins of the cosmos. The astronomy project will also involve developing data systems and tools for analysis with multi-wavelength astronomy data. The SKA is a multinational project involving researchers and data scientists around the world. Thus, one of IDiA’s projects is to create a data platform that will allow remote teams to access the data: the African Research Cloud (ARC). IDiA will also develop and apply processing algorithms that allow for analysis of the data so that we can turn high volumes of information into knowledge we can apply and use. The ARC involves collaborators from around the world. Much of this work is also part of a collaboration with SKA partners in the Netherlands to establish an Advanced European Network of E-infrastructure for astronomy. The ARC is the first stage of a three-phase plan to address specific uses of data-intensive research. One such application is the African Research Cloud Astronomy Demonstration project (ARCADE), which will specifically serve MeerKAT teams. The MeerKAT large surveys will produce a terrifying deluge of data. Observations are expected to produce almost 100-terabytes worth of data each day — orders of magnitude more than the conventional volume from a radio telescope. This data will have to be transported, calibrated, imaged, processed and analysed by dozens of astronomers around the world. ARCADE, thus, focuses on two important aspects of scientific utility: data processing of radio data and large-scale scientific collaboration. A proof-of-concept approach is used: compact and incisive interventions are developed for well-defined technological problem statements. One such successful intervention involved a large-scale collaborative project, which used a second-year astronomical techniques class at UCT as a test-subject. The project focused on practical learning outcomes for the class of 50. Students had to perform a simple, yet challenging set of analyses on radio and optical images, which included inspection, statistical analyses, plotting and documentation. A cloud-based hub was created for the project and a beefy virtual machine was populated with state-of-the-art software tools that are the contemporary standards in open source big data initiatives. Students could log onto the ARC via a web browser in a computer lab during a supervised session, but they could also have completed the exercise anywhere in UCT, on their own laptops and mobile devices. This successful case study demonstrated the power of big data solutions and the advantages of cloud-based technologies, and resulted in two very important findings. First, the ARC and IDiA provide an unprecedented opportunity for training and collaboration in scientific analyses. The test-subject students were exposed to critical skills in mathematics, statistics and programming in an immersive and collaborative environment. They were at liberty to discuss, share and work on their projects in a safe and robust programming environment. This sort of intervention can be deployed at a larger scale, and can provide a training environment for anyone with an internet connection. Additionally, the students experienced a first glimpse of tools and techniques that will provide them with an advantage in their future careers in academic institutions or industry. Second, this cloud-based intervention showcased a lean, information technology (IT)-on-a-diet approach, while retaining a high-degree of technical flexibility. The virtual machine was designed and deployed in a matter of hours, and required only the interaction between a single technical specialist and the scientific researcher. Indeed, one of the aims of ARCADE is to deliver a framework that does not require an IT technical specialist, but is deployable using standard recipes and a few mouse-clicks. In this respect, we are drawing alongside commercial solutions that are available at a financial premium. Our studies will provide easily accessible solutions for smaller projects that can benefit from large-scale designs for well-defined science projects. A similar project in bioinformatics will help researchers who are investigating, for instance, the relationship between genetics and disease. Their work involves not only dealing with data in large volumes, but detecting relationships that are highly specialized in certain molecules. Big data analysis can do this kind of sifting and identifying work in a relatively short time. One such strategic project, based at UWC, will implement a platform for tuberculosis surveillance in Africa, to glean insights into the dynamics of tuberculosis infection. Such an approach can ultimately assist in rolling out cost-effective diagnostic technologies and health interventions. The pilot project involves researchers as far afield as Ghana, South Africa, Uganda and Zimbabwe, but the plan is to involve more countries once the pilot project is completed. A potential breakthrough in malaria medicine demonstrates the kind of difference big data computing can offer to African science. In 2012, researchers at UCT’s Drug Discovery and Development Centre (H3D) identified a molecule that showed great promise of not only becoming part of a single-dose cure for malaria but also possibly blocking transmission of the malaria parasite from person to person through mosquito bites. The first part of their work on this project, however, took place at Griffith University in Australia, where scientists with big data capacity screened an initial group of about 36,000 small molecules. When those compounds had been narrowed down to several hundreds, a team of scientists from H3D took over the project and further explored the antimalarial potential of the various chemotypes (or chemical classes). The candidate molecule is now in the clinical trial process, with a second next-generation back-up candidate also identified and expected to enter the same process in due course. Globally many small molecules have been screened in a similar manner, paving way for exploring new, potential medicines against malaria. This type of multinational cooperation is part of the modern research landscape around the world. With the development of big data capacity and the ARC, African science will be able to bring a more substantial contribution to such partnerships and influence new breakthroughs based on the data gleaned from projects such as the SKA. It is opening a new door of opportunity. Russell Taylor is the director of IDiA and Joint UCT/UWC/SKA chair. Bradley Frank is a lecturer at UWC and a senior researcher at IDiA. This piece was produced by SciDev.Net’s Sub-Saharan Africa English desk. This article was originally published on SciDev.Net. Read the original article. Sign up for the Quartz Africa Weekly Brief — the most important and interesting news from across the continent, in your inbox. Sign up for the Quartz Daily Brief, our free daily newsletter with the world’s most important and interesting news. SpaceX is building the world’s most powerful rocket, and it is nearly ready to fly Good luck with finding American engineers for the drudgery at companies like Infosys and Cognizant


Patent
Uct | Date: 2015-10-02

A part having at least two portions thereof secured to one another, yet moveable with respect to one another, includes a homogeneous first portion and a homogeneous second portion, wherein a portion of the first portion extends through the second portion, and is secured therein. The part can be configured as a hinge, a chain, etc., wherein the first part includes a pin extending therefrom including a second portion having an enlarged width with respect to the smallest width of a first portion thereof, which is received within a bore in the second portion, wherein the bore includes a second portion having a width greater than the smallest width of a first portion thereof, and the second portion of the pin is received within the second portion of the bore to secure the first part to the second part, but allow movement therebetween. Using additive manufacturing techniques, the first part and second part are formed simultaneously.


A wrench and method of using the wrench to properly make up threaded connections is provided. The wrench includes at least a strain gauge coupled thereto, such that when the wrench is used to turn one part of a threaded connection, the strain associated with different states of the making up of the connection is monitored, to establish a baseline condition after which the one part of the threaded connection is turned an additional number of degrees, turns, or fractions of a turn. The wrench and method may be used to make up fluid tight connections, where previously the threaded parts were finger tightened, followed by turning thereof an additional number of degrees, turns, or fractions of a turn.


News Article | May 19, 2017
Site: www.engineeringnews.co.za

A study using data stretching back several decades has produced the first empirical evidence that increasingly hot, dry summers driven by climate change are having a negative effect on the Cape’s unique fynbos. The findings also raise questions about the effect this climate change impact could have on the Western Cape’s water catchment areas in the long-term, GroundUp reported. South African Environmental Observation Network (SAEON) researcher Jasper Slingsby, a biodiversity scientist who led the research project, said while scientists had known for some time that the changing climate would likely affect ecosystems, they did not know how much the climate needed to change before any ecosystem impacts could be detected. Now, they have found an interaction between fire and climate change that is causing a loss of fynbos species. Backtrack to 1966, when botanist Hugh Taylor, who recognised the value of long-term monitoring, permanently marked out 54 plots across Cape Point, recording all plant species that occurred in each. In 1996, two UCT botanists carried out a second plant survey and in 2010 Slingsby and authors did a third. Slingsby said it was clear that there had been a decline in the number of species, but the cause was not as clear. ALIEN PLANTS Researchers identified that alien plants were a cause. There are good historical records of alien plant distribution at Cape Point. Although the aliens had been cleared 30 years earlier, the study found those plots which had had dense stands of aliens had clearly lost more fynbos species. Slingsby said while they did not know the exact mechanism that caused this, it could have been because the alien plants had altered the nature of the soil, making it less suitable for fynbos seeds to grow. “But identifying one driver of change doesn’t preclude the existence of others. What about climate change?” Slingsby wondered. The researchers looked at weather records that showed that temperatures at Cape Point had increased by more than one degree Celcius since the 1960s. They also looked at the records of fires in the study area. Fynbos depends on fire for regeneration, and without fire, fynbos would eventually disappear. In the cool wet winter after a fire, fynbos regenerates; some burned plants re-sprout and the seedlings of other species pop up. Ecologists have long known that if the first summer after a fire is hot and dry, many of the new seedlings and resprouting plants will die, which will affect the species composition of the area. Natural weather variability means that after a fire there will be some hot summers, others not so hot. But climate change is changing that. “Unfortunately, the weather record for this study site shows that the duration of hot, dry summer weather has been increasing since the 1960s, suggesting post-fire mortality of plants should be more severe. Different study plots burned at different times and when we compared the plots, those that experienced more extreme weather in the first summer after a fire, showed a significant decline in species diversity. This confirms an impact of changing climate,” Slingsby said. The study also found that fynbos species that have a low tolerance of high temperatures have been disappearing, while those that have a higher tolerance of warmer temperatures have been moving in and colonising the study areas. CLIMATIC VARIABILITY Slingsby said climatic variability may provide years that were sufficiently benign to allow fynbos to regenerate after fire. “But many species that regenerate in the first year after a fire – most species in our study – are subject to a form of climatic Russian roulette. Unfortunately, as climate change intensifies, there are fewer empty chambers in the gun,” he said. “All indications are that the winners from climate change in the Cape are the invasive species like pines, eucalyptus and wattles. These invasive alien plants use more water than the indigenous vegetation and greatly up the game in terms of scale and impact of fires,” Slingsby said. Nicky Allsopp, SAEON’s Fynbos Node Manager, said a concern was that if there was more “drastic” climate change, then after each fire there would be poorer communities of plants, which may mean poorer ground cover. Less ground cover was likely to mean more soil erosion and might also affect the ability of rainwater to infiltrate the soil. Plants slow the movement of rainwater runoff, giving it more time to seep into the ground, recharging aquifers and seeping into streams and rivers over time. The researchers conducted their study in the Cape of Good Hope section of Table Mountain National Park, one of the most botanically diverse regions in the world. SAEON scientists and researchers from three South African universities and four institutions in the US collaborated in the study. The study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.


News Article | May 19, 2017
Site: www.engineeringnews.co.za

A University of Cape Town (UCT) Unilever Institute of Strategic Marketing initiative, the African Lions research project, has established that the sub-Saharan African middle class, comprising around 100-million people, represents a R1.3-trillion a month market and is growing. Carried out in collaboration with research specialists Ipsos, the project comprised desk research, qualitative research and quantitative research in ten major African cities, including Côte d’Ivoire’s Abidjan, Ghana’s Accra, Ethiopia’s Addis Ababa, Cameroon’s Douala, Tanzania’s Dar es Salaam, Nigeria’s Kano and Lagos, Kenya’s Nairobi, Angola’s Luanda and Zambia’s Lusaka. “Information about the middle class population in sub-Saharan Africa has been scant and as the South African economy flatlines, many companies realise expanding further north is essential to growth,” said Ipsos African Lions team head Nanzala Mwaura, noting that the study contributed towards a better understanding of the consumer landscape on the continent. UCT Unilever Institute of Strategic Marketing head Paul Egan added that the study was a “massive undertaking”, which took 18 months to complete. The study further involved 150 researchers, thousands of interviews and yielded over 300 videos and 5 000 photographs from across Africa. “We’ve looked at the size, the segments and the varying definitions of the middle class within each city and have also come out with insights around an in-depth understanding of living conditions, livelihood strategies, aspirations, media consumption, buying patterns, brand relationships and much more,” continued Egan. Despite the controversial nature of the term, the middle class is generally accepted to apply to those who are not in poverty and have disposable income. With fast-growing populations, there is ever-growing competition for jobs. Unfortunately, job creation has not kept pace with urbanisation and population growth in most countries, resulting in only a third of the middle class having a full-time job. Thus, a key characteristic of middle class individuals across the continent is an entrepreneurial spirit. This is often described as ‘the hustle’ – but in the sense of the verb rather than the noun. Creative entrepreneurship manifests itself in terms of self-employment and business ownership, with setting up a business widely considered the best path for achieving one’s goals. Most of the businesses are operating in the informal sector, which is still dominant across the sub-Saharan region. It is also common for members of the middle class to diversify income streams by setting up multiple businesses. Further, a relatively high proportion of people in full-time jobs are also running businesses on the side. Supporting this dynamic is the mobile phone – 77% of the middle class own a smartphone and 83% are accessing the Internet through their smartphones. Forty-five per cent also access Facebook on a regular basis. The smartphone has become the tool of doing business and social media is an important way to promote small businesses and develop a network. As mobile money becomes more and more ubiquitous, the cellphone is also becoming the platform on which to transact and manage finances. With more people also transacting and saving via their mobile devices, more and more people can develop a credit record. “Although there is a lot of commonality, it is important to note that Africa is not a country, therefore it is important for marketers not assume that one size fits all,” said Egan.


News Article | May 19, 2017
Site: www.engineeringnews.co.za

A University of Cape Town (UCT) Unilever Institute of Strategic Marketing initiative, the African Lions research project, has established that the sub-Saharan African middle class, comprising around 100-million people, represents a R1.3-trillion a month market and is growing. Carried out alongside research specialists Ipsos, the project comprised desk research, qualitative research and quantitative research in ten major African cities, including Côte d’Ivoire’s Abidjan, Ghana’s Accra, Ethiopia’s Addis Ababa, Cameroon’s Douala, Tanzania’s Dar es Salaam, Nigeria’s Kano and Lagos, Kenya’s Nairobi, Angola’s Luanda and Zambia’s Lusaka.


Novel compound is active across the entire parasite lifecycle and holds great promise as a single dose cure A new paper published today in the prestigious journal Science Translational Medicine describes the discovery and biological profiling of an exciting new anti-malarial clinical drug candidate, MMV390048, effective against resistant strains of the malaria parasite, and across the entire parasite lifecycle, with the potential to cure and protect in a single dose. The research was conducted by the University of Cape Town (UCT)'s Drug Discovery and Development Centre, H3D, and Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV), in collaboration with a team of international researchers. The paper is the first full disclosure of data demonstrating the antimalarial promise of MMV390048 (also known as MMV048), a compound discovered by an international team led by Professor Kelly Chibale at UCT and MMV. "The ability of MMV048 to block all life cycle stages of the malaria parasite, offer protection against infection as well as potentially block transmission of the parasite from person to person suggests that this compound could contribute to the eradication of malaria, a disease that claims the lives of several hundred thousand people every year," said Professor Chibale, Founder and Director of H3D, founding Director of the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) Drug Discovery Research Unit at UCT, and senior author of the paper. In 2014, MMV048 became the first new antimalarial medicine to enter phase I human studies in Africa. Today, preparations are being made to begin phase IIa human trials on this promising compound as a single-dose cure. "This compound has enormous potential," said Dr David Reddy, MMV's CEO. "In addition to the exciting characteristics noted, it has the potential to be administered as a single dose, which could revolutionize the treatment of malaria. At MMV, we look forward to continuing our work in partnership with Professor Chibale and colleagues at UCT to pursue the development of this and future next-generation antimalarials." The project has benefited from sustained funding from MMV, the South African Technology Innovation Agency (TIA) and Strategic Health Innovation Partnerships (SHIP) unit of the SAMRC. MMV's support has also been critical in helping H3D build and reinforce their scientific networks of drug discoverers and understand the compound's role in blocking the transmission of the malaria parasite. Despite the positive impact of medication, indoor spraying with insecticides and the use of insecticide bed-nets, around 429,000 people died from malaria in 2015, mostly in Africa, according to the World Health Organisation's World Malaria Report. The paper said resistance to treatment regimens still posed a threat and highlighted the importance of developing treatments containing new chemical classes with different modes of action. Contacts: Professor Kelly Chibale, Drug Discovery and Development Centre (H3D), University of Cape Town via Saroja Naicker - saroja.naicker@uct.ac.za +27 21 6501433 (office) or Kim Cloete cloetek@yahoo.co.uk +27 82 4150736 (mobile) H3D is Africa's first integrated drug discovery and development centre. H3D was founded at the University of Cape Town in April 2011 and pioneers world-class drug discovery in Africa. The vision of H3D is to be the leading organisation for integrated drug discovery and development on the African continent. H3D strives to discover and develop innovative, life saving medicines through excellence in interdisciplinary, translational science. According to the World Health Organisation's World Malaria Report, there were 212 million new cases of malaria worldwide in 2015, with 90% of cases occurring in the WHO Africa region. In 2015, there were an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths worldwide, with 92% of these deaths occurring in Africa. Children under five are particularly susceptible to malaria illness, infection and death. In 2015, malaria killed an estimated 303,000 under-fives globally, including 292,000 children in the African region. Issued by Kim Cloete on behalf of H3D, University of Cape Town. +27 82 4150736; cloetek@yahoo.co.uk


With over 25 years of experience in the financial services and technology sectors, Christopher is a respected veteran of software sales and strategic consulting who has a proven track-record in delivering enterprise analytic software services, big data solutions, and consultative services. Working out of the Philadelphia office, he will contribute to secure UCT's leadership position and further its growth by leading the sales process while fostering sustainable relationships with both existing and prospective clients. "Christopher is known for having a consultative approach to defining and solving complex business challenges, and for delivering meaningful results for his clients, which fits perfectly with our own definition of successful business partnerships, says UCT President Rae Albertini. His strong analytical background, combined with deep industry expertise and business development skills will certainly contribute to our company's and our clients' success." About Universal Conversion Technologies (UCT) Recognized as the only North American company dedicated to life insurance data migration, UCT has specialized in high volume, complex data conversion projects that frequently involve multiple source and target systems since 1992. With its unique industry-specific expertise, UCT is a one-stop partner and solution provider for data analysis and auditing, data cleansing, conversion, balancing and reporting. The firm also offers its advanced proprietary data conversion toolset (DCA) under licensing agreements. Having successfully completed over 200 migration projects for hundreds of insurance companies and policy admin vendors, UCT has developed a unique expertise, methodology and technology stack that dramatically reduces the costs and risks associated with data migration projects. Website: www.uctcorp.com About EquiSoft Founded in 1994, EquiSoft offers innovative business solutions to its clients in the insurance and wealth management industries to support their growth by taking advantage of new technologies. In addition to being an Oracle OIPA integration partner for more than 15 carriers globally, EquiSoft also develops and markets innovative sales and engagement applications (InsuranceElements and WealthElements) recognized as having industry-leading user interface and state-of-the-art technology. To complete this unique offering, EquiSoft also brings extensive experience in data migration through its subsidiary, Universal Conversion Technologies (UCT). Recipient of the 2016 Outstanding Service Provider Award by Wealth Professionals, EquiSoft has a growing team of nearly 250 specialized resources based in the United Stated, Canada, Chile, South Africa and India. Website: www.equisoft.com


News Article | March 29, 2016
Site: www.biosciencetechnology.com

An international team of scientists, including groups from UC San Francisco, Gladstone Institutes, and the University of Cape Town (UCT), South Africa, have for the first time identified genes and gene regulatory elements that are essential in wing development in the Natal long-fingered bat (Miniopterus natalensis), a species widely distributed in eastern and southern Africa. The new research — presented in two papers published on March 28, one in Nature Genetics and one in PLoS Genetics — revealed regulatory switches that turn bat genes on and off at crucial times during limb development, and has implications for understanding how differences in the size, shape and structure of limbs are generated in mammals in general, including humans, the researchers said. “This gives us our first detailed picture of the genomics behind bat wing development,” said co-senior investigator Nadav Ahituv, Ph.D., a UCSF associate professor of bioengineering and therapeutic sciences in the UCSF School of Pharmacy and member of the UCSF Institute for Human Genetics, whose lab also studies the genetics of human limb malformations. “While some attempts have been made to identify the molecular events that led to the evolution of the bat wing, these have been primarily done on a ‘gene by gene’ basis. In contrast, this work lays out a genome-wide blueprint for the causes that led to the development of the bat wing, a key evolutionary innovation that contributed to bats becoming the second most diverse order of mammals.” Bats are the only mammals capable of powered flight — an innovation that is thought to have occurred about 50 million years ago. Biologists since Charles Darwin have used the structure of the bat wing as an example of both evolutionary novelty — the appearance of a new trait — and vertebrate homology, or shared ancestry between two seemingly different structures — in this case, the wing of the bat and the forelimb of other mammals. But the path of bats’ unique evolution is unclear, noted Nicola Illing, Ph.D., co-senior investigator in the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology at UCT. “The fossil record does not show the transition from tree-climbing mammals with short, free digits to ones that have elongated fingers supporting a wing,” Illing said. “Until now, scientists knew very little about how genes are turned on and off during bat embryonic development to transform a mammalian forelimb into a wing.” In the Nature Genetics paper, the scientists, including co-lead authors Walter L. Eckalbar, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow in Ahituv’s laboratory at UCSF, and Ph.D. student Stephen Schlebusch of UCT, first sequenced the entire genome of the Natal long-fingered bat. They then performed detailed molecular genomic analysis on bat embryos collected by Illing and her research group at the de Hoop Nature Reserve in South Africa. The researchers identified over 7,000 genes that are expressed differently in forelimbs compared with hindlimbs at three key stages of bat wing development. They found that many signaling pathways are activated differentially as well, including pathways important in limb formation, digit growth, long bone development and cell death. Also expressed differently are many proteins associated with ribosomes – molecular machines found in all cells that are responsible for protein production during limb development. “It took bats millions of years to evolve wings,” said Eckalbar. “Our work shows that they did this through thousands of genetic alterations, involving both genes used by all animals during limb development and genes whose usage in limb development may be unique to bats.” In addition, the scientists found thousands of genetic switches, called enhancers, which regulate the timing and levels of gene expression and show differences in activity between forelimbs and hindlimbs at these key stages of wing development. “Importantly, this work identified not just which genes are expressed at what stage of growth, but the genetic switches in the genome that are responsible for turning those genes on and off,” Ahituv said. In the study published in PLoS Genetics, the research team, including co-lead authors Betty M. Booker, Ph.D., a post-doctoral fellow in Ahituv’s laboratory, and Tara Friedrich, a Ph.D. student at UCSF and Gladstone Institutes, searched for the evolutionary origin of the bat wing. “We identified genomic sequences that have not changed in most vertebrates, but experienced rapid changes in the common ancestor of today’s bats,” explained Friedrich, a member of the laboratory of co-senior investigator Katherine S. Pollard, Ph.D., a senior investigator at the Gladstone Institutes, a UCSF professor of epidemiology and biostatistics, and a member of the UCSF Institute for Human Genetics. The team mapped these so-called “bat accelerated regions” (BARs) onto areas that were predicted to be important switches that turn genes on during limb development, and found 166 BARs with the potential to influence bat wing development. The researchers tested the effects of five of these BARs in genetically modified mouse embryos and found that all five bat sequences were capable of switching on a reporter gene in the developing mouse forelimb. They noted that one region, BAR116, is located near the HoxD genes, which are known to be involved in limb patterning and skeletal growth. Previously, Mandy Mason, a Ph.D. student at UCT, had shown that two of the HoxD genes — Hoxd10 and Hoxd11 — are far more active in bat wings compared to bat legs during their embryonic development. Following up these lines of evidence, the researchers showed that the bat BAR116 sequence appears to function as a genetic switch that is active in developing limbs, in particular the forelimbs, while the equivalent mouse sequence did not show any activity. “Our computational method enabled identification of DNA sequences that changed dramatically during the emergence of bats,” said Pollard. “It is exciting to see that this evolutionary signature pointed us to parts of the mammalian genome that control limb development.” In addition to unveiling new fundamental details of the evolutionary and developmental origins of powered flight in bats, the new research may provide broader insights into the biological processes that control how mammalian limbs develop in general, Ahituv said. “Importantly, this work will increase our understanding of how alterations in limb development could lead to limb malformations in humans,” he said. “Potentially, it could eventually help contribute to the development of tools and techniques to prevent such malformations.”


A notification appliance circuit (NAC) includes notification devices having a high capacity rechargeable energy storage device such as a supercapacitor and a strobe circuit. The supercapacitor can provide energy to produce flashes over an extended time period without fully discharging. The notification devices can also make use of the fallback power strategy in which the strobe circuit operates with reduced intensity while the supercapacitor is being recharged.

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