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Dunedin, New Zealand

The University of Otago in Dunedin is New Zealand's oldest university. It had over 21,000 students enrolled during 2011.The university has New Zealand's highest average research quality and in New Zealand is second only to the University of Auckland in the number of A rated academic researchers it employs. It topped the New Zealand Performance Based Research Fund evaluation in 2006.Founded in 1869 by a committee including Thomas Burns, the university opened in July 1871. Its motto is "Sapere aude" . The Otago University Students' Association answers this with its own motto, "Audeamus" . The university's graduation song Gaudeamus igitur, iuvenes dum sumus... acknowledges students will continue to live up to the challenge if not always in the way intended. Between 1874 and 1961 the University of Otago was a part of the University of New Zealand, and issued degrees in its name.Otago is known for its student life, particularly its flatting, which is often in old sub-standard houses. The nickname Scarfie comes from the habit of wearing a scarf during cold southern winters. The Scarfie term is also referenced in the movie Scarfies. Wikipedia.

Ireton K.,University of Otago
Open Biology | Year: 2013

Several bacterial pathogens, including Listeria monocytogenes, Shigella flexneri and Rickettsia spp., have evolved mechanisms to actively spread within human tissues. Spreading is initiated by the pathogen-induced recruitment of host filamentous (F)-actin. F-actin forms a tail behind the microbe, propelling it through the cytoplasm. The motile pathogen then encounters the host plasma membrane, forming a bacterium-containing protrusion that is engulfed by an adjacent cell. Over the past two decades, much progress has been made in elucidating mechanisms of F-actin tail formation. Listeria and Shigella produce tails of branched actin filaments by subverting the host Arp2/3 complex. By contrast, Rickettsia forms tails with linear actin filaments through a bacterial mimic of eukaryotic formins. Compared with F-actin tail formation, mechanisms controlling bacterial protrusions are less well understood. However, recent findings have highlighted the importance of pathogen manipulation of host cell-cell junctions in spread. Listeria produces a soluble protein that enhances bacterial protrusions by perturbing tight junctions. Shigella protrusions are engulfed through a clathrin-mediated pathway at 'tricellular junctions' - specialized membrane regions at the intersection of three epithelial cells. This review summarizes key past findings in pathogen spread, and focuses on recent developments in actin-based motility and the formation and internalization of bacterial protrusions. © 2013 The Authors.

Darlow B.A.,University of Otago
Archives of disease in childhood. Fetal and neonatal edition | Year: 2013

The publication of the BEAT-ROP study of bevacizumab (Avastin) treatment for Zone I and II retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) has raised hopes that there might now be a simpler, cheaper and more effective treatment than laser therapy, the current standard of care. However, we would urge caution at this point in time. We review the scientific background to the use of intravitreal anti-vascular endothelial growth factor for ROP, highlight a number of design issues in the BEAT-ROP study and problems with interpretation of the results. For example, no visual outcomes were reported and the study was underpowered to assess longer term safety. Intravitreal bevacizumab leaks into the systemic circulation in animals and adult humans and there are real concerns of potential harm to the developing preterm infant because vascular growth factors play a critical role in organogenesis. We conclude that bevacizumab should be reserved for exceptional circumstances and compassionate use pending further studies. Laser remains the proven effective therapy for first line treatment of all forms of ROP with little systemic morbidity. Neonatology and ophthalmology have an impressive record of conducting collaborative multicentre studies and we urgently need further rigorously designed, adequately powered randomised trials of anti-VEGF agents that evaluate visual outcomes as well as short and long term ocular and systemic safety.

Gillespie L.D.,University of Otago
Cochrane database of systematic reviews (Online) | Year: 2012

Approximately 30% of people over 65 years of age living in the community fall each year. This is an update of a Cochrane review first published in 2009. To assess the effects of interventions designed to reduce the incidence of falls in older people living in the community. We searched the Cochrane Bone, Joint and Muscle Trauma Group Specialised Register (February 2012), CENTRAL (The Cochrane Library 2012, Issue 3), MEDLINE (1946 to March 2012), EMBASE (1947 to March 2012), CINAHL (1982 to February 2012), and online trial registers. Randomised trials of interventions to reduce falls in community-dwelling older people. Two review authors independently assessed risk of bias and extracted data. We used a rate ratio (RaR) and 95% confidence interval (CI) to compare the rate of falls (e.g. falls per person year) between intervention and control groups. For risk of falling, we used a risk ratio (RR) and 95% CI based on the number of people falling (fallers) in each group. We pooled data where appropriate. We included 159 trials with 79,193 participants. Most trials compared a fall prevention intervention with no intervention or an intervention not expected to reduce falls. The most common interventions tested were exercise as a single intervention (59 trials) and multifactorial programmes (40 trials). Sixty-two per cent (99/159) of trials were at low risk of bias for sequence generation, 60% for attrition bias for falls (66/110), 73% for attrition bias for fallers (96/131), and only 38% (60/159) for allocation concealment.Multiple-component group exercise significantly reduced rate of falls (RaR 0.71, 95% CI 0.63 to 0.82; 16 trials; 3622 participants) and risk of falling (RR 0.85, 95% CI 0.76 to 0.96; 22 trials; 5333 participants), as did multiple-component home-based exercise (RaR 0.68, 95% CI 0.58 to 0.80; seven trials; 951 participants and RR 0.78, 95% CI 0.64 to 0.94; six trials; 714 participants). For Tai Chi, the reduction in rate of falls bordered on statistical significance (RaR 0.72, 95% CI 0.52 to 1.00; five trials; 1563 participants) but Tai Chi did significantly reduce risk of falling (RR 0.71, 95% CI 0.57 to 0.87; six trials; 1625 participants).Multifactorial interventions, which include individual risk assessment, reduced rate of falls (RaR 0.76, 95% CI 0.67 to 0.86; 19 trials; 9503 participants), but not risk of falling (RR 0.93, 95% CI 0.86 to 1.02; 34 trials; 13,617 participants).Overall, vitamin D did not reduce rate of falls (RaR 1.00, 95% CI 0.90 to 1.11; seven trials; 9324 participants) or risk of falling (RR 0.96, 95% CI 0.89 to 1.03; 13 trials; 26,747 participants), but may do so in people with lower vitamin D levels before treatment.Home safety assessment and modification interventions were effective in reducing rate of falls (RR 0.81, 95% CI 0.68 to 0.97; six trials; 4208 participants) and risk of falling (RR 0.88, 95% CI 0.80 to 0.96; seven trials; 4051 participants).

Hohmann-Marriott M.F.,University of Otago | Blankenship R.E.,Washington University in St. Louis
Annual Review of Plant Biology | Year: 2011

Energy conversion of sunlight by photosynthetic organisms has changed Earth and life on it. Photosynthesis arose early in Earth's history, and the earliest forms of photosynthetic life were almost certainly anoxygenic (non-oxygen evolving). The invention of oxygenic photosynthesis and the subsequent rise of atmospheric oxygen approximately 2.4 billion years ago revolutionized the energetic and enzymatic fundamentals of life. The repercussions of this revolution are manifested in novel biosynthetic pathways of photosynthetic cofactors and the modification of electron carriers, pigments, and existing and alternative modes of photosynthetic carbon fixation. The evolutionary history of photosynthetic organisms is further complicated by lateral gene transfer that involved photosynthetic components as well as by endosymbiotic events. An expanding wealth of genetic information, together with biochemical, biophysical, and physiological data, reveals a mosaic of photosynthetic features. In combination, these data provide an increasingly robust framework to formulate and evaluate hypotheses concerning the origin and evolution of photosynthesis. Copyright © 2011 by Annual Reviews. All rights reserved.

Bates A.E.,University of Otago
Nature communications | Year: 2010

The thermal characteristics of an organism's environment affect a multitude of parameters, from biochemical to evolutionary processes. Hydrothermal vents on mid-ocean ridges are created when warm hydrothermal fluids are ejected from the seafloor and mixed with cold bottom seawater; many animals thrive along these steep temperature and chemical gradients. Two-dimensional temperature maps at vent sites have demonstrated order of magnitude thermal changes over centimetre distances and at time intervals from minutes to hours. To investigate whether animals adapt to this extreme level of environmental variability, we examined differences in the thermal behaviour of mobile invertebrates from aquatic habitats that vary in thermal regime. Vent animals were highly responsive to heat and preferred much cooler fluids than their upper thermal limits, whereas invertebrates from other aquatic environments risked exposure to warmer temperatures. Avoidance of temperatures well within their tolerated range may allow vent animals to maintain a safety margin against rapid temperature fluctuations and concomitant toxicity of hydrothermal fluids.

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