Posts tagged with "Research"

Walter Cancer Foundation Invests $11 million in IU and Purdue

The Walther Cancer Foundation will invest $11 million to advance collaborative cancer research at Indiana University and Purdue University by supporting scientists through bioinformatics — an increasingly critical aspect of their work.

Bioinformatics involves managing and analyzing the massive amounts of data generated by scientific research — turning data into knowledge that could lead to new cancer treatments.

“We hope this gift enables scientists at IU and Purdue to dig more deeply and refine their studies so they can point out new pathways to good patient outcomes in cancer,” said Tom Grein, president and CEO of the Walther Cancer Foundation. “Sometimes you have so much data, it’s hard to comprehend where it’s leading you. I hope the data-driven analysis will uncover nuggets of opportunity that would otherwise never be seen.”  

Income from the new Walther Cancer Foundation Bioinformatics Fund will continuously support bioinformatics personnel, technology, and other tools shared by the cancer research programs at both universities. In addition, IU and Purdue will make their own investments into the fund. 

“The Walther Cancer Foundation leadership understands the central importance of data and analytics in developing better treatments and, ultimately, cures for cancer,” said  IU School of Medicine Dean Jay L. Hess, MD, PhD, MPH. “We are tremendously grateful for their support and the confidence they have in our work.” 

Timothy Ratliff, the Robert Wallace Miller Director of the Purdue Center for Cancer Research, said the latest gift from the Walther Foundation is a continuation of a longstanding collaboration, commitment and investment that will build on the center’s success in cancer drug discovery and development — and will help sustain the center’s computational genomics and bioinformatics core for years to come. “Once again, we are grateful to the Walther Cancer Foundation’s vision and generosity, which is so important to our research and success. This continuing partnership, plus our own investments and fundraising, will secure what we’ve already established and enable us to grow into the future.”

Kelvin Lee, M.D., named this week as the new director of the IU Melvin and Bren Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center and the H.H. Gregg Professor of Oncology, said having strong capabilities in bioinformatics is essential to cancer research.  

“The genetic, biochemical, cellular and immune pathways that can lead to cancer are extraordinarily complex and intertwined. Recent cutting-edge advances in technology means that researchers now have unprecedented amounts of data on these pathways, but this seriously challenges our ability to analyze these huge mounds of information to make sense of what is actually going on,” Lee said. “We are fortunate that the Walther Cancer Foundation understands that breakthroughs require the expertise and the tools, like artificial intelligence, to help us analyze all this data so we can understand what’s really important.”

This level of collaboration and sharing of a key resource like a bioinformatics core is unusual among a pair of National Cancer Institute-designated cancer centers. But it also reflects the complementary nature of the two institutions.

Purdue’s Center for Cancer Research is a basic science cancer research center with more than 110 researchers that is a leader in biomedical engineering and cancer drug development.

The IU Melvin and Bren Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center is a comprehensive cancer center with nearly 250 cancer researchers who conduct basic lab work and drug development but who are also engaged in clinical care and population health research.

“Each of them has different capabilities, different levels of expertise, different interests,” Grein said. “But when you get scientists to collaborate, the outcomes are better.” 

Since its founding in 1985, the Walther Cancer Foundation has invested more than $165 million in cancer-focused medical research and in research and education aimed at supporting cancer patients and their families.

Walther has previously supported cancer bioinformatics at IU and Purdue on a year-to-year basis. This new gift establishes a fund that will ensure the bioinformatics work continues in perpetuity.

The Walther Foundation endowment provides the opportunity to develop the expertise and the tools that are needed to face current and future challenges in biology and the cancer field, said Majid Kazemian, an assistant professor in Purdue’s departments of Biochemistry and Computer Science. His research focuses on integrating computational and experimental approaches to study pathogen interaction with host cells and immune system in infectious diseases and cancers caused by pathogens. 

“The Purdue University Center for Cancer Research has nearly 100 investigators who are actively engaged in understanding molecular mechanisms of various diseases including lung, liver and prostate cancers, many of which have begun to utilize genomics data in their studies,” Kazemian said. “Large genomic public data on many diseases generated over the last decade are a treasure trove of unexplored information. Walther Foundation’s funds endowment will enable analysis of big data generated by our center’s members and collaborators as well as an exploration of growing public genomics data to contextualize and translate our findings.”  

Less-costly access to bioinformatics expertise and resources enabled by Walther Foundation will open up new avenues for many of the Purdue center’s scientists to broaden the impact and clinical translation of their discoveries, Kazemian said. “It will also encourage our scientists to perform large-scale genomics assays and will foster new collaborations.”

Harikrishna Nakshatri, Ph.D., the Marian J. Morrison Professor of Breast Cancer Research at IU School of Medicine, said he relies on bioinformaticians to design experiments, analyze data and assist him in publishing research results more quickly. The Walther Foundation gift supports that very expensive process, and the collaboration means researchers have more bioinformaticians available when they are needed. All of it combines, Nakshatri said, to enable scientists to reach conclusions that have real benefits for patients.

“If you really believe in your hypothesis,” Nakshatri said, “now you have a chance to test it because you are not burdened by the financial aspects.” 

According to Hess, the new resources will allow IU’s partnership with Purdue to continue to improve the health of Hoosiers. “We have worked closely for decades,” Hess said. “This new collaboration in data sciences will accelerate our ability to benefit cancer patients across the state and far beyond.”

About the Walther Cancer Foundation

The Indianapolis-based Walther Cancer Foundation is a private grant-making foundation that supports and promotes interdisciplinary and inter-institutional cancer research, both bench and clinical. The clinical research it supports encompasses clinical trials as well as behavioral studies, the latter as part of the foundation’s commitment to Supportive Oncology. The Walther Foundation has two primary goals: to support cancer research with the aim of discovering better treatments, if not cures, and to develop a comprehensive approach for supporting patients with cancer and their families. Since its founding, the foundation has invested over $165 million cancer-focused research.

About the Purdue Center for Cancer Research

Since 1978, the Purdue University Center for Cancer Research has been a National Cancer Institute-designated basic-research cancer center. Only seven institutions in the United States have earned this title. Being a basic-research center means it does not treat cancer patients directly. Its work focuses on investigating cancers where they begin — at the cellular level — to investigate the cause of, and cure for, one of the most devastating killers of our time. Doctors and scientists throughout the world use the center’s discoveries to develop methods, medicines and medical devices to save and enhance patient lives. 

About the IU Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center

The Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center is home to the cure of testicular cancer, the world’s only healthy breast tissue bank and is just one of 51 NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers in the nation. The prestigious comprehensive designation recognizes the center’s excellence in basic, clinical, and population research, outstanding educational activities, and effective community outreach program across the state. Its physician-scientists have made protocol-defining discoveries that have changed the way doctors treat numerous forms of cancer.

Image courtesy of Purdue University

Breast Cancer Illustration by Kaelen Felix for 360 Magazine

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and there are many ways to support the cause this month. This annual campaign is held to both spread awareness and raise money for the cause. 

The website for the National Breast Cancer Foundation provides many resources to help with this cause. Although things are challenging for everyone this year, this important organization has been fighting for women since 1993 and continues to thrive thanks to its supporters. 

New this year on the foundation’s website anyone is able to designate a donation to one of four specific causes. Donations are being accepted to screening, education, support and the general fund. 

The screening fund allows the National Mammography and Patient Navigation programs to provide free cancer screenings and mammograms to those in need; this helps remove barriers in the cancer care system. By donating to education, more women will be given resources and education to detect breast cancer early and lower their risk. To help women that have been diagnosed, donating to the support services will help them gain resources and support they need to heal. This money goes to funding HOPE Kits, Metastatic Retreats and Support Groups.

If you are unsure which program you would like to donate to, giving to the general fund allows the National Breast Cancer Foundation to designate your donation to the area they believe needs it most. You can even donate in honor or memory of someone in your life that has been impacted by breast cancer. 

The National Breast Cancer Foundation is sharing stories of hope through October. They are sharing stories of hope of survivors and those impacted by breast cancer. Stories and photos can be submitted here. This is a great way to spread hope and positive messages to those struggling with breast cancer and their loved ones. 

Available for download from the foundation is the Breast Problems That Aren’t Breast Cancer ebook. This free resource will help women recognize common problems versus breast problems that need to be looked at by a professional. 

Breast cancer screenings are important for women to get regularly so they can detect problems from the start. The United States Preventive Services recommends women ages 50 to 74 get screened every two years, while women 40 to 49 should talk to their doctor about getting screened sooner if they are at higher risk. Self-examinations are recommended for all women to check that there is no concern. 

The American Cancer Society has been hosting Making Strides Against Breast Cancer for over twenty years. This walk helps fundraise for research and support for breast cancer patients. Even though the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has canceled many events, the walk will still be taking place virtually. Donations are still being accepted and people everywhere will be coming together virtually to support the cause. 

Ways to volunteer with the National Breast Cancer Foundation are being moved virtually as well. This is a great way to give back in October instead of donating. People everywhere are helping to pack HOPE Kits for women in treatment and write encouragement cards to put in the kits. There are many ways to help in the month of October to spread awareness about breast cancer and give hope to those in need.

The non-profit organization, Susan G. Komen for the cure, also supports women with breast cancer and their families. On their website, women can find information, resources and assistance to help them with their journey. Founded in 1982 by Nancy Brinker, is the largest breast cancer organization in America.

DARPA selects Continuity Pharma to fund manufacturing technology

The COVID-19 pandemic has created supply chain gaps in critical drug products, especially those needed for the most critical patients in intensive care units across the country.

DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Project Agency) has selected Continuity Pharma, a Purdue University-affiliated company, to develop continuous manufacturing technology. The company was selected for a $1.5 million grant.

DARPA has established a competitive review process, awarding grant funding to companies presenting advanced manufacturing technologies.

Continuity Pharma’s mission is to apply novel continuous manufacturing capabilities to reshore generic drug products to the U.S., with specific focus on drugs in short supply.

“We are thrilled to be selected by DARPA to further our development efforts,” said David Thompson, a Purdue professor of organic chemistry and co-founder and chief scientific officer at Continuity. “We are one step closer to ensuring the availability of essential medicines to patients in need. It is an exciting time for Continuity Pharma.”

Grant specifics include development funding over the next 24 months, with additional funding for commercialization in the subsequent 12 months. Focus areas include capabilities for multiple API manufacturing in the Integrated Continuous Manufacturing System, with demonstrated efficiencies for rapid changeover and manufacturing efficiencies.

Continuity Pharma leaders are working with Purdue Research Foundationofficials to secure additional lab space in Purdue Research Park in West Lafayette.

About Continuity Pharma

Continuity Pharma was formed with the mission to ensure a consistent supply of high-quality essential medicines for patients in need. The company accomplishes this by applying analytical and process design expertise to create modular and portable continuous manufacturing systems for synthesizing essential generic medicines. Using high throughput methodologies, they identify the ideal reaction conditions for preparing the active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) to be manufactured efficiently in continuous flow. The result is a high yield of medical-grade API with the least toxic waste and the best opportunity for production on scale. For additional information or questions, contact the company at contact@continuitypharma.com or call 812-805-0038.

About Purdue Research Foundation

The Purdue Research Foundation is a private, nonprofit foundation created to advance the mission of Purdue University. Established in 1930, the foundation accepts gifts; administers trusts; funds scholarships and grants; acquires property; protects Purdue’s intellectual property; and promotes entrepreneurial activities on behalf of Purdue. The foundation manages the Purdue Foundry, Purdue Office of Technology Commercialization, Purdue Research Park, Purdue Technology Centers and University Development Office. In 2020, the IPWatchdog Institute ranked Purdue third nationally in startup creation and in the top 20 for patents. The foundation received the 2019 Innovation and Economic Prosperity Universities Award for Place from the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities. For more information on licensing a Purdue innovation, contact the Purdue Office of Technology Commercialization at otcip@prf.org. For more information about involvement and investment opportunities in startups based on a Purdue innovation, contact the Purdue Foundry at foundry@prf.org.

About Purdue University

Purdue University is a top public research institution developing practical solutions to today’s toughest challenges. Ranked the No. 5 Most Innovative University in the United States by U.S. News & World Report, Purdue delivers world-changing research and out-of-this-world discovery. Committed to hands-on and online, real-world learning, Purdue offers a transformative education to all. Committed to affordability and accessibility, Purdue has frozen tuition and most fees at 2012-13 levels, enabling more students than ever to graduate debt-free. See how Purdue never stops in the persistent pursuit of the next giant leap at purdue.edu.

Purdue × Abu Dhabi work on cybersecurity of drones

By Jim Bush

Abu Dhabi has intentions of making the city a leading hub for technology and innovation in the Middle East.

Part of that evolution is utilizing unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), or drones, to assist with as many tasks as possible, from delivering packages to aiding in police operations to helping investigate crashes on highways to delivering high-value transports, like organs for transplant.

With autonomy, though, comes risks of hackers and complications between interacting agents.

A group of Purdue University researchers have been tasked to make sure drones and their systems could operate securely, safely and efficiently in the United Arab Emirates capital. Inseok Hwang, a professor in the School of Aeronautics and Astronautics, is principal investigator on a three-year, $2.3-million grant from the Technology Innovation Institute in Abu Dhabi to study the application of secure drone swarms in urban environments.

The project requires expertise in autonomous vehicles, control, sensing, virtual reality and security. James Goppert, a visiting assistant professor in the School of Aeronautics and Astronautics and managing director of the UAS Research and Test Facility, and Dongyan Xu, the Samuel D. Conte Professor of Computer Science and director of CERIAS (Center for Education and Research in Information Assurance and Security), Purdue’s cybersecurity research and education center, are co-principal investigators on the project.

“We will address this problem in a highly integrated, interdisciplinary way,” Hwang said. “We will consider it from the program level to the high-level network of systems, so we accomplish the hierarchic way from the very detailed lower level, the software and hardware level, to the large network of vehicles and from the single vehicle to multivehicle. So it’s multidimensional. That’s one of the unique pieces of this project.”

The project will utilize one of Purdue’s unrivaled assets, the UAS Research and Test Facility. The 20,000-square-foot, 35-feet high facility, located at Hangar 4 of the Purdue University Airport, features the largest indoor motion capture system in the world and offers unique capabilities for novel research.

Goppert will build a mixed reality environment, combining a virtual reality urban environment with a scaled physical model of the city. The drones will fly and navigate the city, and the environment can be programmed to simulate a wide range of settings, including weather, traffic and urban development, to test the drones’ applicability and agility. The testing will be done with single vehicles as well as swarms, which could include 10 drones.

Hwang said he hasn’t seen any research done using mixed reality to this scale. Neither has Goppert.

“Our unique capability is that we have such a large environment to do it,” Goppert said. “Just running so many vehicles at once is going to be a challenge. In the past, several vehicles have been used. But if we’re going to be running swarms where each vehicle needs a rendered virtual mixed reality image, that’s going to be really computationally challenging. That’s what we’re pushing forward.

“We thought we could try to bring it as close to real-life as possible to get as many of the bugs worked out before they actually deploy such a system. We can do it all in software, but there’s an added advantage in bringing it closer to reality by making some of it actual robots.”

Hwang and Xu will have a multitiered approach from the cybersecurity and robustness standpoint. Xu will investigate from the cyber perspective of security, encryption, authentication and peer-to-peer communications. Hwang will develop a mathematical model and use the control theoretical solution approach, assessing potential cyberattacks on the systems and working to design a controller in such a way that the system becomes more resilient to attacks.

“This project reflects exciting synergies between two areas of technical excellence at Purdue: aeronautics and astronautics, and cybersecurity,” Xu said.

Ultimately, all of the research will be integrated and pieced together around the state-of-the-art test bed, which could happen toward the end of the second year of the three-year grant.

With a variety of drones tasked with different assignments, “how do we make sure they play well together?” Goppert said. “We’re trying to simulate that within our facility.”

About Purdue University

Purdue University is a top public research institution developing practical solutions to today’s toughest challenges. Ranked the No. 5 Most Innovative University in the United States by U.S. News & World Report, Purdue delivers world-changing research and out-of-this-world discovery. Committed to hands-on and online, real-world learning, Purdue offers a transformative education to all. Committed to affordability and accessibility, Purdue has frozen tuition and most fees at 2012-13 levels, enabling more students than ever to graduate debt-free. See how Purdue never stops in the persistent pursuit of the next giant leap at https://purdue.edu/.

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Are We Living Too Clean?

By Jessica ter Haar, Ph.D., scientific director of the International Probiotics Association

If the coronavirus pandemic has taught us anything, it is that proper hygiene is vital to keeping ourselves and the members of our communities safe and healthy. We are constantly reminded of the need to disinfect our hands, avoid touching our faces, keep our distance and take COVID-19 safety measures seriously.
But could all the hand washing, antibacterial cleansing and social distancing cause another health problem?

It may seem counterintuitive, but the extreme clean living our society has adopted could in fact make our body’s innate immune system weaker. Many people have entered into a sort of “microbe-phobia” to avoid the coronavirus, but it is important to remember that not all microbes are bad. In fact, many are essential for good health.
Sterilizing everything can have the unintended negative consequence of eradicating the good germs that we would normally be exposed to in our daily lives. In doing so, we are weakening our body’s own natural defenses to everyday threats.

Microbes—including bacteria, fungi, and viruses—are invisible to the naked eye, and our bodies host trillions of these microorganisms inside and out. Scientifically, this population is known as the microbiome. The gut microbiome, for example, is a concept that has been around for centuries but has only been commonly used in conversation since the early 2000s.

Some microbes are harmful and can make us sick, but many keep us healthy and should not be feared but appreciated. Understanding the role of the human microbiome has been complicated further by the confusion surrounding terminology – a big one being the differences between bacteria, fungi and viruses. It’s important to know more about them and how they differ when considering good versus bad microbes.

Bacteria are single-cell organisms, and most are not dangerous to humans. In fact, less than 1% of all bacteria are responsible for disease. Many bacteria live in our bodies and help us stay healthy. Bacterial infections can be treated with antibiotics, which kill the bacteria or at least stop the bad bacteria from multiplying.

Fungi are single-celled or multi-celled organisms that are similar to bacteria in that they live in different environments and cause disease. Fungal infections can become life-threatening if the immune system is weak, but certain fungi also have many beneficial qualities. The discovery of penicillin, a type of fungus, was due to a variety of mold which is now used to produce this antibiotic.

Viruses, including the coronavirus, are more challenging. They have no cells of their own and instead rely on host cells to multiply and replicate. Many viruses peacefully co-exist with humans, but some can cause diseases, including the relatively harmless common cold, while others can be deadly and bring about serious diseases like AIDS, measles and COVID-19. It is difficult to fight a virus with medication, which is why vaccinations are often used to support the immune system to better prepare the body to fight the virus.

As we begin practicing good hygiene and social distancing recommendations, life is feeling far from normal. But similar to the emotional effects of our isolation, by not living life, we are failing to be exposed to the good natural microbes needed to support our immune system’s defenses, metabolism, digestion and the brain’s ability to modulate mood and focus.

The question is, how can we continue hygiene measures to prevent COVID-19 without weakening our immune systems?

This is where probiotics come in. Probiotics can be the hero in our current germophobic environment to help counter the lack of microbe exposure and stimulate our body’s own bacterial population in the gut microbiome and cells. Probiotics can literally wake up sleepy bacteria and cells and assist in protecting our health.
If you are unfamiliar, probiotics are live microorganisms that, when taken in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit to the host. Experts from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and WHO created this definition of probiotics, and to date, probiotics have more than 8,000 different scientific research studies indexed by PubMed.

Something as simple as a probiotic supplement can help compensate for our ultra-clean lifestyles and add beneficial microorganisms to our daily health arsenal. Probiotics add to the functional diversity of healthy microbes within our microbiome that bolster our immune system and overall health resilience. Probiotics have quickly risen in popularity and took center stage in the past decade, primarily because of how probiotics make people feel and how they work.

According to research, people report feeling better when they are taking a probiotic, which makes perfect sense because when the gut is happy, the rest of the body seems to be in synchronicity. But let’s not forget that probiotics can also work beyond the gut. There is a lot of probiotic science that continues to evolve, and everything seems to point to positive health outcomes.

Many of the microorganisms in probiotic supplements, including Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, are similar to those naturally found in the body. Different types of probiotics have many different effects on the body like helping to maintain balance of good bacteria; producing certain vitamins and other substances; impacting our mood; and regulating weight.

Interestingly, studies of probiotics have shown beneficial immune impacts. While no probiotic has been found to treat COVID-19, research studies are currently assessing their impact. To date, more than 1,600 human clinical trials have been published about probiotics on ClinicalTrials.gov and the International Clinical Trials Registry Platform of WHO databases. The International Probiotics Association is another great resource for updates on studies and new findings with probiotics.

As we wait for life to return to normal, taking something as simple as a probiotic supplement can help our immune systems compensate for an ultra-clean lifestyle and put our minds at ease as we take steps forward to boost our health during these uncertain and challenging times. In learning more about microbes, we can embrace the power of these organisms, take the fear out of equation and develop a plan to keep our immunities strong in the face of any health crisis.

About Jessica ter Haar, Ph.D.,

Jessica ter Haar is director of scientific affairs for the International Probiotics Association (IPA) and is a microbiology expert and probiotic educator focused on digestive and women’s health. She holds a doctorate from the University of Groningen in medical microbiology and probiotics for vaginal infections, and a master’s degree in nutrition and nutraceutical sciences from the University of Guelph. Ter Haar is also the founder and chairwoman of “Women and their Microbes,” a scientific conference directed at scientists, clinicians and industry professionals focused on helping women achieve their best possible microbial health during every stage of life. In her professional work with probiotics, she uses her thorough knowledge base to underscore the importance of probiotics, make scientific knowledge accessible, and address unmet medical and research needs. Additionally, ter Haar consults with a variety of companies in the probiotic, pharmaceutical and food industries on strategies to clearly communicate, valorize and leverage scientific benefits and best practices.

Elyptol Sanitizers Clean × Heal

Elyptol is the first Type 1 eco-certified and professionally registered hand sanitizer. It harnesses the healing properties of eucalyptus oil and naturally-sourced pure ethanol to bring you a product that sanitizes in a healthy and eco-friendly way. Despite its gentle feel, make no mistake that this hand sanitizer is FDA listed and hospital grade.

To Kill Germs Gently, Think Naturally with Elyptol

The sanitizer kills 99.99997% of germs with 70% alcohol. It contains eucalyptus oil and pure ethanol derived from sugar cane to eliminate germs gently and safely. And, it uses botanical food grade ethanol and eucalyptus ingredients that are known for soothing and healing aching bones and irritated skin.

Not only is Elyptol antibacterial, but it is antimicrobial as well. For this reason, it kills a wider range of germs.

“The perfect synergy of science and nature,” notes the company on their front page. “Elyptol harnesses nature’s strengths to create skincare and hard surface hygiene products that effectively kill germs harmful to your health.”

About Elyptol:

The USA/Australian company takes its natural inspiration from those putting their lives on the line for us every day. Elyptol founder Tim O’Connor recognized just how much health care workers used sanitizers when his daughter was born. These hospital grade formulas wreaked havoc on their hands. With years of extensive research and development using green chemistry, Elyptol became the first Type 1 eco-certified and professionally registered hand sanitizer. It expertly pairs eucalyptus oil, known for its healing properties, and natural sanitizing ingredient pure ethanol, derived from sugarcane and corn. The result is an efficient formula that eliminates germs, yet it’s gentle enough on skin and safe for the environment.

Cash and wallet illustration for 360 Magazine

Women Surgeons Earn NIH Funding

Women are underrepresented in the field of academic surgery, but women surgeons are earning a disproportionate share of research grants from the National Institutes of Health, a new study has found.

Women make up 19% of surgery faculty at academic health systems but held 26.4% of prestigious “R01” grants in place at surgery departments as of October 2018, the researchers found.

“Female surgeon-scientists are underrepresented within academic surgery, but hold a greater than anticipated proportion of NIH funding,” said researcher Shayna L. Showalter, MD, a breast surgical oncologist at UVA Health and the UVA Cancer Center. “This means that female surgeon-scientists are a crucial component of future surgical research.”

Women in Surgery

Showalter and colleagues queried the number of grants from surgery departments throughout the country to determine the percentage of R01 grants held by women. They identified 212 grants held by 159 principal investigators. Of those 159 investigators, 42 were women, holding a total of 49 R01 grants. “Female surgeon scientists are doing impressive work and have been able to succeed in a very competitive research environment,” Showalter said.

Diving deeper, the researchers determined that women were more likely than men to be first-time grant recipients. More than 73% of women were first-time recipients, compared with 54.8% of men. “Within the research community, we are potentially moving away from the tradition of awarding funding to longstanding, proven researchers,” Showalter said. “Females in this study were twice as likely to be first-time grant recipients. I hope that the focus continues to be on awarding funding to a diverse group of surgeon-scientists.”

Women who held R01 grants were more likely to be part of a department with a female chair or that is more than 30 percent female, the researchers determined. They also found that women had fewer research articles published in scientific journals than did their male colleagues. “This finding may be related to the number of first-time grants and is consistent with previous studies that have demonstrated that women in academic surgery have fewer publication in general than men,” Showalter said.

The researchers encouraged surgery departments to nurture and promote female faculty, and to advocate for women in leadership positions. Strong mentorship programs are important, Showalter said.

“Currently, there are a number of accomplished female surgeon-scientists, and I am confident that many more will play crucial roles in the future of surgical research,” she said. “As a community within academia, we need to support and promote a diverse faculty.”

Findings Published

The researchers have published their findings online in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons. The research team consisted of Elizabeth D. Krebs, Adishesh K. Narahari, Ian O. Cook-Armstrong, Anirudha S. Chandrabhatla, J. Hunter Mehaffey, Gilbert R. Upchurch Jr. and Showalter.

To keep up with the latest medical research news from UVA, subscribe to the Making of Medicine blog here.

New approach to airborne disinfection uses food-coloring dyes

Purdue – Airborne Disinfection

By Chris Adam

The COVID-19 pandemic has shed new light on the needs for improved disinfection methods, both for individuals and facilities.

Purdue University innovators have developed an airborne disinfection method – using food-coloring dyes – to be applied to the entire body and rooms for sterilization purposes and lowering the risk of infection.

The Purdue team’s disinfection method uses edible materials. The Purdue team presented the technology in July during a COVID-19 virtual conference sponsored by the National Council of Entrepreneurial Tech Transfer.

“Most of the antiviral and antibacterial sprays used for airborne antiviral and antibacterial disinfectants, such as aerosolized hydrogen peroxide, ozone, and deep ultraviolet illumination, are a biohazard risk to humans,” said Young Kim, an associate professor of biomedical engineering at Purdue. “Additionally, disinfectants containing titanium dioxide and noble metal nanoparticles pose carcinogenic and cytotoxicity risks.”

Kim also said new methods are needed since transmission of pathogens (viruses and bacteria) often occurs in the air and infection with pathogens is transmitted by an airborne route. The Purdue method might also help in medical settings, where healthcare workers typically are exposed to the disease-causing agents when they take off their personal protective equipment.

The Purdue airborne antiviral phototherapy technique uses small aerosols FDA-approved food coloring dyes to mitigate the risks of airborne transmissions of pathogens. This is referred to as Photodynamic Airborne Cleaner (PAC).

“We have demonstrated with our novel solution how visible light activation of several FDA-approved food coloring dyes generate singlet oxygen, which can be used to kill airborne pathogens,” Kim said. “In the medical community, it is well known that singlet oxygen is effective to inactivate viruses. We are developing a scalable aerosol generation system for the dyes, allowing uniform fog-like dispersion lingering in the air to minimize wetting and surface staining. In addition, as health care workers are often infected when removing PPE, this technology can be installed in a confined chamber for health care professionals to change PPE in hospital settings.”

The novel photoreactive arrangement can be used in rooms where many people are present at risk of airborne pathogen exposure.

The innovators are working with the Purdue Research Foundation Office of Technology Commercialization to license this patented technology.

The researchers are looking for partners to continue developing their technology. For more information on licensing and other opportunities, contact D.H.R. Sarma of OTC at DHRSarma@prf.org and mention track code 2020-KIM-69064.

Kim also is receiving support from Purdue’s Trask Innovation Fund, which helps labs commercialize their innovations.

About Purdue Research Foundation Office of Technology Commercialization

The Purdue Research Foundation Office of Technology Commercialization operates one of the most comprehensive technology transfer programs among leading research universities in the U.S. Services provided by this office support the economic development initiatives of Purdue University and benefit the university’s academic activities through commercializing, licensing and protecting Purdue intellectual property. The office recently moved into the Convergence Center for Innovation and Collaboration in Discovery Park District, adjacent to the Purdue campus. In fiscal year 2020, the office reported 148 deals finalized with 225 technologies signed, 408 disclosures received and 180 issued U.S. patents. The office is managed by the Purdue Research Foundation, which received the 2019 Innovation and Economic Prosperity Universities Award for Place from the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities. In 2020, IPWatchdog Institute ranked Purdue third nationally in startup creation and in the top 20 for patents. The Purdue Research Foundation is a private, nonprofit foundation created to advance the mission of Purdue University. Contact otcip@prf.org for more information.

About Purdue University

Purdue University is a top public research institution developing practical solutions to today’s toughest challenges. Ranked the No. 6 Most Innovative University in the United States by U.S. News & World Report, Purdue delivers world-changing research and out-of-this-world discovery. Committed to hands-on and online, real-world learning, Purdue offers a transformative education to all. Committed to affordability and accessibility, Purdue has frozen tuition and most fees at 2012-13 levels, enabling more students than ever to graduate debt-free. See how Purdue never stops in the persistent pursuit of the next giant leap at purdue.edu.

Don't Bank on the Bomb illustration done by Mina Tocalini of 360 MAGAZINE.

Don’t Bank on the Bomb and Civil Society

By Susi Snyder

A vibrant civil society is an indicator of a healthy society. It encompasses many things, from the business sector to NGOs to coalitions and campaigns. Civil society can calibrate the moral compass we need to guide decision making. Often driven by a humanitarian imperative, civil society works consistently to strengthen international law, to protect civilians, and to advance our human development beyond old clumsy tools of indiscriminate harm. Civil society helps us hold our elected officials accountable to their commitments to disarmament and building just peace. I am honored to stand on the shoulders of those who came before me, who kept the fire burning for nuclear abolition.

In 2017 the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) won the Nobel Peace Prize for the Treaty to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons. One of the projects we are proud to implement as part of ICAN is Don’t Bank on the Bomb. Through our unique research and publication, we publicly identify the companies behind the production of nuclear weapons.

Because nuclear weapons are not only produced by government agencies, in most of the nuclear-armed countries, private companies produce the key components necessary to use nuclear weapons.

Don’t Bank on the Bomb identifies the companies involved, and also names the banks, pension funds and insurance companies that invest in them. These financial institutions are trying to make a profit by helping to build inhumane and indiscriminate weapons. We name them and actively engage with them to encourage them to end their investments. We also encourage the governments that are currently ratifying the treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons to include an understanding that the prohibition on production also prohibits any investment in the companies that produce them.

Don’t Bank on the Bomb is also a way for civil society to play another of its necessary roles–to keep offering hope and confidence that change is possible. We make it a point to also profile those institutions that have rejected any association with nuclear weapons producers–those that have excellent policies prevent investment. It is important to always have role models.

We know from other efforts that divestment, by even a few institutions, for the same reason can have a tremendous impact on the way a company operates. In 2017, two American companies decided to end the production of cluster bombs, despite the failure of the US to sign onto the Cluster Munitions Convention. The companies said they wanted to enable European investors to invest in them again.

Divestment activities are powerful, and they generate change. They are also something anyone who has a bank account or pension plan can do. The recipe for success is simple: a bit of information, a bit of courage, and a healthy dose of perseverance. Simply asking your bank if they have a policy on nuclear weapons and telling them if they don’t, they should, is a great way to start. Sending a message like that actively reinforces the idea that nuclear weapons are inhumane and unacceptable. They are not a sustainable industry, and the time to end investments is now. 

Hope is fuelled by the opportunity to take action. These opportunities are provided by civil society globally and they build on one another. A small success can build and grow and eventually become a world changing event.

Twenty years ago, when the treaty to ban anti-personnel landmines was signed, we witnessed the power of civil society and the potential of humanitarian disarmament. It continued with the prohibition of cluster munitions and now includes the prohibition on nuclear weapons. Civil society, working with States and international organizations, can and does harness the power to prevent unacceptable suffering and redirect energies towards building sustainable and just societies.

Civil society plays many roles. It elevates and amplifies the voices of those affected. It reframes and reshapes discussions. Civil society can move politicians to show leadership and advance policies to move mountainous agendas, at least a little bit. Civil society provides the evidence, the research, and the justification for acting to prevent harm, to disarm now–before it is too late. And civil society is creative. We come up with slogans and cheers, demonstrating in the streets, or dancing atop decommissioned missile silos. Civil society is a necessary partner in moving the abolition agenda, and through all our efforts, civil society continues to hope–hope that the goodness in every human heart will shine through the darkest of times and lead us to the light of a nuclear-weapons-free world.

Today we need that hope. The hope found in campaigns like the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN). The hope portrayed by our partners around the world. And with that I hope we will continue to work together to achieve nuclear disarmament and integral human development.

Susi Snyder is the primary author and coordinator of the joint PAX and ICAN project, Don’t Bank on the Bomb. Her testimony for the Holy See is published in A World Free from Nuclear Weapons: The Vatican Conference on Disarmament (Georgetown University Press, 2020). It is published at the solemn 75th anniversary of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings. 

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Stetson University Researcher Says Porn Does Not Cause Violent Sex Crimes

Stetson – Porn Study

Pornography creates a fantasy world for its fans, but does it lead to sexual aggression? That question has been the subject of numerous studies dating back to the 1970s. The effects of porn and violent sex crimes has also been debated for decades because of issues with morality.

New research findings published in the Sage Publishing journal Trauma, Violence & Abuse suggest there is no connection between pornography consumption and sexual violence.

Pornography and Sexual Aggression: Can Meta-Analysis Find a Link?” is based on research by Chris Ferguson, Ph.D., professor of psychology at Stetson University, and Richard Hartley, Ph.D., Criminology and Criminal Justice Department chair and professor at The University of Texas at San Antonio. The authors conducted meta-analytic research and examined more than 50 correlational, experimental, and population studies that explored the association between pornography and sexual aggression during the past 40 years.

Eleven years ago, Ferguson and Hartley conducted a study on pornography and sexual aggression and recently decided to collect data and re-evaluate the validity of the previous research studies they had reviewed because there was a renewed interest in the subject matter.

They found that poorly designed studies tended to be more likely to support a link between pornography and sexually assaultive behavior.

“During the past few years, many states have declared that pornography is a public health crisis,” said Ferguson. “Dr. Hartley and I were curious to see if evidence could support such claims, at least in regard to sexual aggression, or whether politicians were mistaking moral stances for science. Our evidence suggests that policymakers should examine other causes of sexual aggression and that beliefs about pornography may be driven more by methodological mistakes than sound science.”

Ferguson and Hartley noted that previous research found that hostility, callousness and delinquent behavior were determinants of sexual aggression and that the effects of those personality traits are much stronger than those of pornography consumption.

Correlational studies provided an analysis of the participants’ absorption of sexually explicit materials at various levels and their sexual attitudes and behavior.

Experimental research randomly assigned and exposed men to violent pornography, nonviolent pornography and nonpornographic media, and measured their attitudes toward women or about sexually aggressive behavior by having them complete a questionnaire afterwards. Men also participated in laboratory studies that tested their aggressive behavior towards women.

Neither correlational nor experimental studies provided evidence that supported concerns about pornography.

At the population level, studies explored the relationship between pornography consumers and sexual violence, and found that an increase in available pornography reduced sexual aggression.

The journal article also sheds some light on bias in pornography and sexual aggression research.

“I hope that Dr. Hartley and I can point out some of the widespread problems in much of the research as well as the culture of this field whereas some scholars appear to be too quick to try and find evidence for effects,” said Ferguson. “We need more preregistered, transparent research and a field that is looking to falsify hypotheses and not entirely in confirmatory mode because it feels morally right.”

Ferguson, who is well-known for his research on the effects of aggression, sexual behavior and video game violence, received his doctorate in clinical psychology from the University of Central Florida. His clinical background includes working with offender and juvenile justice populations as well as conducting evaluations for child protective services.