Dr Samantha Dolan – Investigating Facilitators and Barriers to Electronic Immunisation Registry Implementation in Tanzania and Zambia

Dr Samantha Dolan – Investigating Facilitators and Barriers to Electronic Immunisation Registry Implementation in Tanzania and Zambia

Digital health interventions have the potential to revolutionalise the management of health information. Despite reduced costs and increased accessibility of technology across the world, the implementation of digital health technologies in low- and middle-income countries has been less than optimal. Dr Samantha Dolan at PATH and the University of Washington and her colleagues investigated the perceived facilitators and barriers to electronic immunisation registry implementation in Tanzania and Zambia, and provide important recommendations for future practice.

Dr Ruth MacKinnon – Genome Organisation and Centromeres and the Evolution of Cancerous Cell Lines

Dr Ruth MacKinnon – Genome Organisation and Centromeres and the Evolution of Cancerous Cell Lines

There are over 3,600 established cell lines from 150 different species that can be used for scientific and medical research. In two recent studies, Dr Ruth MacKinnon and her team from St Vincent’s Hospital in Melbourne used multiple molecular methods to investigate changes in the way the genes are organised in two types of these cells. They demonstrated the importance of using multiple complementary methods and found that these cells can continue to evolve in the laboratory. They also uncovered evidence of a previously unreported process called ‘centromere capture’ which may be involved in the evolution of cancer cells.

Investigating the Impact of Tannins on Gut Bacteria in Pigs

Investigating the Impact of Tannins on Gut Bacteria in Pigs

Weaning is an important time in the pig lifecycle, and changes in diet and environment can lead to unbalanced gut microbiota and pathogen colonisation. Prof. Luciana Rossi, Dr. Matteo Dell’Anno from the University of Milan, and Dr. Maria Luisa Callegari from Catholic University of Sacred Heart, have been investigating the impact on gut bacteria of adding natural compounds known as tannins to piglet food. Importantly, they found that tannins do affect the gut bacteria; with increases seen in bacteria associated with improved growth and gut health, and in particular, those that produce butyrate – a substance with proven health benefits.

Dr Jacopo Di Russo – Understanding the Complexity of Epithelia

Dr Jacopo Di Russo – Understanding the Complexity of Epithelia

Epithelial tissue is a protective layer of cells bound together into thin sheets that coat the internal and external surfaces of major body organs. The largest is the epidermis – the outer layer of the skin. This sheet-like structure is integral to its function and is maintained by a complex scaffolding network called the extracellular matrix (ECM). Dr Jacopo Di Russo and his colleagues at the Interdisciplinary Centre for Clinical Research of the University Hospital of Aachen, Germany, have recently discussed the diverse nature of the ECM and its hugely unmet potential within bioengineering.

Dr Ben Jones – Key Advances in Measuring the Effect of Training in Competitive Swimmers

Dr Ben Jones – Key Advances in Measuring the Effect of Training in Competitive Swimmers

Swimming was one of the nine original Olympic sports in 1896, and to this day, remains one of the most popular competitive and recreational sports. However, methods to track the effect of training programmes and physiological changes in swimmers have lagged behind those of other sports due to difficulties caused by the aquatic environment. Dr Ben Jones and his team from the University of Essex have used a novel underwater near infrared spectrometer to monitor the effects of a training programme on muscle oxygenation in teenage swimmers.

The 2022 Prince Mahidol Award Conference: Building the World We Want

The 2022 Prince Mahidol Award Conference: Building the World We Want

Humanity is facing many challenges, ranging from COVID-19 to climate change, and from natural resource depletion to social inequity. The Prince Mahidol Award Conference is an annual event held in Bangkok, where leaders and experts meet to discuss global challenges. This year, the theme was ‘The World We Want: Actions Towards a Sustainable, Fairer and Healthier Society’.

Effects of DNA Repair Mechanisms, Oestrogen and Environmental Chemicals on Risk for Breast Cancer | Dr Joseph Jerry

Effects of DNA Repair Mechanisms, Oestrogen and Environmental Chemicals on Risk for Breast Cancer | Dr Joseph Jerry

All women are exposed to oestrogen from puberty through menopause. Oestrogen is a natural hormone that is important for breast development and the maintenance of tissues in women but is also linked to an increased risk of breast cancer. As many as 1 in 8 women in the USA will be diagnosed with breast cancer over their lifetime, and the majority of these breast cancers are sensitive to oestrogen. Dr Joseph Jerry and his collaborators at the University of Massachusetts are studying the environmental exposures and genetic differences that alter the consequences of exposure to oestrogens.

Does Mechanical Ventilation Cause Further Brain Trauma? | Dr Thiago Bassi

Does Mechanical Ventilation Cause Further Brain Trauma? | Dr Thiago Bassi

Mechanical ventilation is a medical treatment that artificially enables the body to breathe. Despite being a potentially life-saving intervention, there are concerns it can cause damage to vital organs, such as the brain and lungs. Dr Thiago Bassi from Simon Fraser University in Canada, has undertaken a review of published studies in this field. His findings indicate a potential link between ventilator usage and cognitive impairment whilst highlighting the need for further research.

Discovering Unmapped Molecular Targets for Novel Covalent Drugs | Dr Mikail Abbasov

Discovering Unmapped Molecular Targets for Novel Covalent Drugs | Dr Mikail Abbasov

Covalent drugs are molecules that irreversibly bind to specific, targeted sites in the body. They work to inhibit the disease-causing functions of certain proteins by preventing them from interacting with other substances. This is a highly promising field of drug development and the focus of Dr Mikail Abbasov from Cornell University, New York, USA. By creating and utilising new technologies and through collaborative research, Dr Abbasov has mapped novel molecular targets for potential covalent drugs to treat ailments ranging from cancer to autoimmune diseases.

Understanding Why Obesity is a Risk Factor for Cancer | Dr Aliccia Bollig-Fischer

Understanding Why Obesity is a Risk Factor for Cancer | Dr Aliccia Bollig-Fischer

Cancer can be caused by genetic mutations or epigenetic alterations, which are changes to the way DNA is processed, rather than to the DNA itself. These changes can be brought about by obesity, and more specifically, oxidative stress and consequent reactive oxygen species. However, the molecular mechanisms by which this occurs are not well understood. Dr Aliccia Bollig-Fischer from Wayne State University School of Medicine in Michigan is studying these processes and paving the way for the development of novel cancer therapeutics.

Discovery of Neurotrophic Factor-α1 Reveals New Treatment Strategies for Stress-induced Neurodegenerative Diseases and Depression | Dr Y. Peng Loh

Discovery of Neurotrophic Factor-α1 Reveals New Treatment Strategies for Stress-induced Neurodegenerative Diseases and Depression | Dr Y. Peng Loh

Stress produces numerous negative effects on the human body. Lying deep within the brain, one particularly sensitive area is the hippocampus, where chronic exposure to stress hormones can lead to the degeneration and death of neurons. Thankfully, the brain holds defence mechanisms that block some of these negative effects. Deciphering these mechanisms with the aim of better treating neurodegenerative diseases and depression is Dr Y. Peng Loh from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development in the USA.

Obsessive-compulsive Disorder: The Genetic Links Between Traits and Clinical Diagnosis

Obsessive-compulsive Disorder: The Genetic Links Between Traits and Clinical Diagnosis

Although obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a commonly occurring psychiatric disorder, the underlying genetic basis has until recently, remained poorly defined. Drs Christie Burton, Jennifer Crosbie, and Russell Schachar at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) in Toronto, Canada, and Dr. Paul Arnold at the University of Calgary and The Mathison Centre for Mental Health Research & Education and their extensive network of collaborators conducted a genome-wide association study to address this key gap. These researchers are the first to empirically demonstrate that OCD and obsessive-compulsive traits have a shared genetic risk, and start to pinpoint the genetic basis of this.

Teaching Algorithms to Caption Ultrasound Images | Dr Mohammad Alsharid

Teaching Algorithms to Caption Ultrasound Images | Dr Mohammad Alsharid

Medical professionals require years of training before they can describe ultrasound images of developing foetuses. Dr Mohammad Alsharid and colleagues from the Institute of Biomedical Engineering and Nuffield Department of Women’s and Reproductive Health at the University of Oxford suggest that this task could one day be carried out by machine learning algorithms. In their latest study, the team showed how neural networks, trained by the expert knowledge of real sonographers, could convert subtle features within the images into accurate, readable captions.

What Makes an Effective Grants Peer Reviewer? | Dr Tiffani Conner

What Makes an Effective Grants Peer Reviewer? | Dr Tiffani Conner

Peer review is a key component in the determination of funding allocation, especially within the science and technology sectors. However, the literature evaluating this process is sparse, often focusing on outcomes rather than the methodology. Dr Tiffani Conner and her colleagues from Oak Ridge Associated Universities in the USA have researched which specific skills are most desirable in a reviewer and how these can be enhanced, whilst also evaluating the impact of review format.

Revolutionising Understanding of the Myometrium to Prevent Preterm Birth

Revolutionising Understanding of the Myometrium to Prevent Preterm Birth

Preterm birth refers to the birth of a baby before 37 weeks of completed gestation. An estimated 15 million babies are born prematurely each year and sadly, this prevalence is rising. Approximately 1 million die as a result of premature birth, and those who survive are at risk of lifelong disabilities. Dr Buxton and his team at the University of Nevada, Reno, are studying the role of the smooth muscle of the uterus to elucidate its role in preterm labour and birth.

Dr Fatima Rehman – A New Biological Tool to Assess the Efficacy of Chemotherapy in Breast Cancer

Dr Fatima Rehman – A New Biological Tool to Assess the Efficacy of Chemotherapy in Breast Cancer

There is an urgent need for prognostic tools that can accurately predict the outcomes of patients undergoing treatment for breast cancer. Dr Fatima Rehman and her colleagues investigated the relationship between breast cancer prognosis and the secretion of a biological marker called Galectin-3 to drive forward the development of optimised treatment regimes. This work was conducted at Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital and Research Centre in Pakistan.

Using Machine Learning to Predict Bacterial Growth According to the Media Components

Using Machine Learning to Predict Bacterial Growth According to the Media Components

Bacterial growth depends on the complex interactions of a multitude of chemical components. Microbiologists have long attempted to predict bacterial growth according to culture media components, and have employed a variety of mathematical and computational models to this end. Dr Bei-Wen Ying and her colleagues at the University of Tsukuba, Japan, successfully applied machine learning to understand the contribution of media culture components to bacterial growth. Their work makes a significant contribution to growth prediction and demonstrates that machine learning can be employed in the exploration of the complex dynamics that regulate living systems.

Translational Imaging Innovations: Accelerating Ophthalmic Research Through an Integrated Online Platform

Translational Imaging Innovations: Accelerating Ophthalmic Research Through an Integrated Online Platform

Led by Dr. Eric Buckland, Translational Imaging Innovations, Inc. (TII) provides purpose-driven software systems that drive such ophthalmic research forward. The TII image management platform provides researchers with the tools to manage multifaceted imaging workflows and efficiently organize and analyse complex sets of images and data to accelerate the development of new diagnoses and treatments for eye diseases. By unleashing the power of the eye, TII aims to transform medicine.

Establishing a Positive Control for CD4 Cells: A Vital Addition to the Research Toolkit

Establishing a Positive Control for CD4 Cells: A Vital Addition to the Research Toolkit

Measurement of CD4 T cell-mediated immunity requires functional tests to be conducted with viable peripheral blood mononuclear cells, PBMC. Recently, scientists at CTL successfully developed a positive control that not only verifies the functionality of CD4 T cells in PBMC, but also that the antigen-presenting cell compartment is unimpaired in the test sample as well.

Improving the Outlook for Children with Congenital Heart Disease | Dr Marta Erlandson

Improving the Outlook for Children with Congenital Heart Disease | Dr Marta Erlandson

Congenital heart disease (CHD) is one of the most common birth defects across the globe. Although prospects and survival rates are improving, there is scant understanding or help available to get children with CHD active. Many believe physical activity is risky or outright dangerous, and as a result, children with CHD are at risk of obesity and other chronic conditions later in life. Dr Marta Erlandson from the University of Saskatchewan has aided the creation of CHAMPS, an innovative program for children with CHD, where researchers and children are learning how to manage the disorder from each other.

The Unease Modulation Model: Revolutionising Health, Stress Management and Public Policy | Dr Joseph Arpaia – Dr Judith P. Andersen

The Unease Modulation Model: Revolutionising Health, Stress Management and Public Policy | Dr Joseph Arpaia – Dr Judith P. Andersen

Stress is inherently prevalent in our lives and can have seriously deleterious impacts on individual health and well-being, as well as society more broadly. Dr Joseph Arpaia a psychiatrist in private practice in the USA, and colleague Dr Judith P. Andersen of the University of Toronto Mississauga in Canada, have proposed a new theoretical account of stress that has the potential to revolutionise clinical care in the fields of psychiatry and addiction, and improve well-being on a global level.

Preventing Rabies: A Deadly but Neglected Disease | Dr Joanne Maki

Preventing Rabies: A Deadly but Neglected Disease | Dr Joanne Maki

Rabies is transmitted from animals to humans through the bite of an infected animal, all too often with fatal consequences, particularly in the developing world. Dr Joanne Maki, Technical Director for the Veterinary Public Health Centre at Boehringer-Ingelheim Animal Health, has worked in rabies prevention for 30 years. With extensive background and experience gained in the rabies vaccine industry, Dr Maki shares her perspectives on the call to action to eliminate this deadly zoonotic disease.

Immigration, Epidemic Mortality and Demographic Recovery | Dr Pierre Galanaud

Immigration, Epidemic Mortality and Demographic Recovery | Dr Pierre Galanaud

Dr Pierre Galanaud, an immunologist from Paris-Saclay University and Inserm UMR 996, analysed historical tax records to investigate the impact of epidemics on recent emigrants who experienced the 15th century plagues in Dijon, France. His research highlights the vulnerability of emigrants with low economic status to epidemic-related mortality. More broadly, his work demonstrates the important role that migrants play in population growth and demographic recovery after an epidemic has taken place. These findings are of particular relevance given the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Dream Warmer: An Innovative, Safe and Effective Complement to Skin-to-Skin Care for Neonatal Hypothermia | Dr Anne Hansen

Dream Warmer: An Innovative, Safe and Effective Complement to Skin-to-Skin Care for Neonatal Hypothermia | Dr Anne Hansen

Dr Anne Hansen is the Medical Director of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and Associate Chief of the Division of Newborn Medicine at Boston Children’s Hospital. With her colleagues, Dr Hansen has developed and tested a low cost, non-electrical warming mattress called the ‘Dream Warmer’ to help prevent and treat neonatal hypothermia in countries with limited medical resources. Her team has conducted extensive testing in Rwanda with results demonstrating that this medical device is safe, effective and ready for use on a wider scale.

Understanding Sudden Unexpected Infant Death: A Unique Collaboration

Understanding Sudden Unexpected Infant Death: A Unique Collaboration

When a supposedly healthy infant passes away, it can be hard to understand why. Juan Lavista Ferres (Microsoft), Dr Jan-Marino Ramirez and Dr Tatiana Anderson (both from Seattle Children’s Research Institute), and Professor Edwin Mitchell (University of Auckland), form the core of a novel collaboration to conduct vital and extensive research into the risk factors and mechanisms behind sudden unexpected infant death. This unique collaboration spanning across disciplines, industries and continents, is providing the deeper understanding that is needed to prevent unnecessary infant deaths.

Return of Baird’s Tapir: Blessing or Omen? | Dr LaRoy Brandt – Maggie Singleton

Return of Baird’s Tapir: Blessing or Omen? | Dr LaRoy Brandt – Maggie Singleton

The destruction of jungle and forest habitats is a serious issue threatening species across the globe. Dr LaRoy Brandt and Maggie Singleton of Lincoln Memorial University studied one such threatened species, Baird’s tapir, in Costa Rica. By identifying the tapir’s tracks and deploying remote trail cameras, the team caught rare glimpses of this threatened species, indicating a return of the native population and an increase in their numbers. The question is, however, is this increase a sign of improving habitats or a result of less favourable forces at play?

Confronting Challenges to the Uptake of Digital Healthcare | Paola Mattei

Confronting Challenges to the Uptake of Digital Healthcare | Paola Mattei

Digital healthcare promises a wealth of benefits for current healthcare systems, yet its uptake has been remarkably slow across Europe. Taking the example of the UK in particular, Paola Mattei, Associate Professor in Political Science at the University of Milan, Italy, has recently considered the explanations for the slow uptake of digital healthcare and provides a commentary on why this is the case and what challenges now need to be faced to ensure success.

Do Maternal Influences on Birthweight Influence Future Cardiometabolic Risk? | Dr Gunn-Helen Moen

Do Maternal Influences on Birthweight Influence Future Cardiometabolic Risk? | Dr Gunn-Helen Moen

Adverse environmental factors in the mother’s womb and/or during the first years of life have traditionally been thought to be responsible for an increased risk of cardiometabolic disease for children later in life. Dr Gunn-Helen Moen [MO-en] at the University of Oslo in Norway and her collaborators used sophisticated statistical and genetic techniques to identify whether there is a causal effect of environmental factors that influence intrauterine growth on future cardiometabolic risk in the child. Their results were surprising but important.

Using Machine Learning to Predict Bacterial Growth According to the Media Components | Dr Bei-Wen Ying

Using Machine Learning to Predict Bacterial Growth According to the Media Components | Dr Bei-Wen Ying

Bacterial growth depends on the complex interactions of a multitude of chemical components. Microbiologists have long attempted to predict bacterial growth according to culture media components, and have employed a variety of mathematical and computational models to this end. Dr Bei-Wen Ying and her colleagues at the University of Tsukuba, Japan, successfully applied machine learning to understand the contribution of media culture components to bacterial growth. Their work makes a significant contribution to growth prediction and demonstrates that machine learning can be employed in the exploration of the complex dynamics that regulate living systems.

How Cancer Cells Overcome the Obstacle of Senescence | Sebastian Igelmann

How Cancer Cells Overcome the Obstacle of Senescence | Sebastian Igelmann

Cellular senescence [suh-NEH-Sns] is the process by which cells age and permanently stop dividing but do not die. While the process of senescence creates a barrier to tumour formation, it can still be overcome by cancer cells. Sebastian Igelmann, a PhD student supervised by group leader Dr Gerardo Ferbeyre at the University of Montreal, has identified a group of enzymes that work together to reprogramme cellular metabolism. This work provides important insight into how tumour cells may initiate proliferation and circumvent senescence. Critically, this specialist group of enzymes provides a potential therapeutic target for human cancer treatment.

The Holy Grail of Safer Opioids: Targeting Mu Opioid Receptor Splice Variants | Dr Ying-Xian Pan

The Holy Grail of Safer Opioids: Targeting Mu Opioid Receptor Splice Variants | Dr Ying-Xian Pan

Despite their numerous side effects, opioid drugs and morphine-like agents have remained a pillar in the medical management of pain. Most clinically used opioid drugs act through mu opioid receptors. Dr Ying-Xian Pan and his team from the Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, USA, studies the molecular and cellular mechanisms of mu opioid receptors and aim to develop novel strategies and opioid analgesics for better treating pain without side effects associated with traditional opiates. Efforts to find substitutes for traditional opioid drugs are helping address the opiate abuse crisis that affects many countries around the globe.