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Indian origin scientist Sangeeta Bhatia wins $250,000 Heinz Prize

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Photo Courtesy: Laboratory for Multiscale Regenerative Technologies

 

By Newsram Staff Writer

An Indian-origin scientist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has been honored with a prestigious 250,000 dollars Heinz award for her work in tissue engineering and disease detection.

Sangeeta Bhatia, who is John J. and Dorothy Wilson Professor of Health Sciences and Technology, has been chosen for the 2015 Heinz Award for her seminal work in tissue engineering and disease detection. The $250,000 award recognized her passion for promoting women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields.

The Heinz Awards, each year, acknowledges individuals for their extraordinary contributions to arts and humanities, human condition, environment, technology, economy, public policy and employment.

Bhatia’s team pioneered the fabrication of artificial human microlivers, which are being used by many biopharmaceutical companies to test the toxicity of drug candidates,” a news portal said.

Bhatia is also using microlivers in the lab to model malaria infection and test drugs that can eradicate malaria parasites completely — even the parasite reservoirs that remain in the liver after a patient’s symptoms subside. The young scientist hopes to eventually develop implantable liver tissue as a complement or substitute for whole-organ transplant.

Talking about the award, Bhatia said, “This type of recognition helps to bring science into the public eye so that everyone can appreciate the dedication and innovation that is happening in laboratories all over the country.”

“In her study of cancer and the tumor microenvironment, Bhatia and her laboratory have developed synthetic biomarkers that pave the way for simple, low-cost cancer diagnostics. Their engineered nanoparticles interact with tumor proteins in the body and release hundreds of these biomarkers, which can be detected in urine. One application relies on a paper-strip urine test that can reveal the presence of cancer within minutes in mouse models. This point-of-care, low-budget technology holds great promise for earlier cancer detection in the developing world and other settings with limited medical infrastructure.” the MIT news said.

Bhatia who is a graduate from MIT, also was a part of Keys to Empowering Youth (KEYs) program that connects middle school girls with science and engineering through hands-on activities and mentorship from MIT students.

“I’m hopeful that the visibility associated with this award can inspire young girls by showing them what a rewarding profession – and life – STEM can yield,” she added.

Bhatia will be honored with the prestigious award on May 13 at a ceremony in Pittsburgh.

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India’s Best-performing IITs still far behind in research performance of 2 top World Universities: Study

The researchers discovered a "substantial difference" in research performance levels of old IITs vis-a-vis the "new IITs."

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IIT Kharagpur, Wikimedia

Kolkata, March 31, 2017: India’s best-performing IITs, including IIT-Kharagpur and IIT-Bombay, are far behind in research performance of the two top ranking world universities, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT-USA) and Nanyang Technological University (NTU Singapore), a computational analysis has revealed.

The study has highlighted that for IITs to be placed high among the world institutions, “a lot of effort and support” is required.

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“Of these two, NTU established in 1991 is younger than the five older IITs, which shows that the age of an institution alone does not necessarily matter for higher performance. If a new institution like NTU can achieve research performance levels to be included among top ranking world institutions, then why not some of the Indian IITs,” asked the study’s lead author, Vivek Kumar Singh, Department of Computer Science of the Banaras Hindu University.

The observations were based on a computational analysis of research performance of 16 “relatively older” Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) in the country. There are a total of 23 IITs in India at present.

The study was carried out by parsing through research publication data indexed in Web of Science. The data was examined to identify productivity, productivity per capita, rate of growth of research output, authorship and collaboration pattern, citation impact and discipline-wise research strengths of the different IITs.

The IITs, despite being the most prestigious institutions in India, do not rank high in top universities list of the world, the study notes.

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“Further, IITs are yet to match the research performance of the IISc (the Indian Institute of Science, which is an indigenously created institution unlike many older IITs established under foreign mentorship. The comparison indicates that IITs have a long way to go if they have to become comparable to the best institutions in the world in terms of research performance,” Singh said.

The first Indian Institute of Technology was established in 1951 at Kharagpur, followed by IIT Bombay (1958), IIT Madras (1959), IIT Kanpur (1959) and IIT Delhi (1961) – all through foreign collaboratiom. In 1961, the Institutes of Technology act was passed by Parliament which declared these institutions as institutes of national importance.

Almost three decades later, IIT Guwahati was established in 1994. This was followed by converting Roorkee University to IIT Roorkee in 2001.

During 2008-2012, nine more IITs were established at Bhubaneswar, Gandhinagar, Hyderabad, Jodhpur, Patna, Ropar, Indore, Mandi and Varanasi).

And most recently, seven new IITs (at Palakkad, Tirupati, Dhanbad, Bhilai, Goa, Jammu and Dharwad) are proposed/established during 2015-16.

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As IITs are of different age, institutes were grouped into three different sets: old IITs (7 IITs which are at least 15 years old), new IITs (9 new IITs established during 2008-2012) and recent IITs (7 IITS established during 2015-16).

The analysis excludes the seven recent ones as they have come into existence within the last five years.

The researchers discovered a “substantial difference” in research performance levels of old IITs vis-a-vis the “new IITs.”

“This can be explained by the fact that new IITs are quite young for a research performance comparison with old IITs. Some new IITs, particularly the IITI (IIT-Indore) show promising research performance,” Singh said.

The other important conclusion is that majority of the research output from IITs is in physics, chemistry and mathematics disciplines while research in engineering disciplines lags behind substantially.

“IITs being primarily engineering and technology institutions, should produce more research work in core engineering disciplines,” Singh said.

The findings are published in March in Current Science. Sumit Kumar Banshal and Pranab Kumar Muhuri in Department of Computer Science, South Asian University, New Delhi and Aparna Basu, formerly at CSIR-NISTADS, collaborated on the study. (IANS)

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Nobel Economics Prize Awarded to Harvard Professor, MIT Educator

Last week, the committee also announced the Nobel prizes in medicine, physics, chemistry and the peace prize

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Harvard University professor Oliver Hart reads congratulatory emails after winning the 2016 Nobel Prize for Economics at his home in Lexington, Massachusetts, Oct. 10, 2016.(VOA)
  • The new theoretical tools created by Hart and Holmstrom are valuable to the understanding of real-life contracts and institutions, as well as potential pitfalls in contract design
  • The announcement Monday by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said their work in contract theory is “valuable to the understanding of real-life contracts and institutions, as well as potential pitfalls in contract design
  • The two will split the $924,000 prize. The laureates are set to officially receive the award on Dec. 10, the anniversary of prize founder Alfred Nobel’s death in 1896

October 12, 2016: Oliver Hart of Harvard University and Bengt Holmstrom of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have been awarded the 2016 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences.

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The announcement Monday by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said their work in contract theory is “valuable to the understanding of real-life contracts and institutions, as well as potential pitfalls in contract design.”

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“This year’s laureates have developed contract theory, a comprehensive framework for analyzing many diverse issues in contractual design, like performance-based pay for top executives, deductibles and co-pays in insurance, and the privatization of public-sector activities,” the jury said.

Finnish Professor Bengt Holmstrom of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology smiles as he departs a news conference after speaking to members of the media, Oct. 10, 2016, on the campus of MIT in Cambridge, Mass.(VOA)
Finnish Professor Bengt Holmstrom of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology smiles as he departs a news conference after speaking to members of the media, Oct. 10, 2016, on the campus of MIT in Cambridge, Mass.(VOA)

The committee added that they analytical work establishes an “intellectual foundation” to grasp every day contracts in areas like bankruptcy legislation to political constitutions.

“The new theoretical tools created by Hart and Holmstrom are valuable to the understanding of real-life contracts and institutions, as well as potential pitfalls in contract design,” it said.

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The two will split the $924,000 prize. The laureates are set to officially receive the award on Dec. 10, the anniversary of prize founder Alfred Nobel’s death in 1896.

Last week, the committee also announced the Nobel prizes in medicine, physics, chemistry and the peace prize.

The final prize, for literature, will be announced Thursday.(VOA)

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Wireless Signals Can Read Human Emotions: Researchers

The research shows wireless signals can capture the information about human behaviour that's not visible to naked eye.

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A new wireless devices monitors heart and breathing rate to predict human emotions Image Courtsey:Pixbay