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Obama honours early-career scientists: includes 6 Indian origin scientists

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Washington: The Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers saw six recipients of Indian origin in the list of 106 researchers selected. The award is the highest US government honour bestowed upon young, independent researchers which witnessed Indian scientists in the queue this time.

The winners will receive their awards at a Washington, DC ceremony this spring.

“These early-career scientists are leading the way in our efforts to confront and understand challenges from climate change to our health and wellness,” Obama said.

“We congratulate these accomplished individuals and encourage them to continue to serve as an example of the incredible promise and ingenuity of the American people.”

The Awards highlight the key role that the administration places in encouraging and accelerating American innovation in growing our economy and tackling our greatest challenges, a White House announcement said.

Established by President Bill Clinton in 1996, the awards recognise pursuit of innovative research at the frontiers of science and technology and awardees’ commitment to community service as demonstrated through scientific leadership, public education, or community outreach.

The six Indian-American recipients are listed below:

Milind Kulkarni, an associate professor at the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Purdue University. His research focuses on programming languages and compilers that support efficient programming and high performance on emerging complex architectures.

Kiran Musunuru, assistant professor of stem cell and regenerative biology at Harvard University. His research focuses on the genetics of cardiovascular and metabolic diseases.

Sachin Patel, assistant professor of psychiatry, molecular physiology and biophysics at Vanderbilt University Medical Centre. Patel’s overall research goal is to understand the role of neuronal cannabinoid signalling in brain function relevant to psychiatric disorders.

Vikram Shyam, a member of the turbomachinery and heat-transfer branch at National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Glenn Research Centre. His research includes computational and experimental analysis of and concept development in unsteady engine flow physics, biomimetics, energy harvesting, active and passive flow control, flow visualisation and water purification.

Rahul Mangharam, an associate professor in the department of electrical and systems engineering at the University of Pennsylvania. His interests are in real-time scheduling algorithms for networked embedded systems with applications in energy-efficient buildings, automotive systems, medical devices and industrial wireless control networks.

Shwetak Patel, endowed professor of computer science and engineering & electrical engineering at the University of Washington, where he directs his research group, the Ubicomp Lab. His research interests are in the areas of human-computer interaction, ubiquitous computing, sensor-enabled embedded systems, and user interface software & technology. His work includes developing new sensing systems, energy and water sensing, mobile health, and developing new interaction technologies. (IANS)

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Google Buys Indian-Origin Professor Shwetak Patel’s Health Monitoring Start-up

The start-up turns smartphones into medical devices and collects various health statistics

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Shwetak Patel, Google
Google has acquired Senosis Health, a Seattle-based health monitoring start-up founded by University of Washington Professor Shwetak Patel (Representative image). Pixabay
  • The start-up turns smartphones into medical devices and collects various health stats
  • Using functions on a smartphone including its accelerometer, microphone, flash and camera, the Senosis apps can monitor lung health and hemoglobin counts, among other things
  • It marks the latest acquisition for Patel, whose past start-up ventures have landed in the hands of companies such as Belkin International and Sears

San Francisco, August 17, 2017: Google has acquired Senosis Health, a Seattle-based health monitoring start-up founded by University of Washington Professor Shwetak Patel, the media reported. The start-up turns smartphones into medical devices and collects various health stats, The Verge reported on Tuesday.

Using functions on a smartphone including its accelerometer, microphone, flash and camera, the Senosis apps can monitor lung health and hemoglobin counts, among other things, the report said. For example, to measure the hemoglobin, Senosis’ app uses the phone’s flash to illuminate a user’s finger.

ALSO READ: There’s a place for you at Google: CEO Sundar Pichai to girl innovators

It marks the latest acquisition for Patel, whose past start-up ventures have landed in the hands of companies such as Belkin International and Sears, according to Geekwire.com which first reported the acquisition on Sunday. Patel, who founded the company with four others, is a professor at University of Washington’s computer science and engineering faculty.

According to a biography at University of Washington website, Patel was a founder of Zensi, Inc., a demand side energy monitoring solutions provider, which was acquired by Belkin, Inc in 2010. He is also a co-founder of a low-power wireless sensor platform company called SNUPI Technologies and a consumer home sensing product called WallyHome.

WallyHome was acquired by Sears in 2015. A recipient of many awards, his past work was also honored by the New York Times as a top technology of the year in 2005. (IANS)

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Indian Scientists suggest Tweaking Microbial Minions in the intestine to treat Pancreatitis

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Doctors operating on a patient (Representational Image), VOA

Kolkata, May 4, 2017: The gut is the gateway to heath, courtesy the teeming microbial minions. The smarter they are, the better you are.

Indian scientists say tweaking the bacterial milieu in the intestine could be potentially therapeutic in treating chronic pancreatitis, a disease that cripples the body’s ability to digest food and regulate blood sugar and could even lead to diabetes.

Their suggestion is based on the revelation that alteration in gut microbes may be linked to malnutrition and diabetes in chronic pancreatitis (CP) for which there is currently no definitive cure.

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“Whatever treatment is offered to these patients is directed in ameliorating or reducing pain and improving nutritional and glycemic (blood sugar) status,” Rupjyoti Talukdar, Clinicial Pancreatologist and Head of Pancreatic Research at Hyderabad’s Asian Institute of Gastroenterology, told IANS.

Some of the futuristic procedures that could potentially contribute to therapy include administration of “designer” probiotics and faecal transplantation.

“Our recent studies have added a new angle to the disease biology of CP, i.e. alteration of the gut microbiota could contribute to diabetes and malnutrition. Gut microbial manipulation, including ‘designer’ probiotics and faecal transplantation, could be a potential future therapeutic addendum,” Talukdar explained.

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“However, before translating the concept to the clinic, this needs to be stringently tested in clinical trials,” he cautioned.

It sounds incredible but the millions of microscopic bugs in our gut may have a major role to play in the progression of the disease.

Collective human gut micro flora is composed of a staggering 35,000 bacterial species.

A specific concoction of gut microbes is crucial for digestion of foods (such as breaking down complex carbohydrates), key to a normal immune system, fending off diseases and for producing many essential hormones and vitamins that the body cannot produce.

Whether the good ones triumph or the bad ones flourish, this good versus evil story unfolding in your belly determines your overall health.

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In chronic pancreatitis, as the pancreatic tissue is damaged, digestive juices reduce and the undigested fat piles up, things start spiralling south for microbes.

“When there is excess amount of undigested fat in the intestine, there will be a change in the profile of healthy bacteria,” Talukdar explained.

The study noted the reduction in numbers of two crucial bacterial species (F.Aprausnitzii and R. bromii) in individuals with CP. They are among the good bacteria needed to keep the tummy in top shape.

The gut flora is an entire ecological system by itself.

“Therefore by giving the entire intestinal flora in the form of faecal transplantation, the ecology will be maintained. This is important because the different groups of organisms in the intestine are interrelated in distribution and function,” Talukdar said.

Faecal transplant is a real thing and has already found beneficial use in diseases of the intestine, namely, Clostridium difficile diarrhoea, which could result from antibiotic use or other conditions such as ulcerative colitis.

The other futuristic option, Talukdar said could be “personalised” probiotics that would act on specific targets and thereby provide the maximum possible therapeutic benefit to the patient.

Talukdar underscored the importance of dietary interventions, besides therapy.

“It can be done to a certain extent by ensuring adequate fat digestion with pancreatic enzyme supplementation, taking a balanced home-cooked diet without any specific restriction while on enzyme supplementation, and otherwise avoid high fat content in diet so as to prevent accumulation of inadequately digested fat in the intestinal lumen,” he added.

The study, published in March in Nature’s Scientific Reports, is co-authored by Sai Manasa Jandhyala, A. Madhulika, G. Deepika, G. Venkat Rao, D. Nageshwar Reddy, Chivukula Subramanyam and Mitnala Sasikala. (IANS)

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34 Indian Scientists invited for 67th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting in Germany

A total of 400 young scientists from 76 countries have been selected to participate in the meeting, where they will meet Nobel laureates at Lake Constance

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Nobel Prize (Representational Image). Wikimedia

Kolkata, March 22, 2017: As many as 34 young Indian scientists have been invited for the 67th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting in Germany from June 25 to 30, it was announced on Wednesday.

A total of 400 young scientists from 76 countries have been selected to participate in the meeting, where they will meet Nobel laureates at Lake Constance.

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“Of the 34 young Indian scientists, 22 are based at Indian universities or institutes while the other 12 are currently based … abroad (in Australia, Germany, Ireland, Israel, the UK, and the US),” said a statement from the communications department of the Council for the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings.

“Every year, one-to-two members of the Council for the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings travel to India to assist with the selection of young scientists. Besides India, the only other country that they travel to in order to assist with the selection process is China,” the communique said.

In South Asia, five young scientists from Pakistan and one young scientist from Bangladesh have been selected to participate.

The meetings have taken place every year since 1951 and are designed as a forum for exchange, networking and inspiration.

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The 2017 meeting is dedicated to Chemistry. So far, 31 Nobel laureates have confirmed their participation.

The young scientists are outstanding undergraduate students, graduate students and post-doctorates under the age of 35, conducting research in the field of Chemistry.

They have successfully passed a multi-stage international selection process. 155 scientific institutes, universities, foundations and research-oriented companies contributed to the nominations.

The proportion of women among the selected young scientists is 45 per cent.

Bernard Feringa and Jean-Pierre Sauvage, who received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2016, together with Sir Fraser Stoddart, for the design of molecular machines, will also participate in this year’s meeting.

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 Besides molecular machines, the key topics of the this year’s meeting will include big data, climate change and the role of science in a ‘post-truth’ era.

The selected young scientists may expect a six-day programme with numerous lectures and panel discussions. Some of them will also get the opportunity to discuss their own work at one of the master classes or at the poster session. (IANS)