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Four Indian-Americans selected new members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences

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By NewsGram  Staff Writer

Four Indian-Americans, Sanjeev Arora, Sangeeta N. Bhatia, Ravindran Kannan and Renu Malhotra, have been selected by the renowned American Academy of Arts and Science for its class of 2015.

There are 197 new members in this year’s class, which includes names like Pulitzer Prize-winner Holland Cotter, singer-songwriter Judy Collins, Nike co-founder Philip Knight, Nobel Prize winner Brian Kobilka, Tony Award winner Audra McDonald, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson and novelist Tom Wolfe.

Sanjeev Arora is a theoretical computer scientist, known for his work on Probabilistically Checkable Proofs (PCP) theorem. He is currently working as the Charles C. Fitzmorris Professor of Computer Science at Princeton University. He received the ACM Doctoral Dissertation Award in 1995 for his doctorate thesis on PCP theorem. In 2001, he was honored with the Godel Prize for the same.

Sangeeta N. Bhatia is a biological engineer and professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Based on her investigative research into the application of micro- and nano-technology for tissue repair and regeneration, she was inducted into the class. In the MIT Technology Review, she was among the top 100 innovators in the world under 35 years of age.

Ravindran Kannan works as a principal researcher at Microsoft Research India, where he leads the algorithms research group. He is also the first guest faculty of Computer Science and Automation Department of Indian Institute of Science.

Renu Malhotra is an American physicist known for her work on the orbital resonance between Pluto and Neptune. There’s an asteroid, 6698 Malhotra, named after her.

IANS reported Don Randel, the Chairman of the academy’s Board of Directors, as saying, “We are honored to elect a new class of extraordinary women and men to join our distinguished membership.”

“Each new member is a leader in his or her field and has made a distinct contribution to the nation and the world. We look forward to engaging them in the intellectual life of this vibrant institution,” he added.

According to the report, the new class will be inducted at a ceremony on October 10 in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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What Triggers Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?

IoPPN professor Carmine Pariante stressed that while the study's main finding is a useful addition to scant scientific knowledge about CFS

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CFS
Lauren Pestikas sits as she receives an infusion of the drug ketamine during a 45-minute session at an outpatient clinic in Chicago on July 25, 2018. VOA

Scientists exploring what may trigger a complex disorder known as chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) have found clues in the way some people’s immune systems respond more actively to a health attack.

A severe illness characterized by long-term physical and mental fatigue, CFS is thought to affect up to 17 million people worldwide and around 250,000 people in Britain.

Sufferers are often bed-bound and unable to carry out basic daily activities like washing and feeding themselves.

The researchers used a drug known as interferon alpha to create a model of the syndrome and found that patients whose immune response to treatment was hyperactive or exaggerated were more likely to then develop severe fatigue.

CFS
Russell’s team used this knowledge and measured fatigue and immune system markers in 55 patients before, during and after treatment with interferon alpha.

“For the first time, we have shown that people who are prone to develop a CFS-like illness have an overactive immune system, both before and during a challenge to the immune system,” said Alice Russell of King’s College London’s Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN), who led the work.

The condition, as well as research into it, is highly contentious, in part because its possible causes and range of debilitating symptoms are poorly understood.

Interferon alpha is used as a treatment for hepatitis C infection, and activates the immune system in the same way as a powerful infection. Many patients who receive interferon alpha experience extreme fatigue during treatment, and some continue to feel chronic fatigue for many months after the drug course is completed.

Vaccination, CFS
Biologist Jason Plyler prepares to test at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda. VOA

Russell’s team used this knowledge and measured fatigue and immune system markers in 55 patients before, during and after treatment with interferon alpha.

They found that the 18 of those 55 who went on to develop a CFS-like illness had a hyperactive immune system before treatment, and an highly overactive response during treatment. “(This suggests) people who have an exaggerated immune response to a trigger may be more at risk of developing CFS,” Russell told reporters at a briefing about the findings.

Also Read: Regular Sleep in Childhood Leads to Healthy BMI Later

IoPPN professor Carmine Pariante stressed that while the study’s main finding is a useful addition to scant scientific knowledge about CFS – also known as myalgic encephalopathy (ME) – it offers few clues on how to treat, cure or prevent it.

“It’s a light in the fog,” he told reporters. “But a better understanding of the biology underlying the development of CFS is needed to help patients.” (VOA)