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What are you doing to maintain your mental health during the pandemic? Your responses. – The Dallas Morning News

Recently in the Living Our Faith feature, we asked readers to respond to the question: What are you doing to maintain your mental health during the pandemic? The following are some of the thoughtful responses.

This column is part of our ongoing opinion commentary on faith, called Living Our Faith. Find this weeks reader question and get weekly roundups of the project in your email inbox by signing up for the Living Our Faith newsletter.

What I missed most from being safe at home was interaction with other people. So two weeks into the stay-at-home order, our Sunday school class of 50- to 60-year-olds learned how to Zoom. We meet virtually each Sunday for our time of Bible study and fellowship. Just talking to each other about what we are feeling and how we are dealing with things is really helping us. Our faith is strong and we know we are not alone as we go through this pandemic.

Danita White, Grand Prairie

On March 10, I weighed 190 pounds and decided to lose weight through consistent exercise and a revised food plan, in conjunction with the addition of supplements. I visited with a dietician who addressed a food plan consisting of fish, vegetables, fruits, protein drinks and the noted supplements. She developed a training program consisting of cycling, treadmill walking-running, weight training, crunches, etc., (all at home, in my garage I converted into a workout room).

I dropped to 168 pounds and have now stabilized between 172-174, which is my ideal weight. There are no words to describe how wonderful I feel. I occasionally have a glass of wine, but my desire for alcohol has completely faded. Reading books and listening to motivational speakers on YouTube have contributed to extraordinary physical and mental well-being.

J.D. Gonzales, Dallas

Im not sure I would call what were doing as maintaining mental health as much as I would call it moving forward or just maybe just plain living day-to-day. We have kept up our routines with household chores, TV starts with the evening news during the week unless theres a sporting event and a walk each day.

We keep up with events and people through emails, phone calls, Zoom. We have tried new things like a Zoom wedding, online courses and connecting with family and friends with Zoom. We like to travel, which isnt happening now so instead, I plan what Ive named field trips each week. Its a trip by car, somewhere close that we havent been, it gets us out for a few hours and we see something new.

I think what has helped us through this difficult time is trying new ways to keep moving forward with our lives and keeping connections with family and friends. Speaking of connecting, I have written letters and emailed people I havent been in touch with lately, thats been fun. I set a goal of 3 per week since being at home, think of it as a holiday card list without the holiday.

Perri Brackett, Lewisville

I have cooked a lot of healthy food, trying new recipes, and grown a big herb garden, pickling cucumbers we grew in the garden. I have wanted to write a country western song and have put pen to paper to try to start that. Reading a lot of books, Zooming with friends and bicycling. Reading a lot of political commentary and learning more about implicit bias and the history of systemic racism in the U.S.

Elena Bourke, Plano

We received a number of responses from members of the Bahai Faith to a prior question about what people of faith can do to heal racial division. The following is a thoughtful example.

As a Bahai, I believe the fundamental truth that humanity is one, but it is not enough simply to believe this in our hearts, we need to create the moral imperative to act, and to view all aspects of our personal, social and institutional lives through the lens of oneness and justice.

It requires the participation of Americans of every race and background, for it is only through principles of love, reciprocity and inclusive participation that new moral and social directions can emerge. We should also remember that our diversity is our strength, and it is simply beautiful, like a garden with flowers of different kinds, colors and perfumes.

The role of religion as an enduring source of insight concerning human purpose and action cannot be overemphasized in this process. All faith communities recognize that we are essentially spiritual beings. All proclaim some version of the Golden Rule, to love others as we do ourselves.

On a practical level, we are trying to ensure that each person we engage feels welcome to participate in our community activities. Some might attend devotional gatherings and eventually engage with us in study and service. Some families may first associate with us by engaging children or junior youth in their respective activities of childrens classes and junior youth groups, characterized by twofold moral purpose, to develop their inherent potentialities and to contribute to the transformation of society, through service to the community and engaging in social action and more involvement in the community life.

Kambiz Rafraf, Dallas

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8 Simple Ways to Improve Your Posture While You’re Working From Home – POPSUGAR

Regardless if you're a fan of working from home, it's the norm for many for the foreseeable future, and we've all started to adjust to new routines. That means sleeping in a few extra minutes because your commute is gone, only planning Zoom outfits from the waist up, and creating makeshift desks in whatever room has the fewest number of distractions. But unlike the ergonomically designed workspaces in an office, home workstations can be less-than-optimal for your posture.

"Poor posture creates excessive pressure and stress on your spinal joints and muscles, which leads to tension, fatigue, and pain," Wilson Wang, DC, a chiropractor in Seattle, told POPSUGAR. And because working from home blurs the line between work and living spaces, it's easier to work longer hours. "That is diminishing our opportunities for movement, which is healthy for our joints and muscles and relieves stress," Wang explained.

Added Nora St. John, MS, NCPT, education program director for Balanced Body: "For many of us, working from home may mean using a laptop on the dining room table or the couch, which often puts our body out of alignment for extended periods of time. This can lead to pain in the neck, shoulders, hips, or lower back."

If your back is feeling especially achy these days, there are ways to relieve some of that pressure and save yourself long-term discomfort. Ahead are eight ways to combat bad posture while working from home, all from the comfort of where else? your home.

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First subject dosed with ZF874, a potential disease-modifying treatment for alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency – Cambridge Network

AATD is a common genetic disorder, affecting around in 1 in 2000 people in Western countries, where a single mistake in the DNA encoding the protein alpha-1-antitrypsin (A1AT) causes both liver and lung disease.

Nearly all of the cases of AATD are caused by just a single mutation in the A1AT gene, known as the Z mutation. The Z mutation causes most of the A1AT to misfold, forming polymers that stay in the liver instead of being secreted into the blood where it plays a key role in protecting the lungs and other organs from the damaging effects of inflammation explained Jim Huntington, Professor at the University of Cambridge and Founder of Z Factor (pictured). The low levels of correctly-folded A1AT in the lungs results in the development of emphysema in nearly all AATD sufferers. At the same time, accumulation of Z-A1AT polymers in the liver can cause liver disease, sometimes manifesting as liver failure in newborns and more commonly cirrhosis and liver cancer as carriers of this mutation age.

ZF874 was developed with the help of a proprietary crystal structure solved by the Huntington lab. It is a novel compound that acts as a molecular patch for the faulty protein, allowing it to fold correctly, thereby simultaneously relieving the liver burden of polymer accumulation and providing fully-functional Z-A1AT in the circulation to protect the lungs. In mice genetically engineered to express human Z-A1AT in their livers, oral doses of ZF874 were able to substantially increase levels of correctly folded protein in the blood and to completely eliminate accumulation of misfolded protein in the liver.

We are excited to have dosed our first human volunteer with ZF874, said Trevor Baglin, Chief Medical Officer for Z Factor. This trial is designed to allow us to determine how safe and effective it is at raising Z-A1AT levels in humans in a short period of time. We expect to have top-line results for this potentially disease-modifying treatment in subjects carrying the Z mutation by the end of this year.

ZF874 has an excellent safety profile in preclinical toxicology studies and is suitable for oral dosing, ideal for the long-term treatment of patients with AATD, and eventually in the 2-3% of the population carrying a single copy of this mutant gene, who are also at increased risk of both liver and lung disease.

Only one other program targeting Z-A1AT folding is currently in the clinic, from the US pharmaceutical company Vertex (NASDAQ: $VRTX), who expect to report data on a similar time-frame to Z Factor.

The burden of disease caused by the Z-A1AT genetic defect has largely gone under the radar, said David Grainger, Executive Chairman at Z Factor. As many as a third of all emphysema and cirrhosis cases in Western countries, amounting to millions of patients, can trace the origins of their disease to this single error in their DNA. There is a huge unmet clinical need here.

Z Factor was founded in 2015, as a spin-out from the University of Cambridge, armed with the worlds first detailed structure of the Z-A1AT polymer from the Huntington laboratory. Cambridge Enterprise, the commercialisation arm of the University of Cambridge, licensed the technology into Z Factor. Cambridge Enterprise also participated in both the seed round and the Series A round, which was led by Medicxi, with Cambridge Innovation Capital participating.

The funding allowed the team to leverage this window onto the folding defect caused by the Z mutation, working in collaboration with the local out-sourced discovery platform company, RxCelerate, to create ZF874. Entry into the clinic marks a significant step in the development pathway for a drug from concept to approval.

We are one important step closer to delivering a drug that will not only treat the diseases associated with AATD, but that, given prophylactically, may ensure carriers of the Z mutation never develop these diseases in the first place said Huntington.

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These Enzyme-Mimicking Polymers May Have Helped Start Life on Earth – SciTechDaily

The micrograph shows uniform nanoparticles under 10nm in diameter. Credit: Tony Z. Jia, ELSI

Earth-Life Science Institute scientists find that small highly branched polymers that may have formed spontaneously on early Earth can mimic modern biological protein enzyme function. These simple catalytic structures may have helped jump start the origins of life.

Most effort in origins of life research is focused on understanding the prebiotic formation of biological building blocks. However, it is possible early biological evolution relied on different chemical structures and processes, and these were replaced gradually over time by eons of evolution. Recently, chemists Irena Mamajanov, Melina Caudan and Tony Jia at the Earth-Life Science Institute (ELSI) in Japan borrowed ideas from polymer science, drug delivery, and biomimicry to explore this possibility. Surprisingly, they found that even small highly branched polymers could serve as effective catalysts, and these may have helped life get started.

In modern biology, coded protein enzymes do most of the catalytic work in cells. These enzymes are made up of linear polymers of amino acids, which fold up and double-back on themselves to form fixed three-dimensional shapes. These preformed shapes allow them to interact very specifically with the chemicals whose reactions they catalyze. Catalysts help reactions occur much more quickly than they would otherwise, but dont get consumed in the reaction themselves, so a single catalyst molecule can help the same reaction happen many times. In these three-dimensional folded states, most of the structure of the catalyst doesnt directly interact with the chemicals it acts on, and just helps the enzyme structure keep its shape.

Metal sulfide enzymes could have originated from globular metal-sulfide/hyperbranched polymer particles. Credit: Irena Mamajanov, ELSI

In the present work, ELSI researchers studied hyperbranched polymers tree-like structures with a high degree and density of branching which are intrinsically globular without the need for informed folding which is required for modern enzymes. Hyperbranched polymers, like enzymes, are capable of positioning catalysts and reagents, and modulating local chemistry in precise ways.

Most effort in origins of life research is focused on understanding the prebiotic formation of modern biological structures and building blocks. The logic is that these compounds exist now, and thus understanding how they could be made in the environment might help explain how they came to be. However, we only know of one example of life, and we know that life is constantly evolving, meaning that only the most successful variants of organisms survive. Thus it may be reasonable to assume modern organisms may not be very similar to the first organisms, and it is possible prebiotic chemistry and early biological evolution relied on different chemical structures and processes than modern biology to reproduce itself. As an analogy with technological evolution, early cathode-ray TV sets performed more or less the same function as modern high definition displays, but they are fundamentally different technologies. One technology led to the creation of the other in some ways, but it was not necessarily the logical and direct precursor of the other.

If this kind of scaffolding model for biochemical evolution is true, the question becomes what sort of simpler structures, besides those used in contemporary biological systems, might have helped carry out the same sorts of catalytic functions modern life requires? Mamajanov and her team reasoned that hyperbranched polymers might be good candidates.

The team synthesized some of the hyperbranched polymers they studied from chemicals that could reasonably be expected to have been present on early Earth before life began. The team then showed that these polymers could bind small naturally occurring inorganic clusters of atoms known as zinc sulfide nanoparticles. Such nanoparticles are known to be unusually catalytic on their own.

As lead scientist Mamajanov comments, We tried two different types of hyperbranched polymer scaffolds in this study. To make them work, all we needed to do was to mix a zinc chloride solution and a solution of polymer, then add sodium sulfide, and voila, we obtained a stable and effective nanoparticle-based catalyst.

The teams next challenge was to demonstrate that these hyperbranched polymer-nanoparticle hybrids could actually do something interesting and catalytic. They found that these metal sulfide doped polymers that degrade small molecules were especially active in the presence of light, in some cases they catalyzed the reaction by as much as a factor of 20. As Mamajanov says, So far we have only explored two possible scaffolds and only one dopant. Undoubtedly there are many, many more examples of this remaining to be discovered.

The researchers further noted this chemistry may be relevant to an origins of life model known as the Zinc World. According to this model, the first metabolism was driven by photochemical reactions catalyzed by zinc sulfide minerals. They think that with some modifications, such hyperbranched scaffolds could be adjusted to study analogs of iron or molybdenum-containing protein enzymes, including important ones involved in modern biological nitrogen fixation. Mamajanov says, The other question this raises is, assuming life or pre-life used this kind of scaffolding process, why did life ultimately settle upon enzymes? Is there an advantage to using linear polymers over branched ones? How, when and why did this transition occur?

Reference: Protoenzymes: The Case of Hyperbranched Polymer-Scaffolded ZnS Nanocrystals by Irena Mamajanov, Melina Caudan and Tony Z. Jia, 13 August 2020, Life.DOI: 10.3390/life10080150

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Researcher John Craig Venter Is Awarded the 2020 Edogawa-NICHE Prize for His Accomplishment in Human Genome Research – Business Wire

TOKYO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Edogawa NICHE Prize for the year 2020 has been awarded to Dr. John Craig Venter for his contribution to research and development pertaining to the Human genome. This honor reflects Dr. Venter's lifetime accomplishments in the power of the genomics and specifically in the identification of the human genome which has radically transformed healthcare according to Prof. Gary Levy, chair, Edogawa NICHE awards committee (

Edogawa NICHE Prize was Instituted in 2018, by the Jinseisha trust, and the Nichi-In Centre for Regenerative Medicine (NCRM), which honours scientists or clinicians whose contributions lead to the development of prevention, diagnosis or treatment of any disease, through an inter-disciplinary approach. Alumni of the Fujio Cup Quiz, a part of NCRM NICHE, (, have priority for nomination, a unique feature of this prize. Previous awardees include Prof James Till, University of Toronto, Canada for discovery of stem cells (2018) and Dr. Steven Rosenberg, National Institutes of Health, USA for his groundbreaking work on T-lymphocyte immunotherapy (2019).

Dr. Venter was born in Salt Lake City Utah on October 14, 1946. He started his college education at the College of San Mateo, CA and later studied Biochemistry in University of California, San Diego under biochemist Nathan O. Kaplan. After obtaining a PhD in Physiology and Pharmacology from UCSD, he became a Professor at the State University of New York and joined the National Institute of Health in 1984. He has founded Celera Genomics, The Institute of Genomic Research (TIGR), J.Craig Venter Institute (JCVI) and co-founded Human Longevity Inc and Synthetic Genomics.

His path breaking sequencing of the first human genome with the Human Genome Project further progressed to transfecting a cell with a synthetic chromosome, a feat that has opened up opportunities to develop novel solutions not only in healthcare, but also in environmental issues and energy domain.

The awarding of the Edogawa NICHE prize to Dr Venter is the most recent in a string of honors including United States Medal of Science (2008), Gardner Foundation International Award (2002), Paul Erlich and Ludwig Darmstaedter Prize (2001) and the King Faisal International Award of Science (2001). He was listed on Time Magazines list of the most influential people in the world.

The award ceremony date will be announced later.

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HawkPride: Yasmeen Berry’s research project on aging and longevity featured at U-M Symposium – Dearborn Press and Guide

Yasmeen Berry is still in high school, but has already set a career goal to become a physician specializing in neurology. She is enrolled in Henry Ford Early College (HFEC), a combined high school and college program that has a reputation for giving students a jumpstart in the healthcare field.

I chose to attend HFEC to get a head start on my college education and for the opportunities it provides to connect students to four-year educational institutions, said Berry, of Dearborn, who will graduate in 2021, earning her associate degree in biology from HFEC. Her two younger siblings, Hassan and Ali, also attend HFEC.

In late July, Berry was one of seven HFC students (45 total from 15 Michigan community colleges) to present at the University of Michigan (U-M) Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP) Summer Virtual Symposium.

In collaboration with the Truttmann Laboratory, in the Department of Molecular and Integrative Physiology of the University of Michigan Medical School, Berry gave a presentation called Investigating Factors Influencing Variability of N2 C. elegans Lifespan.

According to Berry, C. elegans is a non-parasitic, transparent roundworm that reaches about 1 millimeter in length and is commonly used in scientific research. Due to its genetic versatility and short lifespan, it has been utilized in recent years to test genetic targets, biological compounds, and experimental factors on aging and longevity.

Due to the increased use of this model organism, hundreds of publications have described a multitude of compounds that have been shown to slow aging. However, the project team I was involved with observed that there was a problem concerning reproducibility of these seemingly promising experiments. We hypothesized that slight alterations in experimental setup and conditions are the cause of the observed Lifespan Variability Phenomenon. We hope that the outcome of this study can lead to the advancement of our knowledge of complex processes, including aging and neuro-degeneration, explained Berry.

For Berry, the most challenging aspect of the fellowship process was being able to efficiently and effectively curate data from hundreds of scientific articles in the summer programs short time-frame.

Despite being pressed for time, she still had a great experience.

Through this symposium and UROP as a whole, I was able to meet individuals from a wide range of disciplines and to lay the foundation for long-lasting connections, said Berry. The best part of the fellowship process was getting the opportunity to learn a commonly used computer language for research data analysis known as R.

A member of the Henry Ford II Honors Program, Berry is the president of the HFC chapter of Phi Theta Kappa; a freelance contributor to The Mirror News, HFCs student-run newspaper; a student representative of The Mirror News Advisory Board; and a member of the National Society of Leadership and Success (NSLS).

One of my favorite memories at HFC was when our Phi Theta Kappa chapter was able to organize an event in collaboration with other Phi Theta Kappa chapters in our region and the non-profit Fleece & Thank You earlier this year, said Berry. By the end of the event, we were able to make and donate 80 fleece blankets to children in Michigan hospitals. I am grateful that I had the opportunity to help organize and participate in the event.

Upon graduation next year from the HFEC, Berry will attend U-M where she will double-major in neuroscience and biological anthropology. After she earns her bachelor's degree, she aspires to attend medical school.

The HFEC has prepared me to adapt to new academic environments found in four-year educational institutions, said Berry.

Her favorite professors at HFC include Dr. Jolie Stepaniak, Dr. Roberta Traini, Dr. Gregory Karapetian, and the late Dr. Mike Daher.

Dr. Daher was one of my greatest role models for success, Berry fondly recalled. It was his unwavering support that gave me the courage to apply to the Community College Summer Research Fellowship. I could have never thanked him enough for encouraging me to apply. I have the utmost appreciation for the mentorship he had provided. May he rest in peace.

Berry says classes taught by Stepaniak, Traini, and Karapetian provided her with a strong foundation for understanding the challenging biological research concepts in the Community College Summer Research Fellowship.

Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to conduct an honors directed study with Dr. Karapetian. The objective was to investigate the effects of protein denaturation on yeast cell enzymatic kinetics and extrapolate implications for human neurons and the development of Alzheimers Disease, said Berry. This directed study helped me develop a specialized knowledge base needed for understanding neurological literature. The instruction I received from the many talented and supportive professors at HFC paved the way for a smooth transition into a rigorous research environment.

Source: Henry Ford College

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From stem cells to islets hope for treatment of type 1 diabetes – News – The University of Sydney

According to Professor Liddle, this study used stem cells derived from human umbilical vein and human fat that were re-programmed to generate human islet-like organoids (HILOs).

Pancreatic islets are regions in the pancreas responsible for the production of hormones and insulin.

Pancreatic islets contain multiple cell types, not just insulin-producing beta cells. The research team created three-dimensional HILOs that not only include beta-like cells (the cells that produce, store and release insulin in the islets of the pancreas), but also other supporting cell types found in normal islets, said Professor Liddle.

Under the microscope, and using gene sequencing analysis, we are able to show that the three-dimensional HILOs are very similar to human islets. When the HILOs are transplanted into diabetic mice, they secrete insulin when blood glucose levels are high, just as normal islets would.

While human pancreatic islet transplantation has been a major advancement in treating severe cases of type 1 diabetes, the availability, quality and limited cellular longevity of this approach limits its application.

Pancreatic islet transplantation currently involves implanting insulin-producing islet cells from a deceased human donor into the liver of a person with type 1 diabetes. When successful, the procedure can control blood glucose levels, reduce the frequency and severity of hypoglycaemic episodes and potentially eliminate the need for regular insulin injections. A number of transplants are usually needed, and immunosuppressant drugs to prevent the immune system from attacking the transplanted cells are also required.

While the procedure is now funded by the Australian Government, pancreatic islet transplantation is currently limited to people with severely unstable type 1 diabetes, particularly those for whom insulin therapy alone is not effective and who experience recurrent and severe hypoglycaemic episodes.

Professor Philip OConnell is Executive Director at The Westmead Institute for Medical Research and pioneered pancreatic islet transplantation in Australia. Almost 20-years ago, he led Australias first pancreatic islet transplantation trials at Westmead Hospital and The Westmead Institute for Medical Research. Today, he continues his research, aiming to improve this procedure and develop islet transplantation as a mainstream treatment for type 1 diabetes.

Professor OConnell, who was not involved in this research study, said, Pancreatic islet transplantation has saved hundreds of lives around the globe however, it has its limitations. For example, pancreatic islets are taken from deceased donors, and the wait for donor islets can be lengthy. Once donor islets are obtained, not all are suitable for transplantation.

This research indicates the potential to alleviate some of these issues. Stem cells derived from readily available human tissues can be expanded then re-programmed into potentially unlimited numbers of islets that are suitable for transplantation.

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Could the latest in OLED lighting be heading into an RV? – LEDs Magazine

The only thing missing from the serenity is an OLED. (Photo credit: Image by Steve Adcock via Pixabay; used under free license for commercial or non-commercial purposes.)

OLED proponents have long struggled to make substantial inroads into the lighting market, but they continue to push, and to identify new segments where the technology could be just right. The latest example: OLEDWorks wants to outfit recreational vehicles yes, RVs with the technologys soft and sleek illumination.

Its a market that excites the Rochester, NY-based company with growth potential, because as director of user experience Kathleen Vaeth noted in a recent blog post, RV sales are on the rise as people rethink their vacations in the era of social distancing and international travel restrictions, and start heading to national parks and the like.

On top of that, thin and flexible OLEDs are simpatico with modern RV interior design which Vaeth notes, has come on in leaps and bounds.

First, our obligatory, quick refresher: OLEDs (organic light-emitting diodes) are different from LEDs in that OLEDs are a thin material that entirely lights up in response to an electric charge, whereas LEDs are single light points. Invented at Rochester-based Eastman Kodak in 1987 (OLEDWorks was founded 10 years ago by former Kodak scientists), OLEDs have long failed to live up to the expectation that they will revolutionize lighting by literally weaving into the fabric of everything from lamps and fixtures to ceilings, walls, furniture, fashion, building faades, you name it. One problem is that the design of LED fixtures continues to improve; and OLEDs have trailed LEDs in energy efficiency.

But OLEDs are declining in price, improving in efficiency and slowly creeping into general illumination.

They are also finding specialty, niche, and architectural design uses. OLEDWorks will be supplying tail lights to Audi, for example.

RVs could be next, if OLEDWorks has its way. The company certainly thinks theres a big need.

The interior design has progressed significantly in recent years, allowing travelers to bring the comforts of home along with them, waxes Vaeth. High-quality cabinets, quartz countertops and spacious kitchens, leather seating, flat-screen TVs, air conditioning, solar power, and Wi-Fi connectivity are common features in todays models. But what about comfortable lighting?

Of course, she has the answer: The artificial lighting in these units have not progressed as much by comparison. At OLEDWorks, we think that this is the next frontier for designers to address and continue the revolution of the indoor RV space.

Vaeth points out that OLEDs, with their slim profile, fit the tight spaces of an RV, and also reduce overall vehicle weight, which reduces fuel consumption.

OLED lighting panels, measuring 1.4 millimeters in thickness and weighing less than 40 grams, offer an ultracompact and lightweight form factor that opens up the possibility of easily integrating lighting on horizontal and vertical surfaces, or in compact locations such as under cabinets and in drawers, she notes.

The thinness provides an aesthetic complemented by a mirror finish in the off state that can be used to accent the space, or blend into the background, Vaeth adds. She also trots out an attribute that OLED supporters often ascribe to the technology: The light is soft, diffuse, and glare free. Likewise, she notes that OLEDWorks thin panels avoid the blue spectrum that can undermine sleep when used at night, and that it avoids ultraviolet (UV) wavelengths which can be damaging.

This makes OLEDs compatible with lighting trends emphasizing lighting design for sustainability and human health, she notes.

Vaeths blog noticeably does not identify any signed-up RV customers. As OLED vendors hit the RV highway in search of deals, they will undoubtedly run into LED competitors, who offer many similar benefits, with LEDs probably still maintaining an edge in efficiency and in longevity. OLEDs might just have the leg up in design advantages, especially considering the space restrictions of an RV.

Describing the state of RV lighting today with technologies including incandescent, compact fluorescent, and LEDs, Vaeth notes, Most fixtures are small and compact but tend to be integrated into ceilings as recessed lighting or circular flush-mounted fixtures with push button switches. Specialized fixtures integrated for closer, more flexible illumination in spaces such sleeping areas can often be overly bright, or too dim. This can make for an illumination experience, even in the most state-of-the-art models, that is uneven with sharp contrast and shadows, and high in glare, which can cause discomfort and eye strain.

To paraphrase Vaeth, theres nothing like an OLED to take care of those shortcomings.

Wi-Fi. Quartz countertops. Flat-screen TVs. OLEDs. Ah, the great outdoors.

MARK HALPERis a contributing editor for LEDs Magazine, and an energy, technology, and business journalist (

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County sheriff offers components for improved policing – Press of Atlantic City

The tragic death of George Floyd and the ensuing civil unrest in our country has once again placed the spotlight on police use of force and the policies and practices that govern it.

There has been a demand for reform and defunding the police to effect drastic change within law enforcement culture. I wish to share my perspective on this paradigm, as a career law enforcement officer who has served the citizens of Atlantic County in two separate agencies for over 25 years.

As a retired lieutenant from the Atlantic City Police Department and as the sheriff of Atlantic County, I firmly support our police and can tell you from experience that the outstanding police officers far outnumber those who are unfit to serve in our communities.

However, we cannot continue to allow events like these to occur without taking meaningful inventory of our policies, tactics and training to enhance our efficiency and effectiveness as guardians and safe keepers of our communities. As sheriff, I am constantly looking for ways to improve our delivery of services and keep our officers and communities safe. This is a complex and layered issue that requires funding and commitment from local and federal governments to facilitate and sustain meaningful and positive change. Additionally, there are human factors that need to be addressed that will result in better policing. Here are some fundamental components that, in my opinion, would support systemic change:

Mandatory pre-employment screening, mental health wellness and resilience training: Psychological fitness should begin at the hiring stage and continue throughout an officers career to include mental health checkups and resiliency training. Officers will be exposed to repetitive trauma throughout their careers. It is paramount they are given the skills to adapt and overcome these experiences for the sake of their own mental health, to be present for their families and to view and serve their communities through an empathetic lens.

Standardize physical fitness requirements: Officers should be physically prepared to respond to any situation they may encounter. Physical stress is a huge part of the job that takes its toll on an officers overall health. The frequency of fight or flight in the typical officers experience is significantly higher than the average civilian. That stress response causes massive dumps of cortisol for the officer, which ultimately leads to numerous serious health concerns. Physical fitness is a critical requirement for longevity and adaptation to stress from the job.

Weekly tactical training: Training is also a crucial part of the equation to be an effective officer. They are expected to perform under high-stress, rapidly unfolding circumstances much like professional athletes. However, in most cases, they do not receive the support or time to build their skill set individually or in terms of team tactics. Standardized tactical training should be mandatory every week. Consistent training will result in increased officer confidence under pressure and improvements in overall performance.

Age and education restrictions: The emotional intelligence, life experience and education of an officer can impact his or her ability to deal with certain types of critical incidents. Science suggests the human brain is not fully developed until 24 years of age, yet there are no uniform hiring requirements to reflect these findings. A hard look should be given at establishing requirements raising the minimum age for new hires, creating higher education standards and placing limits on the maximum age of an officer, especially as it relates to physical fitness capabilities.

Community engagement: Community engagement falls squarely on the shoulders of the agency and should become part of every police organization. In other words, it should be part of the daily routine of every officer from top to bottom. This will allow the community to become familiar with their local police officers and form mutual respect for one another.

Leadership and accountability: There are many great leaders in our local and state police departments, but enhanced training and experience should apply to them as well. Professional development should be consistent and on-going to truly produce visionary leaders. Leaders who develop self-awareness inevitably create self-management skills and see personal and organizational accountability as a high priority. By implementing standardized and consistent self-assessment, training, and community engagement, we will create a greater police professionalism and community relationships built on trust and transparency which, ironically, will result in more support for the police and a healthier and safer community for all.


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Coronavirus may have come from bats; could they also hold clues to treatments? – Health24

Bats have been blamed as a possible source of the new coronavirus pandemic ravaging the globe. But they might also point to possible ways out of it.

Scientists say the winged mammals' immune systems may offer clues on how to fight the new coronavirus and other dangerous viruses in humans.

"Humans have two possible strategies if we want to prevent inflammation, live longer and avoid the deadly effects of diseases like Covid-19," explained study lead author Vera Gorbunova, a professor of biology at the University of Rochester in New York. "One would be to not be exposed to any viruses, but that's not practical. The second would be to regulate our immune system more like a bat."

Resistance and longevity

Many deadly viruses that affect people are believed to have originated in bats, including rabies, Ebola and SARS-CoV-2, the strain that causes Covid-19. But bats have evolved a secret weapon: They're better able to tolerate viruses than humans and other mammals.

"We've been interested in longevity and disease resistance in bats for a while, but we didn't have the time to sit and think about it," Gorbunova said in a university news release.

"Being in quarantine gave us time to discuss this, and we realised there may be a very strong connection between bats' resistance to infectious diseases and their longevity. We also realised that bats can provide clues to human therapies used to fight diseases," she explained.

Typically, a species' lifespan is associated with its body size. The smaller a species, the shorter its lifespan. But many bat species have lifespans of 30 to 40 years, which is impressive for their size, the authors noted in a review article published recently in Cell Metabolism.

Bats' longevity and tolerance to viruses may be due to their ability to control inflammation, which is involved in both ageing and disease. Viruses, including Covid-19, can trigger inflammation.

Our bodies overreact

With Covid-19, this inflammatory response goes "haywire", Gorbunova said. In fact, in many cases it is the inflammatory response that kills the patient, more so than the virus itself.

"The human immune system works like that: Once we get infected, our body sounds an alarm and we develop a fever and inflammation. The goal is to kill the virus and fight infection, but it can also be a detrimental response as our bodies overreact to the threat," Gorbunova said.

In contrast, bats' immune systems control viruses without mounting a strong inflammatory response.

There are several possible reasons why bats evolved to fight viruses and live long lives. Flight may be one of them, the researchers noted.

Constant exposure to viruses

Bats are the only mammals that can fly, which required them to adapt to rapid increases in body temperature, sudden surges in metabolism and molecular damage. These adaptations may also assist in disease resistance, the study authors suggested.

Another factor is that many species of bats live in large, dense colonies, and hang close together on cave ceilings or in trees. Those conditions are ideal for transmitting viruses and other pathogens.

According to Andrei Seluanov, a biology professor at the University of Rochester, "Bats are constantly exposed to viruses. They are always flying out and bringing back something new to the cave or nest, and they transfer the virus because they live in such close proximity to each other."

This means that bats' immune systems are continuously adapting to deal with new viruses. Studying bats' immune systems could lead to new ways to fight aging and diseases in humans, the researchers said.

Image credit: Igam Ogam, Unsplash

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Coronavirus may have come from bats; could they also hold clues to treatments? - Health24

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