‘Dream big and act boldly’

first_imgThe pomp and pageantry of Commencement may still be months away, but on a crisp December afternoon less than a mile from Tercentenary Theatre, the newest graduates of Harvard College were celebrated at the Midyear Graduates Recognition Ceremony.There was a festive mood in the Student Organization Center at Hilles as speakers took to the dais to offer wisdom and well wishes to the 138 midyear graduates — many of whom had taken time off from Harvard to pursue unexpected opportunities or face unforeseen challenges. Following the ceremony, graduates joined faculty, friends, and family at a reception to toast their Harvard journeys.Danoff Dean of Harvard College Rakesh Khurana encouraged the graduates to continue to embrace life’s unplanned experiences. “It is in those moments of uncertainty that we encounter serendipity,” said Khurana, himself a December graduate of Cornell University. “Your Harvard degree will open doors for you, but you will have to decide which doors to enter and which ones to pass by.”Graduates and friends pose in front of the Mather House banner.Margery Tong ’17 addresses her fellow midyear graduates. “We will seek different paths for ourselves,” said Tong, who took off a semester to work on a museum development project, “but may we do so in the Harvard spirit: by striving positively toward progress and by maintaining that bright-eyed, wondrous thirst for the truth.”Jonathan L. Walton, Plummer Professor of Christian Morals and Pusey Minister in the Memorial Church, concluded his faculty address with a call to action: “I pray that you will leave this place with a vast imagination and a steely determination that whatever you lay your hands upon, you will attempt to leave it better than you found it. Imagine new possibilities, dream big, and then act boldly.”Lowell House Faculty Dean Diana Eck chats with MJ Richardson ’17 and Connor Richardson ’19.Ali Welch ’17 chats with friends before the ceremony. Welch, who took a semester off to intern at the nonprofits Playworks and KaBOOM!, is considering a career in education. She will start at City Year in January.Danoff Dean of Harvard College Rakesh Khurana poses for a selfie with midyear graduates.Jonathan L. Walton (left) shares a laugh with Philip W. Lovejoy, executive director of the Harvard Alumni Association (HAA). Lovejoy welcomed the graduates as the newest members of the HAA: “Seek out alumni communities wherever you are — be they your friends, mentors, fellow alumni in your city, a Harvard Club, a shared-interest group. There are countless ways to stay connected.”Currier House Faculty Dean Latanya Sweeney attends the ceremony to support graduates from her House.Midyear graduate Corinne Bozzini ’16 (right) gets a hug after the ceremony. Bozzini plans to join the Peace Corps before pursuing a graduate degree in psychology.last_img read more

Scientists pinpoint neural activity’s role in human longevity

first_imgThe brain’s neural activity — long implicated in disorders ranging from dementia to epilepsy — also plays a role in human aging and life span, according to research led by scientists in the Blavatnik Institute at Harvard Medical School (HMS).The study, published today in Nature, is based on findings from human brains, mice, and worms and suggests that excessive activity in the brain is linked to shorter life spans, while suppressing such overactivity extends life.The findings offer the first evidence that nervous system activity affects human longevity. Although previous studies had suggested that parts of the nervous system influenced aging in animals, the role of neural activity in aging, especially in humans, remained murky.“An intriguing aspect of our findings is that something as transient as the activity state of neural circuits could have such far-ranging consequences for physiology and life span,” said study senior author Bruce Yankner, professor of genetics at HMS and co-director of the Paul F. Glenn Center for the Biology of Aging.Neural excitation appears to act along a chain of molecular events famously known to influence longevity: the insulin and insulin-like growth factor (IGF) signaling pathway. The key in this signaling cascade appears to be a protein called REST, which Yanker’s lab previously showed protects aging brains from dementia and other stresses.Neural activity refers to the constant flicker of electrical currents and transmissions in the brain. Excessive activity, or excitation, could manifest in numerous ways, from a muscle twitch to a change in mood or thought, the authors said.It’s not yet clear from the study whether or how a person’s thoughts, personality, or behavior affect his or her longevity. The study could inform the design of new therapies for conditions that involve neural overactivity, such as Alzheimer’s disease and bipolar disorder. The Daily Gazette Sign up for daily emails to get the latest Harvard news. “An exciting future area of research will be to determine how these findings relate to such higher-order human brain functions,” said Yankner.The study could inform the design of new therapies for conditions that involve neural overactivity, such as Alzheimer’s disease and bipolar disorder, the researchers said.The findings raise the possibility that certain medicines, such as drugs that target REST, or behaviors, such as meditation, could extend life span by modulating neural activity.Human variation in neural activity might have both genetic and environmental causes, which would open future avenues for therapeutic intervention, Yankner said.All roads lead to RESTYankner and colleagues began their investigation by analyzing gene-expression patterns — the extent to which various genes are turned on and off — in donated brain tissue from hundreds of people who died at ages ranging from 60 to more than 100.The information had been collected through three separate research studies of older adults. Those analyzed in the current study were cognitively intact, meaning they had no dementia.Immediately, a striking difference appeared between the older and younger study participants, said Yankner: The longest-lived people — those over 85 — had lower expression of genes related to neural excitation than those who died between the ages of 60 and 80.Next came the question that all scientists confront: correlation or causation? Was this disparity in neural excitation merely occurring alongside more important factors determining life span, or were excitation levels directly affecting longevity? If so, how?The team conducted a barrage of experiments, including genetic, cell, and molecular biology tests in the model organism Caenorhabditis elegans; analyses of genetically altered mice; and additional brain tissue analyses of people who lived for more than a century.These experiments revealed that altering neural excitation does indeed affect life span — and illuminated what might be happening on a molecular level.All signs pointed to the protein REST.REST, which is known to regulate genes, also suppresses neural excitation, the researchers found. Blocking REST or its equivalent in the animal models led to higher neural activity and earlier deaths, while boosting REST did the opposite. And human centenarians had significantly more REST in the nuclei of their brain cells than people who died in their 70s or 80s.“It was extremely exciting to see how all these different lines of evidence converged,” said study co-author Monica Colaiácovo, professor of genetics at HMS, whose lab collaborated on the C. elegans work.The researchers found that from worms to mammals, REST suppressed the expression of genes centrally involved in neural excitation, such as ion channels, neurotransmitter receptors, and structural components of synapses.Lower excitation in turn activates a family of proteins known as forkhead transcription factors. These proteins have been shown to mediate a “longevity pathway” via insulin/IGF signaling in many animals. It’s the same pathway that scientists believe can be activated by caloric restriction.In addition to its emerging role in staving off neurodegeneration, discovery of REST’s role in longevity provides additional motivation to develop drugs that target the protein.Although it will take time and many tests to determine whether such treatments reduce neural excitation, promote healthy aging, or extend life span, the concept has captivated some researchers.“The possibility that being able to activate REST would reduce excitatory neural activity and slow aging in humans is extremely exciting,” said Colaiácovo.The authors emphasize that the work would not have been possible without large research cohorts of aging people.“We now have enough people enrolled in these studies to partition the aging population into genetic subgroups,” said Yankner. “This information is invaluable and shows why it’s so important to support the future of human genetics.”Postdoctoral fellows Joseph Zullo and Derek Drake of the Yankner lab are co-first authors. Additional HMS co-authors are Liviu Aron, Patrick O’Hern, Noah Davidsohn, Sameer Dhamne, Alexander Rotenberg and George Church, the Robert Winthrop Professor of Genetics. Davidsohn and Church are also affiliated with the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University.Other co-authors are affiliated with the University of Texas McGovern Medical School, the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and Rush University Medical Center.This work was supported by an NIH Director’s Pioneer Award (DP1OD006849) and National Institutes of Health grants R01AG046174, R01AG26651, R01GM072551, P30AG10161, R01AG15819, R01AG17917, R01AG36836, U01AG46152, EY024376, EY011930, and K99AG050830, as well as the Glenn Foundation for Medical Research and the Ludwig Family Foundation.Church is a co-founder and senior adviser for GC Therapeutics, Inc., which uses transcription factors for therapeutics.last_img read more

Cops Seek Tips in Teen’s Shooting Death

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York Jonathan Graff’s body was found in a Bay Shore Park on Friday, Oct. 10, police said.Suffolk County police Saturday afternoon released a photo of the Queens teenager whose lifeless body was found in a Bay Shore Park after he was shot to death. Police also said they’re seeking the public’s help in 17-year-old Jonathan Graff’s shooting death. He was last seen in Jamaica on Oct. 9, police said. Graff was wearing dark blue jeans, a black hooded sweatshirt, a baseball cap and black sneakers, police said.A man walking his dog in Spur Drive Park late Friday afternoon discovered Graff’s body and called police. Graff’s body was taken to the Suffolk County Medical Examiner’s office for an autopsy. Anyone with information on the shooting or who may have seen Graff before the incident is asked to call Homicide Squad detectives at 631-852-6392 or Crimes Stoppers at 1-800-220-TIPS.last_img read more

Conservative Party Chair Ed Walsh Guilty of Theft, Wire Fraud

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York Suffolk County Conservative Party Chairman Ed Walsh was convicted Thursday on federal wire fraud and theft of funds charges for collecting $200,000 in salary for hours he spent golfing, gambling and politicking while he was on the clock as a correction lieutenant at Suffolk County jail.He was described as both a thief and a victim of politically motivated investigators when prosecutors and defense attorneys gave closing arguments Thursday following the three-week-long trial at Central Islip federal court.“The defendant thinks that because because he has influence…he’s special,” Raymond Tierney, assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, told the jury. “The defendant isn’t special, the rules apply to him, and he needs to be held responsible for his actions.”Federal prosecutors made their case by comparing Walsh’s time sheets with records from Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut, various Long Island golf courses, the Conservative Party, his cell phone, bank transactions and other documents between 2011 and 2014. Attorneys for Walsh, who retired shortly before the trial began so he could collect his pension, had argued that he was free to come and go as he pleased and make up the hours later.Among the witnesses who took the stand at the high-profile trial were U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley), Judge Anthony Senft and Suffolk Democratic Chairman Richard Schaffer, who also serves as Babylon Town Supervisor. The prosecution’s star witness was Suffolk County Sheriff Vincent DeMarco, the county’s highest ranking elected official who’s also a member of the Conservative Party, which counts Suffolk as having its highest enrollment in New York State. DeMarco testified that he brought the case to the FBI after Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota refused to subpoena Walsh’s records.After quoting Walsh telling internal affairs investigators that Spota wouldn’t prosecute him, Tierney questioned the credibility of the witnesses called by the defense. They included the Hampton Hills Golf Course manager who was unaware that Walsh’s golf cart rental receipts had the correct time on them despite the defense’s claims to the contrary, as well as a deputy warden and former Conservative Party committeeman who said that he’d disapprove of subordinates playing golf while they’re on the clock but didn’t have a problem with Walsh doing so.Leonard Lato, one of Walsh’s defense attorneys, mainly questioned the credibility of the sheriff, whom he called “credibility starved,” “unworthy of belief” and a “vengeful narcissist.” At one point he suggested DeMarco should be the one on the other side of the jail cell bars.“Mr. DeMarco is not only biased against Mr. Walsh, he’s committing a crime,” Lato said, drawing an objection from Tierney that Judge Arthur Spatt overruled. “Ed Walsh should not be in this courthouse; Vincent DeMarco should be as a defendant.”The jury never heard what led to the falling out between Walsh and DeMarco. Walsh had helped DeMarco twice get re-elected, and DeMarco had promoted Walsh to be his liaison to outside law enforcement agencies in 2006.“Something happened and the government never elicited what it was,” Lato said. “Mr. DeMarco knows, but he’s not saying.”Lato also continued to call into question the accuracy of cell-site data authorities used to map where Walsh was on days when he claimed to be at work. Prosecutors called a cell phone engineer to explain how the information proved where Walsh was, but a defense expert witness suggested that the data wasn’t reliable. The verdict suggested that the jury sided with the prosecution’s assertion that the data was correct.Tierney pointed out that one investigator had spotted Walsh, while he knew he was the target of an internal affairs investigation, using a dirt road to leave the jail before his shift was over instead taking the main entrance.“His sneaking around is evidence of his guilt,” Tierney said.Apparently the jury didn’t need much time to agree. Their deliberation lasted about an hour.last_img read more

America has a history of backing despots

first_imgCategories: Letters to the Editor, OpinionIn Vice President Pence’s address to one of the most right leaning organizations in this country, CPAC, one of the others being the NRA, he claimed, rightfully so, that the United States doesn’t stand with murderous dictatorships; we stand up to them, referring to North Korea. That’s certainly an admirable position. But by feeding these organizations the “red meat,” the Trump administration feels it needs to placate the base. We have neglected our history in dealing with and supporting despotic, tyrannical and murderous regimes. I don’t expect Donald Trump to have much interest or knowledge of history, so let me give a few examples of the rogue nations we have supported or turned a blind eye to because it suited our needs. First and foremost is Russia under Stalin, who had millions of his citizens sent to the gulag. How about Chile, where we had a democratically elected leader, Salvador Allende, removed in favor of a military dictator, Gen. Pinochet? Next, I might mention Iran, where we and the British installed Shah Pahlavi in support of our and their oil needs. We all know how that turned out. I could go on, but on the chance Mr. Trump reads The Gazette, I wanted to keep this within his intellectual capacity to absorb.James BrodieSchenectadyMore from The Daily Gazette:EDITORIAL: Beware of voter intimidationEDITORIAL: Thruway tax unfair to working motoristsSchenectady police reform sessions pivot to onlineTroopers: Schenectady pair possessed heroin, crack cocaine in Orange County Thruway stopSchenectady’s Lucas Rodriguez forging his own path in dance, theater, musiclast_img read more

Malawi reports first coronavirus death

first_imgTopics : “Our fifth patient to test positive from COVID-19 has sadly passed on in the early hours of this morning,” Mhango told reporters.Malawi is one of the poorest countries in the world. According to World Bank figures, more than half of the 17 million population lives below the poverty line.President Peter Mutharika declared a state of emergency on March 23 to combat the virus, closing schools until further notice.He has since announced the opening of new testing centers for COVID-19 and the recruitment by the health ministry of 2,000 extra staff. Over the weekend, Mutharika said he would cut his own salary and the wages of his ministers to help fund the fight against coronavirus.center_img Malawi announced its first coronavirus death on Tuesday as well as three additional cases, bringing the tally of infections to eight in one of the last countries in Africa to report the disease. Health Minister Jappie Mhango said the victim was a 51-year-old woman who had recently travelled to Britain and had an underlying medical condition.She died in Blantyre, Malawi’s second city and political capital.  last_img read more

BBC commits £1.9bn in contributions to wipe out pension deficit

first_imgThe body, which is partly funded by a public TV-license fee, will now contribute £740m over the next four years, compared with the previous schedule of £375m.The schedule agreed at the 2010 triennial review would have seen the BBC contribute £675m between 2014 and 2021, but this will now rise to £1.2bn.By 2026, the end of the new schedule, the organisation will have contributed £1.96bn, aiming to remove the deficit completely.Despite the higher than expected return on the scheme’s assets, the trustees said market conditions were to blame.The fall in UK government bond yields since 2010 resulted in a £1.6bn addition to the deficit.Bill Matthews, chair of the trustees, said the scheme also agreed to add two years to its funding plan to reach self-sufficiency.He also said the trustees shifted the firm’s investment portfolio to provide greater certainty on returns and complement the scheme’s growing pensioner population.Since 2010, the scheme has reduced its equity holding by 18 percentage points, as it now accounts for 38% of holdings. This was in reaction to the increase in the number of pensioners by 3,800.Bonds now account for 31% of investments, compared with 22% in 2010, while the scheme has actively increased its allocation to alternatives, rising to 17% from 9%.The scheme was also only 53.1% funded on a buyout basis, with an additional £9.1bn required from the BBC to cover this.However, the trustees stressed the scheme had no plans to enter this arrangement.“Throughout the process, the trustees were conscious of the need to strike a balance that was both appropriate for members and did not undermine the BBC’s ability to support the scheme,” Matthews said.“I must stress that the scheme will continue to pay out benefits in line with its rules.” The BBC has been forced to double its contributions to its pension scheme after the triennial review revealed a sharp rise in the deficit.The BBC Pension Scheme, which has around 59,000 members including 22,000 pensioners, saw its deficit increase by £900m (€1.1bn) from 2010, hitting £2bn.The results of its 2013 triennial valuation now estimate its liabilities at £12.3bn, up by £3bn, compared with assets of £10.3bn, which also rose by £2.1bn.As a result, the schedule of contributions from the UK broadcaster to its pension scheme has now been ramped up.last_img read more

The Jetsons house of tomorrow, here today

first_imgMore from newsParks and wildlife the new lust-haves post coronavirus15 hours agoNoosa’s best beachfront penthouse is about to hit the market15 hours agoOne of the most innovative and exciting products ROCKCOTE have been involved with.“As you can see the quality of the products used and the external and internal finishes of the job have been absolutely critical to the success of the final product,” Ms Cameron said.“Rendering took nearly 12 months and Rockcote render was used on all surfaces outside and inside the house with the exception of one timber clad room.“The home’s organic curves required a seamless, continuous render finish.“This is unlike ‘standard’ homes where corners of room provide ‘stop points’ for render to finish.“The incredible architecture and curved surfaces presented major challenges for the renderers which required creative thinking and innovative solutions for application — for instance, renderers used abseiling techniques for application and non-standard tools and trowels to complete the job.” MORE: Rockcote director Chris Cameron said it was one of the most innovative and exciting projects their product had been used on. ‘Dome house’ which is finished with ROCKCOTE render.Welcome to the future.While it may look like something straight from The Jetsons, it’s not an artist’s impression. This house is right here, right now and was doable thanks to a Sunshine Coast-based national company’s product and their highly trained tradespeople. The living, kitchen and barbecue zones are in one pod, the sleeping areas in the other pod and downstairs is an exterior ‘moon’ shower. The incredible architecture and curved surfaces presented major challenges for the renderers which required creative thinking and innovative solutions for applications.GCB Constructions director Trent Clark was tasked with what he said was a “one in a billion” project in late 2016, with construction started in early 2017 with completion in August this year.“The formwork for the off-form concrete structure required GCB to engage specialised Movie World staff to produce a model for the foam egg-shaped formwork to be shotcrete,” Mr Clark said.“Being majority design and construct, this extremely unique and challenging project required an intensive collaboration to rationalise the delivery methodology and buildability due to its ‘out of the box’ vision by our client.”The private residence at 3-5 Tweed Tce, Tweed Heads, which has three-bedrooms, three-bathrooms, is made up of two ‘pods’.center_img ‘Fixer Upper’ brings farmhouse style to 1930-built home Celebrity’s plan to bring design to Australian home >>FOLLOW EMILY BLACK ON FACEBOOK<< The products used included Rockcote’s cement, polymer-modified powder blend render externally, and water-based, acrylic compound render inside.Rockcote, based in Yandina, worked in conjunction with renderers and fully qualified Rockcote master artisans Render X’s Matt Jamieson and Gold Coast Render Technologies’ Chris Porpep.The products used included Rockcote’s cement, polymer-modified powder blend render externally, and water-based, acrylic compound render inside.last_img read more

Bernice Dunbar

first_imgBernice Dunbar, age 92, formerly of Osgood passed away Friday December 21, 2018 at Crystal Rehabilitation & Health Care Center in Greenwood, MS. Bernice was born on April 6, 1926, the daughter of the late Wiley and Ethel (Coldiron) Spurlock. She was preceded in death by her loving husband John Bert Dunbar, on February 2, 1989. Bernice grew up along with her brothers and sisters in Kentucky and Indiana. She had owned and operated Dunbar Beauty Shop in Osgood, IN for many years and then worked at the US Shoe factory in Osgood, IN. She had previously attended the Osgood United Methodist Church and then later became a member of the New Testament Christian Church of Osgood.Bernice was the true meaning of a lady. She had a stubborn side and was not afraid to voice it. Bernice loved to travel and spend time with her friends and family. She was and will continue to be an inspiration to everyone that was blessed enough to know her.Surviving relatives include, 2 sons; Bruce Dunbar (Anne) of Carrollton, MS and Donald Hinkle of Edgefield, SC. Granddaughters surviving are, Anna (Wayne) Winters of Spring Hill, TN, Jennifer Lewis, Edgefield, SC and Lisa (BJ) Creswell of Gautier, MS. One grandson Dustin (Emily) Dunbar of Spring Hill, TN; 10 great grandchildren and 3 great-great- grandchildren. Sisters surviving are Ruby Hinkle Mathis and Alpha Adams-Fabbri.She was preceded in death by grandson John Benjamin Dunbar, brothers; Fred, Taylor and Phillip Spurlock and sister Hazel Spier.Services will be all in one day, Friday, December 28, 2018 at Neal’s Funeral Home. Visitation will be from 11:00 am until 1:00 pm at which time the funeral will begin. Burial will be at Holton Cemetery in Holton, IN. Memorials may be given to the American Cancer Association.www.nealsfuneralhome.netlast_img read more

Sevilla re-sign Rakitic on four-year deal

first_imgRelatedPosts Bayern Munich fans undergo Super Cup coronavirus tests Suarez agrees Atletico terms Messi becomes football’s second billionaire + Top 10 Barcelona have announced the departure of midfielder Ivan Rakitic to former club Sevilla for just £1.3 million.The 32-year-old had been earmarked as a player that could be moved on this summer in the wake of the club’s 8-2 mauling by Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-finals, with the club planning an overhaul by selling several first team stars. Rakitic has signed a four-year deal with the Andalusian side, who he left to join Barca for £18 million in 2014.The deal could rise to £8 million with bonuses.In a statement, Barcelona thanked him for his efforts during his six years at the club and praised his achievements – announcing a farewell ceremony for him this week.The statement said: “FC Barcelona publicly expresses its gratitude to Rakitic for his commitment and dedication and wishes him good luck and success in the future.“Versatile, hard-working and with a good vision of the game, he ends his career as a Barca player with 310 games, in which he has made 40 assists and 36 goals. This Wednesday, September 2, starting at 11am, the farewell ceremony and subsequent telematic press conference of the player will take place.” Posting the news on their official Twitter page, Sevilla wrote: “@IvanRakitic returns home, he is a #SevillaFC player once again! Welcome back, Ivan!”Rakitic played 310 times for the Spanish giants, scoring 36 goals and winning nine major trophies – including four LaLiga titles and the Champions League.Tags: BarcelonaRakiticSEVILLAlast_img read more