Third in an occasional series on how Harvard researchers are tackling the problematic issues of aging.“If only,” wrote an ancient Japanese poet, “when one heard that Old Age was coming one could bolt the door….”Science is working on it.Aging is as much about the physical processes of repair and regeneration — and their slow-motion failure — as it is the passage of time. And scientists studying stem cell and regenerative biology are making progress understanding those processes, developing treatments for the many diseases whose risks increase as we get older, while at times seeming to draw close to a broader anti-aging breakthrough.If stem cells offer potential solutions, they’re also part of the problem. Stem cells, which can differentiate into many cell types, are important parts of the body’s repair system, but lose regenerative potency as we age. In addition, their self-renewing ability allows the mutations that affect every cell to accumulate across cellular generations, and some of those mutations lead to disease.“We do think that stem cells are a key player in at least some of the manifestations of age,” said Professor of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology David Scadden, co-director of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute. “The hypothesis is that stem cell function deteriorates with age, driving events we know occur with aging, like our limited ability to fully repair or regenerate healthy tissue following injury.”Human heart cells developed from human skin cells, beating in a dish. Courtesy of Richard T. Lee laboratory.When it comes to aging, certain tissue types seem to lead the charge, according to Professor of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology Lee Rubin, who directs the Harvard Stem Cell Institute’s Therapeutic Screening Center. Particular tissues — nerve cells appear to be one — somehow signal to others that it’s time to age. This raises the prospect, Rubin said, that aging might be reversed by treating these key tissue categories, rather than designing individual treatments for the myriad tissue types that make up the body.“The process of aging involves all tissues in your body and, while different things go wrong in each tissue, they go wrong at basically the same rate,” Rubin said. “We can think of it as a process that is somehow coordinated, or there are fundamental processes in each tissue that play out.”In addition to key tissues, certain chemical pathways — like insulin signaling —seem to be able to control aging, said Rubin, whose work has received backing from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, as well as private foundations. The insulin signaling pathway is a chemical chain reaction in which the hormone insulin helps the body metabolize glucose. Reducing it has been shown to greatly extend life span in flies and worms, Rubin said. Also, signaling doesn’t have to be reduced in all tissues.“If you just reduce it in neurons, the whole fly or worm lives longer,” Rubin said. “Certain key tissues in those organisms, if you selectively manipulate those tissues, have a positive effect on a number of processes in other tissues.”Because it circulates throughout the body, blood is an obvious place to look for controlling or signaling molecules that prompt or coordinate aging. A key carrier of oxygen and nutrients, blood is also rich with other compounds, some of which appear to play a role in decline linked to age.Scadden described recent work done separately by Ben Ebert, a professor of medicine working at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Steve McCarroll, the Dorothy and Milton Flier Associate Professor of Biomedical Science and Genetics, that identified age-related changes in the blood that can increase the risk of diseases we don’t typically think of as blood diseases.Another tantalizing study, published in 2013, used the blood of a young mouse to rejuvenate the organs of an older one. In these “parabiotic” experiments, conducted by Professor of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology Richard Lee and Forst Family Professor of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology Amy Wagers, the circulatory systems of the two mice were joined, allowing the blood of the young to flow through the older one’s body. The older mouse showed improvements in muscle tone and heart function. Later, similar experiments done by Rubin also showed improvements in neuronal health and brain functioning.The young mouse’s fate depended on the age of the older mouse, Rubin said. If the latter was middle-aged, the young mouse appeared to be fine. If the older mouse was very old, however, the young mouse did worse.Rubin said the experiments suggest that blood contains both positive and negative factors that influence aging. It may be, he said, that both are always present, but that positive factors outweigh negative in the young and that negative factors increase as we age.“The process of aging involves all tissues in your body and … different things go wrong in each tissue,” says Lee Rubin. “[I]f you selectively manipulate those tissues, [it can] have a positive effect on a number of processes in other tissues.” Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff PhotographerResearchers have identified but not yet confirmed candidate blood factors for the rejuvenating effects. What seems not in doubt is the overall effect of the young blood on the old mouse. Interest is intense enough that a California company, Alkahest, has begun experiments giving Alzheimer’s patients plasma from young blood in hopes of improving cognition and brain function.Even if that approach works, Rubin said, there would be practical hurdles to the widespread administration of young people’s blood plasma to older patients. But with an active compound identified, a drug could be made available to restore at least some cognitive function in Alzheimer’s patients.In addition to the overall process of aging, researchers at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute, as well as across the University and its affiliated institutions, are investigating an array of diseases whose incidence increases — sometimes dramatically — with age.The list includes several of the country’s top causes of death — heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and cancer — as well as rarer conditions such as the lethal neurodegenerative disorder amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).Two decades ago, when stem cell research hit mainstream consciousness, many thought its greatest promise would be in stem cells’ ability to grow replacement parts: organs and tissues for damage caused by trauma or disease.The stem cell revolution is still developing, Scadden said, but so far has taken a different form than many expected. The dream of harnessing stem cells to grow replacement hearts, livers, and kidneys remains, but potentially powerful uses have emerged in modeling disease for drug discovery and in targeting treatment for personalized medicine.“We thought stem cells would provide mostly replacement parts. I think that’s clearly changed very dramatically. Now we think of them as contributing to our ability to make disease models for drug discovery.”— David ScaddenResearchers have taken from the sick easily accessible cells, such as skin or blood, and reprogrammed them into the affected tissue type — nerve cells in the case of ALS, which most commonly strikes between 55 and 75, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).These tissues are used as models to study the disease and test interventions. Work on ALS in the lab of Professor of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology Kevin Eggan has identified a drug approved for epilepsy that might be effective against ALS. This application is now entering clinical trials, in collaboration with Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital.In the end, stem cells might have their greatest impact as a drug-discovery tool, Scadden said.“Much of stem cell medicine is ultimately going to be ‘medicine,’” he said. “Even here, we thought stem cells would provide mostly replacement parts. I think that’s clearly changed very dramatically. Now we think of them as contributing to our ability to make disease models for drug discovery.”Also evolving is knowledge of stem cell biology. Our previous understanding was that once embryonic stem cells differentiated into stem cells for muscle, blood, skin, and other tissue, those stem cells remained flexible enough to further develop into an array of different cells within the tissue, whenever needed.Recent work on blood stem cells, however, indicates that this plasticity within a particular tissue type may be more limited than previously thought, Scadden said. Instead of armies of similarly plastic stem cells, it appears there is diversity within populations, with different stem cells having different capabilities.If that’s the case, Scadden said, problems might arise in part from the loss of some of these stem cell subpopulations, a scenario that could explain individual variation in aging. Getting old may be something like the endgame in chess, he said, when players are down to just a few pieces that dictate their ability to defend and attack.“I think that our sense of stem cells as this highly adaptable cell type may or may not be true,” says David Scadden, but it might be possible to boost select populations to fight disease. Jon Chase/Harvard Staff Photographer“If we’re graced and happen to have a queen and couple of bishops, we’re doing OK,” said Scadden, whose work is largely funded through the NIH. “But if we are left with pawns, we may lose resilience as we age.”Scadden’s lab is using fluorescent tags to mark stem cells in different laboratory animals and then following them to see which ones do what work. It might be possible to boost populations of particularly potent players — the queens — to fight disease.“We’re just at the beginning of this,” Scadden said. “I think that our sense of stem cells as this highly adaptable cell type may or may not be true. What we observe when we look at a population may not be the case with individuals.”The “replacement parts” scenario for stem cells hasn’t gone away. One example is in the work of Harvard Stem Cell Institute co-director and Xander University Professor Douglas Melton, who has made significant progress growing replacement insulin-producing beta cells for treatment of diabetes.Another is in Lee’s research. With support from the NIH, Lee is working to make heart muscle cells that can be used to repair damaged hearts.Trials in this area have already begun, though with cells not genetically matched to the patient. In France, researchers are placing partially differentiated embryonic stem cells on the outside of the heart as a temporary aid to healing. Another trial, planned by researchers in Seattle, would inject fully differentiated heart muscle cells into a patient after a heart attack as a kind of very localized heart transplant.Lee’s approach will take longer to develop. He wants to exploit the potential of stem cell biology to grow cells that are genetically matched to the patient. Researchers would reprogram cells taken from the patient into heart cells and, as in the Seattle experiment, inject them into damaged parts of the heart. The advantage of Lee’s approach is that because the cells would be genetically identical to the patient, he or she could avoid antirejection drugs for life.“Cardiology has completely changed in the last 25 years,” says Richard Lee, who works on cardiac stem cells. “If you think it’s not going to change even more in the next 25 years, you’re probably wrong.” Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer“What we’re thinking about is longer-term but more ambitious,” Lee said. “Avoiding immune suppression could change the way we think about things, because it opens the door to many decades of potential benefit.”Change has been a constant in Lee’s career, and he says there’s no reason to think that will slow. Patient populations are older and more complex, disease profiles are changing, and the tools physicians have at their disposal are more powerful and more targeted.“Many of our patients today wouldn’t be alive if not for the benefit of research advances,” he said. “Cardiology has completely changed in the last 25 years. If you think it’s not going to change even more in the next 25 years, you’re probably wrong.”When Lee envisions the full potential of stem cell science, he sees treatments and replacement organs with the power to transform how we develop and grow old.“It may not be there for you and me, but for our children or their children, ultimately, regenerative biology and stem cell biology have that kind of potential,” he said. “We imagine a world where it doesn’t matter what mutations or other things you’re born with, because we can give you a good life.”Lee’s not guessing at future longevity. He’s not even sure extending life span beyond the current record, 122, is possible. Instead, he cites surveys that suggest that most Americans target 90 as their expectation for a long, healthy life.“That’s about a decade more than we get now in America,” Lee said. “We have work to do.” read more
Read Full Story To understand how cells function — and malfunction in diseases — we need to watch how molecules in cells work and interact. Zhuang and her lab invented one of the first and most widely used super-resolution imaging methods known as STORM (Stochastic Optical Reconstruction Microscopy), which circumvents the diffraction limit of light microscopy.This powerful method enables researchers to watch, with nanometer-scale resolution, the molecular interactions, dynamics, and functions in cells.Using STORM, Zhuang and her lab have achieved three-dimensional, multicolor super-resolution imaging, obtained spatial resolution of sub-10 nanometers, and demonstrated live-cell super-resolution imaging with sub-second time resolution.,More recently, Zhuang and her team invented a single-cell transcriptome imaging method called MERFISH (multiplexed error-robust fluorescence in situ hybridization), which allows the expression levels and spatial distributions of RNAs from thousands of genes to be determined in individual cells. This groundbreaking invention enables researchers to map the organization of the transcriptome and genome inside cells and to identify and map distinct cell types in complex tissues.Zhuang not only invented powerful imaging methods, she applied them to investigate a variety of biological problems, including molecular structures in cells, organization of chromatin in the nucleus, regulation of gene expression, and organization and development of distinct cell types in tissues. With STORM, Zhuang and her lab have discovered novel cellular structures, including the periodic membrane skeleton in neurons. Prize honors world-renowned scientists and scholars who have made outstanding achievements in biochemistry and biophysics, cognitive science, environmental sciences, history, and medicineThe Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) has awarded the 2018 Dr. H.P. Heineken Prize for Biochemistry and Biophysics to Xiaowei Zhuang, the David B. Arnold Jr. Professor of Science, professor of chemistry & chemical biology and of physics, and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator.The Heineken Prize recognizes Zhuang’s far-reaching impact on scientific research, health, and medicine. She is one of the pioneers of super-resolution microscopy. She developed single-molecule and super-resolution imaging methods, which she then used to make fundamental biological discoveries. Her inventions have transformed research capabilities for numerous fields, from microscopy and chemistry to biology and medicine. Thanks to the pioneering work of Zhuang and her team, it is now possible to visualise and track the behaviour of virions, RNA molecules, and cytoskeleton filaments in living cells. —Royal Netherlands Academy Of Arts And Sciences read more
“I thought that was a very clever decision,” Shapiro said. “I was very impressed.”Though his enthusiasm initially was muted, Shapiro nonetheless appreciates the magnitude of the nation’s success with pride, and keeps a copy of Life Magazine from the time on the mantelpiece at home.“Even now I tear up. It was quite an achievement,” Shapiro said. “I mean really. This is something that will not be forgotten in all of human history: the first landing on the moon.” Six-year-old Alyssa Goodman found watching astronauts walk on the moon on TV astonishing. To 8-year-old Dimitar Sasselov, his parents’ excitement over the 30-second clip of Neil Armstrong’s walk belied the downplay it received in Soviet-era Bulgaria. And to Irwin Shapiro, then an MIT physics professor, the technical achievement of getting Armstrong there outshone the walk itself.Three Harvard astronomers shared recollections of humankind’s first walk on the moon 50 years ago Saturday, as well as their thoughts on its wide-ranging legacy.Life’s highest achievementSasselov, Phillips Professor of Astronomy and head of Harvard’s Origins of Life Initiative, was a young boy growing up on Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast in 1969. He was more interested in the beach than in space then. But his parents made sure he knew about, and watched, the landing — even though the government minimized the Cold War achievement.Now Sasselov’s view is likely best described as cosmic. Life in the universe is probably uncommon, he says, and where it exists it is largely made up of microbes, as it was for most of its history on Earth. For those microbes to have given rise to complex life, and for that complex life — along with microbial hitchhikers — to intentionally travel to another celestial body, and back, has to be considered a milestone not just for one species but for all of life.“Here you have, 4 billion years after the creation of the Earth biosphere, a representative … [who] by their own volition and their own design made it beyond the planet, which is the root of the biosphere, to go to another celestial body, stay there, and then return safely back to where they came from,” Sasselov said. “That for sure has never happened before in the history of the solar system.”What is possible to achieve Goodman, the Robert Wheeler Wilson Professor of Applied Astronomy and co-director for science at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, recalls sitting on her parents’ bed in their home on Long Island and being amazed that Armstrong was walking on “that thing in the sky” at that very moment.To her, the moon landings are an example of what it is possible for humans to achieve when vision, political will, financial wherewithal, and technical prowess all pull toward a single goal. Goodman acknowledged that such unified purpose is rare and has been missing in the decades since. Other examples, real and potential, are the Manhattan Project, which led to the first atomic bomb, and, she hopes, a project to find a solution to climate change in the years to come.,Interactive imagery at WorldWide Telescope gives users an astronaut’s view of the moon by allowing them to zoom and pan around the Apollo landing sites. Related Natural history museum displays the relics, examines the legacy of space exploration, moon walk With the 50th anniversary of the first moonwalk nearing, former astronaut Ellen Ochoa reflects on the Apollo landing Rocketwoman Houghton Library show marking 50th anniversary of moonwalk includes NASA artifacts The first moon walk Exhibit charts history of Apollo 11 moon mission To Goodman, who specializes in data visualization and is a leader of the WorldWide Telescope project, Apollo 11’s most amazing technical achievement may have been figuring out how to beam television images from the moon. Granted, they weren’t great images, she said, but when she thinks about people complaining about video speed and other bandwidth issues today and reflects on the live images from the moon in 1969, she is amazed all over again.“When I think about it today — a moment when science made a gigantic impact on my life — it clearly was that moment. I was a child of that,” Goodman said. “I look at my own daughter, who’s almost 22 years old, [and] at what happened when she was a little kid: 9/11. That’s not the kind of positive, incredibly emotional memory that you want somebody to have. So I feel very, very lucky that that’s what I had when I was a little kid.”Blasé, with tearsShapiro, Harvard’s Timken University Professor and former director of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, was well into his scientific career when Armstrong stepped from the landing pad of the lunar lander Eagle onto the dust of the Sea of Tranquility.A physics professor at MIT in 1969, Shapiro recalls watching the grainy, black-and-white image of that “giant leap” at home with his children, but said somehow he couldn’t match their enthusiasm.“Maybe I was too blasé already by that time in my life,” Shapiro said. “I had been following along from [President John] Kennedy’s announcement in ’61.”However, he admired the method chosen for the mission. Several had been considered, including launching a single rocket that would travel to the moon, land, and return, but the technical hurdles were very, very high. Instead NASA opted to launch a rocket into lunar orbit, then use a lander to ferry astronauts to the moon’s surface and back to the command module for the return to Earth. The Daily Gazette Sign up for daily emails to get the latest Harvard news. read more
‘If it’s not over on the disease … it’s not over on the balance sheet’ Opportunity Insights report suggests targeted social insurance programs may be more effective Related New economic tracker finds flaws in U.S. recovery plan Taking China’s pulse Ash Center research team unveils findings from long-term public opinion survey Kennedy School’s Carmen Reinhart, just named chief economist at the World Bank, says the COVID-born financial crisis will last until the health crisis is solved First, both of our economies are driven by consumption — well over two-thirds of GDP in the case of the US, and well over one-half of GDP in the case of China. As a result, both countries are quite focused on maintaining consumption by attempting to put money in the hands of consumers. The U.S. did that directly to the end consumer through a check in the mail, and indirectly through employers via the Payroll Protection Program. China did this through pre-paid vouchers for specific products and a few other policies. Yet access to much-needed capital is mostly limited to the largest companies in both countries, while most jobs are created by small and medium-sized companies. This disconnect will hinder job growth for both recoveries. Second, both economies also rely on the service sector for a range of lower, and increasingly higher value-added segments of the 21st century economy. Mobility restrictions have significantly hampered the return of such jobs, especially in the catering, hospitality, and hotel industries that provide so many urban jobs. Such restrictions of course have been geographically more widespread and longer-term in the U.S., given the initial delay in responding to the pandemic, and ongoing fits and starts of unstable local government policies. Third, both governments are focusing on policies that cut interest rates, increase borrowing, and strengthen government purchasing of debt. Our respective stock markets appear to be the largest beneficiaries of such policies, leading to concerns about a jobless economic recovery in the short to medium term, that further exacerbates inequality within both nations.Ash: You say that the economic recovery from COVID-19 could feel like a “jobless” recovery in the U.S. What does that mean? Jordan: Generally speaking, a “jobless recovery” — a phrase often used to describe the period following the Great Recession — means that the return to pre-COVID levels of employment will take longer than other economic indicators.,While GDP declined in 2009, it was only a one-year dip. In fact, by 2010 U.S. GDP had already exceeded 2008 levels. The major stock indices took about six years to recover their losses from the Great Recession, while employment took significantly longer — a full decade — to recoup job losses. The COVID recession will feel similar to the Great Recession in that job recovery should take significantly longer than economic recovery — with GDP rebounding by early 2021 — or the stock market itself. In fact, the NASDAQ is at nearly a record high, having recovered all of its losses since the COVID downturn began. It is important to note, however, that unemployment during the Great Recession never came close to the current rate, only barely exceeding 10 percent for a single month; the current real unemployment rate is some 70 percent higher. Depending on the course of the virus, the depth of economic disruptions caused by its progression, and the response of world governments, it is sadly not unlikely that we could be into the early 2030s before we see the unemployment rate return to its pre-COVID level.Ash: Based on your analysis what policies should the U.S. consider to drive recovery?Jordan: Economic stimulus measures to date have largely (and correctly) focused on disaster relief in the form of direct payments and enhanced unemployment benefits to individuals, and payroll and other financial support for businesses through the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL), Payroll Protection Program (PPP) and Main Street Loan Program. While these programs have been critical to supporting the U.S. economy, a broader suite of initiatives will be needed to jumpstart and maintain economic growth.In our paper, we recommend a five-pillared policy strategy that includes significant investments in infrastructure, business relief, grants to diversify and localize critical supply chains, investments in education and training, and relief for state and local governments.These priorities enable swift economic recovery with tangible long-term benefits to make America more competitive over time while updating our aging infrastructure and equipping our citizens with the 21st-century skills needed for sustained growth. The Ash Center sat down with Edward Cunningham and Philip Jordan, authors of Our Path to “New Normal” in Employment? Sobering Clues from China and Recovery Scores for U.S. Industry, a new report examining China’s post COVID-19 economic recovery in an effort to better understand what might lay ahead for America’s own attempts to rebuild from the economic destruction wrought by the pandemic.Q&AEdward Cunningham and Philip Jordan Ash: Overall, how would you characterize China’s COVID-related economic recovery?Cunningham: China’s recovery to date has been uneven, unfortunately reinforcing existing structural imbalances, and highlighting the probability that the Chinese economy may plateau below pre-COVID levels for an extended period of time. The higher value-added engines of China’s growth have all shown signs of weakness. Private companies, which make up the backbone of small- and medium-sized enterprises and urban employment, have found it harder to access the financial resources being marshaled by the government as a response to the pandemic. The service sector, which has increasingly served as the source of economic growth and jobs, has borne the brunt of people’s reduced mobility, with hotels and catering hit the hardest. Finally, consumption is also suffering, reflected most recently in a 16 percent drop in May imports year-on-year. Beijing has responded with its “six priorities”: employment, basic livelihood, company support, food and energy security, stable supply chains, and the more effective operation of government. On the bright side, China’s government has the ability to increase its response well above the $500 billion to date. According to the IMF, China’s COVID-19 related support policies, including spending, loans and guarantees, amount to a mere 2.5 percent of GDP. This compares to 11 percent for the US, over 20 percent for Japan, and 34 percent for Germany.Ash: Even though some of the macro indicators might seem to suggest that China is undergoing a fairly robust recovery, you seem more skeptical. Why is that?,Cunningham: Most analysis of China’s economic recovery is biased by the nature of China’s own economic reporting and state priorities. Many tend to focus on the supply side of the equation: industrial output, fixed asset investment, capital expenditures, etc. These aspects of the economy will undoubtedly recover more quickly, as they benefit from the traditional policy responses of easing credit and cutting interest rates — levers that the government can control. Yet consumption drives nearly 60 percent of Chinese GDP, and getting people to spend more, and reinvigorating the demand side of consumption, is trickier. Traditionally high savings rates in China constrain consumption to an extent. A major driver of such saving has been a historically weak social safety net — Chinese savers need those savings should they or a loved one get sick, or encounter some other misfortune in life. The Chinese leadership has long sought to strengthen such social policy, but significant work has yet to be done. This is part of the reason why Chinese Premier Li Keqiang focused on supporting consumption in his work report at the opening session of the National People’s Congress on May 22. Similarly, the Chinese central government conspicuously decided to forgo a target range for economic growth, highlighting the depth of their concern and the degree of uncertainty related to a sustained recovery in the short to medium term. Ash: What parallels do you see between China’s recovery and that in the U.S.?Cunningham: Comparing the U.S. and China is always risky, given the chasms between our political, cultural, and economic systems. Yet we have few places to look for precedent and lessons in dealing with this global pandemic — particularly at scale. There are also important parallels in our economic systems that have interested me for decades. There are three similarities that may now prove useful when it comes to thinking about the potential shape of our recovery — particularly regarding employment. “It is sadly not unlikely that we could be into the early 2030s before we see the unemployment rate return to its pre-COVID level.” — Philip Jordan read more
If you were a DWEN attendee and participated in our volunteer event at the Christel House, have you kept in touch with any of the Christel House entrepreneurs you met and mentored? Did you bring a teen to Girls Track and would like to share her story with us? Please let us know in the comments, below.I’m really looking forward to meeting this year’s participants very soon– a mix of girls from the U.S., India, China, and Europe. Our Youth Learning partner this year is the Girls Scouts of Northern California. I’ll tell you all about it after the event! Managing the Girls Track for the Dell Women’s Entrepreneur Network (DWEN) Summit last year was the highlight of 2016 for me. What a journey—from the two days and two overnight flights it took to get from Austin to Cape Town, to seeing some of the girls present their business ideas to the entire adult DWEN delegation.Each of those 20 teens, who came from South Africa, Australia and the U.S., brought their talents and enthusiasm to the conference—making it a special event for the girls and adults alike. I’ll never forget them.Girls Track and Dell’s annual DWEN Summit will take place this year in San Francisco, July 17-18. In response to the disparities faced by women in starting and growing their businesses, Dell founded DWEN in 2010. The program is focused on creating and fostering a community of like-minded women founders who are looking for ways to grow—primarily by expanding into fast-growth, emerging countries—and who need a venue to exchange ideas, learn and do business with one another to make it happen.“Through DWEN’s Girls Track, I know I have the power within me to achieve my dreams and excel in whatever I do if I put my mind to it.ShareZahrah Alias, Grade 9, 15-years-old, Girls Track Dolphin Tank Runner-upJust as DWEN aims to connect female entrepreneurs with networks, sources of capital, knowledge and technology, the Girls Track is investing in girls, ages 13 – 18, so that their path to entrepreneurship can be a guided one. At Girls Track, girls hone their entrepreneurial instincts and grow their technology skills with the help of their peers and DWEN attendees.So what are last year’s participants up to now and what Girls Track meant to them?I had the opportunity to touch base recently with some of the girls who joined us for Girls Track. Each one I spoke to is a student at Christel House, a school for K-12 grade students outside of Cape Town that is focused on educating the most underprivileged children in its community. Christel House is also an important Youth Learning partner with Dell. Since 2009, Dell has provided the school with technology and funding, enabling Christel House to use innovative teaching methods to assist students in maximizing their academic and employability potential.While back at school and busy with their studies, the memories, friendships and skills the girls gained at DWEN will stay with them as they graduate, launch their careers and, perhaps, new businesses.Below are some of their comments about their Girls Track experience. “My experience at the Girls Track event was life-changing. It expanded my knowledge and makes me believe that one day I’ll be able to be a successful businesswoman. Girls Track taught me lifelong lessons. It also gave me the ability to think creatively; voice my opinion or suggestions to an idea.”Jessie Stellmacher, Grade 10, 16-years-old“It was inspiring to see so many business professionals all in one room sharing their business knowledge. My favorite session was the website design session. It capitalized on how technology is now, how it is enabling organizations, and what we can expect from technology in the future.”Vuyolwethu Blaai, Grade 12, 17-years-old“Initiatives like DWEN make it easy for girls like me to aspire to have their own businesses. I will never forget the experience and will forever be grateful to my school, Christel House, and to Dell for the opportunity. Thank you!”Vuyolwethu Blaai, Grade 12, 17-years-old“Being part of the DWEN event was a huge opportunity for me. I have never been interested in becoming an entrepreneur, but after the summit I changed my mind! Today, I know more about web design, public speaking and budgeting. I was very nervous when I first arrived at Girls Track, but I started gaining confidence soon while listening to all the powerful women around us. What inspired me the most was Mikaila Ulmer’s business success story. I never came across and got to work with a successful business girl who was just 11-years-old—wow!”Aneeqa Philander, Grade 9, 15-years-old read more
The unrelenting growth of unstructured data represents an enormous opportunity for those organizations looking to transform their businesses to win in the new digital economy. While unstructured data is the fuel that can power business success, harnessing it can be a challenge. For example, in many organizations today, data is frequently spread across diverse storage platforms, trapped in infrastructure ‘silos’ dedicated to specific applications, and spread across on-prem storage and various cloud storage platforms. In these environments, IT managers and business users frequently don’t have tools to answer simple questions about their data such as:Where is my data? Is it in the cloud or on one of our enterprise storage platforms?How can I enable my department to find the data they need on their own?How can our teams access our data to collaborate more effectively on projects?Introducing Dell EMC ClarityNow Just-released and available globally through Dell EMC and its authorized channel partners, Dell EMC ClarityNow is data management software that enables organizations to locate, access and manage data in seconds, no matter where it resides – across file and object storage, in the data center or in the cloud. With ClarityNow, IT organizations can gain a holistic data view across their storage systems with a single pane of glass, effectively breaking down trapped siloes of data.For business users and content creators, ClarityNow offers self-service capabilities to find, use and move files to the most appropriate storage tier (e.g. all-flash or archive), with a database that can index billions of files and folders that would otherwise be difficult to access without a consolidated global file system view. For IT administrators, ClarityNow provides an ability to manage storage costs, rapidly locate files and accurately report on the usage of storage infrastructure.As shown in the diagram above, ClarityNow is a complementary solution to both Dell EMC Isilon Scale-out NAS and Dell EMC ECS Object Storage, and a number of 3rd party and cloud storage platforms. ClarityNow runs on a dedicated server and on clients to locate, access and manage data across file and object storage, on-prem and in the cloud.Customer use case examplesOrganizations in the Life Sciences sector often deal with complex workflows with billions of files across petabytes of heterogeneous storage. One of Dell EMC’s ClarityNow customers, a genetics research company, built a scientific archive which is accessible by many content owners as well as IT. ClarityNow enabled high speed search across storage repositories with a single pane of glass view while the self-service archive allowed researchers, producers, design managers and engineers to manage their own storage costs and workflows, handling access, visibility and control in a single, highly scalable system.In the Media and Entertainment industry, a large motion picture firm deployed ClarityNow to help producers, service reps and editors to quickly find the files for the jobs they are working on. Since piracy is a big concern for theatrical content, the firm needed a solution that provided visibility into files without full access. ClarityNow enabled visibility into data without compromising security, allowing the firm to pass security audits for suppliers working on confidential movie production projects.Key capabilities of Dell EMC ClarityNow A unified, single pane of glass view gives insight into file and object data in the data center, off-prem and in the cloudHigh speed search and indexing scans to organize files in “look aside” modeSelf-service allows content owners to move data from high-performance file storage to archivesData mobility engine with bi-directional movement across file and object storagePurpose-built database supports optimized analytical performanceReports show the true cost of dormant and redundant data with chargeback/showback viewsVisibility into files without direct data access ensures data securityUnlock the Value of Your Data Capital With the ability of ClarityNow to give a consolidated view across heterogeneous file and cloud storage, Dell EMC is offering organizations more powerful tools to help shrink their data center footprint, lower operational costs and bring order to the explosive growth of unstructured data. Ultimately, this is about helping our customers advance their Digital Transformation initiatives with a modern infrastructure foundation to capture and organize massive amounts of data, while accelerating the ability of the business to unlock the value of their data capital.Find out more about Dell EMC ClarityNow or contact your Dell EMC sales or channel partner representative. read more
I cannot remember the last time I met CTOs within our Dell EMC OEM customer community who were not focused on making their OEM products more intelligent and data-driven. The reality is that if you’re not thinking about data and the “digital footprint” of your product, you’re in the minority.Value in DataThis emphasis on data is increasingly reflected in the organizational structure of companies. Today, we see expert roles dedicated to data strategy, AI and IoT. The constant quest is to find value, meaning and efficiencies in data where previously, due to technical or operational constraints, it was, quite simply, unfeasible to unleash the genie from the bottle.And yet, while the technology and the means to acquire and analyze data, are maturing, we still face complexity. The problem is that access to data and approaches to analysis remain inconsistent across industries and institutions.Medical ImagingFor example, take healthcare, specifically Medical Imaging. Arguably, this is an ideal candidate for the application of Artificial Intelligence. The idea that a doctor or surgeon studying patient images and looking at risk markers based on the results of previous research studies, can benefit from a global, near real-time advisory system is incredibly powerful.If implemented correctly, this could augment our healthcare system in a profound and meaningful way, saving thousands of lives in the process. It seems like such an obvious no-brainer, right? So, why aren’t hospitals and health care systems rushing to implement it straight away?Data GovernanceThe issue here is largely data governance. There is no global repository of patient imaging data that experts in the field of data science can just point their medical imaging model to. Data is siloed in different countries, regions and hospitals. Connecting data together is often impossible due to legal issues.Even if that wasn’t a factor, trying to centralize the vast quantities of data would pose tough technical challenges. This is not to say that great breakthroughs in the field aren’t happening; they absolutely are. Nonetheless, data starvation is an issue and will continue to be the case, as long as we consider the centralized model to be the only option.Autonomous VehiclesA similar issue exists in training autonomous vehicles. In this case, the sheer volume of data needed to train models in decision-making within a suitable margin of error is incredibly large. Even if we were to overcome the issue of centralizing data for the initial model creation, how do we continue to improve the model? How do we harness the data that continues to be created by vehicles in the field without having to share potentially sensitive and cumbersome raw data back to a central location?Centralization vs. the Edge?And so, if centralization isn’t possible, can we look to the Edge? What about deploying more compute resources to process the data close to the point of creation without bringing it back to the datacentre? There are numerous benefits here, not least latency and networking complexity. This could admittedly fix one problem, but it could also create a slew of others.For example, in the medical imaging scenario, this would create more silos, with each hospital having its own algorithm. As the larger hospitals would naturally have access to more data, they could develop more accurate models while the smaller ones would continue to be starved. In short, there would be no guarantee of “consensus” across the models.Federated Machine LearningOne area that I’m excited about that could help resolve all these issues is Federated Machine Learning. The concept behind Federated Learning (FL) is that the continuous training of the model is disaggregated from the datacentre; instead, it is distributed across nodes that sit in different locations or institutions.Best of Both WorldsFor example, each hospital would take an initial shared model from a central server and continue to train that model, using its own dataset in isolation before sending an updated model back to the central server. The central server would then take updates from all the hospitals and aggregate the changes, improving and calibrating the original model before re-distribution to the nodes across the various sites.The beauty of this approach is that raw (patient) data is isolated and never shared between different sites or even between the nodes and the central server. The network bandwidth requirements are exponentially smaller. The algorithm becomes “democratically elected”, with the data from each hospital contributing its part. Weighting can be applied in order to ensure that the largest datasets are given the highest priority.Promising ResultsTest results so far are promising. In a 2018 experiment carried out by Intel and the University of Pennsylvania, a Federated Machine Learning model achieved 99 percent of the model performance of a model created with shared data.It’s an evolving area of research, but it’s not difficult to imagine how beneficial this could be if architected properly with adequate attention to security. There are some interesting Open Source projects underway currently that use block chain technology for this purpose.Improving Performance without Sharing Raw DataBy using Federated Machine Learning, I believe that those who are designing smarter products of all types can continuously update and improve the behavior and performance of the decision engines without ever needing to share raw data. Think about the potential for Federated Machine Learning in the security and automotive industries plus a multitude of IoT use cases!Appliances deployed across multiple customer locations could individually contribute to improving the products in which customers have invested. Coupled with powerful Edge computing hardware, this method could prove instrumental in helping OEMs bring their products to a smarter future.Are you trying to find new ways to make your products more data-driven? Do you have insights to share? I would love to hear your comments and questions. Learn more about Dell EMC OEM Solutions here.Join our LinkedIn OEM & IoT Solutions Showcase page here.Keep in touch. Follow us on Twitter @dellemcoem read more
GENEVA (AP) — Delegations from Syria’s government, opposition and civil society have started a new round of meetings in Geneva aimed at revising the constitution of the war-torn country. The fifth round of the so-called Constitutional Committee on Monday comes days after the U.N.’s special envoy for Syria said many subjects have been discussed for more than a year. He said it’s now time for the committee to ensure that “the meetings are better organized and more focused.” Syria’s nearly 10-year conflict has killed more than half a million people and displaced half the country’s pre-war 23 million population, including more than 5 million refugees mostly in neighboring countries.
NEW YORK (AP) — Now, even the pros on Wall Street are asking if stock prices have shot too high. The U.S. stock market has been on a nearly nonstop rip higher since March, surging roughly 70% to record heights. Wall Street was always quick to justify it, even as the pandemic took its toll on people’s health and the economy. But some of the market’s recent, huge moves have become more difficult to explain, and it’s not just the maniacal swings for GameStop and some other stocks. That has some investors openly debating whether the market is in a bubble, after months of batting away the possibility.
Francis Tuhaise knows from first-hand experience that non-profit organizations can make a difference in the lives of Ugandan citizens. Tuhaise, a student in the Kroc Institute’s Masters Program of Peace and Conflict, will speak Wednesday about the challenges, justifications and opportunities for the non-profit sector in Uganda. He is currently the co-director of the Kyembogo Farmer’s Association (KYEFA), a non-profit organization in Uganda that works with farmers in the region. He received a bachelor’s degree in adult and community education from Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda. Tuhaise also worked for the Ugandan government as a community development officer, mobilizing communities for government-funded programs. Fr. George Muganyizi, a Holy Cross priest, founded KYEFA in Western Uganda in 1998. Tuhaise was involved in the initial planning stages of the organization and became co-director after two years. KYEFA works to improve farmers’ access to education and medical care by increasing their incomes, Tuhaise said. The organization focuses its resources on agriculture because it makes up more than 70 percent of the Ugandan economy. The primary crops in Uganda are pineapples, coffee and tea. “We give [the farmers] improved seeds, we assist them in forming groups, and by forming groups, they are able to market their crops more effectively,” Tuhaise said. He said these collective marketing groups are essential to building income. Tuhaise said the people of Uganda are generally more willing to embrace help from non-profit organizations than government, because they trust the non-profits more. “The nonprofit sector provides a very good opportunity for development in developing countries,” he said. “People have a lot of trust in them, and they are less bureaucratic … They are very transparent as opposed to government, which is seen as very corrupt.” When KYEFA was first founded, 15 families were willing to invest. Now, it has grown into a network of 36 associations serving 936 families in 64 village communities. These families live on isolated farms scattered throughout the Kyembogo region of Uganda. KYEFA also assists farmers by providing a tractor to share between several farms. Farmers may borrow the tractor but must pay for their own gas. Tuhaise also said KYEFA offers support to farmers beyond the monetary realm. “Not all the support is just financially related,” he said. “We also offer technical advice.” The organization also works on two other projects: one focusing on water distribution and another on orphans. The water project helps to sufficiently hydrate families, their animals and their crops, Tuhaise said. The orphan project assists children in buying basic materials for school, like pencils, paper and proper clothing. “In Uganda, we have free primary education, but these orphans do not have the basic [resources] they need to attend school. We help over 1,000 orphans,” he said. “We have 3,000 orphans [in total] but we cannot provide for them all. We select the ones with the most need.” Tuhaise said KYEFA’s goals for the future include increasing funding and expanding its network of associated organizations. “Over 36 groups are associated with us, [but] we want as many groups as we can associated with us,” he said. “We want each group to be independent, have a strategic plan, have its own programs, and sustain its own activities.” Uganda Farmers, Inc., a tax exempt, non-profit group, was formed in solidarity with KYEFA in 2007. Tuhaise said this organization, founded in Connecticut, is key to KYEFA’s programs. Founding KYEFA was not very difficult, Tuhaise said, because it had a wide support base from the beginning. He said the idea for KYEFA actually came from the farmers themselves. “There was already the support, [the farmers] just needed someone to organize and put the papers together,” he said. “The government values non-profits in Uganda.” He said in Uganda, the non-profit sector is able to grow faster and with fewer resources than governmental initiatives. “From experience, I have seen non-profits grow more with less compared to government. Something very small can create a very big impact,” he said. “You are near people, and you don’t need to spend on the big structure. This gives a lot hope.” Tuhaise will speak Wednesday at 8 p.m. in Geddes Hall. read more