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Search Tags: Scott Carr
Human clinical testing has begun of a vaccine to prevent infection by the mosquito-borne dengue virus. The vaccine was developed by scientists at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and is undergoing clinical study at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore. With increasing infection rates, and the discovery of dengue fever in parts of Florida, finding a way to prevent dengue infection has become a priority for the Institute. About 2.5 billion people in over 100 countries worldwide live in areas where they are at risk of dengue infection, and currently there is no vaccine to prevent infection, or any drug treatment for those who become infected. Dengue virus infects about 50 million to100 million people. It accounts for 25,000 deaths annually; most of them in children.
One government agency is attempting to re-invent computing. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency - or DARPA - has started the Ubiquitous High Performance Computing program to create a revolutionary new generation of computing systems they hope will overcome limits to the way computers are evolving now. Increasing the performance of computers has been driven by - what's been dubbed - Moore's Law, the doubling of transistors that can be placed on an integrated circuit every two years. But, gains in performance will be limited by significantly greater power consumption, and programming complexity issues. The DARPA program will work to develop radically new computer architectures and programming models that are 100 to 1,000 times more energy efficient. The program directly addresses major priorities expressed by the President's "Strategy for American Innovation".
Scientists with the Environmental Protection Agency have collaborated with the Department of Energy to develop new water quality software that enhances a local water system's ability to know when it's been intentionally, or unintentionally, contaminated. It assists both agencies in meeting goals connected to homeland security. Utilities can use the Canary software - in conjunction with a network of sensors - to quickly detect contamination, more accurately assess when and how to respond, and then issue warnings to customers if necessary. The software can help detect chemical and biological contaminants, including pesticides, metals, and pathogens. Canary is available worldwide as a free software tool to drinking water utilities. The software is currently being used by more than 600 users in 15 countries.
Seeking to enable a single, lifetime electronic health record, the Veterans Affairs Department adopted a 10-digit identifier to be used from enlistment to death. VA's CIO, Roger Baker, talks with WFED's Scott Carr.
The Department of Energy has entered into an agreement with the Department of Defense to accelerate the development of clean energy technologies while enhancing national energy security. A Memorandum of Understanding between the agencies now covers energy efficiency and renewable energy. It calls for their collaboration on the use of alternative fuels, efficient transportation technologies and fueling infrastructure, grid security, use of the smart grid, energy storage, basic science research, and mobile/deployable power sources. It builds on existing cooperation between the Departments, and will broaden collaboration on clean energy technology research, development, and demonstration. The Defense Department aims to speed up the transfer of innovative energy and conservation technologies from the lab to use in the field. To that end, military installations are used as testing sites before such energy technologies are actually brought to the marketplace.
A new report predicts that more than 22 million additional cataract cases will be avoided for Americans born between 1985 and the year 2100 - due to the reduction and eventual elimination of ozone depleting substances. UV radiation increases the risk for skin cancer, but also increases the risk for cataracts -- that affects more than 20 million Americans age 40 and older. For the first time, the Environmental Protection Agency has been able to include data on cataract risk by gender and skin type. The ozone layer is predicted to recover to pre-1980 levels after the year 2065. In the meantime, under a compromised ozone layer, more UV radiation still reaches the Earth's surface. While treatment for cataracts is widely available in the U.S., the costs are high, with direct medical costs estimated to be $6.8 billion per year.
Using a cutting edge process to form new joints inside the body, a team of researchers funded by the National Institutes of Health has successfully regenerated rabbit joints. The experiment demonstrates that it's possible to grow dissimilar tissues, like cartilage and bone, taken entirely from the host's own cells. The regenerative procedure is performed by stimulating previously irreparable organs or tissues to heal themselves. Three-dimensional structures made of biocompatible and biodegradable materials in the shape of the tissue, are infused with a protein to promote the joint's growth. The approach sidesteps several problems that are typically encountered in trying to transplant cells that are grown externally, such as tissue rejection. Future work could replace arthritic joints in animals and ultimately in arthritis patients who need total joint replacement.
A new public website has been launched by the Department of Energy designed to promote a better understanding of gasification technology - an increasingly popular alternative to converting feedstocks like coal and biomass into useful products such as electricity or fuels. Officials say gasification is anticipated to be the technology of choice for future near zero-emissions, coal-based plants that produce power, fuels, and chemicals. The process uses heat, pressure, and steam to convert ANY carbon-based raw material into synthesized gas, which can then be refined into pure hydrogen, transformed into liquid transportation fuels, or used to create electricity. The website - dubbed Gasifipedia - contains both introductory and in-depth information. You'll find the new Gasifipedia through the department's Energy Lab website at www.netl.doe.gov.
The Department of Energy and Natural Resources Canada will spend a total of $5.2 million dollars to bring a benchmark carbon dioxide injection project to a successful conclusion next year. The two governments will renew funding for the a CO2 Monitoring and Storage project. Under the project, carbon dioxide taken from a Gasification synfuels plant in North Dakota is delivered - via a 200-mile pipeline - to Canadian oil fields where the gas is injected roughly five-thousand feet underground. The gas forces oil into wells where it can be harvested, nearly tripling oil production. The project reduces greenhouse gas emissions while also demonstrating clean energy innovation. A projected total of 40 million tons of CO2 will be stored - and over 200 million additional barrels of oil are expected to be recovered - through the project by the year 2035.
More than 150 technology experts in technology - as well as stakeholders in education from across 26 states - recently took part in an effort to increase access to learning in rural schools across America. They attended the National Rural Education Technology Summit in Washington D.C. Federal leaders offered examples of where technology has been leveraged to overcome distance, such as providing access to college-level course work online. Education Secretary Arne Duncan announced the formation of an Online Learning Registry to provide access to priceless historical materials, like those found at the national Smithsonian Institute. More than half of the nation's school districts are located in rural areas and one-fifth of all public school children (about 10 million) are enrolled in rural schools.