Monday, 1 April 2013

New NTU research institute for technology in health and medicine

When researchers from different backgrounds and disciplines work together and exchange ideas, unexpected groundbreaking innovations can emerge. That is what is happening at Nanyang Technological University (NTU), where an exciting "artificial liver" platform is being developed that is expected to speed up the development of new drugs, and also help bring down R&D costs.

Having similar properties to the human liver, the man-made platform allows new drugs to be tested for hepatotoxicity, otherwise known as chemical damage to the liver, in the early stages of drug development. Presently, hepatotoxicity is usually discovered only at late stages when it can potentially be fatal and after much time and resources have already been invested. Hence, this emerging technology holds the potential to save human lives as well as hundreds of millions of dollars in drug development costs.

To drive such groundbreaking research, NTU has set up a new interdisciplinary institute which aims to be a hub for engineers, scientists and clinicians to work collaboratively and develop new technologies, providing solutions to important problems in health and medicine.

The new Nanyang Institute of Technology in Health and Medicine (NITHM) is driving research projects between NTU and major healthcare groups and hospitals regenerative medicine.

Prof Venkatraman is currently leading the research for a back-of-the-eye treatment which involves the development of small nano-capsules. These nano-capsules hold the drug and slowly diffuse from the front to the back of the eye, while releasing the drug over a long period of time.

Assoc Prof Cho, who is at the forefront of developing new treatments for infectious diseases based on engineering approaches, is spearheading NTU's efforts to engineer the artificial liver platform for research and clinical use.

His international team of researchers, many of whom have been attracted to NTU from leading universities including Harvard, MIT and Carnegie Mellon, is working closely with clinicians at Singapore General Hospital and Stanford University to deliver practical solutions to this long-standing medical problem.

Friday, 4 November 2011

China and Russia called cyber spies

U.S. intelligence agencies, in an unusually blunt public criticism of China and Russia, reported to Congress on Thursday that those two foreign governments steal valuable U.S. technology over the Internet as a matter of national policy.

Both China and Russia hide behind the anonymity of proxy computers and dispersed routers in third countries to pilfer proprietary corporate information to accelerate their own economic development, according to the new intelligence assessment.

They also have targeted the computer networks of government agencies and universities, the report said.

For years, U.S. officials have hinted that China and Russia were leading suspects in the Internet theft of economic secrets, and those accusations have appeared as scattered commentary in government reports. Google has accused China twice in two years of broad Internet intrusions targeting its users.

But U.S. officials, when pressed, have said pinpointing the culprits remained difficult in cyberspace, and they also usually emphasized that specific complaints of computer-network espionage were best raised in private government-to-government channels.

In contrast, the new intelligence study, compiled as a report to Congress on foreign economic and industrial espionage over the past two years, presents a pointed case that China and Russia are the leading actors in the Internet theft of economic secrets. Officials took pains to make sure journalists were alerted to its significance.

“The computer networks of a broad array of U.S. government agencies, private companies, universities and other institutions — all holding large volumes of sensitive economic information — were targeted by cyberespionage,” according to the report.

“Chinese actors are the world's most active and persistent perpetrators of economic espionage,” it added. “Russia's intelligence services are conducting a range of activities to collect economic information and technology from U.S. targets.”

The governments in Beijing and Moscow, and their intelligence services, contract with independent hackers to expand their capabilities and cloak responsibility for the computer intrusions, according to the report.

Even friendly nations spy on the United States via computers. The report warns that “some U.S. allies and partners use their broad access to U.S. institutions to acquire sensitive U.S. economic and technology information.”

Senior officials in China state unwaveringly that their government opposes computer-based espionage.

The report is the collective assessment of 14 U.S. intelligence agencies and was compiled by the Office of the National Counterintelligence Executive, which reports to the director of national intelligence.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Gasoline Taxes Vs. Exxon Profit, Per Gallon

The map above from API shows gasoline taxes by state (combined local, state and federal), which range from a low of 26.4 cents per gallon in Alaska to a high of of 66.1 cents per gallon in California, averaging 48.1 cents per gallon across all states.  How does that compare to oil company industry profits per gallon?

According to this post on Exxon Mobil’s Perspective Blog , “For every gallon of gasoline, diesel or finished products we manufactured and sold in the United States in the last three months of 2010, we earned a little more than 2 cents per gallon. That’s not a typo. Two cents.”

The chart below shows the difference graphically:

Exxon also reports that in 2010 it “made less than 8 cents for every dollar of revenue from all of our businesses around the world.”


Friday, 1 April 2011

Deep Ellum Arts Festival highlights community character

The Deep Ellum Arts Festival draws a variety of artists from across the nation, but organizers try to ensure the art is cutting-edge to fit the character of the Dallas entertainment district.
And this year, there are new features that involve the community even more — particularly a Taste of Deep Ellum section with neighborhood restaurants.
“Our goal every year is to add a little more of Deep Ellum to the festival,” said Sean Fitzgerald, president of the Deep Ellum Community Association.
The festival, now in its 17th year, runs from Friday evening to 7 p.m. Sunday. The juried art show will feature 130 artists. More than 90 bands and singer/songwriters, including a surprise guest to be announced Friday afternoon, will perform. And there will be food booths.
Here are some of the other features:
Taste of Deep Ellum: When Deep Ellum was really booming, restaurants generally were too busy to be directly involved in the festival, said Stephen Millard, president of Main Events International, which runs the festival each year. Now, more restaurants signed up for a village of Deep Ellum food vendors. Expect Asian dishes, barbecue, chili, pizza and more.
Art Bar: This area features adult-oriented live art, such as dance, body painting and spoken word. Performers will include Joshua, Jerod and Isaac Davies, brothers who create art out of just about anything under the name “Three of One Arts.”
ArtLoveMagic: The Dallas art co-op will host interactive activities in “ArtLoveMagic Artist Alley.” Some of the artists will show their work and create new pieces with the help of festivalgoers. “It’s very cool that people can talk to the artist as they’re creating,” said Deborah Driscoll, music director for Art-LoveMagic.
Pet parade: Money raised at a pet parade at noon Sunday will benefit the Bark Park Central dog park. If you need a pet for the parade, there will be some available for adoption.
Weather: Organizers are predicting a good year for the festival, as well as great weather (unlike a few years back when it snowed). The forecast is for lows in the mid-60s, highs around 80 and a mix of sun and clouds.
For more information: Go to for details, schedules and a festival map.