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Culture-based studies, which focus on individual organisms, have implicated stethoscopes as potential vectors of nosocomial bacterial transmission. However, the full bacterial communities that contaminate in-use stethoscopes have not been investigated.
We used bacterial 16S rRNA gene deep-sequencing, analysis, and quantification to profile entire bacterial populations on stethoscopes in use in an intensive care unit (ICU), including practitioner stethoscopes, individual-use patient-room stethoscopes, and clean unused individual-use stethoscopes. Two additional sets of practitioner stethoscopes were sampled before and after cleaning using standardized or practitioner-preferred methods.
Bacterial contamination levels were highest on practitioner stethoscopes, followed by patient-room stethoscopes, whereas clean stethoscopes were indistinguishable from background controls. Bacterial communities on stethoscopes were complex, and community analysis by weighted UniFrac showed that physician and patient-room stethoscopes were indistinguishable and significantly different from clean stethoscopes and background controls. Genera relevant to healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) were common on practitioner stethoscopes, among which Staphylococcus was ubiquitous and had the highest relative abundance (6.8%–14% of contaminating bacterial sequences). Other HAI-related genera were also widespread although lower in abundance. Cleaning of practitioner stethoscopes resulted in a significant reduction in bacterial contamination levels, but these levels reached those of clean stethoscopes in only a few cases with either standardized or practitioner-preferred methods, and bacterial community composition did not significantly change.
Stethoscopes used in an ICU carry bacterial DNA reflecting complex microbial communities that include nosocomially important taxa. Commonly used cleaning practices reduce contamination but are only partially successful at modifying or eliminating these communities.
The redshifted 21cm line of neutral hydrogen (Hi), potentially observable at low radio frequencies (~50–200 MHz), should be a powerful probe of the physical conditions of the inter-galactic medium during Cosmic Dawn and the Epoch of Reionisation (EoR). The sky-averaged Hi signal is expected to be extremely weak (~100 mK) in comparison to the foreground of up to 104 K at the lowest frequencies of interest. The detection of such a weak signal requires an extremely stable, well characterised system and a good understanding of the foregrounds. Development of a nearly perfectly (~mK accuracy) calibrated total power radiometer system is essential for this type of experiment. We present the BIGHORNS (Broadband Instrument for Global HydrOgen ReioNisation Signal) experiment which was designed and built to detect the sky-averaged Hi signal from the EoR at low radio frequencies. The BIGHORNS system is a mobile total power radiometer, which can be deployed in any remote location in order to collect radio frequency interference (RFI) free data. The system was deployed in remote, radio quiet locations in Western Australia and low RFI sky data have been collected. We present a description of the system, its characteristics, details of data analysis, and calibration. We have identified multiple challenges to achieving the required measurement precision, which triggered two major improvements for the future system.
Although the palaeoanthropological significance of the Sterkfontein Caves was first highlighted in 1936 with Robert Broom’s discovery of the first adult Australopithecus (Broom, 1936), 30 years were to pass before a programme of continuous systematic excavation would be initiated by Phillip.V. Tobias and Alun R. Hughes. The year 2006 marked the 70th anniversary of Broom’s important discovery and also the 40th year of full-time excavation at Sterkfontein. The past 40 years of work at Sterkfontein have opened many doors to research opportunities in the fields of cave and site formation, stratigraphy, dating, faunal analysis, taphonomy, palaeoecology, hominid evolution and cultural evolution. In addition to the numerous scientific publications that have appeared on these topics, there is also an invaluable record of this work in the annual reports produced by Tobias and his team in the School of Anatomical Sciences. The results bear testimony to the old Biblical adage ‘seek and ye shall find’ (Book of Luke, Chapter 11 verse 9). Tobias and Hughes sought to understand the extent of the breccias, to recover more fossils and artefacts, and to find methods of dating the deposits. They did indeed find what they were seeking. Furthermore we sought deeper deposits in Member 5 and recovered Oldowan artefacts, we sought early hominids in Silberberg Grotto and found the world’s only near-complete skeleton of Australopithecus, and we sought hominids in the Jacovec Cavern and found them. There is still much more to seek and to find at Sterkfontein and the next 40 years of research are full of promise.
The formal commissioning of the IRWG occurred at the 1991 Buenos Aires General Assembly, following a Joint Commission meeting at the IAU GA in Baltimore in 1988 that identified the problems with ground-based infrared photometry. The meeting justification, papers, and conclusions, can be found in Milone (1989). In summary, the challenges involved how to explain the failure to achieve the milli-magnitude precision expected of infrared photometry and an apparent 3% limit on system transformability. The proposed solution was to redefine the broadband Johnson system, the passbands of which had proven so unsatisfactory that over time effectively different systems proliferated, although bearing the same “JHKLMNQ” designations; the new system needed to be better positioned and centered in the spectral windows of the Earth's atmosphere, and the variable water vapour content of the atmosphere needed to be measured in real time to better correct for atmospheric extinction.
The cognitive profile of early onset Parkinson’s disease (EOPD) has not been clearly defined. Mutations in the parkin gene are the most common genetic risk factor for EOPD and may offer information about the neuropsychological pattern of performance in both symptomatic and asymptomatic mutation carriers. EOPD probands and their first-degree relatives who did not have Parkinson’s disease (PD) were genotyped for mutations in the parkin gene and administered a comprehensive neuropsychological battery. Performance was compared between EOPD probands with (N = 43) and without (N = 52) parkin mutations. The same neuropsychological battery was administered to 217 first-degree relatives to assess neuropsychological function in individuals who carry parkin mutations but do not have PD. No significant differences in neuropsychological test performance were found between parkin carrier and noncarrier probands. Performance also did not differ between EOPD noncarriers and carrier subgroups (i.e., heterozygotes, compound heterozygotes/homozygotes). Similarly, no differences were found among unaffected family members across genotypes. Mean neuropsychological test performance was within normal range in all probands and relatives. Carriers of parkin mutations, whether or not they have PD, do not perform differently on neuropsychological measures as compared to noncarriers. The cognitive functioning of parkin carriers over time warrants further study. (JINS, 2011, 17, 1–10)
Nutrigenomics is the study of how constituents of the diet interact with genes, and their products, to alter phenotype and, conversely, how genes and their products metabolise these constituents into nutrients, antinutrients, and bioactive compounds. Results from molecular and genetic epidemiological studies indicate that dietary unbalance can alter gene–nutrient interactions in ways that increase the risk of developing chronic disease. The interplay of human genetic variation and environmental factors will make identifying causative genes and nutrients a formidable, but not intractable, challenge. We provide specific recommendations for how to best meet this challenge and discuss the need for new methodologies and the use of comprehensive analyses of nutrient–genotype interactions involving large and diverse populations. The objective of the present paper is to stimulate discourse and collaboration among nutrigenomic researchers and stakeholders, a process that will lead to an increase in global health and wellness by reducing health disparities in developed and developing countries.
The Advanced Ceramics Based on Polymer Processing Program is sponsored by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Materials Science Division). The objectives of the program include development of a family of Si-C, Si-N, and Si-C-N ceramic fibers which may be used for reinforcement in ceramic, metal and plastic matrices, and development of economical process technology for fabricating ceramic matrix composites with high fracture toughness, high temperature performance and no inherent limitations to forming complex shapes. Attainment of these objectives would circumvent two limitations of existing ceramic material technology - lack of design reliability due largely to catastrophic failure related to brittleness, and inability to fabricate complex shapes .
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