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Gravitational waves from coalescing neutron stars encode information about nuclear matter at extreme densities, inaccessible by laboratory experiments. The late inspiral is influenced by the presence of tides, which depend on the neutron star equation of state. Neutron star mergers are expected to often produce rapidly rotating remnant neutron stars that emit gravitational waves. These will provide clues to the extremely hot post-merger environment. This signature of nuclear matter in gravitational waves contains most information in the 2–4 kHz frequency band, which is outside of the most sensitive band of current detectors. We present the design concept and science case for a Neutron Star Extreme Matter Observatory (NEMO): a gravitational-wave interferometer optimised to study nuclear physics with merging neutron stars. The concept uses high-circulating laser power, quantum squeezing, and a detector topology specifically designed to achieve the high-frequency sensitivity necessary to probe nuclear matter using gravitational waves. Above 1 kHz, the proposed strain sensitivity is comparable to full third-generation detectors at a fraction of the cost. Such sensitivity changes expected event rates for detection of post-merger remnants from approximately one per few decades with two A+ detectors to a few per year and potentially allow for the first gravitational-wave observations of supernovae, isolated neutron stars, and other exotica.
We implemented universal severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) testing of patients undergoing surgical procedures as a means to conserve personal protective equipment (PPE). The rate of asymptomatic coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) was <0.5%, which suggests that early local public health interventions were successful. Although our protocol was resource intensive, it prevented exposures to healthcare team members.
Postoperative cognitive impairment is among the most common medical complications associated with surgical interventions – particularly in elderly patients. In our aging society, it is an urgent medical need to determine preoperative individual risk prediction to allow more accurate cost–benefit decisions prior to elective surgeries. So far, risk prediction is mainly based on clinical parameters. However, these parameters only give a rough estimate of the individual risk. At present, there are no molecular or neuroimaging biomarkers available to improve risk prediction and little is known about the etiology and pathophysiology of this clinical condition. In this short review, we summarize the current state of knowledge and briefly present the recently started BioCog project (Biomarker Development for Postoperative Cognitive Impairment in the Elderly), which is funded by the European Union. It is the goal of this research and development (R&D) project, which involves academic and industry partners throughout Europe, to deliver a multivariate algorithm based on clinical assessments as well as molecular and neuroimaging biomarkers to overcome the currently unsatisfying situation.
Psychotropic prescription rates continue to increase in the United States (USA). Few studies have investigated whether social-structural factors may play a role in psychotropic medication use independent of mental illness. Food insecurity is prevalent among people living with HIV in the USA and has been associated with poor mental health. We investigated whether food insecurity was associated with psychotropic medication use independent of the symptoms of depression and anxiety among women living with HIV in the USA.
We used cross-sectional data from the Women's Interagency HIV Study (WIHS), a nationwide cohort study. Food security (FS) was the primary explanatory variable, measured using the Household Food Security Survey Module. First, we used multivariable linear regressions to test whether FS was associated with symptoms of depression (Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression [CESD] score), generalised anxiety disorder (GAD-7 score) and mental health-related quality of life (MOS-HIV Mental Health Summary score; MHS). Next, we examined associations of FS with the use of any psychotropic medications, including antidepressants, sedatives and antipsychotics, using multivariable logistic regressions adjusting for age, race/ethnicity, income, education and alcohol and substance use. In separate models, we additionally adjusted for symptoms of depression (CESD score) and anxiety (GAD-7 score).
Of the 905 women in the sample, two-thirds were African-American. Lower FS (i.e. worse food insecurity) was associated with greater symptoms of depression and anxiety in a dose–response relationship. For the psychotropic medication outcomes, marginal and low FS were associated with 2.06 (p < 0.001; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.36–3.13) and 1.99 (p < 0.01; 95% CI = 1.26–3.15) times higher odds of any psychotropic medication use, respectively, before adjusting for depression and anxiety. The association of very low FS with any psychotropic medication use was not statistically significant. A similar pattern was found for antidepressant and sedative use. After additionally adjusting for CESD and GAD-7 scores, marginal FS remained associated with 1.93 (p < 0.05; 95% CI = 1.16–3.19) times higher odds of any psychotropic medication use. Very low FS, conversely, was significantly associated with lower odds of antidepressant use (adjusted odds ratio = 0.42; p < 0.05; 95% CI = 0.19–0.96).
Marginal FS was associated with higher odds of using psychotropic medications independent of depression and anxiety, while very low FS was associated with lower odds. These complex findings may indicate that people experiencing very low FS face barriers to accessing mental health services, while those experiencing marginal FS who do access services are more likely to be prescribed psychotropic medications for distress arising from social and structural factors.
The population dynamics of shrimp Pleoticus muelleri was used as a model to verify if the trend of continuous reproduction periodicity, shorter body size and longevity, and early sexual maturity found in tropical regions is corroborated in upwelling regions. Shrimps were sampled in a region under the influence of upwelling (northern coast of Rio de Janeiro State, Brazil). Characteristics of bottom water were registered, and shrimps were measured (carapace length – CL) and classified by sex and gonadal development stages. Reproduction was seasonal, from September to December, and favoured by water mass intrusions of low temperatures and high chlorophyll concentrations. The greatest number of reproductive females preceded periods with the highest chlorophyll concentrations in the water column (cross-correlation; P < 0.05, lag (month) = −3, r = 0.50), suggesting greater developmental success of larval stage due to increase of food availability. Von Bertalanffy growth models resulted in asymptotic carapace length estimates of CL∞ = 40.21 mm and CL∞ = 36.78 mm for females and males, respectively. The reproductive and growth characteristics of the P. muelleri population studied herein were similar to that of populations from higher latitudes, demonstrating that the latitudinal pattern rule cannot be applied in regions influenced by an upwelling phenomenon.
Pulmonary hypertension is a complex and progressive condition that is either idiopathic or heritable, or associated with one or multiple health conditions, with or without congenital or acquired cardiovascular disease. Recent developments have tremendously increased the armamentarium of diagnostic and therapeutic approaches in children and young adults with pulmonary hypertension that is still associated with a high morbidity and mortality. These modalities include non-invasive imaging, pharmacotherapy, interventional and surgical procedures, and supportive measures. The optimal, tailored diagnostic and therapeutic strategies for pulmonary hypertension in the young are rapidly evolving but still face enormous challenges: Healthcare providers need to take the patient’s age, development, disease state, and family concerns into account when initiating advanced diagnostics and treatment. Therefore, there is a need for guidance on core and advanced medical training in paediatric pulmonary hypertension. The Association for European Paediatric and Congenital Cardiology working group “pulmonary hypertension, heart failure and transplantation” has produced this document as an expert consensus statement; however, all recommendations must be considered and applied in the context of the local and national infrastructure and legal regulations.
Background: Biallelic variants in POLR1C are associated with POLR3-related leukodystrophy (POLR3-HLD), or 4H leukodystrophy (Hypomyelination, Hypodontia, Hypogonadotropic Hypogonadism), and Treacher Collins syndrome (TCS). The clinical spectrum of POLR3-HLD caused by variants in this gene has not been described. Methods: A cross-sectional observational study involving 25 centers worldwide was conducted between 2016 and 2018. The clinical, radiologic and molecular features of 23 unreported and previously reported cases of POLR3-HLD caused by POLR1C variants were reviewed. Results: Most participants presented between birth and age 6 years with motor difficulties. Neurological deterioration was seen during childhood, suggesting a more severe phenotype than previously described. The dental, ocular and endocrine features often seen in POLR3-HLD were not invariably present. Five patients (22%) had a combination of hypomyelinating leukodystrophy and abnormal craniofacial development, including one individual with clear TCS features. Several cases did not exhibit all the typical radiologic characteristics of POLR3-HLD. A total of 29 different pathogenic variants in POLR1C were identified, including 13 new disease-causing variants. Conclusions: Based on the largest cohort of patients to date, these results suggest novel characteristics of POLR1C-related disorder, with a spectrum of clinical involvement characterized by hypomyelinating leukodystrophy with or without abnormal craniofacial development reminiscent of TCS.
The discovery of the first electromagnetic counterpart to a gravitational wave signal has generated follow-up observations by over 50 facilities world-wide, ushering in the new era of multi-messenger astronomy. In this paper, we present follow-up observations of the gravitational wave event GW170817 and its electromagnetic counterpart SSS17a/DLT17ck (IAU label AT2017gfo) by 14 Australian telescopes and partner observatories as part of Australian-based and Australian-led research programs. We report early- to late-time multi-wavelength observations, including optical imaging and spectroscopy, mid-infrared imaging, radio imaging, and searches for fast radio bursts. Our optical spectra reveal that the transient source emission cooled from approximately 6 400 K to 2 100 K over a 7-d period and produced no significant optical emission lines. The spectral profiles, cooling rate, and photometric light curves are consistent with the expected outburst and subsequent processes of a binary neutron star merger. Star formation in the host galaxy probably ceased at least a Gyr ago, although there is evidence for a galaxy merger. Binary pulsars with short (100 Myr) decay times are therefore unlikely progenitors, but pulsars like PSR B1534+12 with its 2.7 Gyr coalescence time could produce such a merger. The displacement (~2.2 kpc) of the binary star system from the centre of the main galaxy is not unusual for stars in the host galaxy or stars originating in the merging galaxy, and therefore any constraints on the kick velocity imparted to the progenitor are poor.
The SkyMapper Transient survey (SMT) is exploring variability in the southern sky by performing (a) a rolling search to discover and study supernovæ, and (b) a Target of Opportunity programme that uses the robotic SkyMapper Telescope at Siding Spring Observatory. The supernova survey is obtaining a non-targeted sample of Type Ia supernovæ (SNe Ia) at low redshifts, z < 0.1, and studying other interesting transients found with the search strategy. We have a Target of Opportunity programme with an automatic response mechanism to search for optical counterparts to gravitational-wave and fast radio-burst events; it benefits from SkyMapper’s large field of view of 5.7 sq. deg. and a rapid data reduction pipeline.
We present first results of the SMT survey. The SMT pipeline can process and obtain potential candidates within 12 hours of observation. It disentangles real transients from processing artefacts using a machine-learning algorithm. To date, SMT has discovered over 60 spectroscopically confirmed supernovæ, several peculiar objects, and over 40 SNe Ia including one (SNIa 2016hhd) which was found within the first few days of explosion. We have also participated in searches for optical counterparts of gravitational waves, fast radio bursts and other transients, and have published observations of the optical counterpart of the gravitational-wave event GW170817. We also participate in coordinated observations with the Deeper Wider Faster programme, and the Kepler K2 cosmology project.
The Taipan galaxy survey (hereafter simply ‘Taipan’) is a multi-object spectroscopic survey starting in 2017 that will cover 2π steradians over the southern sky (δ ≲ 10°, |b| ≳ 10°), and obtain optical spectra for about two million galaxies out to z < 0.4. Taipan will use the newly refurbished 1.2-m UK Schmidt Telescope at Siding Spring Observatory with the new TAIPAN instrument, which includes an innovative ‘Starbugs’ positioning system capable of rapidly and simultaneously deploying up to 150 spectroscopic fibres (and up to 300 with a proposed upgrade) over the 6° diameter focal plane, and a purpose-built spectrograph operating in the range from 370 to 870 nm with resolving power R ≳ 2000. The main scientific goals of Taipan are (i) to measure the distance scale of the Universe (primarily governed by the local expansion rate, H0) to 1% precision, and the growth rate of structure to 5%; (ii) to make the most extensive map yet constructed of the total mass distribution and motions in the local Universe, using peculiar velocities based on improved Fundamental Plane distances, which will enable sensitive tests of gravitational physics; and (iii) to deliver a legacy sample of low-redshift galaxies as a unique laboratory for studying galaxy evolution as a function of dark matter halo and stellar mass and environment. The final survey, which will be completed within 5 yrs, will consist of a complete magnitude-limited sample (i ⩽ 17) of about 1.2 × 106 galaxies supplemented by an extension to higher redshifts and fainter magnitudes (i ⩽ 18.1) of a luminous red galaxy sample of about 0.8 × 106 galaxies. Observations and data processing will be carried out remotely and in a fully automated way, using a purpose-built automated ‘virtual observer’ software and an automated data reduction pipeline. The Taipan survey is deliberately designed to maximise its legacy value by complementing and enhancing current and planned surveys of the southern sky at wavelengths from the optical to the radio; it will become the primary redshift and optical spectroscopic reference catalogue for the local extragalactic Universe in the southern sky for the coming decade.
The SkyMapper 1.3 m telescope at Siding Spring Observatory has now begun regular operations. Alongside the Southern Sky Survey, a comprehensive digital survey of the entire southern sky, SkyMapper will carry out a search for supernovae and other transients. The search strategy, covering a total footprint area of ~2 000 deg2 with a cadence of ⩽5 d, is optimised for discovery and follow-up of low-redshift type Ia supernovae to constrain cosmic expansion and peculiar velocities. We describe the search operations and infrastructure, including a parallelised software pipeline to discover variable objects in difference imaging; simulations of the performance of the survey over its lifetime; public access to discovered transients; and some first results from the Science Verification data.
Our understanding of the complex relationship between schizophrenia symptomatology and etiological factors can be improved by studying brain-based correlates of schizophrenia. Research showed that impairments in value processing and executive functioning, which have been associated with prefrontal brain areas [particularly the medial orbitofrontal cortex (MOFC)], are linked to negative symptoms. Here we tested the hypothesis that MOFC thickness is associated with negative symptom severity.
This study included 1985 individuals with schizophrenia from 17 research groups around the world contributing to the ENIGMA Schizophrenia Working Group. Cortical thickness values were obtained from T1-weighted structural brain scans using FreeSurfer. A meta-analysis across sites was conducted over effect sizes from a model predicting cortical thickness by negative symptom score (harmonized Scale for the Assessment of Negative Symptoms or Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale scores).
Meta-analytical results showed that left, but not right, MOFC thickness was significantly associated with negative symptom severity (βstd = −0.075; p = 0.019) after accounting for age, gender, and site. This effect remained significant (p = 0.036) in a model including overall illness severity. Covarying for duration of illness, age of onset, antipsychotic medication or handedness weakened the association of negative symptoms with left MOFC thickness. As part of a secondary analysis including 10 other prefrontal regions further associations in the left lateral orbitofrontal gyrus and pars opercularis emerged.
Using an unusually large cohort and a meta-analytical approach, our findings point towards a link between prefrontal thinning and negative symptom severity in schizophrenia. This finding provides further insight into the relationship between structural brain abnormalities and negative symptoms in schizophrenia.
Not only is depression associated with increased inflammation but inflammation is a risk factor for the genesis of depression. Many of the environmental risk factors for depression are transduced through inflammatory signaling. Anti-inflammatory agents show promise for the management of depression in preclinical, epidemiological, and early clinical studies. This opens the door to the potential for anti-inflammatory agents to treat and prevent depression. There are no evidence-based pharmacotherapies for depression prevention.
ASPREE-D, aspirin in the prevention of depression in the elderly, is a sub study of ASPREE, which explores the potential of aspirin to prevent a range of inflammation related disorders in the elderly. With a sample size of 19,114, and a duration of 5 years, this placebo controlled study will be one of the largest randomized controlled trials in psychiatry and will provide definitive evidence on the ability of aspirin to prevent depression.
This paper presents the rationale for the study and presents a summary of the study design.
ASPREE-D may not only define novel therapy but will provide mechanistic proof of concept of the role of inflammation in depression.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is associated with elevated risk for metabolic syndrome (MetS). However, the direction of this association is not yet established, as most prior studies employed cross-sectional designs. The primary goal of this study was to evaluate bidirectional associations between PTSD and MetS using a longitudinal design.
A total of 1355 male and female veterans of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan underwent PTSD diagnostic assessments and their biometric profiles pertaining to MetS were extracted from the electronic medical record at two time points (spanning ~2.5 years, n = 971 at time 2).
The prevalence of MetS among veterans with PTSD was just under 40% at both time points and was significantly greater than that for veterans without PTSD; the prevalence of MetS among those with PTSD was also elevated relative to age-matched population estimates. Cross-lagged panel models revealed that PTSD severity predicted subsequent increases in MetS severity (β = 0.08, p = 0.002), after controlling for initial MetS severity, but MetS did not predict later PTSD symptoms. Logistic regression results suggested that for every 10 PTSD symptoms endorsed at time 1, the odds of a subsequent MetS diagnosis increased by 56%.
Results highlight the substantial cardiometabolic concerns of young veterans with PTSD and raise the possibility that PTSD may predispose individuals to accelerated aging, in part, manifested clinically as MetS. This demonstrates the need to identify those with PTSD at greatest risk for MetS and to develop interventions that improve both conditions.
We undertook a cross-sectional survey of antimicrobial stewardship clinicians in North America and Australasia regarding practices, goals, and barriers to implementation of stewardship for pediatric oncology patients. Goals and barriers were similar regardless of clinician or institutional characteristics and geographic location. Strategies addressing these factors could help optimize antimicrobial use.
Infect. Control Hosp. Epidemiol. 2016;37(3):343–347
To identify hospital-level factors associated with post-cardiac surgical pneumonia for assessing their impact on standardized infection rates (SIRs), we studied 43 691 patients in a cardiac surgery registry (2001–2011) in 16 hospitals. In a logistic regression model for pneumonia following cardiac surgery, associations with hospital characteristics were quantified with adjustment for patient characteristics while allowing for clustering of patients by hospital. Pneumonia rates varied from 0·7% to 12·4% across hospitals. Seventy percent of variability in the pneumonia rate was attributable to differences in hospitals in their long-term rates with the remainder attributable to within-hospital differences in rates over time. After adjusting for patient characteristics, the pneumonia rate was found to be higher in hospitals with more registered nurses (RNs)/100 intensive-care unit (ICU) admissions [adjusted odds ratio (aOR) 1·2, P = 0·006] and more RNs/available ICU beds (aOR 1·4, P < 0·001). Other hospital characteristics had no significant association with pneumonia. SIRs calculated on the basis of patient characteristics alone differed substantially from the same rates calculated on the basis of patient characteristics and the hospital characteristic of RNs/100 ICU admissions. Since SIRs using patient case-mix information are important for comparing rates between hospitals, the additional allowance for hospital characteristics can impact significantly on how hospitals compare.
We have been interested in the plasmonic properties of alternative conducting materials to metals, such as conducting oxides, and we have recently expanded our studies to include highly correlated oxides, such as vanadium dioxide (VO2) thin films. VO2 exhibits a metal-insulator transition (MIT) just above ambient temperature at ∼ 340K. Interestingly, this transition can be induced thermally, optically or applying electric fields. Across the MIT, the optical properties are completely modified over a broad frequency range. We will present our recent optical investigations on the photon induced transition studies on such films, as well as the surface plasmon resonance (SPR) modulation in nanopatterned Au gratings by the thermally induced MIT in VO2 thin films, addressing possibilities of ultrafast SPR modulation with VO2.
TM-QTL is a quantitative trait locus (QTL) on ovine chromosome 18 (OAR18) known to affect loin muscling in Texel sheep. Previous work suggested that its mode of inheritance is consistent with paternal polar overdominance, but this has yet to be formally demonstrated. This study used purebred Texel sheep segregating for TM-QTL to confirm its presence in the chromosomal region in which it was first reported and to determine its pattern of inheritance. To do so, this study used the first available data from a Texel flock, which included homozygote TM-QTL carriers (TM/TM; n=34) in addition to homozygote non-carriers (+/+; n=40 and, heterozygote TM-QTL-carriers inheriting TM-QTL from their sire (TM/+; n=53) or their dam (+/TM; n=17). Phenotypes included a wide range of loin muscling, carcass composition and tissue distribution traits. The presence of a QTL affecting ultrasound muscle depth on OAR18 was confirmed with a paternal QTL effect ranging from +0.54 to +2.82 mm UMD (s.e. 0.37 to 0.57 mm) across the sires segregating for TM-QTL. Loin muscle width, depth and area, loin muscle volume and dissected M. longissimus lumborum weight were significantly greater for TM/+ than +/+ lambs (+2.9% to +7.9%; P<0.05). There was significant evidence that the effect of TM-QTL on the various loin muscling traits measured was paternally polar overdominant (P<0.05). In contrast, there was an additive effect of TM-QTL on both live weight at 20 weeks and carcass weight; TM/TM animals were significantly (P<0.05) heavier than +/+ (+11.1% and +7.3%, respectively) and +/TM animals (+11.9% and +11.7%, respectively), with TM/+ intermediate. Weights of the leg, saddle and shoulder region (corrected for carcass weight) were similar in the genotypic groups. There was a tendency for lambs inheriting TM-QTL from their sire to be less fat with slightly more muscle than non-carriers. For example, carcass muscle weight measured by live animal CT-scanning was 2.8% higher in TM/TM than +/+ lambs (P<0.05), carcass muscle weight measured by carcass CT-scanning was 1.36% higher in TM/+ than +/+ lambs (P<0.05), and weight of fat trimmed from the carcass cuts was significantly lower for TM/+ than +/+ lambs (−11.2%; P<0.05). No negative effects of TM-QTL on carcass traits were found. Optimal commercial use of TM-QTL within the sheep industry would require some consideration, due to the apparently different mode of action of the two main effects of TM-QTL (on growth and muscling).