In brief

first_img Previous Article Next Article Thisweek’s news in brief…Financefirm cuts jobsAsmany as 1,700 jobs are to be cut as Sun Life Financial of Canada reduces thesize of its UK direct sales force. The company currently has around 2,000employees and aims to cut that to approximately 900 by the end of this year.Flexibilityover salaryAsurvey of 300 employers revealed that more than 50 per cent of employees wouldprefer flexible benefits to a pay rise or promotion. The research conducted byOffice Angels found that 93 per cent of employees put training on the top ofthe list in terms of flexible benefits.Seniorposts threatOlderworkers face tough futures in traditional financial services because of mergersand the growth of technology. Research by the Open University Business Schoolhas revealed that industry consolidation has reduced the number of senior andmiddle management posts.www.oubs.open.ac.ukAddstress to H&SMorethan three-quarters of employers believe stress should be incorporated intohealth and safety legislation. A study published by the Health & SafetyExecutive reveals that 79 per cent of employers think stress should becontrolled in the same way as other workplace health and safety issues. http://www.hse.gov.uk/Diversityat WhitehallTheGovernment is to offer staff from ethnic minorities the chance to workalongside ministers as part of a drive to improve the diversity of itsworkforce. The move, which is expected to start next month at the DfEE, is partof the Government’s modernising campaign and it is hoped will increase thenumbers of ethnic minority staff at senior management level at Whitehall. http://www.dfee.gov.uk/Namespush studyMovesto make Indian call centre workers use English names to help their Britishcustomers are being looked into by the Commission for Racial Equality. It isclaimed that at GE Capital’s call centre in Delhi staff are not allowed to usetheir own names because it does not allow a relationship with customers tobuild up. GE Capital serves around 20 UK stores including Laura Ashley, TopShop and Principles. http://www.cre.gov.uk/ In briefOn 20 Feb 2001 in Personnel Today Comments are closed. Related posts:No related photos.last_img read more

Moss survival through in situ cryptobiosis after six centuries of glacier burial

first_imgCryptobiosis is a reversible ametabolic state of life characterized by the ceasing of all metabolic processes, allowing survival of periods of intense adverse conditions. Here we show that 1) entire moss individuals, dated by 14C, survived through cryptobiosis during six centuries of cold-based glacier burial in Antarctica, 2) after re-exposure due to glacier retreat, instead of dying (due to high rates of respiration supporting repair processes), at least some of these mosses were able to return to a metabolically active state and remain alive. Moss survival was assessed through growth experiments and, for the first time, through vitality measurements. Future investigations on the genetic pathways involved in cryptobiosis and the subsequent recovery mechanisms will provide key information on their applicability to other systematic groups, with implications for fields as divergent as medicine, biodiversity conservation, agriculture and space exploration.last_img read more

Buccaneers draft Utah kicker Matt Gay in 5th round

first_imgIowa defensive end Anthony Nelson was Tampa Bay’s first pick on the final day of the draft, landing with the Bucs in the fourth round after the club added linebacker Devin White, cornerbacks Sean Bunting and Jamel Dean, and safety Mike Edwards over the previous two days. They finished by taking speedy Bowling Green receiver Scotty Miller late in the sixth round and Missouri defensive tackle Terry Beckner, Jr., with the first pick of the seventh round. “To me, to us, it was a small price to pay to get a kicker,” the GM added. “You wouldn’t say the same thing for a receiver. If a receiver didn’t work out a couple of years ago and you took him in the second round, would you be afraid to take a receiver in the fifth round? No. It’s a very, very important position.” FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailTAMPA, Fla. (AP) — For the second time in four NFL drafts, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have selected one of the best kickers in college football. Tags: Matt Gay/NFL/NFL Draft/Tampa Bay Buccaneers/Utah Utes Football Written by “We’ve stood pat so far,” Licht said, speaking specifically about the offensive line. “I say time and time again, we’re not lining up tomorrow to play regular season week one. We still have time.” “I got a call, it was a Tampa number. I looked at the board and saw they were two picks away,” Gay said. “I was kind of like, ‘No way, not right now.’ … It was amazing, honestly.” “He’s a big guy with a big leg, and he’s also accurate,” general manager Jason Licht said. In two college seasons, Gay set a school record with eight field goals of 50-plus yards and compiled the second-best career field goal percentage (86.2 in Utes’ history by converting 56 of 65 attempts. “That’s a big selling point. Strong-legged guys that can kick it from far distance usually have some accuracy issues,” Licht added. “This guy has not, so far.” In all, six of the team’s eight selections are defensive players. Offensive line and running back are areas of need that Licht and coach Bruce Arians did not address in the draft.center_img They can only hope Utah’s Matt Gay, the 2017 Lou Groza Award winner, doesn’t turn out to be another Roberto Aguayo. Gay said the Bucs stayed in touch with him in the weeks leading up to the draft but never provided an indication that they had “extreme interest” in him. He said he thought he might be drafted in the sixth or seventh round, so he was surprised when the phone rang earlier than expected. Aguayo also was a Groza winner during a standout career at Florida State. The Bucs traded up 15 spots to select him in the second round of the 2016 draft, only to release him following a disappointing rookie season. The Bucs took Gay early in the fifth round on Saturday, ending a string of five consecutive selections used to secure help for one of the league’s worst defenses. “We’ve exhausted everything we can to find a kicker. We’ll continue to, like every other position,” Licht said of the decision to select Gay. Gay played two years of soccer at Utah Valley before spending the past two at Utah, where he made all 40 of his extra points and was 30 of 34 on field goal attempts to win the Groza award as the nation’s top kicker in 2017. April 27, 2019 /Sports News – Local Buccaneers draft Utah kicker Matt Gay in 5th round Gay will compete for a job with incumbent kicker Cairo Santos, who joined the Bucs early last season after one of the team’s key offseason acquisitions, Chandler Cantanzaro, got off to a slow start and was cut. Associated Presslast_img read more

Emergency Medical Services Medical Director

first_imgDescription/Job SummaryAs EMS Program Medical Director the incumbent shall provide medicaloversight of the Emergency Medical Services Program includingreview and approval of the educational content of the program andthe evaluation of student’s progress through the program; ensuringthe competency of each graduate; and engaging in cooperativeinvolvement with the program director.Responsibilities/DutiesResponsibilities: The medical director must be responsible formedical oversight of the program, and must:1) review and approve the educational content of the programcurriculum for appropriateness, medical accuracy, and reflection ofcurrent evidence-informed prehospital or emergency carepractice.2) review and approve the required minimum numbers for each of therequired patient contacts and procedures listed in theseStandards.3) review and approve the instruments and processes used toevaluate students in didactic, laboratory, clinical, and fieldinternship,4) review the progress of each student throughout the program, andassist in the determination of appropriate corrective measures,when necessary. Corrective measures should occur in the cases ofadverse outcomes, failing academic performance, and disciplinaryaction.5) ensure the competence of each graduate of the program in thecognitive, psychomotor, and affective domains,6) engage in cooperative involvement with the programdirector,7) ensure the effectiveness and quality of any Medical Directorresponsibilities delegated to another qualified physician.8) ensure educational interaction of physicians withstudents.The Medical Director interaction should be in a variety ofsettings, such as lecture, laboratory, clinical, field internship.Interaction may be by synchronous electronic methods.Required QualificationsQualifications: The Medical Director must:1) be a physician currently licensed and authorized to practice inthe State of Maryland, with experience and current knowledge ofemergency care of acutely ill and injured patients,2) have adequate training or experience in the delivery ofout-of-hospital emergency care, including the proper care andtransport of patients, medical direction, and quality improvementin out-of-hospital care,3) be an active member of the local medical community andparticipate in professional activities related to out-of-hospitalcare,4) be knowledgeable about the education of the Emergency MedicalServices Professions, including professional, legislative andregulatory issues regarding the education of the Emergency MedicalServices Professions.last_img read more

Universities Minister criticises ‘institutional hostility’ to debate

first_imgMr Gyimah will use the Office for Students to impose the new government guidance could fine institutions which fail to uphold the rules. The new guidance, Mr Gyimah said, will provide clarity of rules for students and universities, as “bureaucrats or wreckers” must be prevented from “exploiting gaps for their own ends.” Ministers will have input from the National Union of Students, university vice chancellors, and regulators in forming the new rules.Chair @HarrietHarman responds to @SamGyimah summit on free speech in unis: “The Minister is right to recognise the confusing array of guidance on free speech. @HumanRightsCtte has published clear guidance on free speech in unis and we urge the Government to adopt it” 1/4— UK Parliament Human Rights Committee (@HumanRightsCtte) May 3, 2018 The government is to crackdown on free speech on university campuses as a string of Oxford societies cause controversy over speaker invites.Sam Gyimah, Universities Minister, said yesterday that attempts to silence debate on campuses was “chilling”, and called for student societies to stamp out “institutional hostility” to unfashionable yet lawful views.Mr Gyimah’s announcement, the first government intervention since the free speech duty was imposed on universities and colleges under the Education Act in 1986, comes after two JCR committee members of Queen’s College cautioned students about attending an event featuring controversial political commentator Brendan O’Neill.Brendan O’Neill, editor of Spiked, speaking at an Oxford Union debate on freedom of speech and the right to offendMr O’Neill, once described by The Sun as “the most hated man on UK campuses,” is due to attend a Third Week dinner hosted by the College’s Addison Society.The society says it “invites speakers to come and enjoy dinner before sharing their thoughts on a topic of their choice, after which the floor is opened to questions and discussion.”The JCR’s equalities and welfare teams criticised the Addison Society’s decision to invite Mr O’Neill in a joint email to all students: “Brendan O’Neill is recognised for his controversial opinions, many of which have sparked accusations of transphobia, homophobia, and misogyny. As the Equalities Team we do not endorse the views held by Brendan O’Neill and express serious concern for the impact his words may have for members of the JCR,” the email read.Mr Gyimah told the free speech summit that a “society in which people feel they have a legitimate right to stop someone expressing their views on campus simply because they are unfashionable or unpopular is rather chilling. There is a risk that overzealous interpretation of a dizzying variety of rules is acting as a brake on legal free speech on campus.” Two points here:1) Legal free speech is core to the free exchange of ideas & the university experience.2) We’re acting on the recommendations from the enquiry by the @HumanRightsCtte led by @HarrietHarman— Sam Gyimah (@SamGyimah) May 3, 2018Under current law, universities must comply with the Equalities Act, Prevent Duty, and existing measures imposed by the Office for Students, the new university regulator which came into force on April 1.Student unions are often registered charities, and instead are regulated by charities law.The Oxford SU policy handbook states: “We will not allow the Prevent Duty to restrict our learning, debate, and research: we will lobby for the University to actively promote freedom of expression, whilst protecting safe spaces and students’ right to protest.”Spiked! magazine – of which Mr O’Neill is the editor – gave Oxford SU a “red” ranking in its “Free Speech University Rankings” for 2017. It cited the banning of a “pro-life group and a student magazine” in its findings. It also gave the University a “red” ranking for its apparent restriction of “offensive” and “needlessly provocative” speech.center_img Mr Gyimah hopes action will be taken to protect lawful free speech in “a new chapter” for openness. So-called “no-platforming” would be banned under the new measures.Last week, 120 students gathered to protest the alleged “TERF” (Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist) group Women’s Place.A joint statement from Oxford SU’s LGBTQ+ campaign and the University’s LGBTQ+ society said that Women’s Place were “one of several groups dedicated to challenging trans people’s existing rights in the UK”, and claimed they have “profil[ed] trans women as male sexual predators and vilif[ied] trans activists as violent oppressors of free speech.”A statement released by Women’s Place says the statement “defames” Woman’s Place and its members and “contains many inaccuracies”.A protest against the group Women’s PlaceOxford SU told Cherwell that it is “keen for greater legislative clarity of free speech on campus, given the current conflicting and confusing guidance from the government.”“The Joint Commission on Human Rights’s (JCHR) inquiry, and our submission into this earlier this year, highlight this confusion, and could be used as a starting point.”The JCHR, a parliamentary committee, criticised Oxford SU in a March report for their support of a WomCam protest which shut down a pro-life event, called “Abortion in Ireland”, in November 2017, to which police were called.An Oxford SU spokesperson told Cherwell at the time that “student groups should have the right to peacefully protest.last_img read more

CUP OF CHEERS

first_imgDr. Walter F. Robinson Community School placed 3rd in the 2017 Cup of Cheers Competition. The team practiced very hard all year and did an amazing job. The team is coached my Miss Rachel Mizrak. ×last_img

TOCCI, CAROLE ANN (Borrello)

first_img67, passed away on July 19, 2017. Wife of the late William Tocci. Mother of three daughters. Dawn Harsch (Robert), Lisa Rossi-Goworek (John), and Danielle (Jayro Navedo). Grandmother to four beautiful grandchildren, Ashley McDonald (Michael), Connor Harsch, Kyle and Jade Goworek. She was predeceased by her parents Dominick and Catherine Borrello (Marchetta). She is survived by two sisters Denise Sangee(Charles) and Mary Borrello-Cerreta, as well as living nieces, nephews, and grand nieces. Carole was a graduate of Saint Andrew’s Grammar School and Bayonne High School. She was a member of the Holy Family Mother’s Club. She worked at Englander Mattress Company, Shop Rite of Bayonne, and San Vito’s Restaurant (19 years to the present). Funeral arrangements by SWEENEY Funeral Home, 857 Kennedy Blvd.last_img read more

Pastor at Hillsong NYC and Prior Leader of One of the Largest Youth Ministries…

first_imgTodd Crews, currently on the Pastoral Team at Hillsong NYC and prior leader of Brooklyn Tabernacle’s Young Adult Ministry, will be joining us for our Traditional Service at 8:30 AM and our Contemporary Service at 10:30 AM this Sunday August 27, 2017.Todd, a graduate of Palm Beach Atlantic University in communications and Christian leadership, lead one of the largest young adult ministries in America at the Brooklyn Tabernacle in NYC for nearly ten years as an associate pastor.He has done a variety of missions work in Jamaica, the Philippines, Bolivia and Costa Rica and now utilizes his involvement with youth and experiences abroad to preach both nationally and internationally to develop leaders.Lastly, this Evansville, Indiana native is a family man.  He and his wife Nicole have two toddlers that keep their lives exciting!The Tabernacle hosts distinguished guest speakers and performers every Sunday morning through September 10th. Keep up with the full list of events and speakers online at www.octab.org.###Located at 550 Wesley Avenue in Ocean City, NJ, the Ocean City Tabernacle is an inter-denominational Christian worship and event center open to all. The Tabernacle is the historic center of the City of Ocean City which was established as a “Christian Seashore retreat” in 1879. This year will mark the organization’s 138th year of ministry.last_img read more

Joe Russo’s Almost Dead Honors Aretha Franklin, Radiohead, & Phish At Red Rocks [Video]

first_imgLast year, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead’s Red Rocks performance was rescheduled to the end of August, falling the Thursday before Phish‘s annual run at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park kicked off on the Friday of Labor Day Weekend. In honor of the Phish-y festivities, JRAD offered up a Phish-laced performance, and this year, the group again gave their nod to the Vermont quartet. With many folks still stunned at Curveball‘s last-minute cancelation, Joe Russo and company offered up teases of “Wilson” during “Slipknot!”, with the audience cheering out “Wilson”, making for a cathartic moment for many of the fans who were previously scheduled to be flying out to New York for the festival earlier in the day.From there, Tom Hamilton led the band through a cover of Radiohead‘s “The Bends”, off the British rock act’s similarly named sophomore album, which was released in 1995. From there, to close out the second set, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead offered up a heartfelt, crowd-pleasing take on “Not Fade Away”, which also featured teases of fan-favorite “Throwing Stones” and hilariously, The Strangeloves’ “I Want Candy”, which was largely made popular in the ’80s with Bow Wow Wow‘s smash-hit cover.To close out the night in full, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead performed a take on Warren Zevon’s “Werewolves of London” before ending the night with “Franklin’s Tower”. Notably, for the last song of the night, the group paid tribute to the Queen Of Soul, Aretha Franklin, who had died earlier in the day, laying out teases of “R.E.S.P.E.C.T.” during “Franklin’s Tower”.Setlist: Joe Russo’s Almost Dead | Red Rocks Amphitheatre | Morrison, CO | 8/16/2018Set One: Jam > Playin in the band+ > Bird song > Eyes of the world > Black throated wind > Jack straw (reprise) > Mississippi Half Step > The Other OneSet Two: The Other One (jam) > I Need a Miracle > Estimated Prophet* > St. Stephen# > Help on the way > Slipknot=^ > The Bends (Radiohead), Not fade [email protected]+$Encore: Dr John song?+ > Werewolves of London, Franklin’s tower%+piano solo*dub version# Slipknot tease=Wilson (Phish) teases^ Feel like a stranger [email protected] I want candy tease$ Throwing Stones tease% Respect teaseJoe Russo’s Almost Dead | Red Rocks Amphitheatre | Morrison, CO | 8/16/2018 | Photos: Conrad Meyer Load remaining images Interestingly, to start out set two, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead picked up where the first set left off, returning to “The Other One” through a rockin’ jam that highlighted Joe Russo and Dave Dreiwitz’s rock-solid rhythm section. From there, the band segued into “I Need A Miracle”, making for a triumphant, crowd-pleasing transition, before moving into a dubbed-out take on “Estimated Prophet”. Fan-favorite “St. Stephen” was up next, which featured “Slipknot!” teases, foreshadowing the placement of “Slipknot!” after the group moved through the rest of “St. Stephen” and “Help On The Way”.“The Other One”center_img On Thursday night, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead headed to Red Rocks Amphitheatre, marking the second time the band has headlined the iconic venue and the first time the group has headlined Red Rocks with all its members—last year, Oteil Burbridge subbed for bassist Dave Dreiwitz, who was on tour with Ween during the band’s rescheduled show in August following a snowed-out April date.After starting the show off with a formless jam, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead quickly settled into a rendition of “Playin’ In The Band”, which housed a stellar solo from Marco Benevento right off the bat. A breathtaking “Bird Song” came next, gracefully transitioning into “Black Throated Wind” and through to the reprise of “Jack Straw”. From there, the group laid out a groovy take on “Mississippi Half Step” before closing out the first set with “The Other One”.Opening Jamlast_img read more

New hope for sensory calm

first_imgOTD: For people who are born with this, developmentally, how does it play out over the long term?OREFICE: This is, I think, a really important aspect of what David and I do in our labs, and what we continue to ask questions about. We’re trying to understand how an abnormal sense of touch impacts the brain and ultimately complex social behaviors.GINTY: We think that touch is the first sense to develop. The first social exchange between a baby and her parents occurs through the sense of touch. You might say that touch is where social development begins. It’s fascinating that a number of studies in humans, nonhuman primates, and other animals have suggested that normal touch is required for the development of normal cognitive processes.In our own mouse studies, we found that if a genetic lesion that causes tactile overreactivity is introduced developmentally in the peripheral nervous system, the animals also exhibit behavioral alterations — a fairly profound anxiety-like behavior, for example, and some aberrant social-interaction behaviors. On the other hand, if the very same genetic lesions are introduced in young adult mice, the animals still exhibit the tactile overreactivity, but they don’t exhibit anxiety-like behavior. So there’s a profound link between developmental touch and tactile reactivity and the acquisition of normal behavior.OTD: So the hope and the hypothesis is presumably that if you can address what’s happening in the peripheral nerves at the right developmental window, you may be able to prevent these kinds of things from appearing down the road.OREFICE: Exactly. We think there’s a critical need for normal tactile input during an early period in development. We’d like to be able to identify that critical window, to treat tactile overreactivity in young children.GINTY: Our thinking is that, even in adulthood, preventing touch overreactivity and thus tactile avoidance and defensiveness would be highly beneficial. But we hypothesize that if we could treat it developmentally, then it might also have a long-term consequence of improving anxiety and possibly even social-interaction behaviors later in life.Professors Lauren Orefice and David Ginty are working to identify possible treatments for the touch hypersensitivity. Caroline Perry/OTD file photoOTD: Do you think a treatment to reduce tactile overreactivity would be taken lifelong, or during critical periods of development?GINTY: We don’t know. Long-term treatment beginning early is a good thing for the animal models of ASD. So, based on our mouse studies, we might speculate that the greatest benefits would come from treating tactile overreactivity over the long term. But that’s really up in the air, because human studies have yet to be done.OREFICE: If we’re speculating, we can imagine that in addition to developmentally improving the sense of touch, a future treatment could also improve acute symptoms in people who are beyond this critical period. Supposing a person knows they’re going to be engaged in a particularly stressful situation, like a cocktail party, perhaps we could dampen these external inputs a little bit for the tactile domain. But we’ve got a long road ahead of us.OTD: As a researcher, how do you know when it’s time to engage with a corporate partner?GINTY: For me, it’s pretty easy. My lab, my postdocs and Ph.D. students, are interested in understanding the basic biology and developing new ideas or principles that emerge from that work, revealing new opportunities. Drug development and all that it entails is not our focus, nor is it our strength. Medchem [medicinal chemistry] to identify chemical variants and drug candidates, testing their activity, doing pharmacodistribution analysis, pharmacodynamics, defining optimal modes of delivery and safety measurements, are all labor-intensive and expensive. Those really specialized details of drug development and optimization are best addressed, at least in our case, by a dedicated company that does this for a living.This is the first time my lab has been able to move something this far that’s this promising. And it took a very talented postdoc in the lab — Lauren — to make it happen. Now, it’s the perfect time for us to move this work out of our labs and the basic biology and discovery realm and move it toward clinical utility with Lab1636.OTD: What else needs to happen to develop your lab’s insights toward benefiting patients?GINTY: Well, there’s a lot of space between identifying a pathophysiological mechanism in a mouse model and understanding whether it’s relevant in a human. This presents a strong case for collaborative efforts between clinician-scientists and basic scientists.If this work is going to be translated, and we’re going to move toward clinical trials, we need to have reliable measurements in humans, especially young kids, so that’s another piece we’re hoping to achieve, with our clinical collaborators.OREFICE: We don’t assume that every person with autism has profound touch overreactivity. So part of what we’re doing now with our collaborators at Beth Israel and Boston Children’s Hospital is trying to find a quantitative, objective metric of somatosensory overreactivity. If we can do that in adults, and also earlier ages, it will help us identify which patients exhibit touch overreactivity and therefore may benefit from this type of treatment.OTD: How did the relationship with Deerfield’s Lab1636 come about? GINTY: The Office of Technology Development here at Harvard is superb. This group was key for moving our project forward because they’re the ones with knowledge of who would be interested in translating the work. They understood what needed to be done to make a compelling case and who, in industry, would have an interest in the work and have the capabilities of moving it forward at a larger scale. They were amazing in terms of making connections and conveying the message of our findings. So in many ways, the technology development office really — it shines here, I’d say.OTD: From your perspective, how has the trajectory looked, from discovery to translation?GINTY: The reason we were able to bring our work to this point is that we have developed a strong capability in genetics, electrophysiology, and using the mouse as a model system, which has allowed us to ask about the locus of dysfunction accounting for touch overreactivity in ASD models: Is it a spinal-cord disorder? Is it a peripheral-nervous-system disorder? Does dysfunction in the brain account for touch overreactivity? What nerve cells or neurons are the ones affected, and why? We’re uniquely poised to ask these kinds of questions. And that’s something we’ve been building toward for 20 years.About three years ago, work by Lauren and her colleagues in the lab made it clear that there may be ways of targeting the peripheral nervous system to reverse touch overreactivity in ASDs. Because of this new therapeutic opportunity, the Blavatnik Biomedical Accelerator and the Q-FASTR funding mechanisms became quite compelling. There was a real translational opportunity arising from the work, which we were excited to pursue. And we were, again, uniquely poised to ask about the potential translatability of the findings. Financial support from the Blavatnik Accelerator and Q-FASTR, and a grant from the Simons Foundation, were critical for helping us define a proof-of-principle pharmacological approach aimed at treating touch overreactivity. These funds allowed the project to move to a point where it became compelling for an outside company to invest the additional resources and capabilities needed to take the work forward. “There are also millions of people with chronic pain, with limited treatment options. Our dependence on opioids has been highly problematic for obvious reasons. Going forward, my lab is taking a deep dive into understanding the molecular biology of all sensory neuron subtypes.” — David Ginty Deerfield commits $100M to create alliance with Harvard Harvard University and Deerfield Management announced today the selection of a first project for funding under the Lab1636 R&D alliance that aims to advance promising innovations from labs across the University toward the clinical development of novel therapeutics. The project arises from the lab of David Ginty,  the Edward R. and Anne G. Lefler Professor of Neurobiology in the Blavatnik Institute at Harvard Medical School (HMS) and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator. Lauren Orefice is a former postdoctoral researcher in the Ginty Lab and now assistant professor of genetics at HMS and Massachusetts General Hospital. In a question-and-answer session, Ginty and Orefice discuss their recent progress toward identifying possible treatments for the touch hypersensitivity that often occurs in people with autism spectrum disorders (ASD), and their hope for further innovation in neuroscience.Q&ADavid Ginty and Lauren OreficeOTD: How do people experience touch hypersensitivity?GINTY: Well, the truth is we don’t really know how they experience it. We do know that in certain disorders, including autism, light touch can be highly aversive. In fact, there are several examples of disorders where we see touch overreactivity; a person will react abnormally to what you and I would consider innocuous touch stimuli. For a large number of people with autism, light touch can be aversive, and normal, developmental nurturing touch may also be aversive. We refer to this phenomenon with terms like “tactile avoidance” and “tactile defensiveness.”OREFICE: People with ASD often describe that certain types of clothing can be itchy or difficult to wear. Haircuts can even be really difficult for people to deal with, and there are certain barbers or hairstylists that they’ll go to. Things like inclement weather, heavy rain, can be really overwhelming or frightening for some people. For most of us, we are not typically aware of the fact that we are sitting in a chair, wearing a sweater, and the air conditioning is on, etcetera. But for some people with autism, some of these tactile aspects of their environment feel more present, or more profound, as though the volume is turned up.GINTY: Interestingly, we don’t only see this tactile sensitivity in ASD. In other disorders such as neuropathic pain, which can be caused by chemotherapy, diabetes, or damage affecting the somatosensory system, light touch can also be aversive. It can be painful. “We think there’s a critical need for normal tactile input during an early period in development. We’d like to be able to identify that critical window, to treat tactile overreactivity in young children.” — Lauren Orefice R&D alliance will enable ‘promising innovations to advance beyond their laboratory roots’ Created with $20M gift from K. Lisa Yang and Hock E. Tan, initiative aims to unravel the basic biology of autism and related disorders Harvard to launch center for autism research Related OTD: What are you hopeful about, both for this project and more broadly?GINTY: Well, it’s simple. It would be a dream come true if we could help improve quality of life for people with autism, and for their caregivers as well.OREFICE: It’s difficult, when you’re a basic scientist, to know when you’ve found something that might actually be beneficial for human health. But when you realize that you might be able to help people and improve the way they experience the world, it’s so rewarding. It motivates me to continue the basic research. So as our project moves into Lab1636, my lab and David’s lab will continue to ask more of the basic biological questions to understand the mechanisms through which tactile overreactivity occurs.GINTY: There are also millions of people with chronic pain, with limited treatment options. Our dependence on opioids has been highly problematic for obvious reasons. Going forward, my lab is taking a deep dive into understanding the molecular biology of all sensory neuron subtypes. I’m optimistic that over the next few years, in addition to the strategy for reducing tactile overreactivity, new druggable targets on peripheral neurons will be revealed that will allow us to think of new ways to treat chronic pain. Maybe, over time, this approach will help us move away from our clinical reliance on mu opioid agonists.OTD: Is your perspective any different now having been through this kind of translational experience? David, I hear you talking about finding new druggable targets — is that something that you would have been thinking about five years ago in the same way?GINTY: For me, yes, I think it would have been. But a difference now is that technology has advanced to the point, especially with deep sequencing, that new potential drug targets are made clear for us to see. My experience with this project makes me excited about the possibility of harnessing our knowledge of peripheral-nervous-system biology, and druggable targets on sensory neurons themselves, to define new therapeutic approaches. That feels compelling to me. I think there’s going to be a lot of room for additional partnering over the next five to seven years for parallel approaches, or complementary approaches, not just for treating disorders involving light-touch overreactivity, but for pain sensation too.OREFICE: It has changed my perspective in a lot of ways. When we started these projects in mice about five years ago, we had no idea what we would find. And we’ve been very surprised and encouraged by the findings, the robust observations we’ve made.What it’s taught me most of all is to follow your science, listen to the data, and surround yourself with really intelligent, capable people, including the folks in the Office of Technology Development, who can see your research from different perspectives than how you might normally see it. That can transform everything you’re doing and elevate your work into an entirely new arena.There’s something really special about being at Harvard for this type of work. Being here, in the right environment, and with great collaborators, we’ve been able to find some really interesting biology that we hope will ultimately help humans.last_img read more