Blood biopsies offer early warning of cancer’s return Editor’s Note: Enrollment in the PATHFINDER study is temporarily suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic.In a study involving thousands of participants, a new blood test detected more than 50 types of cancer as well as their location within the body with a high degree of accuracy, according to an international team of researchers led by Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, a Harvard affiliate, and the Mayo Clinic.The results, published online today by the Annals of Oncology, indicate that the test — which identified some particularly dangerous cancers that lack standard approaches to screening — can play a key role in early detection of cancer. Early detection can often be critical to successful treatment.Developed by Grail, Inc., of Menlo Park, Calif., the test uses next-generation sequencing to analyze the arrangement of chemical units called methyl groups on the DNA of cancer cells. Adhering to specific sections of DNA, methyl groups help control whether genes are active or inactive. In cancer cells, the placement of methyl groups, or methylation pattern, is often markedly different from that of normal cells — to the extent that abnormal methylation patterns are even more characteristic of cancer cells than genetic mutations are. When tumor cells die, their DNA, with methyl groups firmly attached, empties into the blood, where it can be analyzed by the new test.“Our previous work indicated that methylation-based tests outperform traditional DNA-sequencing approaches to detecting multiple forms of cancer in blood samples,” said Dana-Farber’s Geoffrey Oxnard, co-lead author of the study with Minetta Liu of the Mayo Clinic. “The results of this study suggest that such assays could be a feasible way of screening people for a wide variety of cancers.”In the study, investigators used the test to analyze cell-free DNA (DNA from normal and cancerous cells that had entered the bloodstream upon the cells’ death) in 6,689 blood samples, including 2,482 from people diagnosed with cancer and 4,207 from people without cancer. The samples from patients with cancer represented more than 50 cancer types, including breast, colorectal, esophageal, gallbladder, bladder, gastric, ovarian, head and neck, lung, lymphoid leukemia, multiple myeloma, and pancreatic cancer. Tests that look for hundreds of tumor mutations may detect residual disease in patients after treatment Related Chan School’s Rebbeck highlights cancer’s complex picture Drop in cancer deaths lifts U.S. life expectancy The overall specificity of the test was 99.3 percent, meaning that only 0.7 percent of the results incorrectly indicated that cancer was present. The sensitivity of the assay for 12 cancers that account for nearly two-thirds of U.S. cancer deaths was 67.3 percent, meaning the test could find the cancer two-thirds of the time but a third of the time the test returned a negative result. Within this group, the sensitivity was 39 percent for patients with stage I cancer, 69 percent for those with stage II, 83 percent for those with stage III, and 92 percent for those with stage IV. The stage I-III sensitivity across all 50 cancer types was 43.9 percent. When cancer was detected, the test correctly identified the organ or tissue where the cancer originated in more than 90 percent of cases — critical information for determining how the disease is diagnosed and managed.“Our results show that this approach to testing cell-free DNA in blood can detect a broad range of cancer types at virtually any stage of the disease, with specificity and sensitivity approaching the level needed for population-level screening. The test can be an important part of clinical trials for early cancer detection,” said Oxnard, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.The study was funded by Grail, Inc. As part of further validation research, Dana-Farber has joined a multi-center clinical trial of the test. The PATHFINDER study intends to enroll about 6,200 participants across the U.S. Participants in the study will have the results of the test communicated to them.
This summer, the British Academy welcomed a new group of 86 Fellows in the humanities and social sciences to its ranks from the United Kingdom and around the world. Of the 30 overseas academics selected, seven are from Harvard:Homi Bhabha, Anne F. Rothenberg Professor of the Humanities and Senior Advisor on the Humanities to the President and Provost in the department of comparative literatureKathleen M. Coleman, James Loeb Professor of the Classics and Senior Research Curator at Harvard Art MuseumsSheila Jasanoff, Pforzheimer Professor of Science and Technology Studies at Harvard Kennedy School (HKSGeoffrey Jones, Harvard Business SchoolGülru Necipoğlu, Director of the Aga Khan Program of Islamic Architecture and Aga Khan Professor of Islamic Art in the department of history of art and architectureCharles Nelson III, professor of education, professor of pediatrics, professor in the department of society, human, development and health, professor of psychology in the department of psychiatry at the Harvard Graduate School of EducationKathryn Sikkink, Ryan Family Professor of Human Rights Policy at HKSThe fellows join a cohort recognized for their outstanding contributions to the humanities and social sciences. The British Academy offers fellowships, funding opportunities, and opportunities for engagement to leading scholars in the fields both in the U.K. and worldwide.
Two biomarkers based on DNA methylation (DNAm) were strongly associated with a person’s risk for heart attack and stroke, according to new research led by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. The two biomarkers, known as GrimAgeAccel and DNAmRS, were also significantly associated with overall risk of premature death.The study, led by CuiCui Wang, a research fellow in the Department of Environmental Health at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, was published Dec. 4, 2020 in EBioMedicine. It identified five different DNAm-based biomarkers associated with aging and then analyzed these biomarkers in blood samples collected through two large cohort studies.The researchers focused on determining how closely associated each biomarker was with premature death, heart attack, stroke, and cancer. The findings showed that none of the biomarkers was associated with cancer, but that several of them were strongly associated with premature death, heart attack, and stroke.From a public health perspective, the team noted, GrimAgeAccel was the valuable biomarker for assessing risk of death, heart attack, and stroke and could serve as a useful tool for identifying elderly people at elevated risk for such events. Read Full Story
That’s how we, as co-Chairs of the VCE Board, think about VCE. We may be a bit biased, but we’re confident many others agree based on the tremendous success of VCE’s Vblock converged infrastructure (CI). In fact, we created the notion of CI with Vblock, and VCE has held the #1 position for as long as the analyst firms have been tracking it.Given today’s news about EMC and Cisco jointly agreeing to change the structure of VCE going forward, we’d like to reflect back on its success and what is driving this change now.Rewind to 2007 when Cisco was first entering the server business. We began discussions around the best ways to deliver to customers the best-of-breed technologies from Cisco, EMC and VMware into a single engineered solution that would pretty much be plug-and-play for customers.Over the course of the following two years, we challenged our teams and ourselves to come up with the best way to commercialize our vision and serve customers. There were the usual traditional resale and meet-in-the-channel programs, but we felt this could be a much bigger idea. In the end, we concluded that this was the time to be bold, which led to the initial formation of the JV on October 30, 2009 now known as VCE. We say now known because the original JV was called Acadia, based on Build Operate Transfer (BOT) services and then a Reference Architecture (RA). But as any nimble startup does, you pivot your great idea to what customers truly want and value – and in this case it was a product, not BOT services or RA’s. So VCE and the Vblock were born and the rest is truly history! Consider these facts about VCE’s Vblock:More than 2,000 deployed to dateSix consecutive quarters of greater than 50% year-over-year growth#1 position for integrated infrastructure systems for two years runningIDC study: VCE customers are able to deploy new services five times faster, reduce downtime by 96%, and lower their annual datacenter costs by 50% with Vblock systems.So what made this JV so successful? We’d like to think it was our combined market understanding concerning what customers truly wanted, our sincere partnership and enduring friendship. All of those things are true, but it all starts and ends with the best technologies, combined with a maniacal focus on the customer experience and tremendous execution by talented teams. We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has been involved since its inception – with a special thanks and congratulations to the current team led by CEO Praveen Akkiraju.So why the change now? Because the best time to change and transform is when you’re at the top of your game. The industry continues to move fast and evolve, and we want VCE to continue to grow and succeed in this environment. It’s time for VCE to broaden its horizon and help customers in their journey to the Hybrid Cloud. This has been our focus and we will accelerate our support to our customers. We also want to signal to our customers that VCE is going to be around for the long haul. And Cisco’s commitment to VCE continues in the form of a multi-year resale, support and engineering agreement. The partnership remains strong and VCE will be a vibrant channel for Cisco technologies going forward. In essence, we started with a JV structure that has been wildly successful, so now it’s time to show commitment for the long term in a way that fits the business models of EMC and Cisco well.It’s been a fun, thrilling and rewarding ride for both of us, but most importantly for our customers, partners and the VCE team. We would like to thank all of them for the confidence they have shown and allowing us to play a meaningful role in changing the industry!
THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — Police have taken to the streets of Dutch towns and cities in force in an attempt to prevent violent rioting that has shaken the country for three successive nights since a nationwide curfew was introduced to curb the spread of the coronavirus. By late night Tuesday, the increased police presence appeared to have paid off, with no major rioting or clashes between youths and police reported. Police in Rotterdam said they arrested a total of 33 people for minor offenses and vandalism. Local broadcaster Rijnmond reported that riot police had been deployed in the south and west of the city, but police did not immediately report any major disturbances.
HOUSTON (AP) — A federal appeals court has ruled that the U.S. government could resume expelling immigrant children who cross the southern border unaccompanied by a parent. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit’s stay of a lower court ruling allows President Joe Biden’s administration to resume expulsions begun by former President Donald Trump under a public health policy citing the COVID-19 pandemic. The appeals court issued a stay on Friday that had been requested by the Trump administration shortly after a federal judge in November barred the practice.
The Student Senate looked ahead to a football weekend and a visit from “College GameDay,” as well as plans to improve the quality of residential and campus life, during its weekly meeting Wednesday. Student body president Brett Rocheleau said he would share more logistical information with the student body in coming days so campus could be prepared for the Stanford game weekend events. “As you all know, ‘College GameDay’ is coming on Saturday,” Rocheleau said. “Everyone’s wondering about tailgating, camping out, etc. Right now the administration is looking for the best place to set up a line. I’ll get more details tonight and send out a report on everything GameDay, what you can and cannot do.” Hall Presidents’ Council co-chair Matt Lynch shared details from the Leprechaun Legion’s GameDay plan. “There’s going to be a pit for 200 to 300 people in front of the stage,” Lynch said. “They’re trying to make it all students, and it would be cool if we could get all 29 dorms to have their flags in there. Posters are allowed too, and they want everyone to wear green.” Before the game weekend begins, Rocheleau reminded the senators about student government’s upcoming presentation with the Board of Trustees. “We present Thursday afternoon, and we’re basically talking about residence hall life like we’ve been discussing,” Rocheleau said. Chief of staff Katie Baker mentioned a new addition to their presentation booklet. “We added pictures of actual dorm rooms to show the discrepancies,” she said. “There are pictures of doubles from Duncan Hall and Morrissey Manor as well as a quad in Pangborn Hall.” With the addition of the group’s newest member, Class of 2016 president Hugh Phelan, the group discussed four resolutions related to residential and campus life. Director of community relations Kelsey Eckenrodge presented a resolution to direct future projects after a recent community summit. “Basically, a couple of Fridays ago, we had the city summit,” Eckenrodge said. “We met in the morning and talked about concerns and ideas for improvement regarding student-city interactions. We have created committees for specific projects to help in these relations. We decided on eight projects to work on this semester.” After the group passed Eckenrodge’s resolution concerning community relations committees, the director of university affairs Michael Masi also introduced two resolutions, both of which the group passed. The first resolution proposed the implementation of hydration stations in DeBartolo Hall. “We passed a resolution very similar to this one already for residence halls last semester,” Masi said. “This one is just recommending that the university provide the funding and put them in DeBartolo Hall.” When asked where the new hydration stations will be located, Rocheleau responded the exact location has not been decided yet. “They want to keep it in a central location, but they don’t want a line to form where everyone’s walking in because that would just add congestion,” Rocheleau said. “Basically, they’re still working on it.” Masi’s second resolution addressed the issue of campus aesthetics. “It came to my attention that statues around campus are looking old and dirty, so our goal has been to clean them up and restore them,” Masi said. “We want to make them look like their original selves again to make campus look good.” Masi said he has contacted the university architect’s office and the Snite Museum after getting complaints from both students and alumni, and he has identified four statues on campus to restore. Walsh Hall senator Veronica Guerrero said she thinks money should be spent on higher priorities such as new buildings or residence halls, but Rocheleau said the money comes from a different budget. “All the money is allocated differently,” Rocheleau said. “There are different groups. This is more land and making campus prettier while money for buildings comes mainly from donations. They’re very separate in the budgeting scheme.” Duncan Hall senator Brendan Bell announced a resolution for director of social concerns Paul John DiGiovanni, which also passed. “The subcommittee for community relations has been working a lot with the South Bend food banks and other organizations, and he thought it would be a good idea to look into cost-effective and healthier ways for people with food stamps to eat,” Bell said. “They’re looking to make a booklet with specific ideas for healthy eating, for good ways to eat healthy fruits and vegetables that they might now know how to work with.” Rose clarified this booklet is meant to be a sort of recipe book to make sure families on food stamps can meet nutritional needs. “Paul is hoping this booklet can be distributed to not only people in the community but also to students,” Bell said. “People in the local community are really excited and want students to get involved with this.”
José Miguel Insulza, secretary general of the Organization of American States (OAS) presented a lecture titled “Growth, Inequality and Democracy in the Americas” at the Institute for Educational Initiatives on Tuesday.Insulza, one of Chile’s longest serving public ministers, addressed the current economic growth of Latin America and what it signifies for the implementation of democracy in the region.He said the decade between 2002 and 2012 was the period with the largest economic growth for Latin America, a phrase that is key to understanding the economic decline and inequality Latin America currently faces.“We could have made all the improvements in education, in science and technology, diversifying the economy in the decade between 2002 and 2012,” Insulza said. “This is really a challenge for the region today. What do we do with the expectations that have been created? How do we try to carry out the reforms that are pending from the past decade?”Insulza said the 2002-2012 decade presented enormous economic growth partly because of better international trade relations, particularly with China.“Trade between Latin America and China grew from 2002 to 2012, from 4 billion to over 70 billion dollars, and that’s enormous,” Insulza said. “China will become a larger economic partner with Latin America than the United States.“There is no reason why there should be so much poverty and there is no reason why there should be so much inequality. The fact is that our inequality has increased incredibly. It’s very clear that there is a relationship between the health of the economy and the degree to which capitalism is responsible in some way.”Insulza said one of the factors that contributed to income inequality in Latin America was the lower rate of investment in regional production, where consumption has ultimately outpaced the country’s import and export rate.“External investment hasn’t grown, and that is a problem. When wealth increases, wealth in terms of capital and ownership of capital decreases, investments cannot be made,” he said. “Currently, the wealthy classes in Latin America are more willing to buy land or to invest in houses than to invest in products from that region.”Insulza highlighted three problems key to understanding the current crisis in Latin America: income inequality, rising crime rates and the call for legitimate democratic governments.He said crime rates have been proven to correlate with income inequality, with the majority of security forces in several countries influenced by the wealthiest one percent.“Socially, we are faced with a tougher problem. The external conditions for our growth are not there, the internal conditions for our growth are not created and we have been lagging behind. That certainly will affect democracy.” Insulza said. “The interesting thing is that even today, most economists are warming up to the fact that it is not just a problem of social justice, it also a problem of unfairness.“Growth in the economy is not possible unless we correct the tremendous inequality that exists in the country.”Insulza said while democracy in Latin America has improved substantially since the 1990s, Latin America still requires progress and further implementation of democratic governments in several countries.“Citizens are not willing to give obedience in exchange for protection; they are willing to give legitimacy in exchange for citizenship, and I think we are very far from that,” he said.Tags: chile’s public ministers, growth inequality and democracy in the americas, institute for educational initatives, jose miguel insulza, latin america, latin american economy, oas, secretary general of the organization of american states
Junior Mariana Davalos said La Fuerza, a student club at Saint Mary’s, decided to celebrate “Dia de los Muertos,” or Day of the Dead, this week even though the celebration actually falls on the first two days of November. Caitlyn Jordan | The Observer Saint Mary’s students celebrate Dia de los Muertos with La Fuerza, a Hispanic cultural club, by decorating candy skulls.La Fuerza’s mission is to educate the community on Hispanic cultures and issues.Davalos, vice president of La Fuerza, said the club hosts a variety of events from year to year, including an annual celebration of Dia de Los Muertos to help Hispanic students share their culture with the rest of Saint Mary’s.“We want to have the same traditions since we’re not at home,” she said. “[Dia de los Muertos] is a very family-oriented celebration, and we want to make represent our [Latina] culture by bringing it to school.”Davalos said her family has their own way of celebrating Dia de los Muertos.“At my house, we have a photo of the Virgin Mary in our entryway and during this time, my mom will put a photo of her mother on a table with fresh flowers,” she said.Starting Wednesday, the group created an “ofrenda,” or altar, in the Student Center Atrium. Davalos said students have the opportunity to add photos of their loved ones to the ofrenda.“In Mexico, people visit cemeteries and decorate graves with flowers and candles, but away from home, we create altars to remember our loved ones,” she said.Wednesday evening, the group hosted a Spanish Mass in Holy Spirit Chapel in Le Mans Hall. Davalos said there will be an altar in the chapel to remind students about the week’s celebrations.Thursday during lunch, students can decorate sugar skulls or make “papel picado,” paper designs to decorate the altar. Davalos said the club bought more sugar skulls this year, after running out of them last year.“Some girls decorate in honor of loved ones that passed away, and other girls just really enjoy decorating them,” she said.A new addition to the traditional “Dia de los Muertos” celebration is the showing of a film, “The Book of Life,” on Friday. Davalos said the film showing is co-sponsored by Student Diversity Board and is an animated love story that provides students with a fun, engaging way to learn about “Dia de los Muertos.”Davalos said it’s important students know that La Fuerza is not exclusive to Latina students.“It’s just interesting to know about other cultures. For us [members of La Fuerza], it’s enriching in a way — we have the chance to explain our culture and be involved with other students and to share a moment together,” she said.Tags: Dia de los Muertos, La Fuerza, saint mary’s
Gregory Crawford, vice president, associate provost and former dean of the College of Science, was elected president of Miami University (Ohio) on Friday, according to a Notre Dame press release.Over the past year, Crawford led an effort to increase the University’s presence in California, initially in the Bay Area. According to the release, he focused on expanding internship and employment opportunities for Notre Dame undergraduates and recruiting students from leading California high schools.“For six years, [Crawford] was a dynamic leader of the College of Science and, for the past year, he has taken the lead in developing our California initiative,” University provost Thomas Burish said in the press release. “We remain committed to that initiative and, between now and Greg’s departure in July, I will work with him and others on how best to build upon the foundation he has helped to lay.”Crawford served as the William K. Warren Foundation Dean of the College of Science from 2008 to July 2015, according the press release. As dean, he helped found the Department of Applied and Computational Mathematics and Statistics and launch four new master’s programs. Crawford also led fundraising initiatives for the Warren Family Research Center for Drug Discovery and the Boler-Parseghian Center for Rare and Neglected Diseases.Crawford, a native of Elyria, Ohio, will assume his new position on July 1, according to the release. He earned his bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees from Kent State University.“News of Greg’s election as the next president of Miami University is bittersweet,” Burish said in the release. “While we are tremendously pleased that he has this wonderful opportunity to lead a first-rate university, we also are sorry to see him go.”Crawford came to Notre Dame in 2008, leaving his post as dean of engineering at Brown University, where he was a professor of physics and engineering since 1996, according to the release. During his time at Notre Dame, he worked to raise money and awareness for cancer and rare disease research, biking more than 11,000 miles across the country in support of research for Niemann-Pick Type C disease.Tags: College of Science, Dr. Thomas G. Burish, Gregory Crawford, Miami University (Ohio)