Turning genetic trash to treasure

first_imgA troubled snowboarder’s fateful twist on a Minnesota ski hill 13 years ago put him not only in the hospital, but also on a new life path that eventually led to laboratories at top research institutions. His resultant research led him to new insights into RNA’s role in the human body and the part it plays in disease when it goes awry.John Rinn, an assistant professor of pathology at Harvard Medical School (HMS) and a researcher at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) and the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT, traces his scientific successes to an epiphany he had the summer after the snowboarding accident, while a University of Minnesota undergraduate.As a torn knee slowly healed at his mother’s sweltering Georgia home, he read and reflected on opportunities missed and lessons learned during years spent doing little other than skateboarding in the summer and snowboarding in the winter.His path since has included graduate study at Yale University, a postdoctoral fellowship at Stanford University, and his current work as a researcher. Over those years, Rinn discovered and is now investigating a new category of RNA. RNA is single-stranded genetic material once thought mainly to function as a biological tool to change DNA’s instructions into proteins. Research since the early 1990s, however, has revealed more types of RNA than previously known, with some playing key regulatory roles.Rinn’s work revealed a new class of the molecule called “large intervening noncoding RNA,” or lincRNA, found in a part of the genome that science had previously thought to be filled with nonfunctional genetic junk.Rinn’s 2003 discovery of lincRNA was met with scientific skepticism. That has slowly turned to acceptance as Rinn first identified a single lincRNA — which he called HOTAIR — and traced its function.Rinn found that HOTAIR played a key role by delivering proteins to particular genes. He has since found many more lincRNAs that are involved with immune response, cancer growth, and fat and stem cell production.Jeffrey Saffitz, BIDMC’s chief of pathology and Mallinckrodt Professor of Pathology at Harvard Medical School, said Rinn is among several bright young investigators he hired to intensify the hospital’s research focus on disease, specifically cancer.“He’s onto something very big,” Saffitz said. “The guy has just come on so strong.”Saffitz described Rinn as a creative and enthusiastic researcher who is laid-back and informal — until it comes to science.When “you start talking about science, he’s quite focused, very intense, very creative,” Saffitz said. “He’s having a lot of fun. And in this field, if you’re not having fun you need to re-examine what you’re doing, because it’s really hard.”Rinn’s work got him named to Popular Science magazine’s “Brilliant 10” list of the nation’s most-promising young researchers in October. Rinn was also named a National Institutes of Health New Innovator this fall, which came with $1.5 million to further his work.Though he is focused now, few would describe a young John Rinn that way. He attended a succession of high schools and admits he put little effort into his schoolwork. Instead, he hung out with friends in downtown Minneapolis, riding skateboards and perfecting tricks. In winters, he and his friends left the city for local ski resorts.After high school, Rinn enrolled in a community college and continued to put in little effort. He and his friends were seeing a bit of success on the slopes, though. They landed a local snowboarding sponsorship and talked about going to Denver to see if they could cut it on the big-time circuit.But something inside told Rinn not to go. He had seen one friend paralyzed when a big jump went wrong, and another killed in a car crash while driving to the mountains. Though Rinn had embraced the teen skater culture, he sensed there was a time limit — like that on his teenage years themselves — on how long his body could take the punishment of a life pointed at skateboarding and snowboarding.“I felt I needed to give something else a try,” Rinn said. “All I had was college. I had no idea how to approach it or get started.”By the time of his snowboarding accident, Rinn had transferred to the University of Minnesota. After that summer of rehab, he took up running and considered a career as an exercise physiologist. He enrolled in science classes and found his passion, switching to chemistry and graduating with a bachelor of science in 1999.Perhaps it was his anti-establishment youth that led Rinn to push on when some critics told him that his early lab results recorded just noise in the genome. Rinn admits to having something of a chip on his shoulder, to always feeling like he has to prove himself.“A lot of people thought it was an artifact,” Rinn said. “We figured we’d give it a chance, give it a fair trial.”last_img read more

Peach crop

first_imgBy Brad HaireUniversity of GeorgiaGeorgia peach trees are on track to get enough chilly winter weather to make a sweet summer crop. But there are some concerns, says a University of Georgia Cooperative Extension expert.Peach trees go dormant in winter. During this time, they need chill hours (hours below 45 degrees) to properly bloom in spring and produce fruit in summer, says Kathy Taylor, a UGA Extension peach horticulturist. Depending on the variety, trees need between 400 and 1,100 chill hours in Georgia.About 90 percent of Georgia’s 15,000 acres of peaches are grown in middle Georgia. The area has received about 800 chill hours this winter, she said. Peach trees there need about 1,000 chill hours to produce a good crop.”It looks like we’ll get around 150 more chill hours over the next 10 days, based on the forecast,” Taylor said. “If that happens, we should get the hours we need for middle Georgia.”Chill hours aren’t counted after Feb. 15.The forecast is less certain for farmers in south Georgia, who grow about 8 percent of the state’s peaches. Most varieties there need 500 to 650 chill hours. Right now, the area could use about 100 more hours.There’s a good chance they’ll come over the next few weeks. “We should make it,” she said. “But by the skin of our teeth.”There’s another problem for south Georgia growers. The weather has been springlike, with daytime temperatures reaching well into the 70s in recent weeks.Some trees are starting to wake from their winter naps about three weeks ahead of normal. Buds are starting to swell and some are even flowering. This puts them at risk. Freezing temperatures can kill these fragile buds.But each year, farmers routinely thin the buds from each tree, which can hold 3,000 to 7,000 buds. Depending on the variety, they’ll leave only 250 to 700 fruits on a tree. This helps the tree direct its resources to growing good-tasting, well-sized peaches.Most farmers would prefer to thin the crop without Mother Nature’s help, she said.It’s hard to say how the harvest will turn out this year, she said. Georgia peach farmers worry each year as winter and spring play tug-of-war with their crop. A freeze in April or early May can damage a crop.”But at this point,” Taylor said, “we’re on track to have a pretty good crop.”Georgia’s peach harvest starts in late April and runs through September. Early-maturing varieties can yield about 7,000 pounds per acre. Later varieties can yield three times that, she said.A cool, damp spring hurt Georgia’s ’05 peach crop, which was about 40 million pounds, about 25 percent less than in ’04.Georgia’s peach crop is worth around $35 million annually.last_img read more

Jack Wilshere urges Unai Emery to sign Ryan Fraser for Arsenal

first_imgJack Wilshere urges Unai Emery to sign Ryan Fraser for Arsenal Advertisement Bournemouth are demanding £30m for Ryan Fraser (Getty Images)‘He’s probably the hardest working player I’ve ever worked with.‘He’s got an exceptional attitude. On the pitch he runs around all day – he’s the first one on the pitch in the morning and the last one off it.AdvertisementAdvertisement‘His physical attributes have really come on. He’s really improved that side of his game. He’s really come on.More: FootballRio Ferdinand urges Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to drop Manchester United starChelsea defender Fikayo Tomori reveals why he made U-turn over transfer deadline day moveMikel Arteta rates Thomas Partey’s chances of making his Arsenal debut vs Man City‘Technically he’s really come on. You can see that by all the chances he created last year.‘You can see that by the large number of assists he got last season. That’s credit to him and credit to Eddie [Howe]. Eddie put a lot of trust in him and it’s been rewarded.‘He’s nurtured him and he’s turned him into a top player – and if he goes to Arsenal I wish him all the luck in the world as he’s a great guy and a great player.’More: Arsenal FCArsenal flop Denis Suarez delivers verdict on Thomas Partey and Lucas Torreira movesThomas Partey debut? Ian Wright picks his Arsenal starting XI vs Manchester CityArsene Wenger explains why Mikel Arteta is ‘lucky’ to be managing Arsenal Jack Wilshere says Ryan Fraser would be a ‘great signing’ for Unai Emery (Getty)Jack Wilshere has urged Unai Emery to sign Ryan Fraser for Arsenal this summer.The Gunners are interested in a deal for the Scotland international but Bournemouth are holding out for a £30 million transfer fee.Wilshere played alongside Fraser during his loan spell at Bournemouth and the West Ham midfielder believes his former teammate would be an excellent acquisition for Arsenal.‘I think Ryan Fraser would be a great signing. I know him well,’ Wilshere told Football.London.ADVERTISEMENT 1 min. story Comment About Connatix V67539center_img Full Screen Video Settings Metro Sport ReporterWednesday 3 Jul 2019 4:02 pmShare this article via facebookShare this article via twitterShare this article via messengerShare this with Share this article via emailShare this article via flipboardCopy link410Shares PLAY Advertisementlast_img read more

Judge Hears Lawsuit over Florida’s Unemployment Website

first_img(Tallahassee, FL) — A lawsuit being heard today that could speed up payments of unemployment benefits in Florida.Florida has been the slowest state in the nation at processing coronavirus-related unemployment claims, and it’s lagged behind much smaller states in simply getting money into the hands of its citizens.The state is being sued for problems with the website people use to file unemployment claims. Less than half of those who have applied for benefits have gotten paid. A judge in Tallahassee will hear arguments, virtually, today. Lawyers representing the plaintiffs hope a judge will order the state to pay benefits immediately to everyone who has yet to receive anything. Gov. Ron DeSantis said he will ask his office of inspector general to investigate the contract with the company that built Florida’s broken unemployment website seven years ago.DeSantis said he wants the inspector general, an office that was created in 1994 to provide internal oversight of state agencies, to investigate how the state spent $77.9 million on the website, CONNECT, and how the contract was amended numerous times.“There’s a lot of money that went in to this,” DeSantis said. “I think everything needs to be looked at, 100%.”The announcement of an investigation into a past administration was a rare rebuke of his predecessor, U.S. Sen. Rick Scott. The two Republicans have become political rivals, and Scott was quick to cast an eye on DeSantis’ chief of staff, Shane Strum, on Monday.Strum was chief of staff for former Gov. Charlie Crist when Deloitte Consulting was awarded the multimillion-dollar contract a few months before Scott took office. Scott oversaw the development and rollout of the site, which launched in 2013.DeSantis has continued to blame Florida’s unemployment crisis on the seven-year-old CONNECT, calling it a “jalopy” in past press conferences.On Monday, DeSantis said the system was so bad that the system would have been overwhelmed even in a slight recession.“If we had anything other than 3 or 4 percent unemployment, this would have been a problem,” DeSantis said. “So that’s not a good use of taxpayer money.”last_img read more

Sport Minister, team visit Tiger Bay

first_imgAS a follow-up to the visit and commitment made by His Excellency, President Irfaan Ali, the Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport, Charles Ramson Jr MP, yesterday visited the community of Tiger Bay in Georgetown.Minister Ramson Jr was accompanied by National Security Adviser, Gerald Gouveia; president of Guyana Football Federation, Wayne Forde; president of Guyana Basketball Federation, Michael Singh; president of Georgetown Basketball Association, Jermaine Slater, and members of the private sector.During the visit, the team distributed footballs, basketballs, other sport gear and masks to aid in containing the spread of COVID-19 within the community.In addition, the Minister discussed with the community the possibility of clearing an area for sport to be played. The team also used the opportunity to engage with the community and listen to some of the major issues affecting them. (MCY&S)last_img read more

Zidane urges Spurs not to ruin Bale’s Madrid dream

first_imgZinedine Zidane has told Tottenham they should let Gareth Bale move to Real Madrid with reports on Tuesday night again suggesting they are prepared to break the world transfer record to land him.Zidane was speaking in Los Angeles where Real are preparing to face the LA Galaxy on Friday in the first game of their pre-season tour of the United States.The former France captain has this summer taken up the role of sporting director at his old club with his remit including a strong influence on Real’s transfer dealings.Zidane made his own big money move to the club from Juventus in 2001, and he was keen to stress that any chance to join Los Merengues should be grasped with both hands.It is not the first time the 41-year-old has spoken publicly about his admiration for Bale, with both he and Madrid president Florentino Perez patently using the media to force the agenda.Zidane said: “It is not unusual when a player knows that Real Madrid are interested in them that they get excited. There is nothing more prestigious for a player to wear the white of Real Madrid. “If he has expressed a desire to join Madrid then Tottenham should give him permission to speak with us. The chance to play for Real Madrid might only come around once in a player’s lifetime – and it is understandable that Gareth doesn’t want to miss out on it.“This is modern football,” added the 1998 Ballon D’or winner. “You have to pay to get the best players in Europe. Last season Gareth was on the same level as Ronaldo and Messi. The best players can have not so great games – but change a game with a moment of brilliance.“Those are the sort of players that win you Champions League’s and League titles. “He is already one of the finest players in Europe and he has everything needed to become the best player in the world.“It is a bit of a cliche – but it is true you become a better player playing with better players.”– Andy West: Perez’s Galactico ambition the driving force behind Real Madrid’s Bale pursuit Speculation of Real’s move has grown this week, culminating in unconfirmed reports they had made a €97million (Dh476m) offer for the reigning English player and young player of the year.Spurs had been extremely hopeful that their prized asset would sign a new contract, but Bale is now thought to be keen to speak to the La Liga runners-up about a move.Initial reports suggested Real were keen to use either Angel Di Maria or Fabio Coentrao as a makeweight in the transfer, but Spurs are understood to only be interested in a cash deal, and if Real have offered €97m then it would eclipse the world record €94m they paid Manchester United for Cristiano Ronaldo in 2009.President Perez is said to be confident he can pursuade Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy to part with his prized asset without having to reach the €100m-mark.In the past Perez has managed to sign Luis Figo from Barcelona and Ronaldo from Internazionale when the selling clubs were not exactly willing to lose the players. Real Madrid skipper Iker Casillas has played alongside all the modern greats of the Bernabeu and claims Bale can join that illustrious list. The Spanish keeper got a first-hand look at Bale’s abilities when the two teams met in the Champions League quarter-final two years ago and would be more than happy to welcome him to the club.“He is one of the three or four best players in Europe,” raved Casillas. “It is normal that he is being talked about because he plays very good football.”Casillas also claimed to be unconcerned by the world record fee that would be required for Madrid to secure their target, shrugging: “That’s what the market is like – every transfer can be debated for better or worse. We’ve talking about a very influential player.”last_img read more