Connect with us


A Disordered World – Part 1: Fracture

A Disordered World – Part 1: Fracture

Authored by Satyajit Das via,

Ordinary lives are lived out amidst global economic,…



A Disordered World – Part 1: Fracture

Authored by Satyajit Das via,

Ordinary lives are lived out amidst global economic, social and political forces that they have no control over. Today, multiple far-reaching pressures are reshaping that setting.

This three-part piece examines the re-arrangement. This part examines current great geopolitical divisions. The second and third part, will look at key vulnerabilities and possible trajectories respectively.

There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen“. The pithy phrase (the attribution to Lenin is contested) encapsulates periods when established orders are challenged and sometimes overturned, often violently. The question is whether this is one of those times.

Today, there is a sharp division between the ‘West’ – the US and its Anglosphere acolytes (Canada, Australia, New Zealand) supported unenthusiastically by Europe and Japan-  and the rest of the world. While a simplification, the categorisation is helpful in understanding key contemporary events and potential changes to the current global order.

Points of Difference

Positions on the Ukraine conflict highlight the schism. Support for Ukraine is primarily Western, representing around half of global GDP but less than 20 percent of world population.

Couched in platitudes about shared values and unity, Europe and Japan’s tepid support of the Anglosphere reflects competing priorities. Like the Anglosphere, they benefit from American military protection which lowers defence spending  allowing resources to be used more productively. Despite a 2006 commitment to defence spending of 2 percent of GDP, NATO members average only 1.6 percent, with Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain spending 1.3-1.5 percent. At the same time, geographic proximity to Russia and China as well as greater economic connections complicate allegiances.

Relationships between Germany, Japan and the West bear deep scars. The former has fought two world wars against its Western allies. The US and Britain reduced much of these countries to rubble. America deployed nuclear weapons against Japan with the ancillary objective of intimidating potential rivals. The rehabilitation of Germany and Japan served US post-World War 2 interests, creating bulwarks against the threat of communism. It reversed the original plan of reducing both to agrarian pasts unable to compete with America globally.

While urging a rapid end to hostilities, the majority of nations have been reluctant to condemn Russia’s actions, often professing neutrality. With an eye to its own regional territorial claims, China acknowledges Russian grievances. China and India along with most nations are sensitive about foreign intervention in their internal affairs. The West has highlighted recent public expressions of disquiet by Chinese and Indian leaders. However, there was no direct reference to or support of Ukraine. The comments mainly focused on the conflict’s impact on food, fuel and fertiliser supplies. Most nations prefer the benefits of maintaining relationships with all.

The conflict has unified the West against Russia and given NATO renewed focus. But Ukraine has also created a common cause for those with long standing grievances against the West. Countries such as Iran, a US branded member of the “axis of evil”, have sought to exploit the widening gulf between global factions. They have become suppliers of military equipment to Russia. This opportunistic co-operation exacerbates the global split.

The non-Western position reflects history. Associations are complicated by racially charged, exploitative colonial pasts, and experience of Western hypocrisy. There are legitimate questions about the support for Ukraine, especially the provision of generous financial and humanitarian aid, compared to that offered to forgotten victims of conflicts and disasters in the Middle East, Asia and Africa. The favoured treatment of white, Christian refugees has not gone unnoticed.

A Sea of Troubles

The avoidable Ukraine conflict, with its unnecessary destruction and human suffering, is best seen as a catalyst.

Unwillingness to recognise core interests of parties, increasingly entrenched positions, and lack of interest in negotiations means a spiral into a wider confrontation is not impossible.  With escalation difficult to calibrate, the evolution from a proxy into a real war between the US and Russia, which might draw in China, all nuclear-armed, remains possible.

The West’s expressed desire for engineering regime change within Russia is dangerous. Any new regime may not be more amenable to Western pressure. History, most recently the Arab Spring and Colour Revolutions, shows that a dangerous political void is more likely than liberalisation.

Whatever the length, dimensions and outcome, Ukraine has exposed already present major differences in the world. In particular, the West’s response -trade restrictions, sanctions and asset seizures- will outlive the military actions and prove more damaging.

The weaponization of trade and finance, modern gunboat diplomacy, has a long lineage. Sanctions and blockades were used in World War 1 and influenced Japan’s entry into World War 2. Western embargoes against communist bloc countries were common during the Cold War. Since 1979, the US has sought to isolate the Islamic Republic of Iran established by a popular revolution which overthrew the Shah, who had been installed by an American coup d’état. Measures against Russia commenced in 2014. The US has imposed progressively more stringent restrictions on China covering exports and sales of critical technologies since 2018.

In the short term, the measures have affected Covid19 disrupted supply chains, aggravating shortages and price inflation, especially in food, energy and raw materials. In the longer-term, the interaction with other stresses may prove significant.

The effects of climate change driven extreme weather – droughts, floods, storms, wildfires-  on food production and transportation links is accelerating. A triple dip La Niña alone threatens large scale disturbance with a potential global cost of $1 trillion (around 1 percent of global GDP). Resource scarcity – water, food, energy, raw materials- is simultaneously rising due to natural limits.

The decisions by major producers to increasingly stockpile or limit foreign sales to ensure domestic supply and control local costs are adding to disruptions to food production,. As of mid-2022, 34 countries had imposed restrictive export measures on food and fertilizers contributing to surging prices of key staples.

Energy shortages are not purely the result of sanctions on Russian oil and gas exports. Underinvestment, due to ESG compliant investors limiting funding for traditional energy sources, has affected supply. The necessary but over-hyped transition to renewables is a contributor. Proponents have overestimated its speed and underestimated the challenges of substituting existing generation capacity, reconfiguring electricity systems and converting industry and heavy transportation to non-fossil fuels. Shortages of critical metals and minerals, many non-recyclable, will retard conversion to new energy sources.

Given the world’s high energy needs, availability and cost will remain a major issue. Progress on controlling climate change, already inadequate, will reverse, perhaps fatally. Concern about emissions has been replaced by focus on energy security. A reversion to fossil fuels to lower prices and the cost of living is already apparent.

Slowing globalisation, which previously drove global growth, is another factor. Despite its benefits, greater economic integration has drawbacks. It reduces national sovereignty. Sharing of benefits and costs are frequently unequal. The 2011 Thai floods, the Tohoku earthquake, tsunami and resultant Fukashima nuclear plant disaster, and multiple episodes of extreme weather have illustrated the fragility of just-in-time production and tightly coupled global supply chains. The Ukraine conflict is the latest chapter in this history.

The 2008 Global Financial Crisis and Great Recession played its part. It exposed a key globalisation funding mechanic – large financial imbalances (China-US and intra-Europe). Germany and China needed the US, the world’s consumer of last resort, the Southern Eurozone and the Anglosphere to absorb their surplus production. The resulting large current account surpluses financed deficits in the consuming countries. 2008 underscored the risk of this strategy for savers – primarily Chinese, East Asian, German, Japanese and oil exporters. China’s Premier Wen Jiabao spoke for all when expressing concern about the safety and security of their capital.

The Western response to the financial crisis added to the disquiet and fed global division. The beggar-thy-neighbour monetary, fiscal and currency policies of advanced economies were destabilising for many countries.

China, Russia and India, to different degrees, saw the events of 2008 as signalling Western weakness and validation of their state controlled political and economic systems. It encouraged a distrust of the West and strengthened the belief that evolution into more open economies and societies was risky. Resistance to greater globalisation was the result.

While these pressures are likely to persist, complete deglobalisation and a retreat to autarky is unlikely in the short run. It is simply too difficult to replace intricate connections created over several decades overnight. More importantly, the effect on availability and cost of products would be great, reducing living standards. Instead, a dollop of decoupling is the most likely course. Increased re-, near- or friend-shoring of goods and services production is possible. Digital or e-globalisation may continue. But the retreat into distinct groupings or trading blocs – a us-and-them world- will be difficult to arrest.

Changes in the electoral dynamic are reinforcing the shift. Financial crises, economic stagnation, inflation, shortages, war and pestilence (the Covid19 pandemic) generate anxiety and fear. Politicians in all countries have exploited the instability.

Without tractable solutions, mainstream parties have largely lost their dominance. The appeal of strong, populist leaders has increased. Increasingly, the strategy is to put a reasonable face and emollient gloss over often unpalatable views in order to get elected.

Like traditional parties, the populists, both of the left and right, do not have answers to the major problems of the day. Instead they parade nationalist credentials and strong leadership. They target globalisation, elites (Davos Man), foreigners, immigration and overseas interference in domestic matters.

For democracies, the crisis is deepening. For existing authoritarian nations, it has strengthened latent instincts for centralised control, one party systems and repression.

The combination of these stresses have set up feedback loops which are now reshaping existing economic and power relationships.

Winners and Losers

All nations are affected by these changes, but not equally.

Functioning as an isolated entity or bloc requires a sizeable population, large internal market, self-sufficiency in key resources (food; water; energy; raw materials), necessary technologies and skills, and ability to ensure your security. The alternative is assured access to these elements from within your trading bloc or allies.

The sanctions imposed following the Ukraine conflict illustrate the dynamics. The limited effect, to date, of restrictions reflects the fact that Russia possesses many of the identified characteristics to operate as a near autarky. The absence of universal compliance also reduces the effectiveness of measures like sanctions.

Non-West countries, such as China and India, have an incentive to defy sanctions. They benefit financially from the ability to purchase oil and gas at significant discounts, sometime re-selling it raw or as refined products. Attempts at more complete enforcement, such as oil and gas price caps, may not be successful. It would require exclusion of all violators from global payments and insurance or imposition of secondary sanctions. But preventing access to insurance for shippers carrying Russian oil will disadvantage poorer countries but not large nations, like China and India, able to self-insure.

Jenga games of balancing cutting off Russian energy sales and ensuring adequate supplies to control prices was always going to be beyond the capabilities of economically-challenged bureaucrats and politicians.

China illustrates a different approach. It lacks self-sufficiency in food and raw materials, such as iron ore and energy.  Strategic overseas investments, the Brick and Roads Initiative and leasing farmland target these deficiencies. Interestingly, Russia can supply a significant part of the Middle Kingdom’s food, energy and mineral needs although this would require reconfiguration of infrastructure. This process is already observable in global energy markets with Russian output being redirected East while Gulf and Australian supplies going to the West.

Having been relatively isolated until the 1990s, countries like Russia, China and India are not fully integrated into the global market system. Legacy structures are capable of reverting to a more closed economy.

In recent years, these countries have increasingly redirected policies and investment towards their home markets, abandoning reflexive globalism. The objective is the greatest possible independence and control over strategic sectors and essential products. For example, China has developed and sought to force businesses and population to adopt its Beidou satellite navigation system instead of the US GPS satellite system and Europe’s Galileo. In parallel, it seeks to export technology to build networks of client economies and governments frequently incorporating them into aid packages, soft loans and commercial transactions.

The West is more reliant on global commerce, although individual positions differ.

The US is substantially self-sufficient in food and energy. However, it has outsourced large components of its manufacturing and would have to re-skill its workforce to re-shore activities. It also requires export markets for its products – around 40 percent of S&P 500 companies’ revenue originates outside the US.

Canada, the UK, Australia and New Zealand enjoy varying degrees of food and resource self-sufficiency. Canada, Australia and New Zealand are exporters of food or raw materials. The UK is a significant exporter of services. All depend on imports of manufactured goods, a significant proportion of which is from China.

Europe and Japan are oriented to manufacturing exports, with significant reliance like the Anglosphere on Chinese demand. Both are reliant on imported raw materials, especially energy. Japan has a growing reliance on imported foodstuffs, with its food self-sufficiency rate having fallen to around 38 percent of calories consumed from 73 percent in 1965 because of rising demand for foodstuffs it cannot supply, like meat.

The West’s major disadvantage is its high cost structures, which have been offset in recent decades by imported cheap labour and raw materials. Europe, especially Germany, has tied its economic fortunes to the availability of low-cost Russian gas. If forward prices prove correct, then Europe’s gas and electricity cost would reach nearly €2 trillion ($2 trillion or around 15 percent of GDP). The high operating leverage in the case of Germany equates to around $2 trillion of value added production from $20 billion of imported Russian gas.

Attitudinal differences are important. Asiatic patience and memory breed resilience. A fatalistic acceptance of life’s constraints and caution about progress makes the non-West more resistant to setbacks and reversals.

In his 1933 work In Praise of Shadows, Japanese writer Junichiro Tanazaki captured this divergence:  “We… tend to seek our satisfactions in whatever surroundings we happen to find ourselves, to content ourselves with things as they are; and so darkness causes us no discontent, we resign ourselves to it as inevitable. If light is scarce then light is scarce; we will immerse ourselves in the darkness and there discover its own particular beauty. But the progressive Westerner is determined always to better his lot. From candle to oil lamp, oil lamp to gaslight, gaslight to electric light – his quest for a brighter light never ceases, he spares no pains to eradicate even the minutest shadow.”

Changes in the existing global economic structure threaten Western living standards. The disruption of global trade and mobility during the Covid19 Pandemic and resulting shortages provided a window into these susceptibilities.

Mutual Misunderstandings

The fracture reflects fundamental differences in belief and values. Western thinkers, as varied as Montesquieu, Adam Smith, Voltaire, Spinoza and John Stuart Mill, were wedded to the idea that trading between nations could overcome tribalism, national identity and ideology reducing the risk of conflict. There was also an implicit confidence about the dominance of the West.

Late twentieth century globalisation, with its espousal of free trade and capital movement, was indivisible from this political end and propagation of certain values. Integrating previous antagonists like China, Russia, India and others into global trading arrangements would bring about political change helping strengthen the West’s position. The end of history would produce the suzerainty of a carefully crafted internationalist economic system which favoured the West.  Under chancellors from Willy Brandt to Angela Merkel, Germany exemplified this policy of “change through trade” which created the now troublesome energy dependence on Russia.

But Chinese, Russian and Indian engagement with this Western agenda was always superficial. China was effectively bankrupt when Deng Xiaoping assumed power in the late 1970s. India and Russia faced penury in the early 1990s. Embrace of globalisation was driven by necessity not conversion to Western values or economic tenets.

Liberalisation, allowing greater private ownership and a modicum of free enterprise, was designed to boost living standards to placate a restive population. There was never any great desire for fully opening up and wholesale reform of the economic or political system. At best, it was marginal changes to the basic planned economy model. The central idea of an insulated system capable of existing in isolation from the West was never abandoned.

President Xi has repeatedly emphasised the Chinese Communist Party’s traditional leadership in government, military, economic, civilian and academic matters. He has preached self-reliance and rejected competitive democracy, the rule of law and the separation of powers as foreign ideas. Far from being reformers, President Xi, President Putin and Prime Minister Modi see themselves as restorers of their country’s proper place in the world.

As their economies grew stronger, the necessity for real change became even less paramount. The political threat, especially for China and Russia, was exemplified by Western orchestration of and support for regime change, such as the Arab spring and colour revolutions. It encouraged disengagement and reversion to centralised control.

In 1910, in The Great Illusion, Normal Angell famously argued that war was impossible because of economic interconnections. World War 1 undid those illusions. Today, the Ukraine conflict and related stressors are, in a similar way, challenging established geo-political and economic arrangements.

*  *  *

Satyajit Das is a former banker and author of numerous works on derivatives and several general titles: Traders, Guns & Money: Knowns and Unknowns in the Dazzling World of Derivatives  (2006 and 2010), Extreme Money: The Masters of the Universe and the Cult of Risk (2011), A Banquet of Consequences RELOADED (2021) and Fortune’s Fool: Australia’s Choices (2022). 

Tyler Durden Thu, 10/27/2022 - 18:00

Read More

Continue Reading


This course asks, ‘What is mindfulness?’ – but don’t expect a clear-cut answer

Mindfulness is everywhere in pop culture today, but that doesn’t mean people agree on what it means.




Practicing mindfulness doesn't have to mean being removed from the world. PeopleImages/iStock via Getty Images Plus
Text saying: Uncommon Courses, from The Conversation

Uncommon Courses is an occasional series from The Conversation U.S. highlighting unconventional approaches to teaching.

Title of course:

“What is Mindfulness?”

What prompted the idea for the course?

As a professor of religion and ethics, particularly Asian traditions, I had already been interested in teaching a course about mindfulness. Its popularity seems to be surging: I see “Mindful” on magazine racks, and almost everyone I’ve met at my university has used the word at some point.

But oftentimes people say to be “mindful” when they mean “pay attention” or “don’t forget”: being “mindful” of a slippery road, say, or telling students to be “mindful of the deadline.” I started wondering what other people meant each time they used the word. This made me realize my course shouldn’t be a lecture about mindfulness, but an opportunity to explore what it is in the first place.

What does the course explore?

The course explores the origins of mindfulness in yoga and Buddhism. Mindful meditation – being attentive to one’s body, feelings and thoughts – is part of one of the Buddha’s central teachings, the Noble Eightfold Path, and considered key to enlightenment.

But we explore the many meanings of “mindfulness” that have emerged in recent decades, too. American professor Jon Kabat-Zinn is credited with popularizing the kind of mindfulness that has caught on with non-Buddhists today, starting with his “mindfulness-based stress reduction” program in the 1970s.

Some people are upset that mindfulness has become too mainstream and fear that it has lost its intended meaning. Buddhism scholar Ronald Purser’s book “McMindfulness,” for example, argues that capitalist societies have embraced mindfulness as a way to put the burden of mental health back on the individual rather than address root problems.

Students in my class read a variety of these perspectives and discuss themes such as mindfulness and mental health, mindful eating and breathing, environmental mindfulness and even meditation apps. In the end, I want each student to decide for themselves what mindfulness is.

A woman in exercise clothes does a yoga pose inside a dark cathedral with stained glass windows.
Mia Michelson-Bartlett, yoga teacher and manager of visitors’ services, practices yoga and mindfulness meditation inside the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City. Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images

Why is this course relevant now?

I first proposed this course right before the arrival of COVID-19, so when it launched for the first time, we met remotely over Zoom. I was tempted to drop the class after we went remote, but I quickly realized that it might help students who were wrestling with mental health issues at the beginning of the pandemic.

Each student kept a journal of our topics every week to practice mindfulness and to explore some of the therapeutic techniques. First, I asked them to find examples of the word in their everyday experiences – used on a poster at the student rec center, for example.

Later, I asked them to practice breathing and visualization techniques from the influential Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh, such as asking yourself every hour “What am I doing?” and reflecting on your mind, emotions and posture.

What’s a critical lesson from the course?

Buddhism changes dramatically depending on “whose” Buddhism you are talking about. The dalai lama’s form of Tibetan Buddhism, for example, is not the same as the Zen Buddhism of Thich Nhat Hanh.

A row of monks stand next to a small crowd of schoolchildren in uniform as one monk takes a child's hand.
Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh reaches for a student’s hand during a meditation walk on a ‘day of mindfulness’ in Hong Kong in 2007. Steve Cray/South China Morning Post via Getty Images

It’s the same with mindfulness. Thirteenth-century Zen master Dōgen taught pupils to seek mindfulness in seated meditation. Five hundred years later, on the other hand, Zen master Hakuin taught mindfulness in the midst of activity – practicing it not just on the meditation pillow, but amid the hustle and bustle of the streets.

All forms of Buddhism, though, focus on transforming suffering into lovingkindness. So teaching this course has persuaded me that if the way you teach mindfulness helps someone, it doesn’t matter if it’s “real” Buddhist mindfulness or not. If pop culture’s version of the concept relieves someone’s suffering, then I don’t want to be a gatekeeper and say, “This is not real mindfulness.”

What will the course prepare students to do?

All of the students in this course are first-semester freshmen. The class began as a way to get them to think critically about what mindfulness is but also offers tools to deal with the stress of college life.

Muscles grow after they heal and rest. The same is true when it comes to learning. Our minds need to take time to breathe, reflect on new information and absorb it.

I also hope students will understand that taking care of oneself can be an act of care for others. Just as on an airplane we are told to put on our own oxygen mask before helping the person next to us, we all need to take care of our own mental health in order to help those around us.

Kevin C. Taylor does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

Read More

Continue Reading

Spread & Containment

Post-bariatric surgery exercise modulates brain regions associated with regulation of food intake

Physical exercise practiced by patients submitted to bariatric surgery acts on brain regions involved in food intake, reducing hunger or accelerating satiety,…



Physical exercise practiced by patients submitted to bariatric surgery acts on brain regions involved in food intake, reducing hunger or accelerating satiety, for example. This was the result observed in a clinical trial conducted at Hospital das Clínicas (HC), the hospital complex run by the University of São Paulo’s Medical School (FM-USP) in Brazil. An article on the study, pointing to positive effects of exercise on obesity-related conditions in post-bariatric patients, is published in the International Journal of Obesity.

Credit: Carlos Merege Filho

Physical exercise practiced by patients submitted to bariatric surgery acts on brain regions involved in food intake, reducing hunger or accelerating satiety, for example. This was the result observed in a clinical trial conducted at Hospital das Clínicas (HC), the hospital complex run by the University of São Paulo’s Medical School (FM-USP) in Brazil. An article on the study, pointing to positive effects of exercise on obesity-related conditions in post-bariatric patients, is published in the International Journal of Obesity.

The study showed that an exercise training program starting three months after bariatric surgery produced functional alterations in brain networks associated with food intake and modified by obesity. The findings confirm the hypothesis that exercise and bariatric surgery act synergistically on the connectivity among brain regions associated with cognition, reward and emotional regulation, potentially moderating hunger and enhancing satiety.

According to the article, exercise increased the connectivity between the hypothalamus (the brain region that controls homeostasis, including regulation of appetite and energy expenditure) and the brain’s sensory areas. At the same time, it apparently decreased the link between the default mode network, which is more active during a resting state, and the salience network, the brain region involved in decision-making.

The researchers also found that exercise after bariatric surgery appeared to modulate the medial hypothalamic nucleus involved in appetite suppression and increased energy expenditure.

“The regulation of energy expenditure is governed by multiple internal and external signals. People with obesity display major dysregulation of brain regions associated with appetite and satiety. Our study showed that exercise by post-bariatric patients helped ‘normalize’ these complex networks so as to improve the central control of food intake. For example, some of these regions are activated and connect more intensely in people with obesity when they eat fatty or sugary food, increasing their desire to consume such food. We found that exercise counteracts this effect, at least in part,” Bruno Gualano, last author of the article, told Agência FAPESP. Gualano is a professor at FM-USP.

The study was supported by FAPESP via a research grant for the project “Effects of exercise training in patients undergoing bariatric surgery: a randomized clinical trial” and was part of the PhD research of Carlos Merege Filho, first author of the article, with a scholarship from FAPESP. The co-authors included Hamilton RoschelMarco Aurélio SantoSônia BruckiClaudia da Costa LeiteMaria Concepción García Otaduy and Mariana Nucci (all of whom are affiliated with HC-FM-USP); and John Kirwan of Pennington Biomedical Center (USA).

Considered one of the world’s main public health problems, obesity is a chronic disease characterized by excessive body fat accumulation and a major risk factor for cardiovascular and musculoskeletal disorders, as well as severe COVID-19. The parameter used for diagnosis in adults is body mass index (BMI), defined as weight in kilograms divided by height squared in meters. A BMI between 25 and 29.9 indicates overweight, while 30 or more signals obesity, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Brazil has one of the highest rates of overweight and obesity in the world. According to projections, almost 30% of the adult population will be obese in 2030. A billion people, or 17.5% of the world’s adult population, will be obese by then, according to the World Obesity Atlas 2022 published by the World Obesity Federation.


From the clinical standpoint, Gualano believes, the findings suggest that exercise should be considered an important complementary therapy to improve brain functions and enhance the known benefits of bariatric surgery, such as a reduction in cardiometabolic risk factors, as well as preservation of muscle mass and bone health.

He and his group have been conducting research in this field since 2018, as evidenced by other publications, one of which showed that exercise attenuated and reversed loss of muscle mass, improving muscle strength and function in post-bariatric patients. Genotypic and phenotypic analysis evidenced metabolic and structural remodeling of skeletal muscle.

In another study, exercise reduced risk factors for diseases associated with obesity, such as diabetes, high blood pressure and atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), by increasing sensitivity to insulin, combating inflammation and improving the health of blood vessels.


The randomized clinical trial reported in the International Journal of Obesity involved 30 women aged between 18 and 60 who had been submitted at HC-FM-USP’s bariatric surgery unit to a Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, which creates a small stomach pouch to restrict food intake and bypasses a large portion of the small intestine to limit calorie absorption. A majority of patients admitted to the unit are women. 

Half the study sample were randomly assigned to a six-month exercise program of resistance and aerobic training three times a week, starting three months after the operation and supervised by a team of physical education professionals.

Clinical, laboratory and brain functional connectivity parameters were assessed at the start of the trial, as a baseline, and again three and nine months after the operation. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) was used to detect connectivity between anatomically distinct brain areas organized as networks, and to analyze the combined effects of the surgical procedure and exercise training. Data collection began in June 2018 and ended in August 2021.

“The literature has already shown that post-bariatric patients have many brain alterations compatible with improved control of appetite, satiety and hunger in neural circuits that govern food intake. Our study found that exercise training bolstered this response,” Gualano said, noting the importance of lifestyle changes to maintain the benefits of weight loss for people with obesity.

Bariatric surgery can currently be performed on patients with a BMI of between 30 and 35 and type 2 diabetes that has not been controlled for more than two years, and patients with a BMI over 35 who have other diseases associated with overweight, such as high blood pressure, sleep apnea or hepatic steatosis (fatty liver disease). For people with comorbidities, the recommended BMI is over 40.

In the past five years, 311,850 bariatric surgeries have been performed in Brazil; 14.1% were paid for by the SUS (Sistema Único de Saúde), the national health service. The rest were covered by insurance policies or paid for privately, according to the Brazilian Bariatric and Metabolic Surgery Society (SBCBM).

“Regular exercise is known to induce several physiological adaptations that translate into health benefits. These benefits are reversed if the patient stops exercising regularly. Our study didn’t measure the duration of the brain changes induced by exercise, however. They’re highly likely to diminish and possibly even go into reverse as the amount and intensity of exercise decrease. It’s crucial to adopt a healthy lifestyle in order for the responses to bariatric surgery to be long-lasting,” Gualano said.

Next steps for the research group will include studying the effects in people with obesity of exercise and diet combined with other weight loss strategies, including new drugs such as peptide analogs or incretin mimetics, a class of medications commonly used to treat type 2 diabetes. Incretins are gut hormones that aid digestion and blood sugar control by signaling to the brain to stop eating after a meal.

In early January, the National Health Surveillance Agency (ANVISA) approved semaglutide as an anti-obesity drug for long-term weight management. The drug had previously been approved only for patients with type 2 diabetes. It is the first injectable anti-obesity medication available in Brazil and is supposed to be administered once a week. It is said to enhance satiety, modulate appetite and control blood sugar. 

About São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP)

The São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP) is a public institution with the mission of supporting scientific research in all fields of knowledge by awarding scholarships, fellowships and grants to investigators linked with higher education and research institutions in the State of São Paulo, Brazil. FAPESP is aware that the very best research can only be done by working with the best researchers internationally. Therefore, it has established partnerships with funding agencies, higher education, private companies, and research organizations in other countries known for the quality of their research and has been encouraging scientists funded by its grants to further develop their international collaboration. You can learn more about FAPESP at and visit FAPESP news agency at to keep updated with the latest scientific breakthroughs FAPESP helps achieve through its many programs, awards and research centers. You may also subscribe to FAPESP news agency at

Read More

Continue Reading


The CeMM & Angelini Ventures Healthy Lifespan Expansion Initiative

CeMM and Angelini Ventures are joining forces to support CeMM Principal Investigators Laura de Rooij and André Rendeiro in critical lifespan expansion…



CeMM and Angelini Ventures are joining forces to support CeMM Principal Investigators Laura de Rooij and André Rendeiro in critical lifespan expansion initiatives leveraging a novel academic/entrepreneurial dual-track program. De Rooij and Rendeiro, in collaboration with their teams, will lead an original research program on healthy lifespan expansion.  In parallel, they will collaborate on venture creation based on scientific and business insights developed by their work. Venture creation and related business development activities will take place along with scientific research.  The expectation is that this double-track initiative will allow for virtuous feedback cycles, propelling innovation through scientific research and bold venture creation goals.

Credit: CeMM

CeMM and Angelini Ventures are joining forces to support CeMM Principal Investigators Laura de Rooij and André Rendeiro in critical lifespan expansion initiatives leveraging a novel academic/entrepreneurial dual-track program. De Rooij and Rendeiro, in collaboration with their teams, will lead an original research program on healthy lifespan expansion.  In parallel, they will collaborate on venture creation based on scientific and business insights developed by their work. Venture creation and related business development activities will take place along with scientific research.  The expectation is that this double-track initiative will allow for virtuous feedback cycles, propelling innovation through scientific research and bold venture creation goals.

(Vienna, 22 March 2023) Some societal challenges are of such importance to assume the central stage in the public discourse on sustainability and the future of humanity. Such a challenge is aging. Aging is a multidimensional phenomenon, occurring at the individual and population levels of society and on the molecular, cellular, and organ level of the human body. The urgency of dealing with the consequences of aging is illustrated by the fact that in just over ten years from now, more than a third of the population of Italy, one of the world’s most rapidly aging countries, will be over 65 years of age. Expanding the lifespan in which individuals enjoy a healthy status, in which they can be independent and productive, is critical for economic, social, and cultural reasons.

The fundamental mechanisms of aging, at the molecular, cellular, and tissue level, are still unclear and most single theories fail to explain the phenomenon. Scientific leaders are increasingly interested in combining cutting-edge research with immediate value creation and effective societal impact. Laura de Rooij and André Rendeiro will be supported by a network of mentors and experts. At CeMM, the Research Center for Molecular Medicine of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, the team will benefit from access to faculty peers, the center’s scientific leadership, a scientific advisory board, and the biotech ventures built in CeMM’s ecosystem of spinoffs. Through Angelini Ventures, the team will be supported to ideate and develop viable start-up companies emerging from their work and have access to an international network of investors, healthcare experts, and industry innovators.


“The Angelini Ventures team is delighted to partner with CeMM to collaborate on accelerating lifespan expansion research and venture creation. We believe this type of collaboration is the connective tissue between innovation and entrepreneurship. By combining our venture creation capabilities with the breakthrough research from CEMM, we can accelerate the pace of healthcare transformation,” says Paolo Di Giorgio, Chief Executive Officer of Angelini Ventures.

“CeMM is proud to pioneer a new training, research, and innovation method meant to foster a novel generation of professionals familiar with both the research and business worlds. In addition to expecting commercial success, the desired outcome is to create leaders able to inspire a new generation of scientists. Our goal is for the dual track of scientific research and business development to expand beyond the CeMM-Angelini network,” says CeMM Scientific Director Giulio Superti-Furga.


About the Principal Investigators

Laura de Rooij joined CeMM as principal investigator in September 2022. Her lab focuses on deciphering the transcriptomic landscape and role of circulating endothelial cells in health and aging. Laura de Rooij studied Biomedical Sciences at the University of Amsterdam (The Netherlands). She then joined the Stem Cell and Cancer Research Institute at McMaster University in Hamilton (Canada), where she studied the role of RNA binding proteins in leukemic stem cells via an in vivo two-step CRISPR-Cas9-mediated screening approach. For her post-doctoral studies, she returned to Europe to work under the mentorship of Prof. Carmeliet in the lab of Angiogenesis and Vascular Metabolism at VIB-KU Leuven (Belgium). Here she led and contributed to numerous single-cell transcriptome atlases of endothelial cells, generated from a diverse range of tissues, preclinical models, and clinical patient material in health and disease. Her studies have shed new light on the degree of vessel subtype heterogeneity in different tissues, as well as the altered composition and rewired molecular circuitries of endothelial cell subtypes in disease. Moreover, her efforts led to the discovery of previously unknown vascular subtypes and functions, including endothelial cells with a lipid-processing phenotype and potential prognostic relevance in breast cancer, and endothelial cells with a putative pro-fibrotic function in COVID-19. At CeMM, her lab focuses on deciphering the transcriptomic landscape and role of circulating endothelial cells in health and aging.
Read more about Laura de Rooij’s research

André Rendeiro is a Principal Investigator at CeMM since June 2022. He leads a group studying how cells interact to generate complex physiology in the human body, and how this changes over the lifespan of individuals and gives rise to disease. To do that, his group develops computational methods for the analysis of spatial data (spatial transcriptomics, highly multiplexed imaging, histopathological images), and its integration with various modalities of molecular, demographic, and clinical data of individuals along their lifespan. Prior to starting his group, André studied in Portugal, Austria, and Norway and earned his PhD in Molecular Medicine at CeMM in Vienna. During his PhD he developed methods for high-throughput cellular profiling and perturbation at single-cell resolution, applying them to leukemia, in the lab of Christoph Bock at CeMM. Between 2020 and 2022 he was a Postdoctoral Associate at the Institute for Precision Medicine and the Institute for Computational Biomedicine at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York. There he developed computational methods for the analysis of highly-multiplexed imaging that incorporate expression, morphology, micro-anatomy, and clinical covariates, in the lab of Olivier Elemento. He led the first tissue-level, single-cell resolution maps of lung pathology during COVID-19, and also contributed to the study of cancer, lung development, and disease, as well as COVID-19 immunology.
Read more about André Rendeiro’s research

The CeMM Research Center for Molecular Medicine of the Austrian Academy of Sciences is an international, independent, and interdisciplinary research institution for molecular medicine under the scientific direction of Giulio Superti-Furga. CeMM is oriented toward medical needs and integrates basic research and clinical expertise to develop innovative diagnostic and therapeutic approaches for precision medicine. Research focuses on cancer, inflammation, metabolic and immune disorders, and rare diseases. The Institute’s research building is located on the campus of the Medical University and the Vienna General Hospital.

Angelini Ventures, the venture capital arm of Angelini Industries, is an early-stage investment firm focused on accelerating disruptive innovations and trends in digital health and life sciences. The group will invest €300M across a global portfolio led by investment professionals and advisors in Europe, North America, and Asia. Angelini Ventures has deep domain expertise and leverages a global team, advisors, and strategic partners to help entrepreneurs scale their businesses into transformative category-leading companies.

Angelini Industries is a multinational industrial group originally founded in Ancona (Italy) in 1919 by Francesco Angelini. Today it is a solid, structured industrial business with around 5,800 employees operating in 21 countries.  Angelini Industries operates in the health, industrial technology, and consumer goods businesses. Its investment strategy aimed at growth, constant commitment to research and development, and deep knowledge of markets and business sectors make Angelini Industries an Italian leader in the industries in which it operates.  The group is committed to reducing its environmental impact and finding increasingly cutting-edge circular economy solutions. It adopts the most advanced health and safety standards for workers and the most rigorous processes to ensure the highest quality by verifying the entire supply chain: from supplier certification to the control of raw materials, the production process, the finished product, and packaging, to spot checks at the point of sale.  For over 100 years, the Angelini family has steered the development of Angelini Industries with an entrepreneurial style typical of Italian family businesses.

Read More

Continue Reading