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Proving immersion matters: UVA pioneers engineering-to-medicine faculty fellowships

Proving immersion matters: UVA pioneers engineering-to-medicine faculty fellowships

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The UVA Center for Engineering in Medicine pairs engineers with clinicians to transform health care research

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Credit: Photo credits: UVA Communications

The University of Virginia’s Center for Engineering in Medicine now supports faculty fellowships that embed engineering faculty members within the UVA School of Medicine.

Sustained, firsthand observation of the clinical environment and regular conversations with clinical colleagues spark ideas for new ways to merge engineering, technology and medicine and solve complex health care challenges. Engineers and clinicians make progress in ways that would not be possible if they were not working in an immersive collaboration; researchers can also move ideas from concept to clinical translation more quickly, all of which is great news for patients.

“Faculty Fellowships are a unique opportunity to allow individual faculty to take a deep dive into a field they are not familiar with,” said Dr. Mark Sochor, associate director of the UVA Center for Engineering in Medicine and the vice-chair for research at the UVA Department of Emergency Medicine. “This cross-pollination of engineers and clinicians allows communication and idea generation that would not normally come about with a chance encounter. This is the water cooler conversation on steroids.”

Embedding faculty is part of the center’s $10 million effort to promote innovation and the exchange of ideas at the nexus of engineering and medicine. The center’s faculty fellowships come with a small amount of funding that allows faculty to separate from their busy academic schedules and engage in an intensive research experience.

“When accomplished researchers who already have core areas of expertise are able to join forces to solve a problem, the reservoir of experience and information they can tap into is huge,” Sochor said. “Faculty embedding creates a research-ideas portfolio that leads to a long-term relationship between the engineering and medical teams and bears fruit for years to come.”

One of the first to take advantage of the embedded fellowship was electrical engineer Scott Acton, who began applying biomedical imaging analysis to research on devastating neuro-immune disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease with neuroscientist Jonathan Kipnis.

The newest cohort of embedded faculty, whose research is poised to help millions of U.S. patients, includes:

  • Matthew B. Panzer, the deputy director of the Center for Applied Biomechanics, an associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering and a member of the UVA Brain Injury and Sports Concussion Center, who researches the biomechanics of concussion, an injury that occurs over 3 million times in the United States each year. He is also studying how the cumulative effects of sub-concussive head impacts may lead to long-term neurodegeneration, a condition that may explain some of the cognitive deficits observed in retired professional football players. For his faculty fellowship, Panzer is shadowing clinicians at the UVA Acute Concussion Evaluation Clinic, including neuropsychologist and co-director Dr. Donna Broshek, to gain a clinical perspective on how the forces from motor vehicle collisions affect symptom presentation in brain injury patients. Through this faculty fellowship, he is developing an end-to-end model for studying traumatic brain injury by forging links between his own area of expertise — injury prevention and impact biomechanics — with neuroradiology and neuropsychology, fields that are traditionally unconnected to biomechanics. By using this comprehensive, multidisciplinary approach, Panzer and UVA collaborators hope to gain deeper insight into traumatic brain injury and its effects, with the aim of helping clinicians improve patients’ treatment.
  • Anil Vullikanti, a professor of computer science and a member of the UVA Biocomplexity Institute, is researching C. diff., a hospital-acquired infectious bacterium that can harm patients’ treatment and recovery. C. diff. affects over half a million people in the United States each year. For this fellowship, Vullikanti is creating a way to combine multiple specialties in medicine with different tools from artificial intelligence, machine learning and statistics to detect C. diff spread and design interventions for minimizing outbreaks. Vullikanti is collaborating with Dr. Costi Sifri, the director of hospital epidemiology at UVA, and Dr. William Petri, vice-chair for research in the Department of Medicine and a professor of infectious diseases and international health. The team’s research has already been recognized by the UVA Global Infectious Disease Institute, which awarded them a grant to expand their research using this method and design solutions that go beyond traditional disease control methods. In addition, Vullikanti is using the same approach to develop proposals for studying other hospital-acquired infections and even address opioid addiction related to hospital anesthesiology. Vullikanti also applies this same expertise in his new role as the scientific coordinator on a $10M National Science Foundation grant that aims to thwart future pandemics.
  • Tom Fletcher, an associate professor with joint appointments in the departments of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Computer Science, is working with Dr. Jeffrey Elias, director of stereotactic and sunctional neurosurgery at UVA, to help tremor patients. Fletcher is using diffusion MRI imaging and data analysis techniques to help understand the causes of tremors and to create a better means for pre-operative planning and postoperative evaluation of tremor patients. Tremor disorders affect over 10 million people annually in the United States. Fletcher has already teamed with radiologists and technicians to recalibrate the MRI machine settings so the diffusion images are optimized to collect better data for planning and evaluation. In addition, when enough data is collected, he will have developed a type of brain map that could help customize care to patient groups who have similar brain imaging patterns. Fletcher envisions that future applications may go beyond pre- and post-op uses and provide real-time data for decision-making during surgery.

“I’m still experiencing the impact of my faculty fellowship,” said Acton, the center’s first faculty fellow. “After we launched our first projects, we continued to collaborate and map the human brain and its immune system. We’ve published several papers, including two high-impact papers — in Nature and the Journal of Experimental Medicine — which currently have over 300 combined citations.

“I also believe my embedding and close cross-disciplinary collaborations with the med school gave me the experience I needed to become a National Science Foundation Program Director for Smart and Connected Health. In this role, I’m managing research that deals with viruses, including COVID-19 and how to prevent future pandemics. So, in addition to contributing to ground-breaking scientific discoveries with Kipnis, now I’m able to be on the frontlines helping to solve an urgent large-scale public health problem. I believe that advances in computing, coupled with breakthroughs in biology, are keys to avoiding future global health crises.”

Media Contact
Wende K Whitman
wende@virginia.edu

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https://engineering.virginia.edu/news/2020/07/proving-immersion-matters-uva-pioneers-engineering-medicine-faculty-fellowships

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$265 Billion In Added Value To Evaporate From Germany Economy Amid Energy Crisis, Study Warns

$265 Billion In Added Value To Evaporate From Germany Economy Amid Energy Crisis, Study Warns

A new report published by the Employment Research…

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$265 Billion In Added Value To Evaporate From Germany Economy Amid Energy Crisis, Study Warns

A new report published by the Employment Research (IAB) on Tuesday outlines how Germany's economy will lose a whopping 260 billion euros ($265 billion) in added value by the end of the decade due to high energy prices sparked by Russia's invasion of Ukraine which will have severe ramifications on the labor market, according to Reuters

IAB said Germany's price-adjusted GDP could be 1.7% lower in 2023, with approximately 240,000 job losses, adding labor market turmoil could last through 2026. It expects the labor market will begin rehealing by 2030 with 60,000 job additions.

The report pointed out the hospitality industry will be one of the biggest losers in the coming downturn that the coronavirus pandemic has already hit. Consumers who have seen their purchasing power collapse due to negative real wage growth as the highest inflation in decades runs rampant through the economy will reduce spending. 

IAB said energy-intensive industries, such as chemical and metal industries, will be significantly affected by soaring power prices. 

In one scenario, IAB said if energy prices, already up 160%, were to double again, Germany's economic output would crater by nearly 4% than it would have without energy supply disruptions from Russia. Under this assumption, 660,000 fewer people would be employed after three years and still 60,000 fewer in 2030. 

This week alone, German power prices hit record highs as a heat wave increased demand, putting pressure on energy supplies ahead of winter. 

Rising power costs are putting German households in economic misery as economic sentiment across the euro-area economy tumbled to a new record low. What happens in Germany tends to spread to the rest of the EU. 

There are concerns that a sharp weakening of growth in Germany could trigger stagflation as German inflation unexpectedly re-accelerated in July, with EU-Harmonized CPI rising 8.5% YoY. 

Germany is facing an unprecedented energy crisis as Russian natural gas cuts via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline will reverse the prosperity many have been accustomed to as the largest economy in Europe. 

"We are facing the biggest crisis the country has ever had. We have to be honest and say: First of all, we will lose the prosperity that we have had for years," Rainer Dulger, head of the Confederation of German Employers' Associations, warned last month. 

Besides Dulger, Economy Minister Robert Habeck warned of a "catastrophic winter" ahead over Russian NatGas cut fears.

Other officials and experts forecast bankruptcies, inflation, and energy rationing this winter that could unleash a tsunami of shockwaves across the German economy.  

Yasmin Fahimi, the head of the German Federation of Trade Unions, warned last month:

"Because of the NatGas bottlenecks, entire industries are in danger of permanently collapsing: aluminum, glass, the chemical industry." 

IAB's report appears to be on point as the German economy seems to be diving head first into an economic crisis. Much of this could've been prevented, but Europe and the US have been so adamant about slapping Russia with sanctions that have embarrassingly backfired. 

Tyler Durden Wed, 08/10/2022 - 04:15

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International

“Anything But A Cashless Society”: Physical Money Makes Comeback As UK Households Battle Inflation

"Anything But A Cashless Society": Physical Money Makes Comeback As UK Households Battle Inflation

The World Economic Forum (WEF) has been…

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"Anything But A Cashless Society": Physical Money Makes Comeback As UK Households Battle Inflation

The World Economic Forum (WEF) has been pushing hard for a 'cashless society' in a post-pandemic world, though physical money has made a comeback in at least one European country as consumers increasingly use notes and coins to help them balance household budgets amid an inflationary storm

Britain's Post Office released a report Monday that revealed even though the recent accelerated use of cards and digital payments on smartphones, demand for cash surged this summer, according to The Guardian. It said branches handled £801mln in personal cash withdrawals in July, an increase of 8% over June. The yearly change on last month's figures was up 20% versus the July 2021 figure of £665mln.

Across the Post Office's 11,500 branches, £3.31bln in cash was deposited and withdrawn in July -- a record high for any month dating back over three centuries of operations. 

The report pointed out that increasing physical cash demand was primarily due to more people managing their budgets via notes and coins on a "day-by-day basis." It said some withdrawals were from vacationers needing cash for "staycations" in the UK. About 600,000 cash payouts totaling £90mln were from people who received power bill support from the government, the Post Office noted. 

Britain is "anything but a cashless society," according to the Post Office's banking director Martin Kearsley.

"We're seeing more and more people increasingly reliant on cash as the tried and tested way to manage a budget. Whether that's for a staycation in the UK or if it's to help prepare for financial pressures expected in the autumn, cash access in every community is critical," Kearsley said.

We noted in February 2021, UK's largest ATM network saw plummeting demand as consumers reduced cash usage. At the time, we asked this question: "How long will the desire for good old-fashioned bank notes last?

... and the answer is not long per the Post Office's new report as The Guardian explains: "inflation going up and many bills expected to rise further – has led a growing numbers of people to turn once again to cash to help them plan their spending." 

So much for WEF, central banks, and major corporations pushing for cashless societies worldwide, more importantly, trying to usher in a hyper-centralized CBDC dystopia. With physical cash back in style in the UK, the move towards a cashless society could be a much more challenging task for elites than previously thought. 

Tyler Durden Wed, 08/10/2022 - 02:45

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International

Something Just Doesn’t Add Up In Chinese Trade Data

Something Just Doesn’t Add Up In Chinese Trade Data

By Ye Xie, Bloomberg markets live commentator and reporter

An unusual discrepancy has…

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Something Just Doesn’t Add Up In Chinese Trade Data

By Ye Xie, Bloomberg markets live commentator and reporter

An unusual discrepancy has showed up in two sets of trade data in China. Depending on which official sources you use, China’s trade surplus, could either be overstated or under-reported by a staggering $166 billion over the past year.

China watchers cannot fully explain the mystery. It’s as if Chinese residents bought a lot of stuff overseas, and instead of shipping the items home, they were kept abroad for some reason.  

China’s exports have been surprisingly resilient, despite a slowing global economy and Covid disruptions. On Monday, General Administration of Customs data showed China’s exports increased 18% in July from a year earlier. In contrast, imports grew only 2.3%, reflecting weak domestic demand.

The result is China’s trade surplus keeps swelling, which has underpinned the yuan by offsetting capital outflows. The surplus over the past year amounted to a record $864 billion, more than double the level at the end of 2019.

But when comparing the Customs data with that from the State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE), a different picture emerges. The SAFE data shows the surplus is growing at a much slower pace -- about 20% less than the customs figure

The two data sets used to track each other closely. SAFE typically reports fewer imports, thus a higher surplus, because it excludes costs, insurance and freight from the value of goods imported, in line with the international standard practice, Adam Wolfe, an economist at Absolute Strategy Research, noted.

The other adjustments that SAFE does include:

  • It only records transactions that involve a change of ownership;
  • It adjusts for returned items;
  • It adds goods bought and resold abroad that don’t cross China’s border, but result in income for a Chinese entity -- a practice known  as “merchanting.”

The relationship between the two data sets has flipped since 2021, as SAFE reported higher imports, resulting in a smaller surplus than the Customs data.

It’s particularly odd because it happened at a time when shipping costs skyrocketed. When SAFE removes freight and insurance costs, it would have resulted in even lower, not higher, imports.

Taken at face value, the discrepancy suggests that somebody in China “bought” lots of goods from abroad, but they have never arrived in China. These transactions would be recorded by SAFE as imports, but not at the Customs office.

Craig Botham at Pantheon Macroeconomics, suspects that Covid-19 may be playing a role here. Foreign firms unable to manufacture in factories elsewhere during the pandemic might have transferred materials to China for assembly, a transaction excluded by SAFE.

Could Chinese buyers overstate their foreign purchases to SAFE, which regulates the capital account, so they can move money out of the country? The cross-border transactions show there was widespread overpaying for imports in 2014-2015, during a period of intense capital flight, but not at the moment, Wolfe pointed out.

Source: Absolute Strategy Research

The bottom line is that there aren’t many good explanations. As Alex Etra, a senior strategist at Exante Data, said, there’s “no smoking gun” to suggest something fishy is going on.

It’s another mysterious puzzle waiting to be solved.

Tyler Durden Tue, 08/09/2022 - 22:28

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