Researchers publish cross-disciplinary biological study

first_imgIn a cross-disciplinary effort, Notre Dame biology and mathematics professors have published a study on stathmin, a key protein in the cytoskeleton, demonstrating the success of mathematical computer modeling and lab work in photographing of stathmin.Notre Dame associate professor of biochemistry Holly Goodson recently published the study in conjunction with professor of applied mathematics Mark Alber. “Mark Alber’s lab specializes in doing biological modeling and they had already approached us about the possibility of trying to put something together with this,” Goodson said. “We’ve actually been working on this for quite a long time. The models had to start very simply and we’ve built complexity over time.”In developing the mathematical model, Goodson said the goal was to create a system that was not overly complex. “The first thing we’re looking for is just general behavior,” she said. “Then you can add extra levels of details to make it more precise. One of the main things you can get out of something like this is to figure out what really matters.”Using computational models in a systems biology approach indirectly tests and observes conceptual models of the dynamic subcellular system, Goodson said. Although electron microscopes can capture images nanometers in size, such pictures are often incomplete, she said.“It’s like trying to understand a football game: if you’re trying to figure out football from a hundred random snapshots of the game, you would never see anything interesting,” Goodson said. “You would never see a touchdown, it would never happen. That’s kind of like electron microscopy: it’s hard to figure out what’s really going from these snapshots frozen in time.”Stathmin plays a crucial role in the destruction and uptake of microtubules, Goodson said, a dynamic, continuous process that is difficult to track. Her lab formulated conceptual ideas for the mechanism of this process, Goodman said, and obtained only limited evidence by traditional biochemical means.“It was frustrating because we couldn’t really figure out how to test if these ideas were correct,” Goodson said. “It goes back to the saying that you don’t really understand something until you can predict it quantitatively. “It’s too complicated a system to write down mathematical models — all we really know is how the individual pieces interact, but we don’t really know how that would give rise to specific predictions about the behavior of the system other than that ‘it grows’ or ‘it falls apart.’”Goodson said she studied computational biology as a rotation student working on modeling protein ­folding in the lab of Michael Levitt, one of the winners of the 2013 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.Goodson said she believes computational and inter­disciplinary approaches are the way of the future in biology, as shown by joint efforts of Notre Dame’s biochemistry and mathematics departments.“This is an example of why it’s important for people in a variety of sciences to be learning something about biology because there’s a lot of science that’s going to be done in the next 20 years or so at this interface between biology and the other sciences,” she said.Tags: Biological Modelinglast_img read more

Strathclyde pension fund gains 5.9%, Lothian rejigs allocation categories

first_imgThe pension fund also said it extended its private debt programme to 4.5% of the total fund with the award of four new mandates, including a first strategic allocation to real estate debt.According to the fund’s report the year under review also saw it finish a review of its direct investment portfolio, agreeing changes such as an increase in its overall capacity and in the target size of individual investments.As at the end of March the commitments in the direct investment portfolio made up 5% of the total fund, with the permissible range of 2.5-7.5%. The target investment size is £20-100m, with a minimum of £10m and a maximum of the greater of £200m or 1% of the total fund value.Infrastructure, renewable energy and credit commitments make up the bulk of the direct investments portfolio.Lothian rejigs allocation categoriesLothian Pension Fund, Scotland’s second largest LGPS with assets of £7.8bn, has changed the way it expresses its strategic asset allocation following a review of its investment strategies.The investment strategy used to be set at the broad asset class level of equities, index-linked gilts and alternatives, but the number of “policy groups” has been expanded from three to five: equities, gilts, non-gilt debt, real assets and cash.The strategic allocation was broadly unchanged, however, it said in its unaudited annual report.Last year the Scottish LGPS Advisory Board launched a consultation on possible structural reform of Scottish local authority pension funds, and Lothian said the prospect of this was “the most significant possible development” affecting it.In contrast to Strathclyde, Lothian came out in favour of structural change. The latter has an authorised internal asset management company that it shares with the schemes for two nearby local authorities.In its unaudited report for 2018-19, Lothian said partner funds were benefiting from its internal resources and it was sharing its costs, but there was not yet any significant impact on any of Lothian’s investments.“The arrangements are expected to evolve and for Lothian to benefit from greater overlap in investments,” it added. “The governance of Lothian’s collaborative arrangements is not straightforward. While other funds rely on advice from Lothian, they need to continue to be resourced appropriately to make decisions for their respective funds.“Further, there are practical constraints to the expansion of this type of collaboration.”Both Strathclyde and Lothian reported for the first time in their annual reports on their approach to climate change using the framework recommended by the Financial Stability Board’s Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures. Investments made by Strathclyde Pension Fund, Scotland’s largest local authority pension fund and the UK’s second biggest, gained 5.9% in the year to the end of March for a “remarkable” 10th consecutive year of growth, according to its unaudited annual report.Returns were largely driven by the equity markets, the £21.9bn (€24.4bn) local government pension scheme (LGPS) noted. It gave its estimated funding level as 109%.Over the past few years the pension fund has been reducing its equity allocation in favour of a more diversified portfolio, and it reported agreeing at least £1bn of new investments during the 2018-19 financial year.These included £200m in an absolute return fund, £500m in global infrastructure, and seven investments with a total value of £205m by Strathclyde’s direct investment portfolio, its vehicle for alternative and local investments.last_img read more

Okore faces nine-month lay-off

first_img Press Association The 21-year-old Denmark international was signed in the summer for a fee in the region of £4million and now faces a long road back. Okore limped from the pitch after half an hour of Villa’s 2-1 defeat by Newcastle on Saturday and was sent for an MRI scan. Manager Paul Lambert feared the worst for his new centre-back and that news was confirmed on Monday evening. A club statement read: “Following clinical examination and the results of an MRI scan, the club can confirm that Jores Okore sustained a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament injury in his right knee in the game against Newcastle on Saturday. “Jores will undergo surgery in due course and he could be sidelined for a period of up to nine months.” Okore’s injury occurred during an apparently innocuous collision with Newcastle striker Loic Remy. center_img Aston Villa defender Jores Okore is out for up to nine months after rupturing the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee.last_img read more