Dear Graduate Program Chairs,
Nonresident supplemental tuition (NRST) for graduate students has been a persistent concern of faculty and the administration for many years. Although a number of policies have been adopted to mitigate the impact of NRST and the rate has not increased for 10 years (except for a technical shift of a small amount from tuition to NRST in 2011-12), NRST remains an obstacle to achieving our aspirations for excellence in graduate education.
As you know, present UC policy is that nonresident doctoral students do not pay NRST for a period of three years after they advance to candidacy. As a next step to mitigate the NRST challenge, we will adopt a new policy for doctoral students who remain in candidacy beyond the three year waiver period. These students will be eligible to receive a non-competitive fellowship to offset the cost of NRST each quarter using new funding approved by Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Ralph Hexter. The new policy will require a simple application in Spring Quarter for the following academic year with a request to approve the NRST fellowship for up to three quarters. The NRST fellowship may be renewed for a second year. The Major Professor and Program Chair or Graduate Adviser will be required to endorse the application. The goal of this policy is to ensure that students are able to complete their degrees in a timely manner based on academic, rather than financial, considerations.
This new program will be in effect for Fall Quarter 2013. Additional details and the application materials will be available in June. In the meantime, please share this announcement with faculty and students in your program.
The pseudo-scientific argument that vaccines cause autism is based on very poor science and questionable motives. A new study out of the Children’s Hospital Medical Center in Cincinnati, OH further confirms that there is no scientific basis for believing that vaccines are a causative factor in the development of autism. Unlike the “work” by the much maligned Andrew Wakefield, this study actually looks at a large enough group of children to draw meaningful conclusions. Vaccines do not cause autism, please get your children vaccinated. You are putting your child at risk, and not vaccinating your children is a major threat to public health.
The study offers a response to vaccine skeptics who have suggested that getting too many vaccines on one day or in the first two years of life may lead to autism, says Frank DeStefano, director of the Immunization Safety Office of the CDC.
To find out if that was happening, DeStefano led a team that compared the vaccine histories of about 250 children who had autism spectrum disorder with those of 750 typical kids. Specifically, the researchers looked at what scientists call antigens. An antigen is a substance in a vaccine that causes the body to produce antibodies, proteins that help fight off infections.
The team looked at medical records to see how many antigens each child received and whether that affected the risk of autism. The results, published in The Journal of Pediatrics, were unequivocal.
“The amount of antigens from vaccines received on one day of vaccination or in total during the first two years of life is not related to the development of autism spectrum disorder in children,” DeStefano says.
Although scientific evidence suggests that vaccines do not cause autism, approximately one-third of parents continue to express concern that they do; nearly 1 in 10 parents refuse or delay vaccinations because they believe it is safer than following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) schedule (
). A primary concern is the number of vaccines administered, both on a single day and cumulatively over the first 2 years of life. In a new study scheduled for publication in The Journal of Pediatrics, researchers concluded that there is no association between receiving “too many vaccines too soon” and autism.
The researchers determined the total antigen numbers by adding the number of different antigens in all vaccines each child received in one day, as well as all vaccines each child received up to 2 years of age. The authors found that the total antigens from vaccines received by age 2 years, or the maximum number received on a single day, was the same between children with and without ASD. Furthermore, when comparing antigen numbers, no relationship was found when they evaluated the sub-categories of autistic disorder and ASD with regression.
Although the current routine childhood vaccine schedule contains more vaccines than the schedule in the late 1990s, the maximum number of antigens that a child could be exposed to by 2 years of age in 2013 is 315, compared with several thousand in the late 1990s. Because different types of vaccines contain varying amounts of antigens, this research acknowledged that merely counting the number of vaccines received does not adequately account for how different vaccines and vaccine combinations stimulate the immune system. For example, the older whole cell pertussis vaccine causes the production of about 3000 different antibodies, whereas the newer acellular pertussis vaccine causes the production of 6 or fewer different antibodies.
ATCGTAGACTATCAGAGACATCGA = 01011010110101010101101011101101101101011001010101101100110101 – electricity + magnet safe
In the timely publication in Nature, the field of synthetic genetics has accomplished in archiving Martin Luther King Jr’s “I have a dream” speech, along with a series of William Shakespeare’s sonnets, a pdf file, and a photograph of the lab that accomplished these feats into DNA, the code of all living organisms.
By translating computerised files into DNA similar to that found in plants and animals, the researchers claim it is possible to store a billion books’ worth of data for thousands of years in just a small test tube.
Although the method is expensive, it could still be much more efficient than hard drives or magnetic tape for long-term storage of large sets of data such as government records, the scientists said.
Within a decade, they expect the technique to have become cheap enough that DNA storage could become cost-efficient for the public to store lifelong keepsakes like wedding videos.
Dr Nick Goldman of the European Bioinformatics Institute, who led the study, said: “We already know that DNA is a robust way to store information because we can extract it from bones of woolly mammoths, which date back tens of thousands of years, and make sense of it.
“It’s also incredibly small, dense and does not need any power for storage, so shipping and keeping it is easy.”
Please find the entire article here
For those with access to academic journals, find the original scientific publication here, whom the lead author is Nick Goldman and the last author is Ewan Birney, both of which hail from the European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI).
For those who can’t access the journal article, the cost of this technology, according to the authors, is estimated to be $25,000 per megabyte of storage, and $220 to decode each megabyte. Keep in mind the cost of synthesizing DNA continues to decrease as this technology improves. Those who are interested in trends can take a peek at this plot, which gives the cost synthesis per base (nucleotide) over the past years. Remember, although the price costs cash money now (as with all initial technological infancies before they become commercial), DNA is a form information that is stable for thousands and thousands of years (we’re still trying to resurrect the mammoth, and BMCDB anticipates Jurassic Park 4 to be summer blockbuster in 2014), where conventional computer drives tend to degrade at a decade old, and that these drives are physically huge compared to the same amount of data that can be stored into DNA at a nanoscale – think of DNA as a penny and a computer drive as being the size of AT&T Park, the home of the 2012 World Series Champions, the San Francisco Giants.
NEW TIME 1pm
9 January 2013
Student Seminar Series presents
Chromatin Remodeler RSF in Telomere Maintenance
Come down for science and lunch
Have you seen the new UC logo? If you don’t like it, here’s a petition to stop the change:
Description of contest: 2013 Art of Science Photomicrography Calendar Contest