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The 2013 winners announced for the Breakthrough Prize in Lifesciences

“A high-profile, spectacular recognition,” says Marc Tessier-Lavigne, the Rockefeller University’s president.

Dr Cori Bergmann, of Rockefeller University

Dr Cori Bergmann

Dr Cori Bergmann

Scientist recipient #1 researches the role of genes in brain connections (neural circuits) and what effects them. Genes in the brain control behavior and function by receiving a signal and acting on this information via a fixed pathway. This scientist’s work has identified sensory inputs, genes which respond to them through their fixed pathways and hence, how sensory inputs control or regulate such genes.

Dr Titia de Lange, of Rockefeller University

Dr. Titia De Lange

Dr. Titia De Lange

Scientist recipient #2 researches what detects and repairs DNA and prevents cancer (telomeres and shelterin complex). The telomere complex repairs damage to the body from dangerous elements. Early in cancer development, telomere function gets erroded. This scientist’s work clarified how the loss of the telomere-shelterin complex function can drive cancer forward.

The Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences Foundation

Administers the Three million dollar annual Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences, which recognizes excellence in research aimed at curing intractable diseases and extended human life. the prize is founded by Art Levinson, chairman of the board of Apple and former CEO of Genentech; Sergey Brin, co-founder of Google Inc.; Anne Wojcicki, co-founder of 23andMe; Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook, and his wife Pricilla Chan; and Yuri Milner, founder of the Russian internet company Mail.ru.

What does this prize mean for you?
This prize assures you that you and your loved ones are not suffering alone in cancer and brain/behavior malfunctions. There are dedicated scientists, working diligently, step-by-step to discover the marvellous mystery of how the living thing lives, breathes, thinks, behaves, malfunctions, gets sick, and responds to environmental toxins like pesticides, herbicides, or food toxins like high fructose corn syrup or metal toxins like lead. Most scientists work simply for the joy of discovery. They work long hours, late into the night for very little pay. Many of you might even laugh at them calling them names like “gheto dwellers” because many brains arrive from foreign countries and dry their clothes on clothes lines to save money instead of using the dryer in the laundromat. Others might laugh at them because these scientists cannot afford cars in large college campuses and walk miles to pick up their weekly groceries. Yet, they work with happiness, and courage.

Many of you have chosen not to take science courses in college and therefore, do not understand how marvellous the mystery of the complex cellular organism is. When you are on funding agencies, you simply cannot understand why an experiment might take years to show results. You might even poke fun at these “lazy, poor, gheto nerds”. You might be reminded that a typical cell under research has a life cycle of several hours to several days, with embryo and stem cell study cell life cycles taking several months.

This prize assures you that people who are capable of judging the progress of science are keeping you infomred. This prize assures you that dedicated people are taking care of you, actually excellent care of you, even though you might not even have the time to stop and contact them and show your appreciation. This prize assures you that a scientist you appreciate is being rewarded with a lot of money, long deserved – probably far better deserved than many other fields of work that contribute nothing, produce nothing and yet, are capable of great destruction.

What you can do

This prize assures you that you are taken care of. Perhaps, you can take charge and create more such foundations that reward long-term, pain-staking scientific enquiry in your community scientists, in your local university; hard working people whom you might have ignored and called “poor” and who might not get recognized internationally but are contributing daily, and happily.

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Autistic child or severely Allergic child with Multiple Sclerosis parent

You are not alone if you are in a family with a child diagnosed with an Autistic/ Allergic disorder and an adult diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. What has disrupted the lifestyles espoused by the developed world? It is plain to see that our children are far weaker and have severe allergies to food items that our ancestors have eaten for generations and even their grandparents can tolerate well in their old age!

The genetic link is suspected to be an autoimmune genes. Yet, inspite of large, genome studies there is no single gene or a group of genes that appear to be common factors. There are several large regions on the chromosomes that share common characteristics among patients with Autism, Aspergers, Multiple Sclerosis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Crohn’s disease and Autoimmune diseases. The immune genes appear to play a role but no particular set of immune genes stand out. Obviously, genes alone are not responsible for these disorders. 

The dedicated researchers in this field continue to perservere since it is obvious there is a shared set of factors triggering such disorders in a single family. Do contact the researchers and encourage them. These men and women are working long hours to discover these common triggers. Invite them to your support groups and inspire them. Shower them with accolades and let these men and women researchers know that they are our modern “Knights in shining armor”.

Scholarly Publications
Here are three scholarly, peer-reviewed articles discussing their research on the subject:
1) One:
2) Two:
3) Three:

One is by Dr Joseph Piven and colleagues, giving their expert psychiatric analysis of such families and concluding that there is a higher incidence of communication and behavioral deficits in the relatives. Families with Autism were compared with families with Down Syndrome and his conclusion was found only in families with Autism.
His contact information:
Dr. Piven, 1875 John Pappajohn Pavilion, Department of Psychiatry, University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, Iowa City, IA 52242-1057; jpiven@blue.weeg. uiowa.edu (e-mail).

Two is by a team of Psychiatrists and a Pediatrician from Medical Schools in Indiana. Their team studied about 300 families and concluded that autoimmune diseases like rheumatic fever was far more common in parents of children with Autism, Aspergers, ADHD, and such disorders than in parents of children not showing such disorders. They see an immune and autoimmune connection in families with Autistic disorders. They found this finding “unanticipated” and illuminating. In addition, they found this connection was not as strong in patients with PDD NOS and far stronger in patients with Autism and Aspergers. Interesting, right?

They hypothesize a mother to son transmission factor. They conclude this from a particularly important observation that there is a numerical increase in autoimmune diseases in grandmothers and uncles, as well as mothers and brothers of PDD patients. Normally, less men and more women present with autoimmune disorders. Yet, Autism and Aspergers are largely diagnosed in boys.

Contact information:
Thayne L. Sweeten, PhD*, Suzanne L. Bowyer, MD‡, David J. Posey, MD*, Gary M. Halberstadt, DO§, Christopher J. McDougle, MD*
*Departments of Psychiatry
‡Pediatrics, Indiana University School of Medicine, and James Whitcomb Riley Hospital for Children Indianapolis, Indiana
§St Vincent Hospital, Indianapolis, Indiana

Three is by The researchers studied the rates of Autoimmune diseases in parents of 111 infant Autistic patients and naturally, there were more boy patients (82) than girl patients (29). They observed a higher incidence of ulcerative collitis in mothers and Type 1 diabetes in fathers of infant Autism patients in comparison of parents of 330 normal children. The results were published in 2007 in the peer-reviewed journal Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology.

Contact information:
Mouridsen, S. E., Rich, B., Isager, T. and Nedergaard, N. J.
* Correspondence to first author at Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Bispebjerg University Hospital, Copenhagen, Denmark. E-mail: sem01@bbh.hosp.dk
1 Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Bispebjerg University Hospital, Denmark
2 Terrasserne 105, Roskilde, Denmark
3 Center for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Glostrup University Hospital, Denmark
4 Psychiatric Hospital for Children and Adolescents, Aarhus University Hospital, Denmark

The scientific authors of these scientific publications on Autism disorders are observing with tempered frustration how uneducated the larger population is of this rising epidemic. They request that you allow for a 30% error in their observations. This error percentage is far higher in experiments allowing for human error. That is because people in general are unaware of the terms and symptoms of this rising epidemic until it hits one dear to them. Your role is to educate the public. Then the researchers in this field will find it easier to get results less prone to “uneducated responses” from their researched families “untouched” by Autoimmune disorders. This societal shift in autoimmune diseases in more boys vs girls and women is what the researchers are following. The numbers of Autistic and Asperger boys are rising each year. They will grow up and outlive their parents, many of whom are suffering from Multiple Sclerosis. Society faces a future it has no previous comprehension of.

Photo credit here.

Related articles:

1) Preparing College Professors for Autistic or Aspergers students
2) Curing Multiple Sclerosis with hook worms
3) Why do Somali children present with Autism in USA and not in Somalia?
4) Why choose a Pecan pie free of corn syrup?
5) Recent advances in Tourettes syndrome treatment


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