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C-section complication risk rises with mother's age

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Thu, 04/11/2019 - 14:28

Rates of cesarean deliveries, or C-sections, have risen in the developed world to more than 20 percent of births, even though the World Health Organization recommends this surgery only for the roughly 10 to 15 percent of cases when the health of the mother or baby is in danger. While C-sections can be life-saving, the procedures carry risks like infection, excessive bleeding, damage to reproductive organs and blood clots. For the current study, researchers wanted to get a clearer picture of how often complications might result from the surgery versus from underlying medical problems that might have caused mothers to get these operations.


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Israeli spacecraft crashes during moon landing: mission control

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Thu, 04/11/2019 - 14:27

Israel's attempt at a moon landing failed at the last minute Thursday when the craft suffered an engine failure as it prepared to land and apparently crashed onto the lunar surface. "We didn't make it, but we definitely tried," project originator and major backer Morris Kahn said in a live videocast from mission control near Tel Aviv. During the broadcast control staff could be heard saying that engines meant to slow the craft's descent and allow a soft landing had failed and contact with it had been lost.


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George Alagiah says he thought he was 'the guy who made it' before bowel cancer returned

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Thu, 04/11/2019 - 14:00

George Alagiah has revealed that he thought he was "the guy who made it" before his bowel cancer returned. The BBC newsreader, 63, underwent 17 rounds of chemotherapy to treat advanced bowel cancer in 2014 before returning to presenting duties in 2015. His cancer later returned and the presenter underwent further treatment. In a new podcast, In Conversation With George Alagiah, he speaks candidly about his treatment and living with the disease. He reveals that he has a mantra, which he repeats every evening, saying: "I ask myself if I'll be here tomorrow, and for the past few years I've answered 'Yes'." But Alagiah, who has stage four bowel cancer, says of the disease returning: "I found it harder the second time round. I got seduced into the idea that I was the guy who made it. "So to be told it had come back was quite tough." Speaking of the extreme fatigue he experienced during chemotherapy, he says: "There were days I'd call the sofa days when I just sat on the sofa. He adds: "It's easier for us as patients then it is for those around us. I've limited my life right down to 24 hours ahead, 'Can I do what I need tomorrow? Yes I can.' Bowel cancer | Six signs to watch out for "Whereas for my wife and our sons, they are looking ahead, they've got their own lives to lead. But they also feel that they have to care for me and be sensitive to my needs as well." The BBC journalist hosts the first series of Bowel Cancer UK's podcasts, interviewing supporters and leading experts on the disease, as well as discussing his own treatment and diagnosis. Bowel cancer is the UK's fourth most common cancer and second biggest killer cancer with more than 16,000 people dying from the disease every year, the charity said. But it is treatable and curable, especially if diagnosed early. Veteran BBC journalist Jeremy Bowen, 59, recently revealed that he is also suffering from the condition despite having none of the "classic" symptoms, after getting pains in his legs and back. Deborah Alsina, chief executive of Bowel Cancer UK, said: "We're so incredibly grateful to George for hosting our first series of podcasts to raise awareness of the disease during Bowel Cancer Awareness Month. "Our podcasts form part of our £thisisbowelcancer campaign, which aims to shine a light on the varied and many people affected by the disease."   In Conversation With George Alagiah: A Bowel Cancer UK podcast, with Matthew Wiltshire, can be found at www.bowelcanceruk.org.uk/podcasts.


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U.S. Senator Grassley seeks DOE information on small refinery waivers: letter

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Thu, 04/11/2019 - 13:57

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Republican U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley is seeking information from the Department of Energy on how it scores applications from small refineries seeking waivers from the nation's biofuel laws, according to letter seen by Reuters. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, under President Donald Trump, has greatly expanded the small refinery waiver program, angering corn farmers in the U.S. Midwest. The EPA has expanded the program, despite recommendations from the Energy Department to grant fewer, smaller exemptions. (Reporting by Jarrett Renshaw; Editing by Tom Brown)


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Israel’s Beresheet lander crashes on moon, ending privately funded space odyssey

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Thu, 04/11/2019 - 13:48

An Israeli-built lander crashed onto the moon today during its final descent, bringing an unfortunate end to the first privately funded lunar mission. “We had a failure on the spacecraft,” Opher Doron, general manager of Israel Aerospace Industries’ space division, said during a live webcast of the spacecraft’s landing attempt. “We unfortunately have not managed to land successfully.” The crash was traced to an apparent engine malfunction. It came a month and a half after the dishwasher-sized lander was sent into space by a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with a pre-launch logistical assist from Seattle-based Spaceflight. The Beresheet lander, which took… Read More


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NASA study highlights profound effects of space travel on human body

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Thu, 04/11/2019 - 13:47

NASA released the results of a momentous twin study on Thursday, which found that space travel has profound effects on the human body. The findings could shape NASA’s 2020 mission to Mars — a journey that would take astronauts at least three years.


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Israeli spacecraft Beresheet reaches moon but landing unsuccessful: support team

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Thu, 04/11/2019 - 13:36

YEHUD, Israel (Reuters) - The Israeli spacecraft Beresheet reached the moon on Thursday but its planned controlled, or "soft", landing was unsuccessful, the support team said. The spacecraft had a number of technical problems during its final descent to the lunar surface, the team said. (Reporting by Ari Rabinovitch; Editing by Kevin Liffey)


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Nigerian troops forced 10,000 people to leave northeast town: U.N

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Thu, 04/11/2019 - 13:10

A U.N. statement said soldiers moved the people of Jakana to a camp in the city of Maiduguri about 40 km (25 miles) away, some arriving with "nothing, not even shoes on their feet". The armed forces were conducting an operation to flush out Islamist Boko Haram insurgents, Abdulmalik Bulama Biu, a commanding officer in the northeast, said without elaborating. The military and government returned nearly 5,000 Jakana residents to the town on Thursday, Nigeria's National Emergency Management Agency said on its official Twitter account.


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U.S. criticizes Vietnam ban of glyphosate herbicide imports

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Thu, 04/11/2019 - 12:33

Glyphosate, the chemical contained in Bayer AG's best-selling weed killer Roundup, is the target of thousands of lawsuits in the United States alleging exposure to it causes cancer. Roundup, which Bayer acquired with its $63 billion purchase of Monsanto last year, was the first to contain glyphosate, the world's most widely used weed killer. Bayer said Vietnam's ban will not improve food security or safety in the country and that the company was not aware of any new scientific assessment undertaken by Vietnam's government on which the decision is based.


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The B-21 Stealth Bomber Is Almost Ready to Fly

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Thu, 04/11/2019 - 12:29

The B-21 Raider will replace the B-1B Lancer and B-2 Spirit as America’s leading heavy bomber.


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Watch Israel’s first-ever Moon landing live

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Thu, 04/11/2019 - 12:25

It's been a number of weeks since Israel launched a privately-funded mission orbit and then land on Earth's Moon. Things got off to a bit of a rough start, with the spacecraft experiencing a strange computer glitch that prevented it from completing traveling all the way to lunar orbit on schedule, but it quickly got back on track and is about to perform a Moon landing that we will all get to enjoy.The spacecraft, called Beresheet, is schedule to begin its landing maneuver at approximately 3:05 p.m. EST today, and you can watch the entire thing live right here.The YouTube video window below will go live shortly before the actual landing operation is performed, and SpaceIL, the group behind the privately-funded mission, will host the show.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HMdUcchBYRAIf successful, the mission will result in Israel becoming the fourth country to successfully complete a soft landing on the lunar surface. Only the United States, Russia (U.S.S.R.) and China have accomplished the feat, and the SpaceIL mission will also be the first privately-funded Moon landing in history.The landing has been a long time coming, with SpaceIL originally being a participant in the Google Lunar XPrize competition which ended unceremoniously after none of the competitors could deliver a landing-capable spacecraft within the extended deadline date.The mission itself is modest in scope, or at least as modest as it can be considering the difficulties of landing on the Moon in the first place. There are no scientific objectives the lander will have to accomplish once it lands and it's not carrying a suite of instruments to relay data and information back to Earth. Its life once it arrives on the lunar surface will be short, but if it lands in once piece it will still be a major win for the SpaceIL team and Israel.


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NASA's 'Twins Study,' landmark research on US astronauts

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Thu, 04/11/2019 - 12:23

What if you could send an astronaut into space for a year and monitor him closely along with his identical twin brother on Earth? The US space agency NASA did just that and published the findings on Thursday of a landmark study that could provide insights into the hazards of long space flights such as a mission to Mars. The researchers found that most of the changes to the human body from extended spaceflight returned to normal shortly after a return to Earth.


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To Answer Critics, YouTube Tries a New Metric: Responsibility

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Thu, 04/11/2019 - 12:22

There’s just one problem: The company is still deciding how this new approach works. The Google division introduced two new internal metrics in the past two years for gauging how well videos are performing, according to people familiar with the company’s plans. One tracks the total time people spend on YouTube, including comments they post and read (not just the clips they watch).


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U.S. Senate votes to confirm lobbyist Bernhardt as Interior Secretary

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Thu, 04/11/2019 - 12:20

(Reuters) - U.S. senators on Thursday voted to confirm former energy lobbyist David Bernhardt as Secretary of the Department of Interior. With voting still ongoing, Bernhardt had secured 53 votes in favor of his confirmation versus 39 opposed. (Reporting by Nichola Groom in Los Angeles; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)


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Exclusive: Arrival of Putin's judo partner squeezed Shell out of LNG project - sources

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Thu, 04/11/2019 - 12:06

LONDON/MOSCOW (Reuters) - Royal Dutch Shell pulled out of a project to build a Russian liquefied natural gas plant partly because Gazprom suddenly added another partner with links to an ally of President Vladimir Putin, according to five sources. After three years work on the Baltic Coast project, Shell discovered that Gazprom was bringing in a company linked to Arkady Rotenberg, who is on a U.S. sanctions blacklist. The sudden change in the line-up of partners was one of the key factors contributing to Shell's Wednesday announcement that it was pulling out of the project, according to three sources close to Shell and two other sources familiar with the project.


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NASA twins study explores space, the final genetic frontier

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Thu, 04/11/2019 - 12:06

WASHINGTON (AP) — From his eyes to his immune system, astronaut Scott Kelly's body sometimes reacted strangely to nearly a year in orbit, at least compared to his Earth-bound identical twin — but newly published research shows nothing that would cancel even longer space treks, like to Mars.


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How NASA Got Scott Kelly’s Blood Back to Earth for Twins Study

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Thu, 04/11/2019 - 12:03

MAXIM ZMEYEVFrancine Garrett-Bakelman still remembers the day that she held, quite possibly, the most valuable vial of blood of her career. It was March 3, 2016, the day that astronaut Scott Kelly was set to return back to Earth after nearly a year on the International Space Station.Garrett-Bakelman, now a physician-scientist at the University of Virginia, was handed Kelly’s blood samples soon after he touched down to Earth at Johnson Space Center in Houston. All she could think about was not dropping them.“It was just a unique situation of handling space-bound material and having the responsibility to make sure the protocol goes well,” she said. “You only get one shot. It was really stressful.”The samples were part of NASA’s landmark Twins Study, to be published Friday in the journal Science. While Scott Kelly floated 254 miles above on the ISS, his identical twin brother Mark was down on Earth—allowing scientists a unique opportunity  to compare the twins’ biological data. “[Scott made a] tremendous commitment to science, and to our country,” Mark said on a conference call announcing the paper’s results, “and a tremendous act of public service.” “I got all the glory, and you got a lot of work,” Scott jokingly responded. The report has good news for aspiring space travelers: Long-term space travel—the kind that would be required for missions to Mars or the many planets beyond—may not be harmful for humans. Although 559 people have visited space, there have only been eight missions longer than 300 days—and the Kellys are the first pair of twins to undergo a space study. Ten research teams collected data on the Kellys from samples of their stool, urine, and blood—providing  information about everything from the contents of their gut microbiome to the stability of their DNA—for 25 months before, during, and after the ISS mission. While Scott was in space, some of his samples were shot back to Earth on a carrier rocket, while others were preserved for his return. The study was a first in figuring out how to preserve and send blood back to Earth. For that, the team recruited Garrett-Bakelman, a junior faculty member in 2014 at Cornell Medical School studying a blood cancer, acute myeloid leukemia. That might not seem like anything related to space, but Garrett-Bakelman told The Daily Beast she had a valuable skill: processing blood and analyzing genetic expression in samples—exactly what the experiment with the Kelly twins would require.“It was totally surreal, a dream come true,” Garrett-Bakelman said. THE TELOMERE MYSTERYThe report classified 10 biological differences between the twins into low-, medium-, and high-risk categories, depending on the severity of the damage and how long it persisted after Scott came back to Earth. The majority of Scott’s biomarkers, including his reduced body mass and microbiome composition, quickly returned to normal.But Garrett-Bakelman and her colleagues noticed something interesting in the telomeres, the caps on our DNA that protect it from damage. On Earth, the longer the telomere, the better a person’s health—because as we age, those telomeres shrink, leaving DNA more susceptible to harm.Scott Kelly’s telomeres, however, got longer. Even stranger, when Scott Kelly returned to Earth, his telomeres bounced back to their shorter length over time.Why that happened is a mystery. “It’s one person, and it’s hard to make a conclusion,” Garrett-Bakelman said.Although average telomere length returned to normal six months after the trip ended, Scott was left fewer telomeres—which could pose a risk for cardiovascular disease and some types of cancer. Other high-risk changes included a series of ocular symptoms known as spaceflight-associated neuro-ocular syndrome (SANS), cognitive decline, and thickening of the carotid intima-media, a section of an artery wall that NASA’s Stuart Lee described on a conference call ahead of the paper’s release as a “predictor of the 10-year cardiovascular disease risk.” Despite these findings, the report is optimistic about the future of long-term space travel. “Given that the majority of the biological and human health variables remained stable, or returned to baseline, after a 340-day space mission, these data suggest that human health can be mostly sustained over this duration of spaceflight,” the report said.Garrett-Bakelman said that Scott Kelly’s overall health stability is crucial information. “This is really important because it could not have been the case [that his health remained the same],” she said. “It could have been something completely different. Our human body is more adaptable, and living on Earth could be just one interpretation of it. Another interpretation is that he [Scott Kelly] was in the International Space Station and in the confines of the magnetic field of the Earth. Maybe beyond that the story is different.“But it’s reassuring that most of the things we saw were in the range of what we expected.” 'This is a study of one'The authors acknowledge that this study has an incredibly small sample size—and that even though the Kellys are identical twins, it’s impossible to attribute every change in Scott as a consequence of his time in space. Mark, for example, got to spend his year playing golf and drinking alcohol, while Scott was confined on a space station where drinking is prohibited.The International Space Station also poses different risks than, say, Mars, where the radiation is much greater. “This is a study of one,” Garrett-Bakelman emphasized. Also, “this only speaks to the experience of one Caucasian male. But what if the person is a woman? What if the person is Asian or African-American? What if we don’t know the person’s background? How might that influence their bodies?”Nevertheless, Garrett-Bakelman said this was a perfect study to kick off our understanding of humans in space because the Kellys are twins.“The reference of having a twin is very advantageous, so we can eliminate any influence genetics can have on the results,” she said. “From that perspective, it was a great study, the best one to start with actually.”Outside experts caution, however, that it’s impossible to definitively know that the observed differences between the brothers can be attributed to space travel alone. “Attributing the changes to Scott’s time in space is nuanced,” Chirag Patel and Chirag Lakhani, co-authors on the largest twins study to date, told The Daily Beast via email. While the Kellys are identical twins, they added, many of the measured biomarkers could also have been influenced by environmental conditions they were exposed to individually before the study began. “Replicating the findings in other twins will be necessary to conclude whether these findings are in fact due to their time in space or other individual differences,” they added. We haven’t heard the last of the Kellys. “Right now, this is the initial interpretation and analysis of our data,” Garrett-Bakelman said. “I would anticipate that in the next couple of months or years, there will be additional reports coming out.”“If you guys ever need me for more science, don’t hesitate to ask,” Mark said on the call. Read more at The Daily Beast.


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NASA's 'Twins Study,' landmark research on US astronauts

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Thu, 04/11/2019 - 12:02

What if you could send an astronaut into space for a year and monitor him closely along with his identical twin brother on Earth? The US space agency NASA did just that and published the findings on Thursday of a landmark study that could provide insights into the hazards of long space flights such as a mission to Mars. The researchers found that most of the changes to the human body from extended spaceflight returned to normal shortly after a return to Earth.


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Scott Kelly spent a year in space. What happened to his body?

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Thu, 04/11/2019 - 12:00

When astronaut Scott Kelly landed in the frigid Kazakhstan plains on March 2, 2016, a team of responders pulled Kelly and two Russian cosmonauts from the charred capsule and carried them to chairs, set out in the crisp morning air. After nearly a year in space, Kelly looked pale but appeared alright, joking about the weather with the crew and media.   Three years later — after scrutinizing Kelly's blood, arteries, genes, eyes, bones, and gut bacteria in the aftermath of the historic venture in space — a team of over 80 scientists has released a sweeping analysis of how Kelly's body changed and what returned to normal after the now-retired 55-year-old astronaut returned to Earth. Dubbed the "NASA Twin Study," the research published Thursday in the journal Science compared Scott Kelly's biological changes to that of his identical twin, Mark Kelly, who spent that year grounded on Earth.  The study is exceptionally detailed ("They measured as many things as they possibly could," said Richard Gronostajski, a geneticist at the State University of New York at Buffalo), but when it's all distilled down, the message about spending a year in space — exposed to microgravity and mildly higher levels of radiation — is relatively clear.  "It’s reassuring to know that when you come back things will largely be the same," Michael Snyder, a study coauthor and director of the Stanford Center for Genomics and Personalized Medicine, said in a call with reporters.  In short, Scott Kelly's body exhibited some changes in space, but most everything returned to normal upon his return, particularly his gene activity.  "In this paper they showed there was no statistically significant difference in genetic modifications they could find between the twin in the space station with the one on the ground," said Gronostajski, the director of the University of New York at Buffalo's Genetics, Genomics, and Bioinformatics graduate program. "That's good news," added Gronostajski, who had no role in the study. Mark and Scott Kelly. Image: Nasa Yet this study comes with a big, big caveat. Besides the reality that only Scott Kelly's body has been evaluated so extensively after a year in space (that's a really small sample size), it's still unknown how the human body will fair during longer duration missions, specifically those to Mars. During the second half of Kelly's stay at the International Space Station, researchers found that some important gene activity — those involved in DNA damage and immune response — become six times more active. Geneticist Christopher Mason, a study coauthor, likened this to electrical switches in your kitchen: During the first six months, just a couple things were turned on. But later on, appliances everywhere were abuzz. This boost in gene activity did not result in long-term problems for Scott Kelly. But perhaps, during a longer deep space mission, this could lead to ill-effects.  SEE ALSO: What's actually going on in that cryptic black hole photo? "There may be other things coming down the pipe when we consider three-year missions to Mars," said Michael Bungo, a professor of cardiovascular medicine at the University of Texas Health Science Center. Bungo, who had no role in the twins study, formerly served as chief scientist of the Medical Sciences Division Institute at NASA's Johnson Space Center.  "It's a wonderful lesson in caution to remember that you’re not going to be able to predict changes at two years or three years with changes that you see in one year," Bungo added. The changes Biologists and doctors took thousands of measurements from Kelly's body at precise, molecular levels never measured before on such a scale. While aboard the space station, Kelly even sent blood samples back down to Earth, via return capsules. These are some — but not all — of the important takeaways: 91.3 percent of Scott's gene activity returned to normal six months after landing back on Earth. Importantly, his genes never mutated. Rather, they altered their activity in response to the environment, something known as "gene expression." The flu vaccine worked the same in space. Interestingly, Kelly's telomeres — the end caps on chromosomes — grew a little longer in space, but then shortened again upon his return. (Shortened telomeres are a biological marker of aging.) The bacterial make-up in Kelly's gut significantly changed, as a common microbiome population became dramatically more dominant than it was before the year-long spaceflight. This is not necessarily good or bad. (More research needs to be done.)  This study — described by study coauthor and genomics expert Andrew Feinberg as the "dawn of human genetics in space" — is unquestionably valuable. But it comes with a slew of well-known limitations. In short, NASA needs to study more astronauts as they spend varying lengths of time floating in space.  "The bottom line: There's still a ton we don't know," said Stanford's Snyder.  Scott Kelly takes a selfie inside the International Space Station. Image: nasa The intensive scrutiny of Kelly's body revealed a lot, but there's only compelling evidence for one human: Kelly. "It's a singular experiment, but a wonderful singular experiment," said Bungo.  "When you’re doing a study, you do it the way that you can," said Gronostajski, acknowledging that it's challenging to study any astronaut in space, hovering some 250 miles above Earth. "I would have been much happier if — rather than looking at twins— that they did the same studies on 10 astronauts who were in space for 3 months, 6 months, and more," added Gronostajski. NASA already has plans to send more astronauts into space on longer missions. "We in NASA’s Human Research Program plan to continue this line of investigation for years to come, including aboard the space station during the Integrated One-Year Mission Project, currently under development," Bill Paloski, the director of NASA's Human Research Program, said in an statement. Going forward, a critical issue NASA must tease out is what changes in astronauts' bodies are due to shifts in gene activity and expression, versus the novelty of living in such a foreign environment. Spending a year on the space station would shock anyone's system.  "It means living in a can for a year," said Bungo. "It means breathing re-circulated air. It means seeing the same people over and over again. It means more or less eating the same diet — you can’t go out for Chinese food." What's more, scientists may see clear biological changes in space — like the lengthening of Scott Kelly's telomeres — but it's uncertain what that means, if anything. "The biological significance of it is unknown," said Gronostajski. Scott Kelly handing over space station command in February 2016. Image: nasa Though, decades of research have shown that some astronauts do experience clear physical problems after living in space. Of note, a small minority of astronauts experience changes in the shape of their eyeballs, leading to poor vision following their spaceflight. Astronauts have also experienced an increase in the stiffness of blood vessels, but it's unknown if that's something that could result in heart disease.  "How many astronauts do you need to study to conclude that spaceflight really makes a difference here?" asked Bungo, a cardiovascular specialist. "We're nowhere near that now." The common, if not trite, refrain — often repeated in science — is ever salient when it comes to human health in space, a weightless, radiated realm: more research is needed. "Most biologists would say a twin study with just two people is unlikely to have the power to find something too meaningful," said Gronostajski. WATCH: First image of a black hole is captured by astronomers  


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Research Projects to Improve the Predictive Value of Animal Models in Recapitulating Human Immunity to Influenza Infection and Vaccination (R21 Clinical Trial Not Allowed)

NIH Funding Opportunities - Thu, 04/11/2019 - 11:46
Funding Opportunity PAR-19-247 from the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts. The purpose of this Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) is to support research to improve existing animal models or develop novel animal models that more accurately represent influenza immunity in humans, with an emphasis on increasing the predictive value of models for evaluating novel universal influenza vaccines.
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