NZZ: “What Neandertals have to do with today’s diseases”

Swiss newspaper Die Neue Zürcher Zeitung (NZZ) has published an interview with NOMIS Distinguished Scientist Svante Pääbo about his work in the field of paleogenetics, and more specifically, about the relevance of Neandertal genes in humans today. Although Europeans carry at most 2 percent Neandertal-derived gene variants, certain diseases such as type 2 diabetes — which today is a global epidemic — have been traced back to Neandertal DNA.

The interview was originally published in German under the title, “Was der Neandertaler mit heutigen Krankheiten zu tun hat.”

TIME: “Elizabeth Blackburn: First woman to become president of the Salk Institute”

TIME’s powerful series, “TIME Firsts: Women Who Are Changing the World,” profiles Salk Institute President Elizabeth Blackburn, the first woman president of the institute. Blackburn won the 2009 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for discovering the molecular nature of telomeres, the ends of chromosomes that serve as protective caps essential for preserving genetic information, and for co-discovering telomerase, an enzyme that maintains telomere ends. Both telomeres and telomerase are thought to play central roles in aging and diseases such as cancer, and her work helped launch entire new fields of research in these areas. Blackburn has been president of the Salk Institute since January 2016.

The New York Times: Benjamin R. Barber, Author of ‘Jihad vs. McWorld,’ Dies at 77

NOMIS scholar Benjamin Barber has died at the age of 77. Barber was a political theorist, champion of decentralized democracy and author of several books, including “Jihad vs. McWorld.”

Barber was the founder and president of CivWorld, an initiative hosted by the Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society at the CUNY Graduate Center in New York City. From 2013 to 2015, NOMIS supported CivWorld’s pioneering efforts to establish a “global parliament of mayors” based on Dr. Barber’s book, “If Mayors Ruled the World: Dysfunctional Nations, Rising Cities,” as well as various other research activities related to CivWorlds’s Global Interdependence Initiative.

Discussion papers from NOMIS’ first workshop series published

Led by Akeel Bilgrami, the Sidney Morgenbesser Professor of Philosophy at Columbia University, an international group of leading scholars and scientists have published the discussion papers resulting from NOMIS’ workshop series, Nature and Value. The workshop, which was held on three occasions between 2012 and 2016 in London, focused on two main questions: “How and when did the concept of nature get transformed into the concept of natural resources?” and “What is the significance of disenchanting nature by evacuating it of all intrinsic value and relating to it in entirely instrumental terms — what are its human outcomes, its economic consequences, its political implications?”

The Nature and Value workshop enabled the renowned scholars and scientists to identify areas in which they might collaborate in new interdisciplinary research to gain fresh insights into the complex relations between humans and their natural environment. Bilgrami said, “Though we have always taken from nature, in all social worlds prior to the modern period there were rituals to show attitudes of respect and restorative return to nature before cycles of planting, and even hunting. It is only in the last 300 years or so that we have come to think that we might take from nature with impunity.”

The authors of the papers are Bilgrami, David Bromwich, Bina Gogineni, David Kahane, Nicholas Kompridis, Anthony Laden, Kyle Nichols, Joanna Piciotto, Robert Pollin, Sanjay Reddy, Carol Rovane, the late Jonathan Schell, James Tully and Jan Zalasiewicz. NOMIS Workshop Series: Nature and Value Discussion Papers is available for download on NOMIS’ Nature and Value page.

Die Zeit: “Youth is in our blood”

German newspaper Die Zeit has published an article describing the groundbreaking research of NOMIS Distinguished Scientist Tony Wyss-Coray, professor of neurology and neurological sciences at Stanford University, and Steve Horvath, professor of human genetics and biostatistics at UCLA. Their research shows how the biological age of cells can be told — and in some cases influenced — by observing and employing epigenetic processes.

The article (“Die Jugend steckt im Blut”) was published in the Mar. 5, 2017 edition of Die Zeit.

NOMIS is supporting Wyss-Coray’s continued research into identifying the circulatory factors that influence aging and using those factors to rejuvenate the aging or degenerated brain.

Future Earth Program for Early-phase Grants Advancing Sustainability Science

The increasing prominence of sustainability science stems from the realization that many of the most pressing global problems facing society are complex mixtures of economic, societal and environmental issues, and that solving the resulting problems will require collaboration among researchers from many different scientific disciplines. The reduced resilience of natural systems is creating coupled socio-ecological systems that need to be addressed on an appropriate level to allow natural, physical and social sciences to provide stronger predictive capacities and to point the way to solutions for the management of these systems.

Supported by the NOMIS Foundation and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation (United States), the international research platform Future Earth has established the Program for Early-phase Grants Advancing Sustainability Science (PEGASuS). By bringing together teams of scientists that have a successful track record of building large-scale collaborative projects and by coordinating their efforts to develop interdisciplinary methods, PEGASuS aims to build effective research communities around three major themes:

  • Integration of water, energy and food management
  • Prediction of and adaption to rapid changes in ecosystems
  • Sustainable management of ocean resources

The winners of the first round of the program have been announced in August 2017  >> link

While the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation is providing core support with a strong emphasis on natural and physical science, the NOMIS Foundation enables Future Earth to fully integrate social science researchers into PEGASuS projects.

PEGASuS is being led by Joshua Tewksbury at the University of Colorado Boulder and Colorado State University.