Windows 8 is grabbing good press across the net for the features disclosed at the Windows Build Conference earlier this week. With the exception that it still doesn’t work right with the drivers for some of our equipment, Windows 7 was certainly an advance over Vista and XP. We particularly appreciate its fast loading time compared to Vista, which, it sometimes seemed, would grind on and on for interminable lengths.
Windows 8 will boot in about 8 seconds, due to a new method that puts the kernal session to sleep rather than shutting it down completely so that it needs to completely reboot. Eight seconds! Now that’s an improvement we like.
Here’s a video demo of the quick startup:
Other features in Windows 8: it provides an Android like touch and swipe method with a picture password for unlocking your PC, as opposed to the text password used now.
The lock screen will display your battery information, time, instant messages and email you missed while away, and upcoming calendar events. Here’s a slideshow Windowof all the changes.
UNC Chapel Hill launching Virtual Digital Humanities Lab
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill will launch a new virtual Digital Innovations lab that will encourage collaborative, interdisciplinary and innovative digital humanities projects.
Brett Bobley, director of the Office of Digital Humanities at the National Endowment for the Humanities, will give a free public talk Oct. 10 to celebrate the kickoff of the Digital Innovation Lab, which will be affiliated with the American studies department in UNC’s College of Arts and Sciences. Bobley will speak at 2 p.m. in the University Room of Hyde Hall, home of the Institute for the Arts and Humanities, located off East Franklin Street.
The Digital Innovation Lab will encourage the production of digital “public goods”: projects and tools that are of social and cultural value; can be made publicly available; are scalable and reusable; and/or serve multiple audiences. One immediate focus will be the use of large-scale data sources – maps, newspapers, city directories, public records – by scholars and the public in understanding the history of communities. The lab, accessed at http://digitalinnovation.unc.edu,
was created with a startup grant from the college.
“Digital technologies have the potential to transform how our faculty in the humanities ask questions about the world, engage with local communities, create learning environments for our students and collaborate with partners within and beyond the University,” said William L. Andrews, Ph.D., senior associate dean for the fine arts and humanities in the College.
The lab will build on the nationally funded digital humanities work of its UNC co-directors and co-founders – Robert Allen, Ph.D, and Richard Marciano, Ph.D. Allen is the James Logan Godfrey Distinguished Professor of American studies, history and communication studies. Marciano is a professor in the School of Information and Library Science and affiliated professor in American studies and director of Sustainable Archives and Leveraging Technologies (SALT).
Cloud storage firm Zetta lands $9M round
Sunnyvale, CA-based Enterprise cloud storage provider Zetta today announced that it has raised $9 million in its third round of funding, bringing the total funding to $31.5 million. Both existing investors Foundation Capital and Sigma Partners participated. Funds from this new investment will be used for sales, marketing and product development that will help the company increase market share of its award-winning cloud backup services in the small-to-medium business (SMB) market.
RESEARCH TRIANGLE, NC – When Jim Roberts joined the NC Center of Innovation for Nanobiotechnology (COIN) last summer, he needed a quick introduction to nanotechnology. So COIN sent him to the Commercialization of Micro-nano Systems Conference (COMS), held that year in New Mexico. Roberts discovered that plans for the 2011 conference had fallen through.
The organizers of COMS told Roberts, who has always been quick to capitalize on economic development opportunities, that if North Carolina could raise $50,000 it could put on the event, which is the premiere industry conference. Houston was also in the running. “We raised $53,000 and landed the event,” he says. “It’s a big win for the Centers of Innovation created by the NC Biotechnology Center.”
So, The annual Commercialization of Micro-Nano Systems Conference (COMS 2011) being held Aug 28-31 in Greensboro. It has shaped up to be a who’s who of the micro-nano technology (MNT) community, bringing together leaders in North Carolina with those from around the globe. Plenary Speakers include: Anthony Atala, MD, Joseph M. DeSimone, PhD and Paul M. Zavracky, PhD.
Dr. Anthony Atala, director, Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine
Dr. Atala is the W.H. Boyce Professor, Director of the Institute for Regenerative Medicine, and Chair of the Department of Urology at Wake Forest University. Dr. Atala is a practicing surgeon and a key thought leader in regenerative medicine. His current breakthroughs include the world’s first engineered urethras using 3D printers to engineer human kidneys in a laboratory, and he is currently working to launch the Virginia Tech/Wake Forest Center for Veterinary Regenerative Medicine.
Hisresearch group is focused on nanofabrication techniques translated from the semiconductor industry that enables the manufacture of highly uniform nanoparticles with precise size and shape.
This process, called Particle Replication in Non-Wetting Templates (PRINT), is currently being commercialized for biomedical applications through the spin-out company Liquidia Technologies, which has a PRINT-enabled flu vaccine therapeutic in clinical development.
Prior to that, he co-founded The MicroOptical Corporation and, while serving as president and COO, developed two-axis MEMS micro-mirrors and successfully launched the company’s military, medical and consumer head-mounted display businesses. Earlier in his career, he was a member of the founding team and COO of Kopin Corporation, where he spearheaded its development of silicon on insulator (SOI) materials and SOI MEMS devices.
Former Gov. Jim Hunt, Sen. Kay Hagan delivering keynotes
NC Sen. Kay Hagan
Demonstrating the support for these important emerging technologies, James Hunt, Governor of North Carolina (1977-1985; 1993-2001) and Kay R. Hagan, United States Senator for North Carolina, will deliver keynote addresses. Also speaking is Sally Tinkle, PhD, Acting Director, National Nanotechnology Coordination Office, Nanoscale Science, Engineering, and Technology Subcommittee, Committee on Technology National Science and Technology Council.
The NNI brings together the expertise needed to advance this broad and complex field—creating a framework for shared goals, priorities, and strategies that help each participating Federal agency leverage the resources of all participating agencies. With the support of the NNI, nanotechnology R&D is taking place in academic, government, and industry laboratories across the United States. MANCEF is not only proud to welcome these distinguished members of the policy making bodies to COMS, but also welcomes members of the triple helix; Education, Government and Industry, to join us in leading the next revolution of emerging technologies.
North Carolina is already a top player in nanotechnology, ranked fourth behind only Silicon Valley, Boston, and Houston. It is poised to become one of the major centers in the field, according to industry experts. Landing the COMS event for the state is a significant step.
HILLSBOROUGH, NC – MegaWatt Solar, which sells solar power generation systems too utilities, has raised $3.48 million o fa $7.35 million offering, according to a regulatory filing.
The company raised $1.2 million in 2009. Investors include the University of North Carolina at Chapel HIll, and Norway-based iEnergies, a direct investment company focused on energy and cleantech; and Scatec Solar, which sells photovoltaic solutions.
We’re seeing a distinct uptick in regional clean energy technology companies getting funding.
The company says it improved the efficiency of solar collectors by concentrating solar radiation by a factor of 20 times onto solar cell receivers and tracking the sun with a dual-axis system. The solar plant is equipped with 16 solar-generating units, or solar trees, each with 16 mounted solar collectors. The MegaWatt solar tree is designed to utilize low-cost, readily available components. Its modular design permits cost-effective upgrading as more efficient photovoltaic technology becomes commercially viable.
Founded in 2007, the company’s scalable solar power systems have a low carbon footprint.
The company built its first solar plant in conjunction with the Piedmont Electric Membership Corporation in Caswell County, NC in 2008. The 2007 North Carolina Senate Bill 3 mandates electric utilities to generate a growing portion of their power from renewable energy sources over the next 10 years.
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CHAPEL HILL, NC – Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine ranks the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill the best value in American public higher education for a “remarkable” 10th time in a row.
Kiplinger’s started ranking the best values in public universities in 1998; Carolina has been number-one every time. The ranking appears in magazine’s February issue hitting newsstands Tuesday, Jan. 4.
Kiplinger’s editors say their top 100 public campuses deliver “a stellar education at an affordable price.”
The universities of Florida, Virginia and the College of William and Mary ranked second, third and fourth, respectively, followed by the University of Maryland (College Park), Binghamton University, the State University of New York (SUNY) Geneseo, and the universities of Georgia, Wisconsin (Madison), and Washington. Other UNC system schools making the list were N.C. State, 15th; UNC-Wilmington, 27th; Appalachian State University, 35th; UNC School of the Arts, 48th; and UNC-Asheville, 58th.
Kiplinger’s rankings story, “Best Values in Public Colleges,” focuses on how the global economic downturn has forced sweeping and likely permanent changes in U.S. public higher education because of state budget cuts and reduced federal funding.
“The takeaway for soon-to-be matriculating students: Look for schools that deliver an outstanding, affordable education in good times and bad,” Kiplinger’s story says. “The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, ranked Kiplinger’s number-one best value for public colleges and universities for a remarkable 10 times running, is a prime example.
“Carolina’s admission rate remains among the lowest on our annual list; its students are among the most competitive; and its in-state cost, at $17,000, is not much higher than the average price ($16,140) for all public universities. For students who qualify for need-based aid, the total price for this top-tier university drops to an average of $7,020.”
About two-thirds of the Kiplinger’s ranking is based on measures of academic quality including SAT or ACT scores, admission and retention rates, student-faculty ratios, and four- and six-year graduation rates. Then Kiplinger’s ranks each school based on cost and financial aid. Factors include total cost for in-state students (tuition, required fees, room and board, and estimated book expenses); the average cost for a student with need after subtracting non need-based grants (not loans); the average percentage of need met by aid; and the average debt a student accumulates before graduation.
A screenshot of a 3-D model of the exterior of the Coliseum, Rome, Italy. Credit, Jan-Michael Frahm, UNC-Chapel Hill.
Who says Rome wasn’t built in a day?
Computer scientists have invented a technique that automatically creates 3-D models of landmarks and geographical locations, using ordinary two-dimensional pictures available through Internet photo sharing sites like Flickr.
The technique creates the models using millions of images, processing them on a single personal computer in less than a day.
It was devised by a team of researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the Swiss university, ETH-Zurich, led by Jan-Michael Frahm, Ph.D., research assistant professor of computer science in the UNC College of Arts and Sciences.
Uses 3 million images of Rome
To demonstrate their technique, the researchers used the 3 million images of Rome available online to reconstruct all of the city’s major landmarks. It took less than 24 hours on a single PC using commodity graphics hardware. They also reconstructed the landmarks of Berlin in the same manner.
Frahm said the process provides a far richer experience and is an improvement of more than a factor of 1,000 over current commercial systems, such as Microsoft PhotoSynth, and alternative techniques developed by other researchers.
“Our technique would be the equivalent of processing a stack of photos as high as the 828-meter Dubai Towers, using a single PC, versus the next best technique, which is the equivalent of processing a stack of photos 42 meters tall – as high as the ceiling of Notre Dame – using 62 PCs,” he said. “This efficiency is essential if one is to fully utilize the billions of user-provided images continuously being uploaded to the Internet.”
One advantage of the 3-D models compared to viewing a video of a landmark is that the Internet photo collections used to construct them show the scene at different times and under different lighting and weather conditions, potentially creating a richer experience for viewers, he said. If video is available, however, the technology can utilize it as well, and using video shortens the processing time needed for reconstruction of the models.
Frahm said eventually the models could be embedded, for example, into common consumer applications such as Google Earth or Bing Maps, allowing users to explore cities from the comfort of their homes. Other applications could prove useful to travelers.
Could lead to disaster response software
“You might be able to take a picture with your cell phone of a monument that would not only give you information about that monument, identifying it from the image, but could also tell you your location more precisely than even GPS,” Frahm said.
He also noted that the technology could be a building block for disaster response software. For example, an aircraft could be sent to take video of the aftermath of a hurricane, and the resulting 3-D model could be used to assess damage from a remote location, saving time and money.
Frahm collaborated on the project with Marc Pollefeys, professor of computer science at ETH-Zurich and an adjunct professor at UNC, and Svetlana Lazebnik, assistant professor of computer science at UNC. They recently presented a paper on their research titled “Building Rome on a Cloudless Day” at the 11th European Conference on Computer Vision.
CHAPEL HILL, NC – The UNC Kenan-Flagler Private Equity Fund has closed its second student-run private equity fund, KFBSF Private Equity Fund II at $3.1 million. Fund II continues Fund I’s dual mandate of providing an educational opportunity to students and providing real returns to its limited partners.
Combined with the assets of Fund I, these students have in excess of $5 million under management. These two funds make direct investments in private companies alongside larger, well established private equity funds, including the Halifax Group, PNC Equity Fund, Hatteras Funds, Tryon Capital, Carrboro Capital, Plexus Capital, and SV Life Sciences, among others.
Fund II invests across a diversified range of private asset classes including traditional equity buyouts, mezzanine debt, and venture capital. As a representative transaction,
Fund I’s capital has been fully committed and it has begun exiting its earlier investments, while Fund II is actively sourcing new investment opportunities.
Since raising Fund I (KFBSF Private Equity Fund I, L.P.) in 2007, the Fund has successfully completed fourteen investments across a wide range of industries by partnering with leading, top quartile private equity and venture capital firms. The Fund has exited one investment with a 3.7 x return of capital, and continues to monitor the performance of its remaining 13 portfolio companies and anticipates a number of potential exit opportunities in 2011.
The Fund remains one of the only student-run private equity funds in the country investing true limited partner capital. The student managers guide and control all aspects of the fund’s lifecycle including fundraising, deal generation, deal execution, and portfolio management and reporting.
“As we exit the fundraising cycle, we are excited to turn our attention to sourcing and executing the highest quality transactions possible for our limited partners in Fund II,” said Trey Lambert, one of the firm’s managing directors.
The 12 student managers include both MBA and BSBA students, under the direction of their faculty advisor, Dr. W. Clay Hamner, Frank Hawkins Kenan Professor of Private Equity, who himself is a seasoned private capital portfolio manager.
Based on this program, Kenan-Flagler has been ranked as one of the top 5 business school in private equity alongside Harvard, Dartmouth, Wharton and the University of Chicago (see: (see: http://privateequityblogger.com/2010/08/best-private-equity-business-schools.html).
CHAPEL HILL, NC – A debilitating side effect of a widely used but harshly potent treatment for colon cancer could be eliminated if a promising new laboratory discovery bears fruit.
The pre-clinical finding, published in the Nov. 5, 2010, issue of the journal Science, relates to the drug CPT-11, or Irinotecan, a chemotherapeutic agent used against colon cancer and other solid malignancies. It is believed to be the first successful targeting of an enzyme in symbiotic bacteria found in the digestive system.
While it has proven a valuable tool for attacking tumors, CPT-11 can also cause severe diarrhea, which limits the dosage that patients can tolerate, curbing the drug’s potential effectiveness.
Now, a team of researchers led by Matthew R. Redinbo, Ph.D., from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, has discovered it is possible to target and block the enzyme, beta glucuronidase, which is thought to play a major role in the gastric side effects.
Overcoming a major hurdle
First, the scientists had to overcome a major hurdle: the culprit enzymes are found in microbes in the gut that play a major role in human health, so eliminating the anticancer drug’s toxicity without making things worse for patients was a real challenge, Redinbo said.
“We need to retain our intestinal bacteria – they help us digest food, make critical vitamins and protect us from infection,” said Redinbo, professor and chair of the chemistry department in the UNC College of Arts and Sciences and a member of the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center. “This targeted approach stops the one bacterial protein thought to cause the drug’s devastating side effect, but without damaging the beneficial microbes or the intestines.”
The trouble with CPT-11 begins part way through the body’s process of excreting the drug, presumably after it has already killed tumor cells and been rendered inert. When it reaches the intestines, beta glucuronidase enzymes in the gut bacteria snip a sugar off the inactivated cancer drug, essentially reactivating it. The revived drug then causes tissue damage, which triggers the diarrhea seen as a side effect in the vast majority of patients who receive it, with up to 30 percent suffering severe diarrhea.
Cured the bacteria’s sweet tooth
“In a manner of speaking, we cured the bacteria’s sweet tooth without damaging the microbes or intestines and, in the process, the toxic side effect was alleviated,” Redinbo said.
Instead of changing the makeup of the drug itself, Redinbo decided to take a new tack. Working with researchers at North Carolina Central University in Durham and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, the UNC team looked for chemical compounds that would latch on to and block the action of the beta glucuronidase enzymes. From a database of more than 10,000 compounds, they narrowed the field to four prime candidates, then tested them in the laboratory on several types of bacterial cells.
The result: all four compounds worked – the enzymes remained dormant and the cells were unscathed. Scientists also tested one of the inhibitors in mice. Again, it proved successful – animals treated with CPT-11 that also received the compound had significantly less diarrhea than those that only received the cancer drug.
“With further development, this approach could improve anticancer drug efficacy and tolerance,” Redinbo said. “In general, though, this also shows that specific bacterial proteins can be selectively targeted without killing these health-promoting microbial symbiotes.”
CHAPEL HILL, NC – A new program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill will provide business and technical expertise to UNC startup companies. The Innovation Fellowship Program will help launch and grow early stage university startups as well as build entrepreneurial talent for the Research Triangle Park region by funding two-year Innovation Fellows to work with fledgling companies.
Carolina was one of three universities designated by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation today as “Kauffman Commercialization Leaders.” The award recognizes UNC, Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Missouri System for their creative approaches to help to accelerate the process of bringing student and faculty innovations to market.
The Kauffman Foundation is awarding each university a $100,000 grant for their selected programs or initiatives.
“These universities exhibit a strong commitment to bringing the innovations developed on campuses into the commercial marketplace, which benefits society and ultimately enhances economic growth,” said Carl J. Schramm, Kauffman Foundation president and chief executive officer. “We are very pleased to recognize and support their efforts.”
Additional funding came from UNC’s Translational and Clinical Sciences (TrACS) Institute, one of 55 medical research institutions working together as a national consortium to improve the way biomedical research is conducted across the country. Carolina KickStart, a core program of TraCS that fosters the building and launching of UNC startups, will administer the program.
“These fellowships help fill a significant talent gap for early stage companies commercializing important technologies,” said Judith Cone, special assistant for entrepreneurship and innovation to UNC Chancellor Holden Thorp. “This program is just one part of the effort to help UNC become one of the most innovative and entrepreneurial campuses in the nation.”
First fellow named
The first Innovation Fellow is John Strenkowski, a UNC alumnus and recent Harvard Business School graduate. “John has a passion for startups and is ideally suited to work with these early-stage companies,” said Don Rose, director of Carolina KickStart. “He will be an important catalyst to get these companies launched and in a position for success.”
The program targets young entrepreneurial talent. Certain Innovation Fellows will have a business background and will provide important business leadership for the startups: developing the business strategy, negotiating a license to the technology and securing startup capital. Other Innovation Fellows will bring technical expertise to the startup.
Because having a good working knowledge of the fledgling technology is important, the source of the technical fellows will be recently graduated doctoral students and postdoctoral researchers working in the lab where the technology originated. The fellowship will support transition to the startup as they provide technology development and scientific leadership: securing Small Business Innovation Research funding, creating a product development plan and designing and testing prototypes.
Hatteras Venture Partners to provide seed capital
To further enhance the program, venture capital firms will invest in the companies with an Innovation Fellow. Hatteras Venture Partners, a venture capital firm based in Research Triangle Park with a focus on biopharmaceuticals, medical devices, diagnostics and related opportunities in human medicine, has agreed to provide seed capital to a fellow-led UNC startup.
“Successful startups need three things: good ideas, talented individuals and capital. UNC has brought the first two together and our hope is that our investment will increase the likelihood of success for these startups,” said Clay Thorp, managing partner at Hatteras.
“We sincerely hope others will join us in providing seed capital for these companies and new ideas. The Innovation Fellows effort is an excellent opportunity to drive innovation and develop the region’s entrepreneurial leaders of tomorrow.”
The Innovation Fellowship Program supports one of the five major recommendations in the Innovate@Carolina Roadmap, to “translate important new ideas more expediently and at an increased volume into innovations that improve society.” The Innovate@Carolina initiative also calls for an expansion of the KickStart program campus-wide.
RALEIGH, NC – North Carolina State University, in partnership with Southern Capitol Ventures, a North Carolina-based early-stage venture capital firm, is expanding a program launched three years ago to showcase some of Research Triangle Park’s biggest technology success stories to students in NC State’s Entrepreneurship Initiative .
The expanded program will now include students from other regional universities including Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The goal is to have students benefit from the exposure to all the companies they meet and begin to collaborate on their own ventures.
The next event will be held on October 22, 2010, with approximately 20 students from three universities participating.
Triangle Start-up Tour
The Triangle Start-Up Tour has experienced outstanding participation over the last three years with the participation of following companies:
Argyle Social, Bandwidth.com, Bluestripe Software, Bronto Software, Burt’s Bees, Canvas On Demand, Capitol Broadcasting, ChannelAdvisor, Cisco, Cree, Digitalsmiths, eTix, Global Value Commerce, Hosted Solutions, iContact, Inspire Pharmaceuticals, Pocketgear, Preation, Red Hat, ReverbNation, SAS, SciQuest, SchoolDude, SchoolHouse, ShareFile, Spoonflower, Square 1 Bank, StatSheet, StrikeIron, The Venue Network, Therasim and Zift Solutions.
This program is similar in many ways to the NC State Entrepreneurship Initiative’s annual Spring Break field trip to Silicon Valley, where students have toured companies like Facebook, Apple, Google and Kleiner Perkins.
Usually, a founder or senior-level executive talks about the history of the company, what they are doing today and answers questions from students. Dr. Tom Miller, the EI’s executive director and vice provost for Distance Education and Learning Technology, has led that Silicon Valley trip for the last eight years.
Better known in Silicon Valley than our own backyard
“Several years ago, Bill Campbell, the chairman of Intuit, heard we were coming to town and changed his schedule so that he could meet with our students. I realized then that we were better known in Silicon Valley than in our own backyard, and that we should be giving our students the opportunity to interact with the entrepreneurial companies and thought leaders in our state,” said Dr. Tom Miller.
“Three years ago, we launched this program to build greater awareness so that students are exposed to some of the great technology development happening here in North Carolina,” said Jason Caplain, general partner at Southern Capitol Ventures.
“We continue to be impressed with the caliber of the students that are graduating from universities in North Carolina, and we hope this added network helps retain more students here in the region.”
DURHAM, NC – The Argyle Co. Inc., which sells social media marketing software, issued a status update today – it has closed on a $325,000 seed financing, all from NC Research Triangle-based investors. Eric Boggs, co-founder and CEO tells us, “We help marketers understand how their content and social media presence correlates to their bottom line.”
The company previously received a $33,000 grant from NC IDEA, which may not be a lot of money, but “It ignited us into action and made a huge difference in terms of product development,” says Boggs.
Boggs and his co-founder, Adam Covati, described on the company web site as someone who can “drink coffee at a mind-boggling clip,” met while they were at the University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School (where Boggs was a Dean’s Fellow and earned an MBA).
Both men worked for Bronto Software before taking the entrepreneurial leap.
“I wanted to build or join a startup and when Adam and I got together, we thought we could build a business around an idea he was working on.” They started with a handshake in December, wrote the first lines of code in February.
Boggs, who is among the many Internet entrepreneurs, executives, venture capitalists and thought leaders participating in the upcoming Internet Summit in Raleigh, Nov. 17-18, says the company’s product helps publish content on different platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, blogs and so on. Everything can be done from a single dashboard, a real aid to anyone who has to deal with multiple content updates to multiple platforms daily or often.
Everything driven by measurement
But the key element of Argyle’s product, which is getting good reviews since its launch in April, is “Everything is driven by measurement,” says Boggs. That, he says, means marketers can track the progress of their messages and improve performance over time.
It measures conversions—probably the metric that interests marketers most—but also leads acquired, how many people download something, and more. “The market need we’re trying to address are businesses for whom social is a strategic channel and outcome or metrics driven,” Boggs says. While a lot of companies are using social media in incidental ways to have conversations with customers, others are using it to drive revenue and need more sophisticated tools to measure its effectiveness.
“It’s pretty obvious that social media is here to stay and has changed the way business and brands interact with their customers,” Boggs says. The imperative for many firms to have a blog, Twitter and Facebook accounts is becoming more common, he notes. Even small and medium-sized businesses are using it and want to understand how it impacts different areas of their efforts.
The current version of the Argyle product sells for $149 a month.
Boggs says Argyle Social expects to launch two other products this year, one for agencies and an advanced version, both enhanced versions of the core platform.
CHAPEL HILL, NC – ibiblio, the public’s library and digital archive, has received $50,000 from the Beal Fund of the Triangle Community Foundation on behalf of Lulu.com. Lulu.com is an open publishing resource that helps authors distribute their work for profit and helps buyers find the content they need. The gift was made to support ibiblio’s continued growth as one of the Internet’s largest public libraries.
“Public libraries serve the needs of our society that can’t be served through the markets,” said Robert Young, founder and CEO of Lulu.com. “The value of ibiblio is that it stores content and cultural icons that people don’t know how to monetize. Without storing such content, they may disappear from human experience.”
ibiblio.org, which will celebrate its 18th birthday in October, was one of the first Web sites on the Internet. It historically has been a pioneer in a number of areas, including Internet radio. Today, ibiblio is home to one of the largest “collection of collections” on the Internet and hosts nearly 2,500 non-software related projects.
Jones said the $50,000 gift will be used to help ibiblio staff with upcoming projects, including a recent move in data centers and a shift to cloud computing.
“This gift comes at a very pivotal time for us since it will assist in our transition to a new, more affordable data center, which will ultimately save us thousands of dollars every year,” Jones said. “We are grateful to Lulu.com and to the Foundation for the generous support they’ve provided.”
Jones has been on TechJournal South’s list of the most influential Southeast Internet experts and a participant at its Internet Summit.
TechJournal South editor and writer Allan Maurer has been an adjunct professor at the UNC School of Journalism and Mass Communication.
Prostatic acid phosphatase (PAP), seen here on the membranes of pain-sensing neurons (yellow), enduringly suppresses chronic pain. PAP could potentially provide long-lasting pain relief when administered before injury or inflammation, such as before surgery. (Photo: Mark Zylka)
CHAPEL HILL, NC – Here’s good news for chronic pain sufferers. Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have found a way to halt chronic pain by stealing a key molecule from a major pain pathway. The finding may dramatically reduce chronic pain in many surgical patients.
An enzyme, prostatic acid phosphatase, or PAP, the researchers found, blocks pain in animal models by siphoning off a molecule called PIP2—a critical component of the chemical cascade behind chronic pain.
What’s more, PAP appears to keep on blocking pain symptoms long after it is injected.
“If you inject PAP before nerve injury or before causing inflammation, PAP has a very long-lasting effect on the pain sensitization that follows,” said Mark Zylka, lead researcher. “It has the potential to block or dramatically reduce pain, possibly in surgical settings.”
Millions suffer chronic pain
Tens of millions of Americans suffer from chronic pain. This long-lasting pain is caused by a series of events along nerve cell membranes that make neurons hypersensitive. Injecting excess PAP into the system triggers a parallel series of reactions that makes it harder for this pain cascade to fire.
“Essentially PAP robs the cell of PIP2 so pro-pain pathways can’t signal as effectively,” explained Zylka. The team conducted their research using cell cultures and mice.
Using PAP to deplete PIP2 represents a promising new approach to treating chronic pain. “This is something people haven’t really focused on yet,” Zylka said. “We’re going right to the source of these pathways.”
In previous studies using mice, the team found that injecting PAP after an injury reduces sensitivity to both heat (like touching a hot burner) and mechanical sensitization (like the pain from brushing sunburned skin) for three days.
Patients undergoing major surgery occasionally receive pain relievers through spinal injections just before the surgery begins. This study suggests that injecting PAP along with those other pain relievers might reduce patients’ need for analgesics like opiates in the days following surgery. Future studies with patients will be needed to verify these possibilities.
“Ultimately, we’re very interested in other pain-related mechanisms that regulate PIP2 levels in cells. Any one of those mechanisms could be targeted for the treatment of chronic pain,” Zylka said. Such research could provide new drugs for patients who already have chronic pain.
To contact TechJournal South Editor & Writer Allan Maurer: Allan at TechJournalSouth dot com.
CHAPEL HILL – A normally benign protein found in the human body appears to be able – when paired with nanoparticles – to zero in on and kill certain cancer cells, without having to also load those particles with chemotherapy drugs.
The finding could lead to a new strategy for targeted cancer therapies, according to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill scientists who made the discovery.
However, they also cautioned that the result raises concerns about unanticipated “off-target” effects when designing nano-delivery agents.
Transferrin, the fourth most abundant protein in human blood, has been used as a tumor-targeting agent for delivering cancer drugs for almost two decades. The protein’s receptor is over-expressed on the surface of many rapidly growing cancers cells, so treatments combined with transferrin ligands are able to seek out and bind to them. Nanoparticles infused with transferrin have long been regarded as safe and nontoxic.
Now, UNC researchers have shown that, surprisingly, attaching transferrin to a nanoparticle surface can effectively and selectively target and kill B-cell lymphoma cells, found in an aggressive form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. It had been thought that nanoparticles would also need to carry toxic chemotherapy agents to have such an effect.
The scientists say the result is an interesting development in the field of nanomedicine, which researchers hope will eventually provide widely accepted alternatives – or replacements – to chemo and radiation treatment.
The discovery was made by a team of researchers led by Joseph DeSimone, Ph.D., Chancellor’s Eminent Professor of Chemistry in UNC’s College of Arts and Sciences and William R. Kenan Jr. Distinguished Professor of Chemical Engineering at North Carolina State University, along with Jin Wang, Ph.D., and Shaomin Tian, Ph.D., in DeSimone’s lab. Their findings appear in this week’s online issue of the Journal of the American Chemical Society.
CHAPEL HILL, NC - Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman, hosts of the Discovery Channel television show “MythBusters” -are coming to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Morehead Planetarium and Science Center as part of the North Carolina Science Festival Sept. 11-26.
“An Afternoon with Adam and Jamie” will begin at 2 p.m. Sept. 19 in UNC’s Dean E. Smith Center. The event is part of the first-ever statewide science festival in the United States. UNC’s Morehead Planetarium and Science Center coordinates the festival, with participation by museums, parks, community sites and other facilities throughout the state.
Both Savage and Hyneman are known for their work in special effects. Savage’s credits include more than a dozen feature films, including “Star Wars,” “The Matrix” and “Terminator” movies. Hyneman has produced effects for more than 800 commercials and designed fighting machines for “Robot Wars” and “BattleBots.”
In each episode of their TV show, Savage, Hyneman and their team of investigators apply scientific method to commonly held beliefs, testing myths with lava lamps, rockets, sharks, port-a-potties and other items not found in the typical science lab. Their experiments have included converting a vacuum cleaner into a jet engine, swinging 360 degrees around a swingset and floating on a raft filled with helium.
During the 90-minute program, Savage and Hyneman will share stories from behind the scenes of their popular show. They will also feature special video presentations of spectacular explosions and other “for fans only” outtakes.
Savage and Hyneman have completed nearly 170 episodes and tested more than 700 myths for the Discovery Channel’s “MythBusters,” which first aired in 2003 and just received its second Emmy Award nomination for “outstanding reality program.”
The program includes a question-and-answer session led by Chancellor Holden Thorp, with opportunities for questions from the audience.
Tickets go on sale July 26, through www.tarheelblue.com. Lower-level seats are $28 per person, and upper-level seats are $18 per person.
CHAPEL HILL, NC – To promote investment in clean energy, the U.S. Department of Energy has awarded $2.2 million to a national team that includes the Environmental Finance Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and teams in DC and Kentucky.
Other members of the team are the Center for Climate Strategies (team leaders), and Ballard Spahr law firm, both based in Washington, D.C.; Northcross, Hill and Ach law firm in San Rafael, Calif., the University of Delaware Center for Energy and Environmental Policy in Newark, Del.; and the E.P. Systems Group in Covington, Ky. The project began in April and will continue through December 2012.
The group will provide technical assistance services to state and local recipients of 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding through the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant and State Energy Program funds. The UNC center is coordinating this effort on behalf of the nationwide Environmental Finance Center Network.
To date, it has worked with the state governments of North Carolina, Hawaii, Missouri and Wisconsin and the municipal governments of Asheville, Charlotte and Greensboro, N.C.; Knoxville, Tenn., and Los Angeles, among others.
Although governments can use existing financing strategies to adopt clean energy projects in local communities, the process can be complex. The Environmental Finance Center helps local governments navigate the unique laws of their area and the requirements of local stakeholders. The center also identifies ways to leverage their efforts through private investment or projects that can recirculate funding, such as revolving loan programs that promote job creation.
CHAPEL HILL – North Carolina will be the national model for a new system to detect the earliest signs of an impending bioterrorism attack and provide warnings in time to minimize damage to human and animal life as well as the environment.
The model, called North Carolina Bio-Preparedness Collaborative (NCB-Prepared), will alert health officials and practitioners within hours of symptom outbreaks that might indicate a bioterrorist attack, threat of disease, food-borne illness or other threats to public health and safety.
The congressionally funded one-year, $5 million project is a cooperative agreement between the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Initial collaborators include UNC-Chapel Hill, North Carolina State University and SAS Institute. The effort includes participation of the N.C. Division of Public Health and the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Durham, as well as others from the public and private sectors.
Rep. David Price, D-NC, chairman of the House Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee, was instrumental in bringing together experts in threat detection, data collection and dissemination, emergency preparedness and computer analytics to develop a model early warning system. He also sponsored a measure in Congress to provide a $5 million grant to fund the NCB-Prepared project. As subcommittee chairman, Price has examined various approaches to detecting and responding to biological threats.
“The goal of this groundbreaking effort is to save lives in the event of a major biological event, whether naturally occurring or manmade – to provide reliable early detection of an event and to inform a successful response by our public health system,” Price said. “In North Carolina, we have the advantage of state-of-the-art health information systems and unparalleled collaboration among institutions that will be brought to bear in this ambitious effort.”
The project was launched today at UNC’s Gillings School of Global Public Health. Speakers included Price; Tom McGinn, senior health advisor, office of health affairs, U.S. Department of Homeland Security; Lanier Cansler, secretary, N.C. Department of Health and Human Services; Tony Waldrop, vice chancellor for research and economic development, UNC-Chapel Hill; and Warwick Arden, provost, NC State.
NCB-Prepared will draw on a wide array of human health data (such as physician’s clinical notes, electronic hospital records, school nurse logs, prescription databases and over-the-counter medication sales) and information from the rest of the biosphere (such as animal health records, air quality measurements and food safety data). Using advanced analytical programs, the project aims to detect a public health threat long before it would surface in traditional disease surveillance systems.
The project builds on existing state surveillance capabilities such as NC-DETECT, one of the most advanced surveillance systems in the country, which analyzes hospital emergency room and other data several times a day.
Cairns and Hoit said the program emerged from the urgent need for faster recognition and more effective response to biological diseases and threats.
“Federal and state agencies are aware that the U.S. does not currently have sufficient ability to accurately detect and quickly analyze biological hazards to ensure public health and safety,” they said.
A visualization of a network of Facebook connections, from previous related research by Mucha and others. Credit: Amanda L. Traud, Christina Frost, UNC-Chapel Hill.
CHAPEL HILL, NC – Networks permeate modern life, from Facebook to political allegiances. Now University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill mathematicians and colleagues have developed a new technique for examining networks to help identify patterns and see how connections evolve.
One of the most prominent areas of network science is the study of what’s called the “community structure” of a network. But until now, key methods could only detect “communities” (well-connected groups of nodes) in networks that don’t change over time and only have one type of connection.
Of course, most networks in real life are more complicated, said Peter J. Mucha, Ph.D., associate professor of mathematics in the UNC College of Arts and Sciences and lead author of the paper. The new technique offers the ability to examine networks that vary over time and have multiple kinds of connections.
Connecting the dots
“It’s ‘connecting the dots’ on steroids,” Mucha said. “This method offers new potential for handling a fire hose of information, whether you’re looking at an online social network or a real-world web of people or things.”
“Facebook is a good example of a tangled web of connections,” he said. “Within it, there are groups of people who are more tightly connected to each other than they are to other groups. If you map out every individual ‘friend’ connection and trace one connection to another, you’ll see some clumpiness to that network.”
The new method divides a network into multiple “slices,” with each slice representing the network at one snapshot in time, or a different set of connections between the individuals within it. These slices are then combined and – by using a variety of computer algorithms – analyzed to identify communities.
With the new community detection method, researchers should be able to dig deeper to examine the relationships among different groups in dynamic, multiplex data.
We suspect Internet marketers will be interested in this.
Mucha believes another potential application for the new method is modeling the spread of diseases. He plans new research in that area.