Tag Archives: Scientist

COVID: German politicians, scientists face threats online | Germany | News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | Instant News


“Hang him from the tree, once and for all,” wrote one user. “How come he’s still not locked up?” others asked.

These are just two examples of online abuse received by German lawmaker and virologist Karl Lauterbach, who posted screenshots on his Twitter account over the weekend.

“A wave of hatred rolled me online,” Lauterbach wrote. “The threat of death and humiliation is hard to bear. Time and time again, there have been calls for violence.”

Much of the abuse centers around the important role Lauterbach has taken stricter shutdown to fight the spread of the corona virus pandemic. Members of the center-left Social Democrats, junior coalition partners in government, have been vocal with projections of a possible pandemic development without strict boundaries.

‘Hostility towards scientists’

Lauterbach is not the only public figure who owns it accepting more online harassment over the past year. In Berlin alone, reported online hate speech rose 45% in the first 11 months of 2020 compared to the previous year, according to the city’s justice department.

Statistics for all of Germany for 2020 are still in compilation.

“It’s definitely not a new phenomenon that people who are in public are treated with hostility online,” Christoph Hebbeckerm, from Cybercrime Headquarters in North Rhine-Westphalia, told DW. “But we suspect there are more incidents due to the pandemic.”

And counselors and advisory services have also seen a spike in requests for help.

“At the start of the pandemic, we actually saw a decrease in the number of questions asked for advice, which we can’t really explain,” said Josephine Ballon of HateAid, a Berlin-based foundation that offers support and counseling to victims of hate online. speech. “Some time later, however, this trend reversed and we are currently reaching new weekly highs in counseling rates.”

“In the context of a pandemic, we are observing increasing hostility towards scientists and politicians,” he added.

Scientists become victims

Virologist Melanie Brinkmann, one of the scientists advising Chancellor Angela Merkel about the pandemic response, said Spiegel magazine that she was scared at home because of the online threats she received. Dan Gerald Haug, head of the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, told: RND media outlet that, although he himself is not active on the internet, he has received hate and online threats over the past year.

A number of well-known scientists have spoken out against it called Querdenker, or “lateral thinkers,” who have gained traction in Germany in recent years. Its adherents believe the coronavirus is a hoax and have held protests, sometimes illegally, to protest restrictions on public life. Participants in these demonstrations included far-right extremists who turned violent when police asked them to comply with pandemic restrictions such as social distancing and wearing masks.

“We are observing an increase in hate speech in relation to criticism of the actions of the coronavirus,” said Ballon. “Approaching demonstration in Berlin, we are even seeing very serious threats against people who, among other things, oppose online conspiracy theory and hate narratives. “

And it’s not just national figures like Lauterbach who are the target.

“A doctor in Cologne who questioned reports suggesting that wearing masks had a damaging effect on the muscles of the respiratory tract received hate messages online,” said Hebbecker. “We never heard of an incident like that before the pandemic.”

Due to the restrictions on the coronavirus, more and more people are turning to the internet to get information and interact with other people.

“We assume that the increased need for counseling is due to a greater shift in social life to the internet,” said Ballon.

Hebbecker said his cybercrime unit was working on a “hypothesis” that more hate had been online during the shutdown as people spent more time on the internet.

Worldwide problem

This phenomenon is not unique to Germany. A studied by tech giant Microsoft indicates that reported hate speech will increase by 4% in 2020 in the Asia-Pacific region. In the United States, President Joe Biden’s top immunologist and chief medical adviser Anthony Fauci has received resentment online for his stance calling for stricter regulations and criticizing former President Donald Trump’s pandemic response.

And, apart from pandemics, online hate speech has been a precursor to recent attacks and terrorist acts, for example the invasion of the US Capitol on January 6.

In Germany, neo-Nazi terrorists are behind the 2019 killings in Halle and the murder of politician Walter Lübcke, also reportedly being radicalized online.

“The increasing hostility towards scientists and politicians is primarily aimed at undermining their legitimacy,” said Ballon. “In our view, however, this started in 2015 in light of the so-called refugee crisis, in which pro-refugee politicians were attacked and democratic structures were called into question.”

Partly because of the attention Lauterbach has brought to the matter, the German government is considering tightening the online hate speech law. Justice Minister Christine Lambrecht told RND on Tuesday that he realized that “anyone who contributes with facts to help us fight the pandemic better will be inundated with threats.”

“This must eventually end,” he said.

However, the government has yet to offer a time frame for the new regulations to take effect. Meanwhile, Lauterbach, for example, has indicated online hatred will not stop him from commenting on the pandemic.

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COVID: German politicians and scientists face threats online | Germany | News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | Instant News


“Hang him from the tree, once and for all,” wrote one user. “How come he’s still not locked up?” others asked.

These are just two examples of online abuse received by German lawmaker and virologist Karl Lauterbach, who posted screenshots on his Twitter account over the weekend.

“A wave of hatred rolled me online,” Lauterbach wrote. “The threat of death and humiliation is hard to bear. Time and time again, there have been calls for violence.”

Much of the abuse centers around the important role Lauterbach has taken tighter locking to fight the spread of the corona virus pandemic. Members of the center-left Social Democrats, junior coalition partners in the German federal government, have also been vocal in predicting the dramatic developments the pandemic could make without strict boundaries.

2020 sees new highs

Lauterbach is not the only public figure who owns it accepting more online harassment over the past year. In Berlin alone, reported online hate speech rose 45% in the first 11 months of 2020 compared to the previous year, according to the city’s justice department.

Statistics for all of Germany for 2020 are still being compiled, but experts say they suspect they will also show an increase in online hate nationwide.

“It is definitely not a new phenomenon that people who are in public are treated with hostility online,” Christoph Hebbecker of the Cybercrime Office in North Rhine-Westphalia told DW. “But we suspect there are more incidents due to the pandemic.”

And counselors and advisory services have also seen a spike in requests for help.

“At the start of the pandemic, we actually saw a decrease in the number of questions asked for advice, which we can’t really explain,” said Josephine Ballon of HateAid, a Berlin-based foundation that offers support and counseling to victims of hate online. speech. “Some time later, however, this trend reversed and we are currently reaching new weekly highs in counseling rates.”

“In the context of a pandemic, we are observing increasing hostility towards scientists and politicians,” he added.

Scientists become victims

Virologist Melanie Brinkmann, one of the scientists advising Chancellor Angela Merkel about the pandemic response, said that Spiegel newspaper This week she has been feeling scared at home because of the online threats she has received. And Gerald Haug, head of the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, told me media outlets RND that although he himself is not active on the internet, he has received hate and online threats over the past year.

A number of well-known scientists have spoken out against it which are called Lateral thinker, or lateral thinkers, a movement that gained traction in Germany last year. His followers believe the coronavirus is a hoax and have held demonstrations, sometimes illegally, to protest restrictions on public life. Participants in this demonstration included far-right extremists who turned violent when police asked them to comply with coronavirus restrictions such as social distancing and wearing protective masks.

“We are observing an increase in hate speech in light of criticism of the actions of the coronavirus,” said Josephine Ballon of HateAid. “Approaching demonstration in Berlin we even see very serious threats against people who, among other things, oppose online conspiracy theory and hate narratives. “

And it’s not just national figures like Lauterbach who are being targeted; this phenomenon can also be seen at the local level.

“A doctor in Cologne who questioned reports that wearing masks had a damaging effect on the muscles of the respiratory tract received hate messages online,” recalls Christoph Hebbecker. “We never heard of an incident like that before the pandemic.”

Due to the restrictions on the coronavirus, more and more people are turning to the internet to get information and interact with other people.

“We assume that the increased need for counseling is due to a greater shift in social life to the internet,” said Ballon. Hebbecker agrees, saying his cybercrime unit is working under the “hypothesis” that more hate has gone online because of the lockdown, as people are spending more time on the internet.

Worldwide problem

This phenomenon is not unique to Germany. A studied by tech giant Microsoft indicates that reported hate speech will increase by 4% in 2020 in the Asia-Pacific region. In the United States, President Joe Biden’s top immunologist and chief medical adviser Anthony Fauci has received resentment online for his stance calling for stricter regulations and criticizing former President Donald Trump’s pandemic response.

And apart from pandemics, online hate speech has been a precursor to recent physical hate crimes and terrorist acts, for example the invasion of the US Capitol on January 6.

In Germany, neo-Nazi terrorists are behind the killings in Halle and the murder of politician Walter Lübcke, is also suspected of being radicalized online.

“The increasing hostility towards scientists and politicians is primarily aimed at undermining their legitimacy,” explained Ballon. “However, in our view, it has already started [in Germany] in 2015 in connection with the so-called refugee crisis, in which pro-refugee politicians were attacked and democratic structures called into question. “

Partly because of Lauterbach’s concern for the issue, the German government is considering tightening laws around online hate speech. Justice Minister Christine Lambrecht informed RND on Tuesday that he realized that “Whoever contributes with facts to help us fight the pandemic better will be inundated with threats.”

“This must eventually end,” he added.

However, the government has yet to offer a time frame for the new regulations to take effect. Meanwhile, Lauterbach, for example, has indicated online hatred will not stop him from commenting on the pandemic.

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Covid 19 coronavirus: Dr Siouxsie Wiles called on Air New Zealand to stop serving food and drink, criticizing the link to the research | Instant News


A prominent scientist has called Air New Zealand for encouraging passengers to remove masks by serving food and drinks on short flights.

However, the airline said it had recently discussed the matter with health officials, and they supported the food and drink served.

Infectious disease expert, Associate Professor Siouxsie Wiles tagged the national airline on a Twitter thread today, saying she had contacted Air NZ several times to question its policy of serving snacks and drinks on domestic flights, but never received a response.

The current approach means people take off their masks.

“They only serve cookies or chips. It’s not like we can’t last an hour or two without them,” Wiles, an Associate Professor at the University of Auckland, and who has become one of the faces of the science community. responding to Covid-19, said the thread.

“This makes me very angry, because they got a massive bailout from the government to keep them alive and of course in return they have to do their part for our team of 5 million people.”

Air New Zealand chief executive Greg Foran said questions about serving food and drinks had been checked with the Ministry of Health “recently, and they are supporting us to continue this service under Alert Level 1”

“We continue to have regular dialogue around our arrangements with the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Transportation to ensure we are keeping everyone safe. Customers, of course, are still required to wear masks or face masks when they are not eating or drinking.

“I travel with our domestic service once a week serving tea and coffee and in my experience, about two-thirds of our customers choose to enjoy a cup of tea or coffee and a snack while on the plane.”

University of Otago epidemiologist Professor Michael Baker said the government needed to issue clearer rules around face masks.

Until that happens, he said it was understandable that there was uncertainty from both organizations such as Air NZ and individuals about the best approach.

Wiles also raised concerns about the linking of Air NZ employees to a new research paper “by Plan B children,” advocating easing border restrictions.

“It’s only because we followed Plan A and not Plan B that we can even fly safely internally now,” he wrote.

The report was referenced by Wiles, “Estimating the effect of selective border relaxation on Covid-19 in New Zealand”, called for a “traffic light” system to be put in place at the border, under which international travelers are judged according to the Covid-19 situation in their home countries.

Co-authors include Dr Simon Thornley, an epidemiologist at the University of Auckland and part of the “Plan B” group who argued that the lockdown was an overreaction to Covid-19, and Air NZ’s chief medical officer, Dr Ben Johnston.

This research was funded by Auckland International Airport. Wiles followed up on his initial social media post by tweeting an apology to Air NZ for falsely claiming the airline was funding some of the research.

Under the proposed traffic light system, travel will not be restricted from locations free of Covid-19.

Report released yesterday but written in August 2020.

The study predicts more than 60,000 travelers a month will come to the country under the model, up from 11,271 who entered in August 2020.

Foran said the study was carried out by a “safe border project”, which involves him and others in the industry, “and is not linked to Plan B”.

“This is one part of a wider work that is considering options for safe travel as we manage the long-term effects of Covid-19. This pandemic is clearly growing rapidly and research is being carried out back in mid-2020 before a new variant of Covid-19 exists. We are continuing to work closely with the Ministry of Health and Transport to consider options if borders are opened. “

Responding to the study, Professor Michael Plank of Te Pūnaha Matatini and the University of Canterbury, said such a system means violations such as those seen recently at the Pullman Hotel will occur 20-50 percent more frequently.

“The study authors claim that the latest requirements for the pre-departure test will reduce this risk. However, this is far from clear as the pre-departure test is imperfect and many travelers are already required to take the pre-departure test on their airline or country of transit. . “

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Swiss- Electro-stimulation treatment helps patients with spinal cord injuries | Instant News


(MENAFN – Swissinfo) A team of Swiss and Canadian scientists have developed a targeted electrical stimulation treatment for patients with spinal cord injuries that allows them to regain control over their blood pressure.

Content published January 28, 2021 – 16:39 January 28, 2021 – 16:39 EPFL / swissinfo.ch / sb

Based on previous research using targeted electrical stimulation of the spinal cord via a wireless implant to help disabled people walk again, scientists from the federal institute of technology in Lausanne (EPFL) and the University of Calgary conducted an experiment to provide electrical stimulation in a region containing neural circuits that regulate it. blood pressure.

Spinal cord injuries result in unstable blood pressure, which can reduce quality of life and be life threatening. Unfortunately, there is no effective therapy for unstable blood pressure after spinal cord injury.

During their experiment, the team delivered real-time adapted electrical stimulation based on measurements taken by a blood pressure monitor implanted in an artery. This monitor measures blood pressure continuously, and adjusts the instructions sent to the pacemaker which in turn sends electrical pulses to the spinal cord.

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Following tests on pre-clinical rodent models and non-human primates, they tested the models on human patients. Their research is published in the latest journal External Nature link.

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“I suffer from low blood pressure every day, especially in the morning and evening,” said Richi, 38. “But because I already have implants, they happen much less frequently – maybe once every few weeks.”

Richi lost the use of all four of his limbs after a sports accident. Those daily episodes of hypotension are a real burden. They also interfere with my vision and prevent me from doing even simple daily tasks. Electrical stimulation treatment provides great relief – much more effective than medication. ‘

The scientists intend to continue their research thanks to a grant received from the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). At the same time, Onward (formerly GTX Medical) – a new company based in EPFL and in the Netherlands – will develop and market clinical devices based on the team’s findings.

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“ These results open up exciting possibilities not only for treating hypotension in people with chronic spinal cord injuries but also in the very early phases after injury that can improve overall recovery, including treating paralysis, ” said EPFL neurologist Grégoire Courtine. “We really hope to develop treatments that can impact people living with spinal cord injuries.”

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Electro-stimulation helps paralyzed patients walk again

This content was published on 31 Oct 2018 31 Oct 2018

Researchers in Switzerland have helped three paralyzed patients walk through electrical stimulation of the spinal cord using wireless implants.

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NZ scientists are pushing closer to revealing the role of genes in Parkinson’s disease | Instant News


Despite decades of research, and its impact on one in 500 New Zealanders and millions more worldwide, Parkinson’s disease remains a medical mystery. Photo / 123RF

Kiwi scientists are trying to get closer to revealing the important role one gene plays in the development of Parkinson’s disease.

A new study comes after research in New Zealand, supported by the charity of world-renowned Hollywood star Michael J Fox, sheds light on the fascinating link of the gene to the notorious neurodegenerative condition.

Parkinson’s is a progressive neurodegenerative condition caused by a lack of dopamine in the brain, resulting in slow and awkward movements.

Despite decades of research, and its impact on one in 500 New Zealanders and millions more worldwide, the disease remains a medical mystery.

Doctors don’t yet know why most people develop it and for those who are diagnosed, there is no cure.

Associate Professor Justin O'Sullivan from the University of Auckland's Liggins Institute led the research team.  Photo / Provided
Associate Professor Justin O’Sullivan from the University of Auckland’s Liggins Institute led the research team. Photo / Provided

Over the past few years, scientists have been pursuing promising new clues in the genetic mutation that is one of the biggest risk factors for the disease.

The specific gene involved is called acid beta glucoserebrosidase, or GBA.

Research has shown how GBA mutations inhibit enzymes that help clear out damaged or excess parts of cells, before they can build up to cause the damage seen in Parkinson’s disease.

Last August, a team led by Associate Professor Justin O’Sullivan, from the University of Auckland-based Liggins Institute, published findings that pinpoint the specific components of GBA that play a major role in regulating and delaying the onset of disease.

In the “non-coding” area of ​​GBA – once thought of as aimless “junk” DNA – the team screened 128 sites to find that, where the gene happened to have a specific combination of three short non-coding DNA sequences, Parkinson’s onset could be delayed by five. year.

They also identified six other non-coding regions that act as switches to control how the GBA gene is turned on or off in the brain’s movement and cognitive centers.

Scientists – funded in part by the Michael J Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research – are also creating maps showing how such switches affect other genes – apart from GBA – throughout the human body.

In the new study, supported by New Zealand’s Marsden Fund, O’Sullivan will work with University of Otago geneticist Professor Martin Kennedy to further explore the GBA puzzle.

Kennedy said the project proved to be an “accidental amalgamation” of initially separate research.

A large charity founded by famous Parkinson's sufferer, Michael J Fox, is putting money into research in New Zealand.  Photo / Wikimedia
A large charity founded by famous Parkinson’s sufferer, Michael J Fox, is putting money into research in New Zealand. Photo / Wikimedia

While O’Sullivan has focused on how gene expression is regulated in different cells, Kennedy and PhD student Oscar Graham has developed a new DNA sequencing method to check for mutations in the GBA gene.

When O’Sullivan and Kennedy sat together at the Queenstown conference to share their work, they realized what they could learn by putting it together.

“When put together, the two data sets show that not only clear mutations in GBA, but also a natural pattern of subtle variations in GBA genes, appear to impact Parkinson’s disease,” said Kennedy.

In addition, this may occur through changing the expression of perhaps 20 to 30 other genes.

Their joint study, which also involved the NZ Brain Research Institute’s renowned clinical director, Professor Tim Anderson, ultimately sought to confirm that subtle genetic changes in GBA do affect Parkinson’s early age.

But they also wanted to know why so many people who carry the GBA mutation don’t develop the disease.

Furthermore, they aim to build simpler ways of detecting variation so that it can be tested in larger studies, along with sophisticated new models exploring its effects in cell biology.

The team plans to import specific stem cells taken from Parkinson’s patients, which will be modified in the laboratory using the latest gene editing methods to provide cells with various forms of the GBA gene.

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“These cells can be differentiated in the laboratory into different cell types, such as certain brain cells, then we can see differences in gene expression due to the presence of different forms of the GBA gene,” explains Kennedy.

“Then we’ll set up experiments to better understand the biological impact of differences in expression of any gene, both in cultured cell models, and ultimately in humans.”

Kennedy expects this pioneering research to come up with challenges – particularly around modifying genes in cell lines, but also in understanding what the differences in gene expression caused by different forms of GBA actually mean.

“Until we discover those changes and start thinking about gene function, we won’t be able to plan proper experiments to answer the key questions of this research.”

But if successful, their research may prove important for ongoing efforts to understand and prevent Parkinson’s.

“GBA is the single biggest genetic factor we know of that underlies Parkinson’s, but we don’t really understand how it exerts its effects,” said Kennedy.

“In addition, drugs are being developed and piloted that target the GBA and its lines of operation, so it is increasingly important to understand all the how and why of the GBA.

“We believe our genetic work will lead to a better ability to predict Parkinson’s risk – and possibly allow targeting of treatment, or even prevention for people at high genetic risk who don’t already have it.”

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