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    Vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP) controls the development of the nervous system and its functions through VPAC1 receptor signaling: Lessons from microcephaly and hyperalgesia in VIP-deficient mice.

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    The studies carried out during my PhD demonstrate that VIP-deficient mice suffer from microcephaly and as well as white matter deficits mainly due to the absence of maternal VIP during embryogenesis, Placental secretion of VIP is dependent on T lymphocytes and could be altered in pathologies of the immune system. Moreover, our data links VIP deficiency to sensory alterations, specifically, the nociceptive system. Thus, it is possible that early developmental defects and hypersensitivity to mechanical and cold stimuli are two manifestations of the same pathology. This hypothesis was reinforced following analysis of spontaneous firing patterns of neurons in the sensory thalamus of anesthetized adult males. Neurons from VIP-KO mice are hyperactive, which suggests aberrant local processing of nociceptive input or that the inhibitory inputs from local interneuron networks is reduced.National Research Foundation (South Africa

    Lessons from 10 years of growth in research output

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    In December 2013, Nobel Prize-winning physicist Peter Higgs made a startling announcement. “Today I wouldn't get an academic job,” he told The Guardian. “It's as simple as that. I don't think I would be regarded as productive enough.” Higgs noted that quantity, not quality, is the metric by which success in the sciences in measured. Unlike in 1964, when he was hired, scientists are now pressured to churn out as many papers as possible in order to retain their jobs. Had he not been nominated for the Nobel, Higgs says, he would have been fired. His scientific discovery was made possible by his era’s relatively lax publishing norms, which left him time to think, dream, and discover

    Lessons from the DHET accreditation of publications

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    One of the goals for the higher education system in SA as “to secure and advance high-level research capacity which can ensure both the continuation of self-initiated open-ended intellectual inquiry and the sustained application of research activities to technological improvement and social development”

    The identity of Barbus capensis Smith, 1841 and the generic status of southern African tetraploid cyprinids (Teleostei, Cyprinidae)

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    The identity of Barbus capensis, as described by Andrew Smith (1841), is reviewed following a careful examination of the lectotype in the Natural History Museum, London. Evidence shows clearly that it represents a specimen of the Berg-Breede River whitefish or ‘witvis’ and not the species known as the Clanwilliam yellowfish, to which it was attributed until recently. The original illustration of the species is shown to be a composite of these two different species. A replacement name for the Clanwilliam yellowfish is drawn from the earliest described synonym, Labeobarbus seeberi (Gilchrist & Thompson, 1913). Following widespread recognition that the genus Barbus Daudin, 1805 does not occur in sub-Saharan Africa, the generic status of the Berg-Breede River whitefish (witvis) and other tetraploid cyprinines of southern Africa is reviewed, taking genetic and morphological characters into account. Five distinct lineages, each representing a genus, are recognized, including the genera Pseudobarbus Smith, 1841 and Cheilobarbus Smith, 1841, and three new genera described herein: Amatolacypris gen. nov., Sedercypris gen. nov. and Namaquacypris gen. nov.National Research Foundation (South Africa

    State of Repositories in South Africa & The African Open Science Platform: South Africa-CODATA Project

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    State of Repositories in South Africa & The African Open Science Platform presented at the South Africa-CODATA Project.National Research Foundation (South Africa

    Influence of environmental variables on the larval stages of anchovy, Engraulis encrasicolus, and sardine, Sardinops sagax, in Algoa Bay, South Africa

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    We investigated the environmental drivers of larval abundance of anchovy Engraulis encrasicolus and sardine Sardinops sagax in Algoa Bay, Eastern Cape (South Africa). This study comprised a pre-drought post-drought time period, comparing the responses of the fish larvae to different factors before and after the drought. The current study presents, for the first time, which environmental variables are affecting the anchovy and sardine larvae populations in the region. Easterly wind speed and zooplankton density were the only environmental variables that presented a significant change between the pre- and post-drought periods, increasing after the drought. Generalized additive models (GAMs) were used in order to explore the effects that environmental factors might have in the abundance of anchovy and sardine larvae in Algoa Bay. Specifically, the GAM that best explained the deviance of the anchovy larvae dynamics included the covariates rainfall, easterly wind speed, Chl a concentration, sardine larvae abundance and the interactions SST*Chla and sard*SST. The GAM best explaining sardine larvae abundance included only the easterly wind speed as a covariate. This model showed that there was a positive relationship between the higher values of wind speed and sardine larvae abundance

    ASSAf and unethical practices: membership and scholarly publishing

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    Annual nomination and election of members to ASSAf Current ASSAf members nominate new members ASSAf subject panels that screens the nominated members according to set criteria i.e top ten publications Selected nominated members publications are screened Back to ASSAf subject panels for final discussion and consideration Final names to members for voting What did it imply for ASSAf—additional layer in the workflow of checking the publications with recommendations to ASSAf panel. (Missing articles, What is the incidence rate? Extremely low– 1.3% over two year perio

    Silica diatom shells tailored with Au nanoparticles enable sensitive analysis of molecules for biological, safety and environment applications

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    Diatom shells are a natural, theoretically unlimited material composed of silicon dioxide, with regular patterns of pores penetrating through their surface. For their characteristics, diatom shells show promise to be used as low cost, highly efficient drug carriers, sensor devices or other micro-devices. Here, we demonstrate diatom shells functionalized with gold nanoparticles for the harvesting and detection of biological analytes (bovine serum albumin—BSA) and chemical pollutants (mineral oil) in low abundance ranges, for applications in bioengineering, medicine, safety, and pollution monitoring.National Research Foundation (South Africa

    Lessons from the DHET Accreditation of Publications

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    The purpose is ‘to encourage research productivity by rewarding quality research output and enhancing productivity by recognising the major types of research output, using appropriate proxies (such as scholarliness; peer review; conformity to academic writing and addressing specialists in the respective field) to determine quality of such output

    Underdogs on top : troubling positions for boys and a diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

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    Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) accounts for one of the largest number of health referrals amongst children. As a mental health diagnosis, it has undergone multiple conceptual revisions over the years, where it is now classed as a neurodevelopmental disorder. ADHD remains a highly controversial subject, sparking debate at the interface of parenting responsibilities, effective schooling practices, predisposing trauma, and the ethics of the medicated child. In the midst of these debates, one of the strongest issues to emerge is the high proportion of boys that are diagnosed with ADHD, as well as the sex and gender divide in symptoms, referral, and treatment choice. Lack of research involving children, particularly those with disabilities, highlights the limitations of ableist and developmental assumptions. Although there is a growing body of peer-reviewed literature on young people’s experiences of ADHD, these accounts tend toward the descriptive and fail to take account of how young people manage their condition as part of identity-making processes. Given the above, the main objective of the study was to understand how boys who were diagnosed with ADHD understood their illness and managed their condition in a school setting. Educators’ views were also sought to bring an adult perspective to this issue. The study was guided by feminist post-structural ethnography, located at one public full service school named Riven Primary. Given the in-depth nature of the study, attention was also granted to situated performances of boys across Remedial and Mainstream learning spaces and public or private conversational spaces. Analysis focused on group interactions and private interviews with nine boys aged 9 to 11 years of age, all of whom had previously received a diagnosis of ADHD and medical forms of management. Five of these boys were enrolled in the on-site Remedial Unit, while four boys were based within the Mainstream section of the school. Separate focus group interviews were also held with Remedial and Mainstream educators from the site. Analysis of the educator and boy accounts reinforce the power and prevalence of the biomedical discourse. Accounts of ADHD stigma was related to observed behaviours and public responses towards diagnosis and medication. Educators’ perceptions of risk and vulnerability associated with ADHD typically intersected with broader social assumptions of childhood, sex, and gender. For this group, three broad storylines emerged (flunk, hunk, or punk), which provide different claims as to the deterministic nature of ADHD and the levels of accountability for the child and the family system. Medication was a powerful signifier for responsibility and success, among boys and educators alike. It was also symbolic of chronic illness and weakened masculinities. Boys were palpably aware of their ADHD-related social and educational vulnerabilities that rendered them as biologically faulty, underachieving, and unhinged outcasts. However, the label of ADHD or the experience of medication was not taken up by all boys in a one-dimensional manner. Instead, there were tendencies to reinforce, resist and, at times, reframe representations of the unruly ADHD child through resources and strategies that spoke to broader narratives of success, maturity, and heroism. In this regard, the so-called “Underdogs” worked very hard to regain credibility through discourses of shared disadvantage, as well as a passion and determination to succeed through adherence to the ADHD medication. Boys were also careful not to take up illness positions when it rendered them powerless. Typically, masculine constructs such as sport and future employment were constructed as potentially enabling spaces for ADHD, in efforts to counter responses around illness and dependency on medication. In general, the study findings resist the notion of ADHD as a singular, universal concept and instead make a cogent argument for the socially situated nature of the diagnosis. The feminist post-structural analytical frame helped to disrupt simplistic constructions of ADHD through making visible the impairments boys experienced at the interface of shifting social identifiers and in different conversational contexts. These situated performances ultimately worked to reframe their disabilities and masculinities in either beneficial or problematic ways. Engaging in research that involves children with disabilities elevates discourses of risk, stigma, and protection. Working in these contexts makes visible the insecurities that plague research development and clinical practice, while also expanding considerations of what constitutes ethical conduct for adult stakeholders. In closing, recommendations are made for investing in strength-based or resiliency enhancing processes that help boys cope with the stigma associated with ADHD.National Research Foundation (South Africa


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