354 research outputs found

    Altruism and Voluntary Provision of Public Goods

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    We study how people's predisposition towards altruism, as measured by tools developed by psychologists, affects their behavior in a voluntary contributions public good experiment. Earlier experiments provide evidence against the strong free rider hypothesis; however, contributions to the public good decrease with repetition. We investigate whether a high level of contributions can be sustained in groups of subjects who have been pre-selected on the basis of their altruistic inclinations. In the first stage of the experiment, each subject responds to a psychology questionnaire that measures various dimensions of one's personality. The subjects are then matched in groups according to their altruism scores, and engage in a voluntary contribution game. We consider whether the levels and dynamics of group contributions differ significantly between the groups with altruists and non-altruists. We find that subjects' altruism has a weak but positive effect on group behavior in the public good game.

    Altruism and voluntary provision of public goods

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    We study how people's predisposition towards altruism affects their behavior in a voluntary contributions public good experiment. We investigate whether a high level of contributions can be sustained in groups of subjects who have been pre-selected on the basis of their altruistic inclinations. In the first stage of the experiment, each subject responds to a psychology questionnaire that measures various dimensions of one''s personality. The subjects are then matched in groups according to their altruism scores, and engage in a voluntary contributions game. We consider whether the levels and dynamics of group contributions differ significantly between the groups with altruists and non-altruists. We find that subjects'' altruism has only a weak positive effect on group behavior in the public good game.Altruism

    Effects of added humic substances and nutrients on photochemical degradation of dissolved organic matter in a mesocosm amendment experiment in the Gulf of Finland, Baltic Sea

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    Humic substances, a component of terrestrial dissolved organic matter (tDOM), contribute to dissolved organic matter (DOM) and chromophoric DOM (CDOM) in coastal waters, and have significant impacts on biogeochemistry. There are concerns in recent years over browning effects in surface waters due to increasing tDOM inputs, and their negative impacts on aquatic ecosystems, but relatively little work has been published on estuaries and coastal waters. Photodegradation could be a significant sink for tDOM in coastal environments, but the rates and efficiencies are poorly constrained. We conducted large-scale DOM photodegradation experiments in mesocosms amended with humic substances and nutrients in the Gulf of Finland to investigate the potential of photochemistry to remove added tDOM and the interactions of DOM photochemistry with eutrophication. The added tDOM was photodegraded rapidly, as CDOM absorption decreased and spectral slopes increased with increasing photons absorbed in laboratory experiments. The in situ DOM optical properties became similar among the control, humic- and humic+nutrients-amended mesocosm samples toward the end of the amendment experiment, indicating degradation of the excess CDOM/DOM through processes including photodegradation. Nutrient additions did not significantly influence the effects of added humic substances on CDOM optical property changes, but induced changes in DOM removal.Peer reviewe

    MARK4 regulates NLRP3 positioning and inflammasome activation through a microtubule-dependent mechanism

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    Excessive activation of the NLR family pyrin domain containing 3 (NLRP3) inflammasome is involved in many chronic inflammatory diseases, including cardiovascular and Alzheimer’s disease. Here we show that microtubule-affinity regulating kinase 4 (MARK4) binds to NLRP3 and drives it to the microtubule-organizing centre, enabling the formation of one large inflammasome speck complex within a single cell. MARK4 knockdown or knockout, or disruption of MARK4-NLRP3 interaction, impairs NLRP3 spatial arrangement and limits inflammasome activation. Our results demonstrate how an evolutionarily conserved protein involved in the regulation of microtubule dynamics orchestrates NLRP3 inflammasome activation by controlling its transport to optimal activation sites, and identify a targetable function for MARK4 in the control of innate immunity

    Conducting retrospective impact analysis to inform a medical research charity’s funding strategies: The case of Asthma UK

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    © 2013 Hanney et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.This article has been made available through the Brunel Open Access Publishing Fund.BACKGROUND: Debate is intensifying about how to assess the full range of impacts from medical research. Complexity increases when assessing the diverse funding streams of funders such as Asthma UK, a charitable patient organisation supporting medical research to benefit people with asthma. This paper aims to describe the various impacts identified from a range of Asthma UK research, and explore how Asthma UK utilised the characteristics of successful funding approaches to inform future research strategies. METHODS: We adapted the Payback Framework, using it both in a survey and to help structure interviews, documentary analysis, and case studies. We sent surveys to 153 lead researchers of projects, plus 10 past research fellows, and also conducted 14 detailed case studies. These covered nine projects and two fellowships, in addition to the innovative case studies on the professorial chairs (funded since 1988) and the MRC-Asthma UK Centre in Allergic Mechanisms of Asthma (the ‘Centre’) which together facilitated a comprehensive analysis of the whole funding portfolio. We organised each case study to capture whatever academic and wider societal impacts (or payback) might have arisen given the diverse timescales, size of funding involved, and extent to which Asthma UK funding contributed to the impacts. RESULTS: Projects recorded an average of four peer-reviewed journal articles. Together the chairs reported over 500 papers. All streams of funding attracted follow-on funding. Each of the various categories of societal impacts arose from only a minority of individual projects and fellowships. Some of the research portfolio is influencing asthma-related clinical guidelines, and some contributing to product development. The latter includes potentially major breakthroughs in asthma therapies (in immunotherapy, and new inhaled drugs) trialled by university spin-out companies. Such research-informed guidelines and medicines can, in turn, contribute to health improvements. The role of the chairs and the pioneering collaborative Centre is shown as being particularly important. CONCLUSIONS: We systematically demonstrate that all types of Asthma UK’s research funding assessed are making impacts at different levels, but the main societal impacts from projects and fellowships come from a minority of those funded. Asthma UK used the study’s findings, especially in relation to the Centre, to inform research funding strategies to promote the achievement of impact.This study was funded by Asthma UK

    Dynamics of direct inter-pack encounters in endangered African wild dogs

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    Aggressive encounters may have important life history consequences due to the potential for injury and death, disease transmission, dispersal opportunities or exclusion from key areas of the home range. Despite this, little is known of their detailed dynamics, mainly due to the difficulties of directly observing encounters in detail. Here, we describe detailed spatial dynamics of inter-pack encounters in African wild dogs (Lycaon pictus), using data from custom-built high-resolution GPS collars in 11 free-ranging packs. On average, each pack encountered another pack approximately every 7 weeks and met each neighbour twice each year. Surprisingly, intruders were more likely to win encounters (winning 78.6% of encounters by remaining closer to the site in the short term). However, intruders did tend to move farther than residents toward their own range core in the short-term (1 h) post-encounter, and if this were used to indicate losing an encounter, then the majority (73.3%) of encounters were won by residents. Surprisingly, relative pack size had little effect on encounter outcome, and injuries were rare (<15% of encounters). These results highlight the difficulty of remotely scoring encounters involving mobile participants away from static defendable food resources. Although inter-pack range overlap was reduced following an encounter, encounter outcome did not seem to drive this, as both packs shifted their ranges post-encounter. Our results indicate that inter-pack encounters may be lower risk than previously suggested and do not appear to influence long-term movement and ranging

    Incident vertebral fractures and risk factors in the first three years following glucocorticoid initiation among pediatric patients with rheumatic disorders

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    Vertebral fractures are an important yet underrecognized manifestation of osteoporosis in children with chronic, glucocorticoid-treated illnesses. Our goal was to determine the incidence and clinical predictors of vertebral fractures in the 3 years following glucocorticoid initiation among pediatric patients with rheumatic disorders. Incident vertebral fractures were evaluated according to the Genant semiquantitative method on lateral radiographs at baseline and then annually in the 3 years following glucocorticoid initiation. Extended Cox models were used to assess the association between vertebral fractures and clinical risk predictors. A total of 134 children with rheumatic disorders were enrolled in the study (mean ± standard deviation (SD) age 9.9 ± 4.4 years; 65% girls). The unadjusted vertebral fracture incidence rate was 4.4 per 100 person-years, with a 3-year incidence proportion of 12.4%. The highest annual incidence occurred in the first year (6.0%; 95% confidence interval (CI) 2.9% to 11.7%). Almost one-half of the patients with fractures were asymptomatic. Every 0.5 mg/kg increase in average daily glucocorticoid (prednisone equivalents) dose was associated with a twofold increased fracture risk (hazard ratio (HR) 2.0; 95% CI 1.1 to 3.5). Other predictors of increased vertebral fracture risk included: (1) increases in disease severity scores between baseline and 12 months; (2) increases in body mass index Z-scores in the first 6 months of each 12-month period preceding the annual fracture assessment; and (3) decreases in lumbar spine bone mineral density Z-scores in the first 6 months of glucocorticoid therapy. As such, we observed that a clinically significant number of children with rheumatic disorders developed incident vertebral fractures in the 3 years following glucocorticoid initiation. Almost one-half of the children were asymptomatic and thereby would have been undiagnosed in the absence of radiographic monitoring. In addition, discrete clinical predictors of incident vertebral fractures were evident early in the course of glucocorticoid therapy

    Identifying future research directions for biodiversity, ecosystem services and sustainability: perspectives from early-career researchers

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    We aimed to identify priority research questions in the field of biodiversity, ecosystem services and sustainability (BESS), based on a workshop held during the NRG BESS Conference for Early Career Researchers on BESS, and to compare these to existing horizon scanning exercises. This work highlights the need for improved data availability through collaboration and knowledge exchange, which, in turn, can support the integrated valuation and sustainable management of ecosystems in response to global change. In addition, clear connectivity among different research themes in this field further emphasizes the need to consider a wider range of topics simultaneously to ensure the sustainable management of ecosystems for human wellbeing. In contrast to other horizon scanning exercises, our focus was more interdisciplinary and more concerned with the limits of sustainability and dynamic relationships between social and ecological systems. The identified questions could provide a framework for researchers, policy makers, funding agencies and the private sector to advance knowledge in biodiversity and ES research and to develop and implement policies to enable sustainable future development

    Unexpected Widespread Hypophosphatemia and Bone Disease Associated with Elemental Formula Use in Infants and Children

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    OBJECTIVE: Hypophosphatemia occurs with inadequate dietary intake, malabsorption, increased renal excretion, or shifts between intracellular and extracellular compartments. We noticed the common finding of amino-acid based elemental formula [EF] use in an unexpected number of cases of idiopathic hypophosphatemia occurring in infants and children evaluated for skeletal disease. We aimed to fully characterize the clinical profiles in these cases. METHODS: A retrospective chart review of children with unexplained hypophosphatemia was performed as cases accumulated from various centres in North America and Ireland. Data were analyzed to explore any relationships between feeding and biochemical or clinical features, effects of treatment, and to identify a potential mechanism. RESULTS: Fifty-one children were identified at 17 institutions with EF-associated hypophosphatemia. Most children had complex illnesses and had been solely fed Neocate® formula products for variable periods of time prior to presentation. Feeding methods varied. Hypophosphatemia was detected during evaluation of fractures or rickets. Increased alkaline phosphatase activity and appropriate renal conservation of phosphate were documented in nearly all cases. Skeletal radiographs demonstrated fractures, undermineralization, or rickets in 94% of the cases. Although the skeletal disease had often been attributed to underlying disease, most all improved with addition of supplemental phosphate or change to a different formula product. CONCLUSION: The observed biochemical profiles indicated a deficient dietary supply or severe malabsorption of phosphate, despite adequate formula composition. When transition to an alternate formula was possible, biochemical status improved shortly after introduction to the alternate formula, with eventual improvement of skeletal abnormalities. These observations strongly implicate that bioavailability of formula phosphorus may be impaired in certain clinical settings. The widespread nature of the findings lead us to strongly recommend careful monitoring of mineral metabolism in children fed EF. Transition to alternative formula use or implementation of phosphate supplementation should be performed cautiously with as severe hypocalcemia may develop
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