557 research outputs found

    Automated Valuation Models: an international perspective

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    This paper describes two research projects: the first carried out during Q2 2007 for the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) and MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates (Downie & Robson, 2007). The second is a questionnaire survey of RICS Residential Faculty members, carried out Q2 2008, as part of an ongoing study funded by the RICS Education Trust and the RICS Residential Faculty, investigating how AVMs can integrate with valuation services to meet the needs of borrowers, lenders and RICS members. Both projects were undertaken by the School of the Built Environment at Northumbria University. The former predates the credit crunch and the latter coincided with it. The paper will first outline the main findings of the CML report, then those of the valuer questionnaire and finally draw conclusions about issues for consideration by professional and industry bodies

    Integrating automated valuation models (AVMs) with valuation services to meet the needs of UK borrowers, lenders and valuers

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    Lenders traditionally instruct a valuer to conduct a property valuation to support property secured loan decisions. However AVM use for UK residential loan valuations has recently grown rapidly (CML, 2007) raising questions about how the UK valuers’ professional body, the RICS, should respond. The paper reports research funded by the RICS Education Trust and Residential Professional Group, commencing with interviews and a survey examining valuers’ changing roles in residential loan valuation in the UK, including the use of AVMs. Subsequent interviews with lenders and AVM companies explored choices between different valuation and survey levels, including AVMs, and development of AVM tools designed to support valuers. The paper analyses possible approaches to advice, guidance and regulation of AVM use by the UK professional body, drawing on the survey, interviews and a review of other countries’ professional body responses to AVMs. It is the first systematic study of valuers’ current and likely future involvement with automated valuation and their perceptions of it

    A robust, semi-automated approach for counting cementum increments imaged with synchrotron X-ray computed tomography

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    Cementum, the tissue attaching mammal tooth roots to the periodontal ligament, grows appositionally throughout life, displaying a series of circum-annual incremental features. These have been studied for decades as a direct record of chronological lifespan. The majority of previous studies on cementum have used traditional thin-section histological methods to image and analyse increments. However, several caveats have been raised in terms of studying cementum increments in thin-sections. Firstly, the limited number of thin-sections and the two-dimensional perspective they impart provide an incomplete interpretation of cementum structure, and studies often struggle or fail to overcome complications in increment patterns that complicate or inhibit increment counting. Increments have been repeatedly shown to both split and coalesce, creating accessory increments that can bias increment counts. Secondly, identification and counting of cementum increments using human vision is subjective, and it has led to inaccurate readings in several experiments studying individuals of known age. Here, we have attempted to optimise a recently introduced imaging modality for cementum imaging; X-ray propagation-based phase-contrast imaging (PPCI). X-ray PPCI was performed for a sample of rhesus macaque (Macaca mulatta) lower first molars (n = 10) from a laboratory population of known age. PPCI allowed the qualitative identification of primary/annual versus intermittent secondary increments formed by splitting/coalescence. A new method for semi-automatic increment counting was then integrated into a purpose-built software package for studying cementum increments, to count increments in regions with minimal complications. Qualitative comparison with data from conventional cementochronology, based on histological examination of tissue thin-sections, confirmed that X-ray PPCI reliably and non-destructively records cementum increments (given the appropriate preparation of specimens prior to X-ray imaging). Validation of the increment counting algorithm suggests that it is robust and provides accurate estimates of increment counts. In summary, we show that our new increment counting method has the potential to overcome caveats of conventional cementochronology approaches, when used to analyse three-dimensional images provided by X-ray PPCI.Peer reviewe

    Current Status of Partial Nephrectomy for Renal Mass

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    The standard treatment for a small mass has shifted from radical nephrectomy to partial nephrectomy. The benefits of partial nephrectomy, including preserving renal function, prolonging overall survival, preventing postoperative chronic kidney disease, and reducing cardiovascular events, have been discussed in many studies. With the accumulation of surgeons' experience and simplification of the operative procedures, the warm ischemic time has become shorter despite the indication of tumor size becoming larger. With the help of intraoperative ultrasound, partial nephrectomy can be performed for an endophytic renal mass. Recently, laparoscopic partial nephrectomy has become well indicated for most renal tumors in many centers with advanced laparoscopic expertise. Open partial nephrectomy remains indicated for complex tumors. With technical innovation, robotic partial nephrectomy shows at least comparable perioperative outcomes with a benefit for challenging cases. Laparoendoscopic single-site partial nephrectomy has recently been tried in limited indications and seems to be feasible

    Quantifying the core deficit in classical schizophrenia

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    In the classical descriptions of schizophrenia, Kraepelin and Bleuler recognised disorganization and impoverishment of mental activity as fundamental symptoms. Their classical descriptions also included a tendency to persisting disability. The psychopathological processes underlying persisting disability in schizophrenia remain poorly understood. The delineation of a core deficit underlying persisting disability would be of value in predicting outcome and enhancing treatment. We tested the hypothesis that mental disorganization and impoverishment are associated with persisting impairments of cognition and role-function, and together reflect a latent core deficit that is discernible in cases diagnosed by modern criteria. We used Confirmatory Factor Analysis to determine whether measures of disorganisation, mental impoverishment, impaired cognition and role functioning in 40 patients with schizophrenia represent a single latent variable. Disorganization scores were computed from the variance shared between disorganization measures from three commonly used symptom scales. Mental impoverishment scores were computed similarly. A single factor model exhibited a good fit, supporting the hypothesis that these measures reflect a core deficit.Persisting brain disorders are associated with a reduction in Post Motor Beta Rebound (PMBR), the characteristic increase in electrophysiological beta amplitude that follows a motor response. Patients had significantly reduced PMBR compared with healthy controls. PMBR was negatively correlated with core deficit score.While the symptoms constituting impoverished and disorganised mental activity are dissociable in schizophrenia, nonetheless, the variance that these two symptom domains share with impaired cognition and role function, appears to reflect a pathophysiological process that might be described as the core deficit of classical schizophrenia

    Reptile-like physiology in Early Jurassic stem-mammals

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    Despite considerable advances in knowledge of the anatomy, ecology and evolution of early mammals, far less is known about their physiology. Evidence is contradictory concerning the timing and fossil groups in which mammalian endothermy arose. To determine the state of metabolic evolution in two of the earliest stem-mammals, the Early Jurassic Morganucodon and Kuehneotherium, we use separate proxies for basal and maximum metabolic rate. Here we report, using synchrotron X-ray tomographic imaging of incremental tooth cementum, that they had maximum lifespans considerably longer than comparably sized living mammals, but similar to those of reptiles, and so they likely had reptilian-level basal metabolic rates. Measurements of femoral nutrient foramina show Morganucodon had blood flow rates intermediate between living mammals and reptiles, suggesting maximum metabolic rates increased evolutionarily before basal metabolic rates. Stem mammals lacked the elevated endothermic metabolism of living mammals, highlighting the mosaic nature of mammalian physiological evolution. Modern mammals are endothermic, but it has not been clear when this type of metabolism evolved. Here, Newham et al. analyse tooth and bone structure in Early Jurassic stem-mammal fossils to estimate lifespan and blood flow rates, which inform about basal and maximum metabolic rates, respectively, and show these stem-mammals had metabolic rates closer to modern ectothermic reptiles than to endothermic mammals.Peer reviewe

    Lung cancer stage-shift following a symptom awareness campaign

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    Background: Lung cancer outcomes in the UK are worse than in many other developed nations. Symptom awareness campaigns aim to diagnose patients at an earlier stage to improve cancer outcomes. Methods: An early diagnosis campaign for lung cancer commenced in Leeds, UK in 2011 comprising public and primary-care facing components. Rates of community referral for chest X-ray and lung cancer stage (TNM seventh edition) at presentation were collected from 2008 to 2015. Linear trends were assessed by χ2 test for trend in proportions. Headline figures are presented for the 3 years pre-campaign (2008–2010) and the three most recent years for which data are available during the campaign (2013–2015). Findings: Community-ordered chest X-ray rates per year increased from 18 909 in 2008–2010 to 34 194 in 2013–2015 (80.8% increase). A significant stage shift towards earlier stage lung cancer was seen (χ2(1)=32.2, p<0.0001). There was an 8.8 percentage point increase in the proportion of patients diagnosed with stage I/II lung cancer (26.5% pre-campaign vs 35.3% during campaign) and a 9.3% reduction in the absolute number of patients diagnosed with stage III/IV disease (1254 pre-campaign vs 1137 during campaign). Interpretation: This is the largest described lung cancer stage-shift in association with a symptom awareness campaign. A causal link between the campaign and stage-shift cannot be proven but appears plausible. Limitations of the analysis include a lack of contemporary control population

    High-resolution dietary reconstruction of victims of the 79 CE Vesuvius eruption at Herculaneum by compound-specific isotope analysis.

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    The remains of those who perished at Herculaneum in 79 CE offer a unique opportunity to examine lifeways across an ancient community who lived and died together. Historical sources often allude to differential access to foodstuffs across Roman society but provide no direct or quantitative information. By determining the stable isotope values of amino acids from bone collagen and deploying Bayesian models that incorporate knowledge of protein synthesis, we were able to reconstruct the diets of 17 adults from Herculaneum with unprecedented resolution. Significant differences in the proportions of marine and terrestrial foods consumed were observed between males and females, implying that access to food was differentiated according to gender. The approach also provided dietary data of sufficient precision for comparison with assessments of food supply to modern populations, opening up the possibility of benchmarking ancient diets against contemporary settings where the consequences for health are better understood
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