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Global bioethics: a descriptive analysis of the function of bioethics in health and medicine on a global scale

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This thesis explores concept of "global bioethics" in both its development as well as its current state in an effort to understand exactly where it fits into the larger field of bioethics. Further, the analysis poses specific questions regarding what

This thesis explores concept of "global bioethics" in both its development as well as its current state in an effort to understand exactly where it fits into the larger field of bioethics. Further, the analysis poses specific questions regarding what it may contribute to this field and related fields, and the possibility and scope associated with the continued development of global bioethics as its own discipline. To achieve this, the piece addresses questions regarding current opinions on the subject, the authorities and their associated publications related to global bioethics, and what the aims of the subject should be given its current state. "Global Bioethics" is a term that, while seen frequently in bioethics literature, is difficult to define succinctly. While many opinions are provided on the concept, little consensus exists regarding its application and possible contributions and, in some cases, even its very possibility. Applying ethical principles of health and medicine globally is undoubtedly complicated by the cultural, social, and geographical considerations associated with understanding health and medicine in different populations, leading to a dichotomy between two schools of thought in relation to global bioethics. These two sides consist of those who think that universality of bioethics is possible whereas the opposing viewpoint holds that relativism is the key to applying ethics on a global scale. Despite the aforementioned dichotomy in addressing applications of global bioethics, this analysis shows that the goals of the subject should be more focused on contributing to ethical frameworks and valuable types of thinking related to the ethics health and medicine on a global scale. This is achieved through an exploration of bioethics in general, health as a function of society and culture, the history and development of global bioethics itself, and an exploration of pertinent global health topics. While primarily descriptive in nature, this analysis critiques some of the current discussions and purported goals surrounding global bioethics, recommending that the field focus on fostering valuable discussion and framing of issues rather than the pursuit of concrete judgments on moral issues in global health and medicine.

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Date Created
2011

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Comparison of soil and vegetation properties using salt extractor and conventional soil amendments from irrigation with coal bed natural gas product water

Description

Coal bed natural gas (CBNG) production has become a significant contribution to the nation's energy supply. Large volumes of water are generated as a byproduct of CBNG extraction, of which this "product water" is relatively high in sodium. High sodicity

Coal bed natural gas (CBNG) production has become a significant contribution to the nation's energy supply. Large volumes of water are generated as a byproduct of CBNG extraction, of which this "product water" is relatively high in sodium. High sodicity reduces water quality and limits environmentally compliant disposal options for producers. Crop irrigation with CBNG product water complies with state and federal laws and is a disposal method that also provides a beneficial use to private landowners. However, this disposal method typically requires gypsum and sulfur soil amendments due to the high levels of sodium in the water, which can reduce soil infiltration and hydraulic conductivity. In this study, I tested a new product called Salt Extractor that was marketed to CBNG producers to ameliorate the negative effects of high sodicity. The experiment was conducted in the Powder River Basin of Wyoming. I used a random block design to compare the soil and vegetation properties of plots following application with CBNG product water and treatments of either Salt Extractor, gypsum and sulfur (conventional), or no treatment (control). Data was analyzed by comparing the amount of change between treatments after watering. Results demonstrated the known ability of gypsum and sulfur to lower the relative sodicity of the soil. Plots treated with Salt Extractor, however, did not improve relative levels of sodicity and exhibited no favorable benefits to vegetation.

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Date Created
2011

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Molecular chaperones of the endoplasmic reticulum promote hepatitis C virus E2 protein production in plants

Description

Infections caused by the Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) are very common worldwide, affecting up to 3% of the population. Chronic infection of HCV may develop into liver cirrhosis and liver cancer which is among the top five of the most

Infections caused by the Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) are very common worldwide, affecting up to 3% of the population. Chronic infection of HCV may develop into liver cirrhosis and liver cancer which is among the top five of the most common cancers. Therefore, vaccines against HCV are under intense study in order to prevent HCV from harming people's health. The envelope protein 2 (E2) of HCV is thought to be a promising vaccine candidate because it can directly bind to a human cell receptor and plays a role in viral entry. However, the E2 protein production in cells is inefficient due to its complicated matured structure. Folding of E2 in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) is often error-prone, resulting in production of aggregates and misfolded proteins. These incorrect forms of E2 are not functional because they are not able to bind to human cells and stimulate antibody response to inhibit this binding. This study is aimed to overcome the difficulties of HCV E2 production in plant system. Protein folding in the ER requires great assistance from molecular chaperones. Thus, in this study, two molecular chaperones in the ER, calreticulin and calnexin, were transiently overexpressed in plant leaves in order to facilitate E2 folding and production. Both of them showed benefits in increasing the yield of E2 and improving the quality of E2. In addition, poorly folded E2 accumulated in the ER may cause stress in the ER and trigger transcriptional activation of ER molecular chaperones. Therefore, a transcription factor involved in this pathway, named bZIP60, was also overexpressed in plant leaves, aiming at up-regulating a major family of molecular chaperones called BiP to assist protein folding. However, our results showed that BiP mRNA levels were not up-regulated by bZIP60, but they increased in response to E2 expression. The Western blot analysis also showed that overexpression of bZIP60 had a small effect on promoting E2 folding. Overall, this study suggested that increasing the level of specific ER molecular chaperones was an effective way to promote HCV E2 protein production and maturation.

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2011

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Bursera microphylla in South Mountain Municipal Park: evaluating its habitat characteristics

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ABSTRACT The elephant tree, Bursera microphylla, is at the northern limit of its range in central Arizona. This species is sensitive to frost damage thus limiting its occurrence in more northern areas of the southwest. Marginal populations of B. microphylla

ABSTRACT The elephant tree, Bursera microphylla, is at the northern limit of its range in central Arizona. This species is sensitive to frost damage thus limiting its occurrence in more northern areas of the southwest. Marginal populations of B. microphylla are found in mountain ranges of Central Arizona and are known to occur in the rugged mountain range system of the South Mountain Municipal Park (SMMP). Little is known of the distribution of this species within the park and details relevant to the health of both individual plants and the population such as diameter and number of trunks, height, and presence of damage have not been examined. This study was designed, in part, to test the hypothesis that favorable microhabitats at SMMP are created by particular combinations of abiotic features including aspect, slope, elevation and solar radiation. Data on abiotic factors, as well as specific individual plant locations and characteristics were obtained for 100 individuals. Temperature data was collected in vertical transects at different altitudinal levels. Some of these data were used in spatial analyses to generate a habitat suitability model using GIS software. Furthermore, collected data was analyzed using Matlab© software to identify potential trends in the variation of morphological traits. In addition, for comparative purposes similar information at one hundred computer-generated randomly chosen points throughout SMMP was obtained. The GIS spatial analyses indicated that aspect, slope, elevation, and relative solar radiance are strongly associated as major climatic components of the microhabitat of B. microphylla. Temperature data demonstrated that there are significant differences in ambient temperature among different altitudinal gradients with middle elevations being more favorable. Furthermore, analyses performed using Matlab© to explore trends of elevation as a factor indicated that multiple trunk plants are more commonly found at higher elevations than single trunk plants, there is a positive correlation of trunk diameter with elevation, and that canopy volume has a negative correlation with respect to elevation. It was concluded that microhabitats where B. microphylla occurs at the northern limit of its range require a particular combination of abiotic features that can be easily altered by climatic changes.

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2011

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The effects of artificial water sources on small mammal communities

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Modified and artificial water sources can be used as a management tool for game and non-game wildlife species. State, federal, and private agencies allocate significant resources to install and maintain artificial water sources (AWS) annually. Capture mark recapture methods were

Modified and artificial water sources can be used as a management tool for game and non-game wildlife species. State, federal, and private agencies allocate significant resources to install and maintain artificial water sources (AWS) annually. Capture mark recapture methods were used to sample small mammal communities in the vicinity of five AWS and five paired control sites (treatments) in the surrounding Sonoran desert from October 2011 to May 2012. I measured plant species richness, density, and percent cover in the spring of 2012. A Multi-response Permutation Procedure was used to identify differences in small mammal community abundance, biomass, and species richness by season and treatment. I used Principle Component Analysis to reduce 11 habitat characteristics to five habitat factors. I related rodent occurrence to habitat characteristics using multiple and logistic regression. A total of 370 individual mammals representing three genera and eight species of rodents were captured across 4800 trap nights. Desert pocket mouse (Chaetodipus penicillatus) was the most common species in both seasons and treatments. Whereas rodent community abundance, biomass, and richness were similar between seasons, community variables of AWS were greater than CS. Rodent diversity was similar between treatments. Desert pocket mouse abundance and biomass were twice as high at AWS when compared to controls. Biomass of white-throated woodrat (Neotoma albigula) was five times greater at AWS. Habitat characteristics were similar between treatments. Neither presence of water nor distance to water explained substantial habitat variation. Occurrence of rodent species was associated with habitat characteristics. Desert rodent communities are adapted for arid environments (i.e. Heteromyids) and are not dependent on "free water". Higher abundances of desert pocket mouse at AWS were most likely related to increased disturbance and debris and not the presence of water. The results of this study and previous studies suggest that more investigation is needed and that short term studies may not be able to detect interactions (if any) between AWS and desert small mammal communities.

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Date Created
2013

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Ambient light environment and the evolution of brightness, chroma, and perceived chromaticity in the warning signals of butterflies

Description

ABSTRACT 1. Aposematic signals advertise prey distastefulness or metabolic unprofitability to potential predators and have evolved independently in many prey groups over the course of evolutionary history as a means of protection from predation. Most aposematic signals investigated to date

ABSTRACT 1. Aposematic signals advertise prey distastefulness or metabolic unprofitability to potential predators and have evolved independently in many prey groups over the course of evolutionary history as a means of protection from predation. Most aposematic signals investigated to date exhibit highly chromatic patterning; however, relatives in these toxic groups with patterns of very low chroma have been largely overlooked. 2. We propose that bright displays with low chroma arose in toxic prey species because they were more effective at deterring predation than were their chromatic counterparts, especially when viewed in relatively low light environments such as forest understories. 3. We analyzed the reflectance and radiance of color patches on the wings of 90 tropical butterfly species that belong to groups with documented toxicity that vary in their habitat preferences to test this prediction: Warning signal chroma and perceived chromaticity are expected to be higher and brightness lower in species that fly in open environments when compared to those that fly in forested environments. 4. Analyses of the reflectance and radiance of warning color patches and predator visual modeling support this prediction. Moreover, phylogenetic tests, which correct for statistical non-independence due to phylogenetic relatedness of test species, also support the hypothesis of an evolutionary correlation between perceived chromaticity of aposematic signals and the flight habits of the butterflies that exhibit these signals.

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Date Created
2013

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Proteomic, genetic, and biochemical analyses of two-component regulatory systems in Porphyromonas gingivalis and Escherichia coli

Description

Pathogenic Gram-negative bacteria employ a variety of molecular mechanisms to combat host defenses. Two-component regulatory systems (TCR systems) are the most ubiquitous signal transduction systems which regulate many genes required for virulence and survival of bacteria. In this study, I

Pathogenic Gram-negative bacteria employ a variety of molecular mechanisms to combat host defenses. Two-component regulatory systems (TCR systems) are the most ubiquitous signal transduction systems which regulate many genes required for virulence and survival of bacteria. In this study, I analyzed different TCR systems in two clinically-relevant Gram-negative bacteria, i.e., oral pathogen Porphyromonas gingivalis and enterobacterial Escherichia coli. P. gingivalis is a major causative agent of periodontal disease as well as systemic illnesses, like cardiovascular disease. A microarray study found that the putative PorY-PorX TCR system controls the secretion and maturation of virulence factors, as well as loci involved in the PorSS secretion system, which secretes proteinases, i.e., gingipains, responsible for periodontal disease. Proteomic analysis (SILAC) was used to improve the microarray data, reverse-transcription PCR to verify the proteomic data, and primer extension assay to determine the promoter regions of specific PorX regulated loci. I was able to characterize multiple genetic loci regulated by this TCR system, many of which play an essential role in hemagglutination and host-cell adhesion, and likely contribute to virulence in this bacterium. Enteric Gram-negative bacteria must withstand many host defenses such as digestive enzymes, low pH, and antimicrobial peptides (AMPs). The CpxR-CpxA TCR system of E. coli has been extensively characterized and shown to be required for protection against AMPs. Most recently, this TCR system has been shown to up-regulate the rfe-rff operon which encodes genes involved in the production of enterobacterial common antigen (ECA), and confers protection against a variety of AMPs. In this study, I utilized primer extension and DNase I footprinting to determine how CpxR regulates the ECA operon. My findings suggest that CpxR modulates transcription by directly binding to the rfe promoter. Multiple genetic and biochemical approaches were used to demonstrate that specific TCR systems contribute to regulation of virulence factors and resistance to host defenses in P. gingivalis and E. coli, respectively. Understanding these genetic circuits provides insight into strategies for pathogenesis and resistance to host defenses in Gram negative bacterial pathogens. Finally, these data provide compelling potential molecular targets for therapeutics to treat P. gingivalis and E. coli infections.

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Date Created
2013

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Characterizing retinotopic mapping using conformal geometry and Beltrami coefficient: a preliminary study

Description

Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) has been widely used to measure the retinotopic organization of early visual cortex in the human brain. Previous studies have identified multiple visual field maps (VFMs) based on statistical analysis of fMRI signals, but the

Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) has been widely used to measure the retinotopic organization of early visual cortex in the human brain. Previous studies have identified multiple visual field maps (VFMs) based on statistical analysis of fMRI signals, but the resulting geometry has not been fully characterized with mathematical models. This thesis explores using concepts from computational conformal geometry to create a custom software framework for examining and generating quantitative mathematical models for characterizing the geometry of early visual areas in the human brain. The software framework includes a graphical user interface built on top of a selected core conformal flattening algorithm and various software tools compiled specifically for processing and examining retinotopic data. Three conformal flattening algorithms were implemented and evaluated for speed and how well they preserve the conformal metric. All three algorithms performed well in preserving the conformal metric but the speed and stability of the algorithms varied. The software framework performed correctly on actual retinotopic data collected using the standard travelling-wave experiment. Preliminary analysis of the Beltrami coefficient for the early data set shows that selected regions of V1 that contain reasonably smooth eccentricity and polar angle gradients do show significant local conformality, warranting further investigation of this approach for analysis of early and higher visual cortex.

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Date Created
2013

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Exploring growth essential genes in E. coli using synthetic small RNA to enhance production of phenylalanine

Description

Biomass synthesis is a competing factor in biological systems geared towards generation of commodity and specialty chemicals, ultimately limiting maximum titer and yield; in this thesis, a widely generalizable, modular approach focused on decoupling biomass synthesis from the production of

Biomass synthesis is a competing factor in biological systems geared towards generation of commodity and specialty chemicals, ultimately limiting maximum titer and yield; in this thesis, a widely generalizable, modular approach focused on decoupling biomass synthesis from the production of the phenylalanine in a genetically modified strain of E. coli BW25113 was explored with the use of synthetic trans-encoded small RNA (sRNA) to achieve greater efficiency. The naturally occurring sRNA MicC was used as a scaffold, and combined on a plasmid with a promoter for anhydrous tetracycline (aTc) and a T1/TE terminator. The coding sequence corresponding to the target binding site for fourteen potentially growth-essential gene targets as well as non-essential lacZ was placed in the seed region of the of the sRNA scaffold and transformed into BW25113, effectively generating a unique strain for each gene target. The BW25113 strain corresponding to each gene target was screened in M9 minimal media; decreased optical density and elongated cell morphology changes were observed and quantified in all induced sRNA cases where growth-essential genes were targeted. Six of the strains targeting different aspects of cell division that effectively suppressed growth and resulted in increased cell size were then screened for viability and metabolic activity in a scaled-up shaker flask experiment; all six strains were shown to be viable during stationary phase, and a metabolite analysis showed increased specific glucose consumption rates in induced strains, with unaffected specific glucose consumption rates in uninduced strains. The growth suppression, morphology and metabolic activity of the induced strains in BW25113 was compared to the bacteriostatic additives chloramphenicol, tetracycline, and streptomycin. At this same scale, the sRNA plasmid targeting the gene murA was transformed into BW25113 pINT-GA, a phenylalanine overproducer with the feedback resistant genes aroG and pheA overexpressed. Two induction times were explored during exponential phase, and while the optimal induction time was found to increase titer and yield amongst the BW25113 pINT-GA murA sRNA variant, overall this did not have as great a titer or yield as the BW25113 pINT-GA strain without the sRNA plasmid; this may be a result of the cell filamentation.

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Date Created
2016

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Seasonal changes in cell neogenesis in the brain and pituitary gland: a study in the adult male frog, Rana catesbeiana

Description

Though for most of the twentieth century, dogma held that the adult brain was post-mitotic, it is now known that adult neurogenesis is widespread among vertebrates, from fish, amphibians, reptiles and birds to mammals including humans. Seasonal changes in adult

Though for most of the twentieth century, dogma held that the adult brain was post-mitotic, it is now known that adult neurogenesis is widespread among vertebrates, from fish, amphibians, reptiles and birds to mammals including humans. Seasonal changes in adult neurogenesis are well characterized in the song control system of song birds, and have been found in seasonally breeding mammals as well. In contrast to more derived vertebrates, such as mammals, where adult neurogenesis is restricted primarily to the olfactory bulb and the dentate gyrus of the hippocampus, neurogenesis is widespread along the ventricles of adult amphibians. I hypothesized that seasonal changes in adult amphibian brain cell proliferation and survival are a potential regulator of reproductive neuroendocrine function. Adult, male American bullfrogs (Rana catesbeiana; aka Lithobates catesbeianus), were maintained in captivity for up to a year under season-appropriate photoperiod. Analysis of hormone levels indicated seasonal changes in plasma testosterone concentration consistent with field studies. Using the thymidine analogue 5-bromo-2-deoxyuridine (BrdU) as a marker for newly generated cells, two differentially regulated aspects of brain cell neogenesis were tracked; that is, proliferation and survival. Seasonal differences were found in BrdU labeling in several brain areas, including the olfactory bulb, medial pallium, nucleus accumbens and the infundibular hypothalamus. Clear seasonal differences were also found in the pars distalis region of the pituitary gland, an important component of neuroendocrine pathways. BrdU labeling was also examined in relation to two neuropeptides important for amphibian reproduction: arginine vasotocin and gonadotropin releasing hormone. No cells co-localized with BrdU and either neuropeptide, but new born cells were found in close proximity to neuropeptide-containing neurons. These data suggest that seasonal differences in brain and pituitary gland cell neogenesis are a potential neuroendocrine regulatory mechanism.

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Date Created
2012