TWAS Research Updates – No. 1, November 2005
Research on conducting polymers in the South
TWAS has recently initiated a research grants programme that aims to create and strengthen centres of scientific excellence in the world’s least developed
countries (LDCs). The scheme attempts to identify and provide funding to leading individuals and teams carrying out high quality research work despite a general lack of funding and inadequate infrastructure. Two of these grants, typically US$30,000 per year, renewable for three years, have gone to support research on electrically conducting polymers at Sana’a University, the Republic of Yemen, and the University Cheikh Anta Diop, Dakar, Senegal. Read full article in TWAS Research Updates Issue 1- November 2005.
Nano-steps towards macro-applications
Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) were first described by Sumio Ijima working at the NEC Laboratories, Tsukuba, Japan, in 1991. Ijima’s description of CNTs as one-dimensional quantum wires unleashed a wave of excitement as both scientists and non-scientists alike speculated on their potential application in nano-scale electronic devices. When Thomas Ebbeson and co-workers at the NEC Research Institute at Princeton, New Jersey, USA, showed CNTs to be exceptionally strong (Ebbeson, 1997), their use in strengthening polymeric materials became another area of intense interest. In this exciting and emerging field, scientists in many countries of the South have been making significant and innovative contributions to the synthesis and production of a range of potentially useful nanostructures.
In the September 2004 issue of The Scientist, Ronald N. Kostoff of the US Office of Naval Research points out that of the top 20 countries reporting the
most research papers in nanotechnology, several are from the South (Kostoff, 2004). China leads the pack with 3,621 papers, well above many developed nations. India ranks number 10, Singapore 17 and Brazil 20. This blossoming of the South’s nanotech research has occurred within the last three years, showing that scientists in these nations are no longer just following in the wake of developments but are also setting trends. Read full article in TWAS Research Updates Issue 1- November 2005.
Genetic counselling in Brazilian families with neuromuscular diseases: Successes and ethical dilemmas
Mayana Zatz is professor of genetics and director of the Centre for the Study of the Human Genome at the University of São Paolo, Brazil. She has mapped six
new genes associated with neuromuscular disorders and has contributed, through genotype-phenotype correlation studies, to our understanding of their pathological mechanisms. She has also pioneered genetic counselling in Brazil, helping more than 20,000 people (Zatz, 2005). A Fellow of the Brazilian Academy of Sciences and of the Academy of Sciences for the Developing World (TWAS), she has been awarded the 2001 L’Oreal-UNESCO Prize for women scientists, the
2001 Claudia Prize of Brazil and the 2003 TWAS Prize for Medical Sciences. An acknowledged leader in the area of human genetic testing and counselling, Zatz
has brought solace to many through her work. Here she discusses her successes and some of the ethical dilemmas her team faces on a daily basis.
Neuromuscular disorders include a group of more than 50 distinct diseases that affect about 1 in every 1,000 individuals. Clinical severity ranges from severe congenital or early onset cases with rapid symptom progression, to late onset, milder cases. Because there is still no cure, preventing the birth of affected cases through genetic counselling (GC) is of utmost importance, particularly when a more severe outcome is anticipated. Read full article in TWAS Research Updates Issue 1- November 2005.