News Headline: Researchers from Kent State University Discuss Findings in Gases (Piontkivska) |
News Date: 08/16/2011
Outlet Full Name: Life Science Weekly
News OCR Text: "Oxygen homeostasis is crucial for development, survival and normal function of all metazoans. A family of transcription factors called hypoxia-inducible factors (HIF) is critical in mediating the adaptive responses to reduced oxygen availability," researchers in Kent, Ohio report (see also ).
"The HIF transcription factor consists of a constitutively expressed beta subunit and an oxygen-dependent a subunit: the abundance of the latter determines the activity of HIF and is regulated by a family of O-2(-) and Fe2+-dependent enzymes prolyl hydroxylases (PHDs). Currently very little is known about the function of this important pathway and the molecular structure of its key players in hypoxia-tolerant intertidal mollusks including oysters, which are among the animal champions of anoxic and hypoxic tolerance and thus can serve as excellent models to study the role of HIF cascade in adaptations to oxygen deficiency. We have isolated transcripts of two key components of the oxygen sensing pathway - the oxygen-regulated HIF-alpha subunit and PHD - from an intertidal mollusk, the eastern oyster Crassostrea virginica, and determined the transcriptional responses of these two genes to anoxia, hypoxia and cadmium (Cd) stress. HIF-alpha and PHD homologs from eastern oysters C. virginica show significant sequence similarity and share key functional domains with the earlier described isoforms from vertebrates and invertebrates. Phylogenetic analysis shows that genetic diversification of HIF and PHD isoforms occurred within the vertebrate lineage indicating functional diversification and specialization of the oxygen-sensing pathways in this group, which parallels situation observed for many other important genes. HIF-alpha and PHD homologs are broadly expressed at the mRNA level in different oyster tissues and show transcriptional responses to prolonged hypoxia in the gills consistent with their putative role in oxygen sensing and the adaptive response to hypoxia," wrote H. Piontkivska and colleagues, Kent State University.
The researchers concluded: "Similarity in amino acid sequence, domain structure and transcriptional responses between HIF-alpha. and PHD homologs from oysters and other invertebrate and vertebrate species implies the highly conserved functions of these genes throughout the evolutionary history of animals, in accordance with their critical role in oxygen sensing and homeostasis."
Piontkivska and colleagues published their study in Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology D - Genomics & Proteomics (Molecular characterization and mRNA expression of two key enzymes of hypoxia-sensing pathways in eastern oysters Crassostrea virginica (Gmelin): Hypoxia-inducible factor alpha (HIF-alpha) and HIF-prolyl hydroxylase (PHD). Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology D - Genomics & Proteomics, 2011;6(2):103-114).
For additional information, contact H. Piontkivska, Kent State University, Dept. of Biology Science, Kent, OH 44242, United States.
Publisher contact information for the journal Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology D - Genomics & Proteomics is: Elsevier Science Inc., 360 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10010-1710, USA.
Copyright © 2011 Life Science Weekly via NewsRx.com
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News Headline: Teacher to introduce new journalism program, reactivate newspaper club at Saratoga Springs High School |
News Date: 08/16/2011
Outlet Full Name: Saratogian - Online, The
News OCR Text: SARATOGA SPRINGS — Saratoga Springs High School teacher Jill Cowburn recently completed the highly competitive 2011 Reynolds High School Journalism Institute program hosted by Kent State University in Ohio in July.
Using the skills acquired at the intensive 12-day program, Cowburn, a former New York Times television company documentary-maker and producer, is preparing to introduce a new journalism program at the high school.
“When I used to do student teaching at Shenendehowa, my mentor was the newspaper adviser and she told me about the Reynolds conference,” Cowburn said. “That had been a goal of mine, so I applied and in the essay component wrote about what I hope to do as a journalism teacher and newspaper adviser at Saratoga Springs High School.”
This fall, Cowburn will teach three sections of Introduction to Journalism to the 63 pre-registered juniors and seniors who expressed an interest in the course. In addition, she will reactivate the school newspaper as the club's new adviser.
“We've had a student newspaper in the past, but there's been a bit of a gap in the last few years,” Cowburn said.
The newspaper club will be open to all students and will, at least at first, only create an online product due to high printing costs.
During the rigorous 12-day program at Kent State, Cowburn brushed up on her critical reading, writing and reporting skills by attending daily classes from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., and then had to complete that night's load of homework.
“We wrote stories every night — went out to the community, saw a performance and wrote a review. We did some of the work the students have to do, so we really refined our work in that way,” Cowburn said.
Since its inception in 2001, 1,768 high school teachers have graduated from the Reynolds Journalism Institute. This year was the institute's most competitive year to date; Cowburn was one of 165 teachers selected from a pool of 443 applicants.
The Reynolds Institute works closely with the American Society of News Editors Foundation to educate teachers and students in order to grow a more informed citizenry familiar with multi-media journalism and able to discern quality news.
“There was quite a lot for me to learn — I haven't taught journalism or advised a paper, so it was an opportunity for me to transition some of the skills I acquired working in TV over to the classroom,” Cowburn said. “There's a lot of inspirational things in the First Amendment, and I'm excited to help give students a voice and the chance to engage in their community.”
Teaching career-specific courses like journalism in high school is rare, but after completing the Reynolds training, Cowburn feels confident there is something all students can gain from journalism's core critical, creative and analytical skills.
“Most won't go on to be journalists, but regardless, they will be more informed consumers of media, and I'm really excited to get started,” she said. “This is a very strong new start for journalism at Saratoga High School.”
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News Headline: Stark 20/20: Stark governments share services rather than merge (Hoornbeek) |
News Date: 08/15/2011
Outlet Full Name: Repository - Online, The
Contact Name: Kelli Young
News OCR Text: Linda Joy Dougan, a registered nurse with the Canton Health Department, gives a seasonal flu shot to Connie Carter of Canton. Stark County has four health departments.
Local government is big business in Stark County. Consider this: County government employed more people here than Mercy Medical Center, Fresh Mark and Alliance Community Hospital in 2009.
It ranked third, behind the Aultman Health Foundation and the Timken Co.
When you compare expenses, county government, including countywide agencies such as the Board of Developmental Disabilities and the Department of Job and Family Services, shoots to the top, easily surpassing all of the major employers except Timken.
And those costs don't include the payroll and expenses of other, non-school local governments, those that serve the county's six cities, 13 villages and 17 townships.
Combined, government expenses totaled roughly $1 billion.
It's a rising figure that's gaining more attention from residents who are sick of paying taxes. Increasingly, taxpayers are challenging their elected officials to figure out how to reduce the costs of basic public services — without raising their tax rates.
Some elected officials say consolidation is the answer.
MORE WITH LESS
Stark County, Ohio's seventh-most populated county, is home to four health departments, seven building departments, 22 police departments and 32 fire departments. At the city and county level, those departments employed more than 900 full-time workers last year at a cost that has grown 24 percent since 2000, a Repository analysis shows.
Meanwhile, Gov. John Kasich and state legislators have added pressure to local officials with a new two-year state budget that cuts subsidies to local governments, eliminates the estate tax and does not make up for the loss of last year's federal stimulus money.
The new state budget also provides an incentive for collaboration — up to $500,000 in grants or loans — and makes it easier for governments to centralize services, merge functions and share staff, equipment and facilities.
Stark County Commissioner Peter Ferguson said elected officials must change how government does business. The public demands it, he said.
“We have to consolidate, and we have to reorganize,” he said. “We have to eliminate this duplication of services. We have to do more one-stop shopping and do more to help our customers, which is our county citizens.”
Since taking office in 2009, he has helped resurrect efforts to merge the county's building, health and information technology departments with sister departments in Canton. Those efforts, however, haven't staved off the need for additional funds. Commissioners will seek a 0.5 percent sales tax Nov. 8.
John Hoornbeek, director of Kent State University's Center for Public Administration and Public Policy, said the center's research shows that collaboration seems to be more popular now throughout Northeast Ohio.
Earlier this year, the center released an inventory that identified 240 collaborative efforts in 16 Northeast Ohio counties that ranged from police and fire protection to joint economic development districts (JEDDs) and shared purchasing agreements.
“These newer efforts are somewhat different in character than what you would have found 20-30 years ago,” Hoornbeek said. “They are focused more on economic development and driven more by financial constraints.”
Two of the roughly 20 efforts identified in Stark County involve consolidating services. One involves Minerva school district's merger of its West Elementary and Mary Irene Day Elementary schools.
The other involves merging the Stark County and Canton City building departments, an idea that has been abandoned after at least a decade of study. Instead, a committee of builders, architects, contractors and union officials recommended earlier this year to locate the two offices in the same building but to keep the staffs separate.
The Repository's archives show a similar trend: Over the past decade, local officials have willingly shared their equipment and manpower. But they won't as easily agree to give up ownership of a service, department or building through consolidation.
Take, for example, the multi-decade efforts to consolidate the Stark County 911 Call Center and the multiple independently operated dispatch centers. Four years after a consultant said Stark County's method of transferring emergency calls from one dispatch center to another is dangerous, officials have upgraded each of the dispatch centers so they share the same network. They also have co-located some dispatchers in the same building.
Yet they still have not resolved the differences that keep the nine dispatch centers separate and 911 calls from being answered and dispatched from a single location.
A marriage of the Stark County and Canton City health departments has been at least 19 years in the making. Commissioner Ferguson, who served on the Canton Board of Health from 1983 to 2004, said it has been sabotaged by antiquated state laws that make merging them more difficult. He has lobbied state legislators for changes.
Stark County Health Commissioner William Franks says the issues blocking the merger are the same as they always have been.
“I have been through at least four different combination movements in the time I have been here, and it all comes down to the same issue, money,” said Franks, who will retire in January after 30 years as commissioner.
He noted that Canton's cost per resident is higher than what the county charges its member villages, townships and cities. He said no one has figured out how to equalize those costs so county customers would not be forced to pay a higher cost under the consolidated department.
“While it is fashionable to say that bigger is better and combining Canton with the county will save dollars, that is not necessarily true,” Franks said.
Stark County's 32 fire departments — the third-highest number of departments among counties in Ohio — are another example of where sharing services doesn't necessarily mean a merger will happen, officials say.
Many fire departments have reciprocal aid agreements to share manpower and equipment outside of their jurisdictions without much thought about who's going to foot the bill.
But try to discuss pooling those resources permanently through a regional fire department, and money or politics tends to get in the way.
Just ask former Jackson Fire Chief Ted Heck. He has been lobbying for a countywide or regional fire department for years, but concerns about how to spread the cost evenly among communities, especially those that have volunteer departments, have prevented the idea from reaching the study phase.
“It's frustrating that you can't accomplish something that would save money, improve service, get a better response and a better trained and better quality of individual that is serving as a first responder,” said Heck, who retired in March after 35 years as chief. “It takes leaders and vision to put that together.”
Only four villages and five townships in Stark County do not have their own fire department with their own chief and their own fire pumper and engine. Lake Township is one; it is served by three private fire companies with three chiefs.
Two attempts to merge neighboring fire departments are under way. One joint fire district, involving three communities in southeastern Stark, could be created by 2012. The other, in northwestern Stark County involving the Canal Fulton and Lawrence Township departments, has stalled after more than a year of study.
In May, a committee of residents and elected officials from Canal Fulton and Lawrence Township recommended that the two part-time volunteer departments, which already provide joint coverage from their fire stations located less than one mile apart, share the Canal Fulton fire station and later pursue a joint fire district.
The stumbling block appears to be over the definition of “later.” Lawrence Township trustees want the sharing arrangement to last six months before creating the joint fire district; Canal Fulton officials want to share for a longer period.
This is the second time the two communities have discussed a joint fire district. In 1993, they created a merged district, but a citizen referendum put the issue on the ballot and voters chose to undo the merger.
Since then, legislators have changed state law so that only governing bodies can choose to disband a joint fire district.
The second effort to join the Minerva, Paris Township and Columbiana County's West Township fire districts into a single district appears to hold more promise.
Minerva Fire Chief Aaron Stoller, who initiated the idea, said residents probably will not notice much difference in service immediately, because Minerva, which has 29 paid, on-call volunteers, already provides manpower and equipment to the two townships through contracts.
But he believes the merger will help the agencies better recruit and retain personnel and maintain updated fire equipment despite cuts in state funding. Village officials may lose more than $70,000 in state funds over two years.
“At today's cost, it's hard to do an operating budget without asking citizens for more money,” Stoller said.
So far, Stoller said, everyone has been on board, but each government still must formally vote to merge the districts. Members of the Robertsville Volunteer Fire Company, a private department that covers half of Paris Township through a contract, also would need to vote to become a public company to join the joint district.
One of Stark County's few successful government collaborations over the past decade is now known as the Mental Health and Recovery Services Board of Stark County.
In January 2008, the $39 million agency, which funds 21 agencies that provide mental health, drug and alcohol substance abuse services, was created by the joining of the Stark County Community Mental Health Board and the Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services Board of Stark County.
Paula Mastroianni, the agency's director of marketing, communication and community relations, said the merger has improved services because roughly half of the people who sought mental health services also needed help for alcohol or drug issues. The agency now serves about 2,100 people.
The merger also saved taxpayers $250,000 in its first year by reducing costs such as salaries and increasing the agency's leverage for grants, Mastroianni said. The $100,000 in grants that the Mental Health Board previously would obtain on its own has become more than
$4 million in grants through the combined agency, she said.
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News Headline: Groundbreaking Set, but no Brand Yet for Kent State Hotel (Finn) |
News Date: 08/15/2011
Outlet Full Name: Kent Patch
Contact Name: Matt Fredmonsky
News OCR Text: A groundbreaking has been set for Kent State University's downtown hotel, but its developers have yet to finalize a brand for the new inn.
The hotel, a collaboration between the Kent State Foundation and Columbus developer The Pizzuti Companies , is scheduled for a Sept. 19 groundbreaking.
With that ceremony five weeks away, both parties remain in negotiations with the hotel's potential flag.
Gene Finn, executive director of the Kent State Foundation and vice president for institutional advancement, said there's no definitive answer yet on the brand.
"We're still in discussions," Finn said. "But certainly by the groundbreaking we'll know whether we're going flag or doing independent."
In May, Don Wheat, vice president for public and private projects for Pizzuti, said they were "very close" to closing the deal on a flag for the as-yet unbranded hotel, which has a budget of between $15 million and $16 million.
But Finn said there's also a possibility of simply not linking the Kent State hotel with an existing brand, such as Hilton or Marriott .
"Because it's going to be a somewhat boutique hotel, it's always been an option, so they're just trying to figure out the best financial scenario," Finn said.
The 95-room hotel and 300-seat conference center cleared its last public hurdle in May when the Kent Board of Zoning Appeals granted a variance to the project .
Kent State has since cleared the land for the hotel , but the sign package for the facility has yet to be submitted to the city for approval.
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