Pebble Labs Builds Management Team With New Hires

 
July 10, 2018 --  Pebble Labs Inc, a New Mexico Consortium (NMC) industrial collaborator and based out of the NMC Consortium Biolab, has announced the appointment of three medical industry executives to its management team.
 
Pebble Labs Inc is a biotechnology company developing solutions to safely and sustainably eliminating pathogens and vector-borne diseases without the use of herbicides, pesticides or antibiotics. Pebble Labs uses naturally occurring bacteria to produce double-stranded RNA that are designed to inhibit the expression of genes in only the targeted pathogens and pests, without harming the environment, the host organism or humans. 
 
The new appointees are:
  • Dr. Rick DeRose who will be the Director of Product Innovation
  • Dr. Anne Lo who will be the Director of Strategic Development, and
  • Dr. Tichafa “Tich” Munyikwa who will be the Director of Regulatory Affairs
To read the full article see:

CISION PR Newswire Article: Pebble Labs Builds Management Team With New Hires

 

 

Camp Opens World of STEM to Girls

Students listen as the concept behind algae as a fuel is explained at the New Mexico Consortium. Photo by Louisa Belian

When I first heard about the Los Alamos National Laboratory Physics Camp for Young Women, I was immediately interested because opportunities to gain experience in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields, especially in high school, can be scarce. And from a young age, harmful stereotypes often can teach young girls that STEM careers are mostly for males.

The LANL Physics Camp for Young Women is a two-week-long program during which young women in grades eight through 12 from across Northern New Mexico are exposed to different aspects of STEM fields. Some of the topics covered in this most recent camp, for example, included wave physics, electromagnetism and computer programming. Field trips to the New Mexico Consortium Biolab and various LANL facilities also gave us a glimpse of prospective careers, as well as the different ways in which science is being applied to solve the world’s problems.

On the first day of the physics camp, the girls were asked which gender they associated with certain careers. Astronauts, doctors, biologists, mathematicians and engineers were associated with men, while housekeepers and nurses were associated with women. By the end of the end of the camp, however, after hearing from female astrophysicists, physicists, engineers, programmers and many other talented women in STEM fields, every girl had a female role model to look up to. That’s why this camp is so significant.

For most of my life, I was adamant in pursuing a career in the medical field. I wanted to save lives and study the human body more than anything. While I still do, my experiences at this camp have opened my eyes to other paths in STEM. In addition, getting to work with other girls in high school also interested in STEM fields was incredible: Not only did I hear about dream jobs I didn’t even know existed and jobs I’d never considered for myself, but I made a genuine connection with many of the girls at the program and saw just how influential the program was on them.

Perhaps the most significant aspect of the camp was the encouragement we received. We were told to not be shy, not be afraid of making mistakes and that not understanding something was OK. For a group of girls going through a stage of life in which many of us often are insecure, this encouragement gave us the confidence to enter STEM fields and believe that we can do something to change the world.

Niveditha Bala will be a sophomore at Mandela International Magnet School. Contact her at niveditha.bala@mandelainternationalschool.us.

Santa Fe New Mexican Article: Camp Opens a World of STEM to Girls

NMC Sponsors Two Oppenheimer Scholarships to Graduating Seniors

 
The NMC is proud to be sponsoring two J. Robert Oppenheimer scholarships this year. Since 1984, the J. Robert Oppenheimer Memorial  Committee administers multiple scholarships a year to further the memory and spirit of J. Robert Oppenheimer, the first director of  Los Alamos National Laboratory and one of the most influential scientists of the 20th century.
 
The $3,000 scholarship is available each year to Northern New Mexico graduating seniors attending Los Alamos, Pojoaque, Capitol, and Santa Fe public high schools. Scholarships are merit based and are awarded to students who are pursuing degrees in life sciences, computer sciences, physical sciences, mathematics and the arts.
 
One scholarship was given to Mathilde Jacobson, who just graduated from Los Alamos High School, and is interested in Molecular or Microbiology and plants to eventually get a PhD in Immunology. The second scholarship sponsored by the NMC was given to  Lawrence Mirabal, a high school senior from Santa Fe High School. These scholarships are given to students who shows exceptional promise of future contributions to society and plan to attend a New Mexico institution of higher education.   
 
The NMC presented these award at the Honors Convocation award ceremony on May 29th at 6pm in the Duane Smith Auditorium. Congratulations to these two commendable high school seniors.
 
 

NSF Day New Mexico!

The National Science Foundation (NSF), the University of New Mexico (UNM) and New Mexico's Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (NM EPSCoR), are pleased to invite you to participate in our upcoming NSF Day New Mexico to be held on Wednesday, August 29, 2018, on the UNM main campus in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

NM EPSCoR is sponsoring attendance (registration and possibly travel) of those who have participated in one of our funded projects, and we can provide a limited number of travel scholarships to others at NM academic institutions. Please email ajakle@epscor.unm.edu if you are interested in attending and receiving registration and/or travel assistance.

Go to research.unm.edu/events/nsfday for event details and registration.

NSF Days provide information, contacts, and tips to help researchers be more successful in obtaining NSF funding. This day-long workshop will provide background on the Foundation, its mission, priorities, and budget.

This is an excellent opportunity for faculty and postdoctoral researchers across New Mexico to engage with NSF representatives about competing for NSF funding for science, engineering and education research.

NSF Director France A. Córdova is slated to provide remarks at this event.

Throughout the day, NSF representatives will lead sessions geared towards proposal writing, the NSF merit review process, and programs that fall within NSF's scientific, engineering and education directorates, as well as funding opportunities that cross disciplinary boundaries. In addition, researchers will have time to discuss informally their science and education research interests with participants from institutions across the state.

In advance of this event, please watch the video on NSF's merit review process.

We look forward to seeing you at #NSFDayNM!

Pebble Labs Touts New Solution to Shrimp Farming Nemesis

 
Pebble Labs Inc., based at the New Mexico Consortium Biolab, has recently developed a delivery system for an oral vaccine that could spell the end of disease-ravaged shrimp ponds and billions of dollars in lost harvests. Pebble Labs' solution uses what it refers to as "transbiotics", the production of double stranded ribonucleic acid (RNA) inside naturally occurring bacteria that are delivered to the shrimp and remain in their gut over the production cycle of the animal, protecting them from disease, Richard Sayre, the company's chief scientific officer tells IntraFish.
 
Progress in global shrimp production is constantly hampered by the devastation of disease. Unpredictable and all-consuming, pathogens wipe out billions of dollars worth of shrimp every year. White spot syndrome virus (WSSV) has long been a major player in this devastation, but according to Sayre, this system of delivery could well spell the end of the disease's enormous impact.
 
RNA is naturally present in all living cells and its principal role is to act as a messenger carrying instructions from DNA for controlling the synthesis of proteins. The RNA Pebble Labs uses is designed to target and deactivate genes that are essential for the target pathogen -- in this initial case WSSV -- to thrive in the host. Trials have shown the system to reduce mortality in white spot-infected ponds from 45 to 100 percent.
 
At early stages of production, when the shrimp are filter feeding, the bacteria can be put into the water itself -- "vaccination by immersion," as Sayre puts it. This is the ideal time for application, according to Sayre, but there is also nothing stopping the probiotic being added as a top coating on feed for adult shrimp. The aim is that the application only need be made once at a low dose, the objective being to introduce the bacteria at the naupali stage, where it remains in the shrimp’s gut throughout its life cycle.
 
The probiotic has been through multiple trials. The first trials targeted one gene and the company is now moving into multi-gene trials that will target a wider range of pathogens.
 
Until now, the production of RNA was expensive, making it prohibitive in most agriculture applications. With transbiotics this is no longer an issue, as the RNA is produced by the bacteria at no cost, then grown in large-scale fermenters in sufficient quantities to cover the entire world's shrimp production and more.
 
Once FDA-approved -- the application process began started last month -- the group will look to distribute the product via a partnership with some of the world's bigger LP producers or with a major feed producer, Pebble Labs CEO Michael Harrison told IntraFish.
 
The group toured Southeast Asia and Australia last month and already has verbal agreements with several large Australian producers for trials, according to Harrison. Time to market for the WSSV solution will depend on FDA approval, but is expected to be around 18 months. “This is a very safe and efficient way of protecting the shrimp,” said Harrison, emphasizing this "super probiotic" would negate the need for antibiotics by enabling immunity in the shrimp.
 
There is also no environmental impact that the company is aware of. RNA is already used in food crops and against mosquitos.
 
“In just a short time disease can cause billions of dollars of losses,” said Harrison.“If shrimp farmers can move the dial by single digits, it’s a game changer,” he said.  It’s a simple approach, explains Director of Regulatory Affairs, Kimberly Harrison. “The bacteria is introduced to the water and the shrimp absorbs, or consumes the bacteria naturally.” 
 
The RNA target can also be quickly updated to respond to resistance and the emergence of new diseases, by “slotting in” another gene sequence, according to Harrison. The disease control applications for RNA interference are wide-ranging, from shrimp, fish, mosquitos and plants to potentially the issue of sea lice in salmon.
 
"There has been a very enthusiastic response from shrimp farmers because they have nothing else,” said Dr Anne Lo, Pebble Labs' director of strategic development. "They are used to losses, but here is an affordable solution."
 
Article by Rachel Mutter
 

To read the whole article see: http://www.intrafish.com/aquaculture/1497921/scientists-tout-new-solution-to-shrimp-farming-nemesis

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