Researchers discover 16 million-year-old bat fossil

Credit: Unsplash/CC0 Public Domain

A new species of bat that is 16 million years old has been discovered by an international group that includes University of Valencia lecturers Francisco J. Ruiz Sánchez and Plini Montoya. The finding was made at the palaeontologic site of Mas d’Antolino B, in the town of l’Alcora, and corresponds to the lower Miocene in the Valencia region in Spain.

The identification has been completed thanks to the study of isolated teeth. The study has been published in Earth and Environmental Science Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

As well as the two lecturers from the University of Valencia, who belong to the Department of Botany and Geology, the team was comprised by paleontologists Vicente D. Crespo (University of Valencia graduate), the Museo de la Plata museum (Argentina) and Paloma Sevilla, from the Complutense University of Madrid.

The research refers to a set of fossil bat remains from several sites in the town of Alcora (Castellón province), specifically near the Araia d’Alcora village. These fossils, obtained within the framework of digs authorized and funded by the regional Culture Council, have revealed some surprising data that is of great scientific interest. For example, a new species has been identified, and secondly, the finding of a new genus that had heretofore not been discovered in fossil form, which represents a true Lazarus taxon (which means a taxon of which there is no fossil records for a lengthy period of time).

Furthermore, the group of fossil bats represented a typically tropical association, closer to a prior geological period.

At the palaeontological site of Mas d’Antonio B, known since 2008, numerous species of shrews, squirrels, hamsters, dormice, crocodiles and other animals have been found. These animals, framed in an environment that would resemble today’s tropical forest, date back to over 16 million years ago, at the beginning of the era known as Miocene, specifically the “age of mammals” called Aragonian.

The new bat species has been “baptized” with the scientific name Cuvierimops penalveri, in honor of paleontologist Enrique Peñalver, former lecturer at the University of Valencia and recently recognized as one of the best international scientists for his work on fossil insects, and who also carried out studies in the same area where these new findings have taken place.

The new species belongs to the current family of bats called free-tailed or molosid, but curiously belongs to a genus that was thought to have gone extinct ten million years earlier. Said family was predominant in Europe during the Oligocene period, around 23-33 million years ago, but in the early Miocene it had whittled down to a small number of species, and today it is represented by a single species. This is why it is surprising that, of the ten bats discovered at Araia d’Alcora, five are from species that belong to said family of molosids.

Also noteworthy within the recovered collection is a representative of the Chaerephon, whose sole fossils found to date were only 10,000 years old, which

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Researchers measure electron emission to improve understanding of laser-based metal 3-D printing

Researchers measure electron emission to improve understanding of laser-based metal 3D printing
Researchers measured the emission of electrons from the surface of stainless steel under laser powder bed fusion (LPBF) conditions, demonstrating the potential for using thermionic emission signals to detect phenomena that can produce defects in parts and improve understanding of the LPBF process. The top image shows a multi-physics simulation of laser-induced melting of stainless steel, showing the electron emission signal primarily produced at the front of the surface depression. The bottom image depicts cross-sections of laser tracks produced in stainless steel. Monitoring of the thermionic emission can detect transition between conduction (left) and keyhole (right) mode welding regimes. Credit: Aiden Martin/LLNL

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) researchers have taken a promising step in improving the reliability of laser-based metal 3-D printing techniques by measuring the emission of electrons from the surface of stainless steel during laser processing.

Researchers collected thermionic emission signals from 316L stainless steel under laser powder bed fusion (LPBF) conditions using a custom, testbed system and a current preamplifier that measured the flow of electrons between the metal surface and the chamber. Then they used the generated thermionic emission to identify dynamics caused by laser-metal interactions. The journal Communications Materials published the work online on Nov. 27.

The team said the results illustrate the potential for thermionic emission sensing to detect laser-driven phenomena that can cause defects in parts, optimize build parameters and improve knowledge of the LPBF process while complementing existing diagnostic capabilities. Researchers said the ability to capture thermal emission of electrons will help advance basic understanding of the laser-material interaction dynamics involved in the LPBF process and support the broader technology maturation community in building confidence in parts created using the technique.

“Producing defect-free parts is a major hurdle for widespread commercial adoption of metal additive manufacturing (AM),” said principal investigator Aiden Martin. “LLNL researchers have been addressing this problem by developing processes and diagnostic tools for improving the reliability of metal AM. This new methodology complements these existing diagnostic tools to increase our understanding of the 3-D printing process. Our next steps are to expand this technology into a sensor operating on a full-scale LPBF system to increase confidence in the quality of built parts.”

Researchers said while significant research has been done to understand and measure how parts are printed with LPBF through optical imaging, X-ray radiographs or measuring thermal or acoustic signal emissions, thermionic emission has been overlooked. But by observing and analyzing the electrons emitted during laser processing, Lab researchers demonstrated they could tie increases in thermionic emission to surface temperature and laser scanning conditions that cause pore formation and part defects.

Through experimental data and simulation, researchers reported the thermionic emission signal increased exponentially, and melt pool depth increased linearly, with local energy density, demonstrating the “critical dependence” of the metal’s surface temperature on thermionic emissions and the utility of using thermionic signals as a way to optimize laser focus in LPBF.

“Electron emission in metal additive manufacturing has generally been overlooked by the community, and we were

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University of Helsinki researchers developed a sequence analysis pipeline for virus discovery

Researchers from the University of Helsinki have developed a novel bioinformatics pipeline called Lazypipe for identifying viruses in host-associated or environmental samples.

The pipeline was developed in close collaboration between virologists and bioinformaticians. The researchers believe they have succeeded to address many challenges typically encountered in viral metagenomics.

Previously, the Viral Zoonooses Research Unit, led by Professor Olli Vapalahti, has published two examples of novel and potentially zoonotic viral agents that were identified with Lazypipe from wild animals that can serve as vectors. A new ebolavirus was identified from faeces and organ samples of Mops condylurus bats in Kenya, and a new tick-borne pathogen Alongshan virus from ticks in Northeast Europe. 

“These examples demonstrate the efficacy of Lazypipe data analysis for NGS libraries with very different DNA/RNA backgrounds, ranging from mammalian tissues to pooled and crushed arthropods,” says Dr. Teemu Smura.

Covid-19 heightens the need to detect new viruses rapidly

The current Coronavirus pandemic heightens the need to rapidly detect previously unknown viruses in an unbiased way.

“The detection of SARS-CoV-2 without reference genome demonstrates the utility of Lazypipe for scenarios in which novel zoonotic viral agents emerge and can be quickly detected by NGS sequencing from clinical samples,” says Dr. Ravi Kant.

In early April, the research group tested libraries of SARS-CoV-2 positive samples with Lazypipe.

“We confirmed that the pipeline detected SARS-CoV-2 in 9 out of 10 libraries with default settings and without SARS-CoV-2 reference genome,” says Dr. Ilja Pljusnin.

“Lazypipe could play a crucial role in prediction of emerging infectious diseases,” adds Assoc. Prof. Tarja Sironen.

Reference: Plyusnin, I., Kant, R., Jääskeläinen, A.J., Sironen, T., Holm, L., Vapalahti, O. and Smura, T. Novel NGS Pipeline for Virus Discovery from a Wide Spectrum of Hosts and Sample Types. Virus Evolution, 2020. DOI: 10.1093/ve/veaa091

Lazypipe is available for the research community as a preinstalled module on Puhti server at the Finnish Center for Scientific Computing (CSC). Read more on the project’s website.

Read more about the Viral Zoonooses Research Unit on the research group’s website.

More information:

Ilja Pljusnin, Researcher, University of Helsinki
Tel. +358 2941 26480
Email: [email protected]

Ravi Kant, Researcher, University of Helsinki
Tel. +358 2941 57054
Email: [email protected]

Teemu Smura, Researcher, University of Helsinki
Tel. +358 2941 26480
Email: [email protected]

Olli Vapalahti, Professor, University of Helsinki
Tel. +358 50 448 8842
Email: [email protected]


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Researchers develop new electrode structure for all-solid-state secondary battery

ETRI, DGIST develop new electrode structure for all-solid-state secondary battery
ETRI researchers are looking at a new type of electrode structure for all-solid-state secondary battery. Credit: Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute(ETRI)

South Korean researchers have developed a new type of electrode structure for all-solid-state secondary batteries. If this technology is adopted, the energy density of the batteries could increase significantly when compared to existing technologies, contributing tremendously to the development of high-performance secondary batteries.

A joint research team from Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute (ETRI) and Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology (DGIST) has designed a new electrode structure for all-solid-state secondary batteries after identifying the mechanism of facile lithium-ion diffusion between active materials. They have published their results in ACS Energy Letters, an international online academic journal specializing in the energy sector which is run by the American Chemical Society (ACS).

Unlike primary cells, which can be only used once, secondary batteries can be recharged and used repeatedly. The importance of secondary battery technology to robots, electric cars, energy storage systems (ESS) and drones is growing year by year.

All-solid-state secondary batteries use a solid electrolyte to transport ions within battery electrodes. Solid electrolytes are safer than liquid electrolytes, which can cause a fire. Moreover, solid electrolytes can be implemented in a bipolar-type secondary cell to increase energy density by a simple battery configuration.

The electrode structure of a conventional all-solid-state secondary cell consists of a solid electrolyte responsible for ionic conduction, a conductive additive that provides the means for electron conduction; active material responsible for storing energy; and a binder that holds these constituent parts physically and chemically.

ETRI researchers discovered through systematic experiments, however, that ions are transported even between graphite active material particles. And they proposed a new type of electrode structure for an all-solid-state secondary cell consisting of only the active material and the binder. The researchers confirmed the possibility that even without a solid electrolyte additive within the electrodes, the performance of an all-solid-state secondary cell could be superior.

The theoretical feasibility of the novel structure proposed by ETRI was verified at DGIST through electrochemical testing of a virtual model running on a supercomputer. ETRI researchers succeeded in demonstrating this structure in an actual experiment. The result is a diffusion-dependent all-solid-state electrode.

If ETRI’s technology is adopted, solid conduction additive material will become unnecessary in the electrode; instead, the more active material can be squeezed into the same volume. In other words, the amount of active material in the electrode can increase by up to 98wt% and as a result, the energy density can be made 1.5 times greater than the conventional graphite composite electrode.

The technology offers advantages in manufacturing process aspects as well. Sulfide-type solid electrolytes, which have high ion conductivity and moderate plasticity, are regarded as an excellent candidate for the fabrication of all-solid-state batteries. But due to its high chemical reactivity, the sulfide-type solid electrolytes leave battery developers with very few options when it comes to solvents and binders. In contrast, with the new ETRI electrode, developers can

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Indiana University researchers report a specific type of childhood cancer

Researchers at Indiana University School of Medicine have published their work about a specific type of childhood cancer in the peer-reviewed, international oncology journal, Cancers.

This research involves a combination therapy that significantly slows tumor growth in models, which includes a model established from cells taken from tumors donated by Tyler Trent. This is the first published manuscript that includes Trent’s tumor model.

Trent was a Purdue University student and sports superfan who died on January 1, 2019, after waging a long and valiant fight against an aggressive form of bone cancer known as osteosarcoma.

In the publication’s acknowledgments, the researchers dedicated the study to Trent’s memory, saying they will always remember him for his courageous battle, his passion for cancer advocacy, and the generous donation of his tumor tissue for research.

We are so proud to honor Tyler’s legacy with this first publication, laying the foundation for future research to build upon. We still have more work to do, but are hopeful that new therapies for osteosarcoma will be possible as we learn more about how to block different tumors from growing.”

Karen E. Pollok, PhD, Study Lead and Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Indiana University School of Medicine

The Precision Genomics team at Riley Children’s Health found a genetic variation in Trent’s tumors (named after him as TT1 and TT2) known as the MYC-RAD21 signature, which has been found in tumors that tend to recur.

Pollok said there are two drugs that can block its effects, a Chk1 inhibitor and a bromodomain inhibitor. Her team tested each drug individually, as well as in combination.

They found that in models with the TT2 tumor, they could stop the tumors from growing by using one of the drugs individually, but using both drugs together blocked tumor growth substantially during a four-week treatment. The research team also determined that the combination treatment was well-tolerated.

“This research is allowing us to forge a path to improving outcomes for children, adolescents and young adults with a very aggressive bone cancer,” said Jamie Renbarger, MD, another one of the lead researchers.

Renbarger was one of Tyler’s doctors and also leads the IU Precision Health Initiative pediatric sarcoma disease research team. She is also the Caroline Symmes Professor of Pediatric Cancer Research at IU School of Medicine. “We are hopeful that this program will lead the way in finding cures for more children.”

The tumor started growing in the models again after stopping the therapy, leading researchers to consider next steps in their scientific process.

Future research topics will include learning to understand how the tumors adapt to treatments and finding ways to optimize the combination therapy.

“The findings and research going on with Tyler’s tumor models is incredibly encouraging and comforting to Tony and I,” said Kelly Trent, who is Tyler Trent’s mother. “It was at the core of who Tyler was to want to be used for good and to help at this capacity. We are so grateful

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Storing carbon through tree planting, preservation costs more than researchers thought

Dec. 1 (UPI) — Planting trees and protecting forests are two of the myriad strategies for keeping carbon out of the atmosphere.

Of all the options, they’re considered the most eco-friendly, or greenest, but new research suggests planting and protecting trees does come with costs — and those costs are quite a bit larger than has been previously estimated.

According to a new study, published Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications, planting trees and conserving forests could reduce carbon dioxide emissions by as much 6 gigatons a year between 2025 and 2055.

Researchers calculated the reductions would come with an annual price tag of $393 billion.

“There is a significant amount of carbon that can be sequestered through forests, but these costs aren’t zero,” study co-author Brent Sohngen, professor of environmental economics at the Ohio State University, said in a news release.

According to Sohngen and his colleagues, previous studies looking at the role of forest conservation in the global effort to curb climate change have largely ignored the effects on forest land use, management and trade.

The new analysis showed protecting existing forests is a more cost effective way to curb carbon emissions than planting new trees.

In places where forest harvesting is an essential economic activity, the study’s authors suggest changes to how and when trees are harvested — as opposed to total protection — could offer a more cost-effective strategy for carbon reductions.

Sohngen and company determined forest protection measures are likely to deliver the most bang for their buck in Brazil, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Indonesia.

Unlike previous studies that have attempted to audit the economic impacts of various carbon sequestration, the latest calculus accounted for what researchers call “carbon leakage.”

When trees are planted on agricultural lands in one part of the world, researchers suggest market demands can trigger deforestation in other parts of the world.

The study’s authors are in agreement with the broader scientific community that carbon emissions must be significantly reduced to avoid catastrophic climate impacts. However, they suggest more work must be done to identify the most cost-effective strategies for curbing emissions.

“Until now, there has been limited research investigating the costs of climate change mitigation from forests,” said lead study author Kemen Austin.

“Better understanding the costs of mitigation from global forests will help us to prioritize resources and inform the design of more efficient mitigation policies,” said Austin, a senior policy analyst with RTI International, a nonprofit research institute based in North Carolina.

Planting and protecting trees alone, however, won’t be enough to prevent catastrophic climate change, researchers said. Efforts to conserve forests must be accompanied by robust efforts to scale green energy, like solar and wind power.

“What we see is that you should devote about a third of your effort to this stuff and two-thirds to the other stuff — to reducing coal, to investing in solar, to switching to electric,” Sohngen said. “If you want your total mitigation to be as cheap as possible,

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Researchers explore population size, density in rise of centralized power in antiquity

Researchers explore population size, density in rise of centralized power in antiquity
Ruins of the Temple of the Amphitheatre in the Late Preceramic Period archaeological site of Caral in Peru. Credit: Courtesy of Daniel Sandweiss

Early populations shifted from quasi-egalitarian hunter-gatherer societies to communities governed by a centralized authority in the middle to late Holocene, but how the transition occurred still puzzles anthropologists. A University of Maine-led group of researchers contend that population size and density served as crucial drivers.

Anthropology professor Paul “Jim” Roscoe led the development of Power Theory, a model emphasizing the role of demography in political centralization, and applied it to the shift in power dynamics in prehistoric northern coastal societies in Peru.

To test the theory, he, Daniel Sandweiss, professor of anthropology and Quaternary and climate studies, and Erick Robinson, a postdoctoral anthropology researcher at Utah State University, created a summed probability distribution (SPD) from 755 radiocarbon dates from 10,000-1,000 B.P., or before present.

The team found a correlation between the tenets of their Power Theory, or that population density and size influence political centralization, and the change in power dynamics in early Peruvian societies.

The team shared their findings in a report published in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B.

“I’ve always been interested in how, in the space of just five to 10,000 years, humans went from biddy little hunter-gatherer groups in which nobody could really push anyone else around to vast industrial states governed by a few people with enormous power. From my fieldwork and other research in New Guinea, it became clear that leaders mainly emerged in large, high-density populations, and Power Theory explained why,” Roscoe says. “Unfortunately, it was difficult until recently for archaeologists to get a handle on the size and densities of populations in the past. SPD techniques are a major help in bringing these important variables into understanding how human social life underwent this dramatic transformation.”

Scientists have previously posited that population in northern coastal Peru rose during the Late Preceramic, Initial, Early Horizon and Early Intermediate periods, or between about 6,000-1,200 B.P. The SPD from Roscoe and his colleagues validates the notion.

The people who settled in the coastal plain first lived as mobile hunter-gatherers or incipient horticulturalists in low density groups, according to researchers. Millennia afterward in the Late Preceramic period, however, several developments brought increased interaction and shareable resources. People began farming, developed irrigation systems and became more settled as time passed. Eventually, some of the world’s first ‘pristine’ states formed in the plain.

The onset and growth of agriculture, irrigation and sedentism, propelled by upticks in population size and density, fostered the capacity of political agents to interact with and manipulate others. Political centralization and hierarchy formed as a result, according to researchers.

Roscoe and his colleagues demonstrated through their radio-carbon SPD that the rise in centralized authorities in early Peruvian communities that resulted from farming, irrigation and settlement coincided with an uptick in population size. The results of their work demonstrate “a broad, low-resolution congruence between the expectations of Power Theory and

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MIT researchers uncover molecular structure of a protein found in COVID-19

“Our findings could be useful for medicinal chemists to design alternative small molecules that target this channel with high affinity,” said Mei Hong, an MIT chemistry professor and senior author of the research team’s new study, in the statement.

The paper from Hong’s team was published Nov. 11 in the journal Nature Structural and Molecular Biology. Its lead author was MIT graduate student Venkata Mandala, the statement said, and additional authors were MIT postdoc Matthew McKay, along with graduate students Alexander Shcherbakov and Aurelio Dregni, as well as Antonios Kolocouris, a pharmaceutical chemistry professor at the University of Athens.

At the outset of the pandemic, the statement said, Hong and her students decided to focus their efforts on one of the COVID-19 proteins. They settled on protein E, the statement said, partly because it’s similar to an influenza protein called the M2 proton channel, which Hong’s studied previously.

“We determined the influenza B M2 structure after about 1.5 years of hard work, which taught us how to clone, express, and purify a virus membrane protein from scratch, and what NMR [nuclear magnetic resonance] experimental strategies to take to solve the structure of a homo-oligomeric helical bundle,” Hong said in the statement. “That experience turned out to be the perfect training ground for studying SARS-CoV-2 E.”

The researchers cloned and purified the E protein in two and a half months, according to the statement. To determine the protein’s structure, the statement said, researchers embedded it into a lipid bilayer, similar to a cell membrane, and analyzed it with NMR.

The statement noted that the COVID-19 E protein looks nothing like the ion-channel proteins of the influenza and HIV-1 viruses. The difference, the statement said, is among the topics that Hong and her team will study in the future.

“This paper represents a clear step forward, reporting the first high-resolution structure of a channel domain formed by any member of the coronavirus envelope protein family, and opens the way to rationally design compounds to block envelope protein channel activity,” said Jaume Torres, an associate professor of biological sciences at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, in the statement.

Torres wasn’t involved in the research, according to MIT.

The MIT statement said the researchers also found that two drugs, amantadine and hexamethylene amiloride, can block the entrance of the E channel, but they bind only “weakly” to the protein.

Stronger inhibitors, the statement said, could emerge as potential drug candidates for treating COVID-19.

“Even when the pandemic is over, it is important that our society recognizes and remembers that fundamental scientific research into virus proteins or bacterial proteins must continue vigorously, so we can preempt pandemics,” Hong said in the statement. “The human cost and economic cost of not doing so are just too high.”

Travis Andersen can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.

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Automated transcription spells savings, speed and security for Griffith University researchers

Automated transcription

Nick Rossow is the acting director for e-research services at Griffith University, and has helmed a project using Microsoft Azure cognitive services to automate transcription. The University had trialled several automated transcription technologies in the past – but none met the standards it needed either in terms of accuracy or proper information governance.

Griffith has built its system using Microsoft Azure Cognitive Services with additional support from Microsoft engineers. A transcription portal built using APIs to Griffith’s information systems is accessed by researchers. This essentially hides the complexities of the system from the researcher who accesses the system via Griffith’s identity management system to ensure proper information governance, accountability and security, then uploads the audio file, completes a couple of check boxes, and then downloads a copy of the transcription.

Rossow says the vision is for each research group to get its own deployment of that interface to the portal to help with expenditure traceability.

“Each project team has to pay for their own transcriptions. And the easiest way for us to manage that currently is to deploy a single instance of the service per project team. So each project team can log into their own service, and any transcriptions will be charged back to that project.”

The quality of transcriptions achieved to date has been reasonable and comparable to what can be achieved using other automated transcription services, according to both Rossow and Kendall. Griffith is now exploring ways of training the system to enhance accuracy, and personalising it to specific areas so it can handle complex jargon or expressions that are common in the rehabilitation or disability sector. They are also exploring ways of enhancing the quality of audio recordings and the protocols for researchers to use in managing recordings.

So far, the researchers like it. Rossow notes; “It’s in a pilot phase because we haven’t really started promoting it. While it’s not perfect YET, it already has over 20 users, which is great for word of mouth advertising.

“Right now, we’ve got some really good user feedback and need to do some more development work on the model to enhance accuracy. Training the model is a big focus for us at the moment, but also taking on some of the feedback about how we make the user interface more user-friendly”

He says that the increased focus on security and data governance resonates strongly with the researchers who feel more confident sending confidential voice files to the University’s Microsoft Transcription Service.

Rossow knows that the automated transcription service will be able to scale to meet researchers’ needs.

He says that; “No research group will impact another research group. If they decide to log in and throw thousands and thousands of hours of recordings at their transcription service, there’ll be no impact on the researcher sitting next to them using a completely different instance of the service. That’s a key benefit for us.”

And importantly, says Prof Kendall, the Microsoft technology promises to decimate the cost of

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University of Utah researchers discover genes linked to suicide

SALT LAKE CITY – Researchers at University of Utah Health’s Huntsman Mental Health Institute have detected more than 20 genes that may play a role in suicide.

The research is the first of its kind, and a Utah mother who is still grieving doesn’t find the results surprising.

Michelle Nelson stands in the bright kitchen of her 101-year-old house in Salt Lake City.

“Amethyst, opalite and crystal,” she said, picking up the small stones from a dish on the counter.

She collects them to help her heal because picking up the pieces after loss is daunting.

“I take Roan everywhere I go,” she said.

Nelson collects heart rocks — stones that naturally form into a heart shape which she finds outside.

“It’s like a gift from nature that reminds me of him,” Nelson said.

Two years ago, her 16-year-old son, Roan McClain, died by suicide.

“It was the biggest shock of my life,” she said. “You think your kids are always going to be okay.”

Her family has a history of suicide.

In a new study, researchers at the Huntsman Mental Health Institute discovered 22 genes that could have a role in suicide deaths. It establishes that suicide is partially heritable independent of a shared environment.

“We looked at over 3,400 samples from individuals who had lost their lives to suicide in Utah,” said Dr. Anna Docherty with the Huntsman Mental Health Institute.

The study, among the first comprehensive genome-wide analyses of suicide death, also found significant genetic cross-connections to psychiatric diseases and behaviors associated with suicide, researchers said.

“Understanding that there is a strong genetic component will destigmatize the subject of suicide,” Docherty said.

Michelle Nelson collects heart rocks to remind her of her son, Roan, who died by suicide. She says new research is giving her hope. (Photo: KSL TV)

The goal of the research is to inspire discussions among families and with their healthcare providers to know when to get support, Docherty said.

“If you have a family history of suicide, it really pays to learn about all of the myriad risk factors and ways that you can really promote health in your family.”

For Nelson, it inspires hope.

“Maybe, if we could look at our kids and say, ‘Hey, you really are at risk. What can we do to get ahead of this?'” she said.

Scientists hope identifying these genes could lead to better predicting who’s at risk and finding better ways to help them.

In the meantime, Nelson continues to find comfort in nature, and her collection of heart rocks.

“When you lose someone close to you, your whole life changes,” she said. “You have to notice the little things. You have to go back to those small things, like the rocks.”

Next, researchers plan to dig into the molecular genetics of suicides to understand the links, and to find drug therapies.

If you or someone you love needs help, call the Utah Crisis Line at 801-587-3000.

Suicide Prevention Resources

If you or someone you

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