Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Fake brain

A doughnut created in a lab and made of silk on the outside and collagen gel where the jelly ought to be can mimic the basic function of brain tissue, scientists have found.

Bioengineers produced a kind of rudimentary grey matter and white matter in a dish, along with rat neurons that signalled one another across the doughnut’s centre. When the scientists dropped weights on the material to simulate traumatic injury, the neurons in the three-dimensional brain model emitted chemical and electrical signals similar to those in the brains of injured animals.

It is the first time scientists have been able to so closely imitate brain function in the laboratory, experts said. If researchers can replicate it with human neurons and enhance it to reflect other neurological functions, it could be used for studying how disease, trauma and medical treatments affect the brain —without the expense and ethical challenges of clinical trials on people.
“In terms of mechanical similarity to the brain, it’s a pretty good mimic,” said James J Hickman, a professor of nanoscience technology at the University of Central Florida, who was not involved in the research. “They’ve been able to repeat the highest level of function of neurons. It’s the best model I’ve seen.”

The research, led by David Kaplan, the chairman of the biomedical engineering department at Tufts University, and published in the journal PNAS, is the latest example of biomedical engineering being used to make realistic models of organs such as the heart, lungs and liver.
Most studies of human brain development rely on animals or on slices of brains taken after death; both are useful but have limitations.

Brain models have been mostly two-dimensional or made with neurons grown in a three-dimensional gel, said Rosemarie Hunziker, programme director of tissue engineering and biomaterial at the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, which funded Kaplan’s research.
None of those systems replicates the brain’s grey or white matter, or how neurons communicate, Hunziker said.

“Even if you get cells to live in there, they don’t do much,” she said. “It is spectacularly difficult to do this with the brain.”

Kaplan’s team found that a spongy silk material coated with a positively charged polymer could culture rat neurons, a stand-in for grey matter. By itself, though, the silk material did not encourage neurons to produce axons, branches that transmit electrical pulses to other neurons.
The researchers formed the silk material into a doughnut and added collagen gel to the centre. Axons grew from the ring through the gel — the white matter substitute — and sent signals to neurons across the circle.

They got “these neurons talking to each other,” Hunziker said. “No one’s really shown that before.”
Gordana Vunjak-Novakovic, a biomedical engineering professor at Columbia who has collaborated with Kaplan on other studies, described the model as a kind of “Lego approach”, a “modular structure” that can be expanded and made more complex.

“This is not normal tissue, but it is the first proof of a principle that something like this can be achieved outside ofthe body,” she said.
Hickman said future experiments would need to study human brain tissue, including other cells and regions in the brain.
“There are some limitations, but they seem to have gotten the mechanics right,” he said. “They’ve set up an architecture so some clever person in the future could then do it.”
Kaplan said his team was working on sustaining the brainlike tissue for six months — and with human neurons created from stem cells by other scientists. He plans to add a model of the brain’s vascular system, so researchers can study what happens when drugs cross the blood-brain barrier.
Ultimately, he hopes the bioengineered model can be used “to study everything from drugs to disease to surgical effects to electrode implants”, he said. “I mean, the list is endless.”

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Molecular Event Mapping Opens Door to More Tests “In Silico”

Scientists report a new method for establishing whether chemical compounds are safe for human use without "in vivo" testing, based on so-called "molecular initiating events" at the boundary between chemistry and biology.
A new approach to mapping and predicting the impact of chemical compounds in the body, which it is hoped could eventually reduce the need for toxicity tests in animals, has been trialled by scientists.
Although still at an early stage, the process involves identifying “molecular initiating events” (MIEs) - the term given to the moment at which a molecule that has entered the body starts to interact with it, kick-starting a sequence of events which leads to a toxic outcome.
By identifying the specific features and properties within individual molecules that cause these events, the researchers argue that it should be possible to make accurate predictions about the effects of new and untested chemical compounds with similar characteristics.
In principle, that would reduce the need to test some chemicals contained within drugs, pesticides, food additives or other consumer products on animals. Instead, scientists would be able to screen a chemical’s molecular structure using customised computer software - a transition they characterize as one from testing “in vivo” (within the living) to “in silico” (on computers).
To prove the point, the new research, reported in the journal Chemical Research in Toxicology, mapped the pathways by which several well-known compounds, such as paracetamol, cause toxic outcomes. By tracing these back to the molecular initiating event, the team were able to identify chemical characteristics, that were present in other molecules exhibiting the same toxicities.
Tim Allen, a PhD researcher in chemistry at St John’s College, University of Cambridge, and the paper’s first author, said: “We are at the very early stages of building predictive tools for different molecules, and this work provides a proof-of-concept foundation for doing much more.”
“At the moment, there is sometimes no alternative to testing some new chemicals on animals to establish whether or not they are going to be safe for human use. Computer modelling is now finally starting to catch up. Eventually, if we can map the adverse outcome pathways of numerous molecules in the way that we have here, we will be able to develop models which mean you don’t have to administer products in vivo and then look for a reaction to establish whether or not they are safe.”
Ultimately, the researchers hope to develop a complete “MIE Atlas”, capturing data about a large number of molecules and their interactions with the body. Existing scientific knowledge of molecular initiating events is patchy and far from complete.
An initiating event can take on a number of forms. For example, a molecule from an ingested drug may bind to a certain protein within an organ, leading to a series of adverse effects. Equally, it may inhibit the production of a specific enzyme that the body would normally produce.
What each event has in common is that a link is established between a certain characteristic feature of the molecule in question - such as its size, shape, or acidity level - and a feature of human biology. “In many ways it represents the boundary between chemistry and biology,” Allen said. “If we can understand the chemistry of existing molecules and how they interact with the body, then we will be able to make predictions about new products and their likely toxicity based on similar characteristics.”
To test the theory, the Cambridge research team examined the pathway by which acetaminophen - better known as paracetamol - causes acute liver failure as a result of an overdose. From a survey of existing scientific literature on this subject, they were able to extrapolate the initiating event, its molecular basis, and accurately identify the likely toxicity of other molecules with a similar characteristic.
The molecular initiating event which leads to paracetamol becoming toxic is an oxidation process which happens when it enters the liver. This produces a toxic molecule called NAPQI, which is normally detoxified relatively quickly. When a person overdoses, however, too much NAPQI is produced, and this reduces the body’s normal defences and can ultimately result in liver failure.
The study identified that the key to this oxidation process is a feature of a paracetamol molecule’s structure known as the “para-aminophenol” fragment, a feature at the centre of the molecule without which this toxicity would not be observed.
Having established this, the researchers looked for similar structures in other substances, to see if they resulted in the same toxicity. The hypothesis proved to be correct in two cases - the compound Phenacetin, a now disused pain relief drug, and Amodiaquine, an anti-malarial agent. Both compounds had the same fragment within their structure, and because of this, both had the same toxic implications for the body when taken in certain quantities.
The research paper also speculates that better knowledge of Molecular Initiating Events could enable scientists to predict not only adverse, but also positive, outcomes which may emanate from the uptake of certain chemical compounds into the human body. The aim of the work, however, is firmly based in toxicology – to build on current in silico approaches, and increase understanding of what goes on during a toxic response.
“The approach seems strong and well-rooted in theory, and the aim of this paper is really to gain more feedback on the merits of widening out this type of research,” Allen said. “What we have done so far represents a tiny fraction of toxicological and chemical space. Further work will allow our approach to become a much more widely-used and valuable tool for toxicologists.”
Article adapted from a University of Cambridge news release. The original article is licensed under a Creative Commons Licence.
Publication: Defining Molecular Initiating Events in the Adverse Outcome Pathway Framework for Risk Assessment. Timothy E. H. Allen, Jonathan M. Goodman, Steve Gutsell, and Paul J. Russell. Chemical Research in Toxicology (2014): Click here to view.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Ghanashyam Dash Scholarship for Higher Education

FDA clears world's first patient-specific spinal rod

The MEDICREA group, a company that specializes in the development of personalized implants produced for a patient's specific need in the treatment of spinal pathologies, has announced the company has received 510(k) clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for UNiDTM, the world's first patient-specific spinal osteosynthesis rod. The technology will be premiered at the 2014 North American Spine Society (NASS) Annual Meeting taking place on November 12-15 in San Francisco. The first U.S. patient underwent surgery to have personalized UNiDTM rods implanted earlier today in New York.
UNiDTM features a user-friendly software tool to help surgeons preoperatively plan their surgery and order customized, industrially-produced rods to fit the specific spinal alignment needed for each individual patient. UNiDTM eliminates the need to manually contour a rod during surgery, providing surgeons with a precisely aligned rod prior to surgery and reducing the amount of time patients spend in the operating room, which directly impacts infection rate and quality of recovery.
"Understanding and restoring sagittal alignment is key towards providing better patient outcomes and preventing the need for reoperations, a major factor in rising health care costs. By providing rod customization, UNiDTM allows surgeons to precisely execute their preoperative plan and frees them from the antiquated technique of freehand bending, ensuring individual patients receive the most accurate and effective treatment. Having a more precise, personalized rod ready before even stepping foot in the operating room is a game-changer for spine surgery," said Frank J. Schwab, MD, a renowned orthopedic surgeon and spinal deformity expert, who performed the first customized UNiDTM rod surgery in the U.S. today.
The UNiDTM rod system, which has been successfully implanted in over 100 patients in Europe, offers a real-time support team, the UNiDTM Lab, that provides a seamless process by which surgeons preoperatively analyze, design and order the patient-specific rod. The UNiDTM plug in, proprietary to MEDICREA, is embedded into the Surgimap software, and provides surgeons a quick and efficient option for ordering patient-specific rods. After the planning process is complete, the order is transferred to the UNiDTM Lab, which processes the request and industrially produces and labels the rod specifically for the patient.
"When we created Surgimap in 2008 our primary goal was to provide a research tool for surgeons to plan, measure and review their results," said Virginie Lafage, PhD, Co-Founder of NEMARIS. "As we collected data we noticed a startling trend: 62 percent of patient remained sagittally malaligned after surgery [i]. This was occurring not because of a lack of skills, but because surgeons have not had the best tools at their disposal. Our collaboration with MEDICREA is an important step forward for spine surgery. Combining our core competency, our software platform, with MEDICREA's hardware solution was necessary to bring a cutting-edge solution to surgeons and the patients they treat. It would not have been possible without such collaboration."
The UNiDTM customized rod offers numerous benefits to surgeons and patients undergoing spine surgery.
  • The primary benefit of UNiDTM is it allows surgeons to plan and then execute their operating strategy without compromises or approximation errors. Until now, surgeons had no alternative but to use a bending device, known as a French bender, supplied in all instrument kits to bend the rods manually. This manual rod-contouring process involves estimating the curve in a very empirical manner using pre-operative X-rays displayed on a wall in the operating room. Significant error and variability exist with that approach. With UNiDTM, surgeons can now be certain of implanting spinal fusion rods that are precisely adapted to the patient because UNiDTM rods are personalized and accurately curved using a design established by the surgeon during the pre-operative planning phase with the Surgimap / UNiDTM software.
Additional advantages of UNiDTM include:
  • Surgeons can improve their success rate in terms of global sagittal patient alignment. With the free UNiDTM application in the Surgimap software, spine surgeons have access to the most recent scientific data available on the parameters necessary to determine and restore sagittal alignment for each patient.
  • Surgeons can save time and be more efficient in the operating room. By eliminating the manual bending of rods during surgery, surgeons can significantly reduce operating time. This is an additional benefit, since infection rates and the quality of a patient's recovery are directly linked to the duration of the surgical procedure. As soon as the surgeon validates the rod's design in the UNiDTM application, MEDICREA precisely manufactures the implantable rod and delivers it within 5 working days.
  • Surgeons can reduce the risk of spinal implant failure. The UNiDTM rods, customized for each patient, are pre-contoured using a controllable and reproducible industrial process. This eliminates the intraoperative use of a bending device, which creates indentations, or notches, in the rod. Such notches are an acknowledged cause of rods breaking postoperatively, which can occur in patients - especially adults with severe spinal deformities.
Adapted by MNT from original media release

Gene turns mosquito into vampire

Out of the millions of species of insects, only about a hundred suck human blood. Now, scientists say they’ve figured out how one mosquito became a vampire: a gene that makes it particularly sensitive to human odor.
This is one of the few situations in which researchers have pinned down a gene underlying a complex behavior, and their results may point the way to thwarting this potentially deadly insect. “The more we can understand about how mosquitoes sense human odors, the better we will be at designing repellents and baits,” says Carolyn McBride, the evolutionary neurobiologist at Princeton University who led the work.
Curious about how insects developed a taste for humans, McBride focused her efforts on the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which has spread worldwide. The insect, which passes on the dengue, yellow fever, and chikungunya viruses, lives side by side with a very close relative along the coast of Kenya. The relative—known as A. aegypti formosus, or “forest form” of A. aegypti—buzzes through forests, doesn’t attack humans, and lays its eggs in water in tree holes and rock pools. The domestic form, A. aegypti aegypti, meanwhile, thrives in homes, laying eggs in water containers. The domestic and forest forms can interbreed, but for the most part they avoid each other.
McBride confirmed another intriguing difference between the two insects. When she and colleagues brought them back to the lab, they found that the forest mosquito preferred to dine on guinea pigs, whereas its domestic cousin liked humans.
The team compared the activity of all the genes in the antennae of the two forms. There were many differences and one gene that was much more active in the domestic mosquito:Or4, which codes for an odor receptor. The researchers plugged Or4 into fruit fly nerve cells that lack the Or4 receptor and tested which odors the nerve cell could pick up on that it couldn’t before. The strongest response was to an odor molecule called sulcatone, McBride and her colleagues report online today in Nature. Many organisms release sulcatone, but humans reek of it, producing four times the amount the researchers found in live chickens or in horse, cow, and sheep hair. In guinea pigs, this odor was undetectable.
When the scientists took at closer look at the Or4 gene, they found that its sequence varied in the two types of Kenyan mosquitoes. The gene comes in seven different versions, three of which predominate in the human-biters. Thus, human-biting mosquitoes have distinct versions of the gene and make a lot more of its odor-sensing protein than do the forest mosquitoes.
"The paper is well designed, and the experiments lead us nicely from demonstrable behavioral differences right the way through to the identification of a gene which may be associated with such differences,” says James Logan, an entomologist at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, who was not involved with the work.
“To present such a convincing case for a single gene being the causative factor is rare,” adds Jeffrey Powell, an evolutionary geneticist at Yale University, who was not involved with the work. Although there are likely to be other factors involved in human preference, “it seems the one identified is a, if not the, major factor,” he says.
According to Logan, A. aegypti is not controlled by bed nets or insecticides, yet spreads serious diseases such as dengue fever. The work, he says, "could have important implications for mosquito control measures in the future," for example in helping develop new baits or repellents.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Earthquake Researchers luckily find Ancient Shipwreck

A mysterious shipwreck on the floor of Monterey Bay in northern California has been serendipitously discovered by scientists mapping earthquake fault lines. Sonar images from research on the San Gregorio, a major fault system that lies along the outside of the bay Fault, led the researchers to detect a vessel.
Charlie Paull, a scientist with the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) in a report by local station KSBW, said the discovery is rare and it is the first time when the scientists have found a shipwreck that they initially had no idea about.
The researchers found the vessel a mile below the ocean's surface in Monterey Bay's subterranean canyon. Thanks to Katie Maier, a research geologist with the U. S. Geological Survey, who first detected the drowned ship in the soar images.
"One of the things we're interested in is how wrecks like that get colonized how they decay what happens with time and I think it's an opportunity for local studies to be launched to understand that in a place where we going to be operating in those water depths frequently", said Paul.
The researchers zoomed up the image and looked at the spot to gather fine details of it. They saw the shape of the barge in those maps.
A remotely operated vehicle equipped with a video camera was then sent by the team to record the shipwreck. The camera flawlessly captured an image of the boat, named Umpqua II.
The researchers then went to search more on Google and figured out shortly that the mysterious wreckage belonged to a barge that ran into difficulties in Moss Landing harbor back in 1992. The Umpqua II was laying on the bottom of the ocean floor before researchers luckily found it after detecting it in sonar images.

Saturday, 8 November 2014

4.8 magnitude earthquake hits grace

Athens, Nov 8: A 4.8 magnitude earthquake struck about 140 kilometres west of Athens provoking some light damage to buildings but no reports of injuries, officials have said. The quake, considered weak by Greece's earthquake observatory, hit at 2242 IST yesterday and was epicentered about five km off the coast of the town of Aigio in the Gulf of Corinth. A church and an abandoned building in Aigio were damaged, according to initial reports from the Greek media. There were no immediate indications of any injuries. Aigio was the epicentre of a Richter Scale magnitude 6 earthquake in 1995, which killed over 20 people and caused major damage to buildings. Earthquakes are frequent in Greece and just in January several thousand people found themselves homeless on the island of Cephalonia in the Ionian Islands after a 5.8 magnitude quake

2015 Student Design Competition

 Undergraduate Student Design Competition
To Be Presented at
BMES 2015 Annual Meeting

October 7-10, 2015
BMES Undergraduate Student Members engaged in student design projects are encouraged to enter. All design team members must be BMES Student Members. The top 6 proposals will be chosen and those teams will be given an opportunity to present their work via oral presentations at the BMES 2015 Annual Meeting.
  • Showcase the students' undergraduate design work
  • Provide students an opportunity to present their innovations at BMES 2015 Annual Meeting
  • Introduce students to the Biomedical Engineering Society
  • Provide a chance to network with product development and design professionals in BME

Six design teams will attend BMES 2015. The Top 3 will be the selected winning teams.
Awardees will receive (Top 3 teams only) - First place $3000, Second place $1500 and Third place $500.

To Access the Student Design Competition application, click here:
http://bmes.org/files/BMES Design Competition Application Guidelines.pdf

To Access the Judging Criteria, click here: http://bmes.org/files/BMES National Design Competition 2015 Judging Criteria.pdf

Please direct your inquiries/submit the application to Elizabeth DaSilva

Important Information -

1. The 2015 Design Theme is Bioinstrumentation.
2. All design team members MUST be BMES Student Members.
3. Top 6 proposals will be chosen and those teams will present via oral presentations at BMES 2015 Annual Meeting. 

Application deadline - May 25, 2015

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Traumatic Brain Injury and Concussion Facts and Figures

According to the Centers for Disease Control, the nation’s health protection agency:
Children and teens are more likely to get a TBI, including concussion, and take longer to recover than adults. TBI symptoms may appear mild, but the injury can lead to significant life-long impairment affecting an individual’s memory, behavior, learning, and/or emotions. Appropriate diagnosis, management, and education are critical for helping young athletes with a TBI recover quickly and fully.
  • Each year, U.S. emergency departments treat an estimated 173,285 sports- and recreation-related TBIs (traumatic brain injuries), including concussions, among children and adolescents, from birth to 19 years
  • During the last decade, emergency room visits for sports- and recreation-related TBIs, including concussions, among children and adolescents increased by 60%
  • Overall, the activities associated with the greatest number of TBI-related emergency room visits included bicycling, football, playground activities, basketball, and soccer.
  • Numbers and rates are highest in football and girl’s soccer
·         Some 71 % of all sports and recreation-related TBI emergency room visits were among males and 70.5% were among persons aged 10-19 years
  • Children from birth to 9 years commonly sustained injuries during playground activities or while bicycling
  • Females aged 10-19 years sustained sports- and recreation-related TBIs most often while playing soccer or basketball or while bicycling

Traumatic Brain Injury and Concussion Facts and Figures

According to the Centers for Disease Control, the nation’s health protection agency:
Children and teens are more likely to get a TBI, including concussion, and take longer to recover than adults. TBI symptoms may appear mild, but the injury can lead to significant life-long impairment affecting an individual’s memory, behavior, learning, and/or emotions. Appropriate diagnosis, management, and education are critical for helping young athletes with a TBI recover quickly and fully.
  • Each year, U.S. emergency departments treat an estimated 173,285 sports- and recreation-related TBIs (traumatic brain injuries), including concussions, among children and adolescents, from birth to 19 years
  • During the last decade, emergency room visits for sports- and recreation-related TBIs, including concussions, among children and adolescents increased by 60%
  • Overall, the activities associated with the greatest number of TBI-related emergency room visits included bicycling, football, playground activities, basketball, and soccer.
  • Numbers and rates are highest in football and girl’s soccer
·         Some 71 % of all sports and recreation-related TBI emergency room visits were among males and 70.5% were among persons aged 10-19 years
  • Children from birth to 9 years commonly sustained injuries during playground activities or while bicycling
  • Females aged 10-19 years sustained sports- and recreation-related TBIs most often while playing soccer or basketball or while bicycling

Monday, 27 October 2014

Assistant Professor - The Department of Bacteriology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison : Madison, WI, United States

Working Title: Assistant Professor
Degree and area of specialization: Ph.D. in microbiology, biochemistry, genetics, cell and molecular biology, or related field.
Minimum number of years and type of relevant work experience: At least 2 years of postdoctoral experience.
Principal duties: Tenure Track Position in Bacteriology, University of Wisconsin-Madison. Academic (9 month) appointment.
The Department of Bacteriology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (http://www.bact.wisc.edu/) invites applications for a faculty position in bacteriology/microbiology at the Assistant Professor level. The Department is seeking candidates whose research is at the forefront of any area of microbiology with an emphasis broadly on molecular mechanism in any domain of life. The University and Department provide an excellent environment for the development of an outstanding research program. The position carries a commitment to the three functions of resident instruction, research, and outreach/service, as appropriate to the position and rank. Thus, the successful candidate will be expected to develop a vigorous, extramurally-funded, independent research program and to participate in undergraduate and graduate teaching and university service.
Employee Class: 
Full Time Salary Rate: Negotiable 
ACADEMIC (9 months) 
Term: N/A
Appointment percent: 100%
Anticipated begin date: AUGUST 24, 2015
Number of Positions: 1
Application must be received by: OCTOBER 31, 2014
All materials should be sent by email to the Bacteriology Faculty Search Committee (facultysearch@bact.wisc.edu) and received by October 31, 2014 to ensure full consideration.
Applications should be sent as a single pdf that includes: a cover letter referencing position vacancy listing #80284, a curriculum vitae documenting research and teaching experience, a research plan, teaching interests, and names and contact information for three individuals who will serve as references. Please also ask three referees to submit letters of reference to the same email address (facultysearch@bact.wisc.edu) with the applicant's name in the header.
UW-Madison is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer.
We promote excellence through diversity and encourage all qualified individuals to apply.

Faculty Position in Computational Biology : Kansas City, MO, United States

The Stowers Institute for Medical Research invites innovative young scientists to apply for a faculty position in Computational Biology at the rank of Assistant Investigator.

The successful candidate is expected to develop a groundbreaking, innovative and independent research program while complementing the institution’s existing strengths in genetics and epigenetics, cell and chromosome biology, stem cells and regenerative biology, developmental biology and evolution, and biochemistry and neuroscience.
The position is fully funded throughout the candidate’s appointment. This includes $600,000 per year for full salary support and research funding, in addition to start-up funds and ongoing needs for equipment. The initial appointment is for 6 years and is then subject to renewal every 6 to 7 years. In total, the package for a junior position is more than $3.5 million over the first term and increases significantly after promotion. In addition, investigators may take advantage of exceptional core facilities and technology centers staffed by over 100 scientists. Stowers investigators have multiple opportunities to be involved in the Institute’s Graduate School program.
Candidates must have a Ph.D. or equivalent degree and postdoctoral experience demonstrating innovation and excellence in their field. Candidates will be expected to possess a long-term vision of their scientific interests, to establish a vigorous and innovative research program, and to actively contribute to the Institute’s mission and collegiality.
Deadline and Application Information
Deadline for applications is October 31, 2014. Applicants should submit a cover letter, a CV, a research plan and vision statement, and arrange for the submission of three letters of reference through our application page at: http://www.stowers.org/facultysearch.

Germany : PhD Scholarships in East Asian Studies

Twelve candidates will receive a grant FUNDEDthrough the Graduate School, up to two PhD candidates can be considered for special funding provided by the DAAD (GSSP Program). The Graduate School will also consider to accept up to three candidates who receive funding either from other Freie Universität Berlin programs, from partner institutions in East Asia (CSC, etc.), or through scholarships provided by German or international organizations.

Scholarship details: We offer PhD stipends of € 1365 €/month (plus 103 €/m research allowance). Fellowships will initially be granted for one year, and contingent upon a positive evaluation after each year of study, fellowships will be extended for another year. The fellowship may be granted for a maximum of three years.
Research focus: Doctoral dissertations at GEAS are expected to analyze the institutional environment of social, political, cultural and economic actors in the East Asian region (China, Japan and/or Korea). All dissertation research at GEAS will be conducted in the context of the three interconnected research lenses of its academic profile: (1) the origin and change of institutions in East Asia, (2) the effects institutions have on processes related to globalization and modernization in East Asia on the side of governments, bureaucracies or business and individual life-styles or related preferences, and, finally, (3) the interdependencies of institutions in East Asia within and beyond its regional boundaries.
Eiligbility: Successful applicants will have an above average master’s degree in either area studies (Chinese Studies, Japanese Studies, Korean Studies) or a discipline represented at the Graduate School (Political Science, Social and Cultural Anthropology, Business, Economics, Law, History, Cultural Studies, Humanities, Theatre Studies, Environmental Policy) with a focus on East Asia. The language of instruction is English. Successful candidates will also show proof of language skills in an East Asian Language (Chinese, Japanese, or Korean) at a level of B2 (CEFR) or higher.
Selection criteria: Applications should include a CV, a letter of academic interest, a brief outline of the prospective dissertation topic (maximum 6 pages), a schedule for the dissertation, and copies of certificates of your relevant degrees and language skills. Two letters of recommendation shall be sent directly by your referees to GEAS via the online application system. For more information and guidelines as well as for applications, please register online.
Application deadline:  January 16, 2015.
The screening takes place in January and February 2015. Shortlisted candidates will be interviewed (via Skype) in April 2015. Candidates accepted for admission into GEAS will receive notice by early to mid-May 2015.
How to apply: Online portal at https://apply.drs.fu-berlin.de/eas 
For additional information, please check our website and feel free to contact us. No legal entitlement shall be constituted by applying to the program. Reasons for rejections will not be disclosed.

Application Deadline : 16 January 2015

Contact Adress: Graduate School of East Asian Studies,
Contact Email: application@geas.fu-berlin.de

Friday, 17 October 2014

A Family Battles Over a Disappearing Trove of Chinese Paintings

For more than a decade, the family of C. C. Wang, a collector whose name graces a gallery at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, has been battling over a trove of classical Chinese paintings and scrolls that has been described as among the finest in the world.

Now, the feud has escalated. In the past month, two of Mr. Wang’s children, who have been fighting in Surrogate’s Court in Manhattan since his death in 2003 at 96, filed lawsuits in state and federal courts accusing each other of looting and deceit.

But beyond the family strife, a broader issue is dismaying Chinese-art experts for whom the Wang collection has long been a source of wonder.

Dozens, perhaps hundreds, of works from an estate once valued in court papers at more than $60 million have gone missing, including an 11th-century scroll, “The Procession of Taoist Immortals,” that is viewed in China as a national treasure.

“This is heartbreaking, and it is happening right here in the city,” said Laura B. Whitman, a specialist in Chinese art formerly with Sotheby’s and Christie’s, who used to visit Mr. Wang at his apartment in New York to view his collection.

Divining who rightfully owns these works, and who is to blame for the disappearance of so many of them, has consumed the family for more than a decade.

The case has become so complex, and so expensive, that the Surrogate’s Court has suspended discussing matters of inheritance until it can come up with a reliable inventory of what was initially in the collection to see if the estate will be able to pay lawyers and other creditors.
Among the few certainties at this point is that Mr. Wang demonstrated the ability to acquire objects of historical importance, objects that since his death have increased many times in value as the Chinese art market has boomed.

Born near Suzhou, China, in 1907, he moved to the United States during China’s political upheavals in 1949, settling in Manhattan, where he built a career teaching, consulting at Sotheby’s, and dealing in real estate and in art. He became the dean of the rarefied market for Chinese art in New York and was an accomplished artist in his own right. By the end of the 1990s, the Met had bought some 60 works that were once part of his collection and named a gallery in his honor.

Among the Met acquisitions was a colossal hanging scroll titled “Riverbank,” attributed to the 10th-century painter Dong Yuan, but which attracted its own controversy after some scholars declared it a 20th-century forgery.

Maxwell K. Hearn, chairman of the Met’s Asian art department, said Mr. Wang acquired much of his important collection early on, when the market for Chinese art didn’t exist.

“He saw their continued relevance as sources of artistic inspiration,” Mr. Hearn said. “Now, they have become enormously valuable, because people are recognizing their cultural significance and acknowledge him as a source of validation.”

Before his death, Mr. Wang left some works to his daughter Yien-Koo Wang King, now 79, and some to his son, Shou-Kung Wang, now 85, both of whom served during different periods as confidant and business agent to their father.

But they have battled over the legacy, particularly the validity of a 2000 will that listed Mrs. King as executor and of a competing will, drawn up shortly before Mr. Wang’s death, that named Shou-Kung Wang’s son, Andrew, as executor, and disinherited Mrs. King.

Amid the fighting, estimates differ widely about how many classical Chinese paintings were in Mr. Wang’s collection when he died, from about 240 to 438.

Together, since 2003, the son and daughter have surrendered more than 120 artworks to the estate for sale, but have also accused each other of hiding many more of the most valuable paintings in the United States, in China or elsewhere.

The Internal Revenue Service is seeking more than $20 million in estate taxes, based on its own inventory of paintings, real estate and other possessions at the time of death, though that fee is based on a valuation of some paintings that may well now be missing.

The tax bill and claims for lawyers’ fees so outweigh the value of the handful of remaining classical works held by the estate in a warehouse in New Jersey that the Surrogate’s Court decided it was not worth proceeding until a proper accounting can be made.

The latest legal actions are an effort to break the deadlock. In a filing in federal court in Manhattan last month, Mrs. King and her husband, Kenneth, said that her brother and his son had conspired to loot the estate through sham art sales and had lied about the whereabouts of works.

Mrs. King said in her filing that Shou-Kung Wang’s son, Andrew Wang, 53, who shares fiduciary duty for the estate with the public administrator of Surrogate’s Court, made up bogus addresses of buyers, and even, in one case, shipped $1.4 million worth of the art to his home in Shanghai.

The lawsuit also accuses the Wangs of giving conflicting accounts of the location of one work, “Album of Landscapes” by the 13th-century painter Ma Yuan. A decade ago, Shou-Kung Wang told the court that his father had given him the painting and it was in his possession.

But lawyers for Mrs. King have produced a 2011 television interview in China in which a collector there says he bought the painting from C. C. Wang’s family after his death, for what the lawyers say was more than $5.5 million.

Asked recently in court about the discrepancy, Andrew Wang said that his grandfather had in fact sold the painting shortly before he died. He said Shou-Kung Wang had believed that he still owned the painting at the time of his testimony because Andrew and C. C. Wang had concealed the sale.
A lawyer for Shou-Kung Wang and Andrew Wang, Carolyn Shields of Liu & Shields in Queens, denied Mrs. King’s allegations.

For their part, they argue in a lawsuit filed last week in State Supreme Court in Manhattan that it was the Kings who have diverted assets by hiding works in a warehouse in New York, transferring ownership of them to foreign corporations and selling them.

One of the few things the two sides agree on is that “The Procession of Taoist Immortals,” an ink-on-silk hand scroll that is one of the most important works in the collection, is missing.

Probably a sketch for a mural painting, it depicts a group of Taoist gods in intricate detail. Experts say it is an early and rare example from the Northern Song dynasty of a Taoist theme.

“It is of monumental significance,” said Stephen Little, a curator of Chinese art at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

Attributed to Wu Zongyuan, it is valued by experts at tens of millions of dollars.
In 2005, both sides put “Procession” in a Shanghai bank’s safe-deposit box. The box was to be opened again only in the presence of both sides.
Hearing reports that “Procession” had been seen outside the bank, Mrs. King demanded that Andrew Wang open the box to inspect the painting with her, but, according to her complaint, he defied a Chinese court order and refused to attend.

When the box was opened in 2009, the result was disappointing, she said. Instead of a treasure, the box contained a cheap, discolored print of the scroll. The theft was reported to the Shanghai police, who declined to investigate what they called a family matter, said a lawyer for the Kings, Sam P. Israel of Manhattan. Shou-Kung Wang and Andrew Wang said they were never told the box was going to be opened and suggest that Mrs. King somehow stole the scroll.
Five years later, its whereabouts remains unknown.

“To think that something like that is out there and is not being seen and preserved and appreciated by humanity is just sad,” Ms. Whitman said.


Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Where Is God Located In the Brain? Importance of Religion Is Related To Thickness Of The Cerebral Cortex

Made entirely of gray matter and distinguished by its characteristic folds, the cerebral cortex is the brain's outermost layer covering the hemispheres. Now, researchers from New York State Psychiatric Institute and Columbia University found the importance of religion or spirituality to individuals may be linked to the thickness of their cerebral cortices. “Importance of religion or spirituality, but not frequency of [house of worship] attendance, was associated with thicker cortices in the left and right parietal and occipital regions, the mesial frontal lobe of the right hemisphere, and the cuneus and precuneus in the left hemisphere,” wrote the authors in their study, published this month in JAMA Psychology. Significantly, this relationship between spiritual importance and cortex thickness was observed to be strongest among those at high risk of depression.

Depression Related to Importance of Divinity

In their previous work, the team of researchers reported that among adults in families at high risk for major depression, those that expressed a strong interest in their spirituality had a 90 percent decreased risk of the illness when compared to those who did not find religion so important. The team of colleagues also showed in a previous study that high-risk adults showed large expanses of cortical thinning across the lateral surface of the right hemisphere of the brain. For their new study, the team returned to this issue of cerebral cortex thickness. They began by questioning 103 adults between the ages of 18 and 54 about the importance of spirituality in their lives and how often they attended religious services. Then, they repeated these questions after five years. Some participants were the children or grandchildren of participants in an earlier study about depression and so were deemed at high risk for the illness; others had no family history of this mental illness and so served as a comparison group. The researchers imaged the brains of all the participants to determine the thickness of the cortices. What did they discover?
Those who expressed a stronger spiritual bent also displayed thicker cortices above both the left and right hemispheres. Trying to explain their results, the researchers wrote, “A thicker cortex associated with a high importance of religion or spirituality may confer resilience to the development of depressive illness in individuals at high familial risk for major depression, possibly by expanding a cortical reserve that counters to some extent the vulnerability that cortical thinning poses for developing familial depressive illness.”
Significantly, the researchers stated that their findings are simply correlational; importance of religion does not necessarily cause greater thickness, or vice versa. In an unrelated study, University of Missouri scientists, who similarly searched the brain for signs of spirituality, found that transcendence is associated with decreased right parietal lobe functioning, while other aspects of spiritual functioning are related to increased activity in the frontal lobe.

Location of Spirituality in the Brain

"We have found a neuropsychological basis for spirituality, but it's not isolated to one specific area of the brain," Brick Johnstone, professor of health psychology, stated in a press release. For the study published last year in the International Journal for the Psychology of Religion, Johnstone and his colleagues studied 20 people with traumatic brain injuries that affected the right parietal lobe, the area of the brain situated a few inches above the right ear. The team questioned participants about their spiritual beliefs, asking how close they felt to a higher power, and if they considered their lives to be part of a divine plan.
They discovered those participants with more significant injury to their right parietal lobe expressed a feeling of greater closeness to a higher power. "Neuropsychology researchers consistently have shown that impairment on the right side of the brain decreases one's focus on the self," Johnstone said, noting that previous studies of Buddhist monks and Franciscan nuns with fully-functioning brains have shown decreased activation in the right inferior parietal lobe during deep meditation and prayer. "Since our research shows that people with this impairment are more spiritual, this suggests spiritual experiences are associated with a decreased focus on the self."
Johnstone also measured the frequency of participants' religious practices, such as how often they attended church or listened to religious programs. He compared these measurements to activity rates in the frontal lobe and found a connection between increased activity in this part of the brain and increased participation in religious practices. "This finding indicates that spiritual experiences are likely associated with different parts of the brain," Johnstone said. "Certain parts of the brain play more predominant roles, but they all work together to facilitate individuals' spiritual experiences."

Sources: Miller L, Vansal R, Wickramaratne P, et al. Neuroanatomical Correlates of Religiosity and Spirituality, A Study in Adults at High and Low Familial Risk for Depression. JAMA Psychiatry. 2013.
Johnstone B, Bodling A, Cohen D, et al. Right Parietal Lobe-Related “Selflessness” as the Neuropsychological Basis of Spiritual Transcendence. The International Journal for the Psychology of Religion. 2012

Monday, 13 October 2014

லஞ்சம் வாங்கினாலும், கொடுத்தாலும் மரண தண்டனை விதித்த மன்னன்: 700 ஆண்டுகளுக்கு முந்தைய கல்வெட்டில் தகவல்

தமிழகத்தில் மன்னர்கள் ஆட்சி காலத்தில் லஞ்சம் கொடுத்தாலும், வாங்கினாலும் மற்றும் அதைத் தடுக்கத் தவறிய அரசு அதிகாரிக்கும் மரண தண்டனை வழங்க மன்னன் ஆணை பிறப்பித்த கல்வெட்டு கண்டுபிடிக்கப்பட்டுள்ளது. 

கிருஷ்ணகிரி மாவட்டம் காவேரிப்பட்டணம் அருகே உள்ளது பென்னேஸ்வரமடம் கிராமம். இங்குள்ள பென்னேஸ்வரர் கோயில் மிகவும் பழமையானது, பிரசித்திபெற்றது. இந்தக் கோயில் கல்வெட்டில் லஞ்சம் வாங்கினாலும், கொடுத்தாலும் மற்றும் அதை தடுக்கத் தவறிய அதிகாரிகளுக்கும் மரண தண்டணை விதிக்கும் வகையில் மன்னன் ஆணையிட்ட கல்வெட்டு உள்ளது. 

இது குறித்து கிருஷ்ணகிரி மாவட்ட வரலாற்று மையத்தைச் சேர்ந்த ஆய்வாளர் சுகவன முருகன் ‘தி இந்து’விடம் கூறியதாவது:
கிருஷ்ணகிரி மாவட்டத்தில் ஏழு நிலைகளைக் கொண்ட பெரிய ராஜகோபுரம் இருக்கும் கோயில்பென்னேஸ்வர மடம் கோயிலாகும். இது பிற்காலச் சோழர் காலக் கோயிலாகும். சுமார் ஆயிரம் ஆண்டுகள் பழமையான இக்கோயிலில் ஏராளமான கல்வெட்டுகள் உள்ளன. சோழர்கள், போசாளர்கள் மற்றும் விஜயநகரப் பேரரசுகளின் ஆட்சியில் இக்கோயிலுக்கு பலவிதமான கொடைகள், தானங்கள் வழங்கப்பட்டதாக கல்வெட்டில் குறிப்பிடப்பட்டுள்ளது. 

இவ்வாறு தானமாகப் பெறப் பட்ட நிலங்கள், ஊர்கள் மற்றும் பொது சொத்துகளை சிலர் ஏய்த்துஅனுபவித்துள்ளனர். இதனை அறிந்த பேரரசன் வீர ராமநாதன் ஒரு ஆணையை வெளியிட்டுள்ளார். அந்த ஆணை தொடர்பான கல்வெட்டு தற்போது கண்டுபிடிக்கப்பட்டுள்ளது. 

போசாள மன்னன் வீர ராமநாதன் கல்வெட்டு
"ஸ்ரீ வீரராமந்நாத தேவரீஸர்க்கு யாண்டு நாற்பத்தொன்றாவது உடையார் பெண்ணையாண்டார் மடத்தி லும் பெண்ணை நாயனார் தேவதானமான ஊர்களிலும் ஒரு அதிகாரியாதல் கணக்கர் காரியஞ் செய்வார்களாதல் கூசராதல் ஆரேனுமொருவர் வந்து விட்டது விடாமல் சோறு வேண்டுதல் மற்றேதேனும் நலிவுகள் செய்குதல் செய்தாருண்டாகில் தாங்களே அவர்களைத் தலையைஅறுத்துவிடவும் அப்படி செய்திலர் களாதல் தங்கள் தலைகளோடே போமென்னும்படிறெயப்புத்த பண்ணி இதுவே சாதனமாகக் கொண்டு ஆங்கு வந்து நலிந்தவர் களைத் தாங்களே ஆஞ்ஞை பண்ணிக் கொள்ளவும் சீ காரியமாகத்தாங்க . . . த. . . போதும் போன அமுதுபடிக் குடலாக ஸர்வ மானிய மாகக் குடுத்தோம். அனைத் தாயமு விட்டுக்கு . . .கூசர் உள்ளிட்டார் பையூரிலே இருக்கவும் சொன்னோம். இப்படியாதே இதுக்கு விலங்கனம் பன்னினவன் கெங்கைக் கரையில் குராற் பசுவைக் கொன்றான் பாவத்தைக் கொள்வான்" என எழுதப்பட்டுள்ளது.
இதன் விளக்கம், லஞ்சம் வாங்கினால், கொடுத்தால் சிரச்சேதம் செய்ய அதாவது தலையை வெட்டும் படியும் அவ்வாறு நிகழாமல் தடுக்கத் தவறினால் அதற்குப் பொறுப்பான அதிகாரிகளின் தலையை வெட்டும்படியும் ஆணை வெளியிட்டுள்ளார். இக்கல்வெட்டு கோயிலின் தெற்கு சுவர் பகுதியில் இருக்கிறது. இக்கல்வெட்டு கிரந்தம் மற்றும் தமிழில் வடிக்கப்பட்டுள்ளது.
லஞ்சமாக உணவு அல்லது சோறு கேட்டால் கூட குற்றம் என்றும் அரசர் சொல்லியிருக்கிறார். மேற் கண்ட பேரரசர் வீரராமநாதனின் கல்வெட்டைக் கொண்டும், தலைபலிக் கற்களின் சிற்ப அமைப்பைக் கொண்டும் இவ்வாறு தண்டிக்கப் பட்டிருக்கக் கூடும் என்பது தெரிகிறது. இது தமிழக வரலாற்றில் மிக முக்கியமானதாகும். 

இந்தக் கல்வெட்டை போசாளப் பேரரசன் வீரராமநாதனின் நாற்பத்தி ஒன்றாவது ஆட்சியாண்டில் இந்த உத்தரவுப் பிறப்பிக்கப்பட்டிருக் கிறது. கல்வெட்டு வெட்டப்பட்ட ஆண்டு கி.பி.1295 என குறிப்பிடப் பட்டுள்ளது.
இவ்வாறு அவர் தெரிவித்தார். தமிழகத்தில் 2 ஆயிரம் ஆண்டு களுக்கு முன்பு, பொதுமக்களின் நலனுக்காக அல்லது அரசனின் நலனுக்காக பக்தியில் கொற்றவை என்னும் காளிக்குப் படையலாகவும் தங்கள் தலையைத் தாங்களே அறுத்து பலி கொடுக்கும் வழக்கம் இருந்துள்ளது. 

இதில் நவகண்டம் என்பது, உடலில் ஒன்பது இடங்களில் வெட்டிக்கடைசியாக தன் தலையை அறுத்துக் கொள்வது. அரிகண்டம் என்பது ஒரே வெட்டில் சிரத்தை அறுத்து சமர்ப்பிப்பது. இது தொடர்பான கல்வெட்டுகள் கிருஷ்ணகிரி மாவட்டத்தில் அதிகம் உள்ளன. அதுவும் போசாளர்களின் தலை நகரான ஹளேகுந்தாணியிலும், பையூர் நிலையுடையான் மதுராந்த கன் வீரநுளம்பன் ஆட்சி செய்த பென்னேஸ்வர மடத்திலும்தான் இருக்கின்றன.
தலைபலிக் கற்களை நவகண்டம் அல்லது அரிகண்டம் என்றுதான்நினைத்திருந்தனர். 

இந்த தலைபலி கற்களையும் கோயில் கல்வெட்டுகளையும் ஆராய்ந்த கிருஷ்ணகிரி மாவட்ட வரலாற்று மையத்தைச் சேர்ந்த ஆய்வாளர் சுகவன முருகன், லஞ்சம் வாங்கிய ஒரு அதிகாரியின் உயிர்பலி கல்வெட்டு என்பதை கண்டறிந்துள்ளார்.

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Fugitive Profiles in U.S

OIG Fugitive: Etienne Allonce

  • In December 2007, Etienne Allonce and his wife, Helene Michel, were indicted on charges of health care fraud. Allonce and Michel were owners of Medical Solutions Management, Inc. (MSM), a durable medical equipment (DME) company operating out of Hicksville, NY. Tri-State Surgical Supply (Tri-State) is a DME company that has a contract with numerous nursing homes in Long Island, Queens, and Brooklyn, to provide Medicare and Medicaid covered DME supplies to residents.
  • According to the indictment, MSM employees allegedly posed as sub-contractors for Tri-State in order to gain access to several nursing homes. Once they entered the nursing homes under false pretenses, MSM employees allegedly accessed medical charts (containing private information protected by The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 or HIPAA) for residents who required specialized wound care. MSM then allegedly billed Medicare Part B and/or and Medicaid for wound care supplies that were never ordered or provided.
  • Etienne Allonce
  • It is also believed that MSM employees stole original documents containing HIPAA information from medical charts in facilities, in order to "manufacture" fraudulent MSM charts in an effort to legitimize their medical billings.
  • After Michel and Allonce were indicted on health care fraud charges for their participation in the aforementioned scheme, Allonce fled the United States to avoid prosecution and is believed to be residing in Haiti.
  • In April 2013, Michel was convicted on charges of health care fraud and wrongful disclosure of individually identifiable health information. She was sentenced to 12 years of incarceration and ordered to pay more than $4.4 million in restitution.
  • Allonce abandoned the young daughter he had with Michel, leaving the girl without any parents while her mother remains incarcerated.

Poul Thorsen

Poul Thorsen
  • From approximately February 2004 until February 2010, Poul Thorsen executed a scheme to steal grant money awarded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). CDC had awarded grant money to Denmark for research involving infant disabilities, autism, genetic disorders, and fetal alcohol syndrome. CDC awarded the grant to fund studies of the relationship between autism and the exposure to vaccines, the relationship between cerebral palsy and infection during pregnancy, and the relationship between developmental outcomes and fetal alcohol exposure.
  • Thorsen worked as a visiting scientist at CDC, Division of Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, before the grant was awarded.
  • The initial grant was awarded to the Danish Medical Research Council. In approximately 2007, a second grant was awarded to the Danish Agency for Science, Technology, and Innovation. Both agencies are governmental agencies in Denmark. The research was done by the Aarhaus University and Odense University Hospital in Denmark.
  • Thorsen allegedly diverted over $1 million of the CDC grant money to his own personal bank account. Thorsen submitted fraudulent invoices on CDC letterhead to medical facilities assisting in the research for reimbursement of work allegedly covered by the grants. The invoices were addressed to Aarhaus University and Sahlgrenska University Hospital. The fact that the invoices were on CDC letterhead made it appear that CDC was requesting the money from Aarhaus University and Sahlgrenska University Hospital although the bank account listed on the invoices belonged to Thorsen.
  • In April 2011, Thorsen was indicted on 22 counts of Wire Fraud and Money Laundering.
  • According to bank account records, Thorsen purchased a home in Atlanta, a Harley Davidson motorcycle, an Audi automobile, and a Honda SUV with funds that he received from the CDC grants.
  • Thorsen is currently in Denmark and is awaiting extradition to the United States.

Yousef Kurdy

Yousef Kurdy
  • In January 2012, Yousef Kurdy was indicted on charges of health care fraud, aggravated identity theft, receipt of kickbacks for patient referrals, income tax evasion, aiding and abetting, and criminal forfeiture. Investigators believe that Kurdy fraudulently billed Medicare and Medi-Cal over $150,000.
  • Kurdy is a medical doctor who owned and operated two clinics in the San Diego, California area, collectively called Broadway Medical Center. According to the indictment, he submitted and caused to be submitted claims to Medicare and Medi-Cal for medical office visits that never occurred. In fact, investigators believe that Kurdy billed for office visits on dates that he was out of town, was attending continuing medical education classes, the patients were out of town, or the patients were deceased. Kurdy also upcoded office visits (submitted claims in an inappropriately high payment category) and submitted false claims with diagnoses of medical conditions from which the beneficiaries did not suffer.
  • Investigators also found that Kurdy solicited and received kickbacks and bribes in return for referring patients with false prescriptions to a pharmacy. These prescriptions generated over $1 million in billings to Medicare and Medi-Cal.
  • In January 2012, an arrest warrant was issued for Kurdy, who indicated that he would self-surrender, but failed to show up for his initial court appearance. Consequently, he is considered a fugitive at large. Investigators believe that he may be residing in Syria.

Omar Decendario

Omar Decendario
  • In September 2007, Omar Decendario and his co-conspirators were indicted on charges of health care fraud, conspiracy to commit health care fraud, and false statements. According to the indictment, Decendario was involved in a scheme to defraud Medicare of more than $20 million.
  • Decendario was a licensed vocational nurse employed at both Sunrise Nursing Registry and Provident Home Health Care Services, Inc., both located in Los Angeles, California.
  • Decendario allegedly paid nurses, physical therapists, and occupational therapists to sign home health care service forms, falsely indicating that they made skilled nursing visits at the patients' homes when, in fact, they did not make the visits.
  • In addition, Decendario and his co-conspirators allegedly created false daily route sheets, skilled nursing notes, and other forms to make it appear as if patients were receiving skilled nursing visits. These forms allegedly were then used to bill Medicare for home health services that were never rendered or were not medically necessary.
  • Decendario fled the United States and is residing in the Philippines. U.S. officials are working with that country to extradite Decendario to the United States to face charges stemming from the indictment.