Attorney Nandita Berry has been appointed the Secretary of State for Texas by governor Rick Perry, making her the first Indian-American to occupy the post in the southern US state.
In this position, effective January 7 onwards, Nandita Berry will serve as the state’s chief elections officer, the governor’s liaison on border and Mexican affairs, and Texas’ chief protocol officer for state and international matters.
“Nandita Berry personifies what is possible through hard work and dedication in the State of Texas,” Perry said in a statement.
The Marshall Aid Commemoration Commission announced Dec. 3 that Kirin Sinha of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Ahmad Nasir of the United States Military Academy were among the winners of the 2014 Marshall Scholarships chosen by eight regional committees.
Sinha, originally from Denver, Colorado, is graduating this spring with a bachelor’s degree in theoretical math and electrical engineering and computer science, with a minor in music. She has worked with mathematics professor Scott Sheffield on decision theory and is currently working with professor of applied mathematics John Bush on hydrodynamic quantum analogs, or the wave behavior of water droplets.
The Marshall Scholarship will allow Sinha to pursue two master’s degrees, in mathematics and in advanced computer science, at Cambridge University. Sinha will also introduce her nonprofit SHINE—a program that integrates dance and math tutoring to help girls gain confidence in math—to the U.K. While at MIT, Sinha dances professionally with the Triveni School of Dance in Brookline.
“It’s been my delight to have had Kirin Sinha as my undergraduate advisee in mathematics for the last three years,” Victor Guillemin, a professor of mathematics, stated in a press release. “Not only has she maintained an impeccable record in her math and other courses, but she also has wide-ranging non-course-related interests as well.”
Nasir, an American politics and Arabic double major, has worked as a congressional intern, studied abroad in Morocco and participated in a cultural exchange with the Sultanate of Oman.
He is interested in studying military-to-military relations, and the Middle East and South Asia.
Nasir aspires to be a South Asian Foreign Area Officer in the U.S. Army and hopes to use his education and military experience to help bridge the divide between U.S. and foreign military officers to forge stronger bilateral relationships.
“Winning the Marshall scholarship offers me the unique opportunity to continue developing as a leader and will undoubtedly help me cultivate the skills necessary to be a soldier-diplomat in the U.S. Army by interacting with some of the brightest young people from the U.S. and around the world,” Nasir said in a press release.
“This scholarship will continue to reinforce my commitment to public service through the military and other pursuits as well.”
The scholarship covers the cost of tuition, books, travel and living expenses while in England.
This year marks the 60th anniversary of the Marshall Scholarship, which is given by the British Parliament as a national gesture to the people of the United States for aid received after World War II under the Marshall Plan.
Source: India West
One of the world’s leading cardiothoracic surgeons, Amit N. Patel of the University of Utah, is in the news for a pioneering procedure called retrograde gene therapy. The procedure he developed delivers stem cells to the heart, repairing damaged muscle and arteries in the most minimally invasive way possible.
“It’s incredible. Imagine having a heart procedure that can potentially regenerate or rejuvenate your heart muscle — and it’s done as an outpatient procedure,” the Indian American physician said in a statement.
Patel — an educator, inventor, researcher, and clinician already considered a superstar within his field — hit the headlines Nov. 26 after successfully performing surgery at University of Utah Hospital on actor Ernie Lively, the father of “Gossip Girl” star Blake Lively.
Lively became the first patient in the world to undergo retrograde gene therapy after the procedure’s recent FDA approval.
Patel used a minimally invasive technique to insert a catheter through Lively’s main cardiac vein, or coronary sinus. He then inflated a balloon to block blood flow out of the heart so that he could administer a very high dose of gene therapy — pure human DNA — directly into the heart.
This particular DNA, called stromal cell-derived factor 1, or SDF-1, is a naturally occurring substance in the body. It provides a sort of “homing beacon” for the patient’s body to send its own stem cells to go to the site of an injury. Another way the therapy is unique is that this particular therapy does not use viruses, noted Patel.
“The genes basically act like a light house with a bright signal,” Patel said in a University of Utah press release. “They say, ‘How can we help the ships that need to get to the port — which is the heart — get there?’
“When the signal, or the ‘light,’ from the SDF-1, which is that gene, shows up, the stem cells from not inside your own heart and from those that circulate from your blood and bone marrow all get attracted to the heart which is injured, and they bring reinforcements to make it stronger and pump more efficiently.”
Patel is an associate professor in the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery at the University of Utah School of Medicine, and director of Clinical Regenerative Medicine and Tissue Engineering at the University of Utah.
According to a press release from the University of Utah, Patel has been investigating cell and gene-based therapies for the treatment of heart disease for 12 years. More than 6 million people in the U.S. are dealing with heart failure, and Patel wanted to develop a way to treat it before patients would have to turn to drastic and expensive measures such as a heart transplant or an artificial heart.
“This is one of the great moments in biological therapy for the heart,” Patel said in the press release. “We are providing options for patients who have no possible solutions. This is one of the safest and most reproducible therapies out there for these very sick patients.”
The versatile scientist has many clinical interests, including heart surgery for coronary disease; valve repair and replacement; heart failure; aortic surgery and stent grafts. As a thoracic surgeon, he is an expert in lung and esophageal surgery, and is known for his work in thoracic oncology that includes minimally invasive lung resections and hyperthermic chemotherapy, a form of therapy for mesothelioma that calls for heating a solution of chemotherapeutic drugs for better absorption.
Patel has recently developed a stem cell spray for rapid healing of heart surgery and burns, and he is currently working on a treatment for Type 2 Diabetes. He is now training other physicians around the U.S. in retrograde gene therapy, and is overseeing a trial of the procedure with 72 patients.
Pulitzer Prize winning Indian-American author Jhumpa Lahiri’s new novel, “The Lowland”, set in Kolkata of the 1960s, has been listed fourth in Time magazine’s top ten books of fiction in 2013.
Describing it as “a life-spanning novel about two brothers from Calcutta,” Time said: “Lahiri’s graceful, measured prose ticks off the years and registers, precisely and with deep pathos, the strange, surprising, melancholy and very occasionally wonderful changes that time wreaks on us all.”
“Life After Life” by Kate Atkinson, “Tenth of December” by George Saunders and “The Flamethrowers” by Rachel Kushner take the top three slots ahead of Lahiri’s novel.
New York Times also lists “The Lowland” among 100 Notable Books of 2013. “After his radical brother is killed, an Indian scientist brings his widow to join him in America in Lahiri’s efficiently written novel,” it notes.
Indian-American author Anita Raghavan’s “The Billionaire’s Apprentice: The Rise of the Indian-American Elite and the Fall of the Galleon Hedge Fund” too makes it to the newspaper’s 100 in nonfiction category.
“Indian-Americans populate every aspect of this meticulously reported true-life business thriller,” it notes.
Lahiri last month failed to win the 2013 US National Book Award in fiction losing out to author James McBride for “The Good Lord Bird”, about the journey of a young slave in the 1850s.
London-born daughter of immigrants from West Bengal, 46-year-old Lahiri, who lives in New York’s Brooklyn had also lost out on the prestigious Man Booker Prize for contemporary fiction writers from the Commonwealth and Ireland.
She is the author of three previous books. Her debut collection of stories, “Interpreter of Maladies”, won the Pulitzer Prize and the PEN/Hemingway Award.