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Meet the Irish scientist in Australia creating software to tackle heart attacks

Irishman Barry Doyle explains how his family history triggered an interest in the area of heart disease and how he’s developing software-based tools to help surgeons.

Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death in the world, an issue that Barry Doyle has been focusing on for years. He was working at the University of Western Australia (UWA) in Perth when he was presented with a clinical problem by a cardiologist in 2014.

“He was saving their lives, they’d just had a heart attack, he was putting stents in, the best management, the best imaging, the best devices,” Doyle said. “Regardless of that, one in three of his patients would either be dead or be back in with another heart attack within three years.”

Doyle is now associate professor of biomedical engineering at UWA, the programme head of cardiovascular science and diabetes at the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research, and the head of the Vascular Engineering Lab (VascLab) at UWA which he established in 2014. He has also founded two start-ups that could change the way we treat patients.

Apricot: an advanced imaging tool

With the help of fellow researchers at VascLab, the latest result of Doyle’s work is Apricot, an advanced software-based imaging tool designed to help surgeons detect coronary artery issues before they can lead to further heart attacks.

Doyle said the problem for cardiologists is they can only treat the parts of the disease they can see. “But it’s the kind of underlying disease that is growing and developing that they can’t yet see. That’s what comes back to haunt them in the future. So that was the clinical problem and then we set out on a path of research and discovery to try to address that.”

Apricot aims to provide new information to the cardiologist when they are treating a patient, by combining other real-time images used by surgeons – such as angiography and optical coherence tomography (OCT) – and merging them into an advanced 3D visualisation of a diseased artery. This information could help surgeons make decisions when treating the artery, such as knowing the correct size of the stent they should use.

Apricot also runs simulations to assess where the most stress is being caused in arteries to show surgeons areas where plaque build-up is most likely to cause a rupture.

Visual representation of the images Apricot creates.

Example of the images Apricot creates. Image: Navier Medical

Doyle has developed Apricot over the past seven years with researchers including Dr Lachlan Kelsey from UWA’s School of Engineering and with collaboration from Prof Carl Schultz, the UWA cardiology chair and the surgeon who first presented the clinical problem to Doyle.

Last year, the Irishman and his team founded Navier Medical to commercialise the Apricot technology. In November, the start-up received the Rio Tinto Emerging Innovation Award at the WA Innovator of the Year 2021 awards.

Doyle said there are many challenges associated with taking university research from the lab into the real world, but he expects the product to be ready for launch by 2025.

“When you’re doing something in the confinement of a university academic setting, you’re very protected and you’re in this kind of different world. Then you come out into the big bad world and you can just be chewed up and spat out within minutes, so it’s been fun.”

Irish roots

Doyle was born in Enniscorthy in Wexford. His family moved to England when he was six years old, before settling in Cork when he was 10.

He originally had plans to study computer science as his dad had a computer company. But as he was preparing to leave school, a new course in biomedical engineering was being launched at Cork Institute of Technology. It was a time when new companies were arriving in Ireland and this sector was starting to emerge.

Doyle joined the course in the year 2000 and became “hooked” within a couple of weeks once he understood the ways he could blend engineering with biology and medicine. He went on to do an undergraduate and PhD in biomedical engineering at the University of Limerick.

“All the things I couldn’t be bothered with about school, I just threw myself at in university. I really just loved the content and then really did pretty well.”

While Doyle was in college, his father suddenly had a heart attack at the age of 45, which pushed Doyle’s interest in the cardio field specifically.

“As soon as I got to university and realised you could actually engineer new therapies, new treatments, new devices, then my dad having a heart attack pretty soon after that, it was another real trigger for me. My dad smoked, he was a bit of a drinker, he was relatively fit, but smoking is the big one.

“My uncle on my mum’s side was practically an athlete all his life, a vegetarian, never smoked, and he had a massive heart attack when he was 47. I’ve early heart attacks on both sides of my family. That’s been a key driver for some of the stuff I’m doing with Apricot and Navier.”

Mosaic: Apricot’s other half

The other product being developed by Navier Medical is Mosaic, an advanced coronary artery assessment tool designed to work with Apricot to improve the detection of heart disease.

“Think of your arteries turning to bone as you start to age, they build up calcium deposits. At a certain point the calcium will be big enough so you can see it on a CT scanner. But with micro-calcification activity, you can’t see it on the CT because it’s too small, so we’re developing a way to visualise that using your bog-standard CT scanner,” Doyle explained.

“Mosaic will catch patients as they come in the door of the hospital, and Apricot will be for the people who are in hospital having a heart attack and being treated, so the plan is to get two ends of the spectrum.”

Mosaic imaging showing a heart and arteries.

Mosaic. Image: Navier Medical

Projects for the future

While his passion lies in cardiovascular health, Doyle branched out a few years ago to co-found FloMatrix after he was approached by former nurse Caroline Shelverton.

Doyle had been researching cannulas, the thin tube that medical professionals insert into a person’s body cavity such as their nose or into a vein. According to Doyle, they are the most commonly used medical device in the world with roughly 2.5bn produced each year.

“What very few people know is about 50pc of these devices, they become blocked too early. So if you’re in hospital and you’re there for three days, you’ll probably have maybe two or three cannulas stuck into you, because they start to clot really early.”

Doyle said FloMatrix is designing and patenting a new type of cannula with the aim of reducing failures.

With multiple companies, academic commitments and two young children to look after, Doyle has his hands full at home and in the lab, with projects that will keep him occupied for the foreseeable future.

“It’s absolutely bonkers a lot of the time, it’s full on. I’ve teaching commitments at UWA, there’s a lot of admin work just with being an academic, running the research groups…It’s one of those things where it’s like, just work hard and make hay while the sun shines.

“If I can Mosaic and Apricot regulated and on the shelves in five years, I’ll be a very happy man,” he added. “Then of course FloMatrix, making sure that’s going to be a success. While I’m relatively young, fit and healthy I may as well have a crack and see what happens.”

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Congratulations, Privacy Just Took A Great Leap Out the Window!

Your Data Is Being Used Without Your Permission And Knowledge

The Voice Of EU | In the heart of technological innovation, the collision between intellectual property rights and the development of cutting-edge AI technologies has sparked a significant legal battle. The New York Times has taken legal action against OpenAI and Microsoft, filing a lawsuit in Manhattan federal court. This legal maneuver aims to address concerns surrounding the unauthorized use of the Times’ content for the training of AI models, alleging copyright infringements that could potentially result in billions of dollars in damages.

READ: HOW YOUR DATA IS BEING USED TO TRAIN A.I.

This legal tussle underlines the escalating tension between technological advancements and the protection of intellectual property. The crux of the lawsuit revolves around OpenAI and Microsoft allegedly utilizing the Times’ proprietary content to advance their own AI technology, directly competing with the publication’s services. The lawsuit suggests that this unauthorized utilization threatens the Times’ ability to offer its distinctive service and impacts its AI innovation, creating a competitive landscape that challenges the publication’s proprietary content.

Amidst the growing digital landscape, media organizations like the Times are confronting a myriad of challenges. The migration of readers to online platforms has significantly impacted traditional media, and the advent of artificial intelligence technology has added another layer of complexity. The legal dispute brings to the forefront the contentious practice of AI companies scraping copyrighted information from online sources, including articles from media organizations, to train their generative AI chatbots. This strategy has attracted substantial investments, rapidly transforming the AI landscape.

Exhibit presented by the New York Times’ legal team of ChatGPT replicating a article after being prompted

The lawsuit highlights instances where OpenAI’s technology, specifically GPT-4, replicated significant portions of Times articles, including in-depth investigative reports. These outputs, alleged by the Times to contain verbatim excerpts from their content, raise concerns about the ethical and legal boundaries of using copyrighted material for AI model training without proper authorization or compensation.

The legal action taken by the Times follows attempts to engage in discussions with Microsoft and OpenAI, aiming to address concerns about the use of its intellectual property. Despite these efforts, negotiations failed to reach a resolution that would ensure fair compensation for the use of the Times’ content while promoting responsible AI development that benefits society.

In the midst of this legal battle, the broader questions surrounding the responsible and ethical utilization of copyrighted material in advancing technological innovations come to the forefront.

The dispute between the Times, OpenAI, and Microsoft serves as a significant case study in navigating the intricate intersection of technological progress and safeguarding intellectual property rights in the digital age.


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‘The Bill Gates Problem’ – The Case Against World’s Richest Man

The Case Against World’s Richest Man

When Clinton assumed the presidency of the United States, there was eager anticipation from the Chinese, not for Clinton himself, but for Bill Gates. This was during the late 1990s, a period when the internet was still in its nascent stages, and the digital boom of the early 2000s had not yet reached its peak. The enigmatic persona that captivated the attention of the burgeoning Asian powerhouse is now portrayed in “The Bill Gates Problem” as a “domineering, brusque figure” whose demeanor is likened to “a cauldron of passions that freely erupts.” According to a former employee cited in the book, Gates was perceived as “a complete and utter jerk to people 70% of the time,” while the remaining 30% saw him as a “harmless, enjoyable, exceptionally intelligent nerd.”

The 1990s were also the decade of the conflict between Microsoft and the now defunct Netscape browser, which challenged what was already being openly described as the former’s monopolistic practices. Gates was investigated and accused in Congress for such practices; he ultimately won the battle, but the case harmed his reputation, and in 2000 he resigned as CEO of his company. From there he undertook an expansion of the foundation that he had established with his wife and to which he has dedicated his main efforts in the last two decades. In 2006, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation received the Prince of Asturias Award for International Cooperation.

With a personal fortune of $100 billion and tens of billions more in his private foundation, Gates has been one of the richest men in the world for decades, and the foundation has been the most generous organization of its kind, specializing above all in health aid, education and child nutrition, with a large presence in Africa and India among other regions of what was formerly known as the Third World. Tim Schwab, a contributor to the weekly left-wing newspaper The Nation, undertook a detailed investigation to denounce something that in truth was already known: that American foundations are largely a way for billionaires to avoid taxes.

To prove this, he thoroughly looked into the accounts and procedures of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the failures and occasional successes of its philanthropic policies, and came to the conclusion that behind this facade of help to the needy hides an operation of power. He is ruthless in his criticism, although accurate in his analysis of the growing inequality in the world. Absorbed by the revolutionary rhetoric, he laments that the Gates Foundation has remained “deadly silent” regarding movements such as Occupy Wall Street or Black Lives Matter, which demand social change in the face of the “excess wealth and ‘white savior’ mentality that drives Bill Gates’ philanthropic work.” He does attribute some good intentions, but his criticism is merciless, sometimes even coarse, while the absence of solutions for the problems he denounces — other than the calls for do-goodism — is frustrating.

His abilities as an investigative journalist are thus overshadowed by a somewhat naive militancy against the creative capitalism that Gates promotes and an evident intention to discredit not only his work but, above all, him. The demands he makes for transparency and the accusations of obscurity are dulled by the author himself in the pages he dedicates to Gates’ relationship with Jeffrey Epstein, the famous corruptor of minors at the service of the international jet set. Gates has explained his meetings and interviews with him on countless occasions, and in no case has any type of relationship, other than their commercial relations or some confusing efforts to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, been proved. Still, Schwab raises, with no evidence whatsoever, the possibility that their relationship “could have had something to do with Epstein’s principal activities in life: sexual gratification and the exercise of power.” The book is full of this kind of opinions and speculations, to the detriment of a more serious analysis of Gates’ mistakes in the management of his foundation, the problems of shielding the intellectual property of vaccines in the hands of the pharmaceutical industries and, ultimately, the objective power that big technology companies have in global society.

He signed a collaboration agreement with the RAE to improve Microsoft’s grammar checker and was interested in the substantial unity of the Spanish language in all the countries where almost 600 million people speak it. That man was very far from the sexist, arrogant, miserable predator that Schwab portrays. Nor did we deduce — and this can be applied to the personal adventure of Steve Jobs, Larry Page, Zuckerberg, Elon Musk or Jeff Bezos — that his life’s goal was world domination, as suggested by this book. If they have achieved it, or may achieve it, it is due to the dynamics of digital civilization and the objective difficulties in governing it. The deregulation of financial capitalism, which has increased inequality among humankind, is due to the incompetence of obsolete political institutions and to leaders who care more about their own fates than those of their people. The criticism against “lame and wasteful government bureaucracies” might be part of the propaganda promoted by the world’s wealthy, but lately we have also heard it from small-scale farmers across Europe.

In conclusion, we found the book to be more entertaining than interesting. It provides a lot of information — we’re not sure if it’s entirely verified — and plenty of cheap ideology. Above all, one can see the personal crusade of the author, determined to prove that Bill Gates is a problem for democracy and that millionaire philanthropists are a bunch of swindlers. The world needs their money; maybe managed by party bureaucracies, that much is not clear. Bill Gates’ money, that is, but not Bill Gates himself.


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Conflicted History: ‘Oppenheimer’ And Its Impact On Los Alamos And New Mexico Downwinders

‘Oppenheimer’ And Its Impact On Los Alamos And New Mexico Downwinders

The Voice Of EU | In the highly anticipated blockbuster movie, “Oppenheimer,” the life of J. Robert Oppenheimer, the man behind the first atomic bomb, is portrayed as a riveting tale of triumph and tragedy.

As the film takes center stage, it also brings to light the often-overlooked impacts on a community living downwind from the top-secret Manhattan Project testing site in southern New Mexico.

A Forgotten Legacy

While the film industry and critics praise “Oppenheimer,” a sense of frustration prevails among the residents of New Mexico’s Tularosa Basin, who continue to grapple with the consequences of the Manhattan Project. Tina Cordova, a cancer survivor and founder of the Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium, expresses their feelings, stating, “They invaded our lives and our lands and then they left,” referring to the scientists and military personnel who conducted secret experiments over 200 miles away from their community.

The Consortium, alongside organizations like the Union of Concerned Scientists, has been striving to raise awareness about the impact of the Manhattan Project on New Mexico’s population. Advocates emphasize the necessity of acknowledging the human cost of the Trinity Test, the first atomic blast, and other nuclear weapons activities that have affected countless lives in the state.

The Ongoing Struggle for Recognition

As film enthusiasts celebrate the drama and brilliance of “Oppenheimer,” New Mexico downwinders feel overlooked by both the U.S. government and movie producers. The federal government’s compensation program for radiation exposure still does not include these affected individuals. The government’s selection of the remote and flat Trinity Test Site, without warning residents in the surrounding areas, further added to the controversy.

Living off the land, the rural population in the Tularosa Basin had no idea that the fine ash settling on their homes and fields was a result of the world’s first atomic explosion.

The government initially attempted to cover up the incident, attributing the bright light and rumble to an explosion at a munitions dump. It was only after the U.S. dropped atomic bombs on Japan weeks later that New Mexico residents realized the magnitude of what they had witnessed.

Tracing the Fallout

According to the Manhattan Project National Historical Park, large amounts of radiation were released into the atmosphere during the Trinity Test, with fallout descending over a vast area. Some of the fallout reached as far as the Atlantic Ocean, but the greatest concentration settled approximately 30 miles from the test site.

Now I Am Become Death, the Destroyer of Worlds.

J. Robert Oppenheimer

The consequences of this catastrophic event have affected generations of New Mexicans, who still await recognition and justice for the harm caused by nuclear weapons.

A Tale of Contrasts: Los Alamos and the Legacy of Oppenheimer

As the film’s spotlight shines on the life of J. Robert Oppenheimer, a contrasting narrative unfolds in Los Alamos, more than 200 miles north of the Tularosa Basin. Los Alamos stands as a symbol of Oppenheimer’s legacy, housing one of the nation’s premier national laboratories and boasting the highest percentage of people with doctorate degrees in the U.S.

Oppenheimer’s influence is evident throughout Los Alamos, with a street bearing his name and an IPA named in his honor at a local brewery. The city embraces its scientific legacy, showcasing his handwritten notes and ID card in a museum exhibit. Los Alamos National Laboratory employees played a significant role in the film, contributing as extras and engaging in enlightening discussions during breaks.

The “Oppenheimer” Movie

Director Christopher Nolan’s perspective on the Trinity Test and its profound impact is evident in his approach to “Oppenheimer.” He has described the event as an extraordinary moment in human history and expressed his desire to immerse the audience in the pivotal moment when the button was pushed. Nolan’s dedication to bringing historical accuracy and emotional depth to the screen is evident as he draws inspiration from Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book, “American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer.

For Nolan, Oppenheimer’s story is a potent blend of dreams and nightmares, capturing the complexity and consequences of the Manhattan Project. As the film reaches global audiences, it also offers a unique opportunity to raise awareness about the downwinders in New Mexico, whose lives were forever altered by the legacy of nuclear weapons testing.

The Oppenheimer Festival and Beyond

Los Alamos is determined to use the Oppenheimer Festival as an opportunity to educate visitors about the true stories behind the film’s events. The county’s “Project Oppenheimer” initiative, launched in early 2023, encompasses forums, documentaries, art installations, and exhibits that delve into the scientific contributions of the laboratory and the social implications of the Manhattan Project.

A special area during the festival will facilitate discussions about the movie, fostering a deeper understanding of the community’s history. The county aims to continue revisiting and discussing the legacy of the Manhattan Project, ensuring that the impact of this pivotal moment in history is never forgotten.

As “Oppenheimer” takes audiences on an emotional journey, it serves as a reminder that every historical event carries with it complex and multifaceted implications. The movie may celebrate the scientific achievements of the past, but it also illuminates the urgent need to recognize and address the human cost that persists to this day.


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