P.M. NEWS Nigeria » Science and Technology http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com First with Nigeria News - Nigerian leading evening Newspaper - Wed, 29 Jul 2015 19:19:13 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.3 Buhari to use science, technology to boost economy http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/07/28/buhari-to-use-science-technology-to-boost-economy/ http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/07/28/buhari-to-use-science-technology-to-boost-economy/#comments Tue, 28 Jul 2015 08:04:59 +0000 http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/?p=247552 President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria

President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria

President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday in Abuja pledged that his administration would take concrete actions to correct the neglect of research, science and technology by past administrations.

Speaking after receiving briefing on the activities of the Ministry of Science and Technology, Buhari declared that his administration would dedicate more resources and energy to the sector.

He said this had become necessary because no country could make progress without serious commitment to the development of science and technology.

The President said he would fully encourage the work of the Ministry of Science and Technology because innovations from various research institutes under its supervision could impact positively on industrial development and manufacturing in Nigeria.

The Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Mrs Winifred Oyo-Ita, had enumerated several challenges hindering the effectiveness of the ministry.

She said that such challenges include perennial poor funding and the lack of recognition of science and technological innovation as major driver of economic development by previous governments.

Oyo-Ita told the President that the focus of the ministry had moved from academic research to market-based innovative research aimed at boosting industrialisation.

She asked for more support and political will from the Federal Government to encourage scientific research, innovation and local manufacturing.

Also on Monday in Abuja, President Buhari received the outgoing British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mr Andrew Pocock and the outgoing Swiss Ambassador, Mr Hans-Rudolf Hodel.

The President thanked both envoys for their efforts to strengthen relations between Nigeria and their respective countries.
He wished them success in their future assignments.

The former Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, Sir Shridath Ramphal, who is in Nigeria on a visit, also paid a courtesy visit to the President.

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Nigeria’ll Support Peaceful Use Of Nuclear Technology— Buhari http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/07/16/nigeriall-support-peaceful-use-of-nuclear-technology-buhari/ http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/07/16/nigeriall-support-peaceful-use-of-nuclear-technology-buhari/#comments Thu, 16 Jul 2015 13:40:59 +0000 http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/?p=246350 President Muhammadu Buhari said Thursday in Abuja that under his leadership, Nigeria will continue to support the use of nuclear technology for peaceful purposes and human development only.

Nigeria, President Buhari said, therefore welcomes this week’s agreement between Iran and the six world powers on its nuclear programme.

President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria

President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria

At a meeting with visiting Iranian Vice President for Executive Affairs, Mohammed Shariatmadari, President Buhari applauded the agreement, saying that it was a major step toward ensuring peace and stability in the Middle East.

The President said that as a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Nigeria looks forward to the faithful implementation of the terms of the agreement by all concerned parties.

President Buhari, who received an invitation from the Iranian Vice President to attend an upcoming  Summit of Gas Exporting Countries in Tehran, remarked that it  was in the interest of developing countries to maximize the use of their  natural resources for the improvement of the living conditions of their people.

Mr. Shariatmadari congratulated President Buhari on his election and assured him of Iran’s support in the fight against terrorism and violent extremism.

“The government of President Hassan Rouhani of Iran advocates moderation and departure from any form of extremism,” he said.

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Mobile Tech Puts African Biz Owners In The Driving Seat http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/07/02/mobile-tech-puts-african-biz-owners-in-the-driving-seat/ http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/07/02/mobile-tech-puts-african-biz-owners-in-the-driving-seat/#comments Thu, 02 Jul 2015 11:59:00 +0000 http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/?p=244754 With smartphone penetration ramping up across Africa, the continent’s businesses have an opportunity to use mobile technology to become more efficient, productive, and responsive in the way they do business.

According to the Ericsson Mobility Report for 2015, there were more than 910 million mobile subscriptions in Africa by the first quarter of 2015.

A growing number of these mobile users are now walking around with powerful smart devices that give them access to apps and information wherever they are.

And that, in turn, creates new ways for organisations to interact with employees, suppliers, and other stakeholders.

Daryl Blundell

Daryl Blundell

“We’re seeing many organisations mobilise their enterprise resource planning (ERP) software,” says Keith Fenner, Senior Vice-President Sales – Sage ERP Africa & Sage ERP X3 AAMEA, Director and Head of Sage Middle East.

“Workers and managers are increasingly able to access ERP data on the road to serve customers, speed up decision-making, and save time.”

For example, a salesperson can now easily check from a tablet or smartphone whether a product is in stock while on-site with a customer, says Fenner. They can capture the customer’s details and initiate the order without leaving the customer premises, all leading to a faster and more seamless service.

“Mobile workers can now use their time between meetings and at airports more productively,” he adds. “And they can access data on the spot so that they can react to opportunities and problems more rapidly. Of course, mobilising business processes also streamlines processes by allowing data to be captured in the field.”

Sage Pastel Accounting General Manager, Daryl Blundell, notes that mobility is transforming smaller businesses.

“An accounting solution with a good mobile app is a real boon for SMEs,” he says. “Employees with mobile devices can be productive many more hours a week because they can work from anywhere in the world and can maximise what might otherwise have been wasted time waiting in airports and reception rooms.”

He adds: “Sales people can take their tablets into meetings and give PowerPoint presentations, while MDs can quickly see the status of business KPIs on a real-time dashboard. And enterprise mobility can allow employees access to information on the fly, such as financial reports, stock orders, customer data and inventory lists.

“Customers can accept terms by physically signing the mobile device, so deals can be negotiated and closed in one meeting. Employees can keep up to date with work without returning to the office and stay up to date on relevant projects so deadlines aren’t missed. What’s more, it helps everyone achieve a healthy work-life balance.”

Mobile technology is also helping HR departments to become more efficient and to build better relationships with employees. Gerhard Hartman, Head of Sage HR & Payroll’s International Division, says that companies can now offer employee self-service (ESS) across mobile devices to streamline HR processes and engage employees more effectively.

“With mobile ESS, companies can enable employees to file leave applications, doctor’s notes when they’re ill, and expense claims – all from their mobile devices,” he adds. “They can look up their payslips, change their personal details, and more, all without needing to do paperwork or phone the HR department.”

Employees benefit from the convenience and access to information 24/7, while managers and the HR department can handle leave requests, expense claims, and other admin from their own mobile devices. The result is that everyone saves time and gets more done, says Hartman.

“Accessing HR tools from your mobile simplify everyone’s life – from the employee trying to figure out how many vacation days they have left to the HR team who should be focusing on strategy and value-add rather than on paperwork,” he adds.

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Facebook opens first African office in Johannesburg http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/06/29/facebook-opens-first-african-office-in-johannesburg/ http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/06/29/facebook-opens-first-african-office-in-johannesburg/#comments Mon, 29 Jun 2015 21:46:34 +0000 http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/?p=244448 Nunu Ntshingila, Head of Facebook, Africa

Nunu Ntshingila, Head of Facebook, Africa

Facebook has opened its first office in Africa to further the company’s commitment to help businesses connect with people and grow locally and regionally. Based in Melrose Arch, Johannesburg, Facebook’s newest business office will be headed by Ogilvy veteran, Nunu Ntshingila, the company’s new Head of Africa.

Facebook is already an important part of how people and business connect in Africa. This office will support the significant growth in businesses and people using Facebook — Facebook’s active user population in Africa has grown 20% to 120 million in June 2015 from 100 million in September 2014. More than 80% of these people access Facebook from their mobile phones.

“We are inspired by the incredible ways people and businesses in Africa use Facebook to connect. This momentum in Africa comes on top of strong advertiser partnerships and excellent adoption of our products across all regions. In Q1 2015, 52% of our total ad revenue came from outside the US and Canada. But we’re just getting started,” says Nicola Mendelsohn, VP, EMEA, Facebook.

“Mobile is not a trend; it’s the fastest development in communications we’ve ever seen. This couldn’t be more true in Africa – where so many people are mobile-only. This new office is a significant milestone for Facebook and our teams want to partner with businesses across the continent,” Mendelsohn adds.

“Africa is important to Facebook, and this office is a key part of our strategy to expand our investment and presence across EMEA. Facebook is already a central part of people’s lives in Africa, and with more than a billion people in Africa, we want to do more to help people and businesses connect.”

“Our new African office will support our customers across the continent. We know that a one-size-fits-all approach won’t work when it comes to building products and solutions that address diverse needs on the continent, which is why we are committed to creating solutions tailored to people, businesses and specifically for African markets,” says Ari Kesisoglu, Regional Director, MEA at Facebook.

Kesisoglu continued, “Our priority for the next few months is to continue the work we are already doing with some clients in this region. We will work more closely with businesses and agencies to understand the challenges, so that we can build solutions that help grow their business. People increasingly want to be connected to the world around them and desire information about new services and products to better their lives. At the same time, businesses need stronger, more flexible and less fragmented ways of reaching people in Sub Saharan Africa. Our mission will be to connect brands and consumers in Africa, creating value for all parties in the process.”

Adds Mendelsohn: “We are delighted we have a strong leadership team in place on the continent led by Nunu Ntshingila, our new Head of Africa. Nunu will join our team in September of this year and work with businesses and agencies across the region.”

Nunu helped drive the creation of Ogilvy’s network in Sub Saharan Africa, which spans some 27 countries.

A graduate of the University of Swaziland and Morgan State University in the US, Ntshingila has also held senior positions at Nike and the South African Tourism board.

Facebook will initially focus on growing its business in anchor countries in the major regions of Sub Saharan Africa: Kenya (East Africa), Nigeria (West Africa), and South Africa (Southern Africa). Other supported territories include Senegal, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda, Zambia, Mozambique and Ethiopia.

Facebook will partner with governments, telecom operators, agencies and other stakeholders to deliver localised solutions to advertisers and users continent-wide. It will continue to focus on tailoring solutions, metrics and ad formats to the needs of customers and advertisers in the mobile-first, mobile-only African environment.

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SAP Africa Holds Code Week For Children http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/06/26/sap-africa-holds-code-week-for-children/ http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/06/26/sap-africa-holds-code-week-for-children/#comments Fri, 26 Jun 2015 12:23:41 +0000 http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/?p=244071 By Daniels Ekugo

SAP Africa has announced a software coding pilot project at the Ojodu Grammar School in Lagos, western Nigeria, as part of the run-up to Africa Code Week (ACW) in October 2015.

One hundred children aged between 8 and 11 will be taught software coding skills in a fun-filled, hands-on workshop facilitated by SAP.

Tailored to youth skills development in eleven African countries, the ACW programme will target an estimated 20,000 children and adults (ranging in age from 8 to 24 years) participating in software coding workshops in South Africa, Angola, Cameroon, Egypt, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal, Togo and Tunisia.

Africa Code Week is being driven by SAP along with partners Simplon from France, the Galway Education Centre from Ireland and the Cape Town Science Centre.

L-R: President, SAP Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA), Mr. Franck Cohen; Principal, Ojodu Junior Grammar School, Ikeja, Lagos, Mrs. Victoria Kolawole; Managing Director, SAP Africa: West Africa, Mr. Kudzai Dhana and Facilitator, Africa Code Week, Mr. Olajide Ademola Ajayi during the second Africa Code Week pilot project for children between 8 - 17 years old in Africa, held on Thursday, 25th June, 2015 at Ojodu Grammar School.

L-R: President, SAP Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA), Mr. Franck Cohen; Principal, Ojodu Junior Grammar School, Ikeja, Lagos, Mrs. Victoria Kolawole; Managing Director, SAP Africa: West Africa, Mr. Kudzai Dhana and Facilitator, Africa Code Week, Mr. Olajide Ademola Ajayi during the second Africa Code Week pilot project for children between 8 – 17 years old in Africa, held on Thursday, 25th June, 2015 at Ojodu Grammar School.

Its purpose is to empower youth, teachers and parents with the language of software programming using a freely available Scratch system.
“SAP is committed to helping Africa’s youth become fluent in software coding, the language of the digital age. With the Africa Code Week initiative, we hope to enable Africa’s youth to further contribute to the continent’s success in this digital age,” said Franck Cohen, SAP President Europe, Middle East & Africa.

He said a new Harbor Research study has found that while 65% of today’s technology applications generate revenue, the number will rise to 80% by 2018. Although smart homes, wearables and sports markets currently lead in application development today, future growth will come from the healthcare and automotive sectors, as well as smart cities.

“Software coding is everywhere and the youth of today have to be empowered with coding skills. Software coding is growing in popularity and computer literacy is becoming a significant driver in establishing future generations in the workplace. However, less than one percent of African children leave school with basic coding skills,” he added.

According to Cohen, “SAP is proud to be part of the Africa Code Week programme which aims to provide African youth with the critical skills required for today’s challenging job market. This exciting programme aligns perfectly with the SAP Africa’s Skills for Africa initiative which promotes both skills development and job creation across the continent.

“It will also contribute to Africa becoming a future net exporter of technology skills to the rest of the world. Preparing the ground for Africa Code Week is critical and these software pilot projects are giving us a clear picture of best-practices to adopt across other African countries as the project gains momentum.”

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Twitter CEO Costolo steps down http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/06/12/twitter-ceo-costolo-steps-down/ http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/06/12/twitter-ceo-costolo-steps-down/#comments Fri, 12 Jun 2015 01:34:37 +0000 http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/?p=242378 Dick Costolo

Dick Costolo

San Francisco (AFP) – Twitter chief executive Dick Costolo is stepping down and will be replaced on an interim basis from July 1 by co-founder Jack Dorsey, the company said Thursday.

The move comes with the one-to-many messaging platform struggling to boost its user base after a much-anticipated public offering in 2013.

Costolo guided the San Francisco-based firm through its initial public offering, but growth has been disappointing and the company has yet to show a profit.

A Twitter statement said Costolo would remain as a member of the Twitter board and that Dorsey would stay as CEO of Square, the financial technology group he founded, during the search for a new chief executive.

Twitter said it formed a committee that will work with “a leading executive search firm to assist in conducting a global search which will consider both internal and external candidates” for CEO.

Dorsey said in the statement: “The future belongs to Twitter thanks in large part to Dick Costolo’s dedication and vision.”

In its latest earnings report, in April, Twitter said it had a net loss in the quarter of $162.4 million.

The company said the number of active monthly users rose above 300 million, but that figure has been growing a pace too sluggish for many investors, and below rivals in social networking.

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Air Bag: Mazda recalls fresh 75,000 cars http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/06/04/air-bag-mazda-recalls-fresh-75000-cars/ http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/06/04/air-bag-mazda-recalls-fresh-75000-cars/#comments Thu, 04 Jun 2015 10:55:18 +0000 http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/?p=241440 Mazda

Mazda Motor Corp (7261.T) on Thursday filed a fresh recall for 75,000 cars in Japan to replace air bag inflators made by Takata Corp.

A Mazda spokesman, who spoke to reporters under anonymity, said the recall followed an order to expand a multi-million-vehicle recall in the United States.

Of that, about 38,000 had previously been called back for investigative purposes in December, the spokesman said.

Mazda’s latest move follows similar actions taken last week by Honda Motor Company and other automakers as part of an expanded recall by Takata to comply with demands from U.S. auto safety regulators.

Mazda said it would make a corresponding filing in the United States on Thursday.

To date, the tally for Takata-related recalls stands at 811,000 vehicles globally, Takata Corp said.

Takata is at the centre of a global recall of tens of millions of cars for potentially deadly air bag inflators that could deploy with too much force and spray metal fragments inside vehicles.

Regulators have linked six deaths to the component so far.

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Four arrested in Argentina smuggling more than ton of meteorites http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/05/31/four-arrested-in-argentina-smuggling-more-than-ton-of-meteorites/ http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/05/31/four-arrested-in-argentina-smuggling-more-than-ton-of-meteorites/#comments Sun, 31 May 2015 10:06:21 +0000 http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/?p=241009 Police nabbed four alleged smugglers in Argentina trying to steal more than a ton of protected meteorites, authorities said (AFP Photo/Desiree Martin)

Police nabbed four alleged smugglers in Argentina trying to steal more than a ton of protected meteorites, authorities said (AFP Photo/Desiree Martin)

Buenos Aires (AFP) – Police nabbed four alleged smugglers in Argentina trying to steal more than a ton of protected meteorites, authorities said Saturday.

Three Argentine nationals and a Paraguayan were arrested for the unusual attempted heist near General Pinedo, in the northern Argentine province of Chaco, national police said.

Police said they found 215 large chunks of meteorites during a random truck stop, stashed under the seats of the vehicle.

One area of Chaco, Campo del Cielo (Heavenly Field), got pelted by a major meteor shower some 4,000 years ago, scientists say.

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Scientists restore lost memory in mice, shedding light on amnesia http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/05/29/scientists-restore-lost-memory-in-mice-shedding-light-on-amnesia/ http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/05/29/scientists-restore-lost-memory-in-mice-shedding-light-on-amnesia/#comments Fri, 29 May 2015 06:54:12 +0000 http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/?p=240799 Mice

Washington (AFP) – Researchers have gained new understanding on the workings of amnesia through research that used light to revive lost memories in mice, a study reported.

Amnesia remains a controversial subject in the field of neuroscience, with some researchers arguing that it occurs when cells are damaged and memory cannot be stored, while others believe that the memories are simply blocked and cannot be recalled.

The study, published in the US journal Science, indicated that memories do in fact remain, but are simply unable to be recollected.

“The majority of researchers have favored the storage theory, but we have shown in this paper that this majority theory is probably wrong,” researcher Susumu Tonegawa of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology said.

“Amnesia is a problem of retrieval impairment,” the Nobel Prize-winning scientist said.

The study, carried out by researchers at MIT and the Riken Brain Science Institute in Japan, used blue light pulses to stimulate “memory engrams,” the neurons that are activated as memories are formed.

When these engrams are activated in normal day-to-day life by stimuli such as an image, smell or taste, memories are triggered.

Scientists conducting the research, however, attached a protein to these neurons to enable them to be activated by light.

– Paralyzed with fear –

One change that was thought to occur in engrams during the formation of memory was the strengthening of their synapses — structures that allow the neurons to send signals to each other.

So the researchers set out to see what would happen if the synapses did not strengthen, by using a compound called anisomycin to prevent that process from happening in mice.

The mice were placed in a chamber where they were given an electric shock to the feet — which elicits a “freezing” response in the rodents.

Those that did not receive the compound would exhibit the same freezing response when returning to the chamber where the shock was administered, but those that were given anisomycin did not freeze, having clearly forgotten the shock.

The researchers would next activate the neurons involved in the foot-shock memory in the treated mice, by using blue light pulses.

Even when placed in a totally different chamber, the treated mice would demonstrate the freezing response, indicating that they were paralyzed with fear from the memory, which still existed.

The study allowed scientists to separate memory storage mechanisms from those allowing an organism to form and recover the memory, said MIT researcher Tomas Ryan, who co-authored the study.

“The strengthening of engram synapses is crucial for the brain’s ability to access or retrieve those specific memories,” Ryan said.

Tonegawa added that the research indicated that “past memories may not be erased, but could simply be lost and inaccessible for recall.”

The findings “will stimulate future research on the biology of memory and its clinical restoration,” he added.

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Samsung inaugurates first digital village in Cross River http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/05/08/samsung-inaugurates-first-digital-village-in-cross-river/ http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/05/08/samsung-inaugurates-first-digital-village-in-cross-river/#comments Fri, 08 May 2015 10:05:53 +0000 http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/?p=238760 Governor Liyel Imoke of Cross Rivers State

Governor Liyel Imoke of Cross Rivers State

The first “Digital Village” in Nigeria was inaugurated on Thursday by Samsung Electronics West Africa in collaboration with UNESCO in Oban Community, Akamkpa Local Government Area of Cross River.

NAN learnt that the village would provide access to the world’s most advanced information and communication technologies, education and health services to under-resourced areas.

The facility is also expected to bridge the digital divide and serve as a catalyst for local business development and government service delivery.

Speaking at the occasion, Mr Brovo Kim, the Managing Director of Samsung Electronics West Africa, observed that some rural areas Africa lacked electricity.

He said that such communities were also challenged by limited access to education, health care and connectivity, as necessary components of their socio-economic development.

“We are not only bridging the digital divide but also providing a facility that meets the most critical health and education needs of the rural community,” Kim said.

“In addition to providing the appropriate technologies, Samsung is also working to ensure that the people of the Oban Community take ownership of the digital village and receive adequate training to optimise use of facilities.

“Samsung believes that technology is a powerful tool to change these circumstances, improve and create a better society,” he said.

Governor Liyel Imoke of Cross River expressed commitment to the project, which he said was worth more than N160 million.

Imoke, who spoke through the Special Adviser on International Donor Support, Mr Roy Ndoma-Egba, advised the people of Akamkpa to protect the project.

He also thanked Samsung for their support.

The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health, Elder Edem I. Edem, promised that the project would be sustained.

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Teachers, students laud MultiChoice for investing in education http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/05/08/teachers-students-laud-multichoice-for-investing-in-education/ http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/05/08/teachers-students-laud-multichoice-for-investing-in-education/#comments Fri, 08 May 2015 09:01:29 +0000 http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/?p=238751 John Ugbe, Managing Director, MultiChoice Nigeria

John Ugbe, Managing Director, MultiChoice Nigeria

MultiChoice Nigeria has received praises from teachers and students for its heavy investment in the public secondary school system through the MultiChoice Research Centre (MRC) Project.

Through the MRC Project, the company’s flagship Corporate Social Investment initiative, MultiChoice has provided quality teaching and learning aids to many schools across the country.

MRC is a project aimed at integrating audio-visual learning technologies in public schools via digital satellite television and other equipment such as DStv High Definition decoder and educational content. It was conceived to ensure that schools have access to the MultiChoice Education Bouquet, integrating the programmes into their curriculum in order to enhance the teaching process and learning experience.
 
Since the project, in partnership with Innovative Technology Literacy Services Limited (ITLSL), began in 2014, 332 schools in 29 states in Nigeria’s six geopolitical zones have benefited.

The MRC educational bouquet comprises of eight channels: Mindset Learn, Animal Planet, BBC World, Discovery , History, National Geographic, BBC and ED channels. The bouquet has improved the teaching and learning processes, especially by animating previously hitherto abstract subjects.

In turn, the two processes have been helped by MultiChoice’s decision to train teachers in the use of the MRC educational bouquet. Since the project kicked off, over 2,000 teachers have been trained as coordinators of the Resource Centres.

One of such is Uche Otuagha, an MRC coordinator in King’s College Annex, Lagos. He said the Resource Centre has been an immense source for teaching materials for most teachers in his school. “With the Resource Centre, we have observed that more students are now open to learning. We just appeal to MultiChoice to assist us in more ICT-related training programmes,” he said.
 
Similarly, Matthew Olugbade, a teacher at Ansar-U-Deen Comprehensive College, Ota, Ogun State, who has been an MRC coordinator for over five years, said that the MRC facility has improved academic performances in his school. “Prior to the establishment of the Resource Centre, the performances of our students were not so good. But today, the reverse is the case, “he said.

Olugbade, while urging MultiChoice to add alternative power sources to the initiative, also appealed to other corporate bodies to emulate MultiChoice to improve standards in public secondary schools.

Beneficiary students have also commended MultiChoice Nigeria for the initiative. Stanley Ugochukwu, a former student of College of Immaculate Conception, Enugu, now a second year medical student of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, recalled that the MultiChoice laboratory in his school made him visualize some of the things he was taught in class.

“We were also able to learn non-academic subjects like the behaviour of some animals that we watched in movies about the animal kingdom at the MultiChoice laboratory,” he said.

Kingsley Nnamdi, who attended the same school with Ugochukwu and is in the same faculty and university with him, expressed similar sentiments.
“It (MRC) brought a new dimension to education by its adoption of audio-visual devices as teaching and learning aids. These certainly broadened my knowledge and world view,” he gushed.

John Ugbe, Managing Director, MultiChoice Nigeria, explained that the company chose the initiative because of it is committed to improving cognitive and other forms of learning in public schools in the country by leveraging on its assets and expertise. This, he believes, will enhance the overall development of the country’s educational system. He called on other corporate bodies and individual to join in the efforts to raise the standard of education in public-owned institutions.

“It is only through concerted efforts by public and private stakeholders that the country can make a positive impact in the education sector,” he remarked.

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One in six species faces extinction from climate change http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/05/02/one-in-six-species-faces-extinction-from-climate-change/ http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/05/02/one-in-six-species-faces-extinction-from-climate-change/#comments Sat, 02 May 2015 05:26:28 +0000 http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/?p=238128 "Whales, dolphins and seals show higher risk of extinction than sharks or invertebrates such as corals," a study found PHOTO: AFP / Luis Robayo

“Whales, dolphins and seals show higher risk of extinction than sharks or invertebrates such as corals,” a study found
PHOTO: AFP / Luis Robayo

One out of six species faces extinction as a result of climate change and urgent action must be taken to save large numbers of animals from being wiped out, an analysis said Thursday.

The study, published in the US journal Science, found that a global temperature rise of four degrees Celsius could spell disaster for a huge number of species around the world.

“We urgently need to adopt strategies that limit further climate change if we are to avoid an acceleration of global extinction,” said study author Mark Urban, an ecology and evolutionary biology researcher at the University of Connecticut.

The analysis evaluated 131 previous studies about the impact of climate change on flora and fauna around the world.

It concluded that with each rising degree in global temperatures, more species were at risk.

A two degree increase, the study noted, could threaten 5.2 percent of species, while a three degree boost would put 8.5 percent of all species at risk.
“If we follow our current, business-as-usual trajectory (leading to a 4.3 degree Celsius rise)… climate change threatens one in six species (16 percent),” the study said.

Different regions of the world had varied extinction threats.

“Extinction risks were highest in South America, Australia and New Zealand, and risks did not vary by taxonomic group,” Urban said.

In South America, the most vulnerable region, 23 percent of species may face extinction. Fourteen per cent could be threatened in New Zealand and Australia.
Five per cent of species in Europe could face extinction, compared to six per cent in North America, the study found. Urban said governments must urgently act to prevent widespread extinction.

“Climate change is poised to accelerate extinctions around the world unless we adopt new strategies to limit it and implement specific conservation strategies to protect the most threatened species,” he said.

– Marine fossils reveal threats –

Meanwhile, a related study in Science Thursday found that marine fossils can help identify which animals and ocean ecosystems face the greatest risk of extinction.

A team of paleontologists and ecologists looked at marine animals that died out over the past 23 million years. They found that some groups were more vulnerable than others and the threat varied regionally.

“Whales, dolphins and seals show higher risk of extinction than sharks or invertebrates such as corals. Clams and mussels — so-called bivalves — had about one-tenth the extinction risk of mammals,” the study found.

Regions of the tropics such as the Indo-Pacific and the Caribbean were most at risk. Climate change and other human-related activities such as fishing contributed to that vulnerability.

“Climate change and human activities are impacting groups of animals that have a long history, and studying that history can help us condition our expectations for how they might respond today,” said lead author Seth Finnegan, an assistant professor of integrative biology at the University of California, Berkeley.

But he said more research is needed to protect vulnerable species.

“There is a lot more work that needs to be done to understand the causes underlying these patterns and their policy implications,” he added.

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GlaxoSmithKline almost ready with first malaria vaccine http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/04/25/glaxosmithkline-almost-ready-with-first-malaria-vaccine/ http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/04/25/glaxosmithkline-almost-ready-with-first-malaria-vaccine/#comments Sat, 25 Apr 2015 17:24:37 +0000 http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/?p=237445
Anopheles mosquito: vector of the parasite causing malaria in humans

Anopheles mosquito: vector of the parasite causing malaria in humans

The world’s first malaria vaccine, produced by GlaxoSmithKline, could be approved by international regulators for use in Africa from October.

The final trial data showed that the shoe, called RTS, S offered partial protection for children for up to four years.

It will be the first licensed human vaccine against a parasitic disease, and could help prevent millions of cases of malaria, which currently kills more than 600,000 people a year.

Experts have long hoped scientists would be able to develop an effective malaria vaccine, and researchers at the British drug maker, GSK, have been working on RTS, S for 30 years.

Earlier trial data releases in 2011 and 2012 dampened the hopes that this shot would be the final answer to wiping out malaria.

Then, it showed it only reduced episodes of malaria in babies aged six weeks to 12 weeks by 27 per cent, and by around 46 per cent in children aged five to 17 months.

But the final stage follow-up data published in the Lancet journal showed that vaccinated children continued to be protected four years on, though at a declining rate – an important factor, given the prevalence of the disease and rates of protection were stronger with a booster shot.

“In spite of the falling efficacy over time, there is still a clear benefit from RTS,S,” said Brian Greenwood, a professor at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine who worked on the study.

a nurse administers an experimental malaria vaccine on a child

a nurse administers an experimental malaria vaccine on a child

He said an average 1,363 cases of clinical malaria were prevented over four years for every 1,000 children vaccinated, or 1,774 cases with a booster shot.

“The children would normally be expected to have had several cases of infection over that period.

In babies, over three years of follow-up, an average 558 cases were prevented for every 1,000 vaccinated, and 983 cases in those who got a booster.

“Given that there were an estimated 198 million malaria cases in 2013, this level of efficacy potentially translates into millions of cases of malaria in children being prevented,” Greenwood said.

GSK submitted an application in July 2014 for regulatory approval by the European Medicines Agency for RTS, S and is expecting a decision within a few months.

“If it gets a licence, the World Health Organisation could recommend it for use “as early as October this year”, Greenwood said.

Experts say RTS, S will be only one among several weapons against malaria, alongside insecticide-treated bed nets, rapid diagnostic tests and anti-malarial drugs.

RTS, S was co-developed by GSK and the non-profit PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative, with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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WHO blames pesticide for ‘mysterious deaths’ in Nigerian town http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/04/19/who-blames-pesticide-for-mysterious-deaths-in-nigerian-town/ http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/04/19/who-blames-pesticide-for-mysterious-deaths-in-nigerian-town/#comments Sun, 19 Apr 2015 11:01:26 +0000 http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/?p=236743 *WHO scientists say not angry god behind strange deaths in Ode-Irele

Pesticide poisoning was the likely cause of the mysterious deaths of at least 18 people in a southwestern Nigerian town earlier this week, the World Health Organization said Sunday.

The “current hypothesis is cause of the event is herbicides”, WHO spokesman Gregory Hartl said in a Tweet.

“Tests done so far are negative for viral and bacterial infection,” he added.

The victims began showing symptoms early last week in what Ondo state spokesman Kayode Akinmade called a “mysterious disease”, prompting fears of a new infectious disease outbreak in a region ravaged by Ebola.

Oba Olanrewaju Lebi

Oba Olanrewaju Lebi

The victims, whose symptoms included headache, weight loss, blurred vision and loss of consciousness, died within a day of falling ill in the town of Ode-Irele, in southwestern Ondo state.

The Ondo state health commissioner, Dayo Adeyanju, told AFP Saturday that 23 people had been affected.

Akinmade said health officials and experts from the government and aid agencies, as well as WHO epidemiologists, had arrived in Ode-Irele to investigate the deaths.

The tests were carried out at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, the WHO said.

A high chief of the town had attributed the deaths to the anger of the god of Molokun.

High Chief Moses Enimade, next in command to Oba Cornelius Olanrewaju-Lebi, debunked the rumour that the deaths were caused by strange disease or Ebola virus.

No fewer than 20 youths reportedly died of severe headaches and blindness in the town recently.

Enimade contended that some stubborn youths broke into the inner room of Molokun Shrine on April 15.

“Molokun is a deity of the land, only the Chief Priest and High Chief Gboguron are qualified to enter the shrine.’’

The chief said the youths entered the shrine and made away with traditional items in a bid to acquire extra-ordinary powers and engage in money ritual.

“They were not qualified to enter the room (shrine). They had to face death penalty’’; he emphasised.

“Because these youths want to be rich at all costs, they entered the sacred place and made away with traditional items and 20 of them have died as a result of their desperate acts,

“We have to appease the gods or else many will still die and we have to bury them according to tradition. Their corpses belong to the gods and will be exhumed if buried by their families.’’

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WHO scientists investigate ‘mysterious deaths’ in Nigerian town http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/04/18/who-scientists-investigate-mysterious-deaths-in-nigerian-town/ http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/04/18/who-scientists-investigate-mysterious-deaths-in-nigerian-town/#comments Sat, 18 Apr 2015 20:37:36 +0000 http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/?p=236680 Oba Olanrewaju Lebi

Oba Olanrewaju Lebi

A “mysterious” disease that kills patients within 24 hours, said to have been inflicted by an angry ‘god’, has claimed at least 18 lives in a south western Nigerian town, the government said Saturday.

“Twenty-three people (were affected) and 18 deaths were recorded,” the Ondo state health commissioner, Dayo Adeyanju, told AFP.

The government spokesman for the state, Kayode Akinmade, earlier gave a toll of 17 dead.

“Seventeen people have died of the mysterious disease since it broke out early this week in Ode-Irele town,” Akinmade told AFP by telephone.

The disease, whose symptoms include headache, weight loss, blurred vision and loss of consciousness, killed the victims within a day of falling ill, he said.

Laboratory tests have so far ruled out Ebola or any other virus, Akinmade said.

The World Health Organization meanwhile said it had information on 14 cases with at least 12 dead.

“Common symptoms were sudden blurred vision, headache, loss of consciousness followed by death, occurring within 24 hours,” WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic told AFP by email, adding that an investigation was ongoing.

Another WHO spokesman, Gregory Hartl, told AFP that according to a preliminary report, all those affected began showing symptoms between April 13 and 15.

Akinmade said health officials and experts from the government and aid agencies, as well as WHO epidemiologists, had arrived in Ode-Irele to search for answers.

The state’s health commissioner, Adeyanju, told AFP that he and his officials had gone on a “field visit with the WHO, UNICEF, NCDC (Nigerian Centre for Disease Control)”.

“This was basically a case search to unravel the cause (of the disease),” he said in a text message.

The WHO’s Jasarevic said blood and urine samples had been taken from two victims and cerebrospinal fluid from another.

One of the victims of the god's anger. Photo Eagleonline

One of the victims of the god’s anger. Photo Eagleonline

“All samples have been sent to Lagos University Teaching Hospital this morning, and results are still pending. Investigations are still ongoing,” he said.

As the WHO experts try to offer scientific explanation for the deaths, the town’s High Chief Moses Enimade, has linked the deaths to a sacrilege done to Molokun, god of the land.

Enimade, next in command to Oba Cornelius Olanrewaju-Lebi, debunked the rumour that the deaths were caused by strange disease or Ebola virus.

No fewer than 20 youths reportedly died of severe headaches and blindness in the town recently.

Enimade contended that some stubborn youths broke into the inner room of Molokun Shrine on April 15.

“Molokun is a deity of the land, only the Chief Priest and High Chief Gboguron are qualified to enter the shrine.’’

The chief said the youths entered the shrine and made away with traditional items in a bid to acquire extra-ordinary powers and engage in money ritual.

“They were not qualified to enter the room (shrine). They had to face death penalty’’; he emphasised.

“Because these youths want to be rich at all costs, they entered the sacred place and made away with traditional items and 20 of them have died as a result of their desperate acts,

“We have to appease the gods or else many will still die and we have to bury them according to tradition. Their corpses belong to the gods and will be exhumed if buried by their families.’’

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Amazon tribe shocks scientists over resistance to antibiotics http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/04/18/amazon-tribe-shocks-scientists-over-resistance-to-antibiotics/ http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/04/18/amazon-tribe-shocks-scientists-over-resistance-to-antibiotics/#comments Sat, 18 Apr 2015 14:09:22 +0000 http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/?p=236655 A Yanomami tribe woman  and her child: resistance to modern antibiotics shocks scientists

A Yanomami tribe woman and her child: resistance to modern antibiotics shocks scientists

A remote tribe in the Venezuelan Amazon appears to be resistant to modern antibiotics even though its members have had barely any contact with the outside world, researchers said Friday.

The people, known as the Yanomami, were first spotted by air in 2008, and were visited a year later by a Venezuelan medical team that took samples from 34 of them, including skin and mouth swabs and stool samples.

To protect their privacy, the name of their village was withheld from publication.

Scientists found that the tribespeople’s microbiome — the community of bacteria, fungi and viruses that live in and on the body — was far more diverse than seen in comparison communities of rural Venezuelans and Malawians. Their microbiome was twice as diverse as observed in a reference group of Americans.

The remote villagers are generally healthy, and that may be thanks to a microbiome that “contains perhaps the highest levels of bacterial diversity ever reported in a human group,” said the study in the journal Science Advances.

While the Yanomami had some T-shirts, machetes and metal cans, suggesting some limited contact with civilization, they have not been exposed to the many elements of contemporary life that can cut down on microbes, such as eating processed foods, taking antibiotics, hand sanitizing and delivering babies by Caesarean section, scientists said.

Some microbes seemed to have a protective effect on their health, such as preventing the formation of kidney stones.

The tribespeople live in small villages, in a remote area that is accessible only by helicopter or by traveling for days in a canoe.

Researchers found no evidence of obesity or malnutrition among the people they saw, who lived on a diet that included fish, frogs, insects, plantains and a fermented cassava drink, said Maria Gloria Dominguez-Bello of the New York University School of Medicine.

However, she said no samples were taken of the tribe’s food and drink, which could reveal more about how they achieved their diverse gut flora.

“I would love to go back to the community, now that we know what we know,” she said.


– ‘Alarming’ antibiotic resistance –

Scientists expected to find some resistance to antibiotics in the population, because these resistance genes have existed in soil bacteria for millions of years or more, so it makes sense that they would migrate into people, too, even without antibiotic use.

What really surprised the team was the discovery that the tribespeople had nearly 30 antibiotic resistant genes that were never before known to science.

Even more, these genes were resistant to some of the world’s most recently developed synthetic antibiotics.

“It was alarming to us to find genes that would inactivate these modern synthetic drugs in the Yanomami population,” said co-author Gautam Dantas from the Washington University School of Medicine.

“We see this as one more piece of clear evidence that antibiotic resistance is indeed a natural feature of the human microbiota but that it’s primed to be activated and amplified for greater resistance after antibiotic use,” he told reporters.

The modern era of antibiotics began in the 1940s when penicillin quickly became a popular drug. Many more types of antibiotics were discovered and marketed from the 1950s to 1970s. Most originated in soil.

But widespread use of antibiotics in people and livestock has raised concern about an approaching era when antibiotics may not work at all, heralding the return of stubborn infections that turn fatal instead of treatable.

Already, drug-resistant superbugs are on the rise, particularly in hospitals, where they kill tens of thousands of people in the West each year.

The latest research “emphasizes the need to ramp up our research for new antibiotics because otherwise we’re going to lose this battle against infectious diseases,” said Dantas.

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Buhari, wife change Twitter accounts http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/04/16/buhari-wife-change-twitter-accounts/ http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/04/16/buhari-wife-change-twitter-accounts/#comments Thu, 16 Apr 2015 14:13:37 +0000 http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/?p=236427 General Muhammadu Buhari using his Twitter account

General Muhammadu Buhari using his Twitter account

Nigeria’s president-elect and his wife have changed their Twitter addresses. President-elect General Muhammadu Buhari is switching his Twitter account from @ThisIsBuhari to @MBuhari while his wife, Mrs Aisha Buhari will now tweet from the @ABuhari.

The accounts @ThisIsBuhari and @IAmAishaBuhari will no longer be connected to either party, although they are both functional as at the time of filing this report.

For the latest news and updates on both as they transition into being the First Couple, the @MBuhari and @ABuhari accounts will be a key channel of communication as the president-elect works to fulfill his promises to the nation, a statement issued by State Craft Inc said.

Muhammadu Buhari joined Twitter on December 22, 2014, soon after winning the presidential ticket of the All Progressives Congress, gaining a following of several thousand within hours. His wife, Aisha Buhari, joined in March 2015, and also has a substantial following.

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Young researchers design tool that helps the blind to see http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/04/16/young-researchers-design-tool-that-helps-the-blind-to-see/ http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/04/16/young-researchers-design-tool-that-helps-the-blind-to-see/#comments Thu, 16 Apr 2015 12:44:57 +0000 http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/?p=236406 Saverio Murgia, CEO of Horus Technology Company

Saverio Murgia, CEO of Horus Technology Company

A young team of Ligurian researchers, almost all of them under 25, have designed one of many new generation devices that gives sight to the blind.

Saverio Murgia, the Engineer and CEO of Horus Technology Company, explained on Thursday in Genoa that the device could considerably improve the lives of those who have major vision problems.

“It is similar to a pair of glasses, but one wears it the other way around,” he said.

“In practice, however, it is a new invention made in Liguria, which could radically change the lives of people who are blind or have poor eyesight,” he added.

Murgia said the device, called “Horus”, would be available to buy from the beginning of 2016.

A very young team of Ligurian researchers designed it, almost all of them under 25, and in recent months they have already won a flood of recognition, both in Italy and internationally.

He said anyone who wears it, through vocal assistance, to read any kind of text, recognise people, and most importantly, to identify objects.

Murgia said using a small camera the device can decipher the world that surrounds an individual with vision problems.

“It is a digital device that can be carried in one’s pocket like a simple mobile phone, and can decipher images and transform them into words that are immediately communicated to the device’s user,” he said.

He said “Horus” would have a purchase price that would be within everyone’s reach.

“In the coming months the product will be commercialised first in Italy and then abroad, since we are already receiving many requests especially from France, Holland, Poland, Canada and Japan,” he said.

Murgia said the device has already been tested with excellent results by blind people and individuals with poor vision.

He warned that the function of the device does not rely on internet access, because the device works solely on the basis of images that come from the outside world.

Murgia said for the invention, in a couple of weeks, in Padua, the group of researchers would receive a prize at MIT Technology Review Italy, as one of the most innovative companies among the 10 that have obtained the highest score in Italy.

He said in conclusion, it was an indication that in spite of everything, development was possible in Italy.

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EU to probe Android, charges Google with market abuse http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/04/15/eu-to-probe-android-charges-google-with-market-abuse/ http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/04/15/eu-to-probe-android-charges-google-with-market-abuse/#comments Wed, 15 Apr 2015 11:01:38 +0000 http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/?p=236237 Google

The EU on Wednesday formally charged Google with abusing its dominant position as Europe’s top search engine, laying the US Internet giant open to a massive fine of more than $6.0 billion.

The European Commission also said it would open a separate anti-trust investigation into Google’s Android operating system, which dominates the global mobile phone market.

The Commission, which polices EU competition policy, said it had sent a formal “Statement of Objections” to Google charging it with “systematically favouring its own comparison shopping product in its general search results pages.”

“The Commission’s preliminary view is that such conduct infringes EU anti-trust rules because it stifles competition and harms consumers,” a statement said.

The Commission said it would continue to examine three other areas of concern — copying of rivals’ web content, exclusive advertising regimes and undue restrictions on advertisers — identified in probes dating back to 2010.

In a major development, it also announced it would investigate “Google’s conduct as regards the mobile operating system Android.”

“The investigation will focus on whether Google has entered into anti-competitive agreements or abused a possible dominant position in the field of operating systems, applications and services for smart mobile devices,” the statement said.

If found at fault under EU anti-trust rules, a company faces a fine of up to 10 percent of its annual sales — in Google’s case, $66 billion (62 billion euros) in 2014.

EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said the aim was to ensure that “companies operating in Europe, wherever they may be based, do not artificially deny European consumers as wide a choice as possible or stifle innovation”.

“In the case of Google I am concerned that the company has given an unfair advantage to its own comparison shopping service, in breach of EU antitrust rules.”

Google has 10 weeks to reply on this count, but if the formal investigation finds the company in the wrong it would “face the legal consequences and change the way it does business in Europe,” Vestager said.

She said Android it is vital for Android to be open to all.

“Smartphones, tablets and similar devices play an increasing role in many people’s daily lives, and I want to make sure the markets in this area can flourish without anti-competitive constraints imposed by any company,” the competition commissioner said.

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Short people have higher heart attack risk http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/04/09/short-people-have-higher-heart-attack-risk/ http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/04/09/short-people-have-higher-heart-attack-risk/#comments Thu, 09 Apr 2015 07:49:15 +0000 http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/?p=235628 Heart Attack

Short people face a greater lifetime risk of clogged arteries, according to a study out Wednesday that confirmed the long-known link between height and heart disease by examining genetics.

The study is the first to show that the higher risk is primarily due to a variety of genes that influence whether a person is tall or short, and not potentially confounding factors like poverty or poor nutrition.

The study led by researchers at the University of Leicester is published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Researchers examined 180 different genetics variants in a database of nearly 200,000 people with and without coronary heart disease, which is caused by a buildup of plaque in the arteries and can lead to heart attack. It is the most common cause of early death worldwide.

They found that every 2.5 inches (6.3 centimeters) in a person’s height affected their risk of coronary heart disease by 13.5 percent.

As an example, a five-foot (1.5 meter) tall person would have on average a 32 percent higher risk of developing coronary heart disease than a person who was five-foot-six (1.68 meters), said the study.

“The more height increasing genetic variants that you carry the lower your risk of coronary heart disease,” said co-author Christopher Nelson, a British Heart Foundation-funded lecturer at the University of Leicester.

“And conversely if you were genetically shorter the higher your risk.”

Researchers hope that further study of the genes implicated in height and heart disease may lead to better prevention and treatment in the future.

“For more than 60 years it has been known that there is an inverse relationship between height and risk of coronary heart disease,” said lead author Sir Nilesh Samani, professor of cardiology at the University of Leicester.

“Now, using a genetic approach,” he said, researchers have shown that the “association between shorter height and higher risk of coronary heart disease is a primary relationship and is not due to confounding factors.”

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