Session on bioethics at NeIC 2017

Arnar Pálsson, 09/05/2017

For the past 4 years I have served on the Nordic committee for bioethics. The committee operates under the umbrella of Nordforsk, and its mandate is to foster discussion and debate about bioethical questions and topics of relevance to the nordic countries.

Later this month will the committee host a workshop at the NeIC (Nordic electronic infrastructure collaboration) conference in Umea (May 29-June 1). The topics of the workshop are:

“New technologies enable the accumulation of large amounts of genetic data, biometric data, health records and socio-economic data about individuals. These data are increasingly being gathered and mined by companies for research and commercial purposes. The proper handling, security and use of such data is important to protect individuals while enabling the use of the data for the benefits of society, research or business. This workshop aims to investigate key ethical and societal issues concerning the large-scale collection, storage and sharing of data about individuals.”

Full schedule of talks is available at the website of the conference.

Bioethics of Databanks and Datasharing

(Icelandic) Voru loðfílar erfðafræðilega úrkynjaðir og var útdauði þeirra óhjákvæmilegur?

Arnar Pálsson, 11/04/2017

Sorry, this entry is only available in Icelandic.

Maedi-visna virus persistence: Antigenic variation and latency.

Arnar Pálsson, 11/04/2017

Valgerdur Andresdottir got me to help her with analyses for her master students project on MV virus evolution. The manuscript got resubmitted late winter, lets hope we managed to respond appropriately to the reviewers remarks.

Hallgrímur Arnarson, Arnar Pálsson, Margrét Gudnadóttir and Valgerdur Andrésdóttir. Maedi-visna virus persistence: Antigenic variation and latency.

(Icelandic) Hvernig eru lífsýni rannsökuð í glæparannsóknum og af hverju er ekki hægt að gera það á Íslandi?

Arnar Pálsson, 03/03/2017

Sorry, this entry is only available in Icelandic.

(Icelandic) Afneitun loftslagsvandans

Arnar Pálsson, 08/02/2017

Sorry, this entry is only available in Icelandic.

(Icelandic) Mun norskt genaregn eyðileggja íslenska laxinn?

Arnar Pálsson, 16/01/2017

Sorry, this entry is only available in Icelandic.

(Icelandic) Hafa nútímalæknavísindi gert okkur ónæm fyrir lögmálum Darwins?

Arnar Pálsson, 04/01/2017

Sorry, this entry is only available in Icelandic.

The University of Iceland individual evaluation system

Arnar Pálsson, 09/11/2016

In this summary I would like to raise a few objections about the evaluation system that has been in use at the University of Iceland for a few decades now. The objections fall into four main categories. First are concerns about the role and output of Universities. Second is the problem of trying to measure the unmeasureable. Third is the increased corporatization of western universities and the fourth concerns the specifics of the Icelandic evaluation system. My conclusion is that the evaluation system used at the University of Iceland is fundamentally broken, should be disbanded and a new structure put in place to evaluate the performance of the teachers/researchers at the University.

I. Roles of Universities.

First I would like to highlight the roles of Universities in the modern age. Scholars, like our former rector Pall Skulason, have categorized three major roles for Universities. Skulason identifies the French (Napoleonic) university, a utilitarian institution aimed at serving the nation, solving problems at hand (concerning health, agriculture, industry, army) – often with top down administration, the German (Humboltian) university which is concerned with gathering knowledge for its own sake – letting basic research run free so to speak – obviously with the scholars them selves in charge of administration, and the English (Newtonian) university, aimed at providing the government with skilled personel to run an empire (administrators, officers, priests, lawyers, bankers etc) – the board of these universities obviously respond to the needs of governments.

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Fungal and cyanobacterial gene expression in a lichen symbiosis: Acclimatization and adaptation to temperature and habitat

Arnar Pálsson, 29/08/2016

Sophie  S Steinhäuser, Ólafur S Andrésson, Arnar Pálsson, Silke Werth Fungal and cyanobacterial gene expression in a lichen symbiosis: Acclimatization and adaptation to temperature and habitat

Accepted in Fungal Biology.

The capacity of species to cope with variation in the physical environment, e.g. in temperatures and temperature fluctuations, can limit their spatial distribution. Organisms have evolved cellular mechanisms to deal with damaging effects of increased temperature and other aggravation, primarily through complex molecular mechanisms including protein refolding and DNA repair. It is of interest to see whether these responses vary with geographic location, with high vs. low elevation and on the coast vs. inland, indicating longterm acclimatization or genetic adaptation. As mutualistic symbioses, lichens offer the possibility of analyzing molecular stress responses in a particularly tight interspecific relationship. For this study, we have chosen the widespread cyanolichen Peltigera membranacea, a key player in carbon and nitrogen cycling in terrestrial ecosystems at northern latitudes. We ask whether increasing temperature is reflected in mRNA levels of selected damage control genes, and do the response patterns show geographical associations? Using real-time PCR quantification of 38 transcripts, differential expression was demonstrated for nine cyanobacterial and nine fungal stress response genes (plus the fungal symbiosis-related lec2 gene) when the temperature was increased from 5°C to15°C and 25°C. Principle component analysis (PCA) revealed two gene groups with different response patterns. Whereas a set of cyanobacterial DNA repair genes and the fungal lec2 (PC1 group) showed an expression drop at 15°C vs. 5°C, most fungal candidates (PC2 group) showed increased expression at 25°C vs. 5°C. PC1 responses also correlated with elevation. The correlated downregulation of lec2 and cyanobacterial DNA repair genes suggests a possible interplay between the symbionts warranting further studies.

(Icelandic) Hvernig kemst maður í framhaldsnám í líffræði?

Arnar Pálsson, 08/08/2016

Sorry, this entry is only available in Icelandic.