Brightsurf Science News & Current Events

September 30, 2004
Rare childhood genetic syndrome identified
Researchers have identified a rare, previously undiscovered genetic syndrome that is often fatal by the second year of life, but which may be treatable with calcium channel-blocking drugs.

Study reveals 'hidden' curriculum of humiliation in medical school
A 'hidden' curriculum of haphazard tuition and teaching by humiliation exists in undergraduate medical education, finds a study in this week's BMJ.

Boston University awarded $20.1 million for science of learning center
Use the science of learning to advance learning about learning: This is the premise that underlies a new five-year, $20.1 million grant to Boston University.

Genetic mutations linked to the practice of burning coal in homes in China
According to a study directed by Phouthone Keohavong, Ph.D., associate professor, department of environmental and occupational health, University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, individuals in Xuan Wei County, China, exposed to smoky coal emissions from cooking and heating their homes may carry genetic mutations that greatly increase their risk of developing lung cancer.

Landmark gene agreement announced by Samoan government and UC Berkeley for anti-AIDS drug Prostratin
The University of California, Berkeley, has signed an agreement with the Samoan government to isolate from an indigenous tree the gene for a promising anti-AIDS drug and to share any royalties from sale of a gene-derived drug with the people of Samoa.

Changing the face of academic medicine
Academic medicine is failing to drive innovation and excellence in clinical practice, argue an international group of leading medical academics, in this week's BMJ.

UT Southwestern receives $1.78 million grant for obesity research as part of NIH Roadmap initiative
UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas has been awarded a prestigious three-year planning grant from the National Institutes of Health to study the causes of obesity and associated metabolic diseases.

UW lands $12.4 million federal grant to create science of learning center
An interdisciplinary team of University of Washington researchers has been awarded $12.4 million by the National Science Foundation to establish a center to investigate how humans learn and to create environmentsthat will help prepare people of all ages for future learning.

Chemical derived from vitamin-E shows early promise as cancer drug
A novel compound that resembles vitamin E has been found by researchers at The University of Texas at Austin to kill cancer cells in animal studies.

South Korean company's technology gift fuels dreams of chip-controlled devices
The dream of using a computer chip to operate and control tiny devices that can fit in a pocket or even inside the body might be moving one step closer to reality.

Circulation of 'disaster myths' in Haiti could hinder appropriate disposal of bodies
Myths about the infectious disease threat posed by dead bodies could lead to insensitive and inappropriate treatment of victims' bodies following the floods in Haiti, and need to be checked, according to a public health researcher who has studied the potential risks at length.

Student science contest participation influences study, career choices, alumni say
Participation in a national student biotech competition helps determine study and career paths for a large majority of contestants, according to a survey released today to mark National Biotechnology Week in Canada.

Penn State researchers receive $6.7 million from NSF for environmental kinetics center
The National Science Foundation has awarded a team of Penn State researchers $6.7 million to establish a new center for the study of environmental kinetics.

Prof: Local health campaigns not reaching adults with bad habits
Many Americans are not going to improve the way they eat or start exercising until Bart Simpson, Monday Night Football announcers or celebrities in People magazine tell them to, says a Purdue University expert in health communication.

USC researchers awarded new NIH grant encouraging interdisciplinary research
Researchers from USC in Los Angeles have been awarded a $1.8 million grant as part of a brand-new National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant program designed to encourage interdisciplinary research.

Nursing college awarded disaster preparedness training funds
A new federal defense contract to the University of South Florida College of Nursing will help train health professionals to prepare for a bioterrorist attack or other mass casualties.

Cigarette smoke causes breaks in DNA and defects to a cell's chromosomes, Pitt study finds
The amount of smoke in just one or two puffs of a cigarette can cause breaks in DNA and defects to a cell's chromosomes, leading to irreversible changes in genetic information being passed to a newly divided cell, according to University of Pittsburgh researchers.

Researchers find color sensitive atomic switch in bacteria
Researchers using extremely high resolution imaging have found an atomic switch capable of discriminating color in a bacterial membrane protein.

Chemical engineering grad students will take notable national awards
A recent graduate and a current doctoral candidate in chemical engineering at New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) will receive graduate student research awards of $300 each from the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE).

Schepens Eye Research Institute receives 'Roadmap' grant to develop center for curing eye diseases
The Schepens Eye Research Institute has been awarded a grant from the National Institutes of Health to form teams of basic and clinical researchers from many disciplines to find cures for blinding eye diseases such as macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma.

Fasting during Ramadan could cause problems for Muslim patients
Fasting from dawn to dusk during Ramadan could cause problems for Muslim patients taking prescribed drugs, warn researchers in this week's BMJ.

Climate change plus human pressure caused large mammal extinctions in late Pleistocene
Humans have been blamed for the extinction of two-thirds of all the planet's large mammals between 50,000 and 10,000 years ago, but a new study shows that climate change played a key role too.

E-learning attracts the 'usual suspects'
Despite efforts by the UK government to promote 'lifelong learning' and a more equitable and inclusive 'learning society' there is little special or new about adult learning in the digital age, research at Cardiff University, UK, has shown.

NSF awards $130 million to tackle information technology research for national priorities
The National Science Foundation (NSF) has made awards supporting nearly 120 new Information Technology Research (ITR) projects dedicated to addressing the information technology priorities facing the country -- advances in science and engineering, economic prosperity and a vibrant civil society, and national and homeland security.

Promoting walking and cycling as an alternative to using cars: what works?
What measures persuade people to shift from using cars to walking and cycling?

Stress for newborns could weaken immune system later in life
Intense traumatic events, such as maternal separation, occurring early in the life of an infant may weaken its immune system, making it more susceptible to viral infections later in life that could trigger multiple sclerosis, reveals research at Texas A&M University.

Parental involvement can help prevent underage drinking
Parents play an important role in their children's underage drinking, according to a recent study by researchers at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center.

Evidence shaky for Sun's major role in past climate changes
A closer look at earlier studies of the Sun and Sun-like stars casts doubt on evidence of long-term solar cycles, their intensity, and their possible influence on Earth's climate.

Leader in cancer treatment and prevention research honored
David S. Alberts, M.D. is the recipient of the 2004 American Association for Cancer Research (AACR)-Cancer Research and Prevention Foundation (CRPF) Award for Excellence in Cancer Prevention Research.

Researchers identify 'light meter' that controls pupil constriction
Investigators at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have demonstrated in chickens that a protein called cryptochrome plays a key role in that reflex.

Colorado U. proposal for imaging distant planets funded for further study
A NASA institute has selected a new University of Colorado at Boulder proposal for further study that describes how existing technologies can be used to study planets around distant stars with the help of an orbiting

Landmark agreement between Samoa and UC Berkeley could help search for AIDS cure
UC Berkeley has signed an agreement with the Samoan government to isolate from the indigenous mamala tree the gene for a promising anti-AIDS drug, Prostratin, and to share any royalties from sale of the gene-derived drug with the people of Samoa.

Learning about learning: NSF awards $36.5 million for three centers to explore
Boston University, Carnegie Mellon University, and the University of Washington have received National Science Foundation (NSF) awards totaling $36.5 million over the next 3 years to establish Science of Learning Centers.

Elder abuse -- A hidden tragedy
A seminar in this week's issue of The Lancet discusses the under-reported and complex subject of elder abuse.

Evidence shaky for Sun's major role in past climate changes
Computer models of Earth's climate have consistently linked long-term, high-magnitude variations in solar output to past climate changes.

Large-scale tonsilectomy study would quantify UK CJD prevalence
A study in this week's issue of The Lancet describes how two different types of analysis used in conjunction on samples of tonsil tissue is the 'gold standard' method for confirming clinical variant CJD, and that a large-scale screening programme of tonsil tissue is the only way of identifying the true incidence of vCJD infection.

Researchers determine genetic cause of Timothy syndrome
Howard Hughes Medical Institute researchers have pinpointed the genetic cause of a devastating but rare childhood disorder, called Timothy syndrome, which underlies a form of severe cardiac arrhythmia.

Scientists sequence genome of kind of organism central to biosphere's carbon cycle
Diatoms display features traditionally thought to be restricted to animals and other features thought to be restricted to plants.

NIH awards $18.2m to The Burnham Institute to develop Center on Proteolytic Pathways
The National Institutes of Health (

International study findings link acne-like rash to effectiveness of new targeted cancer treatment
Acne is not a condition that anyone would welcome under normal circumstances, but an international study of a new targeted cancer treatment - cetuximab - has shown that patients who developed an acne-like rash responded better to the treatment than those who did not.

Highlights of the October 2004 Journal of the American Dietetic Association
The October 2004 issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association contains articles and research studies you may find of interest.

Vanderbilt joins ORNL core universities
Oak Ridge National Laboratory announced today that Vanderbilt University has joined the laboratory's

Scientists to prototype cyberinfrastructure for research and education access to ocean observatories
Oceanographers and computer scientists will design cyberinfrastructure to link research institutions on land with several existing or planned ocean observatories off the west coasts of the United States, Canada and Mexico.

Venus Express Italian Day on 4 October
To mark completion of the assembly of the Venus Express spacecraft, Alenia Spazio is holding a Venus Express Day on 4 October in Turin, Italy, in cooperation with Astrium SAS and the European Space Agency.

Potential for enhanced sequestration of carbon in soils supports evaluations
Researchers led by Wilfred M. Post of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory describe in the October 2004 issue of BioScience an approach to assessing

FSU scientist finds evidence of high iron content beneath Hawaii
A new set of measurements has allowed a Florida State University geochemist to confirm what other scientists have only suspected about what lies deep below the Earth's surface.

EMBO Gold Medal 2004 goes to Spanish scientist
The 2004 winner of the EMBO Gold Medal is María Blasco, Director of the Molecular Oncology Program at the Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Oncológicas (CNIO) in Madrid.

No benefits from vitamin supplements in protection against gastro-intestinal cancer
A systematic review and meta-analysis (pooled analysis) of previously published randomised trials in this week's issue of The Lancet provides strong evidence that antioxidant supplements (such as vitamin supplements) are not effective in protecting against gastro-intestinal cancer.

Molecular motor implicated in tissue remodeling
A well-known enzyme present in the skin and other tissues turns out to be a molecule-sized motor that extracts its fuel from the road it runs on, according to researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St.

'Dead zone' area shrinking, Texas A&M prof says
A team of Texas A&M University and Louisiana State University scientists conducted a research cruise in late August to the

Belgian researchers explore revolutionary approach to angiogenesis
A revolutionary approach to angiogenesis by a team of Belgian researchers could make cancer treatment more effective at killing tumours the EORTC-NCI-AACR cancer conference will hear on Thursday (30 September).

New study shows hope for treating inhalant abuse
A new study by scientists at the US Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory suggests that vigabatrin (a.k.a. gamma vinyl-GABA or GVG) may block the addictive effects of toluene, a substance found in many household products commonly used as inhalants.

Benchmark treatment for heart disorders safe for children of all ages
A five-year study conducted in multiple centers nationwide revealed that a type of radio frequency method used in treating heart rhythm disorders is very safe and effective in children.

NSF announces $21.7 million for 37 projects to study human and social dynamics
The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded grants totaling $21.7 million to address complex, interdisciplinary issues in the foundation's newest priority area, human and social dynamics.

Lycopene slows human prostate tumour growth in mice and combined with vitamin E is even better
A study by Dutch and German researchers has provided evidence that lycopene may be able to inhibit the growth of prostate tumours and that its effect may be enhanced if it is combined with vitamin E.

Midwest thunderstorm study points toward better forecasts
Newly documented small-scale circulations embedded in thunderstorm squall lines not only spew destructive straight-line winds, but may spawn up to 20% of all U.S. tornadoes.

Fast, robust, and a blast from the past, mechanical memory switch outstrips chip technology
Research by a Boston University team led by physicist Pritiraj Mohanty has updated a decidedly

Scientific survey confirms humanitarian disaster in Darfur
The first epidemiological study to assess the impact of the civil war in the Darfur region of Sudan is published online by The Lancet today (Friday 1 October 2004).

Houston minority graduation rises in sciences, engineering as result of UH-led alliance
The University of Houston is paving the way for more minorities to earn degrees in science, technology, mathematics and engineering with notable success in a national NSF-sponsored program.

U-M leads $4 million project to preserve poll and survey data
In the thick of a presidential election, the latest findings from surveys and polls are reported on a daily basis.

Shorter course of chemotherapy beneficial for children with Wilms' tumour
Results of a European study in this week's issue of The Lancet suggest that shorter courses of chemotherapy for children with Wilms' tumour may be as effective as conventional treatment duration, but have the advantage of reduced toxicity and health-care costs. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to