Brightsurf Science News & Current Events

June 19, 2008
ONR offers up to $1M for innovative science and technology ideas
Office of Naval Research announces 2008

Microscopic 'clutch' puts flagellum in neutral
A tiny but powerful engine that propels the bacterium Bacillus subtilis through liquids is disengaged from the corkscrew-like flagellum by a protein clutch, Indiana University Bloomington and Harvard University scientists have learned.

World research leaders gather in Finland to accelerate the development of bioactive paper
Researchers working to develop inexpensive paper that can destroy, deactivate and detect deadly pathogens, such as salmonella and SARS, will share their expertise at the first ever international conference on bioactive paper in Espoo, Finland, from June 24-26, 2008.

Same drug, different results: MUHC researcher on the path to personalized medicine
Medicine has moved a closer to the era of treatments based on the genetic profiles of individual patients, according to recent research conducted by Dr Rima Rozen of the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Center (RI MUHC) at the Montreal Children's Hospital and McGill University.

Weight-loss surgery can cut cancer risk
The latest study by Dr. Nicolas Christou of the McGill University Health Center and McGill University shows that bariatric surgery also decreases the risk of developing cancer by up to 80 percent.

Combining math and medicine to treat leukemia
Researchers have produced a mathematical model that may lead to the development of an optimally-timed vaccine for chronic myelogenous leukemia.

First steps towards a new approach to epilepsy treatment
The most prestigious funding body in the world for epilepsy has financially backed Australian research into new approaches to treat the condition.

The splitting of North America's oldest community
In 1906, the Hopi community of Orayvi -- the longest continually occupied settlement in North America -- split.

Lavas from Hawaiian volcano contain fingerprint of planetary formation
Hikers visiting the Kilauea Iki crater in Hawaii today walk along a mostly flat surface of sparsely vegetated basalt.

Weight gain within the normal range increases risk of chronic kidney disease
Healthy individuals who gain weight, even to a weight still considered normal, are at risk for developing chronic kidney disease, according to a study appearing in the September 2008 issue of the Journal of the American Society Nephrology.

New research on mutation in yeast can enhance understanding of human diseases
Yeast, a model organism heavily relied upon for studying basic biological processes as they relate to human health, mutates in a distinctly different pattern than other model organisms, a finding that brings researchers closer to understanding the role of evolutionary genetics in human diseases and cancer.

New findings on immune system in amphibians
Major Histocompatibility Complex genes produce proteins that are crucial in fighting pathogen assault.

Researchers confirm benzene-like electron delocalization of important molecule
Researchers in the lab of University of Oregon chemist Shih-Yuan Liu have successfully synthesized and structurally characterized boron-nitrogen compounds that are isoelectronic and isostructural to the fundamentally important benzene molecule.

O'Keefe receives Gruber Neuroscience Prize for discovery of place cells and their role in cognition
John O'Keefe, Ph.D., professor of cognitive neuroscience at University College London, is the recipient of the 2008 Neuroscience Prize of the Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation for

Study of marine snail leads to new insights into long-term memory
UCLA cellular neuroscientists are providing new insights into the mechanisms that underlie long-term memory -- research with the potential to treat long-term memory disorders.

Gallons per mile would help car shoppers make better decisions
Posting a vehicle's fuel efficiency in

NJIT biomedical engineer receives NSF Career Development Award
Bryan J. Pfister, Ph.D., a specialist in neural tissue engineering, has been awarded a prestigious Faculty Early Career Development Award by the National Science Foundation.

Rice U study finds that consumers may fare better with peer-to-peer online lending Web sites
A new study conducted by Associate Professor of Management Paul Dholakia at Rice University's Jones Graduate School of Management shows that online peer-to-peer lending Web sites may be more attractive to Americans than traditional financial institutions.

Yale researchers discover Legionnaire microbe's tricks
Yale University researchers have shed new light how bacteria like the ones that cause Legionnaires' disease and Q-fever raise such havoc in human patients.

Predicting the risk of a common fungal infection after stem cell transplantation
In silico genetic analysis in mice has led to the discovery of a gene affecting susceptibility to a severe fungal infection in transplant recipients.

Radiation for health
For decades, we have been told that exposure to radiation is dangerous.

MIT unlocks mystery behind brain imaging
In work that solves a long-standing mystery in neuroscience, researchers at MIT's Picower Institute for Learning and Memory have shown for the first time that star-shaped brain cells called astrocytes -- previously considered bit players by most neuroscientists -- make noninvasive brain scans possible.

Tiny refrigerator taking shape to cool future computers
Researchers at Purdue University are developing a miniature refrigeration system small enough to fit inside laptops and personal computers, a cooling technology that would boost performance while shrinking the size of computers.

Liter of fuel would last UK 1 year if cars had kept pace with computers
One liter of fuel would serve the UK for a year and oil reserves would last the expected lifetime of the solar system -- if efficiency in the car industry had improved at the same rate as in the computer world -- a leading computer scientist will tell an audience in Manchester on Friday, June 20, 2008.

Bosentan reduces decline of patients with early stage pulmonary arterial hypertension (early study)
Patients in the early stages of pulmonary arterial hypertension treated with the drug bosentan show reduced clinical decline compared with patients given placebo, and thus the drug could be beneficial in this group of patients.

Attitude determines student success in rural schools
While most of the country focuses on ACT scores, student-teacher ratio and rigorous curriculum to increase student success, a recent study finds the commitment to excellence determines student achievement in rural schools.

Space radar to improve miners' safety
Advanced ground penetration radar, originally developed to investigate the soil structure on the moon and other planets on ESA planetary missions, is now being used in Canadian mines to spot hidden cracks and weaknesses in mine roofs.

Ancient fort opens new chapter in First Nations' history
A fortified village that pre-dates European arrival in Western Canada and is the only one of its kind discovered on the Canadian plains is yielding intriguing evidence of an unknown First Nations group settling on the prairies and is rekindling new ties between the Siksika Nation (Blackfoot) and aboriginal groups in the United States.

Greenland ice core analysis shows drastic climate change near end of last ice age
Information gleaned from a Greenland ice core by an international science team shows that two huge Northern Hemisphere temperature spikes prior to the close of the last ice age some 11,500 years ago were tied to fundamental shifts in atmospheric circulation.

New Web resource to improve crop engineering
The Carnegie Institution's department of plant biology today announced the launch of a new web-based resource that promises to help researchers around the world meet increasing demands for food production, animal feed, biofuels, industrial materials and new medicines.

Allergy expert has advice for flood victims
As if the emotional and financial impact of flood damage isn't bad enough, floodwaters can also bring health problems.

Ocean warming on the rise
Increased scientific confidence that ocean observations are accurately reflecting rising global temperatures is central to new Australian research published today in the journal Nature.

Indiana University to host national biorepository for gene therapy
Indiana University School of Medicine will be home to the nation's sole National Gene Vector Biorepository and Coordinating Center for gene therapy research with a three-year, $3 million NIH grant.

Aciclovir does not reduce HIV acquisition in women or gay men with genital herpes
The antiviral drug aciclovir does not reduce HIV-1 acquisition in women or men who have sex with men with genital herpes.

Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation awards prestigious fellowships to 14 top young investigators
The Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation named 14 new Damon Runyon Fellows at its May 2008 Fellowship Award Committee review.

Math could help cure leukemia
In a recent study that combined math and medicine, researchers have shown that patients with chronic myelogenous leukemia may be cured of the disease with an optimally timed cancer vaccine, where the timing is determined based on their own immune response.

The Montreal Heart Institute presents findings on congestive heart failure and atrial fibrillation
The results of a major international clinical trial coordinated by the Montreal Heart Institute were reported today in the New England Journal of Medicine.

New photo 'op' for ovaries may solve some mysteries of infertility
Researchers at Northwestern University aim to find new treatments for fertility disease and age-related infertility with a novel approach.

Researchers track Lyme disease spirochetes
Microbiologists at the University of Calgary have demonstrated the first direct visualization of the dissemination of Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacterium that causes Lyme disease.

NIH funds highway pollution and health study in Boston, Somerville
Tufts University researchers and five Boston-area community groups received a five-year, $2.5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to study the health effects of pollution exposure in neighborhoods adjacent to major highways.

Positive school environments can help reduce student smoking
A survey of high-school children in Scotland has shown that pupils who experience positive and inclusive social environments in schools are less likely to take up smoking.

Government resources urgently needed to reduce childhood injury, say experts
Childhood injury surveillance in the UK is under-resourced and lags behind other European countries, say experts in this week's BMJ, ahead of UK Child Safety Week on June 23.

Scientists fix bugs in our understanding of evolution
What makes a human different from a chimp? Researchers from the European Molecular Biology Laboratory's European Bioinformatics Institute have come one important step closer to answering such evolutionary questions correctly.

Canada-India RFID project looks to improve traffic flow, reduce pollution
An intelligent transportation system framework is being developed through a new research collaboration established by the McMaster RFID Applications Lab, the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi, IPICO Inc. and Strategic Consultants.

Scientists may have solved an ecological riddle
A team of scientists may have solved the riddle of why plants that work with bacteria to convert atmospheric nitrogen gas into an essential biological nutrient (ammonia) tend to prevail in the world's tropical regions rather than higher latitudes.

Allergies: Can pharmacists fill the gap?
The lead editorial in this week's edition of the Lancet discusses the increasing prevalence of allergies and says that patients who suffer with them are being badly let down due to lack of specialist facilities and resources.

McGill conference tackles global food crisis
The world is currently facing one of its most serious challenges in ensuring there is enough food for everyone.

Scientists use Iceland's genealogical database to pinpoint the heritage of a deadly disease
A collaboration of scientists from Iceland and the United States has used Iceland's genealogical database to trace the ancestors of patients suffering from hereditary cystatin C amyloid angiopathy.

NIAMS scientists find potential new way to block inflammation in autoimmune disease
Researchers from the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, a part of the National Institutes of Health, have identified a promising new target for autoimmune disease treatment -- a cell-surface receptor called DR3.

Global war deaths have been substantially underestimated
Globally, war has killed three times more people than previously estimated, and there is no evidence to support claims of a recent decline in war deaths, concludes a study published online.

Intimate examinations should not be performed without consent
Intimate examinations, performed by medical students on anesthetised patients, are often carried out without adequate consent from patients, but this violates their basic human rights and should not be allowed, claims an editorial in the July issue of Student BMJ.

Active submarine volcanoes found near Fiji
Several huge active submarine volcanoes, spreading ridges and rift zones have been discovered northeast of Fiji by a team of Australian and American scientists aboard the Marine National Facility Research Vessel, Southern Surveyor.

Perspective: Policies must keep pace with genetic progress
Enactment of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 is a boon for individual patients and for genetic research, write Kathy Hudson, M.K.

Lifestyle can alter gene activity, lead to insulin resistance
A Finnish study of identical twins has found that physical inactivity and acquired obesity can impair expression of the genes which help the cells produce energy.

MSU researcher creates system helping police to match tattoos to suspects
A Michigan State University researcher has created an automatic image retrieval system, whereby law enforcement agencies will be able to match scars, marks and tattoos to identify suspects and victims.

Conventional wisdom wrong about Arab journalists' anti-Americanism
Since Sept. 11, US politicians have repeatedly reminded us that the journalists in the Arab world are biased against America and the West.

Experimental phone network uses virtual sticky notes
The rapid convergence of social networks, mobile phones and global positioning technology has given Duke University engineers the ability to create something they call

Lack of CHFR gene expression sets stage for breast cancer
University of Michigan scientists have identified key steps in breast-tissue cell division that go awry when CHFR's action is low or absent.

Researchers find an evolutionarily preserved signature in the primate brain
Researchers from Uppsala University, Karolinska Institute and the University of Chicago, have determined that there are hundreds of biological differences between the sexes when it comes to gene expression in the cerebral cortex of humans and other primates.

Desert plant may hold key to surviving food shortage
Scientists at the University of Liverpool are investigating how a Madagascan plant could be used to help produce crops in harsh environmental conditions.

Manchester clears first hurdle in €170 million biobank building boom
The University of Manchester has been successful in gaining major European Union funding to begin joint planning of how millions of biological samples, such as DNA, can be managed and made available to research scientists across Europe.

Supercomputer explores biochemical landscape to find memory switches
Cells use switches for determining what kind of cell to become -- skin or blood, for instance, in responding to stress, and in communication with other cells.

Gene-expression profiling of the effects of liver toxins
Gene-expression data from liver tissue or whole blood can be used to classify histopathologic differences in the effects of hepatotoxins.

The economics of nice folks
Sam Bowles argues in Science on June 20 that a basic tenet of economics -- that people always behave selfishly -- can be wrong, sometimes badly so.

Lost in the supermarket?
In a probing study, Bart Minten of the International Food Policy Research Institute asks:

10th World Congress on Gastrointestinal Cancer -- Barcelona, Spain
As it celebrates its 10th year, the ESMO International Symposium: 10th World Congress on Gastrointestinal Cancer has received endorsements from six leading professional societies and organizations, solidifying the reputation of the congress as the premier platform for specialists in cancer research, leading oncologists and practicing clinicians to review the state-of-the-art in gastrointestinal cancer and share the latest information on its multidisciplinary management.

Ice cores map dynamics of sudden climate changes
New, extremely detailed data from investigations of ice cores from Greenland show that the climate shifted very suddenly and changed fundamentally during quite few years when the ice age ended.

GLAST safely in orbit, getting check-ups
A week after launch, NASA's Gamma-ray Large Area Space Telescope, or GLAST, is safely up-and-running well in orbit approximately 350 miles (565 kilometers) above the Earth's surface.

European Science Foundation aims to strengthen 'regenerative medicine'
Fourteen member organizations of the European Science Foundation have launched a key initiative to keep Europe at the forefront of regenerative medicine, broadly defined as the development of stem cell therapies to restore lost, damaged or aging cells and tissues in the human body.

Air travelers, astronomers stand to benefit from research on atmospheric turbulence
Arizona State University professor Alex Mahalov has been awarded a $716,000 grant from the US Air Force to study types of atmospheric turbulence that cause problems for air travelers and astronomers.

Chemical clues point to dusty origin for Earth-like planets
Higher than expected levels of sodium found in a 4.6-billion-year-old meteorite suggest that the dust clouds from which the building blocks of the Earth and neighboring planets formed were much denser than previously supposed.

RAND study shows creative collaborative approaches
Amid cutbacks in school arts education funding, public and private organizations in six urban regions have collaborated to expand access to arts learning for children in and outside of public school, according to a RAND Corp. study issued today.

New oral drug laquinimod reduces multiple sclerosis disease activity and is safe and well-tolerated
A new treatment for multiple sclerosis reduces MRI disease activity and is well-tolerated in patients with the relapse-remitting form of the condition.

Systems properties of insulin signaling revealed
A team of Swedish researchers has characterized novel systems properties of insulin signaling in human fat cells.

Unable to focus? Welcome to our distracted society's attention deficit
Award-winning author and journalist Maggie Jackson documents the negative impacts of a widespread, technology-driven decline in our ability to maintain focused attention in her new book

Researchers find an evolutionarily preserved signature in the primate brain
Researchers have determined that there are hundreds of biological differences between the sexes when it comes to gene expression in the cerebral cortex of humans and other primates.

Should doctors be 'selling' drugs for the pharmaceutical industry?
Are senior doctors who help drug companies sell their drugs independent experts or just drug representatives in disguise, asks Ray Moynihan from the University of Newcastle in Australia, in this week's BMJ.

New study finds that growers do not reap benefits of rising food prices
Coffee is the world's largest agricultural commodity, and is also one of the world's most volatile.

System constraints forcing Canadian physicians to become medical brokers in prioritizing
Health-care system constraints combined with a lack of a uniform referral process are leaving Ontario physicians brokering which patients are in greatest need of hip and knee replacement, a study led by a St.
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