Brightsurf Science News & Current Events

February 10, 2009
Mayo Clinic research shows that improving brain processing speed helps memory
Mayo Clinic researchers found that healthy, older adults who participated in a computer-based training program to improve the speed and accuracy of brain processing showed twice the improvement in certain aspects of memory, compared to a control group.

Bus left you waiting in the cold? Use your cell phone to track it down
Two UW graduate students have created a free tool that lets Seattle bus-riders use a cell phone, iPhone or computer to see whether their bus is running late.

Two-step chemical process turns raw biomass into biofuel
Taking a chemical approach, researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have developed a two-step method to convert the cellulose in raw biomass into a promising biofuel.

Canadian scientists read minds with infrared scan
Researchers at Canada's largest children's rehabilitation hospital have developed a technique that uses infrared light brain imaging to decode preference -- with the goal of ultimately opening the world of choice to children who can't speak or move.

IL-2 immunotherapy fails to benefit HIV-infected individuals already taking antiretrovirals
Providing a synthetic form of the immune system protein interleukin-2 to HIV-infected individuals already taking combination antiretroviral therapy boosts their numbers of CD4+ T cells, the key white blood cells destroyed by HIV, but fails to reduce their risk of HIV-associated opportunistic diseases or death compared with combination antiretroviral therapy alone.

Financial risk taking: Blame it on the genes
A new Northwestern University study provides provocative insights that relate to the question of the day:

Darwin's seminal impact on biology, anthropology, philosophy and psychology
The year 2009 marks the 150 anniversary of Charles Darwin's

NASA's Swift, Fermi probe fireworks from a flaring gamma-ray star
Astronomers using NASA's Swift satellite and Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope are seeing frequent blasts from a stellar remnant 30,000 light-years away.

Multilingualism brings communities closer together
Learning their community language outside the home enhances minority ethnic children's development, according to research led from the University of Birmingham.

Also in the Feb. 10 JNCI
Also in the Feb. 10 online issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute are a study of potential surrogate endpoints for long-term survival in patients with early prostate cancer; a study showing that netrin-1 may play a role in non-small cell lung cancer; and two studies on the use of aspirin and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to prevent colon cancer.

Boston Medical Center cardiologist receives Drake Award
Newton resident Alice Jacobs, M.D., FACC, FAHA, director of the Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory and Interventional Cardiology at Boston Medical Center is the recipient of the Drake Award.

Research highlights potential for improved solar cells
A team of Los Alamos researchers led by Victor Klimov has shown that carrier multiplication -- when a photon creates multiple electrons -- is a real phenomenon in tiny semiconductor crystals and not a false observation born of extraneous effects that mimic carrier multiplication.

Mouse study reveals genetic component of empathy
The ability to empathize with others is partially determined by genes, according to new research on mice from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Oregon Health and Science University.

Self-regulating molecular 'transformers' control intracellular protein delivery
Scientists from the California Institute of Technology have uncovered the Transformer like properties of molecules responsible for carrying and depositing proteins to their correct locations within cells.

Study: Genetic risk for substance use can be neutralized by good parenting
A genetic risk factor that increases the likelihood that youth will engage in substance use can be neutralized by high levels of involved and supportive parenting, according to a new University of Georgia study.

Brown expert offers guide to end-of-life care
Joan Teno, M.D., professor of community health and medicine at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, has co-written a guide to help doctors place their patients in the best possible hospice care.

Genetic adaptations key to microbe's survival in challenging environment
The genome of a marine bacterium living 2,500 meters below the ocean's surface is providing clues to how life adapts in extreme thermal and chemical gradients, according to an article published Feb.

ESA extends missions studying Mars, Venus and Earth's magnetosphere
ESA's Science Programme Committee has extended the operations of ESA's Mars Express, Venus Express and Cluster missions until Dec.

MRI shows brain atrophy pattern that predicts Alzheimer's
Using special MRI methods, researchers have identified a pattern of regional brain atrophy in patients with mild cognitive impairment that indicates a greater likelihood of progression to Alzheimer's disease.

Can't judge food by its label
Advanced kidney disease patients have a list of foods they know to avoid because they naturally contain a high level of the mineral phosphorus, which is difficult for their compromised kidneys to expel.

Eosinophils as markers for asthma
Asthma and allergic diseases are associated with a number of biological reactions.

Cosmologists 'see' the cosmic dawn
Scientists have used a computer simulation to predict what the very early universe would have appeared like 500 million years after the

NSF to fund water and environment technology center
Access to scarce water supplies, especially in rapidly growing urban areas in arid lands, presents a number of challenges.

Diseased heart valve replaced through small chest incision
When 91-year-old Irvin Lafferty was diagnosed with severe blockage of his heart valve -- hardening that is formally known as aortic valve stenosis -- open-heart surgery was out of the question.

Research in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education
STEM education researchers are increasingly drawing on the cognitive sciences for a more detailed understanding of how students learn, and researchers are investigating topics as diverse as the neural basis for learning mathematics, and how virtual environments support scientific inquiry.

Why fruits ripen and flowers die: Salk scientists discover how key plant hormone is triggered
Best known for its effects on fruit ripening and flower fading, the gaseous plant hormone ethylene shortens the shelf life of many fruits and plants by putting their physiology on fast-forward.

Biofuels can provide viable, sustainable solution to reducing petroleum dependence
An in-depth study by Sandia National Laboratories and General Motors Corp. has found that plant and forestry waste and dedicated energy crops could sustainably replace nearly a third of gasoline use by the year 2030.

NCI-Penn collaboration finds targeted immune cells shrink tumors in mice
Researchers have generated altered immune cells that are able to shrink, and in some cases eradicate, large tumors in mice.

Plants take a hike as temperatures rise
Plants are flowering at higher elevations along trails in Arizona's Santa Catalina Mountains, according to new research from the University of Arizona in Tucson.

Nanyang Technological University launches first-ever sports degree in Singapore
A new Bachelor of Science in Sport Science and Management, the first of its kind in Singapore, has been launched by Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.

Oil and gas production a major source of Dallas-Fort Worth smog
Emissions from approximately 10,000 oil and gas wells in the Dallas-Fort Worth area are significant contributors to regional smog, says SMU engineer Dr.

LA BioMed investigators rated among 'America's Top Doctors'
In a nationwide survey of medical professionals, 30 physician-scientists from the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center rank among

New surgical technique shows promise for improving function of artificial arms
A surgical technique known as targeted muscle reinnervation appears to enable patients with arm amputations to have improved control of functions with an artificial arm, according to a study in the Feb.

Adolescents involved with music do better in school
A new study in the journal Social Science Quarterly reveals that music participation, defined as music lessons taken in or out of school and parents attending concerts with their children, has a positive effect on reading and mathematic achievement in early childhood and adolescence.

Obesity during pregnancy associated with increased risk of birth defects
For women who are obese during pregnancy, there is an associated increased risk of certain birth defects, such as spina bifida and neural tube defects, although the absolute increase in risk is likely to be small, according to an analysis of previous studies, reported in the Feb.

Study reveals high level of adverse drug reactions in hospitals
In a study of more than 3,000 patients, researchers at the University of Liverpool have found that one in seven admitted to hospital experience adverse drug reactions to medical treatment.

Television & New Media commemorates 10th anniversary with special issue and podcasts
Television & New Media turns 10 this month. To commemorate that milestone, the journal has published a special issue which includes podcasts of three key articles.

Battling noise with nutrients among topics covered at international conference of ENT researchers
Scientists supported by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, one of the National Institutes of Health, will be presenting their latest research findings at the 2009 Midwinter Meeting of the Association for Research in Otolaryngology in Baltimore.

At WPI, some students are learning it's OK to peek
Students in undergraduate biology labs at Worcester Polytechnic Institute are using clickers in a new way that promises to improve student-achievement and enhance teaching during science labs.

Inflammation may be common thread behind nervous and heart rhythm problems in cirrhosis
Inflammatory molecules known as cytokines can lead to the neurological and cognitive abnormalities and changes in heart rhythm found in patients with cirrhosis of the liver, a new study finds.

Avoiding the hothouse and the icehouse
By controlling emissions of fossil fuels we may be able to greatly delay the start of the next ice age, new research from the Niels Bohr Institute at University of Copenhagen concludes.

Give the foie gras a miss
Another reason not to eat pate de foie gras is discussed by Michael Greger of the Humane Society of the United States, Washington D.C., in a forthcoming issue of the International Journal of Food Safety, Nutrition and Public Health.

BGU researchers identify vitamin B12 as an effective canker sore therapy
A team of physicians at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev has discovered that a nightly dose of vitamin B12 is a simple, effective and low risk therapy to prevent Recurrent Aphthous Stomatitis, better known as

Program for kidney disease patients effective for reducing serum phosphorus levels
Patients with end-stage renal disease who participated in an education program to limit their intake of phosphorus-containing food additives lowered their blood levels of the chemical, according to a study in the Feb.

Rituximab maintenance therapy improves survival in patients with relapsed follicular lymphoma
Patients with relapsed or refractory follicular lymphoma who continue on maintenance rituximab therapy after chemotherapy have better overall survival than patients who do not receive this treatment, according to a meta-analysis of randomized trials in the Feb.

Fellowship to advance type 1 diabetes research
Dr. Wenbo Zhi, a postdoctoral fellow in the Medical College of Georgia Center for Biotechnology and Genomic Medicine, has received a two-year fellowship to study biomarkers associated with type 1 diabetes.

100 Hours of Astronomy project kicks off
The International Year of Astronomy 2009 is about to reach new heights as the project 100 Hours of Astronomy, scheduled to take place from April 2-5, 2009, ramps up.

New method to monitor disease status of patients with advanced prostate cancer
Survival and response to treatment in patients with advanced prostate cancer can be predicted by assessing changes in the number of circulating tumor cells, according to an article published online first and in the March issue of the Lancet Oncology.

Technology identified could reduce the spread of rice virus
Building on plant virus research started more than 20 years ago, a biologist at Washington University in St.

Dangerous printer particles identified
The identity and origin of tiny, potentially hazardous particles emitted from common laser printers have been revealed by a new study at Queensland University of Technology.

New guidelines for prescribing opioid pain drugs published
A prestigious panel of pain-management experts has published the first comprehensive clinical practice guideline to assist clinicians in prescribing potent opioid pain medications for patients with chronic non-cancer pain.

New test for mysterious metabolic diseases developed at Stanford/Packard
Scientists at Stanford University School of Medicine have devised a much-needed way to monitor and find treatments for a mysterious and devastating group of metabolic diseases that arise from mutations in cells' fuel-burning mechanism.

Most coordinated care programs for Medicare beneficiaries do not show benefit
Only 2 of 15 Medicare programs designed to improve care and costs for patients with chronic illnesses resulted in reduced hospital admissions, and none of the programs generated net savings, according to a study in the Feb.

Public support grows for spending on mass transit and infrastructure
Public support is growing for expenditures on mass transit and infrastructure and remains high for education and health care, according to a National Opinion Research Center survey at the University of Chicago that has been following spending trends for 35 years.

Study says 'middle class' coral reef fish feel the economic squeeze
The economy isn't just squeezing the middle class on land, it's also affecting fish.

Scientists at Scripps Research identify a mutation that causes inflammatory bowel disease
A team of scientists at The Scripps Research Institute has linked a mouse mutation to an increased susceptibility for developing inflammatory bowel disease -- represented in humans as Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, which together are estimated to affect more than a million people in the United States.

$50 million gift to U of M Children's Hospital
Fairview Health Services and the University of Minnesota announced today a gift of $50 million from Caroline Amplatz, J.D., to honor her father, former University professor and medical device pioneer Kurt Amplatz, M.D.

U of Minnesota research finds most road salt is making it into the state's lakes and rivers
Research at the University of Minnesota has revealed that road salt used throughout the winter is making the state's lakes and rivers saltier, which could affect aquatic life and drinking water.

Health Promotion Practice publishes special issue on sexual assault prevention programs
The Society for Public Health Education, in collaboration with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Division of Violence Prevention, today announces the availability of a supplemental issue of Health Promotion Practice (published by SAGE) entitled

Time is what we make of it
Michael DeDonno, a doctoral student in psychology at Case Western Reserve University recently studied 163 subjects performing the Iowa Gambling Task, a popular psychological assessment tool, to investigate the effect of perceived time pressure on a learning-based task.

Journal issue focuses on growing epidemic of stroke in women
Stroke is the third leading cause of death and a leading cause of disability; more than 60 percent of all stroke deaths are in women.

Troubled world economy puts spotlight on 2009 INFORMS Edelman Best Cases competition
The Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences today announced six finalists that will compete for the 2009 Franz Edelman Award for Achievement in Operations Research and the Management Sciences in Phoenix this year.

NIH report finds costs of digestive diseases has grown to more than $141 billion a year
Digestive, liver and pancreatic diseases result in more than 100 million outpatient visits and 13 million hospitalizations annually at a cost of $141.8 billion.

March-April 2009 GSA Bulletin media highlights
March-April GSA BULLETIN studies include new findings on Mars; flood-driven sedimentation effects on a Kauai coral reef; New Mexico fossil soils and Earth's ancient atmosphere; the rocks of Mount Everest, including the famous Yellow Band carbonate; evidence that sand grains from the ancestral Appalachian belt now make up the scenic cliffs of Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, and Zion National Parks on the Colorado Plateau; and metamorphic rocks along the deepest river gorge in the world.

Study: Fluid buildup in lungs is part of the damage done by the flu
In a fight against respiratory infections, the body typically produces a little fluid to help the lungs generate a productive cough.

Clinicians override most electronic medication safety alerts
A new study reveals that clinicians using electronic prescribing often override the alerts and rely instead on their own judgment.

Penn Medicine presents HIV gene therapy trial data at CROI 2009
Researchers from Penn Medicine announced today the results from an ongoing Phase I/II open label clinical trial of VRX496 at the 16th Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Montreal.

Study finds race and ethnicity affect use of hospice services among patients with advanced cancer
Race and ethnicity appear to have an effect on whether a patient with terminal cancer uses hospice care services, according to a study led by researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

New obesity staging system may help doctors measure up
A new system proposed by Canadian and US obesity researchers may provide another weapon in the battle against obesity.

Home pregnancy tests can lead to better prenatal care
The simple intervention of providing women who are having unprotected sex with a home pregnancy test could have a substantial impact on the health of potential newborns, according to a Michigan State University study.

Most seniors have drug coverage, study shows
More than 90 percent of Americans age 65 and older have prescription drug coverage today, compared to 76 percent who were covered in 2004, according to a University of Michigan analysis.

New research reveals increasing impact of climate change on investment decisions
A survey by the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) reveals that three-quarters of 80 global institutional investors factor climate change information into investment decisions and asset allocations.

Health experts urge return of prevention and wellness funding to stimulus
IDSA and HIVMA are surprised and disappointed that the Senate removed one of the most cost-effective provisions -- the Prevention and Wellness Fund -- from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, to be voted on today.

Multiracial identity associated with better social and personal well-being
Many people assume that individuals who identify with one race should be better off than multiracial individuals who identify with a mixed race heritage.

UCLA team creates virtual library of medieval manuscripts
Employing a Web application designed by UCLA's Center for Digital Humanities, which promotes the use of computer technology in humanities research and instruction, the new Catalogue of Digitized Medieval Manuscripts allows users to search for manuscripts according to their author, title, language and archiving institution.

Simple method strengthens schools, other buildings against earthquakes
Civil engineers using a specialized laboratory at Purdue University have demonstrated the effectiveness of a simple, inexpensive method to strengthen buildings that have a flaw making them dangerously vulnerable to earthquakes.

Brain-injured patients can relearn emotions
A University at Buffalo researcher is developing a treatment for brain-injured-patients who've lost the ability to understand facial expressions.

Biomedical research center opens in Liverpool
Scientists at the University of Liverpool will launch a new national research center to further understanding into infections such as HIV and tuberculosis.

URI partnership creates 'smart packaging' to alert consumers, grocers when refrigerated foods spoil
If you have ever wondered whether the milk in your grocer's refrigerator might have gone bad or if you left the pre-packaged meats on your kitchen counter too long, then a partnership between two URI professors and a food safety company will soon put you at ease.

Before the Scalpel: What Everyone Should Know About Anesthesia
A new book by Dr. Panchali Dhar, an anesthesiologist at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, called

First brain study reveals benefits of exercise on quitting smoking
Research reveals for the first time, that changes in brain activity, triggered by physical exercise, may help reduce cigarette cravings. 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