Brightsurf Science News & Current Events

October 18, 2011
Alternating training improves motor learning
Learning from one's mistakes may be better than practicing to perfection, according to a new study appearing in The Journal of Neuroscience.

Piecing together the priceless 'Cairo Genizah'
The Cairo Genizah is an irreplaceable repository for information about 1,000 years of human history.

Transitioning children with autism to school
A University of California, Riverside education professor has started recruiting children for a first-of-its-kind study that will assess how children with autism adapt to the early school years and identify predictors that will lead to a successful transition.

UCSF study finds steroids could help heal some corneal ulcers
A UCSF study gives hope to those suffering from severe cases of bacterial corneal ulcers, which can lead to blindness if left untreated.

US science academy and global reinsurance broker spark
On the heels of a summit on managing extreme events held last month in Washington, D.C., leaders of the US National Academy of Sciences and the Willis Research Network, part of Willis Group Holdings, a global insurance and reinsurance broker headquartered in the UK, pledged to continue exploring activities aimed at increasing the physical and financial resilience of populations to extreme events.

Researchers discover why steroid treatment for COPD is ineffective
Corticosteroids do not improve survival nor alter the progression of COPD and may reduce lung symptoms as little as 20 percent.

Trudeau Institute announces its latest discovery in the fight against tuberculosis
New research from the Trudeau Institute may help in the ongoing fight against tuberculosis.

Miriam Hospital researchers pilot new acute hepatitis C screening strategy for HIV-infected patients
Researchers at the Miriam Hospital demonstrated a practical strategy for regularly screening HIV-infected patients for acute hepatitis C virus infection, a

Heart failure hospital stays drop by 30 percent
Being hospitalized for heart failure was about 30 percent less likely in 2008 than in 1998, according to a study by Yale physicians in the Oct.

Malaria vaccine candidate, RTS,S reduces the risk of malaria by half in African children
First results from a large-scale Phase III trial of RTS,S*, published online today in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), show the malaria vaccine candidate to provide young African children with significant protection against clinical and severe malaria with an acceptable safety and tolerability profile.

Predictive model developed for polio
Using outbreak data from 2003-2010, Kathleen O'Reilly of Imperial College London, UK and colleagues develop a statistical model of the spread of wild polioviruses in Africa that can predict polio outbreaks six months in advance.

The political effects of existential fear
Why did the approval ratings of President George W. Bush -- who was perceived as indecisive before September 11, 2001 -- soar over 90 percent after the terrorist attacks?

UK and Norway among the European countries trying to lead way on improving social determinants of health
A major conference is to take place (Oct. 19-21 ) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, inviting all WHO member states to commit to solid policies to improve social determinants of health.

Technology targets genetic disorders linked to X chromosome
Geneticists at Emory University School of Medicine have demonstrated a method that enables the routine amplification of all the genes on the X chromosome.

Explore Earth and space with ASU scientists Nov. 5
The public is invited to spend a day exploring Earth and space with Arizona State University scientists from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday, Nov.

More evidence that allergies may help in fighting brain tumors
Subjects with somewhat elevated levels of antibodies produced to fight allergens were less likely to go on to develop brain tumors, according to a new study.

Adolescents sleeping more hours score higher in math
Such is the conclusion recently drawn in a study published in the journal International Journal of Clinical and Health Psychology by University of Granada and Junta de Andalucia researchers.

New study finds gay and bisexual men have varied sexual repertoires
A new study by researchers at Indiana University and George Mason University found the sexual repertoire of gay men surprisingly diverse, suggesting that a broader, less disease-focused perspective might be warranted by public health and medical practitioners in addressing the sexual health of gay and bisexual men.

Nearly half of physician practices do not meet national standards for 'medical homes'
Nearly half (46 percent) of physician practices do not meet national standards to qualify as a medical home, U-M study finds.

2 new bee species are mysterious pieces in the Panama puzzle
Smithsonian scientists have discovered two new, closely related bee species: one from Coiba Island in Panama and another from northern Colombia.

Medical education in developing world needs to change
In this week's PLoS Medicine, Francesca Celletti from the WHO, Geneva, Switzerland and colleagues argue that a transformation in the scale-up of medical education in low- and middle-income countries is needed.

Male bowel cancer patients need more information about erectile dysfunction
Male bowel cancer patients are very likely to suffer from erectile dysfunction after treatment and yet the majority are not receiving adequate information about the condition, according to a study published on today.

High blood pressure in early pregnancy raises risk of birth defects, irrespective of medication
Women with high blood pressure (hypertension) in the early stages of pregnancy are more likely to have babies with birth defects, irrespective of commonly prescribed medicines for their condition, finds new research published on today.

New, higher estimates of endangered humpback whales in the North Pacific
Scientists have increased the estimate on the number of humpback whales in the North Pacific Ocean in a paper published in the journal Marine Mammal Science.

Dr. Abraham Verghese to give John P. McGovern Lecture on Oct. 24
The University of Houston has invited best-selling author and noted physician Abraham Verghese to give the John P.

Genetic variant and autoantibodies linked to having a child with autism
A study by researchers at UC Davis has found that pregnant women with a particular gene variation are more likely to produce autoantibodies to the brains of their developing fetuses and that the children of these mothers are at greater risk of later being diagnosed with autism.

Whether we know it or not, we can 'see' through 1 eye at a time
Although portions of the visible world come in through one eye only, the brain instantaneously takes all that information and creates a coherent image.

Timing for clinical trials for stem cell therapy in spinal cord injuries is right
Regenerative medicine in spinal cord injuries (SCI) is proving to help the human body create new cell and nerve connections that are severed during this type of injury.

Detecting 'bath salts' designer drug
In October 2011 the National Institute of Justice and the Forensic Science Foundation funded a capstone project proposal in the Master of Forensic Science Program at Sam Houston State University to investigate the designer drugs known as

Internists address dual concerns of privacy and protection of health data
Fears about re-uses of personal data as well as re-uses of research data and samples are the focus of a policy paper released today by ACP.

From lab to marketplace
As part of Genome Canada's Entrepreneurship Education in Genomics competition, the Ivey International Centre for Health Innovation in London, Ontario, has been awarded $240,000 to run a business training course for life scientists.

Scientists create computing building blocks from bacteria and DNA
Scientists have successfully demonstrated that they can build some of the basic components for digital devices out of bacteria and DNA, which could pave the way for a new generation of biological computing devices, in research published today in the journal Nature Communications.

Unknown species and larval stages of extremely long-legged beetles discovered by DNA test
The unknown larval stages and a new species of the curious Spider Water Beetles were described after their assignment by DNA sequences.

African-Americans more likely to donate kidney to family member
Family matters, especially when it comes to African-Americans and living kidney donation.

Staying Sharp in New Haven: Yale brain experts discuss successful aging at free forum
Attendees will have the chance to ask local brain experts about the aging brain at the Staying Sharp session on Oct.

400,000 farmers in southern Africa using 'fertilizer trees' to improve food security
Researchers from the World Agroforestry Centre say poor soil fertility is one of the main obstacles to improving food production in Africa.Planting trees that improve soil quality can help boost crop yields for African farmers, an assessment shows.

Forgetting is part of remembering
It's time for forgetting to get some respect, says Ben Storm, author of a new article on memory in Current Directions in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

Young genes correlated with evolution of human brain
Young genes that appeared after the primate branch split off from other mammal species are more likely to be expressed in the developing human brain, a new analysis finds.

Simple nerve cells regulate swimming depth of marine plankton
The ciliary beating of Platynereis gives insights into an ancestral state of nervous system evolution.

Francisco J. Ayala gives $10 million to UCI, largest gift ever by campus faculty member
Acclaimed UC Irvine geneticist Francisco J. Ayala, best known for his work straddling the divide between religion and evolution, will donate $10 million to the School of Biological Sciences.

Hospitalization for heart failure among Medicare patients has declined substantially
Between 1998 and 2008, heart-failure related hospitalizations declined substantially among Medicare patients, but at a lower rate for black men, according to a study in the Oct.

Urban 'heat island' effect is a small part of global warming; white roofs don't reduce it
Heat emanating from cities -- called the

Virginia Tech biomedical engineers announce child football helmet study
Youth football helmets are currently designed to the same standards as adult helmets, even though little is known about how child football players impact their heads.

More poor kids in more poor places, Carsey Institute finds
Persistent high poverty is most prevalent among children, with those living in rural America disproportionally impacted, according to researchers from the Carsey Institute at the University of New Hampshire.

This month in ecological science
This month in ecological science: the evolution of a stream, from barren moonscape to salmon run, modeling the contribution of sport fishermen's skills and preferences to patterns of overfishing, and the unknown risks of fracking for nearby streams and rivers.

SomaLogic announces agreement with leading global pharma company to accelerate R&D
SomaLogic, Inc., announced today that it has entered into a multi-year research agreement with Novartis to use its unique proprietary proteomics technology to accelerate Novartis' drug discovery and development efforts.

Electromobile, together
Not buying cars but sharing them -- car-sharing is practiced in many major cities.

National survey will measure how bullying impacts children with autism
Today, the Interactive Autism Network launches a national survey to study the impact of bullying on children with autism spectrum disorders.

Can we share vampires' appetite for synthetic blood?
Vampires on the

CSI-style investigation of meteorite hits on Earth
Volcanologists from the Universities of Leicester and Durham have forensically reconstructed the impact of a meteorite on Earth and how debris was hurled from the crater to devastate the surrounding region.

Cells are crawling all over our bodies, but how?
For better and for worse, human health depends on a cell's motility -- the ability to crawl from place to place.

Magnifying research: Scientists team together to upgrade supercomputer
A group of Kansas State University scientists received a three-year $700,000 grant from the National Science Foundation's Major Research Instrumentation Program to upgrade the university's research computing cluster, called Beocat.

Most hospital readmission prediction models perform poorly
A review and analysis of 26 validated hospital readmission risk prediction models finds that most, whether for hospital comparison or clinical purposes, have poor predictive ability, according to an article in the Oct.

Penn researchers demonstrate efficacy of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma vaccine
An experimental vaccine developed by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania's schools of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine is the first veterinary cancer vaccine of its kind that shows an increase in survival time for dogs with spontaneous non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

Babies and toddlers should learn from play, not screens
A new policy from the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends keeping children under age two as

Antineoplastic agents associated with thyroid dysfunction
Antineoplastic agents such as immunotherapies and targeted therapies that specifically target signaling pathways in cancer cells are associated with thyroid dysfunction in 20-50 percent of cancer patients taking them, which can adversely affect patients' quality of life, according to a study published Oct.

Sound research at acoustical society meeting
The latest news and discoveries from the science of sound will be featured at the 162nd meeting of the Acoustical Society of America (ASA) held Oct.

Optimal modulation of ion channels rescues neurons associated with epilepsy
New research successfully reverses epilepsy-associated pathology by using a sophisticated single-cell modeling paradigm to examine abnormal cell behavior and identify the optimal modulation of channel activity.

Whole communities in Africa could be protected from pneumococcus by immunising young children
A study led by the Medical Research Council in The Gambia in collaboration with the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and published in this week's PLoS Medicine shows for the first time in Africa, that vaccinating young children against the pneumococcus (a bacterium that can cause fatal infections) causes a herd effect in which the entire community is protected against this infection.

Relationships more important than genetic ties when deciding who cares for aging family, study finds
Researchers have found that relationship quality trumps genetic ties when determining caregiving obligations.

SDSC, Calit2 awarded $1.4 million NSF grant for new bioinformatics tools
Researchers at the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) and the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2) at the University of California, San Diego, have been awarded a three-year, $1.4 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to create a Kepler Scientific Workflow System module.

Hospital heart attack death rates improving but very elderly still missing out
Despite substantial reductions in the hospital death rates for heart attack patients across all age groups, there are still worrying inequalities in heart attack management for the elderly, a new study has shown.

'Good health at low cost' 25 years on - what makes a successful health system?
Even countries with a relatively low income can make big improvements to the health of their populations by adopting a winning formula for strengthening their health systems.

R&D scoreboard: Top EU firms increase investment in innovation, but lag behind global competitors
The European Commission's 2011

UH graduate design build studio to receive mayor's Proud Partner Award
UH's Graduate Design Build Studio will receive the Mayor's Proud Partner Award on Oct.

Prime minister wrong to claim we support Health Bill, say public health experts
Public health experts writing in this week's BMJ say the prime minister was wrong to claim they support the government's health reforms.

Cough may warn of danger for patients with lung-scarring disease
A new analysis has found that coughing may signal trouble for patients with the lung-scarring disease known as idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.

Analyzing the sheep genome for parasite resistance
Genetic resistance to a parasitic nematode that infects sheep has been discovered by a team of scientists with the US Department of Agriculture and the International Livestock Research Institute.

Cyber war might never happen
Cyber war, long considered by many experts within the defense establishment to be a significant threat, if not an ongoing one, may never take place according to Dr.

AAP expands guidelines for infant sleep safety and SIDS risk reduction
In an updated policy statement and technical report, the AAP is expanding its guidelines on safe sleep for babies, with additional information for parents on creating a safe environment for their babies to sleep.

UGA scientists team up to define first-ever sequence of biologically important carbohydrate
Scientists have been unable to determine the structure of a biologically important so-called GAG proteoglycan -- or even to agree whether these remarkably complex molecules have well-defined structures.

Light dependency underlies beneficial jetlag in racehorses
A new study has shown that racehorses are extremely sensitive to changes in daily light and, contrary to humans, can adapt very quickly to sudden shifts in the 24-hour light-dark cycle, such as those resulting from a transmeridian flight, with unexpected benefits on their physical performance.

Alternating training improves motor learning
Learning from one's mistakes may be better than practicing to perfection, according to a study in the Oct.

Project leads next decade of aging research across Europe
An ambitious project led by researchers at the University of Sheffield is set to tackle the grand challenge of Europe's aging population over the next 10 years.

Georgia Tech turns iPhone into spiPhone
A research team led by Patrick Traynor has discovered how to program a smartphone to sense nearby keyboard vibrations and decipher complete sentences with up to 80 percent accuracy.

Shift work in teens linked to increased multiple sclerosis risk
Researchers from Sweden have uncovered an association between shift work and increased risk of multiple sclerosis (MS).

Asylum seekers must have access to health-care services, argues doctor
Asylum seekers and undocumented migrants must retain access to primary care, argues a doctor in this week's BMJ.

Scripps launches whole genome sequencing study to find root causes of idiopathic diseases
Scripps Health announced today it has launched an innovative clinical research study that is using whole genome sequencing to help determine the causes of idiopathic human diseases - those serious, rare and perplexing health conditions that defy a diagnosis or are unresponsive to standard treatments.

Family and community medicine leader elected to Institute of Medicine
Michael LeFevre, MD, Future of Family Medicine Professor and vice chair of family and community medicine at the University of Missouri, has been elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies.

Fatal crashes in the US: Fewer Canadian drivers under the influence
Alcohol-related fatal motor vehicle crashes in the US are much lower among drivers with Canadian licenses than drivers with US or Mexican licenses.

Scott & White Healthcare is 1 of 3 in Texas to receive workforce development grants
Scott & White Healthcare in Temple is one of three sites chosen for a $1.6 million initiative to create internships for doctoral psychology students that will help alleviate mental health workforce shortages in Texas.

How learning more about mass nesting can help conserve sea turtles
Ecologists are a step closer to understanding one of nature's most extraordinary sights -- the

Young human-specific genes correlated with human brain evolution
Young genes that appeared since the primate branch split from other mammal species are expressed in unique structures of the developing human brain, a new analysis finds.

Adult congenital heart patients with highest surgery costs more likely to die in hospital
Adult congenital heart surgery patients who incur the top 10 percentile of hospital charges are much more likely to die in the hospital than patients whose care costs less.

Premature babies at risk of ill health in later life, research suggests
Young adults who were born prematurely show multiple biological signs of risks to future health, research from Imperial College London has found.

From tropics to poles: Study reveals diversity of life in soils
Microscopic animals that live in soils are as diverse in the tropical forests of Costa Rica as they are in the arid grasslands of Kenya, or the tundra and boreal forests of Alaska and Sweden.

Commonwealth Fund Commission national health care scorecard: US scores 64 out of 100
The US health-care system scored 64 out of 100 on key measures of performance, according to the third national scorecard report from the Commonwealth Fund Commission on a High Performance Health System.

Expanding HIV treatment for discordant couples could significantly reduce global HIV epidemic
A new study uses a mathematical model to predict the potential impact of expanding treatment to discordant couples on controlling the global HIV epidemic -- in these couples one partner has HIV infection.

Number of Facebook friends linked to size of brain regions, study suggests
Scientists funded by the Wellcome Trust have found a direct link between the number of

New U of M start-up may save lives of victims of massive blood loss and trauma
A new technology from the University of Minnesota has resulted in a start-up that may help prolong the lives of victims suffering from massive blood loss or trauma.

First results from Phase 3 trial show malaria vaccine candidate reduces the risk of malaria
First results from a large-scale Phase III trial of RTS,S, published online today in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), show the malaria vaccine candidate to provide young African children with significant protection against clinical and severe malaria with an acceptable safety and tolerability profile.

21st century database of traditional Chinese medicine released
A comprehensive database developed by King's College London researchers that features the chemical components found in traditional Chinese medicines has been released to market this month, allowing researchers to explore age-old remedies in the search for tomorrow's new drugs.

Sterilization method for hemodialysis dialyzer membrane linked with risk of low platelet counts
Patients who had undergone hemodialysis using dialyzers that had been sterilized with the use of electron beams were more likely to develop thrombocytopenia (an abnormally low platelet count in the blood, associated with increased risk of bleeding), according to a study in the Oct.

A new age in brain research
Melbourne will become a magnet for the world's best and brightest brain researchers after the official opening of the Melbourne Brain Centre at the University of Melbourne Parkville by the Premier Ted Baillieu and Federal MP Michael Danby on Monday.

Researchers discover ancient depiction of childbirth at Etruscan site in Tuscany
An archaeological excavation at Poggio Colla, the site of a 2,700-year-old Etruscan settlement in Italy's Mugello Valley, has turned up a surprising and unique find: two images of a woman giving birth to a child.

Cracking breast cancer's genetic code may lead to new treatments
By analyzing which animal models of breast cancer best compare to human cases, a Michigan State University researcher is hoping to overcome one of the most significant barriers in treating the deadly disease: the genetic complexity of the tumors themselves.

MIT's Lincoln Lab: Seeing through walls
The ability to see through walls is no longer the stuff of science fiction, thanks to new radar technology developed at MIT's Lincoln Laboratory.

Innovations in minimally invasive surgery and education are highlights of 40th AAGL Global Congress
Technology has radically changed the way surgeons practice medicine, and nowhere is this more evident than in the field of gynecologic endoscopy.

How hemp got high: Canadian scientists map the cannabis genome
A team of Canadian researchers has sequenced the genome of Cannabis sativa, the plant that produces both industrial hemp and marijuana, and in the process revealed the genetic changes that led to the plant's drug-producing properties.

Wayne State announces license agreement for breakthrough approaches to vision restoration
RetroSense Therapeutics, LLC, a Michigan-based company, announced that it has executed its exclusive, worldwide option and signed a license agreement for novel gene-therapy approaches for treating blindness developed at Wayne State University's School of Medicine.

CHEO scientist advances biotherapeutics as published in Cancer Cell
Dr. David Stojdl, a scientist from the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute at the University of Ottawa has found a way to trick resistant cancer cells into committing suicide following oncolytic virus therapy.

'Generation Squeezed': Today's family staggering under the pressure
Canadian parents today are raising families with less money and time than the Baby Boomer generation even though the country's economy has doubled in size since 1976, says a new study released at the University of Saskatchewan today by Paul Kershaw, a family policy expert from the University of British Columbia.

Has our violent history led to an evolved preference for physically strong political leaders?
New research into evolutionary psychology suggests that physical stature affects our preferences in political leadership. 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