Brightsurf Science News & Current Events

April 05, 2012
Kessler Foundation names Dr. John Whyte recipient of Foundation's 2nd Annual DeLisa Award
John Whyte, M.D., Ph.D., is the 2012 recipient of Kessler Foundation's Joel A.

New online portal, app provide information on tsunami zones in the Northwest
A new suite of online portal and smartphone apps is providing information on tsunami zones in the US Pacific Northwest.

How to make high-end perfumes without whale barf
University of British Columbia researchers have identified a gene in balsam fir trees that could facilitate cheaper and more sustainable production of plant-based fixatives and scents used in the fragrance industry and reduce the need for ambergris, a substance harvested from whale barf.

Confirming carbon's climate effects
Harvard scientists are helping to paint the fullest picture yet of how a handful of factors, particularly world-wide increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide, combined to end the last ice age approximately 20,000 to 10,000 years ago.

Big advance against cystic fibrosis
Harvard stem cell researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital have taken a critical step in making possible the discovery in the relatively near future of a drug to control cystic fibrosis, a fatal lung disease that claims about 500 lives each year, with 1,000 new cases diagnosed annually.

To prevent leukemia's dreaded return, go for the stem cells
Researchers reporting in the April Cell Stem Cell, a Cell Press publication, have found a way to stop leukemia stem cells in their tracks.

Active older adults less likely to experience psychological distress
In a study examining the relationship between physical activity and physical function, researchers from Australia discovered that older adults who experienced any level of psychological distress were more than four times more likely to experience functional limitation than those who did not.

Marc travel awards announced for IMMUNOLOGY 2012
FASEB MARC (Minority Access to Research Careers) Program has announced the travel award recipients for IMMUNOLOGY 2012TM, the 99th Annual Meeting of The American Association of Immunologists (AAI) to be held in Boston, MA from May 4-8, 2012.

Ice sheet collapse and sea-level rise at the Boelling warming 14,600 years ago
International scientists have shown that a dramatic sea-level rise occurred at the onset of the first warm period of the last deglaciation, known as the Boelling warming, approximately 14,600 years ago.

Researchers report potential for a 'moderate' New England 'red tide' in 2012
New England is expected to experience a

Notre Dame researchers using novel method to combat malaria drug resistance
Researchers from the University of Notre Dame's Eck Institute for Global Health developed a

Controlling quantum tunneling with light
Scientists at the Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge have used light to help push electrons through a classically impenetrable barrier.

Most women on dialysis may experience sexual problems
In the largest observational study of its kind, 84 percent of all women and 55 percent of sexually active women on hemodialysis experienced sexual problems.

New research reveals food ingredients most prone to fraudulent economically motivated adulteration
In new research published in the April Journal of Food Science, analyses of the first known public database compiling reports on food fraud and economically motivated adulteration in food highlight the most fraud-prone ingredients in the food supply; analytical detection methods; and the type of fraud reported.

Manipulating the immune system to develop 'next-gen' vaccines
The discovery of how a vital immune cell recognizes dead and damaged body cells could modernize vaccine technology by

Physicians less likely to prescribe antidepressants to minorities, Medicaid patients
African-Americans and Hispanics with major depressive disorder are less likely to get antidepressants than Caucasian patients, and Medicare and Medicaid patients are less likely to get the newest generation of antidepressants.

New studies highlight setbacks and advances in global malaria fight
Emergence of resistance to the drug artemisinin in western Thailand has created a critical point in global efforts to control and eliminate malaria worldwide, according to a new study by researchers at the Texas Biomedical Research Institute and in Thailand.

Misperception of weight is an important barrier to weight loss
When University of Illinois researchers surveyed over 3,500 college applicants, more than a third couldn't report their weight accurately, and overweight and obese men were more likely to underestimate their weight than women.

From herd immunity and complacency to group panic: How vaccine scares unfold
A new study, published in PLoS Computational Biology, shows how worries over vaccine risks can allow preventable contagious diseases, such as measles and whooping cough, to make a comeback.

Use of common pesticide linked to bee colony collapse
The likely culprit in sharp worldwide declines in honeybee colonies since 2006 is imidacloprid, one of the most widely used pesticides, according to a new study from Harvard School of Public Health.

Satellite observes rapid ice shelf disintegration in Antarctic
As ESA's Envisat satellite marks 10 years in orbit, it continues to observe the rapid retreat of one of Antarctica's ice shelves due to climate warming.

Yale researchers show how embryonic stem cells orchestrate human development
Yale researchers show in detail how three genes within human embryonic stem cells regulate development, a finding that increases understanding of how to grow these cells for therapeutic purposes.

Study links Google search behavior to GDP
Internet users from countries with a higher per capita gross domestic product are more likely to search for information about the future than information about the past, a quantitative analysis of Google search queries has shown.

Tafamidis: Approval denotes proven added benefit
Tafamidis is a drug for the treatment of a rare disease.

Guidelines for preparing high school psychology teachers approved
The American Psychological Association Council of Representatives has approved a new set of national guidelines that outline models for preparing high school teachers to teach psychology effectively.

How to make customers happy
Economists at Jena University present a study about the evaluation of call centers: contrary to previous assumptions the results of the study show that the evaluation of the performance of call centers abroad is not necessarily worse than that of domestic call centers.

Risk of suicide and fatal heart attack immediately following a cancer diagnosis
People who are diagnosed with cancer have a markedly increased risk of suicide and cardiovascular death during the period immediately after being given the diagnosis.

Scientists discover new threat to birds posed by invasive pythons
Smithsonian scientists and their colleagues have uncovered a new threat posed by invasive Burmese pythons in Florida and the Everglades: The snakes are not only eating the area's birds, but also the birds' eggs straight from the nest.

Study reveals impact of socioeconomic factors on the racial gap in life expectancy
A Princeton University report reveals that disparities in socioeconomic characteristics can account for 80 percent of the life-expectancy divide between black and white men, and for 70 percent of the imbalance between black and white women.

The Journal of Communication explores the relationship between social media and democracy
A special issue from the Journal of Communication tackles the tie between social media and democracy, particularly in the aftermath of the Arab Spring.

'The Passionate Muse'
Keith Oatley's

Heightened sensitivity to cheap, high-calorie food is linked with obesity
Now, a new review of human brain imaging studies published by Cell Press in the journal Trends in Endocrinology and Metabolism suggests that a major reason for the dramatic increase in obesity may be a heightened sensitivity to heavily advertised and easily accessible high-calorie foods.

Psychological testing may predict success in soccer
Measuring what are known as executive functions, which reflect the cognitive ability to deal with sudden problems, may make it possible to predict how good an elite soccer player will become in the future.

In children born with severe heart defect, surgical management has little effect on neuro outcomes
In the largest multicenter clinical trial of children undergoing early-stage surgery for single-ventricle heart defects, differences in intraoperative management did not significantly affect neurodevelopmental outcomes at 14 months of age.

NASA's TRMM Satellite sees tornadic Texas storms in 3-D
NASA's Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite provides a look at thunderstorms in three dimensions and shows scientists the heights of the thunderclouds and the rainfall rates coming from them, both of which indicate severity.

New iPad, iPhone app helps mariners avoid endangered right whales
Mariners along the US east coast can now download a new iPad and iPhone application that warns them when they enter areas of high risk of collision with critically endangered North Atlantic right whales.

Which plants will survive droughts, climate change?
New research by UCLA biologists could lead to predictions of which plant species will escape extinction from climate change.

Mental health may play a role in dialysis patients' survival
Poor mental health may negatively affect dialysis patients' heart health and survival.

New index identifies periods when global stock markets might decline
Researchers have found a way to measure the likelihood of global stock market losses by identifying periods in which shocks may be more likely to spread across many national markets.

Breast cancer risk after false-positive mammography results
False-positive mammograms could be an indicator of underlying pathology that could result in breast cancer, according to a study published April 5 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Emergence of artemisinin-resistance on Thai-Myanmar border raises specter of untreatable malaria
Evidence that the most deadly species of malaria parasite, Plasmodium falciparum, is becoming resistant to the front line treatment for malaria on the border of Thailand and Myanmar is reported in the Lancet today.

2012 ACMG Foundation/Signature Genomic Laboratories Travel Award winner announced
Amanda R. Barone was honored as the 2012 recipient of the ACMG Foundation/Signature Genomic Laboratories, PerkinElmer Inc., Travel Award at the American College of Medical Genetics 2012 Annual Clinical Genetics Meeting in Charlotte, N.C.

Researchers assess radiation exposure in obese patients
A group of US researchers has quantified the amount of radiation obese patients receive when undergoing routine medical scans.

Normal triglyceride levels in people of African descent may hinder diagnosis of metabolic syndrome
In most people, high blood levels of the fat known as triglycerides are an early warning sign of Type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome, but in people of African descent these dangerous health conditions may go undiagnosed because triglyceride levels are not at the level used to diagnose metabolic syndrome.

How to plaster the world, cheaply!
Scientists have discovered the initial stages by which gypsum crystals form.

History of abandoned urban sites found stored in soil
Old houses and vacant lots may not look like much to the naked eye, but to some, the site is better than gold.

Study shows unified process of evolution in bacteria and sexual eukaryotes
Bacteria adapt to habitats through random genetic mutations and gene exchange.

New lab mice cut search for genetic links to disease by more than a decade
Professor Fuad Iraqi of Tel Aviv University has now developed a lab mouse population with 1,000 genetic strains -- a marked improvement on the previously existing 450.

Wellesley study shows income inequality a key factor in high US teen births
New research reveals the surprising economics behind the high U.S.

US students need new way of learning science
American students need a dramatically new approach to improve how they learn science, says a noted group of scientists and educators led by Michigan State University professor William Schmidt.

Edith Mitchell, M.D., FACP, named 2012 recipient of ASCO Humanitarian Award
Edith Mitchell, M.D., FACP, a medical oncologist at Jefferson's Kimmel Cancer Center and Clinical Professor of Medicine and Medical Oncology in the Department of Medical Oncology at Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University, has been named the 2012 recipient of the American Society of Clinical Oncology Humanitarian Award for her personification of the society's mission and values, and for going above and beyond the call of duty in providing outstanding patient care.

Beanballs and the psychology of revenge
In a new study, baseball fans exhibit a high moral tolerance for a form of revenge not otherwise practiced in most of contemporary society: avenging a teammate who has been hit by a pitch by aiming a pitch at an opposing batter who was not previously involved.

BU researchers derive purified lung and thyroid progenitors from embryonic stem cells
Researchers at Boston University School of Medicine and Boston Medical Center have derived a population of pure lung and thyroid progenitor cells in vitro that successfully mimic the developmental milestones of lung and thyroid tissue formation.

Artemisinin-resistant malaria has appeared and is increasing rapidly along the Thailand-Myanmar border
Malaria that is resistant to standard artemisinin treatment has been extensively reported along the Cambodia-Thailand border.

Detecting breast cancer's fingerprint in a droplet of blood
The earlier breast cancer is detected, the better the chance of successful treatment and long-term survival.

Simulation software optimizes networks
By the year 2020, thousands of kilometers of new grids will be operating in Germany to permit even more extensive use of power from renewable sources.

Researchers find evidence of banned antibiotics in poultry products
Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Arizona State University found evidence suggesting that a class of antibiotics previously banned by the US government for poultry production is still in use.

Comprehensive security of built structures
How safe are buildings and tunnels in the event of fire, or if there's an explosion or a plane crash?

Women cannot rewind the 'biological clock'
Many women do not fully appreciate the consequences of delaying motherhood, and expect that assisted reproductive technologies can reverse their aged ovarian function, Yale researchers reported in a study published in a recent issue of Fertility and Sterility.

Diagnostic and invasive procedures common in women with breast-conserving surgery
Women with ductal carcinoma in situ have high rates of diagnostic and invasive breast procedures after treatment with breast-conserving surgery according to a study published April 5 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Tiny hitchhikers attack cancer cells
Nanotechnology offers powerful new possibilities for targeted cancer therapies, but the design challenges are many.

Clinical news alert from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
Below are highlights of orthopedic research studies appearing in the April 4 issue of the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery (JBJS).

Recovery from propofol anesthesia may be sped by use of common stimulant
The ability of the commonly used stimulant methylphenidate (Ritalin) to speed recovery from general anesthesia appears to apply both to the inhaled gas isoflurane, as previously reported, and to the intravenous drug propofol.

Study: More accurate method required for tracking skin cancer cases
Henry Ford Hospital dermatology researchers are urging caution about using claims data for identifying non-melanoma skin cancer, suggesting that the commonly used method, which previously had not been validated, may be unreliable.

Elsevier organizes label-free technologies conference
Elsevier, a world-leading provider of scientific, technical and medical information products and services, announces the Label-Free Technologies Conference to be held in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, Nov.

Marc travel award announced for ISCB Great Lakes Bioinformatics Conference
FASEB MARC (Maximizing Access to Research Careers) Program has announced the travel award recipient for the 2012 ISCB Great Lakes Bioinformatics Conference (GLBIO) to be held at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, MI from May 15-17, 2012.

Copper chains: Study reveals Earth's deep-seated hold on copper
Earth is clingy when it comes to copper. A new Rice University study this week in Science finds that nature conspires at scales both large and small -- from the realms of tectonic plates down to molecular bonds -- to keep most of Earth's copper buried dozens of miles below ground.

Analytical standards needed for 'reading' Pliocene bones
Researchers studying human origins should develop standards for determining whether markings on fossil bones were made by stone tools or by biting animals, Indiana University faculty member Jackson Njau writes in an article this week in the journal Science.

New stem cell line provides safe, prolific source for disease modeling and transplant studies
Researchers have generated a new type of human stem cell that can develop into numerous types of specialized cells, including functioning pancreatic beta cells that produce insulin.

Deaf children's gesture mismatches provide clues to learning moments
In a discovery that could help instructors better teach deaf children, a team of University of Chicago researchers has found that a gesture-sign mismatch made while explaining a math problem suggests that a deaf child is experiencing a teachable moment.

Shifting sands
A new model, developed at MIT, predicts how sand and other granular materials flow.

Cognitive therapy helps reduce severity of distress among psychotic patients
Cognitive therapy reduces the severity of psychotic experiences in adults who are at risk of developing conditions such as schizophrenia, a randomized controlled trial published on claims.

Bascom Palmer Eye Institute marks breakthrough in IOP regulation in fight against glaucoma
A six-year collaboration between two faculty members of Bascom Palmer Eye Institute of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine has yielded new insight regarding the regulation of intraocular pressure (IOP) in glaucoma -- an irreversible blinding disease that causes progressive visual impairment due to optic nerve damage and is the leading cause of blindness worldwide.

DDW previews upcoming research
Thousands of physicians, researchers and academics from around the world will gather in San Diego in May for Digestive Disease Week, the premiere scientific conference in the fields of gastroenterology, hepatology, endoscopy and gastrointestinal surgery.

Louisiana Tech students take top honors at ASCE concrete canoe competition
Louisiana Tech University's student chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) won first place in the concrete canoe competition during the 2012 Deep South Regional Conference held last week at The University of Tennessee-Martin.

Pirates, beware: Navy's smart robocopters will spy you in the crowd
Navy unmanned aircraft will be able to distinguish small pirate boats from other vessels when an Office of Naval Research-funded sensor starts airborne tests this summer, officials said April 5.

Dangerous blood pressure medicine
Despite the fact that nifedipine increases the risk of heart attacks and death, doctors still prescribe this immediate-release blood pressure drug to elderly patients.

African Americans more likely to blog than whites and Latinos
The blogging community is more racially diverse than one might think.

Obese patients face higher radiation exposure from CT scans -- but new technology can help
A new study from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is the first to calculate exactly how much additional radiation obese patients receive from a CT scan.

AIUM announced recipients of 2012 Endowment for Education and Research grants
The American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine announced the recipients of its 2012 Endowment for Education and Research (EER) grants at the 2012 AIUM Annual Convention in Phoenix, Arizona.

URI oceanographer leading effort to enlist commercial ships to collect ocean data
A URI oceanographer is leading an effort to partner with the global shipping industry to systematically collect detailed data about the world's oceans using equipment installed on commercial vessels.

Antibiotics a safe and viable alternative to surgery for uncomplicated appendicitis, say experts
Giving antibiotics to patients with acute uncomplicated appendicitis is a safe and viable alternative to surgery, say experts in a study published on today.

Researchers discover unique suspension technique for large-scale stem cell production
Post-doctoral researcher David Fluri and Professor Peter Zandstra at the University of Toronto's Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering (IBBME) have developed a unique new technique for growing stem cells that may make possible cost-effective, large-scale stem cell manufacturing and research.

Tackling dyslexia before kids learn to read
For children with dyslexia, the trouble begins even before they start reading and for reasons that don't necessarily reflect other language skills.

Salk scientists redraw the blueprint of the body's biological clock
The discovery of a major gear in the biological clock that tells the body when to sleep and metabolize food may lead to new drugs to treat sleep problems and metabolic disorders, including diabetes.

Interesting NHS statistics reveal data errors in care records
In a letter published today on, authors from Imperial College London NHS Healthcare Trust stress the importance of accurately capturing and coding patient episodes.

Affordable Care Act protections would have provided nearly $2 billion in consumer rebates
Consumers nationwide would have received an estimated $2 billion in rebates from health insurers if the new medical loss ratio rules enacted as part of the Affordable Care Act had been in effect in 2010, according to a new study from the Commonwealth Fund. 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