Brightsurf Science News & Current Events

July 23, 2013
Loopholes in health care law could result in employee harassment
As firms grapple with the significant cost increases associated with the Affordable Care Act, the possibility emerges that employers would harass or retaliate against employees in order to avoid the law's financial penalties, according to law professors Peter Molk and Suja A.

Going through the motions improves dance performance
Dance marking -- loosely practicing a ballet routine by

New species of Hero Shrew found in equatorial Africa
Scientists at Chicago's Field Museum and international collaborators have described a new species of Hero Shrew -- the mammal with the most bizarre lower spine on Earth.

Direct nitrogen fixation for low cost energy conversion
A simple, low-cost and eco-friendly method of creating nitrogen-doped graphene nanoplatelets, which could be used in dye-sensitized solar cells and fuel cells, is published in Scientific Reports today.

Estée Lauder clinical trial finds link between sleep deprivation and skin aging
In a first-of-its-kind clinical trial, physician-scientists at University Hospitals Case Medical Center found that sleep quality impacts skin function and aging.

Wave of blue fluorescence reveals pathway of death in worms
The final biological events in the life of a worm are described today in a study part-funded by the Wellcome Trust, revealing how death spreads like a wave from cell to cell until the whole organism is dead.

Researchers unravel secrets of mussels' clinginess
Understanding the strength of the shellfish's underwater attachments could enable better glues and biomedical interfaces.

A new player in brain disease and stroke
Research that shows how cells respond to brain damage may lead to a new treatment for stroke and neurodegenerative diseases.

Survey assesses views of physicians regarding controlling health care costs
In a survey of about 2,500 US physicians on their perceived role in addressing health care costs, they reported having some responsibility to address health care costs in their practice and expressed general agreement with quality initiatives that may also reduce cost, but expressed less enthusiasm for cost containment involving changes in payment models, according to a study in the July 24/31 issue of JAMA.

Mayo Clinic-led study: US physicians, patients' best interests, health care costs
A new study of attitudes about health care costs reveals that an overwhelming majority of US physicians feel a responsibility to address costs, but prioritize their obligations to patients' best interests over cost concerns.

Face identification accuracy is in the eye (and brain) of the beholder, UCSB researchers say
Though humans generally have a tendency to look at a region just below the eyes and above the nose toward the midline when first identifying another person, a small subset of people tend to look further down -- at the tip of the nose, for instance, or at the mouth.

Emergency response could be faster, better, and more confident with 'option awareness' approach
In a paper on decision making, human factors/ergonomics researchers found that choosing the best available emergency response could be improved by showing decision makers a depiction of the emergency decision space that allows them to compare their options visually.

Serum Institute of India acquires rights to German TB vaccine
Hopes are high for an improved tuberculosis vaccine: Serum Institute of India is taking a promising vaccine developed in Germany and introducing it into the clinical setting.

Oxygen -- key to most life -- decelerates many cancer tumors when combined with radiation therapy
A multidisciplinary team at UT Southwestern Medical Center has found that measuring the oxygenation of tumors can be a valuable tool in guiding radiation therapy, opening the door for personalized therapies that keep tumors in check with oxygen enhancement.

MU, K-State research team collaborate to save the bacon
A research team from the University of Missouri and Kansas State University has been working to find a cure for a specific virus that affects pigs and costs the hog industry $800 million annually.

Athletes need to be careful to monitor diet, weight to maintain muscle mass
Athletes seeking a healthy performance weight should eat high fiber, low-fat food balanced with their training regimen in order to maintain muscle while still burning fat, according to a report by an Oregon State University researcher.

Digital PCR technology detects brain-tumor-associated mutation in cerebrospinal fluid
Massachusetts General Hospital researchers and their colleagues have used digital versions of a standard molecular biology tool to detect a common tumor-associated mutation in the cerebrospinal fluid of patients with brain tumors.

Non-toxic flame retardants
Flame retardants are often extremely harmful to health. Despite this, they are found in many types of synthetic materials which would otherwise ignite quickly.

Pre-clinical animal research must improve
Less than five percent of promising basic science discoveries that claim clinical relevance lead to approved drugs within a decade, partly because of flawed pre-clinical animal research.

Researchers develop new approach for studying deadly brain cancer
Human glioblastoma multiforme, one of the most common, aggressive and deadly forms of brain cancer, is notoriously difficult to study.

Populations of grassland butterflies decline almost 50 percent over 2 decades
Grassland butterflies have declined dramatically between 1990 and 2011. This has been caused by intensifying agriculture and a failure to properly manage grassland ecosystems, according to a report from the European Environment Agency.

Genetic testing improved student learning in personalized medicine class, Stanford study finds
Students who had their genome tested as part of a groundbreaking medical school course on personalized medicine improved their knowledge of the class materials by an average of 31 percent compared with those who didn't undergo the testing, according to a study by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

Concerted proton hopping in water
A new model sheds further light on the Grotthuss mechanism.

Report documents organ transplantation as source of fatal rabies virus case
An investigation into the source of a fatal case of raccoon rabies virus exposure indicates the individual received the virus via a kidney transplant 18 months earlier, findings suggesting that rabies transmitted by this route may have a long incubation period, and that although solid organ transplant transmission of infectious encephalitis is rare, further education to increase awareness is needed, according to a study in the July 24/31 issue of JAMA.

Routine exposure of recurrent laryngeal nerve in thyroid surgery can prevent nerve injury
Routine exposure of recurrent laryngeal nerve in thyroid surgery can prevent nerve injury.

Valley networks suggest ancient snowfall on Mars
Researchers at Brown University have shown that some Martian valleys appear to have been caused by runoff from orographic precipitation -- moisture carried part of the way up a mountain and deposited on the slopes.

Male guppies ensure successful mating with genital claws
Some males will go to great lengths to pursue a female and take extreme measures to hold on once they find one that interests them, even if that affection is unrequited.

Bee faithful? Plant-pollinator relationships compromised when bee species decline
Remove even one bumblebee species from an ecosystem and the effect is swift and clear: Pollination is less effective, and plants produce significantly fewer seeds.

Frontiers news briefs: July 23
This week's news briefs include: a major evolutionary transition in the development of grasses; children with dyscalculia; genetic variation in the oxytocin receptor; and why are menthol cigarettes more addictive?

Building a good-neighbor policy between livestock industry and communities
Economist Peter Goldsmith has extensively studied the economic benefits of the livestock industry in Illinois, but it wasn't until he attended a public hearing proposing the siting of a large livestock facility and heard the comments from members of the community, that he realized the need for new strategies that would elevate the conversation and meet the needs of everyone involved.

Harvesting electricity from the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide
A new method for producing electricity from carbon dioxide could be the start of a classic trash-to-treasure story for the troublesome greenhouse gas, scientists are reporting.

Significant other's excessive fears can compromise patient's recovery from SAH
Researchers from Durham University and Kings College London and the University of Erlangen-Nuernberg found that patients who have suffered a subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) may not recover psychosocially as well as expected if their significant other is excessively fearful about the possibility of SAH recurrence.

'Dead' gene comes to life, puts chill on inflammation, Stanford researchers find
A gene long presumed dead comes to life under the full moon of inflammation, Stanford University School of Medicine scientists have found.

Major cities often the safest places in the US, Penn Medicine study finds
Overturning a commonly-held belief that cities are inherently more dangerous than suburban and rural communities, researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia have found that risk of death from injuries is lowest on average in urban counties compared to suburban and rural counties across the US.

With NSF grant, Boston College professor cultivates a 'green collar' workforce
With a $1.2 million NSF grant, Lynch School of Education Associate Professor Mike Barnett, Boston College colleagues and community groups use innovative indoor gardening technology to foster social entrepreneurship among Boston high school students.

Optimists better at regulating stress
It's no surprise that those who tend to see a rose's blooms before its thorns are also better at handling stress.

Choosing a wave could accelerate airplane maintenance
Ultrasonic waves can find bubbles and cracks in adhesive bonds holding airplane composite parts together, and now aerospace engineers can select the best frequencies to detect adhesive failures in hard-to-reach places more quickly, thanks to Penn State researchers.

Pathways activated in most K9 bone tumors not driving the worst bone tumors
CU Cancer Center and CSU Flint Animal Cancer Center study shows NOTCH signaling was elevated in K9 osteosarcoma, but aspects of Notch signaling were noticeably deactivated in the worst cancers.

Pain of artificial legs could be eased by real-time monitoring
University of Washington engineers have developed a device that tracks how much a person's limb swells and shrinks when inside a prosthetic socket.

Purple bacteria on Earth could survive alien light
Purple bacteria contain pigments that allow them to use sunlight as their source of energy, hence their color.

Want to be safe? Move to the City. No, really.
Large cities in the U.S. are significantly safer than their rural counterparts, with the risk of injury death more than 20 percent higher in the country.

Fred Hutch team receives $4M from NCI to develop precision cancer treatments
A research team headed by Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center scientists Christopher Kemp, Ph.D., and Carla Grandori, M.D., Ph.D., has received a $4 million grant from the National Cancer Institute to develop precision therapies that selectively kill cancer cells while sparing normal, healthy tissue.

NSF grants enhance science and engineering research capacity across the nation
The National Science Foundation today announced funding for four projects aimed at fostering world-class research through regional improvements to research infrastructure.

Keeping centrioles in check to ensure proper cell division
How cell division occurs and is coordinated with organismal development is subject of intense research interest, as is how this process malfunctions in the development of tumors.

Sharing data with providers associated with plummeting rates of unnecessary medical tests in Sweden
The rate of inappropriate cancer scans for low-risk prostate cancer patients in Sweden plummeted in the decade following a joint campaign to curtail such tests, suggest that curtailing unneeded medical tests, an urgent healthcare policy goal in the United States highlighted in the Choosing Wisely Campaign, among other initiatives, is achievable, says Danil V.

6 months of computing time generates detailed portrait of cloth behavior
It would be impossible to compute all of the ways a piece of cloth might shift, fold and drape over a moving human figure.

Targeting the difficult problem of C. difficle
Microbiologist and molecular geneticist Aimee Shen, Ph.D., was named by The Pew Charitable Trusts as its

NTU and Rolls-Royce in S$75 million tie-up
Eight years after their first research partnership, Nanyang Technological University and Rolls-Royce are taking their research alliance to greater heights with a new multi-million dollar collaboration.

BUSM/BMC researcher receives NIH grant to study gonococcal vaccine development
Lee Wetzler, MD, an attending physician in the department of infectious diseases at Boston Medical Center and associate program director for research in the section of infectious diseases at Boston University School of Medicine, was awarded a four-year, $2.35 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to study the development of a gonococcal vaccine.

How does the motor relearning program improve neurological function of brain ischemia?
How does the motor relearning program improve neurological function of brain ischemia?

Barriers to interventions to prevent malaria in pregnancy similar across sub-Saharan Africa
The main barriers to the access, delivery, and use of interventions that help to prevent malaria in pregnant women are relatively consistent across sub-Saharan African countries and may provide a helpful checklist to identify the factors influencing uptake of these important interventions, according to a study published in this week's PLOS Medicine.

Kidney stones associated with modest increased risk of coronary heart disease in women, but not men
An analysis of data from three studies that involved a total of more than 240,000 participants found that a self-reported history of kidney stones was associated with a statistically significant increased risk of coronary heart disease among women but no significant association was evident for men, according to a study in the July 24/31 issue of JAMA.

New strategy for fiber tracking in human brain
This focuses on a new strategy for fiber tracking in human brain.

Faster, simpler diagnosis for fibromyalgia may be on the horizon
Researchers have developed a reliable way to use a finger-stick blood sample to detect fibromyalgia syndrome, a complicated pain disorder that often is difficult to diagnose.

A ginkgo biloba extract promotes proliferation of endogenous neural stem cells
Neural stem cells proliferate in the subventricular zone and hippocampal dentate gyrus of adult mammals.

Mount Sinai researchers identify vulnerabilities of the deadly Ebola virus
Disabling a protein in Ebola virus cells can stop the virus from replicating and infecting the host, according to researchers from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

Wave of blue fluorescence reveals pathway of death in worms
The final biological events in the life of a worm are described in a new article, published July 23 in the open access journal PLOS Biology.

People with diabetes have at least 50 percent increased risk of physical disability
Older adults with diabetes are at least 50% more likely to have a physical disability than those without diabetes, according to the results of a new systematic review and meta-analysis published in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology.

Louisiana Tech receives NASA EPSCoR, Board of Regents grant to lead research
Louisiana Tech University will receive over $1.4 million in grant funding from NASA's Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research, through an award to the Louisiana Board of Regents, to serve as the lead institution for research that investigates how high doses of space radiation during extended duration space missions will affect astronauts.

Ecology in agricultural landscapes: Seeking solutions for food, water, wildlife
Agriculture alters the landscape more than any other human activity, with trickle-down effects on water, soil, climate, plant and wildlife diversity, wildfire, and human health.

University of Tennessee professors explore end-of-life needs for HIV/AIDS patients
Approximately 10,000 Americans die with an HIV/AIDS diagnosis each year, and many of these patients lack access to the care they need at the end of their lives.

Brain picks out salient sounds from background noise by tracking frequency and time, study finds
New research reveals how our brains are able to pick out important sounds from the noisy world around us.

Atmospheric rivers set to increase UK winter flooding
The prolonged heat wave that has bathed the UK in sunshine over the past month has given the country an unexpected taste of summer that has seemed to be missing in recent years.

Mount Sinai researchers discover mechanism behind development of autoimmune hepatitis
A gene mutation disrupts the activity of certain immune cells and causes the immune system to erroneously attack the liver, according to a new animal study from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

Team led by University of Leicester sets new record for cosmic X-ray sightings
This release focuses on exploring the extreme Universe with a rich new resource.

Difference in breast cancer survival between black and white women has not changed substantially
In an analysis of five-year survival rates among black and white women diagnosed with breast cancer between 1991 and 2005, black women continued to have a lower rate of survival, with most of the difference related to factors including poorer health of black patients at diagnosis and more advanced disease, rather than treatment differences, according to a study in the July 24/31 issue of JAMA.

Wayne State receives NSF grant to develop plan for field-based water research center
Wayne State University researchers announced today a $25,000 planning grant from the National Science Foundation to develop a strategic plan for a field-based water research center.

U of M researchers unveil nation's first porcine virus rapid detection test
Mere months after porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV) was first confirmed in the United States swine population, University of Minnesota researchers have developed a PEDV rapid diagnostic test.

Researchers reveal the clearest new pictures of immune cells
Scientists from The University of Manchester have revealed new images which provide the clearest picture yet of how white blood immune cells attack viral infections and tumors.

Between B cells and T cells
Mature cells develop through a number of immature stages. During this process, they must remember the specialization they are committed to.

A new weapon against stroke
Stem cell research for stroke has focused on developing therapeutic neurons -- the primary movers of electrical impulses in the brain -- to repair tissue damaged when oxygen to the brain is limited by a blood clot or break in a vessel.

Oldest European fort in the inland US discovered in Appalachians
The remains of the earliest European fort in the interior of what is now the United States have been discovered by a team of archaeologists, providing new insight into the start of the US colonial era and the all-too-human reasons spoiling Spanish dreams of gold and glory.

Physical inactivity, poor diet and smoking linked to disability in older population
An unhealthy lifestyle is associated with a greater likelihood of developing disability over the age of 65, with the risk increasing progressively with the number of unhealthy behaviors, suggests a paper published on today.

Devastating long-distance impact of earthquakes
In 2006 the island of Java, Indonesia was struck by a devastating earthquake followed by the onset of a mud eruption to the east, flooding villages and that continues to erupt today.

Environmental toxins enter the brain tissue of polar bears
Scientists from Denmark and Canada are worried by their new findings showing that several bioaccumulative perfluoroalkyl substancesare crossing the blood brain barrier of polar bears from Scoresby Sound, East Greenland.

Cannabis constituent has no effect on MS progression, study shows
The first large non-commercial clinical study to investigate whether the main active constituent of cannabis (tetrahydrocannabinol or THC) is effective in slowing the course of progressive multiple sclerosis, shows that there is no evidence to suggest this; although benefits were noted for those at the lower end of the disability scale.

Perfecting digital imaging
Three Harvard papers presented at SIGGRAPH this week aim to improve computer graphics and display technologies!

HudsonAlpha awarded grant to improve diagnoses of childhood genetic disorders
Even in the absence of a ready solution, knowing why a child faces physical, emotional and intellectual challenges is helpful to physicians and families.

India is latest to partner with NSF through GROW
National Science Foundation Acting Director Cora B. Marrett has signed a new research partnership with T.K.

Natural pest control protein effective against hookworm: A billion could benefit
A benign crystal protein, produced naturally by bacteria and used as an organic pesticide, could be a safe, inexpensive treatment for parasitic worms in humans and provide effective relief to over a billion people around the world.

NPY and leptin receptor in the hypothalamus of rats with chronic immobilization stress
A recent study entitled

Study: No link between mercury exposure and autism-like behaviors
The potential impact of exposure to low levels of mercury on the developing brain -- specifically by women consuming fish during pregnancy -- has long been the source of concern and some have argued that the chemical may be responsible for behavioral disorders such as autism.

Researcher develops peer-led program to help individuals with HIV adhere to treatment plans
A nursing researcher at the University of Missouri has developed a peer-led intervention that helps individuals with HIV adhere to their treatment plans that can improve their quality of life.

Increasing incidence of Type 1 diabetes among children in Finland appears to have leveled off
The encouraging observation in this study is that the incidence of T1D in Finnish children younger than 15 years has ceased to increase after a period of accelerated increase.

Controlling genes with light
A new technology developed at MIT and the Broad Institute can rapidly start or halt the expression of any gene of interest simply by shining light on the cells.

Mechanical tension promotes nerve regeneration of skin pathological scars
Mechanical tension promotes nerve regeneration of skin pathological scars.

NIH funds new grants exploring use of genome sequencing in patient care
The National Institutes of Health has awarded four grants for up to four years to multidisciplinary research teams to explore the use of genome sequencing in medical care.

When bar fights get mean, bystanders intervene
People are more likely to try to break up a bar fight when they believe the conflict is too violent, or has the potential to become more violent, according to an international team of researchers. 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