Current Illinois News and Events

Current Illinois News and Events, Illinois News Articles.
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Direct cloning method CAPTUREs novel microbial natural products
Microorganisms possess natural product biosynthetic gene clusters (BGCs) that may harbor unique bioactivities for use in drug development and agricultural applications. However, many uncharacterized microbial BGCs remain inaccessible. Researchers at Illinois previously demonstrated a technique using transcription factor decoys to activate large, silent BGCs in bacteria to aid in natural product discovery. (2021-02-19)

Study: Preschoolers with higher cardiorespiratory fitness do better on cognitive tests
Researchers report that 4-6-year-old children who walk further than their peers during a timed test - a method used to estimate cardiorespiratory health - also do better on cognitive tests and other measures of brain function. Published in the Journal of Clinical Medicine, the study suggests that the link between cardiorespiratory fitness and cognitive health is evident even earlier in life than previously appreciated. (2021-02-18)

3D microscopy clarifies understanding of body's immune response to obesity
Researchers who focus on fat know that some adipose tissue is more prone to inflammation-related comorbidities than others, but the reasons why are not well understood. Thanks to a new analytical technique, scientists are getting a clearer view of the microenvironments found within adipose tissue associated with obesity. This advance may illuminate why some adipose tissues are more prone to inflammation - leading to diseases like type 2 diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular disorders - and help direct future drug therapies to treat obesity. (2021-02-17)

Lipid epoxides target pain, inflammatory pathways in neurons
When modified using a process known as epoxidation, two naturally occurring lipids are converted into potent agents that target multiple cannabinoid receptors in neurons, interrupting pathways that promote pain and inflammation, researchers report. These modified compounds, called epo-NA5HT and epo-NADA, have much more powerful effects than the molecules from which they are derived, which also regulate pain and inflammation. (2021-02-10)

Traffic reductions due to COVID-19 boost air quality in some states but not all
Dramatic decreases in traffic caused by COVID-19 shutdowns improved air quality in car-dependent states but didn't offset additional forms of pollution in other parts of the country. (2021-02-10)

Variable weather makes weeds harder to whack
From flooded spring fields to summer hailstorms and drought, farmers are well aware the weather is changing. It often means spring planting can't happen on time or has to happen twice to make up for catastrophic losses of young seedlings. According to a joint study between University of Illinois and USDA-ARS, it also means common pre-emergence herbicides are less effective. (2021-02-08)

Mysterious organic scum boosts chemical reaction efficiency, may reduce chemical waste
Chemical manufacturers frequently use toxic solvents such as alcohols and benzene to make products like pharmaceuticals and plastics. Researchers are examining a previously overlooked and misunderstood phenomenon in the chemical reactions used to make these products. This discovery brings a new fundamental understanding of catalytic chemistry and a steppingstone to practical applications that could someday make chemical manufacturing less wasteful and more environmentally sound. (2021-02-04)

Ensuring healthy family mealtimes is important - and complicated
Mealtimes are a central aspect of family life, affecting the health and wellbeing of both children and adults. Although the benefits of healthy mealtimes are straightforward, helping all families realize those benefits is quite complicated, new research from University of Illinois shows. (2021-02-04)

Feed Fido fresh human-grade dog food to scoop less poop
For decades, kibble has been our go-to diet for dogs. But the dog food marketplace has exploded in recent years, with grain-free, fresh, and now human-grade offerings crowding the shelves. All commercial dog foods must meet standards for complete and balanced nutrition, so how do consumers know what to choose? (2021-02-03)

New research investigates relationship between health literacy and self-care
It is important for patients to understand the necessary information for making health decisions, yet studies have shown that a large segment of the population lacks the health literacy to do so. Jessie Chin, School of Information Sciences at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and colleagues have investigated the relationship between health literacy and ''actionable memory,'' or memory for medication purposes, among diabetic patients. They report their results in the Journal of General Internal Medicine. (2021-02-02)

Childhood trauma could affect development, treatment of multiple sclerosis
Childhood trauma could affect the trajectory of multiple sclerosis development and response to treatment in adulthood, a new study in mice found. Mice that had experienced stress when young were more likely to develop the autoimmune disorder and less likely to respond to a common treatment, researchers at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign found. However, treatment that activated an immune-cell receptor mitigated the effects of childhood stress in the mice. (2021-01-29)

Rumen additive and controlled energy benefit dairy cows during dry period
Getting nutrition right during a dairy cow's dry period can make a big difference to her health and the health of her calf. But it's also a key contributor to her milk yield after calving. New research from the University of Illinois shows diets containing consistent energy levels and the rumen-boosting supplement monensin may be ideal during the dry period. (2021-01-28)

Genome-editing tool TALEN outperforms CRISPR-Cas9 in tightly packed DNA
Researchers used single-molecule imaging to compare the genome-editing tools CRISPR-Cas9 and TALEN. Their experiments revealed that TALEN is up to five times more efficient than CRISPR-Cas9 in parts of the genome, called heterochromatin, that are densely packed. Fragile X syndrome, sickle cell anemia, beta-thalassemia and other diseases are the result of genetic defects in the heterochromatin. (2021-01-27)

Culture shapes willingness to share personal data to reduce COVID-19 spread
Culture, civic-mindedness and privacy concerns influence how willing people are to share personal location information to help stem the transmission of COVID-19 in their communities, a new study finds. Such sharing includes giving public health authorities access to their geographic information via data gathered from phone calls, mobile apps, credit card purchases, wristband trackers or other technologies. (2021-01-27)

Global analysis suggests COVID-19 is seasonal
With cities around the globe locking down yet again amid soaring COVID-19 numbers, could seasonality be partially to blame? New research from the University of Illinois says yes. In a paper published in Evolutionary Bioinformatics, Illinois researchers show COVID-19 cases and mortality rates, among other epidemiological metrics, are significantly correlated with temperature and latitude across 221 countries. (2021-01-27)

Beckman Institute MRI expertise aids research on hemodialysis therapy patients
Beckman Institute researchers at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign used a nonstandard magnetic resonance imaging to evaluate patients' response to a strategy to aid those with kidney failure undergoing hemodialysis therapy. (2021-01-27)

Medicaid expansion helps uncover undiagnosed HIV infections
Expanding eligibility for Medicaid, the federal-state health insurance program for low-income individuals, was associated with a 13.9% increase in HIV diagnoses, says new research co-written by Dolores Albarracín, a professor of psychology and of business administration at Illinois, and Bita Fayaz Farkhad, pictured, an economist and a postdoctoral researcher in psychology at Illinois. (2021-01-26)

Study: Negative mental health effects of pandemic lockdowns spike, then fade
Social distancing policies correlated with immediate increases in interest in information about 'isolation' and 'worry' - but those effects tapered off two to four weeks after their respective peaks, says new research co-written by Dolores Albarracín, a professor of psychology and of business administration at Illinois, and Bita Fayaz Farkhad (pictured), an economist and a postdoctoral researcher in psychology at Illinois. (2021-01-25)

Dairy calves benefit from higher-protein starter feed, Illinois study says
Dairy producers know early nutrition for young calves has far-reaching impacts, both for the long-term health and productivity of the animals and for farm profitability. With the goal of increasing not just body weight but also lean tissue gain, a new University of Illinois study finds enhanced milk replacer with high crude-protein dry starter feed is the winning combination. (2021-01-25)

Mechanism that produces rapid acceleration in clicking beetles identified
Snap-through unbending movement of the body is the main reason for the clicking beetle's fast acceleration. (2021-01-21)

50 million-year-old fossil assassin bug has unusually well-preserved genitalia
The fossilized insect is tiny and its genital capsule, called a pygophore, is roughly the length of a grain of rice. It is remarkable, scientists say, because the bug's physical characteristics -- from the bold banding pattern on its legs to the internal features of its genitalia -- are clearly visible and well-preserved. Recovered from the Green River Formation in present-day Colorado, the fossil represents a new genus and species of predatory insects known as assassin bugs. (2021-01-19)

Unlocking 'the shape of water' in mechanisms of antibiotic resistance
Researchers captured and comparted hi-res images of ribosome structures from sensitive and resistant bacteria and report that a water molecule needed for antibiotic binding was not present in the ribosomes from the drug-resistant bugs. (2021-01-19)

Latch, load and release: Elastic motion makes click beetles click, study finds
Click beetles can propel themselves more than 20 body lengths into the air, and they do so without using their legs. While the jump's motion has been studied in depth, the physical mechanisms that enable the beetles' signature clicking maneuver have not. A new study examines the forces behind this super-fast energy release and provides guidelines for studying extreme motion, energy storage and energy release in other small animals like trap-jaw ants and mantis shrimps. (2021-01-18)

Illinois researchers publish article describing Illinois RapidVent Emergency Ventilator
The design, testing, and validation of the Illinois RapidVent emergency ventilator has been published in the journal Plos One. The article, ''Emergency Ventilator for COVID-19,'' by University of Illinois Urbana researchers, is the first of its kind to report such details about an emergency ventilator that was designed, prototyped, and tested at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. (2021-01-15)

Pollinators not getting the 'buzz' they need in news coverage
A dramatic decline in pollinating insects threatens the global food supply, yet it's getting ''vanishingly low levels of attention'' in mainstream news, even compared to coverage of climate change. That's the conclusion of a study titled ''No buzz for bees,'' published this week in a special issue of PNAS. University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign researchers analyzed nearly 25 million news items from six prominent U.S. and global news sources using the university's massive Global News Index. (2021-01-13)

Illinois residents value strategies to improve water quality
Illinois residents value efforts to reduce watershed pollution, and they are willing to pay for environmental improvements, according to a new study from agricultural economists at the University of Illinois. (2021-01-13)

No-till practices in vulnerable areas significantly reduce soil erosion
Soil erosion is a major challenge in agricultural production. It affects soil quality and carries nutrient sediments that pollute waterways. While soil erosion is a naturally occurring process, agricultural activities such as conventional tilling exacerbate it. Farmers implementing no-till practices can significantly reduce soil erosion rates, a new University of Illinois study shows. (2021-01-12)

New process more efficiently recycles excess CO2 into fuel, study finds
For years, researchers have worked to repurpose excess atmospheric carbon dioxide into new chemicals, fuels and other products traditionally made from hydrocarbons harvested from fossil fuels. The recent push to mitigate the climactic effects of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere has chemists on their toes to find the most efficient means possible. A new study introduces an electrochemical reaction, enhanced by polymers, to improve CO2-to-ethylene conversion efficiency over previous attempts. (2021-01-11)

Study: Religion, psychology share methods for reducing distress
Religious people facing life crises rely on emotion-regulation strategies that psychologists also use, a new study finds. They look for positive ways of thinking about hardship, a practice known to psychologists as ''cognitive reappraisal.'' They also tend to have confidence in their ability to cope with difficulty, a trait called ''coping self-efficacy.'' Both have been shown to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. (2021-01-08)

What is surgical smoke and what can be done about it?
Surgical smoke poses a health risk to everyone in the operating room. Perioperative teams exposed to surgical smoke report twice as many respiratory health issues as the general public. The smoke can even contain viruses. Researchers suggest that policies and laws mandating the evacuation of surgical smoke from operating rooms are the best way to reduce the negative health impacts on perioperative staff as well as surgical patients. (2021-01-07)

Retracted scientific paper persists in new citations, study finds
University of Illinois information sciences professor Jodi Schneider is leading an effort to prevent the spread of retracted research. (2021-01-05)

New data-driven global climate model provides projections for urban environments
Cities only occupy about 3% of the Earth's total land surface, but they bear the burden of the human-perceived effects of global climate change, researchers said. Global climate models are set up for big-picture analysis, leaving urban areas poorly represented. In a new study, researchers take a closer look at how climate change affects cities by using data-driven statistical models combined with traditional process-driven physical climate models. (2021-01-04)

Sweetened beverage sales bounced back quickly after Cook County tax repealed
Following the repeal of the short-lived Cook County, Illinois Sweetened Beverage Tax, sales of sweetened beverages went right back to where they were before the tax went into place, according to a new study. (2021-01-04)

One in four doctors attacked, harassed on social media
The first known study to describe physician experiences with online harassment found one in four physicians report being personally attacked on social media, including being barraged by negative reviews, receiving coordinated harassment and threats at work, and having their personal information shared publicly. Some attacks were particularly disturbing, such as threats of rape and death. Although the data were collected before the COVID-19 outbreak, the findings highlight the intensity of online harassment before the pandemic, which has only intensified since the spring. (2021-01-04)

Flag leaves could help top off photosynthetic performance in rice
A team from the University of Illinois and the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) found that some flag leaves of different varieties of rice transform light and carbon dioxide into carbohydrates better than others, potentially opening new opportunities for breeding higher yielding rice varieties. (2020-12-29)

Beverage prices, volume sold after sweetened beverage tax repeal in Chicago's county
This observational study examined whether lasting change in sweetened beverage prices or the volume sold was associated with the implementation and repeal of a sweetened beverage tax in Cook County, Illinois, where Chicago is. (2020-12-28)

Disposable surgical masks best for being heard clearly when speaking, study finds
Researcher Ryan Corey recently heard from a friend who teaches at a school where some of the students have hearing loss. The friend wanted to know if he had any ideas to help her communicate with these students while wearing a mask to slow the spread of COVID-19. Corey, who also has hearing loss, did not know what to tell her. So, he headed to the Illinois Augmented Listening Laboratory to look for solutions. (2020-12-23)

Brain gene expression patterns predict behavior of individual honey bees
An unusual study that involved bar coding and tracking the behavior of thousands of individual honey bees in six queenless bee hives and analyzing gene expression in their brains offers new insights into how gene regulation contributes to social behavior. (2020-12-22)

Model predicts where ticks, Lyme disease will appear next in Midwest states
By drawing from decades of studies, scientists created a timeline marking the arrival of black-legged ticks, also known as deer ticks, in hundreds of counties across 10 Midwestern states. They used these data - along with an analysis of county-level landscape features associated with the spread of ticks - to build a model that can predict where ticks are likely to appear in future years. (2020-12-22)

Light signal emitted during photosynthesis used to quickly screen crops
University of Illinois researchers have revealed a new approach to estimate the photosynthetic capacity of crops to pinpoint their top-performing traits and speed up the plant screening process, according to a new study in the Journal of Experimental Botany(2020-12-21)

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