The NIH has funded a five-year, $21 million Integrative Neuroscience Initiative on Alcoholism grant to support a multi-site consortium led by Oregon Health & Science University researchers Kathleen A. Grant and Betsy Ferguson. The grant represents the second competitive renewal for the INIA consortium (founded in 2001), which is made up of 15 lead investigators from 10 institutions in the United States and Europe. OHSU's share of the current funding is $6.3M. Dr. Grant is the head of neuroscience at the Oregon National Primate Research Center (ONPRC), where Dr. Ferguson is an associate scientist. The Division of Neuroscience at the ONPRC conducts research aimed at identifying and defining fundamental aspects of the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying nervous system function.
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There is still no magic pill for the two-thirds of Americans who are overweight, but research into the cellular mechanism of fat production is turning up promising avenues for therapeutics that are closer than you might think. We mentioned "good brown fat" in a recent article on hormone research at Harvard. Scientists in the Diabetes Center and the Department of Cell and Tissue Biology at the University of California San Francisco, Parnassus Campus, are also looking at brown fat production as a treatment for obesity.
Dr. Carlos Bustamante came to the United States from Peru on a Fulbright Scholarship in 1975. He studied and received his degree at the University of California Berkeley, where he worked with his mentor, Ignacio Tinoco, in Biophysics. He returned to UC Berkeley as a professor of Molecular and Cell Biology in 1998 and has continued his groundbreaking work on single-molecule manipulation studies as a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator leading a vibrant lab group with branches in the QB3 Institute, Berkeley Lab (LBNL), and the Physics Department at UC Berkeley. Now Dr. Bustamante is being honored with the 2012 Vilcek Prize in Biomedical Science, which is awarded each year to an outstanding foreign-born scientist working in the US. The honor is accompanied by $100,000 and a unique trophy (see right, courtesy of the Vilcek Foundation).
"There has been a feeling in the field that exercise 'talks to' various tissues in the body, but the question has been, how?"
Imagine a machine not-unrelated to the inkjet printer on your desk being able to create living organs, tissue and joints for transplant. It’s called bioprinting, and while it’s not going to happen tomorrow, research at major labs across the country indicates it is definitely the future. One of those labs is run by Dr. Ibrahim Ozbolat at the University of Iowa, who teaches in the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering and does research with the Center for Computer-Aided Design's Biomanufacturing Laboratory. In an article published in the January 2012 issue of Mechanical Engineering Magazine (MEM) entitled “Printed Life,” Dr. Ozbolat’s research on microfluidic vessel-like containers to house the printed cells and the fascinating world of 3-D bioprinting are explored in depth. [Photo of Dr. Ozbolat courtesy of University of Iowa]
Germany has a long and illustrious history in photo-optics and many of its young scientists come to the U.S., and specifically to the University of California, San Francisco, to do their doctoral and post-doc work involving microscopy. Such was the case of Dr. Jan Huisken, who developed mSPIM technology while working in the UCSF biochemistry lab of Dr. Didier Stainier as a post-doc from 2005-2009.
What happens when you bring together a pathologist with a group of computer scientists specializing in quantitative light imaging? In the recent case of research colleagues at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), you get a very promising solution to the problem of analyzing large groups of red blood cells for abnormalities that may point to serious diseases such as sickle cell anemia and malaria.
In perhaps the crowning achievement of a decade of work, a group of Harvard University researchers have identified the specific protein responsible for calcium absorption in mitochondria, solving a long-standing and crucial problem for our understanding of an essential cellular component.
Drawing on resources such as "the Human Genome Project, freely downloadable genomic databases, and a few tricks," as Vamsi Mootha, the project leader and associate professor of systems biology at Harvard Medical School, put it, the project represents a significant step forward for the field and should open the door to treatment of a number of diseases thought to be related to calcium deficiency in mitochondria. Particularly remarkable about the study is its synthesis of recently-developed cellular and genomic technologies to solve the problem.