The Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences

News Archive

Sun remains the best source of vitamin D

Dr. J. Lynne Brown debunks supplementation hype.

Studies indicate associations between higher vitamin D intake and lower
risk of colorectal, prostate and breast cancers, as well as
cardiovascular disease, type-1 diabetes and autoimmune diseases such as
rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis and Crohn’s disease.

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Penn State offers pioneering dual-title bioethics graduate program

New doctoral degree is the first of its kind in the U.S.

A bold move toward addressing the complex socioethical underpinnings and implications of advances in biomedical research, clinical practice and public health policy, the new program will allow students to combine the study of bioethics with other academic disciplines in order to investigate solut

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Penn State's new Millennium Science Complex is a paradigm without precedent

If you were told it was "state of the art," you might compare it to past paragons of the phrase; if you experienced it firsthand, you would see that it redefines the phrase entirely.

By: Seth Palmer

This is a place of bold new ideas and innovative approaches to interdisciplinary science – an energetic interface between the conceptual and the tangible, where potential is being made real.

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Sustainability of Pennsylvania forests at risk

Dr. Jim Finley discusses the USDA Forest Service report.

According to the USDA Forest Service Report on Sustainable Forests and Penn State professor Jim Finley, although the overall health and productivity of the nation's forests appear to be relatively stable, there are still three serious issues affecting the future of woodlands in Pennsylvania and t

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Former Huck Institutes director in New York Times

Dr. Nina Fedoroff, "Engineering Food for All."

The op-ed article was featured August 18, 2011 in the digital edition of the New York Times, and was printed in the New York edition on August 19.

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Huck Institutes to host 2nd Annual Bioinformatics and Genomics Retreat - September 16th & 17th, 2011

Keynote speaker Dr. Richard Edward Green. Visionary talk and panel discussion. Poster sessions. Research presentations. Open to all Penn State faculty, postdocs, students, and staff. Registration is free!

Dr. Richard Edward Green on "Human evolution revealed by extinct hominin genomes."

Panel discussion on "What will it take for genomics to do good?"

Event runs from 4:00pm Friday until 6:00pm Saturday.

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Inhibiting enzymes increases success in treatment of resistant tumors

Dr. Wafik El-Deiry and his team of researchers at the College of Medicine in Hershey have recently discovered that treating hypoxic tumors in lab mice with the drug sangivamycin-like molecule 3 (SLM3) helps to keep the cancerous cells from multiplying.

Dr.

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Ancient bones yield clues about polar bears' ancestry

After analyzing DNA samples from ancient bear bones, a team of scientists including Penn State professor and biologist Beth Shapiro suggests that the polar bears we know today actually descended from a brown bear matriline in Ireland during the last Ice Age.

While nuclear DNA analysis pointed to an evolutionary divergence of the two species nearly a million years ago, the team's analysis of mitochondrial DNA samples indicated that another such split had happened more recently — perhaps only 20- or 30,000 years ago.

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Scientists sequence genomes of Tasmanian devil and rare, contagious cancer

A multi-national team of scientists led by Penn State professors Stephan Schuster and Webb Miller, and Vanessa Hayes of the Venter Institute in San Diego has successfully sequenced the genomes of two Tasmanian devils and a rapidly spreading, contagious cancer known as Devil Facial Tumor Disease (DFTD).

Transferred directly from one individual to another through biting, mating, or even touching, DFTD has spread so voraciously that it now threatens the Tasmanian devil with extinction, despite its initial discovery less than two decades ago.

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Graduate students needed for NIH Training Grant in Animal Models of Inflammation

Applications are being accepted for the four positions available as part of the NIH training grant awarded to Penn State for research in animal models of inflammation.

Graduate student Ph.D. applicants at University Park are invited to
apply for one of four positions expected to be awarded beginning the
Fall semester 2011.

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Increased Next-Generation Sequencing Capacity

The Genomics Core Facility at University Park has increased its next-generation sequencing capacity with the addition of an Ion PGM by Ion Torrent and by upgrading their existing SOLiD 4 to the 5500xl SOLiD system.

These new systems join the existing long read GS FLX 454 sequencer and give Penn State researchers broad access to next-generation sequencing applications.

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New mass spectrometry equipment empowers proteomics research at Penn State

A new high resolution mass spectrometer will provide high-end proteomics capabilities to researchers at all Penn State campuses.

The Huck Institutes’ Proteomics Core Facility has taken delivery of a state of the art, high resolution mass spectrometer to provide high end proteomics capabilities to scientists across all of the Penn State campuses.

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Unexpected Discovery Reveals Key Protein Plays a Crucial Role in Regeneration of Injured Nerve Cells

New research conducted by a Penn State research team, sheds light on the mechanism by which damaged nerve cells are repaired. Their findings point to the impact of a motor protein, Kinesin-2, in steering the successful growth and organization of the polarized microtubule arrays contained within neurons.

Healthy human nerve cells, or neurons, are meant to last a lifetime. Unlike most cells in the body, neurons cannot be replaced by new cells after experiencing damage caused by disease or injury. This means they must be experts at repairing or rebuilding themselves.

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Reversing autism in a petri dish

Using stem cells taken from the skin of patients with Rett syndrome - the most physically disabling of the autism disorders researchers replicated autism in the lab, identified disease-specific cellular defects, and demonstrated that these defects are reversible. The results raise the hope that, one day, autism may become a treatable condition.

The research team, including Gong Chen of the Huck Institutes and the Department of Biology, developed a culture system using pluripotent stem cells from patient fibroblasts to generate functional neurons.

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Students spread flu with thousands of close encounters

On a typical day, high school students engage more than 760,000 social interactions that can spread an infectious disease, according to researchers, who suggest that using social contact networks to devise immunization strategies would be more effective than random vaccination campaigns.

Most infectious diseases, including those with the greatest potential to become pandemics, are spread when droplets from an infected individual find their way to others in close proximity.

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Loss of species increases infectious disease risk

As biodiversity declines, the emergence and transmission of infectious diseases increases, according to a review of current experimental data published this month in Nature. In an age of unprecedented species extinction rates, it is urgent that the biodiversity of natural ecosystems be preserved to protect humans from increasing pathogenic threats.

Since 1970, global population sizes of birds, mammals, amphibians, reptiles and fish have declined almost 30%; 12% of birds, 23% of mammals, 32% of amphibians, 31% of gymnosperms and 33% of corals are currently threatened with extinction.

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Researchers propose new cause of major depressive disorder

GABAergic deficits appear to play a central and causal role in Major Depressive Disorder, a neuropsychiatric disorder affecting approximately 17% of the population worldwide, according to researchers from the Center for Molecular Investigation of Neurological Disorders.

Drawing on a wide body of research including both older and emerging evidence, the researchers propose that mood disorders result from both genetic and stress-induced deficits in GABAergic transmission and that the current therapeutic approaches are effective as a result of downstream alterations

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Computations 19x faster with new adaptive algorithm

Researchers using a new algorithmic process for a heuristic embedding strategy they call "Adaptive GDDA-BLAST" can now see the results of their computations 19 times faster than with their previous computational method. The new method has the added benefits of detecting structural homology in highly divergent protein sequences and isolating secondary structural elements of transmembrane and ankyrin-repeat domains, with possibly wide-ranging impacts on human health and disease studies.

One of the major challenges faced by biologists is how to identify the relation between highly divergent protein sequences.

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Institute for CyberScience Faculty Fellows Program

The ICS Faculty Fellows Program is now accepting applications for 2011 for internal funding.

The Institute for CyberScience (ICS) Faculty Fellows Program is designed to support ICS faculty in their development of interdisciplinary collaborations for cyber-enabled discovery and innovation.

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Huck Institutes' graduate programs ranked among the nation's best

Three of the Huck Institutes' graduate programs were ranked among the nation's best in the latest report from the National Research Council (NRC). The NRC study ranked 5,000 doctoral programs from 212 universities in over 60 fields.

The National Research Council recently ranked the Huck Institutes’ Plant Biology,

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