Welcome in the Newsletter of the French Office for Science and Technology in Los Angeles!
This month is the last chance to apply to work as an ambassador for doctoral study in the EU. Ambassador’s network is seeking applicants with a doctoral degree, who are knowledgeable about doctoral education in Europe, to serve as ambassadors to promote doctoral study in the EU. PromoDoc Ambassadors will advise prospective U.S. And Canadian students on applying for doctoral studies in the EU. Applicants may be of any nationality but must be based in the U.S. or Canada from September 2012-October 2013. For further information and to apply please visit http://www.promodoc.eu/ambassadors-network. The application deadline is April 30, 2012.
This month also marks the deadline to apply for Life Sciences: Inventing – Creating – Having fun. The Office of Science & Technology of the Embassy of France will financially support French teams that participate in scientific competitions, contests or games organized by the U.S. and specializing in the life sciences. At least half of a team’s members must be French to be eligible or French participants may also participate individually. For further information or to apply please visit http://france-science.org/Call-for-projects-LIFE-SCIENCES.html The deadline for applications is April 15, 2012.
Thank you and bonne lecture!
Fabien Agenes, Scientific Attaché
Manon Lecomte, Deputy Scientific Attaché
Colleen O’Brien, Science and Technology Intern
March 1, 2012: Parkinson’s disease stopped in animal model
Millions of people suffer from Parkinson’s disease, a disorder of the nervous system that affects movement and worsens over time. As the world’s population ages, it’s estimated that the number of people with the disease will rise sharply. Yet despite several effective therapies that treat Parkinson’s symptoms, nothing slows its progression. While it’s not known what exactly causes the disease, evidence points to one particular culprit: a protein called α-synuclein. The protein, which has been found to be common to all patients with Parkinson’s, is thought to be a pathway to the disease when it binds together in "clumps," or aggregates, and becomes toxic, killing the brain’s neurons. While these aggregates are a natural target for a drug, finding a therapy that targets only the aggregates is a complicated process. In Parkinson’s, for example, the protein implicated in the disorder, α-synuclein, is naturally ubiquitous throughout the brain. To access the full article:
March 2, 2012: Geologists Unearth a Warning From the Past
Too much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will make the oceans more acidic and imperil key parts of the marine food chain - it has happened before and can happen again, scientists warn. “What we’re doing today really stands out,” said lead author Bärbel Hönisch, a paleoceanographer at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. “We know that life during past ocean acidification events was not wiped out - new species evolved to replace those that died off. But if industrial carbon emissions continue at the current pace, we may lose organisms we care about - coral reefs, oysters, salmon.” As the quantity of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere increases, more of it is absorbed by the world’s oceans. Carbon dioxide and water bind together to create carbonic acid, which is used to make soft drinks bubbly though it also makes water more acidic. Increasing the dissolved carbon dioxide in the ocean leads to a drop in ocean pH. The average ocean pH already has dropped from 8.2 to 8.1 since the industrial revolution and may decrease another 0.2 to 0.3 pH units by the end of this century. The problem is that greater acidity (lower pH) affects some of the keystone species of the ocean - coral reefs, mussels and clams, whose hard shells are dissolved by carbonic acid. They react much the same as a tooth that is left to sit in a glass of cola. Further, changing the pH of the ocean also affects nutrients like nitrogen - a key element to sustain sea life - that water can hold. Drastic changes to the oceans’ chemical composition could mean the collapse of the fishing industry and other major implications. To access the full article:
March 5, 2012: Scientists Search for Source of Creativity
Lisa Aziz-Zadeh, assistant professor of neuroscience at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences and her research team team have found that the left hemisphere of your brain, thought to be the logic and math portion, play a critical role in creative thinking. The study focuses on how the brain tackles visual creative tasks by using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to scan the brains of architecture students, who tend to be visually creative. They found that creative tasks were mainly handled by the right side of the brain but the left brain was much more involved than it generally is during tasks which require little to no creativity. Aziz-Zadeh plans to further explore how different types of creativity are created by the brain, such as painting, acting, singing, etc., and determining what they have in common and what differentiates one from the other.
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March 5, 2012: Embryonic Development Protein Active in Cancer Growth
A team of scientists at the University of California, San Diego Moores Cancer Center has identified a novel protein expressed by breast cancer cells that could provide a new target for future anti-cancer drugs and treatment. Researchers found that the tumor cells of patients with breast cancer frequently express the Receptor-tyrosine-kinase-like Orphan Rector 1, or ROR1. Silencing this protein impaired the growth and survival of human breast cancer cells. “There was a qualitative difference,” says Thomas J. Kipps, MD, PhD, Interim Director of the UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center. “When ROR1 was knocked down, it took away some of the growth advantage enjoyed by cancer cells. Their capacity to survive also was impaired. This could affect the capacity of the cancer cells to survive treatment with other anti-cancer agents or generate tumors altogether.” This research suggests that ROR1 could be a good target for treating the most aggressive kinds of breast cancer.
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March 6, 2012: Looking at the Man in the Moon
Many of us see a man in the moon—a human face smiling down at us from the lunar surface. The "face," of course, is just an illusion, shaped by the dark splotches of lunar maria (smooth plains formed from the lava of ancient volcanic eruptions). Previously, some scientists have thought the fact that we see the man is just the result of a coincidence, a sort of lunar coin toss, says Oded Aharonson, professor of planetary science at the California Institute of Technology. But he and his colleagues have now found that is not the case. In the past, the moon spun around its axis faster than it does today, and their new analysis shows that the fact that the man now faces us may be a result of the rate at which the moon slowed down before becoming locked into its current orientation. The reason he faces us at all times is because the moon rotates around its axis once with each revolution around the Earth, so that the same face is always pointing earthward. A couple billion years ago, give or take, the moon rotated around its axis much more rapidly, so that the inhabitants of Earth would have seen all the different sides of the moon at various times. To access the full article:
March 6, 2012: Surgical Treatment for epilepsy should not be viewed as last resort, study shows
Among people who suffer from what’s known as medically intractable epilepsy, in which seizures are resistant to drugs, only a small fraction will seek surgery, seeing it only as a last resort. As a result, they continue to suffer seizures year after year. But a multi-center study led by researchers at UCLA shows that for people suffering from intractable temporal lobe epilepsy, the most common form of intractable epilepsy, early surgical intervention followed by antiepileptic drugs stopped their seizures, improved their quality of life and helped them avoid decades of disability. But the frustration of Dr. Jerome Engel, the study’s principal investigator, and his colleagues is this: Few patients are referred to them for surgical evaluation, and those who are have had epilepsy for an average of 22 years. "By then, it’s often too late," says Engel. "These people will likely remain disabled for life." The biggest deterrent for these patients is often fear. Surgery of any kind is a nervewrecking experience, but brain surgery can seem especially frightening. This option, however, may the best chance these patients have to live as normal a life as possible. To access the full article:
March 7, 2012: Nanotrees Harvest the Sun’s Energy to Turn Water into Hydrogen Fuel
University of California, San Diego electrical engineers are building a forest of tiny nanowire trees in order to cleanly capture solar energy without using fossil fuels and harvest it for hydrogen fuel generation. “This is a clean way to generate clean fuel,” said Deli Wang, professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering. The trees’ vertical structure and branches are keys to capturing the maximum amount of solar energy, according to Wang. That’s because the vertical structure of trees grabs and adsorbs light while flat surfaces simply reflect it. Wang’s team has mimicked this structure in their “3D branched nanowire array” which uses a process called photoelectrochemical water-splitting to produce hydrogen gas. Water splitting refers to the process of separating water into oxygen and hydrogen in order to extract hydrogen gas to be used as fuel. This process uses clean energy with no green-house gas byproduct. By harvesting more sun light using the vertical nanotree structure, Wang’s team has developed a way to produce more hydrogen fuel efficiently compared to planar counterparts. In the long run, what Wang’s team is aiming for is even bigger: artificial photosynthesis. In photosynthesis, as plants absorb sunlight they also collect carbon dioxide (CO2) and water from the atmosphere to create carbohydrates to fuel their own growth. Wang’s team hopes to mimic this process to also capture CO2 from the atmosphere, reducing carbon emissions, and convert it into hydrocarbon fuel.
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March 12, 2012: A lifetime of research may be leading to a life-saving treatment for sho*ck
A 200-patient Phase 2 clinical pilot study will be initiated this month to test the efficacy and safety of a new use, and method of administering, an enzyme inhibitor for critically ill patients developed by University of California, San Diego Bioengineering Professor Geert Schmid-Schönbein. This new drug stems from years of research by Schmid-Schönbein on the reactions that lead to multi-organ failure after a patient goes into shock, the second leading case of in-hospital deaths in the United States. Schmid-Schönbein and his colleagues discovered that under conditions of chock, a process called autodigestion occurs in which digestive enzymes are carried into the bloodstream where they digest and destroy healthy tissue. The new drug delivers an enzyme exhibitor to prevent autodigestion and consequent organ failure. Schmid-Schönbein and his tram are hoping the clinical study will allow them to determine whether the drug will increase longterm survival rates and the most effective way to administer the drug. To access the full article:
March 14, 2012: Evidence builds that meditation strengthens the brain, UCLA researchers say
Eileen Luders, an assistant professor at the UCLA Laboratory of Neuro Imaging, and colleagues, have found that long-term meditators have larger amounts of gyrification (“folding” of the cortex, which may allow the brain to process information faster) than people who do not meditate. Further, a direct correlation was found between the amount of gyrification and the number of meditation years, possibly providing further proof of the brain’s neuroplasticity, or ability to adapt to environmental changes. The researchers took MRI scans of 50 meditators, 28 men and 22 women, and compared them to 50 control subjects matched for age, handedness and sex. The scans for the controls were obtained from an existing MRI database, while the meditators were recruited from various meditation venues. The meditators had practiced their craft on average for 20 years using a variety of meditation types — Samatha, Vipassana, Zen and more. The researchers applied a well-established and automated whole-brain approach to measure cortical gyrification at thousands of points across the surface of the brain. Researchers found a strong positive correlation between gyrification and the number of years practicing meditation which supports the idea that meditation enhances regional gyrification. To access the full article:
March 16, 2012: Autism Symposium Highlighted by Personal Experiences
Hundreds of faculty members, students, alumni and community partners gathered on March 9 at the Ronald Tutor Campus Center for the 23rd Occupational Science Symposium hosted by the Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy at the Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC. Speakers shared their innovative research, clinical practices or personal perspectives during “Autism in Everyday Life: Interdisciplinary Research Perspectives at USC.” Neuroscientist Pat Levitt, director of the Zilkha Neurogenetic Institute at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, presented a lecture titled “Looking at Autism Through a Neurobiological Lens.” Levitt’s human genetics and basic research studies focus on understanding the causes of neurodevelopmental and neuropsychiatric disorders. His clinical studies address autism heterogeneity by studying children who also have co-occurring medical conditions, such as gastrointestinal disorders, with the goal to develop better diagnostic criteria and personalized treatments. To access the full article:
March 19, 2012: Circadian rhythms have profound influence of metabolic output, UCI study reveals
By analyzing the hundreds of metabolic products present in the liver, researchers with the UC Irvine Center for Epigenetics & Metabolism have discovered that circadian rhythms, our own body clock, greatly control the production of such key building blocks as amino acids, carbohydrates and lipids. Approximately 60 percent of more than 600 identified liver-originated metabolites were found to be dependent on the endogenous circadian clock. This new discovery reveals how the body clock orchestrates interplay between metabolites and signaling proteins. This relationship is also tied to natural influences on the circadian rhythms, like day-night patterns and meal times. This interplay based on our circadian clock is vital to the proper functioning of our metabolism and if our body clock is disrupted it could cause problems in the functioning of our digestion and other vital bodily functions. To access the full article:
March 20, 2012: New Facial Recognition Research Turns Heads
Humans are great at recognizing faces. There are even regions in the brain that specifically are associated with face perception - the most well-known one is the fusiform gyrus in the temporal lobe. Common wisdom has it that humans recognize the face “holistically,” meaning that it is something about picture created by the entire face - the particular arrangement of a face’s eyes, nose and mouth and not just these features themselves - that makes it easier for the human brain to make a positive ID. But according to recent research, that common wisdom is wrong. If humans were better at face recognition than nose or eye recognition, one would expect each participant to do a better job of identification when the features are all arranged together into a face. But in this recent study, humans were only slightly better at identifying an entire face than one of its components. Facial recognition, it appears, hinges on recognizing the face’s features more than the “holistic” picture they add up to create. To access the full article:
March 21, 2012: Salk scientists open new window into how cancers override cellular growth controls
Rapidly dividing cancer cells are skilled at patching up damage that would stop normal cells in their tracks, including wear and tear of telomeres, the protective caps at the end of each chromosome. Loss of telomeres forces cells out of the dividing game and into a growth arrest state called "senescence," but cancer cells evade this by employing an enzyme called telomerase to extend eroded telomeres. If telomerase fails to activate, the tumor cells of about 10 percent of all human cancers have a back-up strategy to build serviceable telomeres and keep dividing. How that pathway, called ALT for alternative lengthening of telomeres, works is unclear, because researchers have had limited options to study it experimentally. Now scientists at the at Salk Institute for Biological Studies have created roundworms that eke out an existence, and even manage to reproduce, relying solely on ALT to maintain telomeres. To access the full article:
March 23, 2012: FDA Approves Device Used to Treat Heartburn
The Keck Medical Center of USC is one of only three centers in California approved to use a novel device approved on March 22 by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat severe acid reflux. John Lipham, associate professor of surgery at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, led clinical investigation of the device as part of his ongoing work to find alternative ways to treat gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), also known as heartburn. The LINX Reflux Management System, manufactured by Minnesota-based Torax Medical Inc., is like a bracelet made of magnetic, titanium beads implanted around the end of the esophagus, where the lower esophageal sphincter is located. The esophageal sphincter is the valve that prevents reflux, and GERD develops when this valve is weakened. Lipham said the device is best for patients with mild to moderate reflux that cannot be adequately controlled by medication or for patients who do not want to take medication to manage the disease. Traditionally, reflux disease is treated using a surgical procedure called a Nissen fundoplication, which involves recreating the esophageal sphincter. While fundoplication is recommended for those with severe reflux, it is a complicated procedure that prevents the ability to belch or vomit and often leads to bloating or gas problems. The new device, which has been available in Europe for about two years, is designed to augment the patient’s native sphincter and return it to a competent valve. To access the full article:
March 26, 2012: Does the brain ’remember’ antidepressants?
Individuals with major depressive disorder (MDD) often undergo multiple courses of antidepressant treatment during their lives. While the relationship between prior treatment and the brain’s response to subsequent treatment is unknown, a new study by UCLA researchers suggests that how the brain responds to antidepressant medication may be influenced by its remembering of past antidepressant exposure. Aimee Hunter, the study’s lead author and an assistant professor of psychiatry at UCLA’s Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, and colleagues showed that a simple placebo pill, made to look like actual medication for depression, can "trick" the brain into responding in the same manner as the actual medication. The antidepressant medication given during the study appeared to produce slight decreases in prefrontal brain activity, regardless of whether subjects had received prior antidepressant treatment during their lifetime or not. However, the researchers observed striking differences in the power of placebo, depending on subjects’ prior antidepressant use. Subjects who had never been treated with an antidepressant exhibited large increases in prefrontal brain activity during placebo treatment. But those who had used antidepressant medication in the past showed slight decreases in prefrontal activity — brain changes that were indistinguishable from those produced by the actual drug. To access the full article:
March 28, 2012: USC Researcher Discovers Clue to Reversing Effects of Alzheimer’s
Berislav Zlokovic, professor and chair of the Department of Physiology and Biophysics at the Zilkha Neurogenetic Institute, based at the Keck School of Medicine of USC has made an important molecular discovery that could lead to the reverse of some of the worst effects of Alzheimer’s disease. Zlokovic’s team found that a synthesized compound known as FPS-ZM1 can reverse inflammation and improve blood flow in the brains of mice, dramatically improving their ability to learn and think. FPS-ZM1 specifically targets Receptor for Advanced Glycation Endproducts (RAGE), a molecular vehicle on which amyloid beta peptides travel in the brain. Amyloid deposits are known to cause inflammation and obstruct blood flow in the brain. The researchers tested the compound in older mice bred to accumulate the amyloid beta peptide quickly in their brains. After FPS-ZM1 was administered, the mice experienced a decrease of up to 80 percent in levels of amyloid beta and 80 percent less inflammation, Zlokovic said. The compound also was tolerated well by the mice. Additional research must be done before FPS-ZM1 can be tested in humans. To access the full article:
March 29, 2012: UCLA Engineering researchers use electricity to generate alternative fuel
Today, electrical energy generated by various methods is still difficult to store efficiently. Chemical batteries, hydraulic pumping and water splitting suffer from low energy-density storage or incompatibility with current transportation infrastructure. Researchers at the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science have for the first time demonstrated a method for converting carbon dioxide into liquid fuel isobutanol using electricity. "The current way to store electricity is with lithium ion batteries, in which the density is low, but when you store it in liquid fuel, the density could actually be very high," James Liao, UCLA’s Ralph M. Parsons Foundation Chair in Chemical Engineering, said. Liao and his team genetically engineered a lithoautotrophic microorganism known as Ralstonia eutropha H16 to produce isobutanol and 3-methyl-1-butanol in an electro-bioreactor using carbon dioxide as the sole carbon source and electricity as the sole energy input. "We’ve demonstrated the principle, and now we think we can scale up," says Liao. "That’s our next step." To access the full article:
March 29, 2012: How Genes Organize the Surface of the Brain
The first atlas of the surface of the human brain based upon genetic information has been produced by a national team of scientists, led by researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and the VA San Diego Healthcare System. The atlas reveals that the cerebral cortex – the sheet of neural tissue enveloping the brain – is roughly divided into genetic divisions that differ from other brain maps based on physiology or function. The genetic atlas provides scientists with a new tool for studying and explaining how the brain works, particularly the involvement of genes. According to Chi-Hua Chen, PhD, first author and a postdoctoral fellow in the UC San Diego Department of Psychiatry, “If we can understand the genetic underpinnings of the brain, we can get a better idea of how it develops and works, information we can then use to ultimately improve treatments for diseases and disorders.” The genetic brain atlas may be especially useful for scientists who employ genome-wide association studies, a relatively new tool that looks for common genetic variants in people that may be associated with a particular trait, condition or disease.
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March 1, 2012: Vitamin D shrinks fibroid tumors in rats
Uterine fibroids are the most common noncancerous tumors in women of childbearing age. Fibroids grow within and around the wall of the uterus. Thirty percent of women 25 to 44 years of age report fibroid-related symptoms, such as lower back pain, heavy vaginal bleeding or painful menstrual periods. Uterine fibroids also are associated with infertility and such pregnancy complications as miscarriage or preterm labor. Other than surgical removal of the uterus, there are few treatment options for women experiencing severe fibroid-related symptoms and about 200,000 U.S. women undergo the procedure each year. In a new study funded by the NIH’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, researchers found that treatment with Vitamin D reduced the size of uterine fibroids in labaratory rats predisposed to developing the benign tumors. "Additional research is needed to confirm vitamin D as a potential treatment for women with uterine fibroids," said Dr. Alyman Al-Hendy. "But it is also an essential nutrient for the health of muscle, bone and the immune system, and it is important for everyone to receive an adequate amount of the vitamin." To access the full article:
March 5, 2012: Egg-Producing Stem Cells Found in Women
Researchers have long believed that women are born with a fixed number of oocytes that must last through their reproductive years. Common wisdom held that once oocytes were lost during ovulation or degeneration due to aging or disease, they couldn’t be replenished within adult ovaries. In 2004, Dr. Jonathan Tilly of Massachusetts General Hospital and his colleagues reported the first evidence that mammals—specifically female mice—continue to form new oocytes into adulthood. To see if similar stem cells might also exist in women, Tilly led a team of scientists who tested and then validated a new method for plucking viable egg-producing stem cells from adult mice and human ovary tissue. Their research, supported in part by NIA, was described in the advance online edition of Nature Medicine on February 26, 2012. The researchers showed that cells isolated from both mouse and human ovaries could grow in a culture dish and spontaneously generate cells that had many features of oocytes. “The primary objective of the current study was to prove that oocyte-producing stem cells do in fact exist in the ovaries of women during reproductive life, which we feel this study demonstrates very clearly,” says Tilly. To access the full article:
March 9, 2012: NIH study links childhood cancer to delays in developmental milestones
Infants and toddlers who have been treated for cancer tend to reach certain developmental milestones later than do their healthy peers, say researchers at the National Institutes of Health and in Italy. The findings show that delays may occur early in the course of treatment and suggest that young children with cancer might benefit from such early interventions as physical or language therapy. In recent years, survival rates for many types of childhood cancer have increased, Dr. Bornstein said. For this reason, quality of life for young cancer survivors is a major concern. In a recent study, the cancer survivors did not score as well on tests of language, cognition and motor milestones as did children who did not have cancer. In terms of developmental averages, children with cancer were about 7 points below average on tests of mental development, and 14 points below average on motor tests. The evidence further indicates that there might be advantages to engaging young cancer survivors in therapy through social interaction. One approach worth exploring is to provide instruction to parents on how to engage children in language, for example, instead of recommending visits to a center for therapy, Dr. Putnick said.
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March 12, 2012: Diesel Exhaust and Lung Cancer Deaths in Miners
In a study of miners, scientists found that heavy exposure to diesel exhaust increased the risk of death from lung cancer. The risk may also extend to other workers exposed to diesel exhaust, as well as people living in urban areas with higher diesel exhaust levels. Two recent studies suggest that the risk of lung cancer death rises with increasing diesel exposure. The risk of lung cancer death aming heavily exposed underground workers was 5 times that of workers in the lowest exposure category. Non-smokers with the highest level of diesel exposure were 7 times more likely to die from lung cancer than non-smokers in the lowest exposure category. The results suggest that people in the general population who are exposed to high levels of diesel exhaust may also have a higher risk for lung cancer.
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March 19, 2012: Gorilla Genome Yields Surprises
Researchers have completed a draft sequence of the gorilla genome. Their analysis reveals that people may be more closely related to gorillas than we realized. The gorilla is our closest living relatives after chimpanzees and the last of the great apes to have its genome sequenced. An international team led by researchers at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute sequenced the gorilla genome. The team assembled a draft sequence from a single female western lowland gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) named Kamilah. They compared Kamilah’s genome with the human, chimpanzee, orangutan and macaque genomes. The comparison, along with fossil evidence, places the human and chimpanzee species divergence between 5.5 and 7 million years ago. Their common ancestors split from gorillas 8.5 to 12 million years ago. Chimpanzee sequences are more similar to equivalent human sequences than to gorilla sequences in about 70% of the genome. In about 30% of the genome, however, gorillas are more similar to humans or chimpanzees than the latter are to each other. In gorillas, the researchers found high rates of change in genes for the perception of sound and for ear, hair follicle, gonad and brain development. To access the full article:
March 22, 2012: Friendly-to-a-fault, yet tense: personality traits traced in brain
A personality profile marked by overly gregarious yet anxious behavior is rooted in abnormal development of a circuit hub buried deep in the front center of the brain, say scientists at the National Institutes of Health. They used three different types of brain imaging to pinpoint the suspect brain area in people with William’s syndrome, a rare genetic disorder characterized by these behaviors. "This line of research offers insight into how genes help to shape brain circuitry that regulates complex behaviors — such as the way a person responds to others — and thus holds promise for unraveling brain mechanisms in other disorders of social behavior," said NIMH Director Thomas R. Insel, M.D. Williams syndrome is caused by the deletion of some 28 genes, many involved in brain development and behavior, in a particular section of chromosome 7. Among deficits characteristic of the syndrome are a lack of visual-spatial ability – such as is required to assemble a puzzle — and a tendency to be overly-friendly with people, while overly anxious about non-social matters, such as spiders or heights. Many people with the disorder are also mentally challenged and learning disabled, but some have normal Iqs. Evidence suggests that genes influence our temperament and the development of mental disorders via effects on brain circuits that regulate behavior. Yet direct demonstration of this in humans has proven elusive. Since the genetic basis of Williams syndrome is well known, it offers a unique opportunity to explore such effects with neuroimaging, reasoned the researchers. To access the full article:
March 26, 2012: Risk in Red Meat?
A new study adds to the evidence that eating red meat on a regular basis may shorten your lifespan. The findings suggest that meat eaters might help improve their health by substituting other healthy protein sources for some of the red meat they eat. A research team led by Dr. Frank Hu of the Harvard School of Public Health set out to learn more about the association between red meat intake and mortality. They studied over 37,000 men from the Health Professionals Follow-up Study (beginning in 1986) and over 83,000 women from the Nurses’ Health Study (beginning in 1980). The participants filled out food frequency questionnaires every 4 years. The scientists also gathered information every 2 years on a variety of other health factors, including body weight, cigarette smoking and physical activity level. Almost 24,000 participants died during the study, including about 5,900 from cardiovascular disease and about 9,500 from cancer. Those who consumed the highest levels of both unprocessed and processed red meat had the highest risk of all-cause of mortality, cancer mortality and cardiovascular disease mortality. After adjusting for other risk factors, the researchers calculated that 1 additional serving per day of unprocessed red meat over the course of the study raised the risk of total mortality by 13%. The researchers estimated that substituting 1 serving per day of other foods—like fish, poultry, nuts, legumes, low-fat dairy and whole grains—for red meat could lower the risk of mortality by 7% to 19%. If the participants had all consumed fewer than half a serving per day (about 1.5 ounces) of red meat, the scientists calculated, 9.3% of the deaths in men and 7.6% of the deaths in women could have been prevented. To access the full article:
March 29, 2012: Brain airing a no-brainer?
The brain appears to be wired more like the checkerboard streets of New York City than the curvy lanes of Columbia, Md., suggests a new brain imaging study. The most detailed images, to date, reveal a pervasive 3D grid structure with no diagonals, say scientists funded by the National Institutes of Health. “Far from being just a tangle of wires, the brain’s connections turn out to be more like ribbon cables — folding 2D sheets of parallel neuronal fibers that cross paths at right angles, like the warp and weft of a fabric,” explained Van Wedeen, M.D., of Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), A.A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging and the Harvard Medical School. As the brain gets wired up in early development, its connections form along perpendicular pathways, running horizontally, vertically and transversely. Obtaining detailed images of these pathways in human brain has long eluded researchers, in part, because the human cortex, or outer mantle, develops many folds, nooks and crannies that obscure the structure of its connections. A Human Connectome Project has recently undertaken the challenge to more accurately image these pathways. These new images of the brain would shed light on the interconnections of brain wiring.
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March 22, 2012: A step closer to morphine without side effects?
Opium is a natural poppy (papaver somniferum) extract and is one of the oldest drugs known to man, used for its psychotropic, sedative and analgesic properties. These effects are caused by its major component: morphine. Today morphine has widespread clinical pain-relief applications. At a molecular level, morphine binds with μ-opioid receptors to imitate the action of molecules produced naturally in the brain: endorphins. However, its clinical use is limited by two effects. Firstly, the development of a tolerance phenomenon means that, in the case of repeated injections, the morphine dose must be increased to obtain the same therapeutic effect. Secondly, morphine consumption can lead to drug dependency (heroin, the acetylated form of morphine, is the most obvious example). Furthermore, morphine consumption has serious side effects: respiratory depression, constipation, physical and psychic dependency. A recent study by Sébastien Granier, INSERM researcher has broadened the understanding of the molecular structure which will hopefully allow researchers to improve the usage and limit side effects of this medicine. To access the full article:
March 27, 2012: GreenStars: a new generation of biofueles and microalgae products
GreenStars, winner of the call for proposals in the Investments in the Future Programme for Low-Carbon Energy Excellence Institutes (IEEDs), is a set of cooperative platforms bringing together French firms in the microalgae sector. The initial objective for 2020 is to develop compounds that include highly efficient biofuels and high-performance molecules based on microalgae that use CO2 emissions and waste products from anthropogenic activities. Coordinated by the French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA) and bringing together 45 partners (public research organisations, businesses, regional governments and competitiveness clusters), GreenStars also aims to establish itself within the next five to ten years as an international excellence centre in the field of microalgae biofuel refining. It has a budget of €160 million over the next decade, with nearly 20% from government support. To access the full article:
March 29, 2012: ATV-3 Edoardo Amaidi on its Way to ISS
The 3rd European ISS resupply spacecraft was successfully orbited Friday, March 23, 2012 by an Ariane 5 ES Launcher from French Guiana. The newest spacecraft was the heaviest payload the launcher has ever carried. The launcher’s two massive solid-rocket boosters powered it off the launch pad and the ATV was released into orbit at an altitude of 260 km. The resupply craft docked with the station as planned on March 29, 2012. It will remain berthed to the orbital outpost for up to 6 months. In a few days; the astronauts will be able to go inside the ATV. Once the ATV has been offloaded the 6 man ISS crew will fill it with waste that will burn up with the vehicle on its destructive re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere late this summer. To access the full article:
JPL, The von Kármán Lecture Series: 2012
• Gale Crater: Exploring the Mars Science Laboratory Landing Site
o Thursday, April 12, 2012 7:00-8:00 PM located at the JPL, Von Karman Auditourium & Friday, April 13, 2012 7:00-8:00 PM located at Pasadena City College, the Vosloh Forum
o Featured speaker: Dr. Matthew Golembeck, senior research scientist, Mars Exploration Program Landing Site Scientist, JPL.
o For further information call (818) 354-0112 or visit http://www.nasa.gov/lecture/.
• Howard A. Schneiderman Memorial Bioethics Lecture – Pathways Linking Social Support to Health
o Thursday, April 19, 2012, 7:00-8:00 PM located at The Arnold and Mabel Beckman Center of the National Academies of Sciences and Engineering
o Featured Speaker: Shelley E. Taylor, distinguished professor at the University of California, Los Angeles Department of Psychology
o For further information, please contact email@example.com
• Biomedical Engineering Distinguished Lecture Series sponsored by Stradling Yocca Carlson & Rauth
o Friday, April 20, 2012 3:30-4:30 PM, located in the Natural Sciences Building II Room 3201
o Featured Speaker: Professor Norberto M. Grzywacz, Ph. D on the subject ’Towards Reversing Retinitis Pigmentosa: Re-engineering Photoreceptor Mosaics
o For further information: http://www.eng.uci.edu/events/2011/12/towards-reversing-retinitis-pigmentosa-re-engineering-photoreceptor-mosaics
• GALCIT Colloquium
o Friday, April 20, 2012 3:00-4:00 PM located in 101 Guggenheim Lab, Lees-Kubota Lecture Hall
o Featured Speaker: Christopher Eloy, Aix-Marseille University, on Examples of Fluid- Structure Interactions in Biology
o For further information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
• ReSET: Renewable & Sustainable Energy Technology Workshop
o Friday, April 13, 2012 8:00 AM- 5:00 PM located at the California Nanosystems Institute Auditorium
o To attend please register online at http://cleanenergy.ucla.edu/reset/
o For further information, please contact email@example.com
• The Next Built Environment Today
o Wednesday, April 4, 2012 6:00 PM located at the University Park Campus in the Seeley G. Mudd Building Room 123
o Featured Speaker: Edward Mazria, founder and executive director of Architecture 2030
o For further information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
• Binding Architecture and Engineering Today
o Wednesday, April 11, 2012 6:00 PM located at the University Park Campus in the USC Gin D. Wong FAIA Conference Center
o Featured Speaker: Hanif Kara delivering the Nabih Youssef Lecture on Structural Design Innovation
o For further information, please contact email@example.com
• Center for Disease Vector Research Seminar
o Friday, April 27, 2012 12:00-1:00 PM locqted in the Genomics Building Auditorium Room 1102A
o Featured Speaker: Molly Hunter from the University of Arizona
o For further information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
UC San Diego
• Skalak Memorial Lecture
o Friday, April 13, 2012 4:00 PM located in the UC San Diego Atkinson Hall Auditorium
o Featured Speaker: Dr. Shu Chien, 2011 National Medal of Science Recipient
o For further information, please contact email@example.com
• A Bacterium, a Virus and a Parasite: Tackling a Formidable Global Health Triad
o Tuesday, April 24, 2012 5:30-7:00 PM located at the UC San Diego School of Medicine Campus in the Medical Education and Telemedicine Building
o Featuring four distinguished speakers on the issues and innovations in infectious disease research and global health
o For further information visit http://calendar.ucsd.edu/DisplayEventDetail.asp?iEventID=25781&iSubCatID=2&iRoomID= or contact firstname.lastname@example.org
• How the ER Gets Into Shape
o Tuesday, April 3, 2012 4:00 PM in the Trustees Room
o Featured Speaker: Tom Rapoport, Harvard Medical School
• What Do Astrocytes Do?
o Thursday, April 5, 2012 4:00 PM in the Trustees Room
o Featured Speaker: Ben Barres, Stanford School of Medicine
Scripps Research Institute
• Interrogating T cell and cytokine receptor signaling with combinatorial biology and structure
o Thursday, April 5, 2012 12:00-1:00 PM located in the Committee Lecture Hall
o Featured Speaker: Christopher Garcia, PhD, Professor at the Department of Molecular & Cellular Physiology and the Department of Structural Biology at Stanford University School of Medicine
• Drug Target Residence Time: Correlating In Vitro Enzyme Inhibition with In Vivo Antibacterial Activity
o Thursday, April 5, 2012 2:00-3:00 PM located in the Committee Lecture Hall
o Featured Speaker: Professor Pete Tonge of Stony Brook University
• Springy steps: the role of inter-head tension in kinesin walking
o Thursday, April 5, 2012 3:30-4:30 PM located in the Committee Lecture Hall
o Featured Speaker: Dr. William O. Hancock, Assistant Professor of Bioengineering, Penn State University
• Cutting Gordian Knots at the Pool of Bethesda: Adventures in the Genomics of Inflammation
o Thursday, April 5, 2012 5:00-6:00 PM located in the Committee Lecture Hall
o Featured Speaker: Daniel L. Kastner, M.D., Ph.D, Scientific Director in the Division of Intramural Research, NHGRI
La Jolla Institute for Allergy & Immunology
• CD4 T cells: mechanisms of plasticity
o Wednesday, April 4, 2012 12:00 PM
o Featured Speaker: John O’Shea
• Towards a functional understanding of autoimmunity-associated gene variants
o Wednesday, April 11, 2012 12:00 PM
o Featured Speaker: Stephan Kissler
PRINTmyLAB: PRINTmyLAB is a 3D Printing for Science Design Challenge at UC Berkley which is open to all contestants. There are two categories to which participants may submit. Contestants for category 1 must design a 3D printing blueprint for an item which could replace a commercial product. Contestants for category 2 must design a 3D printing blueprint for an item which is not commercially available that would be of use in science and engineering labs. Contestants must submit their designs by April 30, 2012. For further information please visit www.teklalabs.org/3dprinting
Please consult Le Fil de Marianne for further information on international calls and job offers.
Le Fil de Marianne
Le Fil de Marianne est une publication hebdomadaire des bureaux de l’INSERM et du CNRS aux Etats-Unis. Il offre une information détaillée sur les évolutions de la politique de recherche française, les appels d’offres et les manifestations scientifiques en France. L’abonnement est gratuit.
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Les articles et les rapports produits par les activités de veille scientifique menées par les Missions Scientifiques et Technologiques dans 40 zones géographiques sont accessibles gratuitement via les Bulletins Electroniques. Ils sont édités par l’Agence pour la Diffusion de l’Information Technologique (ADIT), sur une base mensuelle ou hebdomadaire.
Le service scientifique du Consulat Général de France à Los Angelesbr>
Des informations sur le rôle de notre service au sein de la Mission pour la Science et la technologie (MS&T) peuvent être trouvées sur le site du Consulat Général de France à Los Angeles. Le planning des événements à venir ainsi que nos coordonnées, sont également disponibles en ligne.
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These two programs have been created to offer an easy access to information regarding collaboration between the US and Europe. Online articles and a newsletter service are available
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Consulate General of France in Los Angeles