Los Angeles S&T Newsletter #42 - September 2013

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This month we have a lot of exciting news to present to you including changes at major research institutes and improvements in the format and information presented in our newsletter. At the Office for Science and Technology of the Consulate General of France in Los Angeles, we are always aiming to foster Franco-American collaborations between leading research universities and institutes of both countries. Therefore, we are very happy to announce that the OST of the Embassy of France in the U.S.A. will be a sponsor of the 2013 Colorado Immunology Conference, which will take place between September 11th and 13th in Vail, Colorado. More information on this conference as well as a link to the official website is provided at the end of the newsletter.

Furthermore, as many of you may know, in late July of this year, it was announced that Dr. Margaret Leinen is to be the next Vice Chancellor for Marine Sciences and Director of Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO). We wish Dr. Leinen the best as she begins her term at Scripps in October. In addition, researchers at SIO have recently collaborated with scientists at Centre National de Recherches Métérologiques and Laboratoire d’Aérologie, both in Toulouse, that focuses on studying the link between microscopic particles and climate change in the Mediterranean Basin. This Franco-American scientific collaboration is featured in the newest addition to the monthly newsletter. Starting this month, we have added two new sections at the end of our newsletter. The first section features current notable scientific collaborations between France and the United States, while the second section will highlight French scientists who have been recently awarded American distinctions and American scientists who have recently received French honors.

Finally, this will be Christine Stafford’s last newsletter as Intern for the Office of Science and Technology at the Consulate General of France in Los Angeles. As such, we would like to warmly thank Christine for her dedicated work over the past months, and wish her all the best as she enters her final undergraduate year at the University of Southern California. We also wish to welcome Gregory Disse as the new Intern for the Office for Science and Technology…as the French would say, “Bienvenue” Gregory and “Bonne chance” Christine !

Christine Stafford, Science and Technology Intern
Gregory Disse, Science and Technology Intern
Aurelie Perthuison, Deputy Attaché for Science and Technology
Fabien Agenes, Attaché for Science and Technology

To read the full version of the September 2013 newsletter, please scroll down. You can also register here to receive emails about events organized by the OST LA.

Researchers assemble instruments to make aerosol and meteorological measurements at a site 1,930 meters (6,330 feet) above sea level near the summit of Mt. Pinerole in Corsica (© Charmex / Scripps Explorations 2013).




August 5, 2013: Centers throughout the brain work together to make reading possible

A combination of brain scans and reading tests has revealed that several regions in the brain are responsible for allowing humans to read.

To access the full article:

August 5, 2013: Stem cells found in gum tissue can fight inflammatory disease

Stem cells found in mouth tissue can not only become other types of cells but can also relieve inflammatory disease, according to a new Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC study in the Journal of Dental Research.

To access the full article:

August 5, 2013 : Team finds gene mutation that increases risk of schizophrenia, learning impairment

A collaborative team of researchers including scientists from UCLA has uncovered evidence that a specific genetic alteration appears to contribute to disorders of brain development, including schizophrenia. They also found that schizophrenia shares a common biological pathway with Fragile X mental retardation syndrome, a disorder associated with both intellectual impairment and autism.

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August 9, 2013: European and US researchers map plans for studying the human brain

In a first-of-its-kind academic forum, an international audience of more than 60 distinguished scientists gathered at the University of California, San Diego to discuss the future of brain-mapping research and trans-Atlantic collaborations.

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August 12, 2013 : UCLA Health now offers superior 3D mammograms

Breast tomosynthesis – state-of-the-art technology that produces three-dimensional mammograms – is now available at UCLA Health’s medical campuses in Westwood and Santa Monica.

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August 14, 2013 : Six months of fish oil reverses liver disease in children with intestinal failure, study shows

Children who suffer from intestinal failure, most often caused by a shortened or dysfunctional bowel, are unable to consume food orally. Instead, a nutritional cocktail of sugar, protein and fat made from soybean oil is injected through a small tube in their vein.

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August 15, 2013 : Mountain High: Genetic Adaptation for High Altitudes Identified

Research led by scientists from the University of California, San Diego has decoded the genetic basis of chronic mountain sickness (CMS) or Monge’s disease. Their study provides important information that validates the genetic basis of adaptation to high altitudes, and provides potential targets for CMS treatment.

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August 18, 2013 : A Home for the Microbiome

Caltech biologists identify, for the first time, a mechanism by which beneficial bacteria reside and thrive in the gastrointestinal tract.

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August 20, 2013 : UCLA study suggests iron is at the core of Alzheimer’s disease

Findings challenge conventional thinking about possible causes of disorder.

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August 21, 2013: Two studies identify potential new drug for Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis

Vedolizumab, a new intravenous antibody medication, has shown positive results for treating both Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, according to researchers at the University of California San Diego, School of Medicine. The findings, published in two papers, will appear in the August 22 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM).

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August 22, 2013: UCI-led study reveals how SARS virus hijacks host cells

Findings could prove beneficial in the development of therapies.

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August 22, 2013 : UCLA Nursing study suggests focus on lifestyle changes – not weight loss – is key to kids’ health

A UCLA School of Nursing study has found that both healthy-weight and obese children who participated in an intensive lifestyle modification program significantly improved their metabolic and cardiovascular health despite little weight loss.

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August 22, 2013 : UCLA researchers invent portable device for common kidney tests

Weighing about one-third of a pound, device attaches to smartphone and provides instant results.

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August 26, 2013 : UCI, UCLA study reveals new approach to remedying childhood visual disorders

Researchers identify key inhibitory neurons critical for vision development

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August 27, 2013 : USC researchers figure out how to ‘grow’ carbon nanotubes

Move over, silicon. In a breakthrough in the quest for the next generation of computers and materials, researchers at USC have solved a long-standing challenge with carbon nanotubes: how to actually build them with specific, predicable atomic structures.

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August 12, 2013: FDA approves new drug to treat HIV infection

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today approved Tivicay (dolutegravir), a new drug to treat HIV-1 infection.

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August 12, 2013: New data reveal extent of genetic overlap between major mental disorders

Schizophrenia, bipolar disorder share the most common genetic variation.

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August 21, 2013: New test system identifies 193 different yeasts and bacteria known to cause illness

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today allowed marketing in the US of the first mass spectrometer system for automated identification of bacteria and yeasts that are known to cause serious illness in humans. The VITEK MS can identify 193 different microorganisms and can perform up to 192 different tests in a single automated series of testing, with each test taking about one minute.

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August 29, 2013: Single gene change increases mouse lifespan by 20 percent

By lowering the expression of a single gene, researchers at the National Institutes of Health have extended the average lifespan of a group of mice by about 20 percent – the equivalent of raising the average human lifespan by 16 years, from 79 to 95.

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August 1, 2013: Dengue – identifying mosquito genetic factors that control virus transmission

Dengue is currently the most common insect-borne viral disease of humans worldwide. Scientists from the Institut Pasteur, the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS), and the Armed Forces Research Institute of Medical Sciences (AFRIMS) have discovered several genetic factors controlling the transmission of various dengue virus strains in a natural population of mosquitoes in Thailand. Their results indicate that the transmission of these viruses in nature depends not only on mosquito genetic factors but also on their specific interaction with viral genetic factors. This discovery significantly advances our understanding of dengue biology in nature. From a more general standpoint, this study also refines our view of the genetic basis of host-pathogen interactions. This work was published August 01, 2013 on the PLoS Genetics website.

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August 19, 2013: Testosterone responsible for worsening iron overload in chronic liver diseases

A research team from Toulouse has just elucidated the mechanisms behind the differences in iron absorption between men and women. The team used mice to demonstrate how the action of testosterone can be “countered” with a drug already used in the treatment of some bronchial cancers. The results are published this month in the Hepatology review.

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August 22, 2013: A new therapeutic strategy to combat prion and Alzheimer’s diseases

A work performed by the teams headed by Benoit Schneider and Odile Kellermann (INSERM Unit 747, team “Stem cells, Signalling and Prions”, Université Paris Descartes) as well as Jean-Marie Launay’s team (INSERM Unit 942 Hôpital Lariboisière and the FondaMental Foundation) was published this week in the magazine Nature Medicine. The article revealed that in neurons, an enzyme, the kinase PDK1, is involved in the accumulation of the pathological proteins involved in prion and Alzheimer’s diseases. The researchers show that the pharmacological inhibition of this enzyme exerts a beneficial effect towards both pathologies.
Details of this research were published in the magazine Nature Medicine.

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August 30, 2013: Brown algae reveal antioxidant production secrets

Brown algae contain phlorotannins, aromatic (phenolic) compounds that are unique in the plant kingdom. As natural antioxidants, phlorotannins are of great interest for the treament and prevention of cancer and inflammatory, cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases. Researchers at the Végétaux marins et biomolécules (CNRS/UPMC) laboratory at the Station biologique de Roscoff, in collaboration with two colleagues at the Laboratoire des sciences de l’Environnement MARin (Laboratory of Marine Environment Sciences) in Brest (CNRS/UBO/IFREMER/IRD) have recently elucidated the key step in the production of these compounds in Ectocarpus siliculosus, a small brown alga model species. The study also revealed the specific mechanism of an enzyme that synthesizes phenolic compounds with commercial applications. These findings have been patented and should make it easier to produce the phlorotannins presently used as natural extracts in the pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries. The results have also been published online on the site of the journal The Plant Cell.

To access the full article:





Ph.D. Thesis Seminar – Formation of Trivalent Zirconocene Complexes from Olefin-Polymerization Precatalysts
September 10, 4:00 pm
147 Noyes, J. Homes Sturdivant Lecture Hall
Featured Speaker: Taylor Lenton, Graduate Student in Chemistry, Bercaw Group, Division of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, CalTech


The von Kármán Lecture Series: 2013
Telexploration: How video game technologies can take NASA to the next level
September 12, 7:00 pm
The von Kármán Auditorium at JPL
September 13, 7:00 pm
The Vosloh Forum at Pasadena City College
Featured Speaker: Dr. Jeff Norris, Panning & Execution Systems manager, System and Software Division, Jet Propulsion Laboratory


Genetic Approaches to Understanding Visual System Development, Function and Repair
September 26, 4:00 pm
Trustees Room
Featured Speaker: Jose Carmena, UC Berkeley


Strategies and Tactics Inspired by Complex Alkaloids
September 19, 2:00 pm
BCC1 – W.M. Keck Foundation Amphitheater
Featured Speaker: Richard Sarpong, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Chemistry at UC Berkeley
For further information, please contact calendar@scripps.edu

UC Irvine

Microbiome Connections to Health and Disease
September 24, 1:00 pm
Calit2 Building Auditorium, UC Irvine
Featured Speakers: Karen Nelson, Craig Venter Institute, Larry Smarr, UCSD/Calit2, Huiying Li, UCLA, Manuela Raffatellu, UCI, Nick Vaziri, UCI, David Underhill, Cedars-Sinai

2013 COLORADO IMMUNOLOGY CONFERENCE - September 11-13, 2013

The Colorado Immunology Conference will take place in Vail, Colorado between September 11th and 13th, 2013.

The CIC will focus advances in immunology research and address topics such as antiviral T cell memory, anti-inflammatory role for neutrophils and innate immunity. A keynote presentation will be given by French researcher Marie Malissen from Center of Immunology of Marseille, Luminy (Ciml) about CD28 costimulation. This event is sponsored by the Office for Science and Technology of the Consulate General of France in Los Angeles. As such, the grand prize for the science poster competition will be a free trip to France to attend an immunology related conference.

Please register by August 5, 2013 at : http://www.ucdenver.edu/academics/colleges/medicalschool/departments/immunology/events/confreg/Pages/form.aspx

For more information on the conference, please visit its official website.

For more information on the science poster competition, please visit the webpage outlining the desired Poster Session Abstract Format.


The Conference ChemBio Interactions will be organized on the 3rd and 4th of October 2013 in Lyon, France.

This conference will discuss the main themes developed in the field of Drug Discovery and Drug Design, with a focus on molecular modeling, chemistry of bioactive molecules and their molecular diversity, pharmacodynamics, technological advances for drug discovery of new drugs and vectorization of therapeutic agents. It is organized as part of the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Elysée Treaty.

Registrations are now open at the following link: Chembiointeract.univ-lyon1.fr

Some key dates:
- September 13: Deadline to submit an abstract
- September 20: End of registration

AWARDS AND MEDALS – Professor Koob becomes Docteur Honoris Causa

Professor George Koob is awarded the honorary degree of Docteur Honoris Causa from University Bordeaux Segalen

George Koob, Professor and Chair of the Committee on the Neurobiology of Addictive Disorders at The Scripps Research Institute and Professor at the University of California (San Diego), was awarded an honorary degree from Bordeaux Segalen University (France) on April, 8th 2013.

Georges Koob receives the Doctor Honoris Causa medal from Manuel Tunon de Lara © Hugues Bretheau - Université Bordeaux Segalen.

Professor Koob, among the most prominent international experts in the field of addiction disorders and stress, has been collaborating with researchers from Bordeaux for 30 years, in particular with Professor Michel Le Moal with whom he published a reference book on the neurobiology of addiction (2006). He has hosted more than 25 Bordeaux post-doctoral researchers in his lab who now form a large network throughout France as well as the rest of the world, extending this research community far beyond the Bordeaux area.

To access the full article, please visit the following webpage : http://www.france-science.org/Professor-Koob-is-awarded-the.html


Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Centre National de Recherches Météorologiques, and Laboratoire d’Aérologie have recently started a collaborative effort that is part of the Chemistry-Aerosol Mediterranean Experiment (ChArMEx). The ChArMEx project was started with the goal of assessing the present and future state of the atmospheric environment of the Mediterranean basin in an effort to expand our knowledge of the chemistry of the Mediterranean climate and to analyze its potential impacts on the Mediterranean area. The collaboration among the two French and one American research institutes specifically focuses on studying the link between microscopic particles and climate change in the Mediterranean region, and is being carried out under the leadership of Greg Roberts, Craig Corrigan, and Jack Ritchie. In June and July, researchers at Scripps Institution of Oceanography added aerosol and meteorological observations at a mountain site on Corsica to measure the transport of dust and pollution.

More information about this collaboration can be found at the Scripps Explorations Web site at: http://explorations.ucsd.edu/photo-of-the-week/2013/6129/.

Further information concerning the ChArMEx project can be found at the ChArMEx website: http://charmex.lsce.ipsl.fr/index.php/home-mainmenu-1.html.


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