Los Angeles S&T Newsletter #64 - July 2015

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On behalf of the Office for Science and Technology, we would like to invite you to the following events happening this July.

FACTS DenverFACTS Denver took place at MSU Denver on June 24 and was a huge success. The conference was the first French Ameri-Can Climate TalkS (FACTS) conference of 2015 in the United States and drew many attendees, all of which were involved and concerned with the issues discussed at the conference, all pertaining to climate change and the impacts on health and quality of life. High quality speakers and compelling discussions contributed to the conference’s success, and a video of the conference is available online for those who were not able to attend or would like to review the progress that was made. We thank all who attended and contributed to the conference and look forward to the United Nations Climate Change Conference, the COP 21-Paris Climate 2015, hosted in France this December 2015, that the FACTS public conference series is helping build up to.

Summer School in Lyon – The Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1 is organizing a program from September 7th to 25th for Undergraduate students to explore nutrition, health and cognitive processes in food choices. What better place is there to learn about food than in France, with field trips that let students taste French gastronomy and learn about the French culinary art. Registration ends on July 20th, 2015, so don’t miss your chance to explore one of the most gastronomically famous countries with fellow students.

"Life Sciences: inventing - creating - having fun" 2015 Laureates – The Office for Science and Technology of the Consulate general of France in Los Angeles would like to announce the "Life Sciences" grant 2015 laureates. This grant has been offered since 2012 in order to support French teams who participate in American competitions in life sciences, and the other way around. Following the call for projects launched in February 2015, 8 teams from France were selected to receive this grant: Aix-Marseille, Bordeaux, Evry, IONIS, Paris-Bettencourt, Paris-Saclay, Pasteur_Paris and Toulouse. They are all participating in the synthetic biology competition hosted in Boston, iGEM (international Genetically Engineered Machine). Congratulations to them and good luck on their project!

Bulletin de veille Science, Technologie et Innovation – To all of our French and American Francophone readers, the Office for Science and Technology of the Embassy of France in the United States has a Scientific Bulletin that we invite you to perouse. It contains weekly updates regarding scientific and technological advances and scientific politics in the United States. You can either have a look at it online or even subscribe to receive it weekly.

Lastly, we here at the Office of Science and Technology would like to wish you a happy and relaxing summer break! Bonnes vacances à tous!

Visit the website of the Office for Science and Technology at the Consulate General of France in Los Angeles to explore in detail our activities and events as they occur in July.

Gwen Calais-Haase, Science and Technology Intern
Viviane Chansavang, Deputy Attaché for Science and Technology
Fabien Agenes, Attaché for Science and Technology

To read the full version of the July 2015 newsletter, please scroll down. You can also register here to receive emails about events organized by the OST LA.



June 1, 2015: UCLA researchers develop new material to accelerate healing

Researchers from the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science have developed an injectable hydrogel that helps skin wounds heal more quickly. The material creates an instant scaffold that allows new tissue to latch on and grow within the cavities formed between linked spheres of gel.

To access the full article:

June 1, 2015: Researchers clarify role of genetic risk factor in Alzheimer’s disease

Scientists at the Keck School of Medicine of USC have discovered that a protein known as PICALM regulates removal of toxic plaques from the brain, which could be a potential therapeutic target for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers identify this new role for PICALM, which is a known genetic risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease.

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June 1, 2015: A World Without Color – Researchers Find Gene Mutation That Strips Color, Reduces Vision

People with achromatopsia, an inherited eye disorder, see the world literally in black and white. Worse yet, their extreme sensitivity to light makes them nearly blind in bright sunlight. Now, researchers at University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and Shiley Eye Institute at UC San Diego Health System have identified a previously unknown gene mutation that underlies this disorder.

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June 8, 2015: UCLA researchers discover molecular rules that govern autoimmune disorders

An international team led by researchers at UCLA’s Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science and California NanoSystems Institute has identified an unexpectedly general set of rules that determine which molecules can cause the immune system to become vulnerable to the autoimmune disorders lupus and psoriasis.
The breakthrough could lead to new ways of treating the disorders.

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June 9, 2015: Low glycemic index diet reduces symptoms of autism in mice

Bread, cereal and other sugary processed foods cause rapid spikes and subsequent crashes in blood sugar. In contrast, diets made up of vegetables, fruits and whole grains are healthier, in part because they take longer to digest and keep us more even-keeled.
New research in a mouse model of autism showed that such low glycemic index diets, similar to the plans that people with diabetes follow to keep their blood sugar in check, reduced symptoms of the disorder in mice. Although preliminary and not yet tested in humans, the findings might offer clues to understanding one potential cause of autism.

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June 10, 2015: Common Antibiotic May Be the Answer to Many Multidrug-Resistant Bacterial Infections

Contrary to current medical dogma, researchers at University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences report that the common antibiotic azithromycin kills many multidrug-resistant bacteria very effectively — when tested under conditions that closely resemble the human body and its natural antimicrobial factors. The researchers believe the finding could prompt an immediate review of the current standard of care for patients with certain so-called “superbug” infections.

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June 11, 2015: UCLA-led NASA mission provides closest ever look at dwarf planet Ceres

A NASA mission led by UCLA professor Christopher Russell has released new images of the dwarf planet Ceres, the largest asteroid between Mars and Jupiter. The photos were produced by the spacecraft Dawn, which is now observing Ceres from 2,700 miles above its surface; NASA has also produced a one-minute video animation that sheds new light on this mysterious and heavily cratered world.

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June 15, 2015: International team finds genetic variants key in understanding origins of ovarian cancer

New research by an international team including Keck Medicine of USC scientists is bringing the origins of ovarian cancer into sharper focus. The study highlights the discovery of three genetic variants associated with mucinous ovarian carcinomas (MOCs), offering the first evidence of genetic susceptibility in this type of ovarian cancer. The research also suggests a link between common pathways of development between MOCs and colorectal cancer and for the first time identifies a gene called HOXD9, which turns genes on and off, and provides clues about the development of MOCs.

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June 17, 2015: Vitreomacular adhesion patients report improved vision with non-surgical treatment in USC Eye Institute-led clinical studies

In two ancillary studies of two multi-center international clinical trials led by the University of Southern California (USC) Eye Institute, the injectable drug ocriplasmin appears to improve vision among patients suffering from symptomatic vitreomacular adhesion (VMA), a condition related to the aging eye that could cause permanent vision loss if left untreated.

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June 19, 2015: New Biomarker Identified in Women with Mental Illness

Psychiatric disorders can be difficult to diagnose because clinicians must rely upon interpreted clues, such as a patient’s behaviors and feelings. For the first time, researchers at University of California, San Diego School of Medicine report identifying a biological marker: the over-production of specific genes that could be a diagnostic indicator of mental illness in female psychiatric patients.

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June 22, 2015: Research finds air pollution may affect the way the brain ages and functions

Exposure to air pollution has been known to affect respiratory diseases, lung function and cardiac health, but a new study led by Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California (USC) researchers shows for the first time that it may also have a negative impact on how the brain’s white matter ages. The research indicates that older women who lived in geographic locations with higher levels of fine particulate matter in ambient air had significantly smaller white matter volumes across a wide range of brain areas.

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June 25, 2015: New drug squashes cancer’s last-ditch efforts to survive

As a tumor grows, its cancerous cells ramp up an energy-harvesting process to support its hasty development. This process, called autophagy, is normally used by a cell to recycle damaged organelles and proteins, but is also co-opted by cancer cells to meet their increased energy and metabolic demands. Salk Institute and Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute (SBP) scientists have developed a drug that prevents this process from starting in cancer cells. The new study identifies a small molecule drug that specifically blocked the first step of autophagy, effectively cutting off the recycled nutrients that cancer cells need to live.

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June 26, 2015: Exit Dinosaurs, Enter Fishes

A pair of paleobiologists from Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego have determined that the world’s most numerous and diverse vertebrates ¬– ray-finned fishes – began their ecological dominance of the oceans 66 million years ago, aided by the mass extinction event that killed off dinosaurs.

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June 5: A new role for zebrafish: larger scale gene function studies

A relatively new method of targeting specific DNA sequences in zebrafish could dramatically accelerate the discovery of gene function and the identification of disease genes in humans, according to scientists at the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), part of the National Institutes of Health.

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June 12, 2015: FDA approves brain implant to help reduce Parkinson’s disease and essential tremor symptoms

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today approved the Brio Neurostimulation System, an implantable deep brain stimulation device to help reduce the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease and essential tremor, a movement disorder that is one of the most common causes of tremors. The Brio Neurostimulation System can help some patients when medication alone may not provide adequate relief from symptoms such as walking difficulties, balance problems, and tremors.

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June 16, 2015: The FDA takes step to remove artificial trans fats in processed foods

Based on a thorough review of the scientific evidence, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration today finalized its determination that partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs), the primary dietary source of artificial trans fat in processed foods, are not “generally recognized as safe” or GRAS for use in human food. Food manufacturers will have three years to remove PHOs from products.

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June 18, 2015: FDA allows marketing of new device to help the blind process visual signals via their tongues

The Food and Drug Administration today allowed marketing of a new device that when used along with other assistive devices, like a cane or guide dog, can help orient people who are blind by helping them process visual images with their tongues.

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June 18, 2015: Researchers design placenta-on-a-chip to better understand pregnancy

National Institutes of Health (NIH) researchers and their colleagues have developed a “placenta-on-a-chip” to study the inner workings of the human placenta and its role in pregnancy. The device was designed to imitate, on a micro-level, the structure and function of the placenta and model the transfer of nutrients from mother to fetus. This prototype is one of the latest in a series of organ-on-a-chip technologies developed to accelerate biomedical advances.

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June 11, 2015: We’ve found Philae!

After months of searching, the teams at the LAM astrophysics laboratory in Marseilles and the SONC (Science Operations and Navigation Centre) in Toulouse, working with scientists involved in the CONSERT and ROMAP instruments, have found what they believe is the Philae lander, released onto the surface of comet 67P on 12 November 2014.

To access the full article:

June 15, 2015: A microbial virus from extreme environment opens doors to new therapeutical strategies

Following their research on virus SIRV2, a virus found to survive in extreme environments (very hot and acidic), researchers from the University of Washington, the University of Virginia and the Institut Pasteur have discovered what appears to be a basic mechanism of resistance to heat, dehydratation and ultraviolet radiation. This finding could potentially lead to many applications, including the development of new ways to package DNA for gene therapy.

To access the full article:

June 16, 2015: Restoring natural immunity against cancers

Scientists at the Institut Pasteur and Inserm have successfully increased the infiltration of immune cells into tumors, thus inducing the immune system to block tumor growth. The scientists show that, in combination with existing immunotherapies, this process efficiently destroys cancer cells.

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June 18, 2015: Obesity : small intestine contributes to chronic inflammation

Obesity is caused by numerous and complex factors, some of which are as yet unsuspected. Scientists from the CNRS, INSERM, UPMC and Université Paris Descartes, working with research clinicians from Paris Public Hospitals (AP-HP) have now shown that severe obesity is accompanied by inflammation of the small intestine and enhanced immune response in that region. This phenomenon reduces the insulin sensitivity of enterocytes1 and increases the absorption of nutrients, thus exacerbating the disease.

To access the full article:




From networks to function: Computational models of organogenesis
July 7, 2015, 1:00 pm
Location: Health Sciences Campus, Broad CIRM Center (BCC), 1st Floor Conference Room
Featured Speaker: Dagmar Iber, ETH Zurich
More Information: https://www.usc.edu/calendar/event/916852

Lecture: Catalyzing Translational Innovation
July 9, 2015, 4:00 pm
Location: Health Sciences Campus, Aresty Auditorium
Featured Speaker: Christopher P. Austin, MD
More Information: https://www.usc.edu/calendar/event/916857


Startup UCLA Summer Accelerator & Blackstone LaunchPad Speaker Series
Tuesday June 28, 2015, 7:00 – 8:30 pm
Sunset Village - Covel North Ridge Room
More Information: http://happenings.ucla.edu/all/event/167920

University of Arizona

Summer Science Saturday
July 18, 2015, 10:00 am - 4:00 pm
Kuiper Space Sciences
More Information: http://uanews.org/calendar/59862-summer-science-saturday

UC Riverside

Evening with the Expert Lecture Series
July 29, 2015 – 6:30 - 9:00 pm
UC Riverside Extension Center
Featured Speaker: Dr. Bir Bhanu, Distinguished Professor of Computer Science and Engineering and Director of the VISLab at UCR
More Information: http://events.ucr.edu/cgi-bin/display.cgi?comp_id=43011:20150729183000

Salk Institute for Biological Studies
More Information: http://www.salk.edu/events/scientific_seminars.html

The 9th Salk Institute Cell Cycle Meeting
July 7-10, 2015
More Information: http://www.salk.edu/cellcycle2015/

The Scripps Research Institute
More Information: http://www.scripps.edu/california/events/seminars.html

Enabling Copper for Coupling and Tandem Reactions through Tailored Ligand Design and Mechanistic Studies
July 2, 2015 - 1:00 - 2:00 PM
Location: BCC-W.M Keck Foundation Amphitheater
Featured Speaker: Ramesh Giri, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Dept. of Chemistry & Chemical Biology, Univ. of New Mexico

Venoms and Toxins: A Source of Inspiration
July 14, 2015 - 2:00 – 3:00 pm
Location: BCC-W.M Keck Foundation Amphitheater
Featured Speaker: R. Manjunatha Kini, Ph.D., Professor, Dept. of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Science, National University of Singapore

SUMO Throws its Weight Around in Genome Stability, Cancer and Neurodegeneration
July 29, 2015 - 10:00 – 11:00 am
Location: MBB2N - The Committee Lecture Hall
Featured Speaker: Michael Nicholas Boddy, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Dept. of Cell & Molecular Biology, TSRI

Perspectives on Ocean Science Lecture: Glaciers Speak with Tongues of Ice
July 13, 2015 – 7:00 PM
Location: Birch Aquarium
Featured Speaker: Scripps Oceanographer Dr. Grant Deane
More Information: https://scripps.ucsd.edu/events/perspectives-ocean-science-lecture-glaciers-speak-tongues-ice

UC Irvine

Using Science and Decision-Making Tools to Create Resilient Coastal Communities
July 22, 2015 – 9:00am - 5:00 pm
Location: University Club
Featured Speaker: Gary Griggs, Earth sciences Distinguished Professor, UC Santa Cruz; and Catherine Kuhlman, executive director, California Ocean Protection Council and oceans & coastal matters assistant secretary, California Natural Resources Agency
More Information: http://today.uci.edu/events/event/using-science-and-decision-making-tools-to-create-resilient-coastal-communities/


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