Los Angeles S&T Newsletter #70 – January 2016

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In the spirit of the holiday season, these French and American scientists gave us the gifts of their great scientific discoveries this past month! We’ve saved the best for last: so light the fireplace, grab some chocolat chaud and read about the last discoveries of 2015 and the wonderful scientific events that will usher in the New Year!

Three French expats receive recognition from the scientific community – French Scientists have been in the limelight of the Southern Californian scientific community this year! UCI Professor of Electrical Engineering, Jean-Luc Gaudiot, was recently elected president of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), which is an international professional association in the computer technologies industry. Husband and wife Magda Marquet and François Ferré are also this year’s recipients of the Entrepreneur Hall of Fame award. All three of these scientists have made valuable contributions to the advancement of Southern Californian scientific research in the past, so we would like to congratulate them on their well-deserved recognition.

French-American satellite Jason-3 to be launched in January – On Sunday, January 17, 2016, Jason-3 is scheduled to launch at the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Jason-3 (as well as its predecessors and its successor, JASON-CS) is a cooperative effort between the American and French space agencies, NASA and CNES. The focus of the upcoming mission is to gather data on the topography of Earth’s ocean floor. This will give scientists a deeper insight into ocean circulation patterns and the effects of global warming. This is the culmination of the kind of French-American scientific cooperation that we at the Office of Science and Technology like to see, so we are very excited to see this launch and the useful information that it will unearth.

Happy New Year (of Café des Sciences)! – Start the New Year off right by attending one of the upcoming Café des Sciences in the LA area! To complement last month’s Café des Sciences, Dr. Lucille Toth of Scripps College will discuss the relationship between culture and movement at the Alliance Française of Los Angeles. You can also head down to the Alliance Française of Pasadena this January to attend the Café des Sciences that will be led by Christophe Sotin, Chief Scientist, Solar System Exploration Directorate at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). Dr. Sotin will present his talk, «L’exploration de Titan par la mission Cassini-Huygens» (“The Exploration of Titan by the Cassin-Huygens Mission”). More information about both Cafés des Sciences can be found below:

Café des Sciences in LA: https://apm.activecommunities.com/alliancefrancaisela/Activity_Search/767
Café des Sciences in Pasadena: http://www.france-science.org/Cafe-des-Sciences-in-Pasadena-CA.html

Freddie Papazyan, Science and Technology Intern
Gabrielle Mérite, Deputy Attaché for Science and Technology
Fabien Agenes, Attaché for Science and Technology

To read the full version of the January 2016 newsletter, please scroll down. You can also register here to receive emails about events organized by the OST LA.



December 11, 2015: Cryo-electron microscope research reveals structure and mechanism of Bluetongue virus

Bluetongue disease is a viral infection that has killed approximately 2 million cattle in Europe over the past two decades. A new study has revealed the atomic structure of the Bluetongue virus, including the means by which it infects healthy host cells. Scientists hope to use this information to aid in the creation of vaccines and drug treatments for bluetongue disease.

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December 02, 2015: Scientists design a new method for screening cancer cells

Scientists have previously established that many types of cancer cells are squishier and more pliable than normal, healthy cells. Now, researchers led by UCLA’s Amy Rowat have developed a screening method that utilizes this information to classify many more different types of cancer cells and that could ultimately lead to better treatments for cancer, diabetes, malaria and other diseases.

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December 8, 2015: By adding fluorescence to cancer cells, researcher hopes to target the tumor

Cancer usually manifests itself in tumors that proliferate quickly. This happens because tumor cells have higher quantities of cell surface growth factors than regular ones, which causes them to develop at accelerated rates.

Professor Richard Roberts, chair of the Mork Family Department of Materials Science and Chemical Engineering, seeks to detect and image tumorous cells in an in vivo setting. His approach consists of making fluorescent molecules that attach to the surface of the cancer cell, which could allow physicians to see exactly where they are.

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December 15, 2015: ‘Hunger hormone’ turns eating less into eating more

Looking to avoid overeating during those big holiday meals? You might want to avoid fasting in the days beforehand. Cycles of food restriction unleash a “hunger hormone” that increases the capacity to eat more before getting full, according to laboratory research by USC researchers.

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December 07, 2015: Existing Compound Holds Promise for Reducing Huntington’s Disease Progression

Currently, there is no treatment to halt the progression of Huntington’s disease (HD), a fatal genetic disorder that slowly robs sufferers of their physical and mental abilities. Now, researchers at University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have discovered that an existing compound, previously tested for diabetes, offers hope for slowing HD and its symptoms.

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December 08, 2015: New Method Allows Scientists to Screen Natural Products for Antibiotics

Biologists at UC San Diego have found that a method they developed to identify and characterize new antibiotics can be employed to screen natural products quickly for compounds capable of controlling antibiotic resistant bacteria.

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December 02, 2015: Popping Microbubbles Help Focus Light Inside the Body

A new technique developed at Caltech that uses gas-filled microbubbles for focusing light inside tissue could one day provide doctors with a minimally invasive way of destroying tumors with lasers, and lead to improved diagnostic medical imaging.

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December 14, 2015: 15 for 2015: The Year in Research News at Caltech

The year 2015 proved to be another groundbreaking year for research at Caltech. From seeing quantum motion, to reconfiguring jellyfish limbs, to measuring stellar magnetic fields, researchers continued to ask and answer the deepest scientific questions.

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December 15, 2015: Studying Microbes in the Sargasso Sea

A new initiative, supported by an anonymous $6 million grant, will foster collaborative research on the distinctive microbial communities that are the foundation of the ecosystem in the Sargasso Sea, an area that occupies two-thirds of the North Atlantic Ocean.

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December 3, 2015: The Fadeout Effect

The winner of a decades-old debate about what scientists call the fadeout effect — one of the most persistent research mysteries in intelligence and psychological development — may finally have been decided.

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December 9, 2015: Is stroke prevention taking a back seat to stroke treatment?

Many strokes that required immediate treatment in emergency rooms may have been preventable, according to a University of California, Irvine study.

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December 2, 2015: New class of inhibitory compounds developed to aid melanoma treatments

A University of California, Irvine pharmacology researcher has helped create a class of inhibitory compounds that can strongly enhance the effect of anti-tumor drugs for melanoma.

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December 11, 2015: The Universe in Your Hand

3D-printing technology has been used to create everything from iPad stands to guitars to lawnmowers and cars. Now a physicist at the University of California, Riverside is using the technology to understand the universe – its structure, the evolution of cosmic structures within it, and galaxy formation.

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December 16, 2015: Brain Research is Focus of Daylong Symposium

Two kinds of cells are found in the brain: neurons and glial cells (or glia). Formerly thought to provide little more than metabolic and structural support for neurons, glia maintain homeostasis and protect the neurons. Glia have gained traction in research with the growing recognition that neuron-neuron communication is not only regulated but also defined by them.

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December 17, 2015: Loss of tiny genetic molecules could play role in neurodegenerative diseases

A tiny sliver of a person’s DNA—several thousand times smaller than a typical gene—produces a molecule that has crucial influence over whether a person has any control over their muscles, according to a paper published December 18, 2015 in the journal Science.

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December 15, 2015: Salk scientists discover the function and connections of three cell types in the brain

How the brain functions is still a black box: scientists aren’t even sure how many kinds of nerve cells exist in the brain. To know how the brain works, they need to know not only what types of nerve cells exist, but also how they work together. Researchers at the Salk Institute have gotten one step closer to unlocking this black box.

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December 21, 2015: Speeding up brain’s waste disposal may slow down neurodegenerative diseases

A study of mice shows how proteasomes, a cell’s waste disposal system, may break down during Alzheimer’s disease, creating a cycle in which increased levels of damaged proteins become toxic, clog proteasomes, and kill neurons. The study, published in Nature Medicine and supported by the National Institutes of Health, suggests that enhancing proteasome activity with drugs during the early stages of Alzheimer’s may prevent dementia and reduce damage to the brain.

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December 18, 2015: Scientists manipulate consciousness in rats

Scientists showed that they could alter brain activity of rats and either wake them up or put them in an unconscious state by changing the firing rates of neurons in the central thalamus, a region known to regulate arousal. The study, published in eLIFE, was partially funded by the National Institutes of Health.

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December 21, 2015: International study reveals new genetic clues to age-related macular degeneration

An international study of about 43,000 people has significantly expanded the number of genetic factors known to play a role in age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a leading cause of vision loss among people age 50 and older. Supported by the National Eye Institute (NEI), part of the National Institutes of Health, the findings may help improve our understanding of the biological processes that lead to AMD and identify new therapeutic targets for potential drug development.

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December 15, 2015 : Treatment of lupus: Lupuzor™ enters phase III

LupuzorTM may become the first specific and non-immunosuppressant therapy for lupus, a disabling autoimmune disease that is currently incurable. Discovered by Sylviane Muller’s team in the CNRS Immunopathologie et Chimie Thérapeutique laboratory, in Strasbourg, this peptide is the subject of a CNRS patent (granted in 2009) and has already successfully completed phases I and II of its regulatory clinical trials, supervised by ImmuPharma-France. An international phase III pivotal trial1, also managed by this company, will begin in a few days’ time in the US when the first patient starts the treatment, before the trial is extended to Europe. Phase III is the last stage in the testing of a candidate drug, before it can be given market approval. The launch of phase III was the subject of a meeting involving around a hundred physicians on December 11-12, in Paris.

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December 08, 2015: Individual susceptibility to liver toxicity of alcohol depends on the intestinal microbiota

Despite excessive alcohol consumption, some individuals remain in good health while others develop liver disease. This inequality regarding the toxicity of alcohol for the liver depends on the intestinal microbiota. This has just been demonstrated by scientists and physicians from Paris-Sud University, Inserm, AP-HP (Antoine-Béclère Hospital), INRA (French National Institute for Agricultural Research), AgroParitech and Aix-Marseille University. These results are published online in the journal Gut.

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December 03, 2015: Innate lymphoid cells: a backup system for fighting intestinal infections

Éric Vivier’s team at Marseille-Luminy Immunology Center (CIML), a CNRS, Inserm and Aix-Marseille University research centre, in collaboration with Gabrielle Belz’s team at Walter and Elisa Hall Institute (WEHI), Melbourne, sheds new light on the dynamics of the immune networks that protect our intestine. During episodes of bacterial diarrhoea, innate lymphoid cells (ILCs) “share the work” with memory T lymphocytes, but can also compensate for them in the event of failure.
The authors also show that ILCs protect the appendix from potential damage caused by infection, a finding that may confer a new status on this organ. These discoveries are presented this Monday, 30 November, in the scientific journal Nature Immunology.

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December 16, 2015: Brand new intervertebral discs for back pain

Throughout life, extremely heavy demands are made on the spinal column. Spinal wear very soon affects the quality of life, and back pain is often described as the illness of the century. 40% of back pain may be due to irreversible deterioration of the intervertebral discs (which act as “cushions” between the vertebrae), which can no longer play their role as shock absorbers. Researchers from Inserm led by Jérôme Guicheux (Inserm Unit 791, “Laboratory of Osteoarticular and Dental Tissue Engineering,” Nantes) have successfully transformed adipose stem cells into cells that might be able to replace damaged discs. This work is published in the journal Stem cells.

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December 02, 2015: Benzodiazepine use is associated with a risk of developing dementia

A link between benzodiazepine use and the occurrence of dementia has been observed in a study, the results of which are published in the journal Alzheimer’s and Dementia, conducted by a team of Inserm researchers directed by Christophe Tzourio (Inserm Unit 897, “Epidemiology and Biostatistics Center,” Univ ersity of Bordeaux). More precisely, it is mainly the long half-life benzodiazepines (which disappear from the body in over 20 hours) that are associated with the risk of dementia. In this study, people taking long half-life benzodiazepines have a 60% increased risk of dementia.

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Speaker: Bing Ren, University of California, San Diego
January 5, 2016 – 11:00 am
Location: Health Sciences Campus, Broad CIRM Center 1st Floor Conference Room
Featured Speaker: Bing Ren, University of California, San Diego
More Information: https://www.usc.edu/calendar/event/916784

Speaker: Rudolf Jaenisch, Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
January 12, 2016 – 11:00 am
Location: Health Sciences Campus, Broad CIRM Center 1st Floor Conference Room
Featured Speaker: Rudolf Jaenisch, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
More Information: https://www.usc.edu/calendar/event/916785


The Impact of Bone on Whole Organism Physiology
January 6, 2016 – 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
Location: Neuroscience Research Building - Auditorium - Room 132
Featured Speaker: Gerard Karsenty, M.D., Ph.D., Columbia University
More Information: http://happenings.ucla.edu/all/event/187632


Materials Challenges for Next-Generation, High-Density Magnetic Recording: Media and Read Heads
January 11, 2016 – 11:00 am - 12:00 pm
Location: Center for Memory and Recording Research, Jack Keil Wolf Auditorium
More Information: https://calendar.ucsd.edu/DisplayEventDetail.asp?iEventID=178986&iSubCatID=36&iRoomID=


Christopher Umans - Algorithmic Magic: Behind the Scenes of Modern Computer Science
January 20, 2016 – 8:00 pm
Location: Beckman Auditorium
Featured Speaker: Christopher Umans, Caltech
More Information: http://www.caltech.edu/content/christopher-umans-algorithmic-magic-behind-scenes-modern-computer-science

Quantum Summit
January 27, 2016 – 9:00 am
Location: Ramo Auditorium – Donald E. Baxter, M.D., Hall of the Humanities and Social Sciences
Featured Speaker: Numerous speakers (see link below)
More Information: http://www.caltech.edu/content/quantum-summit


Aging and the Immune System with Dr. Ilhem Messaoudi
January 13, 2016 – 6:00 – 7:30 pm
Location: UCR Palm Desert 75080 Frank Sinatra Drive, Palm Desert Auditorium
Featured Speaker: Dr. Ilhem Messaoudi
More Information: http://events.ucr.edu/cgi-bin/display.cgi?comp_id=43649:20160113180000

All about Strokes: Prevention and Recovery
January 19, 2016 – 6:00 – 7:30 pm
Location: UCR Palm Desert 75080 Frank Sinatra Drive, Palm Desert Auditorium
More Information: http://events.ucr.edu/cgi-bin/display.cgi?comp_id=43652:20160119180000

The University of Arizona

Lecture - ’Dementia: A Global Challenge’
January 22, 2016 – 8:00 am
Location: UA College of Medicine - Tucson, Room 5403
Featured Speaker: Irena Rektorová, Central European Institute of Technology, Brno, Czech Republic
More Information: https://uanews.arizona.edu/calendar/61284-lecture-dementia-global-challenge

Conversations on Compassion Lecture Series - ’The Social Neuroscience of Empathy and Compassion’
January 20, 2016 – 5:30 pm
Location: The Core at TMC, La Encantada Shopping Center, Upper Level, 2905 E. Skyline Drive, Suite 277
Featured Speaker: Al Kaszniak, University of Arizona
More Information: https://uanews.arizona.edu/calendar/61628-conversations-compassion-lecture-series-social-neuroscience-empathy-and-compassion


Neuroscience Seminar
January 12, 2016 – 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Location: Telemedicine Theater B001
Featured Speaker: Peter Strick, University of Pittsburgh
More Information: http://today.uci.edu/events/event/neuroscience-seminar/


Christine M. Cunningham, “Engineering EiE®: The Development of an Elementary Engineering Curriculum”
January 14, 2016 – 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm
Location: Education Building – Don Gevirtz Boardroom
Featured Speaker: Christine M. Cunningham
More Information: https://events.ucsb.edu/event/christine-m-cunningham-engineering-eie-the-development-of-an-elementary-engineering-curriculum/

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

Orexin Receptor Antagonist Research at Merck: From Genetic Target Validation to New Therapeutic Agents for the Treatment of Insomnia
January 22, 2016 – 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm
Location: BCC1 - W.M. Keck Foundation Amphitheater
Featured Speaker: Anthony J. Roecker

Chemical Interrogation of Cell Signaling
January 29, 2016 – 3:30 pm - 4:30 pm
Location: BCC1 - W.M. Keck Foundation Amphitheater
Featured Speaker: Chao Zhang

Salk Institute for Biological Studies
More Information: http://www.salk.edu/events/science-events/

Innovation by Evolution: Expanding the Enzyme Universe
January 20, 2016 – 11:00 am
Location: Conrad T. Prebys Auditorium
Featured Speaker: Frances H. Arnold


Please consult Le Fil de Marianne for further information on international calls and job offers.
Le Fil de Marianne Newsletter, (in French), published by the CNRS and INSERM Offices, with support from the Office for Science and Technology, provides information on French research institutions (CNRS, INSERM, INRIA, INRA, Ifremer, etc.), the European Commission and other organizations including their calls for proposals, programs of study, postdoctoral programs and scientific conferences as well as general information on research in France.


La Mission pour la Science et la Technologie du Consulat Général de France à Los Angeles
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 et nos activités, sont également disponibles en ligne.


The Office for Science and Technology of the Consulate General of France in Los Angeles
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