News highlights for August 31, 2010

CisionPoint news monitoring provides this small sampling of the university's daily news coverage. Click headline to read full text via Cision or link directly to the online article where available. For questions or comments about this service, or to add or delete a name from the mailing list, please contact Gerry Everding.

US News & World Report

Beyond college immunizations: How students can avoid getting sick
Any college student knows close contact isn’t really optional. When you’re sleeping inches away from a roommate (or two or three), and sharing restrooms, showers, desks, and dining space—and sometimes even swapping spit—germs are bound to spread. Indeed, bugs like upper-respiratory infections, colds, and, on the more serious side, mononucleosis and meningitis, tend to flourish on college campuses. “Fortunately, most of these illnesses aren’t life-threatening,” says Alan Glass, director of student health at Washington University in St. Louis and president of the American College Health Association. “But they do cause students to miss school, and if it’s a critical time in the semester, just a few days can make the difference between an A or a B.” Link to Article
MS activity may vary with seasons
In the spring and summer, some people with multiple sclerosis are at a two to three times greater risk for disease activity, according to new research in the journal Neurology. In a related editorial, Washington University neurologist Anne Cross writes: “This study implicates something going on in the environment, at least in the Boston area but probably many other places too, that is happening either in the spring or summer or just prior to that and somehow enhancing or allowing more disease activity in MS and if we could come up with what that factor(s) is/are, we might be able to alter the course of the disease.” Link to Article See also Bloomberg/Business Week
New device packs power to analyze genes, proteins at patients’ bedside
Researchers have developed a device that quickly identifies genes and proteins in body fluids — a technique that could make a vital difference to the trauma patients doctors treat, according to a study in Nature Medicine. The technology, called a microfluidic cassette, allows precise analysis of very small volumes of fluids and can be used to study patients’ genes and proteins. “There’s tremendous genetic variation among people, so you can’t expect patients to react the same way,” said Bernard Brownstein, Ph.D., a senior research scientist in the department of anesthesiology at Washington University in St. Louis and a co-author of the journal article. Link to Article

Science Magazine
Mammoth-Killer impact rejected
Recent research contends an asteroid or comet struck North America about 13,000 years ago wiping out large animals and leaving behind nano-scale diamond crystals formed by the impact. Physicist Tyrone Daulton of Washington University in St. Louis and colleagues published research in PNAS this week suggesting that a re-examination of sediments in the study area showed no evidence of hexagonal diamonds, and that the previous study was based on a “gross misidentification” of another sheet-like form of carbon. “I’m convinced there’s no [hexagonal] diamond present,” says Daulton. Link to Article See also Nature News Related news release

Chain Drug Review
STD testing represents unmet need.
Recent research shows that there is an unmet need in the market for home test kits for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). In a recent survey, 76% of the respondents said they would prefer to do the test themselves. “The results are important because they show you can increase screening for these infections, which are very common and cause serious health problems such as infertility, ectopic pregnancy and pelvic inflammatory disease,” says the study’s lead author, Dr. Jeffrey Peipert, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Washington University in St. Louis. Link to article

Where biology meets building
The Tyson Living Learning Center at Washington University in St. Louis is one of several buildings currently striving to meet the demands of the Living Building Challenge, which focuses on renewable energies and to meet the challenge, 100 percent of a project’s energy needs must be supplied by on-site renewable energy on a net annual basis. Link to Article

FOX 2 News at 9PM
Fox Files features a St. Louis mother and son who have lost weight by taking advantage of free help offered to volunteers in a web study at the Washington University School of Medicine. The program is called COMPASS, which stands for Comprehensive Maintenance Program to Achieve Sustained Success. Washington University is looking for volunteers ages seven-to-11 for the next part of the study. Link to Article / Online Video Link to Broadcast See also St. Louis Beacon

KMOX-AM Radio (St. Louis)

Local sports medicine doc says take head bumps in young athletes seriously
A new study finds emergency room visits for school-age athletes with concussions has skyrocketed in recent years. Dr. Mark Halstead, a sports medicine specialist at Washington University School of Medicine, Barnes Jewish and St. Louis Children’s Hospitals, tells KMOX awareness of these injuries is up big time. Link to Article
Nicklaus: Listening to bankers who make sense
Anjan Thakor, a professor of finance at Washington University’s Olin Business School, joined three bankers in a panel discussion at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis to discuss new financial reform legislation, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. Thakor suggests that the law was a missed opportunity. “If eliminating too-big-to-fail was the goal of this bill, then the bill is going to fail,” Thakor declared. Link to Article

News in higher education

Science Magazine / Science Insider
NIH orders immediate shutdown of intramural human embryonic stem cell research
Responding to a court order issued a week ago, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) this morning ordered intramural researchers studying human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) to shut down their experiments. NIH’s action — probably unprecedented in its history — is a response to a preliminary injunction on Aug. 23 from U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth. Link to Article

National Institutes of Health
NIH loan repayment programs relieve researchers’ educational debt
As the costs of medical education continue to rise, the National Institutes of Health Loan Repayment Programs (LRPs) serve as a lifeline for physician scientists who have high educational debt. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, the average debt for graduates in the class of 2009 was $156,456, and 79 percent of all medical school graduates owed $100,000 or more. The next application cycle will open on Sept. 1. Link to Article

Associated Press / Seattle Times
Private colleges ‘act local’ with financial aid
Hoping to portray themselves as more affordable and all-around better neighbors, private colleges from Appalachia to Boston are sweetening financial aid packages for students from their own backyards. By targeting local students in financial need, Northwestern University is seeking to boost minority enrollment, strengthen local ties and stay competitive in the college admissions race at a time when many private schools are increasing aid based on student merit instead of financial circumstances. Link to Article

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The Chronicle of Higher Education
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