News highlights for September 14, 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.
Illinois SAT scores drop
Overall, 8,508 Illinois high school graduates in 2010 took the SAT. The rival ACT college entrance exam is far more popular in Illinois, where high school juniors take it as part of state exams. Still, the SAT results shed light on the knowledge of top Illinois students competing for spots in highly selective colleges and universities. Illinois graduates who took the SAT sent their results most frequently to University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Northwestern University, University of Chicago, Harvard University and Washington University in St. Louis. Link to Article

Technology Review
Treating cancer based on its genome
Just two years ago, scientists published the sequence of the first cancer genome. Now, a few physicians have begun using “whole genome analysis” to help choose the best drugs for patients. At the Personal Genomes conference this week, three researchers presented cases highlighting how the approach can work on rare tumors and other unusual cases. “It’s time to use whole genome sequencing as a diagnostic tool to understand atypical cancer cases,” said Richard Wilson, a geneticist at Washington University School of Medicine who led one of the studies. Link to Article

Doctor’s Guide
Resting state connectivity predicts clinical deficits in patients after stroke: Presented at ANA
Functional connectivity seen in brain imaging studies during the resting state offers a window into the pathophysiology of neurologic disease, suggests research presented this week at the American Neurological Association meeting. “These resting state networks are maintained even in deep anaesthesia,” said Maurizio Corbetta MD, Washington University School of Medicine. Network activity can be assessed even if the patient is unconscious, too young to respond or incoherent due to injury or disease. That makes fMRI valuable as a diagnostic tool for stroke, multiple sclerosis and cerebral lesions. Link to Article
Your idle thoughts have value
Until recently, scientists would have found little of interest in the purposeless, mind-wandering spaces between conscious tasks. But in the last few years, they have come to view mental leisure as important, purposeful work that relies on a powerful and far-flung network of brain cells firing in unison. Marcus E. Raichle, a neurologist at Washington University in St. Louis who has pioneered work in this fledgling field, says this so-called “default mode network “seems to be a critical element of that organization. It captures many of the features of how we think of ourselves.” Link to Article

St. Louis Business Journal
Washington University offers $225,000 in start-up seed money

Washington University in St. Louis has $225,000 available in seed money through two start-up contests. On Thursday, the school will kick off the sixth annual YouthBridge Social Enterprise and Innovation Competition, which doles out $150,000 to nonprofit ventures, and the 23rd annual Olin Cup, which awards $75,000 in cash and investment capital to commercial ventures. Link to Article

St. Louis Magazine
Live longer and prosper

Researchers at Washington University may have found the fountain of youth. Studies indicate increased levels of SIRT in the brain may eventually lengthen average life spans. Shin-ichiro Imai, associate professor of developmental biology and internal medicine at Washington University, says SIRT is connected to a mechanism that allows animals to survive when food is scarce. “It’s very significant,” explains Imai. “Imagine if you were to extend lifespan by 50 percent to human beings…people could live up to 120 years old as an average.” Link to Article

It’s that time of year again. Just as the weather begins to break and you want to be outside again, the ragweed begins to bloom. “Ragweed is the primary cause of discomfort during the fall allergy season,” said Susan Berdy, M.D., partner at Allergy Consultants and assistant professor of Clinical Medicine at Washington University School of Medicine. Ragweed blooms from mid-August through October, with pollen levels at their highest now. Link to Article

News in higher education

Chronicle of Higher Education

Graduate-School Applications Spike as the Economy Plunges
The number of people applying to the nation’s graduate schools spiked after the economy tanked in 2008, a new report by the Council of Graduate Schools shows. Link to Article

Bloomberg News

Women Earn More Doctorates Than Men for First Time in U.S.

Women for the first time earned a majority of U.S. doctoral degrees, building on decades of gains in higher education. Link to Article

New York Times

Student Loan Default Rate Is Continuing to Increase

The default rate on federal student loans continued to rise last year, with the rate for students at for-profit colleges — already the highest — rising the fastest. Link to Article

Financial Times

Harvard endowment fund begins recovery

The world’s wealthiest university grew richer over the past year, but has recouped only a little of the loss that it suffered from the economic crisis. In the past year, the Harvard endowment performed better than its own internal benchmarks, but its assets grew in value more slowly than those of the average institutional fund. It is still a long way from recouping the losses that it made during the financial crisis. Link to Article See also New York Times

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The Chronicle of Higher Education
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