News highlights for September 28, 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.

Chronicle of Higher Education

An elaborate ranking of doctoral programs makes its long-awaited debut – faculty

Now it can be told. The American doctoral program with the longest median time-to-degree is the music program at Washington University in St. Louis: 16.3 years. That’s just one of a quarter million data points that appear in the National Research Council’s new report on doctoral education in the United States, which was finally unveiled Tuesday afternoon after years of delay. (The Chronicle has published an interactive tool that allows readers to compare doctoral programs across 21 variables.) Link to Article

The Huffington Post

Fiscal commission mistakenly targets social security for cuts

Merton Bernstein, the Coles Prof of Law Emeritus at Washington University, and his wife, Joan, pen an article suggesting that misinformation and misunderstanding, much of it deliberate, fuel the mistaken notion that we can pare the federal deficit by trimming Social Security. That path would lead to undiminished deficits, more poverty, less purchasing power, less business income and more unemployment, they argue. Link to Article

The Times of India

Friends detect Alzheimer’s better

Family members and close friends are better at detecting Alzheimer’s than conventional methods, says a new study. Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis validated Ascertain Dementia 8 by checking to see if it could highlight individuals who had biological indicators, or biomarkers, for Alzheimer’s disease, such as abnormal levels of certain factors in the spinal fluid or positive brain scans for Alzheimer’s plaques. Link to Article See also ASCA News Wire (Italy) See also KMOX Radio (St. Louis) See also USA Today

Ammon News (Jordan)

US embassy hosts Randa Kuziez to discuss youth activism and religious pluralism


Randy Kuziez, a master’s candidate in the International Affairs Program at Washington University in Saint Louis, is visiting the region to discuss religious pluralism and empowering women and youth. Kuziez, a former Fellow with the Tony Blair Faith Foundation, will be visiting Amman, Karak, Ma’an and Mafraq to lead workshops on community activism, youth empowerment and interfaith activities. She will also discuss her experiences as a Muslim woman living in the United States. Kuziez speaks fluent Arabic and holds a black belt in Tae Kwon Do. LInk to Article

Bio-IT World

The road to the $1,000 genome

Bio-IT World special edition offers some useful perspectives on the march to the $1,000 genome, which some regard as a medical imperative and others a grand illusion. David Dooling of The Genome Center at Washington University, estimates the true cost of a “$10,000 genome” as closer to $30,000, by the time one considers all the related costs from instrument depreciation, personnel, informatics, management and other overheads. In a related story on data storage, Dooling suggest that software advances have been the saving grace for storage thus far. “As the software has improved, people are less and less adamant about retaining extra bits of information about that base call,” he says. Link to Article

Miller-McCune magazine

Conversational well-being: Quality over quantity

Less small talk and more substantive conversation causes increased happiness, according to new research in the journal Psychological Science co-authored by Simine Vazire of the Washington University in St. Louis. “Our findings suggest that people find their lives more worth living when examined — at least when examined together,” the research team concludes. Link to Article

Technology Review
Mapping the brain on a massive scale

A massive new project to scan the brains of 1,200 volunteers could finally give scientists a picture of the neural architecture of the human brain and help them understand the causes of certain neurological and psychological diseases. “We want to learn as much as we can, not only about the typical patterns of brain connectivity, but also about the differences in wiring that make each of us a unique individual,” says David Van Essen, neuroscientist at Washington University in St. Louis, who is one of the project leaders. Link to Article

Nanotechnology Now
NIH and FDA announce awards to advance regulatory science
The National Institutes of Health will award $9.4 million over three years to support four research projects in regulatory science. Dennis E. Hourcade, a rheumatology researcher at Washington University in St. Louis, will receive a grant to explore Characterization/Bioinformatics-modeling of Nanoparticle: Complement Interactions,” These projects will better inform scientists and regulatory reviewers about medical product safety, and improve the evaluation and availability of new medical products. Link to Article

CourierPost Online
Just a memory lapse? Or is it Alzheimer’s?

Some reduction in memory is typical in healthy, normal aging, says Mark McDaniel, a psychology professor at Washington University in St. Louis. But there will be definite signals when memory really starts to go awry, he says. “An older adult who has started to have trouble remembering the way home and the streets in the neighborhood where they have lived for a while has a potential sign they’ve got something pathological,” McDaniel says. “If you’re aging normally, you would not have difficulty remembering common environmental landmarks and how to get home.” Link to Article

Press and Guide (Dearborn, Michigan)

Fan films based on popular characters becoming an emerging artform

Fan films based on popular film and TV franchises such as “Batman,” “Star Trek,” and “Serenity” are now an emerging artform. Since fan films generally use characters and storylines that are copyrighted and trademarked by the studios, they could face legal challenges. Peter Coogan, who teaches pop culture and media studies at Washington University in St. Louis, says bullying devoted fans would be a mistake. “These are the very people corporations do NOT want to attack,” he says. “As long as the creators of fan films are not making money off of trademarked characters they do not own, fan films are a legitimate business.” Link to Article

The Edwardsville Intelligencer

Madison County Bar Association helping future attorneys

Some area law students will be splitting more than $23,000 in scholarship funds raised recently by members of the Madison County Bar Association. WUSTL is one of five area law schools participating in the program, which was announced Thursday at the annual MCBA Scholarship Dinner. When retired Madison County Circuit Judge Nicholas Byron offered to donate a thousand dollars for Wash U, someone in the crowd facetiously urged him to kick in money for the U of I as well. Byron balked. “I’m with Wash U.,” he said. “That’s the finest law school in the area!” Link to Article

Belleville News-Democrat
Despite felony charges, East Side student can play football, go to prom
When it came time for the prom, Charles T. Tigue, a 17-year-old East St. Louis High School Flyers football player, bought a ticket to the dance, contacted his lawyer and got a court order allowing him to remove his electronic monitoring device for several hours; monitoring is a condition of Tigue’s release on two felony armed robbery charges. WUSTL law professor Peter Joy said that releasing the teen from electronic monitoring is not that unusual. “It sounds like that judge was trying to balance the interest of society and the judicial process with the rights of the accused,” he said. Link to Article

News in higher education

Boston Globe

After attacks, area colleges try to balance security, access

Colleges boost security, consider limits following series of attacks. As authorities searched for the assailants in recent stabbings at two area colleges, college officials and security specialists said the attacks underlined the uneasy reality that even secluded campuses are susceptible to violence from outsiders and can reasonably do only so much to prevent it. Link to Article

AAAS Science Insider
Judges ask tough questions of both sides in appeal of stem cell research ban

Today, government lawyers asked an appeals court to suspend a lower court ruling that froze federally funded research on human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) last month. In a rapid-fire discussion that lasted more than an hour, a three-judge panel had tough questions for both sides in the dispute; at the end of the hearing, it wasn’t clear which way the court was leaning. Part of the discussion centered on the alleged harm to National Institutes of Health (NIH) and researchers if the ban is put back in place. Link to Article

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The Chronicle of Higher Education
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