News highlights for November 30, 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.

Technology Review
Computers get help from the human brain

Tapping into the processing power of the human brain could help computers with some tasks. Most brain-computer interface research is focused on harnessing conscious processes, says Eric Leuthardt, director of the Center for Innovation in Neuroscience and Technology at Washington University School of Medicine. “Reading our brain signals and being able to distinguish ‘interesting’ from ‘not interesting’ prior to us having a conscious perception of seeing the item tells us that there is a substantial amount of processing that our brain does prior to the conscious awareness of the perception.” Link to Article

A look at a college’s personal finance course

Adrianne Gore, a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, recently opened her second credit card account. Unlike many college students, this was not an act of desperation that will leave her riddled with debt. Gore is following the advice of her personal finance course. However, despite their growing popularity, courses like this cannot be found at a majority of universities. Michael Gordinier has taught this course at Washington University’s Olin School of Business since 2003. Link to Article

Science Codex
Chemistry for greenhouse gases

If fossil fuels burn completely, the end products are carbon dioxide and water. Today, the carbon dioxide is a waste product, one that goes into the air — adding to global warming; or the oceans — acidifying them; or underground — with as yet unknown consequences. But it’s not impossible, says Liviu M. Mirica, PhD, assistant professor of chemistry at Washington University in St. Louis, to drive things the other way, turning carbon dioxide into fuels such as methanol or hydrocarbons. Link to Article

Xconomy Boston
How to keep academic/big pharma alliances from going off the rails

Recent dispute over who controls the licensing rights to a potential cancer drug is sure to bring attention to the issues inherent in broad strategic alliances between academia and industry, writes Scott Forrest, the Senior Director of Business and Technology Development at The Scripps Research Institute. Forest says it’s common for companies to sponsor the work of an individual lab or to support a specific project, but these types of broad institutional strategic alliances that grant rights to wide areas of technology were once rare, even controversial. Pfizer’s agreement with Washington University in St. Louis is an example. Link to Article

Drug companies pay at least 719 doctors

A non-profit investigative journalism organization, Pro Publica, has identified 719 Missouri doctors who have taken more than 7.7 million dollars from seven pharmaceutical companies. One of the biggest beneficiaries of the program is Washington University anesthesiology professor Anthony Guarino, who is listed as receiving more than $255,000 dollars in the last 18 months to speak to other doctors about the products of three companies. Guarino has told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch he lets his patients know about his relationships with the companies and says he mostly prescribes generics despite those relationships. Link to Article

St. Louis Public Radio
Bio-hybrid energy / STL bike plan

A discussion about local plant research aimed at alleviating the energy crisis features comments by Robert Blankenship, Director of the Photosynthetic Research Center and a professor of biology and chemistry at Washington University. Other guests include Richard Sayre, Ph.D., Director, Enterprise Rent-A-Car Institute for Renewable Fuels at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center. Listen to Online Podcast

St. Louis Business Journal
Washington U. names Olin Cup finalists

The Skandalaris Center for Entrepreneurial Studies at Washington University in St. Louis has named the six finalists for its 2010 Olin Cup Competition. The winners, who will earn $75,000 in seed funding, cash prizes and in-kind services, will be honored at an awards ceremony Feb. 3.

Link to Article

Daily RFT
Wash. U. researcher plans to use bee venom to stop pregnancy, HIV

Dr. Sam Wickline of Washington University Medical School has proposed a radical new way of preventing both pregnancy and disease: not by blocking sperm and viruses, but by killing them. This month, Wickline won a $100,000 Grand Challenges Explorations grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation that will fund the development of a new vaginal antiviral contraceptive gel. Wickline’s gel will contain nanoparticles that will target both sperm and HIV and deliver a toxic bee venom that will incapacitate both the cell and the virus. Link to Article

Channel 4 News at Noon

The holidays are a time of gift, food, and for many, a few extra pounds. If you’re already overweight, there may be an opportunity for you to be part of an obesity study under way at Washington University in St. Louis. Dr. Sam Klein, director of the Center for Human Nutrition at the University’s School of Medicine, discusses the study and options for volunteering. Link to Broadcast

St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Costas, panel discuss sports

In surveying the robust state of sports, Bob Costas and other panelists at a Washington University event described how excessive and ubiquitous coverage has cluttered the landscape, sometimes at the expense of clarity and certainly at the cost of romance.

Link to Article See also Post-Dispatch (preview story) See also Riverfront Times See also Sports Illustrated / blog See also St. Louis Beacon

St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Nonstop re-creation of a real teenager
“The Diary of Anne Frank,” which opened Friday at the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, tells a different story than the 1955 version. Why so many changes? “This play was about the 1950s,” said Washington University drama professor Henry Schvey, who last semester taught a class in theater and the Holocaust. “It was nonthreatening and uplifting. That’s all audiences wanted to hear, if they were willing to hear anything about the Holocaust at all. It made a contribution. But like anything else, it was a product of its times.” Link to Article

News in higher education

Los Angeles Times

Eating disorders common on college campuses

Eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia, disordered eating and extreme or unusual diets are common across college campuses—particularly among young women. By some estimates, 20 percent of college students have anorexia, bulimia or a binge-eating disorder. Colleges have recognized the issue, and many have programs to identify signs of eating disorders and promote good eating habits. Link to Article


College students on break fix others’ lives

This winter, thousands of college students nationwide will cut their sleigh riding and hot chocolate sipping short to travel around the country and the world on service trips. Link to Article

New York Times / International Herald Tribune
U.N. wants universities to help foster development
The United Nations announced last week the formation of a global initiative to involve the academic world in its work. The project, called the United Nations Academic Impact, will hold its first conference on Dec. 15 in Asturias, Spain. The initiative will include more than 500 institutions from more than 90 countries. Link to Article

For additional higher education news (subscription may be required):
The Chronicle of Higher Education
Inside Higher Ed
University Business

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