News highlights for December 2, 2010

p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal {margin:0in 0in 0.0001pt;font-size:12pt;font-family:Cambria;} .MsoChpDefault {font-family:Cambria;} div.WordSection1 {page:WordSection1;} 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.

How to run a brainstorming session
Keith Sawyer, a professor of psychology and education at Washington University in St. Louis, calls it “group genius,” or the idea that innovation requires cross-pollination from seemingly unrelated fields. In his book, he stresses that people in the group must have enough in common to share the same vision. “There needs to be that feeling of, ‘we’re in this together, we’re doing something that’s really important, and we really need to pull together,'” he says. Sawyer recommends holding brainstorming sessions in a bright, spacious room that allows for standing up and walking around. Link to Article

Tummy time: Why babies need more of it than they’re getting
Launched in 1992, the “Back to Sleep” campaign, instructing parents to put babies to sleep on their backs, has helped cut in half the U.S. rate of sudden infant death syndrome. There’s a drawback, however: parents have been scared away from placing babies on their bellies altogether, and taking away “tummy time” can impair development. In 2004, Bradley Thach at the Washington University School of Medicine showed that babies who spent nights on their bellies quickly developed the brain connections and muscle strength to turn their heads from side to side, while back-sleepers were less likely to have sufficient head mobility at 3 to 5 months. Link to Article

The Scientist
Researchers are pinpointing the factors that combine to produce complex diseases
Thaddeus Stappenbeck, an immunologist at the Washington University School of Medicine in Saint Louis, stumbled upon a potential environmental trigger while working on a mouse model of Crohn’s.1 He and his colleagues had managed to express a variant of a Crohn’s susceptibility gene, known as ATG16L1, in mice. This gene had initially been identified in a subset of human patients. Link to Article

The Scientist

Infectious curiosity
The course of virologist Charlie Rice’s career changed with one phone call in 1989. Then at Washington University in St. Louis, Rice was the country’s leading yellow fever expert. The caller, Stephen Feinstone, an FDA scientist, wanted to know if Rice could help develop a vaccine to protect against hepatitis C, a virus that infects about 170 million people worldwide. Today, more than 20 years after Rice took that call, two protease inhibitors are curing significant numbers of patients who may otherwise have suffered a lifetime of liver problems. Link to Article (U.S. Army homepage)
Study of brain hot topic at Army Science Conference
Gerwin Schalk, an adjunct professor in the Department of Neurosurgery, Washington University in St. Louis
, spoke at the 27th Army Science Conference on the relatively new field of brain and computer interfaces. “We have these extremely capable computers and extremely capable brains, but very bad ways for these two powerful systems to interact with each other,” Shalk said. He showed an example of a person playing a video game by partially controlling it with his brain. The subject was able to move the character in the game with a joystick while making it perform tasks, such as shooting an enemy, by using only his brain. Link to Article

Square stuck in patent hell

Mobile credit card payment startup Square, whose card reading service works with a nifty magnetic card reader that plugs into a mobile device’s headphone jack, is missing a very important piece: The patent for the hardware. Square, Inc. and founder Jim McKelvey filed a complaint against Robert Morley, Jr., an associate professor of electrical engineering at Washington University, claiming that he neglected to list McKelvey as co-inventor of the device. Morley says he came up with the concept, designed it and built the hardware on his own. Link to Article See also TechCrunch

Earth Magazine
Highlights of 2010: What does it mean to be human?

The discovery of our intimate history with Neanderthals has received tremendous press, but the sequencing of the Neanderthal genome also raises hopes that we can use the Neanderthal genome to shine a flashlight on recent evolution in humans. Before scientists can figure out what genetic differences between modern humans and Neanderthals mean, they need to better understand how the modern human genome itself works, notes Erik Trinkaus, an anthropologist at Washington University in St. Louis. Link to Article

New Orleans CityBusiness
MIT team’s plan for N.O. East clinic wins competition

With their proposal to create a new health clinic in eastern New Orleans, students from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology claimed the $25,000 top prize in the 2010 Chase Community Development Competition. The winning team from 2008 also featured students from MIT, who partnered with students from Washington University in St. Louis. Their winning design called for the restoration of the Franz Building so that it could be used as a business incubator and retail shop. Construction is expected to begin within a matter of weeks. Link to Article

Awake With News 4 at 6am

Parents won’t believe the latest way teens have found to get high. A lot of teens are smoking nutmug. It’s becoming more popular with teens across the country. Washington University toxicologist Michael Mullins say that smoking nutmeg can cause hallucinations, as well as a number of nasty side effects, such as nausea, vomiting, blurred vision and convulsions. Link to Broadcast See also KMOV

St. Louis Public Radio
Tents to count as “enclosed space” for smoking ban exemptions
Bars in St. Louis that use tents to expand their seating area will have to include that space as they determine if they may be exempt from the city’s smoking ban. The Joint Board on Health and Hospitals on Thursday agreed with the health department’s interpretation that tents should be considered enclosed spaces. “If you have the potential to roll down the sides, it should be considered enclosed,” said board member Will Ross, an associate dean at the Washington University School of Medicine. Link to Article

Ladue News
Restful sleep

If the latest sleep statistics are to be believed, more than 20 percent of Americans are sleep deprived. Dr. Beth Ann Ward, assistant director of clinical services for the Washington University Multidisciplinary Sleep Center, says quality sleep won’t happen if you don’t spend the time in bed. “Allow at least eight hours for sleep,” she says. “When you are in bed, make sure it is free of distractions.” That means no TV, computers, smart phones and no pets in the bed or the room. “Pets are extremely disruptive to sleep,” Ward says. Link to Article

St. Louis Beacon
Rare earths, technology and Chinese monopoly

If you are concerned about global warming and free market principles, you should examine circumstances surrounding Chinese restrictions on the export of rare earth elements, writes Ken Schechtman, a professor at Washington University School of Medicine. Because of their many applications, rare earths have been called one of the most important non-human resource of a modern economy. Schechtman sees a proposed House bill as a “half-step” toward renewing the U.S. rare earth industry. Link to Article

St. Louis Beacon
World AIDS Day: New face of AIDS is wrinkling and gray

By 2015, half of those living in the U.S. with HIV will be over 50 years old, according to Dr. Turner Overton, assistant professor and infectious disease specialist at Washington University School of Medicine. Overton and other Washington University researchers are comparing the brains of Alzheimer’s patients with those of people with HIV/AIDS. “Our patients are aging, living into their later years, so the question is: How do we help them face the challenges of aging which may be exacerbated by HIV?” he said. Link to Article

News in higher education

Science Insider
What U.S. universities need to do to stay on top

What are the biggest threats to the preeminence of U.S. research universities? A National Academies panel met last week to tackle that question as part of a congressionally requested study on how those institutions can help the country prosper in a global economy. The report won’t be out until next summer, but leading figures in academia and industry offered a range of opinions. Link to Article

The Hill
Bush stem cell policy may return

Congress is running out of time to pass legislation allowing federal funding for embryonic stem cell research, potentially setting up the resumption of a Bush-era policy that President Obama reversed with fanfare shortly after taking office. Without legislative action by year’s end, federal funding for the controversial research could once again be highly restricted, as it was under former President George W. Bush. 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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