News highlights for December 21, 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.


Pluto may host an ocean

If a new computer model is correct, the dwarf planet Pluto harbors a sizeable pool of liquids beneath its thick, icy shell. Scientists are looking at Pluto’s surface for clues about the shape of its interior. “Pluto’s shape should reflect its construction,” said planetary scientist Bill McKinnon, with Washington University in St. Louis. “It’s certainly possible that a body the size of Pluto could have an ocean,” McKinnon said. Link to Article See also Discovery News

USA Today

Parenting Part II: Preparing kids for independence, despite chronic illnesses


For children with chronic illnesses, going away to college may represent their first foray into true independence. “The good news is that most students with chronic illnesses do make the transition successfully,” says Alan Glass, a pediatrician who is president of the American College Health Association and director of student health services at Washington University in St. Louis. The success stories include students with severe asthma, diabetes, epilepsy, mental illnesses and other conditions that require constant vigilance, he says. Link to Article Health Blog

Newer approach for varicose veins


Suresh Vedantham, professor radiology and surgery at Washington University School of Medicine and vice president of the Venous Disease Coalition, tells the Health Blog that 70% to 80% of patients who seek treatment for varicose veins have life-impairing, significant symptoms such as swelling, fatigue and burning symptoms that interfere with activity. Link to Article

Chronicle of Higher Education

Writing samples and teaching statements


Higher education careers column offers advice on how job applicants should handle requests for writing samples and research statements. A teaching-philosophy statement can be challenging to write, they note, as it is unlike the usual type of writing that most doctoral students do. The Center for Research on Teaching and Learning at the University of Michigan has a useful online publication on writing these documents, as does the Teaching Center at Washington University in St. Louis. Link to Article

Ivanhoe Newswire / Medical Breakthroughs

MRI’s reveal people at genetic risk of Alzheimer’s

People at known high risk for Alzheimer’s disease develop abnormal brain function even before the appearance of amyloid plaques that are characteristic of the disease. Scientists now can see the difference using an MRI scanner. “We looked at a group of structures in the brain that make up what’s called the default mode network,” said lead author Yvette I. Sheline, MD, a professor of psychiatry, of radiology and of neurology and director of Washington University’s Center for Depression, Stress and Neuroimaging. Link to Article See also Health Imaging, MedScape


NHGRI renews large-scale sequencing program with $90M per year; Allots new funds for Mendelian disorders, clinical sequencing


Making good on a promise to diversify its funding for sequencing activities, the National Human Genome Research Institute plans to renew its large-scale sequencing program for another four years while setting aside funds for the study of Mendelian disorders and the application of genomic data to patient care. The genome centers program was previously funded with around $110 million per year for three large centers, including the Genome Center at Washington University School of Medicine. Link to Article

American Chemical Society News Service

Chemical year in review 2010


Researchers found a new kind of chlorophyll, the magnesium porphyrin pigment used by plants and bacteria to catch sunlight and convert it into energy by means of photosynthesis. The new pigment could improve the efficiency of artificial photosynthesis and be exploited to produce renewable energy from sunlight, says Robert Blankenship, a plant biologist at Washington University in St. Louis who studies photosynthetic reactions. Link to Article

KFSN (Fresno, CA)

New pancreas, no more diabetes


Washington University physicians recently performed a combination transplant — not only a new kidney to replace the failing one, but also a pancreas from the same donor. “These patients most often never require an additional unit of insulin from the time they leave the operating room,” said Jason R. Wellen, M.D., assistant professor of surgery and director of kidney and pancreatic transplantation at Washington University School of Medicine. Link to Article

St. Louis Public Radio / KWMU

New Census numbers could mean bad news for Missouri, Illinois

New 2010 U.S. Census figures will be released tomorrow. And that could be bad news for the St. Louis region. Some experts say the state is just shy of the population it would need to retain all nine of its seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. Washington University political science professor Steven Smith says it would be “a substantial loss” for Missouri’s influence on Capitol Hill. “An awful lot of what goes on in Washington takes place in the committee rooms and obviously with one fewer legislator, Missouri will end up weaker representation in that committee system,” he says. Link to Article

St. Louis Globe-Democrat

Barnes-Jewish heart transplant program celebrates two milestone


The heart transplant team at Barnes-Jewish Hospital marked two milestones in 2010: the 25th anniversary of the program as well as its 600th transplant. “From the very early days of this program, our cardiac transplantation surgical results have always far exceeded the national norms,” says Michael Pasque, MD, Washington University cardiothoracic surgeon who has been part of the program at Barnes-Jewish since almost the beginning. Link to Article

St. Louis Globe-Democrat

SLPS names mathematics and science teachers of the year


The St. Louis Public School District has awarded the 2010 Middle School Science Teacher of the Year Award to Margaret Presley of Stevens Middle School. An educator with the district since 2002, Presley creates a variety of unique projects and assignments to engage and personalize instruction. She keeps the “student” in her engaged by keeping apprised of new discoveries and technologies as part of the Life Science for a Global Community Masters in Biology Program through Washington University. Link to Article

News in higher education

Boston Globe

After 4 decades, Harvard opens door to ROTC

Harvard University will welcome ROTC back to campus now that Congress has repealed a ban on gays and lesbians serving openly in the military, university president Drew Faust said. The move will end a four-decade standoff between one of the nation’s most prestigious universities and its armed forces. The tension began over the Vietnam War and continued in recent years as university administrators, faculty, and students objected to what they saw as discrimination against gays and lesbians. Link to Article

Wisconsin State Journal

Some see use of ‘smart drug’ Adderall rising at UW-Madison

Adderall, a popular prescription “smart drug” that users say improves their ability to study, is becoming easy to find on college campuses. Experts say such easy access and casual acceptance is increasingly common on campuses, including UW-Madison, where students coping with academic demands are turning to illicit use of Adderall and other stimulants. Adderall is prescribed to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). 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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