News highlights for December 23, 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.

Scientific American

A losing personality

In recent years, psychologists have begun looking at personality traits as critical variables in the dieting equation. In fact, your personality may well be the strongest predictor of how likely you are to shed pounds, says psychiatrist C. Robert Cloninger of the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Personality traits affect your motivation to reduce portion sizes, to avoid fatty foods, to exercise and the like. Link to Article

Huffington Post

Did the atom bomb test fallout cause cancer?

The atom bomb tests of the 1950s and 1960s raised concerns about fallout from huge mushroom clouds, which carried deadly radioactive chemicals across the U.S. In December 1958, a group of visionary scientists at Washington University in St. Louis, working with the citizen group Committee for Nuclear Information, began collecting baby teeth, locally and across the country, for a study aimed at determining if dangerous radioactive chemicals were turning up in human bodies. The baby teeth were recently analyzed once again as part of a follow-up study. Link to Article

Science News

Neandertal relative bred with humans

By sequencing the full genome of a girl’s fossil finger bone found in a Siberian cave, researchers conclude that there must have been a closely related sister group of Neandertals living in central Asia about 40,000 years ago. The researchers also found a tooth in the cave that’s “like nothing we’ve ever seen before.” Anthropologist Erik Trinkaus of Washington University in St. Louis says that it is almost identical to that of a hominid from Romania called Oase 2, which he says is “an unquestionable early modern human.” Link to Article See also US News & World Report, Discovery News

Information Today

WikiLeaks: A critical catalyst, but for what end?

WikiLeaks may seem extreme, but appears to be only the first, cutting edge of new wave participatory newsmaking and journalism. “In order to find either WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, or The New York Times liable, the government would need to prove two things, “ notes Washington University (St. Louis) law professor Neil Richards, “first that a law had been broken, and second that enforcement of the law was constitutional under the First Amendment. Our tradition of free press makes it hard to punish people for publishing the truth.” Link to Article

Physics Update

What killed top-kill?

A recent study by scientists at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and Washington University in St. Louis points to fluid shearing as the chief culprit in the failure of British Petroleum’s attempt to plug the Gulf oil leak with a “top-kill” injection of drilling mud. In laboratory experiments, the researchers confirmed their theory and demonstrated a possible solution, adding a viscoelastic polymer to an aqueous cornstarch mixture to represent the drilling mud.
 Link to Article

Related news release

Universe Today

Opportunity shoots awesome views of Santa Maria Crater

The Opportunity rover is now sending back a plethora of awesome views of Santa Maria Crater since arriving at its western edge on Dec. 15. This intermediate stop on the rover’s journey to giant Endeavour Crater looks to be well worth the trip. Santa Maria appears to be “relatively unweathered and fresh”, according to Ray Arvidson, of Washington University in St. Louis. Arvidson is the deputy principal investigator for the Spirit and Opportunity rovers. Link to Article
(Springfield, MO)
Two Missouri universities earn $16 million in royalties

The Missouri Department of Higher Education says the University of Missouri system and the private Washington University in St. Louis earned more than $16 million in royalties and license fees last year. The University of Missouri system has campuses in Columbia, Kansas City, Rolla and St. Louis. The four schools combined to earn $10.4 million in royalties and 48 patent applications. Washington University generated $6.3 million and 106 patent applications. Link to Article

Proposed smoking ban heading to ballot in O’Fallon

The O’Fallon City Council heard comments from 21 people Wednesday night during a public hearing on a proposed workplace smoking ban. Sharon Lee, manager of the Siteman Cancer Center in St. Peters, said 40 percent of all cancers are tobacco related. Lee said she works with patients who are dying from cancer caused by secondhand smoke exposure. Lee said it would be nice if the state or federal government enacted smoking restrictions. But since they were not going to do it, cities like O’Fallon should take the lead, she said. Link to Article

St. Louis Beacon

111th Congress: Reviled but productive

Steven S. Smith, a professor of political science at Washington University in St. Louis and an expert on the history of the U.S. Senate and its filibusters, told the Beacon that the 111th was an active Congress. But, he said, it fell short in addressing some key issues such as climate-change and the worsening federal budget deficit. Smith also credited Congress with approving “a variety of other laws, most of which are pretty modest,” such as Wall Street reform and the tobacco regulation law. Link to Article

St. Louis Business Journal

University of Missouri System, Washington University get $16M in royalties

Washington University earned $6.3 million in royalties, created two start-up businesses and filed 106 new patent applications last year. Washington University, where Evan Kharasch is vice chancellor for research, generated its largest research-based revenue stream in 2009 from a medical test that has become standard procedure in emergency rooms for diagnosing patients with chest pain. Link to Article

St. Louis Business Journal

Washington University uses $3M in stimulus for tumor research

Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have landed a $3.3 million federal stimulus grant to hunt for normal cells that help brain tumors form and grow. By quantifying the contributions of non-cancerous cells to this brain ecology, principal investigator David Gutmann, who is director of the Washington University Neurofibromatosis Center, and his colleagues hope to find ways to make it more hostile to cancer, the university said. Link to Article

The St. Louis American

UMSL bestows doctorates on civil rights leaders

Two African-American leaders in the nation’s struggle for justice and civil rights – Sister Mary Antona Ebo and Norman Seay – received honorary doctorates from the University of Missouri – St. Louis during its commencement ceremonies on Saturday. The School of Medicine at Washington University in St. Louis has a lecture series named in Seay’s honor. Link to Article

St. Louis Riverfront Times

Once under cloud, local charity changes name, rights ship

Five years ago, an investigation into a St. Louis charity called Reach Our Children revealed that its president had poured 3 million dollars into a marketing company co-owned by his wife. The charity was in dire financial straits, having funneled too much of its money into telemarketing contracts instead of program services. Since then, with the help of the Washington University legal clinic, the foundation eliminated all contracts with telemarketing companies and is now back on good footing. Link to Article

News in higher education

New York Times

Medical schools in region fight Caribbean flow

For a generation, medical schools in the Caribbean have attracted thousands of American students to their tiny island havens by promising that during their third and fourth years, the students would get crucial training in United States hospitals, especially in New York State. But in a fierce turf battle, New York State’s 16 medical schools are attacking their foreign competitors and campaigning to make it harder for foreign schools to use New York hospitals as extensions of their own campuses. Link to Article


Parents of gay Rutgers student who committed suicide may sue school

The parents of a Rutgers University student who committed suicide after his roommate and another student allegedly broadcast online his sexual encounter with another man have notified the school they may sue. Link to Article

New York Times

Education: Common application users find glitch in Common, too
The Common Application, accepted by more than 400 colleges, cuts some answers off at the margins.

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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