News highlights for December 10, 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.

US study helps unravel Alzheimer’s mystery

Instead of producing too much of a protein, people with Alzheimer’s disease appear to have trouble getting rid of it, U.S. researchers said on Thursday. The finding may help explain why people with Alzheimer’s accumulate sticky clumps of a protein called amyloid beta, and it may help drug companies hone in on potential treatments. “In people who have Alzheimer’s disease, we know there are very large amounts of amyloid beta in the brain,” said Dr. Randall Bateman of Washington University in St. Louis, who worked on the study. “The question was, ‘How did all of that get there?’ ” Link to Article See also Science News, The Guardian (UK), Yahoo Espanol, medpageToday, Related news release

Tricked-out toys

Keith Sawyer, a leading scientific expert on creativity, says the best toys alllow for a wide range of pretend scenarios. Simple play things, such as Play-Doh and construction blocks, help spark a child’s play and “perennial favourites, like Hot Wheels cars foster a lot of creative fantasy play,” says Sawyer, a professor of psychology and education at Washington University in St. Louis, Sawyer is a big fan of Microsoft’s Kinect — no controller is needed. “It’s sort of like Nintendo Wii because it gets you off the couch and moving around.” Link to Article See also Chatham Daily News (Ontario, Canada)

International Herald Tribune
In China, repression is a business opportunity

Over the past three years, the Communist Party in China has re-asserted its control over the court system. Carl Minzner, an expert in Chinese law at Washington University in St. Louis, said that salaries and promotions of judges are increasingly tied to their ability to prevent disgruntled petitioners from appealing to higher levels of the bureaucracy or making their way to Beijing. In some cases, he said, judges will block plaintiffs from filling lawsuits for fear that their cases are too difficult to resolve. “In this context, China’s shift away from the law is dangerous,” he said. Read Full Text

Marlo Thomas: Be thankful for healthy kids

Actress Marlo Thomas, currently the national outreach director for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, discusses the hospital’s efforts to combat childhood diseases. Describing it as one of the year’s biggest breakthroughs, she mentions St. Jude’s work with the Genome Center at Washington University, which is developing genetic profiles of 75 children. “This is the future of cancer cures that we are able to do this,” she said. “We’ll be able to look at a child’s DNA and find out what is the marker that is different, and then target that cell, target that bad cell, and create drugs for the cells that we find.” Link to Article

E Science News
First kidney paired donor transplants performed

Two patients received new kidneys Dec. 6 in the first paired donation arranged through a national pilot program. “Paired kidney exchange programs have allowed for a significant increase in the number of patients that receive a living kidney transplant, therefore freeing up additional cadaveric kidneys for the 80,000 plus people on the national wait list,” said Dr. Jason Wellen, surgical director of the Washington University/Barnes-Jewish kidney and kidney/pancreas transplant program. Wellen and Dr. Surendra Shenoy performed the donor and recipient surgeries at Barnes-Jewish. Link to Article

Technology Review
A magnetic shortcut to clinical trials

Scientists investigating a drug for Parkinson’s disease have shown how an MRI scan can quickly determine the optimal dosage for drugs that act on the brain. The most precise way to track drugs moving through the body is a PET scan, in which a drug is a radioactively tagged, injected into the body, and tracked with a scanner. But PET scans have several drawbacks, notes lead researcher, Kevin Black, associate professor of psychiatry at Washington University in St. Louis. Link to Article

St Louis Chinese American News
Bears basketball attracts global competition

The annual Lopata Classic at Washington University in St. Louis is known for attracting teams from different parts of the country. This year’s tournament features a team from a different part of the world. The 27th edition of the Division III Bears’ men’s basketball tournament this weekend includes a team from Tsinghua University in Beijing, China. Link to Article
Wash. U: Awash in liberalism, or just a regular campus?
12/10/2010 — which is affiliated with the conservative Leadership Institute in Arlington, Va. — is tossing out the well-worn accusation that many of the nation’s higher education institutions lean left. On Thursday, it released its report on Washington University, and found —no surprise — that “Wash. U was awash in liberalism.” Link to Article
21-year study of children’s health to begin soon in city

Researchers at St. Louis University are ready to begin a landmark study that will follow St. Louis children from before birth to age 21 to learn more about certain birth defects, learning problems, autism, asthma, obesity and other issues that affect children. Researchers at Washington University, all four Southern Illinois University campuses and the St. Louis office of the Battelle Centers for Public Health Research and Evaluation also will contribute to the study.

Link to Article See also St. Louis Business Journal
Fashion advocates push idea of incubator in Railway Exchange Building

The Partnership for Downtown St. Louis is spearheading an effort to find new uses for the city’s historic Railway Exchange Building, which is vacant since closure of the Macy’s Midwest headquarters. The Partnership teamed with Washington University’s Skandalaris Center for Entrepreneurial Studies and held an “Idea bounce” Wednesday night to brainstorm other ways to use the space. More than 20 people gave quick, two-minute pitches on ideas ranging from housing programs to a collaborative workspace for artists and designers. Link to Article See also St. Louis Business Journal

News in higher education

University of Missouri system moves toward tuition hikes

With state budget cuts expected to grow deeper next year, the University of Missouri System on Thursday began a seemingly inevitable march toward a tuition increase. The UM Board of Curators listened to a status report from system officials, who painted a gloomy picture about the system’s financial prospects for the school year beginning next fall. Even in a best-case scenario, where the state would only cut 5 percent of the system’s funding, the four campuses would have to make up more than $64 million. Link to Article

San Francisco Chronicle / The Associated Press

Education backed, but not new school taxes

The public verdict is in and overwhelming: The better the education people get, the stronger the U.S. economy will be, a poll shows. But don’t count on folks to support higher taxes to improve schools. Eighty-eight percent say a country’s education system has a major effect on its economic health, according to an Associated Press-Stanford University poll. Yet when it comes to financing public school improvements, people tilt slightly against raising taxes to do so. Link to Article

Wall Street Journal

Business Schools Tackle Social Media

As social-media sites like Facebook and Twitter transform the way companies communicate, business-school professors are scrambling to keep up with the fast-moving phenomenon of online networking, and help their students learn how to use the new technologies wisely. Faculty at a handful of schools have started courses focused on the business uses of social media, and many more are integrating discussion of the interactive sites into classes on marketing, advertising and communications. 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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