News highlights for January 19, 2011

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.

India Report

Kidney gene linked to increased risk of heart failure

For the first time, scientists have discovered a key kidney DNA sequence variant that plays an important role in increasing the risk of heart failure. The DNA variant impairs channels that control kidney function, the researchers found. “It’s not a heart gene,” said Gerald Dorn II, from the Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis, who led the study. “Nobody has previously considered that kidney-specific gene defects might predispose you to heart failure.”
 Link to Article See also 
ASCA News (Italy) 
 Related news release

Asian Philanthropy Forum

Top 2010 philanthropy gifts from individuals in the U.S.

The January 13, 2011, issue of the Chronicle of Philanthropy provided a list of publicly announced gifts in 2010. The 10 biggest gifts donated by Americans in 2010 totaled more than $1.3 billion. Listed as the 10th biggest is the John F. McDonnell and JSM Charitable Trust pledge of $60 million to Washington University in St. Louis. Link to Article

Yahoo News

Brain injuries: Solving the puzzle of uncertain recoveries

Rep. Gabrielle Gifford’s bullet wound to the brain has sparked interest in how brain imaging techniques used in research might help doctors see what parts of the brain are not working. Functional magnetic resonance imaging, which lets doctors peer at brain functions, may help physicians catch problems that might not show up on an image that just shows the brain’s structure, said Dr. Maurizio Corbetta, a professor of neurology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Link to Article

Psychology Today

Visualization may be key to remembering chores

Forgot to stop for milk — again? Didn’t pay back a coworker, despite the cash in your pocket? Researchers at Washington University in St. Louis have some novel memory advice. “We know from previous studies that rehearsing, ‘Pay Joe!’ before the fact is not effective,” says researcher Mark McDaniel. A better tack: Before bed, attach a specific environmental cue to the task (say, you visualize pulling out $20 in the break room where you know you’ll see Joe) — and your memory will be jogged the next day. Link to Article

Nursing News

Education on intrauterine contraception ‘needs to improve’

Misconceptions about intrauterine contraception remain common and must be addressed, according to researchers who conducted a survey in the US. Researchers at Washington University in St Louis, urged better education on issues regarding the contraception method after finding that almost two-thirds (61%) of women underestimate its effectiveness. WUSTL researcher Tessa Madden, one of the authors of the report, said “Our findings reveal need for improvement in knowledge for all women, regardless of contraceptive history. Link to Article

The Washington Examiner

Starved by good intentions: Houston shuts down group helping homeless

Max Borders’ column explores news that Houston officials have shut down a program that feeds the homeless because it lacked city permits for food that was not prepared in a certified kitchen. Borders argues that the homeless are not known to be risk averse. Before howls of “blaming the victim” go up from the MSW crowd, he writes, people should consider a Washington University in St. Louis study that found nearly 88% of the homeless men and 84% of the homeless women who abused alcohol had been diagnosed with an alcohol use disorder in the year before becoming homeless. Similarly, for drug abuse, 78% of men and 69% of women were diagnosed with a drug use disorder in the year before becoming homeless. Link to Article

The Business Insider

Top 100 entrepreneurs who made millions without a college degree

Business Insider has compiled a list of 100 amazing “degreeless” entrepreneurs who have risen to the top. Andrew Perlman, co-founder of GreatPoint, dropped out of Washington University to start Cignal Global Communications, an Internet communications company, when he was only 19. Link to Article

AARP The Magazine

Prostate-shrinking drug may help detect cancer

A drug commonly used to shrink enlarged prostate glands also increases the accuracy of the test used to detect aggressive forms of prostate cancer, according to research by Dr. Gerald Andriole, chief of urologic surgery at Washington University School of Medicine. His four-year study confirms that men who used the drug Avodart (the generic form is called dutasteride) received more accurate readings on their prostate specific antigen tests, especially if they were developing forms of aggressive cancer. 
Link to Article See alsoSt. Louis Post-Dispatch,
Doctor’s Lounge,
Seattle Times

Technology Review

Spotting Alzheimer’s Disease early

A tracer molecule designed to bind to amyloid plaques, the neurological hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease, can accurately detect the protein in the living human brain, according to a new study published this week. “Now we can see this Alzheimer’s lesion in living people, and that’s a big step,” says John Morris, director of the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center at Washington University. Morris was not involved in the study. Link to Article

St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Cash cows for campuses: Research

Washington University professor Zhou-Feng Chen may be just the sort of researcher universities are looking for. His ideas for relieving chronic itching may be useful for humans, and they might make money for him and the university. Researchers like Chen bring in tens of millions of dollars in licensing and royalty fees to Missouri and Illinois universities. In addition to teaching, research and public service, university researchers are developing technologies that bring profits to the university each time patents are licensed or sold. Link to Article

St. Louis Post-Dispatch
St. Louis area economists join call for health-care repeal

As Republicans push to repeal the new healthcare law, a group has released a pro-repeal letter signed by 200 economists, including high-profile names like Arthur Laffer and Nobel-winner Edward Prescott. The letter calls the healthcare law “a barrier to job growth” and says it will lead to a massive increase in federal spending. They assert (contrary to Congressional Budget Office projections) that the law will swell the deficit by $500 billion in the next decade. St. Louis economists signing the letter include Glenn MacDonald of Washington University. Link to Article

St. Louis Beacon

Re-enacting slave sales and Civil War lessons

Adam Arenson, the author of the new book The Great Heart of the Republic: St. Louis and the Cultural Civil War, writes about the history of slave auctions in St. Louis. During the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend, Angela da Silva and the National Black Tourism Network re-enacted a slave auction on the steps of the Old Courthouse. Arenson notes that sentiments toward slavery were very polarized in this era. “Even religious leaders like William Greenleaf Eliot, the founder of Washington University, felt constrained; slavery was the law of the land, and after the Dred Scott decision nowhere seemed safe from its demands,” he notes. Link to Article

St. Louis Beacon

No vaccine against rumors

As anti-vaccine websites have proliferated and high-profile Hollywood stars have lent their names to the cause, some new mothers and fathers have begun to refuse vaccinations for their children. That choice could lead to an increased number of outbreaks of diseases once thought conquered by the advance of modern medicine. Parents who rely on others to have an adequate number of children immunized weaken the system. “I don’t think they realize it, but they are taking advantage of everybody else,” said Dr. Gregory Storch, director of pediatric infectious diseases at Washington University. “They’re saying ‘OK, you go and get the vaccine and take whatever risk there is’ because there is some small degree of risk in anything. ‘You take on that risk and you pay the cost of getting the vaccine. I’m just going to benefit from the fact that you and others are immune’.” Link to Article

News in Higher Education

St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Webster U. will draft new master plan for expansion

A Webster University official said Tuesday night that the school intended to draft a new master plan to address its expansion needs and would work closely with the city and community on the best way to do that. Administrators said university still would use land north of Lockwood Avenue on the grounds of Eden Theological Seminary — a move criticized by some residential neighbors. However, she said it would be unclear until the new master plan was completed how a new science building on that site would be constructed. Some residents have said they don’t want new construction along the north side of Lockwood. Link to Article

New York Times

Spanish-U.S. master’s degree will be steeped in liberal arts

Can listening to Beethoven make you a better boss? Is a business more likely to survive in the marketplace if its manager has a familiarity with the works of Charles Darwin? David Bach thinks it just might. Mr. Bach, the dean of programs at the IE Business School, in Madrid, is an architect of a pioneering new collaboration between IE and Brown University that is offering a liberal arts and management executive MBA. Link to Article

New York Times

Send Huck Finn to college; Don’t censor Twain’s book, but keep it away from high-school students

Ever since NewSouth Books announced it would publish a version of “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” with the “n-word” removed, reaction has split between traditionalists outraged at censorship and those who feel this might be a way to get teenagers, especially African-American boys, comfortable reading a literary classic. “From a mother’s perspective, I think both sides are mistaken,” argues Lorrie Moore, the author, most recently, of the novel “A Gate at the Stairs.” Link to Article

St. Louis Post-Dispatch / Associated Press

Student tracking finds limited learning in college

A study of more than 2,300 undergraduates found 45 percent of students show no significant improvement in the key measures of critical thinking, complex reasoning and writing by the end of their sophomore years. Not much is asked of students either. Half did not take a single course requiring 20 pages of writing during their prior semester, and one-third did not take a single course requiring even 40 pages of reading per week. The findings are in a new book, Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses, by sociologists Richard Arum of New York University and Josipa Roksa of the University of Virginia. An accompanying report argues against federal mandates holding schools accountable, a prospect long feared in American higher education. Link to Article

HHMI / Science Education News

HHMI professors suggest strategy to change the culture of science education

Research universities in the United States excel at pushing the boundaries of scientific knowledge and work hard to attract and retain top scientists and engineers. But according to a group of Howard Hughes Medical Institute scientist-educators, that pursuit of knowledge often comes at the expense of undergraduate education. Largely to blame, they say, are university cultures that have evolved to reward research while marginalizing teaching. 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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