News highlights for February 14, 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.

BBC | Earth News

Prairie dogs kiss and cuddle for an audience

A prairie dog kiss may be a form of social reassurance, much like a human kiss. It seems humans are not the only animals that change their behaviour when they are being watched. Captive prairie dogs — large and very sociable rodents— “kiss and cuddle” more when they are being watched by zoo visitors, scientists have found. A research team studied 25 black-tailed prairie dogs at Saint Louis Zoo, US. They say the findings will help others who study animal behaviour understand the effects of being observed by their observation of “normal” behaviour. Adam Eltorai from Washington University in St. Louis led the study. He and his colleagues observed and recorded the behaviour of the prairie dogs throughout the course of a summer. Link to Article


Imaging bloodstream activity with firefly protein

The firefly enzyme is called luciferase, which sounds like something that could be used to thwart Superman. It’s what allows the insects’ abdomens to glow. Luciferase is said to be relatively inexpensive to obtain, and to be more stable than other protein-imaging agents. Scientists from Missouri’s Washington University School of Medicine have also recently had success using bismuth-containing nanoparticles to image blood clots. See also related GizMag article
Related news release

Inhibiting MRSA’s ability to degrade RNA slows the spread of the bacteria

Patrick Olson, a graduate student working toward his medical and doctoral degrees at Washington University in St. Louis, is first author on a study he began six years ago while working as a lab intern in high school. Olson and colleagues demonstrate that by stopping bacteria’s ability to degrade RNA, scientists were able to stop methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, both in the laboratory and in infected mice. Link to Article

Psychology Today

Is your doctor conducting a drug study?

Years ago, most drug trials were conducted in academic settings, but this is no longer the case, write WUSTL psychiatry professors Eugene Rubin MD, PhD and Charles Zorumski MD. “Today, the majority of ‘clinical trials’ investigating the efficacy and safety of new drugs are conducted by physicians practicing in the community. Pharmaceutical companies apparently find that community doctors are better able to meet recruitment goals in a timely manner and at lower cost than academic physicians,” they suggest. Link to Article


Q&A: Danforth’s new president on computational expansion plans and the challenges of plant research

James Carrington — a professor of botany and plant pathology and the director of the Center for Genome Research and Biocomputing at Oregon State University — will take the helm as the new president of the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center on May 1. Carrington is looking to hire five new researchers and expand on agreements and cooperative interactions with neighboring institutions, such as Washington University in St. Louis. Link to Article

Country Music Tattle Tale

Hey Glee!!! Listen up! Country music wants more!

Glee has given in to a little country music. They featured Lady Antbellum’s “Need You Now” last week. But that doesn’t seem to be enough for Mason and Remy from KSD-FM “The Bull” in STL. Their newest webisode is a plee to the Gleeks to get a full country epidode on air. They got the Washington University acapella group Mosaic Whispers to show them how it’s done. Link to Article

Minneapolis Post
Pawlenty calls Obama’s Egypt remarks ‘nearly incoherent’

Tim Pawlenty scored a sixth-place finish in a conservative presidential straw poll on Saturday. Minnesota Public Radio’s Mark Zdechlik posts on its Capitol View blog: “Washington University Political Science Professor Steve Smith called the poll a popularity contest and probably not a good measure of fitness for the presidency. Still, Smith said, it’s a contest potential presidential candidates want look good in.” Link to Article

Minneapolis Post

Is MPR’s member drive fear-mongering about federal cuts? | David Brauer blog

The GOP-controlled U.S. House’s plan to eliminate the $430 million Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPD) subsidy is a serious threat, says WUSTL congressional expert Steven Smith. “Senate Democrats will not go for cuts as deep as the House, but it is possible that CPB will take a significant hit as a part of the ultimate deal,” Smith says. “Democrats may have to defend high-speed rail, the EPA, AmeriCorps, WIC, science labs and home heating assistance before they defend CPB. He doubts the president will give CPB very high priority. Link to Article

(Sarasota, FL)
Missouri crayfish carry dangerous parasite

Adam Brewer’s troubles began on a float trip when he pulled a live crayfish out of a Missouri river and swallowed it. It took seven agonizing months of tests before a Washington University doctor connected the dots. Adam had an infection called Paragonimiasis, meaning his lungs were under assault from a parasitic worm that lives in crayfish, so rare that in all of North America there have only ever been seven recorded cases. “We think there are more cases out there,” said Dr. Gary Weil, an infectious disease specialist at the School of Medicine. Link to Broadcast

St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Cottleville couple blindsided by rare, deadly disease

In the prime of life, Jon Morelock of Cottleville was stricken with Erdheim-Chester disease, an ailment so rare there is little economic incentive to find a cure. Its cause is unknown. Its cure is unknown. “It is a fatal disease. It has a varied course with every patient,” says his primary physician, Dr. John DiPersio, head of the division of oncology in the Department of Medicine at Washington University. Link to Article

St Louis Business Journal

Meet Olin Cup winners: Nanomed

Matthew MacEwan, a dual M.D.-Ph.D. student in Washington University’s physician-scientist program, has come up with an invention that’s expected to make surgeries, particularly brain operations, easier and more successful. The breakthrough impressed the university’s Olin Cup judges enough to award MacEwan and his partner, Nalin Katta, a biomedical engineering graduate student, the business competition’s top prize. Link to Article

St Louis Business Journal

Meet Olin Cup winners: PulmoCad

Russian-born doctor Stanislav “Stas” Samarin, an executive MBA student at Washington University, has found a way to make lung cancer detection more accurate and less painful. He founded his startup, PulmoCad, in June, but Samarin said he knows already the technology will save lives and reduce the number of false positives. Samarin won the $20,000 prize in the university’s Olin Cup business competition last week. Link to Article

St. Louis American

Rosalynn Carter to talk in St. Louis about ending mental health crisis

Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter will speak this afternoon at Graham Chapel, located on the Washington University St. Louis campus about her vision for ending the mental health crisis. A panel discussion with representatives of the mental health community will follow her remarks. Moderator for the discussion is Enola Proctor, Ph.D., the Frank J. Bruno Professor of Social Work Research, associate dean for faculty and director of the Center for Mental Health Services Research at Washington University Brown School of Social Work. Link to Article

Saint Louis Beacon

Death panels and the politics of spin

“If you are pining for an allegory for the schism that divides our country, two recent death panel fiascoes provide instructive insights,” writes Ken Schechtman a professor at the Washington University School of Medicine. School of Medicine data indicate that among 3,131 pediatric heart transplants performed globally over 16 years, 1-year survival is 87 percent and 5-year survival is 78 percent. Have we reached a nadir where politicians expect voters to endorse the denial of such treatments? Link to Article

University City Patch

Two Washington University students report being mugged near the Loop

Two Washington University students have reported being mugged near the Loop around 8:00 p.m. Sunday. According to the Wash U student newspaper Student Life, the two students were mugged by four males at the corner of Waterman and Melville avenues. The assailants took a wallet and a cell phone. The paper reports University City Police officers arrested two of the assailants near the Tivoli Theatre. Link to Article

News in Higher Education

New York Times

Recruiting in China pays off for U.S. colleges

Dozens of American colleges and universities are seeing a surge in applications from students in China, where a booming economy means that more families can pursue the dream of an American higher education. But that success — following a 30 percent increase last year in the number of Chinese studying in the United States — has created new problems for admissions officers. Link to Article


Obama seeks $89 billion, 10-year cut for higher education
President Obama has proposed to cut the budget for higher education by $89 billion over 10 years. Obama’s budget proposal released today would cut a provision allowing some college students to get two Pell grants in a year, and a program that reduces interest rates on loans for graduate students. See also Washington Post, Politico

Science Insider

House spending panel makes deep cuts to research
The appropriations committee in the House of Representatives has proposed cutting $62 billion from current spending across the government, including large reductions at the three leading agencies funding basic research: the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Department of Energy (DOE), and the National Science Foundation (NSF). 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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