News highlights for February 8, 2011

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BBC News | Health (UK)

Chromosome fault linked to sleepwalking


A genetic link to sleepwalking has been identified by researchers. They studied four generations of a family of sleepwalkers and concluded that the condition is associated with a fault in a section of chromosome 20, BBC News reported. Just one copy of the defective DNA is enough to cause sleepwalking, according to Dr. Christina Gurnett and colleagues at the Washington University School of Medicine. Link to Article See also U.S. News & World Report, MyFoxNewYork, Daily Mail (UK), MSN India, Telegraph (UK) and a related BBC News story.

The Independent (UK)

Can a workout make all of you better?


The benefits of exercise go way beyond toned muscles and a healthy heart. It can also boost brain function, improve mood and help build resistance to a range of illnesses from flu to cancer. Dr. Kathleen Wolin, who conducted related research at the Washington University School of Medicine, said she hoped that in the future, it would be possible to give people specific details on how they could adapt their lifestyles to avoid cancers. Link to Article

E! Entertainment Television
Bristol Palin discusses controversy over speaking engagement

Bristol Palin discusses controversy over her recent invitation to speak on abstinence at Washington University in St. Louis: Once word got out she was offered the gig, students started protesting. “Are you kidding me? Is this a joke? Because I never committed to it,” she says. “So I couldn’t be uninvited or cut off as a speaker.” Link to Broadcast See also New York Daily News, Huffington Post


Dr. Seussian mystery fluid could have saved top kill

A mixture of cornstarch and water best known for entertaining kindergartners could have plugged the spewing Macondo oil well in the Gulf of Mexico, say physicists. “We couldn’t do a full scale experiment on a real well that was blowing out 50,000 barrels a day, but to the extent that you can do a smaller experiment in the laboratory it’s basically the same physics,” said physicist Jonathan Katz of Washington University in St. Louis. “And it seems to work.” Link to Article

Related news release


A breakthrough for parenting research


In the US, a large-scale study led by Washington University in St. Louis will examine the effectiveness of a specialised version of the positive parenting program Triple-P, aimed at families of children who have been abused or neglected. (See also $2 million grant.) The program teaches parents skills for managing their emotions, controlling anger and revising the way that they interpret their child’s behavior. Link to Article

Bloomberg Businessweek

Help for autism dwindles after high school

Many teenagers with autism stop receiving speech therapy and other needed mental and physical health care services once they leave high school, according to a new study. Graduating seniors lose access to the services they obtained through their school-based special education programs. The loss is problematic because the need for those programs doesn’t go away, said study researcher Paul Shattuck, of Washington University in St. Louis.
 Link to Article See also MyHealthNewsDaily, Emax Health,, MSNBC, U.S. News & World Report, HULIQ, MedPage Today, HealthScout, iVillage (UK)
Related news release

am New York

Feds probe Church of Scientology for abuses

The Church of Scientology, known for attracting celebs such as Tom Cruise and John Travolta, is being probed by the FBI for human trafficking and enslavement, according to an explosive report in The New Yorker. Frank Flinn, a former professor of religious studies at Washington University in St. Louis, said Scientology has become the target “cult” that people like to attack. “It’s easy to make fun of it, but other religions have secret teachings, too,” Flinn said. “If it’s true, it’s their obligation to bring a court case.” Link to Article
(Bridgeport, CT)
DHS grad Marcus Walton hopes to return to teach in Cairo

Marcus Walton, who graduated from Washington University in St. Louis in May with a major in Islamic and Near Eastern Studies, has been teaching English at Al-Azhar University as part of the Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship program. Walton lived in Tahrir Square when he first went to Egypt so he was familiar with the area of the protests, but now lives in Heliopolis. The U.S. State Department required the Fulbright scholars to evacuate Cairo. He fled to Istanbul, Turkey, but hopes to return soon to Cairo. 
Link to Article

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Milwaukee, WI)

Beating bacteria with its own toxins


Bacteria are formidable foes. But scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have taken a step toward finding a chink in the bacterial armor. Researchers describe one mechanism bacteria use to protect themselves from their own toxins. They hope this knowledge can be used to undermine that system of protection. Link to Article

Related news release

Arkansas Times
A dream of light rail for Northwest Arkansas

From Spokane to Orlando, cities throughout the country are developing passenger light rail. There are at least 30 existing systems and another 40 or so on the boards. A recent study led by the University of Arkansas Center for Community Development found that Northwest Arkansas is a strong candidate for light rail. The study, which included work by University of Arkansas and Washington University at St. Louis architecture students and design professionals from Minnesota and California, has won two major national design awards. Link to Article


Study seeks infants with autism

Washington University is looking for babies to participate in a study on autism. The School of Medicine will study babies with autism and those whose siblings have autism. Dr. Kelly Botteron and her colleagues are using magnetic resonance imaging, or MRIs, to measure the brain size of infants at six, 12 and 24 months of age. Both healthy infants and siblings of children with autism are needed for the study. Other babies are needed for the control group. Link to Broadcast


East St. Louis school district travel budget “excessive”

KMOV investigates extensive travel budget for the superintendent of the East St. Louis school district. Garrett Duncan, associate professor of education at Washington University and a consultant to local school districts, suggests that it is difficult to be a leader of a school from a remote location. This amount of travel within the span of a year would seem to be excessive, in his opinion. Link to Broadcast

St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Slay stumps on earnings tax; will visit neighborhoo…

Citizens for a Stronger St. Louis, Mayor Francis Slay’s campaign to save the city earnings tax, has raised nearly $400,000 through January, including new $10,000 contributions from Washington University and the BJC Health System. Now the mayor’s staff is hoping to send him to at least 70 neighborhood and business association meetings where he can talk to constituents about the tax. Link to Article

News in Higher Education


Mobile app puts a university campus in your hand


At Texas Tech University, all you need is a smartphone to keep track of campus community info on class times, bus routes and more — and it’s not finished yet. Students, faculty and visitors can use the app to get contact information, learn what’s going on in student government and connect with app managers. Soon, they’ll also be able to find all of Texas Tech’s social media in one place. Link to Article

Science Insider

Obama proposes education technology agency modeled after DARPA


The Obama Administration has proposed a new agency within the Department of Education that will fund the development of new education technologies and promote their use in the classroom. The agency will seek to correct the country’s massive “under-investment” in educational technologies that could improve student learning. Link to Article

Chicago Tribune

Shots led to ‘stampede ‘ at Ohio frat party where 1 killed, 11 wounded


Partygoers stampeded to escape gunfire that killed one college student and wounded 11 people at an Ohio fraternity house, authorities said Monday, as they searched for a motive in the weekend shooting. Link to Article


Plans for 150 coal plants scrapped


Purdue University’s decision to cancel plans for a new coal-fired plant at its Indiana campus brings the total number of abandoned plants to 150 since 2001, the environmental group Sierra Club said on Friday. Purdue said in a release on Friday that its Board of Trustees halted plans to install the new coal-fired boiler and will ask state regulators to allow the university to install a natural gas boiler instead. 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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