News highlights for March 11, 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.

The New York Times

The face on the canvas and other mysteries

Chicago artist Jim Nutt, 72, has been painting the same subject day after day, for the last 25 years: the off-kilter face of an imaginary woman with a monumental nose. His interest in the human face dates back to the influence of a Hans Holbein the Younger portrait of a woman, which Nutt saw at the Saint Louis Art Museum while he was a student at Washington University in the late 1950s. Nutt achieved fame as a member of the 1960s Chicago artist groups the Hairy Who and the Chicago Imagists. Link to Article

Scientific American

Do gut bacteria worsen malnutrition?

A study, presented yesterday by Michelle Smith, a postdoc at Washington University in Saint Louis, at the International Human Microbiome congress in Vancouver, Canada, shows that transplanting gut bacteria from human twins into mice could help to explain why some malnourished children develop kwashiorkor — a condition that triggers swelling in the belly, fatigue and vulnerability to disease. Researchers hope the work will point the way to better emergency rations for sick children. Link to Article See also Smart Planet | The Great Beyond blog
For mice, swapping fecal bacteria can mean life or death

Imagine a world where ‘eat shit’ isn’t an insult, but a way to save your life. Pathogen microbiologist Brett Finlay of the University of British Columbia has shown that, in mice, resistance to a deadly e. coli -like bacterium depends on their gut microbes — and that those microbes can be swapped around by effectively feeding the mice each others’ feces. Jeff Gordon’s lab at Washington University in Saint Louis, is doing similar work, creating ‘humanized’ mice to study how microbes affect us. Link to Article See also Nature: Do gut bacteria worsen malnourishment?

Medical Front Page

New gene sites affecting nonalcoholic fatty liver disease discovered

A new study based on genetic traits of an Old Order Amish community in Pennsylvania may help doctors better diagnose, manage and treat nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. “We found that approximately one quarter of the variation in nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is influenced by genetic factors,” said study senior author Ingrid Borecki, an associate professor of biostatistics and genetics, and co-director of the Division of Statistical Genomics at Washington University School of Medicine. Link to Article

Stressed bettors won’t enjoy March Madness as much

It’s that time of year when many co-workers get worked up about March Madness and place bets in the office pool on the national college basketball championship. However, a word of caution — you might not enjoy the games very much if you bet, according to research by Stephen M. Nowlis of the Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis. “Predictions become more aversive when the outcome of the event is highly uncertain,” said Nowlis. The results, he adds, were counterintuitive, given the popularity of office pools, spoiler message boards and online betting sites. Link to Article See also Medical News Today, Discover Psychology, NewsBlaze

Related news release

College Media Network

Ultimate Frisbee club flies high on lofty individual efforts

A relatively young sport — believed to have been invented by high school kids in Maplewood, N.J., in 1968 — Ultimate Frisbee is like football with frisbees, with competitors who run like soccer forwards, throw their bodies around with abandon like rugby backs and leap high in the air like basketball centers. The Washington University men’s frisbee team earned a small place in Ultimate Frisbee history last weekend by claiming first place the 25-team Midwest Throwdown tournament held in St. Charles, Mo. The men’s team is ranked as the 24th best in the nation. Link to Article

St. Louis Post-Dispatch

St. Louis colleges, others mobilize in wake of Japan quake

As of noon Friday, Washington University is reporting that its foreign studies students in mid-central Japan are all accounted for and safe. Azusa Tanaka, a librarian in Washington University’s East Asian Library, has been in contact with various family members in Japan, including her mother, whose train from Tokyo to Kyoto was delayed for several hours while inspectors made certain the tracks were safe. “She said she felt a big shaking in the train. I guess she was really scared,” Tanaka said. Link to Article See also KSDK-TV (St. Louis) interview with two Japanese researchers now working at the Washington University School of Medicine; Brookhaven (Mississippi) Daily Leader

St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Center on Religion & Politics gets new director

Washington University on Thursday announced that Harvard University Professor R. Marie Griffith will be the new director of the John C. Danforth Center on Religion & Politics. Her first day will be on July 1. The school called Griffith a pioneer in the study of modern evangelical women. Her first book, published in 1997, was “God’s Daughters: Evangelical Women and the Power of Submission.” See also St. Louis Business Journal, University City Patch.Link to Article

Related news release

St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Washington U. women navigate tough road

Self-proclaimed bracketologists familiar with the vagaries of Division I basketball would gasp at the formidable task placed before the Washington University women in defense of their national title. But the Bears toil in Division III, where the selection committee keeps its brackets regional to minimize travel costs. Thus, the defending champions opened against an undefeated team, followed by a host opponent with a 95-1 record at home. “They gave us an easy one,” coach Nancy Fahey said with a playful roll of the eyes. Link to Article

St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Ads will fight smoking, back county ban. Campaign to include positive testimonials about law, promote end to exemptions

St. Louis County health officials plan to spend millions of dollars in federal stimulus money on a public anti-smoking campaign partly designed to rally support for strengthening the county’s two-month-old smoking ban. In addition to funding small anti-smoking projects in various communities, the $7.6 million grant would pay the Center for Tobacco Policy Research of Washington University and the St. Louis University Public Health School to evaluate the project and identify best practices other communities can use. Read Full Text

Fox2 News (St. Louis, MO)

Why vote? Puppy-mill law latest in string overturned by Missouri Senate
3/ 10/2011

The Missouri state Senate’s vote to overturn the voter-approved referendum controlling puppy mills is just the latest in a series of legislative votes overturning measures approved by voters state-wide. “The reasons for this are relatively clear,” said Washington University political scientist John Patty. “There was overwhelming support in the cities for these initiatives, moderate support in the suburbs around St. Louis and Kansas City, and almost no support in the rural areas. Lawmakers are responding to a different constituency, not the constituency that voted for these measures.”

Link to Article / Online video

News in Higher Education

Washington Post

In states, parties clash over voting laws that would affect college students, others

New Hampshire House Republicans are pushing for new laws that would prohibit many college students from voting in the state — and effectively keep some from voting at all. The measures in New Hampshire are among dozens of voting-related bills being pushed by newly empowered Republican state lawmakers across the country. Link to Article

New York Times

The modesty manifesto
An op-ed piece by columnist David Brooks observes that we have shifted from a culture that emphasizes self-effacement to one that emphasizes self-expansion. He cites several examples related to professors, students and other aspects of higher education, and also suggests that some of our current political and economic woes might be a result of this fundamental cultural shift. Link to Article

Campus Technology

Ohio System teams with Flat World Knowledge on freebie digital textbooks


The University System of Ohio is encouraging faculty members to try out digital textbooks in the classroom with a new pilot program that will allow 1,000 Ohio students to receive the texts for free. The goal is to drive down textbook costs for students and make college more affordable. 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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