Epilepsy is one of the most common neurological disorders. It has long been known that brain injury or ischemia often results in epileptic activity, yet the nature of this process remains unclear.
Assistant professor Daniela Kaufer and graduate student Luisa Flores collaborated with Dr. Alon Friedman of Ben Gurion University and medical student Sebastian Ivens in his lab, to reveal a fundamentally different mechanism of the development of epilepsy following trauma or ischemia involving compromised blood brain barrier (BBB). They define the key stages in this process, and critically, find a method to prevent this cascade.
The findings are reported in the early online edition of the journal Brain.
Integrative Biology professor Jere Lipps was awarded the 2006 Joseph A. Cushman Award for outstanding foramineferal research. The award was given by the Cushman Foundation, an international organization supporting research on foraminefera, and was presented to Professor Lipps at the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America in October.
Past awardees include an international list of outstanding foramineferal researchers of the past century.
The Stem Cell Center Seed Grant is a competitive award that is distributed by the Berkeley Stem Cell Center. The funds, provided by a private donor, enable campus laboratories to initiate or advance promising projects studying mammalian embryonic or adult stem cells.
Assistant professor Daniela Kaufer was recently named a 2006 award recipient. The award will provide Dr. Kaufer and Dr. Christian Mirescu, a post-doctoral researcher in the Kaufer lab, the funds to conduct a study of the Neuroendocrine control of cellular senescence in adult neural progenitors cells.
"Stem cell research faces major funding hurdles, especially in the federal funding realm, and the Berkeley Stem Cell Center initiative to raise private funding is crucial to our success and ability to compete for external funding down the road," said Dr. Kaufer of the award.
Professor emeritus William Clemens received the Romer-Simpson Medal at the 66th Annual Meeting of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology. The award is the Society's highest honor and is given "for sustained and outstanding scholarly excellence and service to the disipline of vertebrate paleontology."
The American College of Sports Medicine Honor Award is the highest award given annually by the College to an individual. The Honor Award will be presented to professor George Brooks at the 2007 annual meeting to recognize his lifetime of outstanding scientific contributions to sports medicine and exercise science.
Professor emeritus George Barlow received a career award for his contribution to the development of the field of animal behavior. The award was presented at the International Stickleback Conference held in Alaska in August. The study of sticklebacks was a major factor in the origin and progress of the field of animal behavior.
The trap-jaw ant, Odontomachus bauri, of Central and South America uses its jaws to capture prey and defend itself. The mandibles of this tiny ant strike at speeds of 78 to 145 miles per hour, at 100,000 times the force of gravity, and 2,300 times faster than the blink of an eye.
With the aid of high-speed videography, assistant professor Sheila Patek calculated the kinematics of the trap-jaw ant.
"The acceleration is huge relative to the tiny mass of the mandibles. The mandibles are operating in the outer known limits in biology in terms of speed and acceleration," said Dr. Patek. These large accelerations result in strike forces greater than 300 times the ant's body weight. As a result, the ants use their jaws for three distinct behaviors: feeding, ejection of intruders, and jumping.
The study has been published in the Aug. 21 issue of the Proceedings of the National Acedemy of Sciences.
An international meeting of moss experimental biologists, Moss 2006 was held at UC Berkeley from June 26th through July 1st, 2006, hosted by professor Brent Mishler. The meeting, attended by 70 participants from all over the world, was timed to coincide with the completion of sequencing of the full genome of the moss Physcomitrella at the Joint Genome Institute. Dr. Mishler was one of two co-PIs on this project, and IB adjunct professor Jeffrey Boore was the liaison with JGI. This moss genome, nearly 500 million nucleotides in size, is the first land plant genome sequenced outside the flowering plants. Many functional and evolutionary insights are already being discovered, and were presented at Moss 2006.
The UC Berkeley Hellman Family Faculty Fund Award is given annually to promising assistant professors on the basis of the quality of their research.
Integrative Biology assistant professor Leslea Hlusko was named a 2006 award recipient of the Hellman Fund. The award will provide a unique opportunity for exploratory research, an area that is often difficult to secure funding for.
Dr. Hlusko will be conducting a survey project to locate and document new paleoanthropological sites in Tanzania, a relatively unexplored region for human evolutionary research.
The UC Berkeley Hellman Family Faculty award is given annually to promising assistant professors on the basis of the quality of their research.
Integrative Biology assistant professor George Bentley was recently named one of the award recipients for 2006. The award will support the research he and collaborators have been conducting on the inhibition of reproduction and reproductive behavior by gonadotropin-inhibitory hormone (GnIH) in birds and mammals. Dr. Bentley and his colleagues have found evidence that this newly-identified neurohormone is present in humans.
The Hellman award will provide Dr. Bentley with funds to isolate and purify human GnIH, allowing them to answer some fundamental questions about the synthesis, regulation and functions of GnIH in humans.
The award came at a critical time for the researchers, according to Dr. Bentley:
"Government funding rates are pitiful and lab start-up funds have a limited lifespan. Support from the Hellmann Family provides us with a much-needed boost to enable us to develop a research program that is in its infancy."
Genetic testing led by researcher David Wake, has tracked 46 distinct species of salamanders in Asia to a single family in far northern China. The amphibians have a genetic lineage going as far back as 110 million years. The single family of salamanders became isolated due to geologic upheavals of the Indian subcontinent, providing an example of how geologic forces can direct natural selection.
The scientific findings were published in a recent issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
IB researcher Charles Nunn and co-author Sonia Altizer, recently published a book that integrates primate socioecology, parasite functional categories, host defenses, and theoretical models of disease spread. The authors also organize hypotheses by parasite traits and develop a new co-evolutionary framework for investigating parasites and primate social evolution at empirical and theoretical scales. The book was published by Oxford University Press.
IB graduate student Lorraine Casazza was recently awarded a year-long Fulbright Fellowship to conduct research at the Institute of Oceanography and Fisheries in Alexandria, Egypt. She will be working on the coevolution of larger foraminifera and their dinoflagellate symbionts on the Red Sea reefs and nearby fossil deposits. Her work will also consider the foram-symbiont system as an indicator of reef health. Lorraine has been studying modern foraminifera in the San Francisco Bay under the guidance of her mentor, Professor Jere Lipps.
Dr. Robert Dudley and colleagues, Dr. Stephen Yanoviak of the University of Florida, and Dr. Michael Kaspari of the University of Oklahoma, have been studying Cephalotes atratus, a wingless gliding species of ant. The scientists believe that Cephalotes atratus, a canopy ant, developed this gliding ability to escape predation or to avoid getting lost in ground foliage. This ant is also the first documented case of gliding flight in a wingless insect. The New York Times featured the scientists' study on the ants in the most recent Science Times section.
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Integrative Biology professor Mimi Koehl is one of 10 female scientists whose life is chronicled in a series of books written for middle-school-age girls. The National Academy of Sciences produced the series, Women's Adventures in Science, to inspire more girls to become scientists. The paperback version of the series has just been launched.
Professor Koehl has also written a book that explains in simple, intuitive terms, the interplay between the harsh physical world of wind and waves battering the shore and the biophysical ecology of the creatures that survive there. The book, Wave-Swept Shore, was done in collaboration with nature photographer Anne Wertheim Rosenfeld, and was just released by the University of California Press.
Wave-Swept Shore will be launched at an event on Tuesday, April 4, 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the University Press Books in Berkeley.
The San Francisco Chronicle joined IB professor Tim White during his most recent trip to the Afar region of Ethiopia in December. The article highlights the field activities of the research team and the abundance of material to investigate in Afar.
Gonadotropin-inhibitory hormone or GnIH inhibits the action of the gonadotropin-releasing hormone, or GnRH, the central hormone of the reproductive system. Though this hormone was discovered in quail five years ago by research led by one of Dr. Bentley's collaborators, Kazuyoshi Tsutsui, the discovery of GnIH in rats, mice, and hamsters strongly suggests that the hormone plays a similar role in humans and other mammals. Dr. Bentley and Dr. Tsutsui collaborated with lead author Lance Kriegsfeld, UC Berkeley assistant professor of psychology, to explore the implications of GnIH in mammals. Their findings are reported in the early online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
A new paper, to be published in AJP-Endocrinology and Metabolism and authored by IB researchers Takeshi Hashimoto, George Brooks, and Rajaa Hussien, reveals a long-standing major mistake in physiology-biochemistry and metabolism. Rather than being metabolic waste, lactate is the link between non-oxidative and oxidative metabolism. The discovery of a mitochondrial lactate oxidation complex is an important finding in metabolic regulation and explains how lactate, the product of glycolytic (anaerobic) metabolism, is the substrate for mitochondrial respiration (aerobic or oxidative metabolism).
The Leidy Award is given by Philadelphia's Academy of Natural Sciences to honor publications, explorations, and discoveries. Professor Emeritus David Wake will be accepting this year's Leidy Award in February.
The journal Nature recently joined IB professor Tim White and his colleagues during one of their field expeditions into the Afar region of Ethiopia. The resulting article describes the abundance of fossils within the Afar region and the international group dedicated to finding them.
The trees of the Amazonian forest hold a reservoir of water deep underground. The water is transfered from the surface by tap roots and redistributed during the dry season, increasing photosynthesis and transpiration by 40%. Because the Amazon is the largest forested area on the planet, its role in removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere has a greater impact on global climate.
Dr. Dawson explains: "Because this has not been considered until now, people have likely underestimated the amount of carbon taken up by the Amazon and underestimated the impact of Amazonian deforestation on climate."
This new research was reported in the Dec. 6 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
See also 2005 Archives