Conifer study illustrates twists of evolution

: An apparently advantageous mechanism of conifer pollination has nevertheless been disappearing over millions of years, a new study finds. The mechanism works well, but because it depends on three traits related only loosely, the vagaries of evolution have led to its demise in many species. It its wake, however, a diversity of new traits and functions has emerged.
Human needs meet nature

Researchers assess sustainability in Baja fisheries

The waters of Baja California Sur are both ecosystems and fisheries where human needs meet nature. In a new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers assessed the capacity to achieve sustainability by applying a framework that accounts for both ecological and human dimensions of environmental stewardship.

Gold by special delivery intensifies cancer-killing radiation

Researchers at Brown and URI have demonstrated what could be a more precise method for targeting cancer cells for radiation. Cancer-seeking peptides ferry nanoparticles of gold to the site. The gold then helps focus radiation on the cancer cells.

Study tallies huge cost of hepatitis C drugs for RI prisons

Correctional systems are obliged to treat inmates but, as a new study of Rhode Island prisons shows, treating every chronically infected inmate in the state with expensive but effective hepatitis C drugs would cost nearly twice as much as the entire correctional health budget. Treating only the sickest would still far outstrip the pharmaceutical budget.

A new wrinkle for cell culture

Researchers at Brown University have developed an advanced technique for cell culturing that uses sheets of wrinkled graphene to mimic the complex 3-D environment inside the body.

Kertzer wins Pulitzer

David Kertzer, former provost at Brown, has been awarded the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for biography-autobiography.
In Cabo Verde

Simulation offers policy Rx for curbing HIV

The African archipelago nation of Cabo Verde could bring its HIV epidemic under control within 10 years by ramping up four interventions already underway, according to a sophisticated computer model used by Brown University public health researchers. Much of the progress could be achieved, the model predicts, by focusing the effort just on the most at-risk populations.

Tapeworm drug shows promise against MRSA

Researchers based at Brown University and Rhode Island Hospital show in a new study that a drug already approved to fight tapeworms in people, effectively treated MRSA superbugs in lab cultures and in infected nematode worms. The scientists are pursuing further testing with hope that the findings will lead to new treatments for deadly MRSA infections.

Study describes brain circuitry for selecting among sensations

In Neuron, Brown University neuroscientists show how cells in the brain’s cortex can either stifle or enhance sensory information incoming from the thalamus, thereby allowing it to focus on just some of the many sensory inputs it might choose to consider.
Biologically inspired engineering

Sea sponge anchors are natural models of strength

The Venus’ flower basket sea sponge has hair-like appendages that hold it in place on the sea floor. Research led by Brown University engineers shows that the internal structure of those fibers is fine-tuned for strength. The findings from this natural system could inform the engineering of load-bearing structural members.