Study IDs collagen-damaging protein in white nose syndrome

: In the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers from Brown University and the University of California–San Francisco identify an enzyme that may damage bats in the fungal disease white nose syndrome. In lab experiments, they uncovered an inhibitor that could limit the ability of the fungal species to destroy collagen.

Study finds inhibitor for COPD lung destruction

Newly published observations in patients and experiments in mice provide evidence that cigarette smoke reduces expression of the protein NLRX1 in the lung, taking the restraints off a destructive immune response that results in COPD. The researchers hope that pinpointing the protein’s role could lead to improved COPD risk assessment, diagnostics, and treatment.

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.

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.

Dull glow of forest yields orbital tracking of photosynthesis

Researchers have found a tight correlation between ground-based measurements of forest-canopy photosynthesis and traces of fluorescence detected in low-Earth orbit, enabling continuous measurement of forest health on a global scale.

Brown scientists bid farewell to MESSENGER

Its mission accomplished and its fuel spent, NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft fell from Mercury orbit Thursday afternoon — “a phenomenally successful mission by any measure.”
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.

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.
The 247th Commencement

Bailhe, Johnson to deliver 2015 senior orations

With individual motivation to work for social justice, senior orators Michelle Bailhe and Lucas Johnson didn’t sit idly by at Brown. In their four years they worked in Rhode Island prisons and schools to learn how to effect change. That experience, as well as their lives on campus, will inform their 2015 senior orations titled “I Don’t Know” and “School Spirit.”

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.