Press Releases in December, 2009

Researchers Find Cells Move in Mysterious Ways

Three-dimensional cell:  Scientists at Brown University and the California Institute of Technology have for the first time tracked how cells move by measuring the force exerted by them on their surroundings. The method could lead to better understanding how healthy cells differ from malignant cells.
Scientists at Brown University and the California Institute of Technology have for the first time tracked how cells move in three dimensions by measuring the force exerted by them on their surroundings. The scientists' experiments revealed that cells move in a push-pull fashion, such as probing at depth, redistributing weight at various points and coiling and elongating. Results appear online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. (Distributed December 16, 2009)
Taubman Center for Public Policy

RI Poll Finds Moderate Support for Health Care Reform, War in Afghanistan

A new Brown University poll finds moderate support among Rhode Island voters on the issues of health care reform and the war in Afghanistan. A large majority of respondents describes the nation and state's economy as poor. The survey, conducted Dec. 4-6, 2009, is based on a sample of 442 registered voters in Rhode Island. (Distributed December 16, 2009)
Bat Biology

Sucker-Footed Bats Don’t Use Suction After All

In first-time experiments in the wild, a researcher at Brown University has discovered that a species of bat in Madagascar, Myzopoda aurita, uses wet adhesion to attach itself to surfaces. The finding explains why the bat — unlike almost all others — roosts head-up. It also helps to explain how it differs from a similar head-up roosting species. Results appear in the Biological Journal of the Linnean Society. (Distributed December 14, 2009)
Living longer, losing weight

Controlling Key Enzyme in Brain Offers Clue For Future Obesity Treatment

Eduardo Nillni:  Professor of Medicine (Research)
Researchers from Brown University, Rhode Island Hospital and elsewhere have determined that inhibiting the Sirt1 enzyme in the brain appears to help control food intake. Activating Sirt1 elsewhere in the body — by fasting or with red wine — is thought by some to help people live longer. Details of the new Sirt1 brain finding will be published online Dec. 15, 2009, in the journal PLoS ONE. (Distributed December 10, 2009)

Newly Discovered Mechanism Allows Cells To Change State

A mechanism for change:  Common yeast cells like these are able to change from the “a” to the “alpha” type by removing a protein that prevents certain genes from being expressed. Understanding that mechanism could lead to new interventions in pathologies where the cell transformation process goes wrong.
By looking at yeast cells, Jeffrey Laney, assistant professor of biology, has figured out one way in which cells can transform themselves: a cellular “machine” removes a regulatory “lid.” Details are published online in Nature Cell Biology. (Distributed December 9, 2009)

Achebe Colloquium to Focus on 2010 Nigerian Elections

An international gathering of scholars, government officials, and civil society groups from Nigeria, Europe, and the United States will explore the problems and prospects of the upcoming Nigerian elections during the 2009 Achebe Colloquium Friday, Dec. 11, 2009. (Distributed December 3, 2009)