Press Releases in June, 2011

Good news in fight against premature aging disease

Encouraging research news:  Sam, with his mother Leslie Gordon, is a 14-year-old with a flair for engineering. He lives with progeria, a rare condition that causes rapid aging.
Progeria is a rare genetic disorder that leads to premature aging and fatal cardiovascular disease in children. For more than a decade, Leslie B. Gordon, associate professor (research) of pediatrics and the mother of a boy with progeria, has been at the vanguard of conducting and promoting research. She hailed a new study, partly funded by a foundation she helped to establish, that shows a drug can partly clear cells of the protein that causes progeria. (Distributed June 30, 2011)
‘Costs of War’ Project

Estimated cost of post-9/11 wars: 225,000 lives, up to $4 trillion

Costs of War:  New estimates by the “Costs of War” project provide a comprehensive analysis of the total human, economic, social, and political cost of the U.S. War on Terror.
The cost of wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan are estimated at 225,000 lives and up to $4 trillion in U.S. spending, in a new report by scholars with the Eisenhower Research Project at Brown University’s Watson Institute for International Studies. The group’s “Costs of War” project has released new figures for a range of human and economic costs associated with the U.S. military response to the 9/11 attacks. (Distributed June 29, 2011)

Study: CT lung cancer screens save lives; other studies underway

Constantine Gatsonis:  “For the first time we have a study that says, ‘Yes, you can actually reduce lung cancer mortality in heavy smokers via screening.’ This is tremendous.”
A new report confirms an initial announcement by the National Cancer Institute of a 20-percent reduction in lung cancer deaths in heavy smokers by using helical low-dose CT screening versus X-rays. The study provides a deeper description of that finding, but does not yet answer important questions about cost-effectiveness, health care utilization, or changes in smoking behavior. Those analyses are underway and results could be available later this year. (Distributed June 29, 2011)

Tongue makes the difference in how fish and mammals chew

Jaws, tongue, and teeth:  Nicolai Konow and colleagues have learned that fish chew differently from mammals. The evolutionary divergence likely occurred with amphibians, though further research is needed to identify which species and when.
New research from Brown University shows that fish and mammals chew differently. Fish use tongue muscles to thrust food backward, while mammals use tongue muscles to position food for grinding. The evolutionary divergence is believed to have occurred with amphibians, though further research is needed to identify which species and when. Results are published in Integrative and Comparative Biology. (Distributed June 27, 2011)

Gold nanoparticles help earlier diagnosis of liver cancer

Cancer spotters:  A new diagnostic technique can spot tumor-like masses as small as 5 millimeters in the liver. Gold nanoparticles with a polyelectrolyte coating can make smaller tumors more visible through X-ray scatter imaging, enabling earlier diagnosis.
A research team led by Brown University has devised a new technique to spot cancerous tumors in the liver as small as 5 millimeters. The technique, using gold nanoparticles, is the first to deploy metal nanoparticles as agents to enhance X-ray scattering of image tumor-like masses. Results are published in in the American Chemical Society journal Nano Letters. (Distributed June 22, 2011)
Media Advisory

Costs of War report to be issued Wednesday, June 29

Findings from a research group based at Brown University's Watson Institute for International Studies will be released on Wednesday, June 29, 2011. The Costs of War project estimates the human, economic, social, and political toll of America’s War on Terror. [Read the release.] (Distributed June 22, 2011)
Stressful events and Panic disorder

Panic symptoms increase steadily, not acutely, after stressful event

When stressful life events, such as a layoff, happen to people with panic disorder, the result is often not an immediate and acute attack. Instead, the stress leads to a gradual but steady increase in symptoms for weeks afterward. Patients, family members and therapists should remain vigilant for the long term, researchers say. (Distributed June 20, 2011)

Third annual BIARI is underway at Brown

An international welcome:
The Brown International Advanced Research Institutes program brings promising young faculty from the Global South and emerging economies into a high-level, sustained intellectual dialogue with leading scholars in their fields and with each other. (Distributed June 14, 2011)
Computational biology

More genetic diseases linked to potentially fixable gene splicing problems

The sum of its parts:  A new computer program that analyzes the frequency and position of certain short DNA sequences helps researchers find sequences likely to be involved in gene splicing. The team, from left: Luciana Ferraris, Kian Huat Lim, William Fairbrother, Madeleine Filloux.
Many more hereditary diseases than previously thought may be caused, at least in part, by errors in pre-mRNA splicing, according to a computer analysis by Brown University scientists. That could be good news because research suggests it may be possible to fix bad splicing. (Distributed June 13, 2011)
Presidential Primaries

Voters have up to five times more influence in early primaries

Vote early:  New research shows that voters in states with early presidential primaries have a disproportionate influence in the races for presidential nominations.
As the nation gears up for the 2012 presidential election, potential candidates are making frequent stops in New Hampshire and Iowa. Research by a Brown University economist, published in The Journal of Political Economy, shows that voters in early primary states have a disproportionate influence on who gets elected. (Distributed June 10, 2011)

Hormone test helps predict success in IVF

Helping to predict IVF success:  Research by Geralyn Lambert-Messerlian and Andrew Blazar suggests that blood levels of antimullerian hormone (AMH) might help clinicians better understand and manage an IVF cycle for their patients.
In a new study, women with high levels of the hormone AMH produced more eggs for in vitro fertilization (IVF) procedures, and pregnancies were more likely to occur than in women with low levels. The finding could aid counseling and give doctors a new tool to adjust treatment. (Distributed June 9, 2011)
Expert Commentary

Brown Faculty As Experts on the Moon

Brown University faculty have been involved in several landmark findings related to the moon, including the discoveries of water on the surface and in the interior of the moon as well as water ice at the lunar poles. Brown faculty and graduate students also are participating scientists on NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, which is currently orbiting the moon. Brown is a Lunar Science Institute, one of seven institutes created by NASA to study the moon and to cultivate the next crop of lunar scholars. (Distributed June 9, 2011)
Training the Brain

Early light refines the brain’s circuitry for vision

Light and sight: connected at the beginning:  Because the retinal layer of rods and cones is not connected early in mice, neuroscientists had no reason to suspect that light helps develop neural connections for vision. David Berson, right, with Jordan Renna, has shown that photosensitive cells he discovered a decade ago are connected and do help with neural development.
Creatures are not born hardwired to see. Instead, they depend on electrical activity in the retina to refine the complex circuits that process visual information. Two new studies from Brown University in different species using different techniques show how nascent animal brains use light to wire up or construct their central vision system. (Distributed June 5, 2011)
Questions for ...

Oded Galor: Economic growth process over 100,000 years

Brown University economist Oded Galor founded the field of unified growth theory, which examines the economic growth process over the entire history of the human species. (Distributed June 1, 2011)