News

Otger Campàs
Mar 26, 2019

Professor Otger Campàs receives New Investigator Award from the Society for Developmental Biology.

How do we develop from a mass of undifferentiated cells into organisms of tissues and organs with specific three-dimensional morphologies and architectures? That question has been one of the perennial mysteries at the heart of developmental biology — a field that studies the processes of growth and development of living organisms. For the last few decades, most of the research has focused on the biochemical signals and genetics that orchestrate embryogenesis. However, MCDB affiliated professor Otger Campàs has made great strides in our understanding of a different, yet essential, aspect of this problem: the mechanical and physical processes that shape embryos.

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Tau neuron. Credit: Kosik Lab
Mar 21, 2019

In a great stride toward finding an effective treatment for early-stage neurodegenerative diseases, MCDB professor Kenneth S. Kosik and collaborators have uncovered a “druggable” mechanism of pathological tau protein aggregation. For the millions of people at risk for frontotemporal dementia and a host of other such conditions including Alzheimer's, this could signal a shift toward significant management of symptoms or outright prevention of some of our most devastating diseases. “We’re super excited about this,” said Kosik, the UCSB Harriman Professor of Neuroscience and co-director of the campus’s Neuroscience Research Institute. While there is much more work to be done, promising evidence for this treatable mechanism is mounting and the stage is set for future investigations. In the wake of the recent halting of clinical trials for Aducanumab, a drug that once looked to be a promising Alzheimer’s treatment, this development signals a ray of hope. The team’s paper, “A Farnesyl Transferase Inhibitor that Targets Rhes Reduces Tau Pathology in Mice with Tauopathy,” is published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

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Shining a Light on Memory
Mar 21, 2019

Neuroscientist Michael Goard receives funding for new memory research.

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Feb 1, 2019

In 2007, Ho Man “Holly” Tang took a break from her undergraduate biology studies at Iowa State University to join her older brother, Ho Lam “Hogan” Tang, then a doctoral student at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, to work on a project together. In Ming-Chiu Fung’s immunology lab, Hogan had been investigating how disturbances in the cytoskeletons of cells might contribute to the fragmentation of mitochondria during apoptosis, the most familiar form of cell suicide.

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Denise Montell
Dec 5, 2018

Robert and Patricia Duggan Professor, Distinguished Professor, Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology, University of California, Santa Barbara

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Sepsis
Oct 10, 2018

A major cause of human disability and death throughout the world, sepsis is a condition that begins with an infection, progresses rapidly and can set off a chain of effects that result in multiple organ failure and irreparable damage to the body. Because of the condition’s rapid onset, physicians must respond immediately to the symptoms with broad-spectrum antibiotics for infection, drugs to combat inflammation and, in the more critical cases, vasopressors to manage shock. Because sepsis is so difficult to detect in its early stages, however, little has been known about how it develops. This may explain why no new effective drugs to treat sepsis have been developed in decades, while it remains one of the leading causes of hospital deaths. Sepsis also can result in serious disabilities for those who survive.

Now, researchers led by MCDB professor Jamey Marth have developed a method for tracking, on a molecular level, the development of sepsis. Their paper, “Accelerated Aging and Clearance of Host Anti-inflammatory Enzymes by Discrete Pathogens Fuels Sepsis” is published in the journal Cell Host & Microbe.

Cover of Nature
Sep 21, 2018

Ever wondered how groups of cells managed to build your tissues and organs while you were just an embryo? Using state-of-the-art techniques he developed, Professor Otger Campàs and his group have cracked this longstanding mystery, revealing the astonishing inner workings of how embryos are physically constructed.

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Urine Test Smartphone
Sep 21, 2018

In a potential game changer for the health care industry, a new cell phone app and lab kit now allow a smartphone to identify bacteria from patients anywhere in the world. With the new app, doctors will be able to diagnose diseases and prescribe the appropriate antibiotic within a one-hour office visit, meaning faster recovery — and lower treatment costs — for patients. Developed by a research team led by MCDB professor Michael Mahan, the study “Smartphone-based pathogen diagnosis in urinary sepsis patients” was published in the journal EbioMedicine.  The detection system succeeded in achieving rapid diagnosis of urinary tract infections — among the most common type of infection globally. The app uses a smartphone’s camera to measure a chemical reaction and determines a diagnosis in about an hour — and the simple, low-cost test can be performed in the world’s most remote locations.  

Bio Mentors
Apr 26, 2018

Like many first-year biology majors, Mirna Aparicio came to UC Santa Barbara with the goal of becoming a doctor. What she didn’t anticipate was how different university courses were from those she took in high school. She found help honing her study skills through an innovative program at UCSB designed to increase the success and retention of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) majors. Funded by a $1.5 million grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the BioMentors program aims to change the freshman and sophomore experience for undergraduate biology majors. And it has been very successful, particularly among underperforming, first-generation and underrepresented minority (URM) students. 

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Research Image
Apr 12, 2018

In 2013, the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded to three scientists for their contributions to uncovering the mechanisms governing vesicle transport in cells. Their explanations provided both a conceptual and a mechanistic understanding of basic processes at the most fundamental level.

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