2013 News Archive

Dec 4, 2013

UCSB researcher tracks source of inherited gene mutation to a single founder dating from early Habsburg Spain.

The age and origin of the E280A gene mutation responsible for early-onset Alzheimer’s in a Colombian family with an unusually high incidence of the disease has been traced to a single founder dating from the 16th century.

Kenneth S. Kosik, Harriman Professor in Neuroscience at UC Santa Barbara and co-director of the campus’s Neuroscience Research Institute (NRI), conducted the study. The findings appear in the journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia.

Dec 3, 2013

With few exceptions, cells don’t change type once they have become specialized — a heart cell, for example, won’t suddenly become a brain cell. However, new findings by researchers directed by MCDB professor Joel Rothman have identified a method for changing one cell type into another in a process called forced transdifferentiation. Their work appears today in the journal Development.

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Nov 26, 2013

The findings have the potential to translate into millions of saved lives

Sepsis, the body’s response to severe infections, kills more people than breast cancer, prostate cancer and HIV/AIDS combined. On average, 30 percent of those diagnosed with sepsis die.

A new study conducted by Jamey Marth, director of UC Santa Barbara’s Center for Nanomedicine and professor of the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, reports a new method to increase survival in sepsis. The results appear today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

Nov 25, 2013

Craig Montell, Duggan Professor of Molecular, Cellular and Development Biology and Neuroscience, was named for the discovery of transient receptor potential channels, which transformed our understanding of sensory signaling and led to insights in how to control neurodegeneration, pain and insect pests.

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Sep 18, 2013

The female common market squid – AKA Doryteuthis opalescens – may not be so common after all. Researchers led by MCDB professor Daniel Morse have discovered that this glamorous cephalopod possesses a pair of stripes that can sparkle with rainbow iridescence. These flank a single stripe, which can go from complete transparency to bright white. This marks the first time that switchable white cells based on reflectins – the proteins responsible for reflecting light as color – have been observed. The findings are published in the Journal of Experimental Biology.

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Yali Zhang and Craig Montell
Sep 9, 2013

If you’ve ever wondered how you learn to like a food you dislike, a new study conducted by Craig Montell, Duggan Professor of Neuroscience in the Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology, may offer an answer. The work addresses a central question in neurobiology — how experience can alter animal behavior. The research, just published in Nature Neuroscience, was conducted by Montell’s team, which includes lead author Yali Zhang, Rakesh Raghuwanshi, and Wei Shen.

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Aug 22, 2013

Thomas Weimbs, one of the world's leading experts on polycystic kidney disease and an associate professor in UC Santa Barbara’s Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology and at the campus’s Neuroscience Research Institute, has been appointed as a member of the Center for Scientific Review’s Kidney Molecular Biology and Genitourinary Organ Development (KMBD) study section. The Center for Scientific Review is the portal for National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant applications and their review for scientific merit. “It is an honor to be a member of an NIH study section,” said Weimbs. “It goes to emphasize that there is a lot of medically relevant research being conducted at UCSB even though we don’t have a medical school here.”

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Aug 21, 2013

Fruit flies have a lot to teach us about the complexity of food. Like these tiny little creatures, most animals are attracted to sugar but are deterred from eating it when bitter compounds are added. A new study conducted by Craig Montell, Duggan Professor of Neuroscience in the Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology, explains a breakthrough in understanding how sensory input impacts fruit flies’ decisions about sweet taste. The findings were published today in the journal Neuron.

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Aug 12, 2013

Using human pluripotent stem cells and DNA-cutting protein from meningitis bacteria, researchers led by MCDB professor James Thomson have created an efficient way to target and repair defective genes.

Published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the team's findings demonstrate that the novel technique is much simpler than previous methods and establishes the groundwork for major advances in regenerative medicine, drug screening, and biomedical research.

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Mary Baum, Amitabh Ghoshal, Daniel G. DeMartini and Daniel E. Morse Credit: George Foulsham
Jul 25, 2013

Color in living organisms can be formed two ways: pigmentation or anatomical structure. Structural colors arise from the physical interaction of light with biological nanostructures. A wide range of organisms possess this ability, but the biological mechanisms underlying the process have been poorly understood. Now, the group of MCDB professor Dan Morse has delved deeper to uncover the mechanism responsible for the dramatic changes in color used by such creatures as squids and octopuses. The findings - published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science - are featured in the current issue of The Scientist.

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