2015 News Archive

Sep 1, 2015

Medical research has yet to discover an Alzheimer’s treatment that effectively slows the disease’s progression, but neuroscientists at UC Santa Barbara may have uncovered a mechanism by which onset can be delayed by as much as 10 years. That mechanism is a gene variant — an allele — found in a part of the genome that controls inflammation. The variant appears to prevent levels of the protein eotaxin from increasing with age, which it usually does hand in hand with inflammation. The findings appear in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.

Aug 26, 2015

It’s bacteria against bacteria, and one of them is going down. Researchers led by MDCB professor Chris Hayes have demonstrated how certain microbes exploit proteins in nearby bacteria to deliver toxins and kill them. The mechanisms behind this bacterial warfare, the researchers suggest, could be harnessed to target pathogenic bacteria. Their findings appear in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Aug 6, 2015

An interdisciplinary team of UCSB researchers including MCDB professor Herb Waite studied and improved a small molecule that possesses an impressive ability to adhere in wet environments. Their findings appear today in the journal Science.

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Jun 30, 2015

The MCDB Department welcomes two new faculty members: Dr. Julie Simpson and Dr. Michael Goard. Dr. Simpson will be moving from her current position as a Group Leader at HHMI/Janelia. Her research focuses on mapping neural circuit in the fly brain that coordinate motor behaviors, such as grooming. She will be arriving in August 2015. Dr. Goard will be moving from Dr. Mriganka Sur’s lab at MIT. His research is defining the cortical circuits involved in short term memory in the mouse. Dr. Goard will be arriving in the spring of 2016.

Jun 25, 2015

MCDB professor Thomas Weimbs and his team have developed a targeted drug delivery method that could potentially slow the progression of polycystic kidney disease. Weimbs and his team have found a method that enables a class of antibodies, immunoglobulin-A (IgA), to penetrate the cyst walls in PKD kidneys. The strategy opens up the possibility of repurposing a large number of existing drugs for PKD therapy. The researchers’ results appear in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

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Jun 15, 2015

The UCSB Graduate Division has named MCDB PhD graduate Patrick Keeley as the recipient of the Winifred and Louis Lancaster Dissertation Award in the field of Biological and Life Sciences. The award recognizes the best Ph.D. dissertation in a given discipline during 2013-2015. Patrick also will be UCSB's nominee in the international competition sponsored by the Council of Graduate Schools.

Jun 1, 2015

In a new study that focuses on locomotion in the fruit fly — a relatively simple animal that exhibits many of the same behaviors as humans and other mammals — MCDB’s Craig Montell and his research team have identified a transient receptor potential (TRP) channel that plays a key role in the insect’s fine motor coordination. Their research is published in the journal Nature Communications.

May 5, 2015

A UCSB symposium features cutting-edge developments in molecular and cellular approaches to understanding brain structure and function.


Some of the most profound conditions affecting humans — from Alzheimer’s disease and autism to schizophrenia and bipolar disorder — are neurological in origin. Yet despite decades of research, the brain and its related diseases remain largely a mystery.


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Apr 29, 2015

MCDB scientists make new discoveries about a specific protein and its effects on the final step of cell division. A new study conducted by in the laboratory of Zach Ma in MCDB reveals a novel function for WDR5, a protein known for its critical role in gene expression whereby information encoded in genes is converted into products like RNA (ribonucleic acid) and protein. In cells, WDR5 is a subunit of a five-protein complex. Mutations in members of this complex can result in childhood leukemia and other disorders affecting numerous organ systems in the body. The UCSB team worked with WDR5 in cultured human cell lines. The results of the study appear in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

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Feb 25, 2015

UCSB researchers examine a shape-shifting protein in the brain to learn more about how form affects function. Like the shape-shifting robots of “Transformers” fame, a unique class of proteins in the human body also has the ability to alter their configuration. These so-named intrinsically disordered proteins (IDPs) lack a fixed or ordered three-dimensional structure, which can be influenced by exposure to various chemicals and cellular modifications.

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