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News » Archives » 2011

New paper calls for strong steps to tackle antibiotic resistance

Author: William G. Gilroy

Shahriar Mobashery

Shahriar Mobashery, a University of Notre Dame researcher, is one of the co-authors of a new paper by a group of the world’s leading scientists in academia and industry that calls for strong steps to be taken to control the global crisis of antibiotic resistance in bacteria. The group issued a priority list of steps that need to be taken on a global scale to resolve the crisis.

The paper is an outgrowth of a meeting the group held at the Banbury Conference Centre in Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y., to discuss the crisis and it appears in the journal Nature Reviews Microbiology. Read More

Notre Dame researchers exploring important new insight into ovarian cancer

Author: William G. Gilroy

Harper Cancer Research Institute

Researchers from the Harper Cancer Research Institute, a partnership between the University of Notre Dame and Indiana University School of Medicine-South Bend, have uncovered a key element that plays a role in the spread of ovarian cancer.

Ovarian cancer is the leading cause of death due to gynecologic cancers. Annually, more than 20,000 women die from the disease, usually as the result of spread, or metastasis, of the primary tumor. The five-year survival for women diagnosed with primary tumors is 95 percent, which is a stark contrast to the less than 30 percent survival of women diagnosed with metastatic lesions. Read More

New technology helps ER doctors make critical decisions

Author: William G. Gilroy

Emergency room

Researchers from the University of Notre Dame’s Keck Center for Transgene Research and trauma physicians at South Bend’s Memorial Hospital are joining forces to use a new medical technology to help save the lives of trauma patients.

Researchers at the Keck Center investigate how the genes involved in blood clotting processes function in inflammatory diseases like sepsis, atherosclerosis and asthma. In particular, the Center’s Thromboelastographic Study Group focuses on the coagulopathy (clotting disorder or bleeding disorder) of trauma. Read More

Notre Dame researchers lead collaborative team to study bacteria movement

Author: Paul Murphy

Mark Alber

An interdisciplinary collaboration of six researchers, including four from Notre Dame, have received a three-year National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant to study the interplay of motility mechanisms during swarming of the bacterium Myxococcus xanthus. Their study is essential to understanding how millions of bacteria function in real environments.

Mark Alber, the Vincent J. Duncan Family Professor of Applied Mathematics and director of the Center for Study of Biocomplexity at the University of Notre Dame, is principal investigator of the team. Read More

Notre Dame cancer researcher named V Scholar

Author: Paul Murphy

Zachary Schafer

Zachary Schafer, the Coleman Assistant Professor of Cancer Biology in the Department of Biological Sciences and a member of the Harper Cancer Research Institute at the University of Notre Dame, has been named a 2011 V Scholar by one of the nation’s leading cancer research fundraising organizations, the V Foundation for Cancer Research. Seventeen physician/scientists will share the $3.4 million in funding given through the V Scholar program to bring science closer to finding a cure for cancer.

Through a very competitive process, Schafer was chosen from nominees at National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated cancer centers and prominent universities involved in critical cancer research. Read More

Controlling gene expression to halt cancer growth

Author: Paul Murphy

Olaf Wiest

NUT midline carcinoma (NMC) is a cancer without a cure, and one that affects all age groups. NMC is a rapid-growth disease with an average survival time of four and a half months after diagnosis, making the development of clinical trials for potential therapies or cures for this cancer difficult, to say the least.

But difficult doesn’t mean impossible, and Olaf Wiest, professor of chemistry and biochemistry at the University of Notre Dame, is one of a group of collaborators studying the effects of a specific molecule (JQ1) on the trigger that controls the growth of this form of cancer. Read More

Notre Dame researchers make neurological disease breakthrough

Author: William G. Gilroy

Prodrug ND-478 being processed to ND-322 in blood vessels

Results of a study by a group of University of Notre Dame researchers represent a promising step on the road to developing new drugs for a variety of neurological diseases.

The group from the University’s Departments of Chemistry and Biochemistry and Biological Sciences and the Freimann Life Sciences Center focused on the design, synthesis and evaluation of water-soluble “gelatinase inhibitor” compounds. Read More

Two biology faculty receive NIH director’s New Innovator Award

Author: Julie Hail Flory

Shaun Lee and Rebecca Wingert

Shaun Lee and Rebecca Wingert, assistant professors in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Notre Dame, have been selected as recipients of the highly competitive National Institutes of Health (NIH) director’s New Innovator Award. Each award covers $1.5 million in research expenditures over five years.

The award, which encourages creative ideas in science, stimulates highly innovative research and supports promising new investigators. Lee and Wingert are part of a small group of only 49 exceptionally creative, early stage investigators who propose bold new approaches that have the potential to produce a major impact on a broad area of biomedical or behavioral research. Read More

Mass spectrometry and imaging facilities enable cancer cell discovery

Author: Paul Murphy

Kevin Vaughan

A breakthrough in the laboratory of Kevin Vaughan, associate professor of biological sciences at the University of Notre Dame, will assist researchers in understanding cell cycle regulation. The group identified a novel protein that is regulated by the mitotic kinase Aurora B, an important factor in mitosis, or cell division.

In addition to cancers with a genetic origin, such as colon and breast cancers, mistakes in mitosis are considered a leading cause of spontaneous cancers. Read More

Notre Dame research reveals brain network connections

Author: Marissa Gebhard

Brain map

Research conducted by Maria Ercsey-Ravasz and Zoltan Toroczkai of the University of Notre Dame’s Interdisciplinary Center for Network Science and Applications (iCeNSA), along with the Department of Physics and a group of neuroanatomists in France, has revealed previously unknown information about the primate brain.

The researchers published an article in the journal Cerebral Cortex showing that the brain is characterized by a highly consistent, weighted network among the functional areas of the cortex, which are responsible for such functions as vision, hearing, touch, movement control and complex associations. The study revealed that such cortical networks and their properties are reproducible from individual to individual. Read More

Researchers discover protein dynamics help regulate cell division

Author: Marissa Gebhard

Jeff Peng

A collaborative study between the laboratories of Jeff Peng at the University of Notre Dame and Felicia Etzkorn at Virginia Tech has discovered an important element of how an enzyme involved in cell division does its job. Their report, “Stereospecific gating of functional motions in Pin1,” was recently published in the online edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Pin1 controls the proteins that start cell division by changing the shape of their peptide bonds. Consisting of two loosely-connected domains or structural modules (a catalytic domain and a Trp-Trp (WW) domain), it binds to a target peptide bond, which increases communication between the two domains. Read More

Notre Dame researchers provide new genetic information about the circadian rhythms of the malaria mosquito

Author: William G. Gilroy

Anopheles gambie

A new study by a team of University of Notre Dame researchers offers a wealth of information about the rhythmic nature of gene expression in Anopheles gambiae, the mosquito species that transmits the malaria parasite from person to person. Each year, roughly 250 million people suffer from malaria and that results in one million deaths, mostly pregnant women and children under five years of age.

Mosquitoes, like all animals, show daily rhythms in behavior and physiology. The rhythmic behaviors of Anopheles gambiae include dusk mating swarms, nocturnal flight activity and feeding on sugar and blood-meal hosts and egg-laying. The exclusive biting of humans at night by Anopheles gambiae provides the basis of protection by insecticide-treated bed nets (ITNs) used while people are sleeping. This contrasts with the dengue/yellow fever mosquito Aedes aegypi, which bites during the day and to which ITNs afford no protection. Read More

Science dean to embark on second ride for rare disease research

Author: Julie Hail Flory

Greg and Renate Crawford

Gregory P. Crawford, dean of the College of Science at the University of Notre Dame, and his wife, Renate, will for the second consecutive year set out on a remarkable bicycle ride this summer to support research seeking treatments and a cure for Niemann-Pick Type C (NPC), a rare and deadly neurodegenerative disease that primarily strikes children before or during adolescence.

The Crawfords will depart June 13 on “Road to Discovery,” a 2,200-mile ride from Boston to Dallas, with stops to visit NPC researchers and families, as well as Notre Dame alumni clubs, along the way. Read More

Notre Dame chemist sheds new light on antibiotics and the survival of bacteria

Author: Julie Hail Flory

Shahriar Mobashery

Research in the laboratory of Shahriar Mobashery in the University of Notre Dame’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry has led to further understanding of how a bacterial cell wall cross-links, an event that penicillin and other antibiotics disrupt, a step in the maturation of a cell wall that is critical for the survival of bacteria.

Mobashery is the Navari Family Chair in Life Sciences at Notre Dame. His group published the findings recently in the Journal of the American Chemical Society in an article titled, “A Computational Evaluation of the Mechanism of Penicillin-Binding Protein-Catalyzed Cross-Linking of the Bacterial Cell Wall.” Read More

Breakthrough in Niemann-Pick Type C research reported by Notre Dame and Cornell scientists

Author: William G. Gilroy

PNAS Logo

A paper announcing a breakthrough discovery in the fight against Niemann-Pick Type C, coauthored by Olaf Wiest and Paul Helquist of the University of Notre Dame’s Department Chemistry and Biochemistry and Frederick Maxfield, Chair of Biochemistry at Cornell University Weill College of Medicine, appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science this week. The paper shows how use of a histone deacetylase inhibitor corrects the damage done by the genetic disorder and allowed once-diseased cells to function normally. Read More

Malcolm Fraser elected fellow of American Academy of Microbiology

Author: William G. Gilroy

Malcolm Fraser

Malcolm J. Fraser Jr., professor of biological sciences at the University of Notre Dame, has been elected a fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology, an honorary leadership group within the American Society for Microbiology. The election recognizes Fraser’s long record of teaching and innovative research, especially in the fields of virology and transgenic engineering.

Fraser discovered the piggyBac transposon, characterized its function and developed it as a “universal” transgenesis system. The system has been applied in many medically and economically important species that previously lacked efficient transformation systems, including the malaria-causing protozoan parasite, disease-carrying mosquitoes, silk moths, and grain beetles. Read More

Notre Dame researchers discover dual-action compound for potential treatment of tuberculosis and malaria

Author: Julie Hail Flory

Plasmodium falciparum

Marvin Miller, the George and Winifred Clark Chair in Chemistry, and Michael Ferdig, associate professor of biological sciences at the University of Notre Dame, are co-authors of a study recently published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society on a potential breakthrough in the fight against tuberculosis and malaria—global diseases that each kill some 2 million people a year.

In an interdisciplinary project, the researchers synthesized an iron transport molecule attached to an antibiotic that the tuberculosis bacterium would gladly ingest as a “Trojan horse,” a method that has proven to be successful for the Miller lab in other studies. Read More