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News » Archives » December 2016

Notre Dame Research a “Top Pick” by Nature Microbiology for Best of 2016

Author: Sarah Craig

Alex Perkins, PhD, Eck Family Assistant Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, and a member of the Eck Institute for Global Health, is among the “Best of 2016” editor’s top 10 picks for the publication Nature Microbiology, a nature research journal. According to the publication, each year the most popular content is chosen to highlight research that is being viewed, shared, blogged, and picked up by the news.

Perkins Alex

Perkins’ paper, Model-based projections of Zika virus infections in childbearing women in the Americas, was ranked #2 for 2016. “It was incredible to see the media attention that this work received,” notes Perkins. “I think that shows what a gap there is between the public’s interest to know what the future holds for Zika and scientists’ limited ability to give them answers to those questions in the early stages of a disease’s emergence. We are making progress, and I think this paper was recognized as an important early contribution to understanding the extent of the Zika threat across the Americas.”

Research in the Perkins Lab applies mathematical modeling to the study of infectious disease transmission dynamics and control, with a focus on mosquito-borne diseases such as Zika, dengue, and malaria.

Aedes aegypti mosquito

The Eck Institute for Global Health recognizes health as a fundamental human right and endeavors to promote research, training, and service to advance health standards Read More

Researchers confirm molecule's role in kidney formation

Author: Gene Stowe

Rebecca Wingert And Team

Research in the laboratory of Rebecca Wingert, the Gallagher Family Associate Professor of Adult Stem Cell Research in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Notre Dame, has confirmed the key role of a certain small molecule in the development of kidney structures in zebrafish, a widely used model for human kidneys. The discovery could help advance understanding to address issues such as birth defects and repair of the kidney after illness or injury.

Using an innovative screen approach that graduate student Shahram Jevin Poureetezadi designed, the team exposed zebrafish embryos to small molecules, prostaglandin E2, from a chemical library of such molecules known to be active in cell development generally. The researchers wanted to identify small molecules that regulate or modify development. They discovered that activating or interrupting the prostaglandin pathway has a direct impact on the kidney, meaning that it is essential for normal development. Read More

Reilly Center Releases 2017 List of Emerging Ethical Dilemmas and Policy Issues in Science and Technology

Author: Jessica Baron

Reilly Center 2017 List

For the fourth year in a row, the University of Notre Dame’s John J. Reilly Center for Science, Technology and Values has released a list of emerging ethical dilemmas and policy issues in science and technology. The 2017 list includes freezing brains and swarms of drones and highlights issues in robotics, neuroscience, education and medical management.

In putting out the annual list, the center aims to present items for scientists, policymakers, journalists, teachers, students and the public to consider in the coming months and years as new technologies develop.

The 2017 list includes:

NeuV’s “emotion engine” – A blend artificial intelligence, robotics and big data that let’s your car know how you’re feeling.

Swarm warfare – The military’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is looking for a way for drones to act in unison so that hundreds or thousands can be controlled on the battlefield at the same time.

Reanimating cryonics – An old fad that now aims to freeze your brain so it can be downloaded into a computer in the future.

Edublocks – By 2026 we may have a large marketplace of informal experts and learners exchanging skills and knowledge for money, buying and selling education piece by piece.

Brain hacking – Wearable devices that measure EEG waves are easy to come by, but a simple hack into your headset could reveal a whole host of your most private information.

The self-healing body – There are at least two projects going on now that aim to create bots so small they can move through your blood or attach to your nerve endings. Either by electrical stimulation or a release of chemicals, these bots may regulate our bodies before we even know something is wrong.

Medical ghost management – Pharmaceutical companies can hire firms to perform their clinical trials, write up the research, find academics to put their names on publications, place them in journals and run their marketing campaigns. An invisible and monumental conflict of interest. Read More

Eli Lilly Faculty Fellowship Provides Drug Discovery Experience

Author: Brandi Klingerman

Notre Dame Researcher Developing Medication Delivery System to Combat Diabetes

Haifeng Gao 2

Diabetes is a metabolic disease in which the body has an inability to produce enough insulin. In the United States alone, it is estimated that the illness affects nearly 30 million diagnosed and undiagnosed people, and treatment often includes patients using an intravenous or IV method to get insulin into their system. This uncomfortable and inconvenient form of treatment can require anywhere from two to four injections a day, but a Notre Dame researcher is working to combat this problem with a less frequent, oral delivery system. Read More

Notre Dame Researchers Advise WHO Global Health Policy

Author: Sarah Craig

Alex Perkins, PhD, Eck Family Assistant Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, and a member of the Eck Institute for Global Health, along with Guido Espana who holds a postdoctoral position in the Perkins laboratory, were recently published in the journal PLoS Medicine. The results of their study are important contributions to the evidence base that led the World Health Organization (WHO) to form their policy position on the only currently available dengue vaccine.

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According to the lead author, Stefan Flasche from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, UK, the first available dengue vaccine, CYD-TDV (Dengvaxia), is estimated to reduce the burden of dengue and be potentially cost effective in settings where infections with dengue are common. Perkins notes, “this is an important discovery that suggests to the WHO that a one-size-fits-all policy recommendation for use of the Dengvaxia vaccine is not advisable.” Read More