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News » Archives » October 2016

Fighting for Better Cancer Detection

Author: Brandi Klingerman

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In the United States alone, there are nearly 240,000 breast cancer diagnoses each year, and one in eight women will develop breast cancer at some point in her lifetime. To date, mammograms are the best diagnostic technology for breast cancer. A mammogram’s ability to detect tumors at early stages has made breast cancer one of the most treatable forms of cancer, but there are still almost 50,000 missed diagnoses every year.

For many women, that missed diagnosis comes from having dense breast tissue which prohibits clear results from a basic mammogram. Breasts are made up of three types of tissue: fatty, fibrous and glandular. Most women have a mix of the three, but if the fibrous and glandular tissue outweigh the fatty tissue, women are classified as having dense breasts, wherein lies the problem. Fatty tissue appears transparent on X-rays which makes abnormalities like microcalcifications and tumors easy to see. However, fibrous and glandular tissue are less transparent which makes it difficult to detect abnormalities in a mammogram. Read More

Notre Dame chemists expand collaboration with Heidelberg University to include biomedical research

Author: Chontel Syfox

HeidelbergLeft to right: Markus Enders(Heidelberg University), Patricia Clark, Shahriar Mobashery, Amanda Hummon and Sharon Stack.

The Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Notre Dame and the Faculties of Chemistry and Biosciences at Heidelberg University came together at a mini symposium on October 20 and 21 in Heidelberg, Germany.

The mini symposium discussing the interface of chemistry, biology, and medicine was a part of a larger collaboration between Notre Dame and Heidelberg, which was established in 2014 with the signing of a memorandum of understanding. The memorandum saw both institutions agreeing to explore joint research projects, student exchange, and other cooperative efforts together. According to Olaf Wiest, professor of chemistry and biochemistry who led the effort, “this was a return visit after hosting a mini symposium on catalysis at Notre Dame in 2014 and expands the collaboration into biomedical research.” Read More

Stavropoulos Family Foundation makes $10 million gift to Notre Dame for biophysical research

Author: Dennis Brown

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The William and Linda Stavropoulos Family Foundation of Midland, Michigan, has made a $10 million gift to the University of Notre Dame for the creation of a center specializing in biophysical research in the College of Science.

“The interconnectedness of biology and physics to understanding living systems is longstanding, but in recent years has become even more central to scientific research,” said Thomas G. Burish, Charles and Jill Fischer Provost of the University. “Bill and Linda’s generous and visionary gift will give us the opportunity to significantly expand our work in this arena. We are most grateful.”

Mary Galvin, William K. Warren Foundation Dean of the College of Science, added: “We deeply appreciate the generosity of Bill and Linda Stavropoulos. Their support will enable us to attract a cluster of elite research talent to significantly strengthen science and biophysics at Notre Dame. This field of knowledge is crucial as we seek to explore the physical principles of biology and make advancements in human health.”

Physics has played an important role in biological research for many years, with the most well-known example being the work of James Watson, Francis Crick, Maurice Wilkins and Rosalind Franklin in the discovery of the DNA double helix. The intersection of biology and physics has increased dramatically in recent years as the important questions in biology have become more fundamental in nature. Read More

Of Synergy and Science

Author: Andy Fuller

Cross-disciplinary research building anchors new research quad

Change sometimes happens slowly, then all at once. On the northeast side of Notre Dame’s campus, a new quadrangle has emerged on space that seemingly just days ago was occupied by a parking lot and sidewalks. Anchoring this new quad on its east side is the state-of-the-art, 220,000 square foot McCourtney Hall of Molecular Science and Engineering. Its opening comes as shifts in the broader research community are hastening a change in how scientific discoveries are taking place.

“You can’t do anything these days without working with someone else, and usually in a very different discipline,” said Brian Baker, the Rev. John A. Zahm Professor of Structural Biology and chair of the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry within the College of Science. Faculty from Baker’s department are among those who began working at McCourtney Hall when the building opened for the fall semester 2016.

“Chemistry and biochemistry are fundamental disciplines,” Baker said. “Everything from medicinal chemistry to drug discovery to cancer biology, so much of it depends on fundamental chemistry and biochemistry.” Read More

Identifying DNA and Developing Data

Author: Brandi Klingerman

How the Genomics and Bioinformatics Core Facility helps solve health and other research questions

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When it comes to battling disease and maintaining healthy environments, DNA sequencing can be imperative to success. At the University of Notre Dame, the Genomics and Bioinformatics Core Facility (GBCF) supports research in many areas that increasingly rely on DNA sequencing, including cancer biology, vector-borne diseases, the development of drug and antibiotic resistance, monitoring invasive species, and much more.

The GBCF has two distinct groups: Genomics and Bioinformatics. Michael Pfrender – the GBCF Faculty Director, associate professor of biological sciences, and an affiliated faculty member of the Eck Institute for Global Health (EIGH) and the Notre Dame Environmental Change Initiative (ECI) – explains how the two groups work together, Read More

Paul P. Weinstein Memorial Lecture – Global Health in the 21st Century

Author: Sarah Craig

The 2016 Paul P. Weinstein Memorial Lecture presented by the Eck Institute for Global Health featured B. Fenton “Lee” Hall, MD, PhD, Chief of the Parasitology and International Programs Branch (PIPB) in the Division of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (DMID) at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). 

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The career of Dr. Lee Hall fittingly reflects and embodies the ideals and achievements of Weinstein. Both men have made significant contributions to the United States’ premier biomedical research institution, the National Institutes of Health, and specifically to a better understanding of the parasites that cause human suffering and death around the globe. Also, they were both heavily involved in the prestigious American Society for Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. Read More

Notre Dame’s Association for Women in Science hosts inaugural graduate student conference

Author: Chontel Syfox

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On Sept. 30 and Oct. 1, 2016, the Association for Women in Science–Notre Dame (AWIS-ND) hosted its inaugural conference for female graduate students, which was the first of its kind in the Midwest region.

The Notre Dame chapter of AWIS’s mission is to initiate, encourage, and engage women in STEM in a welcoming and supportive environment, creating a sense of belonging and providing opportunities for success. Their Women in Science Conference, an event hosted for and by female graduate students, aimed to provide an environment of empowerment for women and an arena in which strong relationships within a community of interdisciplinary scientists might be fostered. Read More

Notre Dame Student Research Makes Positive Impact on Health in Northern Indiana

Author: Ashley Scott '13 MS

While many of our Master of Science in Global Health students traveled internationally for their Capstone in May and June, Kaila Barber ’15, ’16 MS, a Notre Dame Varsity Track Athlete, conducted her capstone research project in South Bend, Indiana with AIDS Ministries AIDS Assist (AMAA). AMAA is a local organization that provides care coordination services for persons living with HIV (PLWH) in North Central Indiana and free HIV testing and educational outreach for the community. Through the work of Notre Dame’s Assistant Professor Heidi Beidinger-Burnett, the Eck Institute for Global Health (EIGH) has developed a strong partnership with AMAA.

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