Rabu, 25 November 2009

Faculty Research Interests

Faculty in EEMB and MCDB sorted by Research Interests

Molecular genetics
Plant molecular biol
Microbial Pathogenesis
Neurobiology (molecular/cellular neuroscience)
Developmental Biology
Virology and Immunology
Cell Cycle/Cell Biology
Stem Cell Biology see also UCSB center for Stem Cell Biology and Engineering
Nanomedicine see also Center for Nanomedicine

    Biological oceanography
    Freshwater ecology
    • James Case Professor Emeritus
    • David Chapman Professor Emeritus
    • Peter Collins
    Physiological ecology
    Plant ecology
    Marine ecology
    Plant genetics/evolution
    Marine Pharmacology
    Parasitology and Infectious Diseases
    Mathematical ecology
    Microbial ecology
    • Allan Stewart-Oaten Professor Emeritus

    Origin of disease seminar

    BMSE and Biochemistry Seminars

    MRL 2053 at 11 am on Wednesday December 2nd

    Dr. Jamey Marth, Dept of MCDB and BMSE, UC Santa Barbara

    Seminar Title: "A Unified Approach to Discovering the Origins of Disease"

    Breast Self Examination

    Women; have you been feeling guilty because you haven’t been doing regular breast self-examinations to make sure you aren't developing breast cancer? Well, here’s good news for you. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), which makes recommendations about preventive care services for people who do not yet have any signs or symptoms of disease, is now recommending against breast self-examination (BSE) as a way to detect breast cancer. (The USPSTF’s previous position on the usefulness of BSE was “insufficient evidence” either for or against).

    The USPSTF systematically reviews of the benefits and harms of a preventive care services, and then tries to come up with a net assessment. In the case of BSE, the USPSTF reviewed the latest published data and concluded that; a) regular BSE does not lower the mortality rate from breast cancer, and b) women who perform BSE tend to have more imaging procedures and biopsies than women who don’t. These procedures are expensive and are themselves associated with minor health risks, such as infection and increased exposure to radiation. Overall, the net risk/benefit ratio for BSE is on the side of net risk.

    The recommendation against BSE is only for women who are not at increased risk for breast cancer. Women who are at increased risk should consult their physician.

    Reference: U.S. Preventive Task Force. Screening for Breast Cancer: U.S. Preventive Services Task Force Recommendation Statement. Ann. Int. Med. 151:716-726, 2009.

    Senin, 23 November 2009


    Gerick Bergsma will be presenting his PhD work on how direct and indirect effects of a coral mutualist propagate through a reef community.
    4pm today in the MSI auditorium.

    Dan Reed will be speaking at the Monday night CCBER Conservation and Restoration Seminar Series tonight, Nov. 23rd, 6-7pm, Rm 1013 Harder on
    The use of artificial reefs to mitigate the loss of kelp forest habitat caused by the operation of a coastal power plant.

    Sabtu, 21 November 2009

    Stress Reduction and Heart Attacks

    It has long been suspected that a risk factor for heart attacks, in addition to lack of exercise, poor diet, high cholesterol, genetic makeup, and so on, is the level of stress in one’s life. Scientists have hypothesized for years that relaxation techniques such as yoga and meditation might have a positive effect on disease outcome, but it’s been difficult to prove.

    Now a team of researchers claims to have proved it, according to a news article. They report that just 20 minutes of transcendental meditation per day significantly lowers the risk of heart attack by 47% in a group of high-risk patients (African American patients with narrowed coronary arteries.)

    The results have not yet been published in a peer reviewed medical journal, the point at which they generally are accepted by the scientific community. Personally, I’d feel better if one of the researchers were not from the Maharishi University of Management, an institution founded by the Indian guru who popularized transcendental meditation back in the 1960s. In addition, it’s not clear whether the results in this one group of high-risk patients would translate to other types of high-risk patients, or to persons at lower risk. Time will tell whether the findings can be duplicated by other researchers and whether other stress relaxation techniques have a similar effect.

    Kamis, 19 November 2009

    No such thing as a free lunch (or book)

    Copies of the Origin of Species, complete with a brand new and scientifically dodgy introduction by evangelist Ray Comfort, are being handed out by the Arbor right now(across from main library entrance). If you want a free copy of the Origin make sure you pick up, or print out, this bookmark courtesy of the National Center for Science Educations 'Don't Diss Darwin webpage.'

    Minggu, 15 November 2009

    Caffeinated Alcoholic Beverages Under Scrutiny

    This week the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) notified 27 manufacturers of caffeinated alcoholic beverages that they must either explain to the FDA why they believe that the addition of caffeine to alcoholic beverages is “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS) or take their products off the market. According to the FDA, for caffeine to be allowed as an additive to an alcoholic beverage “there must be evidence of its safety at the levels used and a basis to conclude that this evidence is generally known and accepted by qualified experts.” If the companies cannot provide such data within 30 days, the FDA will “take appropriate action” to ensure that the products are taken off the market.

    Caffeinated alcoholic beverages are marketed primarily to young people under such names as Max Vibe, Torque, and Evil Eye. Some promotional campaigns depict consumption of multiple drinks in conjunction with high-risk sports such as snowboarding and motocross biking. The action by the FDA comes after the agency received a letter from 18 state Attorneys General asking that the FDA use its authority to see that the products are removed from the market. The Attorneys General argue that caffeine can mask the effects of alcohol and could lead to increased risk-taking behavior.

    The two largest manufacturers have already agreed to remove their products from the marketplace. It would not be surprising to see the others follow suit within 30 days.

    Jumat, 13 November 2009

    Energy Sustainability in 20 years?

    Would it be possible to get 100% of our energy needs from renewable resources such as wind, water, and the sun in just 20 years? In theory, yes, but for practical reasons it's not likely to happen that soon. With current technologies it would require almost 4 million wind turbines, nearly 90,000 concentrated solar and photovoltaic power plants, and rooftop photovoltaic systems on nearly every rooftop – 1.7 billion, to be exact. Other challenges include a projected critical shortage of certain materials that would be needed, including rare earth metals (found primarily in China), lithium for lithium-ion batteries (half of the world’s reserves are in Bolivia and Chile) and platinum for fuel cells. In addition, we’d have to shift to shift to electric vehicles for transportation.

    Fortunately, the technologies for harnessing energy from renewable resources continue to improve each year. It may take some time and effort, but what choice do we have? At current rates of consumption, known reserves of the non-renewable energy resources (coal, oil, and gas) will run out in less than a century.

    Reference: Jacobson, Mark Z. and Mark A. Delucchi. A Path to Sustainable Energy by 2030. Scientific American pp. 58-65, Nov. 2009.

    Kamis, 12 November 2009

    The Green Initiative Fund

    The Green Initiative Fund (TGIF), a student-governed committee awarding grants for sustainability projects on the UCSB campus, is currently soliciting project proposals for the 2009-10 grant cycle. Any UCSB student, staff, or faculty member is eligible for funding for projects that reduce the university's impact on the environment. Ideal projects will show a quantifiable change (energy, waste, water reduction, etc.) while also educating the campus community.

    Do you work in a campus department that could use a little money to create a program that leads to behavioral change - turning off lights, purchasing Environmentally Preferable Products, purchasing reusable coffee cups, etc.? Are you a faculty member that would like to perform a small research project on a sustainability issue affecting UCSB? Are you a student member of a campus group that could use a little seed money to start that environmental initiative? All of these are perfect projects for TGIF funding!

    If you have an idea for a project, but need some help fleshing it out, please contact the TGIF Grants Manager, Jill Richardson at jill.richardson@vcadmin.ucsb.edu.

    Applications are available now and due on Monday, January 25, 2010.

    For more information on previously funded projects or to download the application, please visit the TGIF web site: http://sustainability.ucsb.edu/tgif

    We look forward to reading your proposals!

    The TGIF Grants Committee

    Selasa, 10 November 2009

    How bacteria talk

    Not a substitute for attending a talk on campus but as an additional treat check out this TED talk by Bonnie Bassler on how bacteria talk.

    If you haven't discovered the TED talks yet then you should check out the website - the world's most fascinating thinkers and doers, are challenged to give the talk of their lives - in just 18 minutes.

    Once you start watching it's hard to stop and it beats watching another cat playing piano on YouTube.....

    Senin, 09 November 2009

    I Don't Hear You...

    How does the public respond when a published scientific report shows that a dietary supplement is ineffective, or even worse, potentially harmful? To find out, scientists at the National Institutes of Health examined the sales trends of five different dietary supplements before and after the publication of negative research results. There were no significant declines in sales for four of the five supplements (saw palmetto, Echinacea, glucosamine, and St. John’s wort) after published reports that the supplement was ineffective. But sales of the fifth supplement (Vitamin E) declined about 33% after a report suggested that high doses of Vitamin E might actually be harmful.

    Why did consumers ignore the reports that supplements just didn’t work, but responded to a report of potential harm? Researchers speculate that reports of harm might have higher impact because of greater news coverage, or that some supplements (such as Vitamin E) might be recommended more often by physicians who are more likely to read and understand scientific reports, or even that it depends on the type of person who takes a particular kind of supplement, the purpose of the supplement, and the availability of alternatives.

    Still, it must be discouraging for public health officials to learn that consumers aren’t getting the message, don’t believe the message, or just don’t care whether their supplements work or not.

    Kamis, 05 November 2009

    Bren Research seminar

    Jeffrey McDonnell
    Richardson Chair, Watershed Science
    Distinguished Professor of Hydrology
    Oregon State University

    Thursday, Nov. 19, 2009
    12:30 - 1:30 p.m.
    Bren Hall 1414

    "The two water worlds paradox: Isotope evidence that trees and streams
    return different water pools to the hydrosphere"

    Anatomy of Viral Persistence

    Don't forget the seminar assignment for the Biology Colloquium. There's lots of good seminars going on right now but the pickings may get slimmer as we head into Thanksgiving week and the end of the quarter.

    Today's MCDB Seminar:

    “The Anatomy of Viral Persistence”

    Michael B.A. Oldstone, M.D.
    Department of Immunology and Microbial Science
    The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla

    Thursday, November 5, 2009
    3:30 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.
    Rathmann Auditorium, LSB 1001

    Rabu, 04 November 2009


    Special thanks to Mac Cowell for posting links to these videos on the DIY Bio mailing list.
    One important note that I have mentioned before. The use of biohacking in the biology community simply refers to working with DNA. The word hack has been given a bad rap by the internet era, but this in no way refers to any malicious activity. Hack in this sense simply refers to genetic engineering.

    Water versus Ethanol

    In 2007 the U.S. Congress passed the Energy Independence and Security Act, which calls for a five-fold increase in fuel-grade ethanol production by 2022. Most of the ethanol would come from corn produced in the Corn Belt states of the Midwest. It sounds good for the economy of those states, but there’s a catch; growing the corn and producing the ethanol would require nearly 100 gallons of water per gallon of ethanol, by some estimates. Eventually we might have to choose between water and ethanol, or between ethanol and higher food prices.

    There would be winners and losers in an ethanol-based biofuels economy, because water generally must be used locally, whereas ethanol is more easily transported. Agricultural communities with plenty of irrigation water and the ability to grow corn would benefit from an ethanol-based biofuel economy. Agricultural communities with marginal water supplies would be forced to choose how best to use their dwindling water supplies – for agriculture or for people? City dwellers generally would be in favor of ethanol production for fuel by others; they don’t use much water for agriculture anyway and so have nothing to give up. However, they are likely to react negatively to a run-up in food prices.

    What do you think about producing ethanol from corn?

    Senin, 02 November 2009

    Understanding Cultured Meat (also called in vitro meat)

    Cultured meat is a hot topic that everyone should start learning about. Essentially most of the products we eat are just a collection of cells that have been programed to work together in a certain way. That means that animal meat can be programed up from single cells and will be made of the exact same ingredients as traditional meat. But, by producing meat in clean controlled environments the product would no longer carry the environmental, ethical, and health concerns it faces today.

    Here is a quick top line summary of those concerns:
    • Environmental: Meat production is a major cause of green house gas - more than transportation and is inefficient to produce as much animal feed is wasted. Current methods are not sustainable.
    • Ethical concerns: Factory farming and other forms of animal suffering. Anyone who has paid attention to the recent investigations into the food industry can see just how immoral the industry has become.
    • Health: Numerous illnesses, diseases. and health concerns arise from animal husbandry and packing animals close together. Avian flu, swine flu, mass antibiotic use leading to antibiotic immunity, and bacterially infected meats are just some examples.

    In Vitro Meat Nova ScienceNOW episode, aired on PBS January 10, 2006, discussing in vitro meat.

    Discusses the environmental impact of meat and in vitro meat production - from August 09 - 2009.

    Quoted from Mick Hartley who attended the 2008 In-Vitro Meat Symposium (http://mickhartley.typepad.com/blog/2008/04/at-the-in-vitro.html)

    "...Here's the low-down on how we'll be getting our meat in the future:

    In five to 10 years, supermarkets might have some new products in the meat counter: packs of vat-grown meat that are cheaper to produce than livestock and have less impact on the environment.
    According to a new economic analysis presented at this week's In Vitro Meat Symposium in ├ůs, Norway, meat grown in giant tanks known as bioreactors would cost between $5,200-$5,500 a ton (3,300 to 3,500 euros), which the analysis claims is cost competitive with European beef prices. With a rising global middle class projected by the UN to double meat consumption by 2050, and livestock already responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse gases, the symposium is drawing a variety of scientists, environmentalists and food industry experts. "We're looking to see if there are other technologies which can produce food for all the people on the planet," said Anthony Bennett of the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization. "Not only today but over the next 10, 20, 30 years." Rapidly evolving technology and increasing concern about the environmental impact of meat production are signs that vat-grown meat is moving from scientific curiosity to consumer option. In vitro meat production is a specialized form of tissue engineering, a biomedical practice in which scientists try to grow animal tissues like bone, skin, kidneys and hearts. Proponents say it will ultimately be a more efficient way to make animal meat, which would reduce the carbon footprint of meat products. "To produce the meat we eat now, 75 to 95 percent of what we feed an animal is lost because of metabolism and inedible structures like skeleton or neurological tissue," Jason Matheny, a researcher at Johns Hopkins and co-founder of New Harvest, a nonprofit that promotes research on in vitro meat, told Wired.com. "With cultured meat, there's no body to support; you're only building the meat that eventually gets eaten." Researchers can currently grow small amounts of meat in the lab, and have even been able to get heart cells to beat in Petri dishes. Growing muscle cells on an industrial scale is the next step, scientists say. "That's the goal and it seems pretty clear from this conference that it's achievable," said Matheny on Thursday by telephone from the symposium. Scientists are working on a variety of cell culture procedures. The cutting edge of in vitro meat engineering is the attempt to get cells to grow as if they were inside a living animal. Meat like steak is a complex combination of muscle, fat and other connective tissue. Reproducing the complexity of muscle is proving difficult. "An actual whole muscle organ is not technically impossible," said Bob Dennis, a biomedical engineer at both North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina, who attended the conference. "But of all the tissue engineering applications it is by far the most difficult one." While scientists are struggling to recreate filet mignon, they anticipate less trouble growing hamburger. "The general consensus is that minced meat or ground meat products -- sausage, chicken nuggets, hamburgers -- those are within technical reach," Matheny said. "We have the technology to make those things at scale with existing technology."
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