News » Archives » 2013

Breast cancer research seeks to understand critical gene functions

Author: Michael Rodio

Tracy Vargo-Gogola

Cancer’s origin point—a human gene gone haywire—is, in many cases, also its weak spot. If you could block the abnormal function of a gene that is important for metastasis, the theory goes, then maybe you can stop cancer from spreading.

But there’s a catch—hit the weak spot with too much force, and you could trigger a cascade of side effects that may be as bad as the original cancer.

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Arjia Rinpoche discusses the practice of cultivating compassion with the Notre Dame community

Author: Shadia Ajam

Arjia Rinpoche

A group of Buddhist monks recently visited Notre Dame from November 18-21 to construct a peace sand mandala. As part of their visit, they gave a presentation about the power and practice of compassion called, Taking in Harshness and Giving out Kindness. The primary presenter, Arjia Rinpoche, director of the Tibetan Mongolian Cultural Center in Bloomington, Ind., was accompanied by seven monks from the Labrang Tashi Kyil Monastery in Dehra Dun, India.

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Diversity, Culture, Religion in Science highlights the role of cultural and religious diversity in science and industry

Author: Shadia Ajam

biga250

This past Saturday (Nov. 16), over 210 University of Notre Dame undergraduate and graduate students from across the university gathered in the Jordan Hall of Science for Diversity, Culture, Religion in Science, a one-credit, one-day course offered by the College of Science. The course aims to introduce students to the role of cultural and religious diversity in science, its importance in an era of globalization, and the interesting questions that it raises. To do this, the course invited speakers from diverse backgrounds to talk about how these issues have shaped their respective careers, and how these issues are shaping the future.

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Tibetan Buddhist monks to construct peace sand mandala at Notre Dame

Author: Stephanie Healey

Construction of a sand mandala

The University of Notre Dame’s Ruth M. Hillebrand Center for Compassionate Care in Medicine, the College of Science and the Harper Cancer Research Institute will host Arjia Rinpoche, director of the Tibetan Mongolian Buddhist Cultural Center in Bloomington, Ind., and seven Tibetan Buddhist monks from Labrang Tashi Kyil Monastery in Dehra Dun, India, for the construction of a peace sand mandala and a presentation on compassion from Nov. 18-21 (Monday-Thursday).

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The Silent Gene

Author: Michael Rodio

Jenifer Prosperi

Jenifer Prosperi, a researcher at the Harper Cancer Research Institute, is studying how to treat breast cancers that evolve when a crucial tumor suppressor gene goes silent.

Over the past 15 years, the scientific community has come to understand that breast cancer is a monster with many faces.

Some cancers have one of three special indicator molecules (HER2, estrogen receptors and progesterone receptors) that can guide targeted anti-cancer treatments. But another set of breast cancers, the “triple-negative” types, lack those three indicator molecules that can guide treatment. And even now, the question remains: How can doctors better target and treat triple-negative cancers? And how can they keep up the treatment when breast cancers fight back?

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Notre Dame research finding may help accelerate diabetic wound healing

Author: William G. Gilroy

Mobashery Lab

University of Notre Dame researchers have, for the first time, identified the enzymes that are detrimental to diabetic wound healing and those that are beneficial to repair the wound.

There are currently no therapeutics for diabetic wound healing. The current standard of care is palliative to keep the wound clean and free of infection. In the United States, 66,000 diabetic individuals each year undergo lower-limb amputations due to wounds that failed to heal.

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Notre Dame researchers look at benefits of flu vaccines in the elderly

Author: Sarah Craig

Benjamin Ridenhour

New research at the University of Notre Dame looks more closely at the effects of the influenza vaccine on the elderly, who are considered the highest-risk group for influenza-related mortality.

Despite the fact that the elderly are more susceptible to falling ill, very little is known about how well the influenza vaccination performs for those older than 65 years of age

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A new way to counter ovarian cancer’s drug resistance

Author: Michael Rodio

Ovarian cancer cells

Standing at a microscope in her Harper Hall laboratory, Dr. Karen Cowden Dahl is scanning through a petri dish filled with cancer cells that could represent a major step forward in ovarian cancer research.

Ovarian cancer is especially cruel because it is so hard to detect. While other types of cancer like breast cancer have reliable indicators that allow for early detection, ovarian cancer is hard to catch in its early stages.

But Cowden Dahl has found a biological marker that could be the long sought-after warning flag for ovarian cancer: ARID3B, a ubiquitous but poorly-understood transcription factor gene that acts like a switchboard operator by turning genes on and off in normal cells.

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Talk Science seminar highlights research projects in biology and biochemistry

Author: Shadia Ajam

Talk Science seminar

The students from Scientia, the undergraduate journal of scientific research, host a monthly seminar series called Talk Science that highlights the work of undergraduate and faculty researchers in the College of Science. This month’s presenters were senior biochemistry major Elizabeth Nuter and Nicole Achee, associate research professor of biological sciences.

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Notre Dame network physicist describes network model of brain’s connectivity

Author: Stephanie Healey

Zoltan Toroczkai

A new paper by Zoltán Toroczkai, professor of physics and concurrent professor of computer science and engineering at the University of Notre Dame, and his collaborators provides a predictive model of cerebral cortical connectivity at the interareal level. The study was published in the Oct. 2 issue of the journal Neuron.

The cerebral cortex is responsible for all the sensory, motor and cognitive functions of an individual and is arguably the most powerful known supercomputer.

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Notre Dame researchers make progress toward a treatment for dangerous allergies

Author: Arnie Phifer

nut_warning_1

New research published in the journal Nature Chemical Biology shows that a group of scientists, led by faculty at the University of Notre Dame, has made concrete progress toward the development of the first-ever inhibitory therapeutic for type-I hypersensitive allergic reactions.

“Our allergy inhibition project is innovative and significant because we brought a novel molecular design approach to selectively inhibit ‘mast cell degranulation’–the key event in triggering a food allergic response–which has the potential to improve the quality of life for affected patients,” explains Basar Bilgicer, Assistant Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Notre Dame and an investigator in the university’s Advanced Diagnostics & Therapeutics initiative

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Notre Dame researchers uncover keys to antibiotic resistance in MRSA

Author: Marissa Gebhard

MRSA

University of Notre Dame researchers Shahriar Mobashery and Mayland Chang and their collaborators in Spain have published research results this week that show how methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) regulates the critical crosslinking of its cell wall in the face of beta-lactam antibiotics.

The work, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, reveals the mechanistic basis for how the MRSA bacterium became such a difficult pathogen over the previous 50 years, in which time it spread rapidly across the world.

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Talk Science showcases research from Elizabeth Owers and Dean Crawford

Author: Shadia Ajam

Elizabeth Owers

Scientia, the Undergraduate Journal of Scientific Research, hosts a monthly seminar series called Talk Science that highlights the work of undergraduate and faculty researchers in the College of Science. This month’s presenters were senior science preprofessional studies major Elizabeth Owers and Greg Crawford, dean of the College of Science and professor of physics.

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International Development Studies minor transforms undergraduates’ Notre Dame experience

Author: Mary Hendriksen

IDS Minor 2

What if an undergraduate “minor” were not so much a secondary course of study but the centerpiece of a student’s entire Notre Dame undergraduate education? That scenario perfectly describes the experience of the first cohort to complete the International Development Studies (IDS) minor administered by the Ford Family Program in Human Development Studies and Solidarity at the Kellogg Institute for International Studies.

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Need help with math? Free tutoring is available

Author: Stephanie Healey

math_tutoring_web_icon

The O’Meara Mathematics Library staff is pleased to announce that free tutoring sessions will be offered in the branch library Sunday -Thursday from 7-11 p.m. for undergraduate students from any mathematics class.

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Students share their medical mission experiences with the Dooley Society

Author: Shadia Ajam

Dooley Society medical mission presentations

Each year the Dooley Society awards stipends to a group of current Notre Dame students or alumni in medical school. Recipients are awarded these stipends to cover funds for international medical missions. This past Saturday, a group of students convened in the Jordan Hall of Science to present their medical mission experiences to the Dooley Society and the Notre Dame community.

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Notre Dame and Moi University join research efforts to shed light on breast cancer

Author: William G. Gilroy

Sharon Stack, left, Rispah Torrorey and Laurie Littlepage

Breast cancer is a major health problem worldwide, and the incidence of the disease is rising across Africa.

A new joint research effort between the University of Notre Dame’s Eck Institute for Global Health and Harper Cancer Research Institute and a Kenyan doctoral student from Moi University is examining the unique manifestation of breast cancer in Kenya.

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Undergraduates present summer research findings at symposium

Author: Stephanie Healey

Student presentations in the Galleria

On Friday, Aug. 2, undergraduate researchers who spent their summers in laboratories at the University of Notre Dame, University of Michigan, and Ivy Tech Community College, presented their summer research projects at the Summer Undergraduate Research Symposium in the Jordan Hall of Science.

Research findings were shared as oral and poster presentations throughout the day, with a total of 164 presentations from areas of science and engineering.

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Dean on Road to Discovery to raise funds for medical research reaches final leg of journey

Author: Marissa Gebhard

Road to Discovery 2013

On Friday (Aug. 2), Greg Crawford, dean of the College of Science at the University of Notre Dame, will ride the final leg of a 3,476-mile bicycle ride into Baltimore. His arrival coincides with the National Niemann-Pick Disease Foundation’s Family Support and Medical Research Conference and a meeting of the International Niemann-Pick Disease Alliance, which brings together researchers from 16 countries around the world.

The “Road to Discovery” bicycle ride has raised awareness and more than $400,000 in funding for research and a clinical trial to treat children with Niemann-Pick Type C (NPC) disease, a rare, fatal cholesterol-storage disorder that took the lives of three grandchildren of legendary Notre Dame football coach Ara Parseghian.

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Notre Dame researchers offer new insights on cancer cell signaling

Author: William G. Gilroy

Wnt proteins and cancer cell signaling

A pair of studies by a team of University of Notre Dame researchers led by Crislyn D’Souza-Schorey, professor of biological sciences, sheds light on a biological process that is activated across a vast range of malignancies.

Wnt proteins are a large family of proteins that activate signaling pathways (a set of biological reactions in a cell) to control several vital steps in embryonic development. In adults, Wnt-mediated functions are frequently altered in many types of cancers and, specifically, within cell subpopulations that possess stem cell-like properties.

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The 'gold' standard: A rapid, cheap method of detecting dengue virus

Author: Marissa Gebhard

Fraser and Carter

University of Notre Dame biologists are reporting the development of an easy-to-use, low-cost method of detecting dengue virus in mosquitoes based on gold nanoparticles. Their research is published in the Virology Journal this week.

The assay they have developed is able to detect lower levels of the virus than current tests, and is easy to transport and use in remote regions.

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Notre Dame and Harper researchers developing novel method to test for HPV and oral cancers

Author: William G. Gilroy

biochem

Research being carried out at the University of Notre Dame and its affiliated Harper Cancer Research Institute (HCRI) may lead to the development of a rapid, cost-effective means of screening for oral cancers and the human papillomavirus.

M. Sharon Stack, Ann F. Dunne and Elizabeth Riley Director of the HCRI and professor of chemistry and biochemistry, points out that oral cancers are a significant global health problem.

Stack and Hsueh-Chia Chang, Bayer Professor of Engineering and director of Notre Dame’s Center for Microfluidics and Medical Diagnostics, are attempting to prescreen for oral cancer and HPV by examining the micro-RNAs of tumor cells. They are working on developing a microfluidic sensor to help detect the presence of tumor cells.

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Dean to bike more than 3,000 miles in fourth annual Road to Discovery ride

Author: Stephanie Healey

Road to Discovery

Gregory Crawford, dean of the College of Science at the University of Notre Dame, will be embarking on his fourth annual bicycle ride on June 27 (Thursday) to raise funds for research to find a cure or treatments for Niemann-Pick Type C (NPC) disease. He will be biking 3,476 miles from Los Angeles to Baltimore and will arrive on Aug. 2. By the end of this year’s journey, he will have biked more than 11,200 miles to raise awareness for the rare genetic disease.

NPC is a cholesterol-storage disorder that primarily affects children before or during adolescence. The disease causes cholesterol to accumulate in the body’s cells and eventually leads to neurodegenerative problems that are always fatal. Legendary Notre Dame football coach Ara Parseghian lost three of his grandchildren to the devastating disease.

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New paper offers insights into how cancer cells avoid cell death

Author: William G. Gilroy

cancer cell

A new study by a team of researchers from the University of Notre Dame provides an important new insight into how cancer cells are able to avoid the cell death process. The findings may reveal a novel chemotherapeutic approach to prevent the spread of cancers.

Metastasis, the spread of cancer from one organ to other parts of the body, relies on cancer cells’ ability to evade a cell death process called anoikis, according to Zachary T. Schafer, Coleman Assistant Professor of Cancer Biology at Notre Dame. Metastasizing cancer cells are able to block anoikis, which normally results from detachment from the extracellular matrix. However, Schafer notes that the molecular mechanisms that cancer cells detached from the extracellular matrix use to survive have not been well understood.

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NPC Conference fosters research collaborations, family connections

Author: Gene Stowe

Olaf Wiest presents his research at the Michael, Marcia, and Christa Parseghian Scientific Conference for Niemann-Pick Type C

Some 75 researchers and family members from around the world attended the Michael, Marcia, and Christa Parseghian Scientific Conference for Niemann-Pick Type C on June 13-15. The event included more than 20 scientific presentations, posters, events for families, and shared receptions.

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Dean to bike more than 3,000 miles in fourth annual Road to Discovery ride

Author: Stephanie Healey

Road to Discovery

Gregory Crawford, dean of the College of Science at the University of Notre Dame, will be embarking on his fourth annual bicycle ride on June 27 (Thursday) to raise funds for research to find a cure or treatments for Niemann-Pick Type C (NPC) disease. He will be biking 3,476 miles from Los Angeles to Baltimore and will arrive on Aug. 2. By the end of this year’s journey, he will have biked more than 11,200 miles to raise awareness for the rare genetic disease.

NPC is a cholesterol-storage disorder that primarily affects children before or during adolescence. The disease causes cholesterol to accumulate in the body’s cells and eventually leads to neurodegenerative problems that are always fatal. Legendary Notre Dame football coach Ara Parseghian lost three of his grandchildren to the devastating disease.

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Disease-carrying mosquitos pack twice the punch

Author: Sarah Craig

Anopheles mosquito

An international team of researchers from the University of Notre Dame’s Eck Institute for Global Health and Imperial College London has recently published its work on a malaria-filaria co-transmission model, where the same mosquito transmits both diseases together. Found in large areas of sub-Saharan Africa, one mosquito genus, Anopheles, carries both the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum and the microfilarial worm Wuchereria bancrofti, which causes lymphatic filariasis, which can develop into elephantiasis.

According to lead researcher Edwin Michael, professor of biological sciences specializing in epidemiology at the University of Notre Dame, “This has major implications for the transmission of each disease in endemic settings, and, of course, for developing better control interventions that ensure that removal of one disease does not have a profound (a worse health impact) outcome for diseases caused by the other pathogen.”

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For breast cancer survival, treat depression

Author: Gail Hinchion Mancini

Rudolph M

Research being presented at two international conferences this summer demonstrates that breast cancer survival improves when a patient’s depressive symptoms—a common occurrence among cancer patients-- are detected and addressed.

The study, by Rudolph M. Navari, MD, Ph.D., FACP,  at the University of Notre Dame and associate professor and dean of the Indian School reports on the experiences of some 200 breast cancer patients five years after their initial diagnosis of early-stage breast cancer and the detection of depressive symptoms in the wake of their diagnosis.

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