News » Archives » 2012

REM sleep enhances emotional memories, study shows


Sleeping on a train

Witnessing a car wreck or encountering a poisonous snake are scenes that become etched in our memories.

But how do we process and store these emotional scenes so that they’re preserved more efficiently than other, more neutral memories?

In a new study published recently in “Frontiers in Integrative Neuroscience,” University of Notre Dame researchers Jessica Payne and Alexis Chambers found that people who experienced rapid eye movement (REM) sleep soon after being presented with an emotionally-charged negative scene — a wrecked car on a street, for example — had superior memory for the emotional object compared to subjects whose sleep was delayed for at least 16 hours.

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Senior math major finds a passion for medicine through volunteerism

Author: Stephanie Healey

Alex Jarocki

While many math majors spend their time pondering about complex mathematical equations, senior Alex Jarocki also spends several hours a week volunteering at Saint Joseph Regional Medical Center (SJRMC). 

“Although I am a math major, I am very interested in pursuing a career in medicine,” explained Jarocki. “I had some friends who volunteered at the local hospitals, so I thought I would try it and see how I liked it. I also thought this would be a good way to give back to the community.”

Jarocki has volunteered at SJRMC since his sophomore year.  He started in the emergency room department, changing over rooms and preparing them for incoming patients. He now works in the Post-Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU), where he gives patient updates from the doctors and nurses to the patient’s family members.

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Verizon Foundation grant boosts Ugandan health team with mobile technology

Author: Elizabeth Lawton

Women and children in Uganda

Can text messaging improve the health of Ugandan village residents? An $85,000 grant from the Verizon Foundation promises to help the University of Notre Dame’s Ford Family Program in Human Development Studies and Solidarity find out.

The grant will provide improved information and communication technology to the village health team in Uganda’s Nnindye Parish.

The Ford mobile health project — “m-Health” for short — will equip the local health center with cell phone-messaging software and low-power computers, making it an effective hub for monitoring community health. Health team members will receive training in mobile literacy — including texting — and then pass on their new skills to hundreds of other Nnindye residents.

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Notre Dame research may have important implications for combating diabetes

Author: William G. Gilroy

Anthony S. Serianni

Research by University of Notre Dame biochemist Anthony S. Serianni is providing new insights that could have important implications for understanding and treating diabetes.

Serianni points out that biological compounds known as dicarbonyl sugars are produced inside the human body from the natural breakdown of the simple sugar glucose. The formation of these sugars is enhanced in diabetic patients because glucose concentrations in the blood and plasma of diabetics are significantly elevated.

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Cargill expands support of Notre Dame Haiti Program

Author: William G. Gilroy


The Notre Dame Haiti Program and Cargill have renewed their partnership to eliminate lymphatic filariasis in Haiti.

After donating salt to the program two years ago, Cargill is now offering its technical and operations expertise in salt production. Cargill has committed $150,000 over the next three years to the Notre Dame Haiti Program to help establish a sustainable salt-fortification venture in Haiti. The salt is fortified with potassium iodate and diethylcarbamazine citrate and is designed to stop LF, while also preventing iodine deficiency disorder.

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Notre Dame’s Reilly Center highlights emerging ethical dilemmas and policy issues in science and technology

Author: William G. Gilroy

John J. Reilly Center for Science, Technology and Values

As a new year approaches, the University of Notre Dame’s John J. Reilly Center for Science, Technology and Values has announced its inaugural list of emerging ethical dilemmas and policy issues in science and technology for 2013.

The center aimed to present a list of items for scientists and laypeople alike to consider in the coming months and years as new technologies develop. It will feature one of these issues on its website each month in 2013, giving readers more information, questions to ask and resources to consult.

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Psychology Professor Seeks Clues to Psychiatric Disorders in DNA

Author: Aaron Smith

Gitta Lubke

Data, data everywhere. In genomics research, there is a data deluge, and so innovative ways to analyze all that information will play a critical role in future breakthroughs.

Gitta Lubke, associate professor of psychology at Notre Dame, is at the forefront of developing new statistical methods to help find DNA markers that are related to psychiatric disorders—and spur further research regarding individual patients’ conditions.

“Understanding the biological causes of psychiatric disorders and their interplay with environmental risk factors is a prerequisite of a successful, personalized approach to treatment,” Lubke says.

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Researchers collaborate to seek FDA approval for drug treatment for rare disease

Author: Gene Stowe and Marissa Gebhard

Norbert Wiech with students

University of Notre Dame alumnus Norbert Wiech founded Lysomics LLC to manage the clinical development needed to bring to market a promising new treatment for people with Niemann-Pick Type C (NPC) disease. FDA support is being sought for early clinical exploration of an approved drug to fight this rare disease that has no cure or treatment.

Lysomics is based on the work of Notre Dame professors of chemistry and biochemistry Olaf Wiest and Paul Helquist, and Frederick Maxfield at Cornell University’s Weill Medical College, to find treatments for NPC. NPC disease is a rare, fatal neurodegenerative disease that primarily strikes children before and during adolescence.

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Eck Institute’s Weinstein Lecture to take place Dec. 5

Author: William G. Gilroy

Dr. James W. Kazura

The University of Notre Dame’s Eck Institute for Global Health will present its Paul P. Weinstein Memorial Lecture at 4 p.m. Dec. 5 (Wednesday) in Room 105 of the Jordan Hall of Science.

Dr. James W. Kazura, professor of international medicine and pathology and director of the Center for Global Health and Diseases at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, will present the lecture, titled “Mosquitoes, Pathogens, and Human Populations: Global Health Research from the Laboratory to the Real World.”

The lecture is free and open to the public.

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Notre Dame ranks ninth in percentage of students studying abroad

Author: Claire Stephens

Bonding in Italy at one of the holiest sites in Christendom

University of Notre Dame ranks ninth in percentage of students participating in study abroad programs among American doctoral/research institutions, according to a report released by the Institute for International Education (IIE).

During fall 2010, spring 2011 and summer 2011, the focus of this year’s study, 59.7 percent of Notre Dame students had participated in study programs in other countries, a 2.8 percent increase over the previous year. The University of San Diego ranked first in the IIE report with an 86.8 percent participation rate, followed by Georgetown University at 75.9 percent. Notre Dame ranked ninth last year as well.

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“Talk Science” Seminar discusses original research and publishing opportunities

Author: Stephanie Healey

Talk Science, vol

Scientia, the undergraduate journal of scientific research, held a seminar entitled “Talk Science” on Thursday, Nov. 8 in the Jordan Hall of Science.

Approximately 60 students attended the seminar to hear research presentations from a faculty member and a fellow undergraduate researcher.

Huy Huynh, assistant professor of the practice in the Department of Applied and Computational Mathematics and Statistics (ACMS), discussed the different statistical methods that can be applied to measure biological diversity.

Junior physics major Grace Meikle gave a presentation about the cost effectiveness and efficiency of solar energy in communities around the world.

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Undergraduates learn about the importance of diversity from campus, community and national scientific leaders

Author: Gene Stowe


“Diversity, Culture and Religion in Science,” a full-day course in the Professionalism in Science series, attracted 84 undergraduates to the Jordan Hall of Science on Nov. 10. Speakers from across the campus and community, as well as national leaders on diversity in science, emphasized the importance of diversity in individual attitudes and organizational practices as the global economy accelerates and significant minorities grow in the United States.

Dean Greg Crawford, who organized the program with Professors Michelle Whaley and Dominic Chaloner, urged participants to meet 100 people from different backgrounds on campus every semester. “Diversity is a big deal,” Dean Crawford said. “You’re going need a diverse workforce to be competitive. You don’t want to think people as only male or female; African American or Caucasian; or as a Muslim, a Catholic or a Jew. You want to think of them as people.”

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New paper examines shifting gears in the circadian clock of the heart

Author: William G. Gilroy

A human torso and heart, illustration

A new study conducted by a team of scientists led by Giles Duffield, assistant professor of biological sciences and a member of the Eck Institute for Global Health at the University of Notre Dame, focuses on the circadian clock of the heart, using cultured heart tissue. The results of the new study have implications for cardiovascular health, including daily changes in responses to stress and the effect of long-term rotational shift work.

Previous studies by a research group at the University of Geneva demonstrated a role for glucocorticoids in shifting the biological clock, and characterized this effect in the liver.

The new Notre Dame study, which appears in the Oct. 23 edition of the journal PLoS ONE, reveals that time-of-day specific treatment with a synthetic glucocorticoid, known as dexamethasone, could shift the circadian rhythms of atria samples, but the time-specific effect on the direction of the shifts was different from the liver. For example, when glucocorticoid treatment produces advances of the liver clock, in the atria it produces delays.

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The Fall Undergraduate Research Fair will be held on Thursday, October 25

Author: Stephanie Healey

Fall Undergraduate Research Fair 2012

The annual Fall Undergraduate Research Fair will take place on Thursday, October 25 from 6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. in the Jordan Hall of Science. All science students are invited and encouraged to attend to learn more about the undergraduate research experience at Notre Dame.

Students who are already involved in research will be at the fair to present their original work through poster presentations.

Representatives from organizations involved in research will also be available to talk to students interested in finding research opportunities during the poster presentations.

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Parseghians receive 2012 Founder’s Award

Author: Gene Stowe

Katie and Ara Parseghian

The Dooley Society awarded its 2012 Founder’s Award to Katie and Ara Parseghian, recognizing the contributions of the legendary former football coach and his wife to awareness and research funding for Niemann-Pick Type C disease. The family started the Ara Parseghian Medical Research Foundation after three of the Parseghians’ grandchildren were diagnosed with NPC in 1994.

The foundation has raised some $33 million and funded some 75 researchers, including 14 currently conducting projects. Its Notre Dame ties were deepened in 2010 with the establishment of the Michael, Marcia and Christa Foundation for Excellence that sponsors research and an annual conference with scientists and families.


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Medical Missions: Changing Lives, Making a Difference

Author: Kathy Levy

Michael Ozga in Peru

The Dr. Tom Dooley stipend recipients shared their medical mission experiences with fellow students, friends and Notre Dame alumni at the society's Football Saturday Lecture on September 8, 2012.

The students expressed their appreciation to the Dooley Society for enabling them to go to the most impoverished places on earth. They worked alongside volunteers and professionals that cared deeply about their responsibilities and sometimes they took the place of negligent doctors. These students didn’t stand back and observe, they stepped in and contributed as best they could in difficult work environments.

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Research could provide new insights into tuberculosis and other diseases

Author: William G. Gilroy

Champions bacteria research

Researchers Patricia A. Champion and Matthew Champion from the University of Notre Dame’s Eck Institute for Global Health have developed a method to directly detect bacterial protein secretion, which could provide new insights into a variety of diseases including tuberculosis.

The Champions demonstrated that their new method is applicable to the study of other bacterial protein export systems that could not be effectively studied under previous methods. Their method could also help in the identification of compounds that can inhibit bacterial protein secretion.


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Paper-based counterfeit drug testing gains attention

Author: Marissa Gebhard and Gene Stowe

A Kenyan pharmacist uses a paper analytical device to test for counterfeit drugs

Marya Lieberman, associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry at the University of Notre Dame, has collaborated with faculty and students to demonstrate advances in paper analytical devices (PADs) to test for counterfeit drugs.

The promising low-tech solution has received broad attention in the scientific community. Lieberman's work was featured in Chemical and Engineering News and presented recently at the American Chemical Society's 244th National Meeting in Philadelphia. Lieberman’s work was featured in Chemical and Engineering News and presented recently at the American Chemical Society's 244th National Meeting in Philadelphia.

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Harper Cancer Research Institute hosts inaugural IIEECC workshop

Author: Angela Cavalieri


Researchers and clinicians focused on ovarian cancer participated in the inaugural Indiana-Illinois End Epithelial Cancer Coalition Workshop on June 10-11 at the University of Notre Dame.

The attendees at this intensive workshop included basic and clinical researchers and trainees from the University of Notre Dame, Indiana University School of Medicine (Bloomington, Indianapolis, South Bend), University of Chicago, University of Illinois (Chicago and Urbana-Champaign), Southern Illinois University – Carbondale, and Rush University.

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$5 million gift establishes Gallagher family professorships in adult stem cell research

Author: Marissa Gebhard

Stem cell research

Alumnus Michael Gallagher and his wife, Elizabeth, have made a $5 million gift to establish the Elizabeth and Michael Gallagher Family Professorships in Adult Stem Cell Research at the University of Notre Dame.

Their gift, which will fund three new endowed professorships in adult and all forms of non-embryonic stem cell research, will strengthen Notre Dame's leadership in the field of stem cell research and enhance the University's effective dialogue between the biomedical research community and the Catholic Church on matters related to the use and application of stem cells and regenerative medicine.

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Notre Dame researcher’s paper examines the biology and clinical application of tumor-derived microvesicles

Author: William G. Gilroy

Crislyn D’Souza-Schorey

A new paper by Crislyn D’Souza-Schorey, professor of biological sciences at the University of Notre Dame, discusses the biology of tumor-derived microvesicles and their clinical application as circulating biomarkers.

Microvesicles are membrane-bound sacs released by tumor cells and can be detected in the body fluids of cancer patients. The new paper discusses the potential of microvesicles to present a combination of disease- and tissue-specific markers that would constitute a unique and identifiable biosignature for individual cancers.

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Nanoparticles engineered at Notre Dame promise to improve blood cancer treatment

Author: Arnie Phifer

A time-lapse image showing multiple myeloma cells internalizing the engineered nanoparticles

Researchers from the University of Notre Dame have engineered nanoparticles that show great promise for the treatment of multiple myeloma (MM), an incurable cancer of the plasma cells in bone marrow.

One of the difficulties doctors face in treating MM comes from the fact that cancer cells of this type start to develop resistance to the leading chemotherapeutic treatment, doxorubicin, when they adhere to tissue in bone marrow. "The nanoparticles we have designed accomplish many things at once,” says Başar Bilgiçer, assistant professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering and chemistry and biochemistry, and an investigator in Notre Dame’s Advanced Diagnostics and Therapeutics (AD&T) initiative.

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Researchers share discoveries and progress at Parseghian scientific conference

Author: Marissa Gebhard

Marc Patterson

The second annual Michael, Marcia, and Christa Parseghian Scientific Conference for Niemann-Pick Type C Research brought together more than 100 researchers, supporters, families and children with NPC from around the world June 7-9 at the Jordan Hall of Science. Participants, representing 31 institutions and five foundations, included people from the United States, Canada, Brazil, Germany, the Netherlands, Australia and France. Scientific presentations included work in molecular and cell biology, developing diagnostics, approaching new treatments in patients, drug development, special attention to the promising treatments with Cyclodextrin, and pathological models of NPC.

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International researchers collaborate at Parseghian scientific conference

Author: Marissa Gebhard

Undergraduate Sue Yi at work on NPC in a laboratory

Thirty researchers from universities and institutions around the world are presenting at the 2012 Michael, Marcia and Christa Parseghian Scientific Conference for Niemann-Pick Type C Research June 7 to 9 (Thursday to Saturday) in the Jordan Hall of Science at the University of Notre Dame.

Niemann-Pick Type C (NPC) disease is a rare, fatal neurodegenerative disease for which there is no cure. The disease is an inherited cholesterol metabolism disorder that strikes primarily children before or during adolescence. One in every 150,000 children is affected by the disease with symptoms that include deterioration of memory and balance, lung and liver failure, delayed motor development and seizures. Through research collaboration, progress is being made on treatments for the disease.

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Dean’s Awards Luncheon recognizes the College of Science’s top graduating seniors

Author: Stephanie Healey

Nancy Paul, Dean's Research Award recipient

Greg Crawford, dean of the College of Science, hosted the annual Dean’s Award Luncheon on Friday, May 18, 2012 in the Jordan Hall of Science Galleria.

Over 180 students, family members, faculty, and staff were in attendance to celebrate the achievements of the college’s top graduating seniors.

At the awards banquet, each of the College of Science departments also recognized students for their outstanding scientific achievements throughout their college careers.

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2012 College of Science Joint Annual Meeting showcases undergraduate research to over 400 attendees

Author: Stephanie Healey


The College of Science Joint Annual Meeting (COS-JAM) attracted over 400 hundred student attendees to the Jordan Hall of Science on Friday, May 4.  Undergraduate students presented their original research in the areas of Applied and Computational Mathematics and Statistics, Physics, Chemistry and Biochemistry, and Biological Sciences. 

Twenty five students gave oral presentations and 102 students showcased their research through poster presentations. In addition, five guest presenters from the Northern Indiana Regional Science and Engineering Fair for elementary and high school students exhibited their research in the Galleria. The attendance at this year’s event was the largest in the six year history of COS-JAM.

To review the complete collection of 2012 abstracts, visit the COS-JAM webpage.

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Harper Cancer Research Institute plans public Research Day

Author: Gail Hinchion Mancini

Harper Cancer Research Institute

Harper Cancer Research Institute (HCRI) Research Day on April 23 (Monday) will gather cancer researchers from the University of Notre Dame and Indiana University School of Medicine-South Bend (IUSM-SB) in an afternoon of exchange and discussion. A keynote address by Beatrice Knudsen, M.D., Ph.D., will discuss “Tissue Banking for Genomic Research and Personalized Medicine.”

Knudsen is the medical director for Cedars-Sinai Advanced Biobank, director of translational pathology at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and a member of the HCRI external advisory committee. Her presentation is free and open to the public.

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Researchers using novel method to combat malaria drug resistance

Author: William G. Gilroy


Researchers from the University of Notre Dame’s Eck Institute for Global Health have developed a “gene chip” to contribute to the identification of malaria drug resistance, an effort that will allow for real-time response in modified treatment strategies for this devastating disease.

The discovery is described in a paper appearing in the latest early online edition of the journal Science. The team of researchers includes Notre Dame’s Michael Ferdig, associate professor of biological sciences; doctoral student Becky Miller; and John Tan, managing director of the Genomics Core Facility, in collaboration with Tim Anderson of Texas Biomedical Research Institute and Francois Nosten, M.D., of the Shoklo Malaria Research Unit in Thailand.

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Event to Focus on Cancer Research

Author: Gail Hinchion Mancini

Beatrice Knudsen

Harper Cancer Research Institute (HCRI) Research Day Monday, April 23 will gather cancer researchers from the University of Notre Dame and Indiana University School of Medicine-South Bend (IUSM-SB) in an afternoon of exchange and discussion. A keynote address by Beatrice Knudsen, M.D., Ph.D., will discuss “Tissue Banking for Genomic Research and Personalized Medicine.”

All events for Research Day will take place in Raclin-Carmichael and Harper Halls at IUSM-SB where the cancer research institute is headquartered. Notre Dame and IUSM-SB faculty and research staff who are currently engaged in cancer research or who are interested in forming cancer-related research partnerships are encouraged to attend. Undergraduate, graduate and medical students and post-doctoral fellows and staff also are welcome.

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