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FDA approves emergency use declaration for multiplex Zika test

UPI

“The ArboViroPlex Test provides an easy and efficient means to simultaneously detect Zika and three other mosquito-borne viral infections that may present with similar clinical features,” Nischay Mishra, the lead project scientist and associate research scientist at CII, said in a press release. The CII-ArboViroPlex rRT-PCR Test is the first multiplex test that can detect the Zika virus and all serotypes of dengue virus, chikungunya virus and West Nile virus simultaneously.

She Just Won 3 Gold Medals for Her Swimming. She’s Only 73.

New York Times

Ursula M. Staudinger, a life span psychologist and researcher at the Robert N. Butler Columbia Aging Center at Columbia University, said that exercising in older age is crucial to physical and mental health. “Our bodies are made for being used,” she said. “Physical fitness and activity improve brain function. Anyone who is keeping up physical activity — both the aerobic part, which is really important, and the strength and balance and flexibility — is reducing the risks and buffering the decline that is going on.”

We finally know how your tongue tells your brain what you’re tasting

Popular Science

“We’re trying to understand how something so dynamic on the tongue can also be specific enough that the connections are established correctly each time,” says Hojoon Lee, first author of the study and a post-doctoral researcher at Columbia University.

Gene Editing Spurs Hope for Transplanting Pig Organs Into Humans

New York Times

Dr. David Sachs, a professor of surgery at Columbia University, was skeptical that it would be straightforward to make pigs with such compatible organs. “I am afraid that he may find these goals more difficult to achieve than he expects, but I would be happy to be mistaken,” said Dr. Sachs, who is also studying ways to create pigs suitable for organ donation.

Birth of CRISPR’d pigs advances hopes for turning swine into organ donors

STAT

Doctors won’t have to do much persuasion, however, to get patients to accept organs from another species. “There is so much desperation among people on transplant lists, and 20 a day are dying as they wait,” said Dr. Adam Griesemer, a xenotransplantation researcher and transplant surgeon at Columbia University Medical Center. “This could be a path to a transplant for them. Colleagues keep asking me when we’re going to do it.”

What a Mouse’s Mixed-Up Taste Buds Say About the Brain

Wired

Charles Zuker, a neuroscientist at Columbia University’s Zuckerman Institute and a coauthor of this paper, has talked about the five tastes a lot. You can tell, because he smooshes their names together the way some parents call all of their kids at once: “sweetsourbittersaltyandumami.” When a flavor molecule lands on your tongue, it binds to a chemically sensitive taste receptor at the tip of one of your taste buds—each bud bundles dozens of these receptors together.

Scientists reawaken memory in mice that had a condition resembling Alzheimer’s

Washington Post

It has long been assumed that Alzheimer’s disease completely erases memories. The condition involves clumps of proteins known as amyloid plaques and tangles of tau proteins that accumulate in the brain, where they are thought to destroy the neurons that store our memories. But experiments by Christine Denny at Columbia University and colleagues suggest that memories may not be wiped by Alzheimer’s disease but just become harder to access. What’s more, these memories can be reawakened by artificially activating the neurons they are stored in.

AIDS activists fought for public recognition. This exhibit shows their lives at home

PBS

This is an important aspect of public education, according to Dr. Robert Fullilove, Professor of Clinical Sociomedical Services at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. “The most important tool we have in the prevention agenda is one that begins with creating community awareness,” he said. “If you are prejudiced in some way against a person who’s exposed to HIV, if you make it clear that there’s not even space to talk about, discuss, or mention things that might be done to make things better, then all of our efforts to create community-wide awareness … are going to fail.”

Memories Can Be Deleted Without Affecting Others: McGill-Columbia Study

Huffington Post

“The example I like to give is, if you are walking in a high-crime area and you take a shortcut through a dark alley and get mugged, and then you happen to see a mailbox nearby, you might get really nervous when you want to mail something later on,” said Samuel Schacher, a professor of neuroscience at Columbia and a study co-author, in a news release. If scientists can delete incidental memories in humans, they could remove the fear of mailboxes but leave the reasonable memory directly associated with the trauma — for example, fear of dark alleys.

New Natural Selection: How Scientists Are Altering DNA to Genetically Engineer New Forms of Life

Newsweek

GP-write hopes to raise $100 million for the project, though at its most recent meeting, in New York in May—which was open to the public—not much actual funding had yet materialized. One exception was Columbia University’s Harris Wang and New York University’s Jef Boeke, who received a $500,000 grant from the Defense Department to study how human cells could be engineered to become self-sufficient nutrient factories.

Med School Recommendations That Helped Applicants

U.S. News

“If you wanted to boil down to the core what we’re most looking for, our guiding principle is, if I were sick, would I want this person to come into my room as my physician?” says Dr. Stephen Nicholas, senior associate dean for admissions and chairman of the committee on admissions with the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. Nicholas, who is also a professor at Columbia University Medical Center and the founder of its IFAP Global Health Program, says his admissions team looks for signs of empathy in recommendation letters. “We’re looking for evidence of compassion and altruism and appropriate selflessness,” he says.

Century-old Parkinson’s question answered

BBC

It is likely the immune system tries to purge the body of alpha-synuclein and kills brain cells where the alpha-synuclein accumulates. Prof David Sulzer, one of the researchers from Columbia University, said: “The idea that a malfunctioning immune system contributes to Parkinson’s dates back almost 100 years. But until now, no one has been able to connect the dots.”

A Confused Immune System Could Be Behind Parkinson’s Disease

Science Alert

This latest study led by CUMC and researchers from the La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology in California has shown a normally soluble protein that aggregates in the substantia-nigra’s cells called alpha-synuclein can trigger the body’s immune system. They took blood samples from 67 volunteers with Parkinson’s disease and 36 controls, and mixed them with proteins found in nerve cells, including alpha-synuclein. While there was little reaction in the samples taken from the control subjects, there was a clear immune response in those with Parkinson’s, indicating that the white blood cells in their immune system had previously been exposed to the proteins. “Our findings show that two fragments of alpha-synuclein, a protein that accumulates in the brain cells of people with Parkinson’s, can activate the T cells involved in autoimmune attacks,” said [David] Sulzer.

How to Monitor the Care of a Loved One in a Nursing Home

U.S. News

A meta-analysis of previous research published last month in the American Journal of Infection Control determined that 27 percent of nursing home residents are colonized with multidrug-resistant gram-negative bacteria, which are associated with an increasing proportion of infections among nursing home residents. “Meaning that 1 in 4 have it,” says lead study author Sainfer Aliyu, a registered nurse, who has a doctorate in nursing from Columbia University School of Nursing.

For some traumatized veterans, the best therapy can be stroking a velvety nose

Washington Post

“Horses, by nature, they’re sort of prey animals, and so they’re hyper-vigilant and reactive to people’s behavior,” said Prudence Fisher, a professor of clinical psychiatric social work at Columbia, who has been co-directing the study for the past year. “If you approach them aggressively they’ll move away from you. So it helps people recognize how they’re approaching people.”

Smell Test May Sniff Out Oncoming Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s

Scientific American

More than 90 percent of Parkinson’s patients report some level of olfactory dysfunction. And because problems with smell progress in Alzheimer’s, nearly all of those diagnosed with moderate to severe forms of the illness have odor identification issues. “It’s important, not just because it’s novel and interesting and simple but because the evidence is strong,” says Davangere Devanand, a professor of psychiatry and neurology at Columbia University. His most recent paper on the subject, a review, was published in The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry in December.

Preparing ‘Emerging Adults’ for College and Beyond

New York Times

Rachel Ginsberg is a clinical psychologist at the NewYork-Presbyterian Youth Anxiety Center, a research and clinical program that brings together experts from NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, Columbia University Medical Center and Weill Cornell Medicine. She is part of its Launching Emerging Adults Program aimed at teenagers and young adults. Dr. Ginsberg works with clients on lack of emotional readiness and academic and “adulting” skills, as well as on social anxiety — issues that can become more apparent in college and can lead to students’ lives’ unraveling.

Thyroid in girls may be impacted by household chemicals

UPI

“The thyroid acts as the master controller of brain development,” Pam Factor-Litvak, a professor of Epidemiology at the Mailman School, said in a press release. “Thyroid hormones set the schedule, and if the timing is out of synch, there may be later consequences in the brain. The thyroid disruptions we see in this study, although they fall within the normal range, could explain some of the cognitive problems we see in children exposed to phthalates and we are currently investigating that. As we know from lead, even small exposures can make a big difference.”

Study uncovers stroke risk factors in preeclampsia

UPI

“We have suspected that certain conditions raise the risk of stroke in women with preeclampsia, but few studies have taken a rigorous look at this issue,” Dr. Eliza C. Miller, a postdoctoral vascular neurology fellow in the Department of Neurology at New York Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center, said in a press release. “Since strokes can be so devastating, it is critical to know whether these are just random events or due to modifiable risk factors.”

One Girl’s Mishap Led to the Creation of the Antibiotic Bacitracin

Smithsonian Magazine

One day in May of 1943 seven-year-old Margaret Treacy was playing ball near her home in Upper Manhattan when she was hit by an ice truck. She broke a leg so badly the shinbone pierced the skin. The wound became infected, and Treacy ended up at Presbyterian Hospital, where a bacteriologist named Balbina Johnson made an observation that would forever change how Americans stock their medicine cabinets.

You Asked: Is Gluten Sensitivity Real?

TIME

Instead, the term “non-celiac wheat sensitivity” may be more accurate. “We don’t know for sure if it is the gluten in wheat and related cereals that is the sole trigger of these symptoms,” says Armin Alaedini, an assistant professor at Columbia University who researches immune-related GI disorders. “There is some ambiguity there, which is why many investigators are calling it ‘non-celiac wheat sensitivity’ for now.” It’s also unclear at this point how to diagnose the condition. “Currently, the only way to form a diagnosis is through a clinical examination that would involve food restriction or food challenge,” Alaedini says. He also says that both celiac disease and wheat allergies—conditions for which there is an agreed-upon diagnostic criteria—have to be ruled out first.

Former gang member gets Master’s degree from Columbia University

ABC New York

Richard Gamarra spent years behind bars, but the former gang member is proving that second chances are possible. Now, the 28-year-old is an Ivy League graduate and a proud alumnus of Columbia University. “I started off a really good kid, then to a really bad kid, then to a bad juvenile, bad inmate,” he said. “A good student, and now, a graduating grad student.”

1 million patient cohort being prepared to fuel precision medicine

Healthcare IT News

Access to the data will be managed through the program’s Data and Research Support Center which is expected to build an active community of researchers who can learn from the information and propose new research intiaitives. Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, Tennessee, working with the Broad Institute, Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Verily, Mountain View, California won the primary award for this program. Additional funding is going to Columbia University Medical Center, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, University of Michigan School of Public Health and the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston School of Biomedical Informatics.

Researchers find a new target for antidepressants

UPI

“Our work highlights a novel way to provide antidepressant treatment and provides a new avenue for the development of potentially more effective antidepressants that offer relief to patients who do not respond to current treatments,” Rene Hen, professor of neuroscience and pharmacology at Columbia University, said in a press release.

The Bug Problem in Nursing Homes

Wall Street Journal

Residents of long-term care facilities are vulnerable to drug-resistant infections known as superbugs and can easily spread the deadly germs to others. Between 11% and 59% of nursing-home residents have been “colonized” with certain types of superbugs, putting them at more risk of developing a full-blown infection, according to researchers at Columbia University School of Nursing.

The Power Of Genes, And The Line Between Biology And Destiny

NPR

As researchers work to understand the human genome, many questions remain, including, perhaps, the most fundamental: Just how much of the human experience is determined before we are already born, by our genes, and how much is dependent upon external environmental factors? Oncologist Siddhartha Mukherjee tells Fresh Air’s Terry Gross the answer to that question is complicated. “Biology is not destiny,” Mukherjee explains. “But some aspects of biology — and in fact some aspects of destiny — are commanded very strongly by genes.”

Now That We Can Read Genomes, Can We Write Them?

The Atlantic

Better news arrived on Wednesday when the team announced that Boeke and Harris Wang from Columbia University have secured $500,000 for a GP-write pilot project, from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). They’ll use that money to engineer human cells into self-sufficient nutrient factories.

Focus On Infants During Childbirth Leaves U.S. Moms In Danger

NPR

“The training was quite variable across the U.S.,” said Mary D’Alton, chair of ob/gyn at Columbia University Medical Center and author of papers on disparities in care for mothers and infants. “There were some fellows that could finish their maternal-fetal medicine training without ever being in a labor and delivery unit.”

Peabody Essex Museum hires neuroscientist to enhance visitor experience

Boston Globe

Nobel Prize recipient Eric Kandel, a neuroscientist, applauded the museum’s effort, saying it is breaking important new ground.  “I think this is the future,” said Kandel, an emeritus professor at Columbia University who’s written extensively on the relationship between neuroscience and the visual arts. “It would be extremely interesting if museums started working on how visitors engage with a work of art — not only for the museums, but for visitors.”

A Second Drug Is Approved to Treat A.L.S.

New York Times

Dr. Neil A. Shneider, director of the Eleanor and Lou Gehrig ALS Center at Columbia University Medical Center, said, “The effect is modest but significant.” He added, “I’m very happy, frankly, that there is a second drug approved for A.L.S.”

How Dr. Eric Kandel, Neuroscientist, Spends His Sundays

New York Times

Forget that he’s 87. Eric R. Kandel, who specializes in the biology of memory and is a professor in the neuroscience and psychiatry departments at Columbia University, works more than he ever has before, he said. Dr. Kandel, who won a Nobel Prize in 2000, continues to write books and is co-director of the Mortimer B. Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute at Columbia and a senior investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in Chevy Chase, Md. He lives with his wife of 60 years, Denise Kandel, 84, an epidemiology professor at Columbia, in Harlem.

Columbia med student proves historic force in triathlon event

Fox Sports

But what makes Davis-Hayes’ monumental finish so noteworthy isn’t just her historic margin of victory, the largest since USA Triathlon took ownership of the event in 2003 — though that, alone, is certainly worthy of recognition. It’s that the 28-year-old has risen to the top of the ranks at an astounding pace after participating in her first triathlon in May 2015. And she’s done so as a Columbia medical school student, juggling a rigorous Ivy League course load and an intensive concussion research project while dedicating the time and effort required to become the country’s top amateur triathlete.

Local Girl May Hold Key to Unlocking Certain Disorders and Diseases

CBS Sacramento

They turned to Dr. Wendy Chung, a world-renowned medical detective at the Columbia University Medical Center in New York. She only takes on the most difficult cases- the ones that have no answers. Dr. Chung led a 2015 study that linked Jordan’s genetic variation to intellectual disability and autism. Now, doctors from hospitals including Columbia, Seattle Children’s Hospital, Vanderbilt and the University of Iowa are about to begin first-of-its-kind research into how the genetic variation can be treated, or even reversed.

Meet the 34-year-old neuroscientist developing a drug to prevent depression and PTSD

Washington Post

That’s the scenario neuroscientist Rebecca Brachman described as she stood on the TED stage here Monday and told the audience she may have helped discover a drug that could make people more resilient under the most stressful circumstances. …The 34-year-old neuroscientist at Columbia University was among two dozen TED Fellows chosen to present at the annual conference this year. The Fellows program provides them a platform for their ideas and access to the larger TED network to grow them.

What Makes Ashkenazi Jews More Susceptible to Breast Cancer?

U.S. News

According to a 2014 study conducted at Columbia University and published in the journal Nature Communications, today’s worldwide population of roughly 10 million Ashkenazi Jews is descended from a core group of about 350 people 25 to 32 generations ago, or roughly 600 to 800 years back. This small original group is referred to as a population “bottleneck” and the subsequent generations passed on their same genes, putting them at higher risk for certain genetic disorders.

Scientists, Feeling Under Siege, March Against Trump Policies

New York Times

Although drizzle may have washed away the words on some signs, they aimed to deliver the message that science needs the public’s support. “Science is a very human thing,” said Ashlea Morgan, a doctoral student in neurobiology at Columbia University. “The march is allowing the public to know that this is what science is, and it’s letting our legislators know that science is vitally important.”

Climate: What’s At Stake For Your Health

STAT

“It’s no coincidence that during that stable period of climate that we’ve had the development of human civilization as we know it,” said Jeffrey Shaman, director of the climate and health program and an associate professor at Columbia University.