UC Berkeley Science News
News from the University of California, Berkeley
Updated: 2 hours 23 min ago
With the support of a Bakar Fellowship, researcher Neil Tsutsui is testing the pest-control effectiveness of a synthetic version of a natural ant pheromone he discovered. The fellowship, which supports innovative research by early career UC Berkeley faculty, is accepting applications for the 2012-14 year now.
NASA has awarded UC Berkeley's Space Sciences Laboratory up to $200 million to build a satellite to determine how Earth’s weather affects weather at the edge of space, in hopes of improving forecasts of extreme “space weather” that can disrupt global positioning satellites (GPS) and radio communications.
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office honored UC Berkeley's technology transfer office for its socially responsible licensing to provide low-cost treatments and technologies to people in developing countries, highlighted by the successful licensing of a discovery leading to a newly launched yeast-derived malaria drug. Other projects are nutritionally fortified sorghum & disease-resistant crops.
The best therapy today for malaria is a drug combination that includes a derivative of artemisinin, now solely available from plants. On April 11, Sanofi began production of the first semi-synthetic version of artemisinin, derived from yeast developed by biotech company Amyris based on discoveries in the laboratory of Jay Keasling at UC Berkeley.
"Ubiquitin" is the apt term for a molecule that plays a vital role in every cell in our body. Associate Professor Michael Rape, winner of a 2012 Bakar Fellowship, is now on the trail of a potential drug to interrupt excessive ubiquitin production and prevent uncontrolled cell division, a hallmark of cancer.
"We need to learn not only what is encoded in the genome – the blueprint of life – but how that actually translates into protein function in health and disease," says Amy Herr, a Berkeley associate professor of bioengineering. Her research is supported by the campus’s Bakar Fellows Program, which helps early-career faculty pursue innovative research with commercial promise.
President Barack Obama has announced a major national initiative to understand how the brain works and how it goes awry. Neuroscientist John Ngai, chemist Paul Alivisatos and chemical engineer Jay Keasling were on hand at the White House to lend support to the so-called BRAIN initiative, which Ngai termed "our moon project."
Rising temperature difference between hemispheres could dramatically shift rainfall patterns in tropics
UC Berkeley climatologist John Chiang, geography graduate student Andrew Friedman and colleagues from the University of Washington found that changes in the temperature difference between the Northern and Southern hemispheres during the 20th century were linked to catastrophic changes in tropical rainfall. As the difference rises, the tropics could see future rainfall disruptions.
Wired writer Daniela Hernandez profiles UC Berkeley's David Anderson, creator of the BOINC platform that runs SETI@home and other crowd-sourced projects, and efforts to capture the computing power of smart phones. Anderson is now testing software on the Android phone that would allow anyone to plug into Einstein@home, another crowd-sourced project, to search for black holes.
Neuroengineer Jose Carmena and bioengineer Michel Maharbiz are working to develop a brain-machine interface, an emerging technology for retraining the brain to operate a prosthetic device such as an artificial limb. They are supported by the campus’s Bakar Fellows Program, which helps early-career faculty pursue innovative research with commercial promise. The program is currently accepting applications for 2013/14.
The European Space Agency's Planck satellite, supported in part by NASA, has obtained the most precise picture yet of the temperature of the early universe, from which they've updated the age of the universe and the proportions of normal and dark matter and dark energy. At a Mar. 21 NASA press conference, UC Berkeley physicist Martin White called the Planck data "stunning."
Scientists have developed a computer model of integrin, a protein that helps cells interact with their surroundings. The virtual integrin snippet is about the same length and behaves in similar ways to its biological counterpart. The result is a new way to explore how the protein connects a cell’s inner and outer environments.
UC Berkeley's David Wake and colleague Kathryn Elmer at the University of Glasgow analyzed the genetic variability of salamanders that had moved from Central to South America and concluded that they could not have diversified within the 3 million years geologists think the two continents have been connected. They think the Panamanian land bridge formed 23 million years ago.