Category: science

Stem-cell ruling hits BU researchers

August 26th, 2010 in science 0 comments

stem cell harvestThe Obama administration is appealing a federal court ruling that challenged the legality of the president’s rules governing human embryonic stem cell research.  Until a decision is made, however, federally funded research around the nation is threatened, including projects at Boston University.  In a BU Today interview, School of Medicine hemotology and oncology assistant Professor George Murphy discusses the endangered research under way at BU and researchers’ reaction to the court injunction.

“Regardless of what our personal beliefs are, there’s no place in science for personal beliefs. We’re trying to operate on a higher plane, where everything is the research itself. What’s most upsetting to us as scientists is that courts make decisions they’re not completely informed about. And the public is in the dark.”

Contact George Murphy, 617-638-7520,

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Head trauma linked to disease that mimics ALS

August 18th, 2010 in Medical, science, Sports 0 comments


Researchers at the BU Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy (CSTE) and the Department of Veterans Affairs in Bedford, Mass. have discovered a new motor neuron disease that mimics ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s Disease, which may be connected to head trauma. Their findings, based on their work with former athletes, have been published in the September 2010 issue of the Journal of Neuropathology and Experimental Neurology. BU Today covered the findings, and spoke with CSTE codirectors Robert Stern, Christopher Nowinski, and Ann McKee (video above).

More information:

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Northeast bats in danger of extinction

August 5th, 2010 in science 0 comments

little brown batOne of North America’s most common bat species, the so-called little brown bat, will be all but extinct in the Northeast in 20 years to due to an emerging fungal desease called White-Nose Syndrome.

That’s the conclusion of a new study by Boston University biologists, including Professor Thomas Kunz and post-doctoral researcher Dr. Winifred Frick who authored the study published in the new edition of Science magazine.  Kunz says the loss of the bat population could have a significant negative impact on humans because bats consume so many insects.

“The little brown myotis is known to consume up to 100% of its body weight in insects each night.  This level of insect consumption provides an important ecosystem service to human kind, and to the balance of natural and human-altered ecosystems, which in turn can reduce the use of pesticides often used by humans to kill insect pests.”

Contact Tom Kunz, 617-353-2474,

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6 Months Since the Haiti Earthquake

July 12th, 2010 in International Relations, Politics, science 0 comments

Assistant Professor and Faculty Coordinator in the City Planning and Urban Affairs Program at Metropolitan College Enrique Silva offers insight into the rebuilding of Port-au-Princeto the Huffington Post:


“When we talk about rebuilding or restructuring Haiti,  we are talking about much more than the massive collapse of buildings and infrastructure.  We are also talking about political, social, and economic structures that could not mitigate the impact of the quake.  From a purely technical perspective, the physical reconstruction of Haiti and its capital region might be the easiest, but no less daunting, task ahead.  In terms of physical reconstruction and building, priority needs to be given to housing, road networks, and basic utilities like electricity and clean water.  Without safe shelter and reliable infrastructure, Haitian households and businesses will have a difficult time becoming stable and productive. “

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How much is that spill?

June 16th, 2010 in Energy, science 0 comments

oil rig explosionThe BP oil spill now has released at least 1.3 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico since the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion on June 15th.  What’s that equivalent to?  Professor Cutler Cleveland, director of the BU Center for Energy and Environmental Studies and editor of Encyclopedia of Earth” suggests some possibilities in his blog, “The Energy Watch.”

Years of energy used in a single average America home:    81,286

Number of miles that could be driven by a Prius:    3,085,600,000

Number of airplane round trips between London and Louisiana that could be taken by BP CEO Tony Hayward:    263,808

Hours of motor gasoline consumption for the entire United States:    3.9

Minutes of world energy use:     8

Contact Cutler Cleveland, 617-353-3083,

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Gulf spill and global oil production

June 10th, 2010 in science 0 comments

offshore oil rigThe International Energy Agency, in its monthly Oil Market Report, says the Gulf of Mexico spill is a potential “game changer” for oil supply, possibly restricting figure sub-sea oil development and limiting supply.  But Professor Cutler Cleveland, director of the BU Center for Energy and Environmental Studies and editor-in-chief of the Encyclopedia of Earth, see it differently — noting that loss production from the Gulf of Mexico would be at best point-4-percent of global oil production or “dust in the wind.”

“As important as the GOM is to U.S. oil production and to Gulf state economies, it is a pittance in the world market.  U.S. production decisions have negligible impacts on world oil markets, and Middle East producers could easily offset the projected shortfall.”

Contact Cutler Cleveland, 617-353-3083,

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BP tries (again) to plug leak

June 1st, 2010 in science 0 comments

Deepwater Horizon oil spillEmbattled oil company BP is again trying to divert the six-week-old Gulf oil leak by smothering the gushing flow under yet another dome.  Geology Professor Cutler Cleveland,  director of the BU Center for Energy and Environmental Studies, has updated his entry on the Deepwater Horizon saga in the BU-born Encyclopedia of Earth to discuss the myth that this catastrophe is no different that the oil seeps that release large volumes of oil to the ocean naturally.

“The Deepwater Horizon site releases 3 to 12 times the oil per day compared to that released by natural seeps across the entire Gulf of Mexico … A sudden, concentrated and massive pulse of oil from an event such as the Deepwater Horizon disaster presents a fundamentally more acute stress to marine and coastal systems.”

Contact Cutler Cleveland, 617-353-3083,

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BU environmental expert on impact of oil spill

May 27th, 2010 in Energy, science 0 comments

Cutler Cleveland, professor of Geography and Environment, lays out the short and long-term environmental effects of the BP oil spill.

Contact: Cutler Cleveland, 617-353-7552,

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A big step towards personalized medicine

August 28th, 2009 in Health care, science, Uncategorized 0 comments

An agreement  in which Abbott Laboratories will develop a specific genetic test to screen non-small cell lung cancer tumors to identify potential patients for a proposed oral cancer drug  being developed by Pfizer, was hailed as an important development in the new era of personalized genomic medicine, by Avi Spira, MD.  He is Associate Professor of Pathology andLaboratory Medicine.

“This is a very big step if they can first identify the subset that will benefit prior to treatment.” 

Contact Avi Spria, 617-414-6980,

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Chinese develop live mice by reprogramming skin cells

July 24th, 2009 in science 0 comments

The ability of Chinese scientists to reprogram skin cells of mice to a primordial, embryonic state that resulted in the birth of live offspring may bring scientists a step closer to creating medically useful stem cell lines for treating human disease. “The novelty resides in producing mice using induced pluripotent stem cells in the most stringent assay of pluripotency [a term for cells that give rise to all tissues in the body]” said Gustavo Mostoslavsky, MD, PhD., assistant professor of medicine.

Contact Gustavo Mostoslavsky, (617) 638-6532,

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