Biological Sciences

Campus Lands $1M Howard Hughes Grant to Make STEM More Inclusive

UC Merced’s efforts to make science education more inclusive were recently given a huge boost after the campus was awarded its first Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) grant, an impressive mark of distinction that reflects the strong upward trajectory of the campus’s research and teaching efforts.

News and Notes: UC Launches Million Light Bulb Challenge, Upcoming Ally Trainings Offered

Let There Be Energy-Efficient Light

The University of California is spearheading a statewide effort to advance the purchase of 1 million high-quality, energy-efficient light bulbs for campus buildings and residences across the state.

Cancer Systems Biology Identifies Master Regulators and New Drug Targets in Therapy-Resistant Cancer

New research published today in the Nature Partner journal npj Systems Biology and Applications establishes how genome-wide data in combination with systems biology analyses can identify master regulators and new drug targets in therapy-resistant cancers.

The new discovery explains how cancer controls specific effector networks — findings with important implications for the future of cancer therapy.

Misbehaving “Killer” Cells Accelerate Progress of Autoimmune Disease

In 1998, scientists studying rheumatoid arthritis observed a population of immune cells that weren’t behaving the way they were supposed to. Immunologists noted the strange phenomenon, but decided not to pursue the subject further, and the cells were soon forgotten.

But interest in these cells has swelled over the past few years as they’ve been found in patients with chronic viral infections and cancer.

Following a Devastating Pandemic, California’s Sea Stars are Evolving

In 2012, Environmental Systems graduate student Lauren Schiebelhut was collecting DNA from ochre sea stars living along the Northern California coast — part of an effort to study genetic diversity in various marine species that serve as indicators of habitat health. She had no idea that just one year later, most of the sea stars would be dead.

Beaudin Named Campus’ Second Winner of Prestigious Pew Award

Biology Professor Anna Beaudin was named a member of the 2018 class of Pew Biomedical Scholars today, one of 22 early-career researchers nationwide to receive this year’s prestigious award.

“I am thrilled and humbled to be joining such an accomplished and talented group of scientists as a 2018 Pew Biomedical Scholar,” Beaudin said. “Receiving this award will give my lab the opportunity to dig deeper into how early life events shape immunity across the lifespan and contribute to autoimmune disease susceptibility.”

Study Finds That Gene Transcription Can Serve as Brain’s Timekeeper

Neurons keep time. These brain cells – which are responsible for the brain’s “heavy lifting,” from information processing to memory formation – seem to "know" how long they’ve been exposed to sensory stimulation. Now, scientists are starting to understand how they do this.

Students Discover Cannibal Lizards on Remote Aegean Island

It reads like a mashup of Greek mythology and H.G. Wells. “The Odyssey of Doctor Moreau,” perhaps. Explorers find their way to a remote Aegean island and discover it’s inhabited by reptilian cannibals. They describe one encounter as follows:

“[I]t began to run away, with the dead lizard torso and head still in its mouth. The cannibal continuously ran along the top of a wall and paused intermittently to thrash the corpse against the cement.”

Campus’ Spring Open House Draws Record Attendance

More than 3,700 individuals visited UC Merced last Saturday during the campus’s annual Bobcat Day — a 26 percent increase over 2017 and more than any previous year.

Researchers Examine Barriers to Organ Donation and Possible Remedies

Every 10 minutes, someone is added to the national organ transplant waiting list, and about once every hour, someone on the list is removed — either because they died while waiting or grew too ill for surgery.

The number of Americans on the waiting list totals more than 114,000 as of this writing, and about 30,000 transplants will be performed this year. In part, that’s because there are not enough organ donors.

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