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  July 2012 Edition
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University News

Washington University receives $3 million to design cancer-killing viruses


School of Law, Cambridge organize first International Privacy Law Conference


Washington University receives $8 million grant to lead international childhood malnutrition effort



Graduated driving laws reduce teen drunk driving


When he listens to music, math department chair David Wright hears connections to mathematics


Scientists identify protein required to regrow injured nerves in limbs



City youth help St. Louis Zoo, WUSTL scientists study box turtles


Biologists identify eastern gray squirrel as carrier of tick-borne diseases


Architecture students transform school parking lot into outdoor classroom




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"On the Mars rovers, it says: 'To those who visit here, we wish a safe journey and the joy of discovery.' My friends, that is the essence of sciencethe joy of discovery. That is why we built Rudolph Hall. That is why we are all here, so that we can, dare I say, change the world!"


~ Bill Nye, the Science Guy, featured speaker at the dedication of Scott Rudolph Hall on May 4





Robert Blankenship,


Ph.D., the Lucille P. Markey Distinguished Professor of Arts and Sciences and professor of biology, and John Heuser, M.D., professor of cell biology and physiology in the School of Medicine, have been named fellows of the American Academy of Microbiology.

Peter MacKeith,


associate dean and associate professor of architecture in the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts, has been named Honorary Consul, in St. Louis, by Finland’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Barbara Schaal,


Ph.D., the Mary-Dell Chilton Distinguished Professor in the Department of Biology in Arts & Sciences, was honored with the 2011-12 American Institute of Biological Sciences Distinguished Scientist Award.







University News


Washington University receives $3 million to design cancer-killing viruses


adenovirus particle


The illustration shows an adenovirus particle carrying metals and antibodies for cancer therapy. In this case, the metal is copper-64, a radioactive metal useful for both imaging and cancer therapy. Antibodies shown in orange and purple can target the virus to specific tissues or tumor types.


PHOTO:Igor Dmitriev, Ph.D.


Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine have received a $3 million grant from the National Cancer Institute to develop a triple threat in the fight against cancer: a single virus equipped to find, image and kill cancer cells, all at once. Led by David T. Curiel, M.D., Ph.D., Distinguished Professor of Radiation Oncology, the program will build on his group’s expertise with adenovirus, a virus that causes the common cold and has shown promise in cancer therapeutics and imaging. ... more


WUSTL School of Law, Cambridge organize first International Privacy Law Conference


Leading privacy law experts from around the world gathered in Cambridge, England, on June 26 and 27 for the first International Privacy Law Conference, a joint effort between Washington University School of Law and the University of Cambridge. “Every modern society is confronting novel issues of privacy, and our conference brings together some of the smartest thinkers about privacy in the world to compare notes and come up with new solutions,” says Neil M. Richards, J.D., conference co-chair and professor of law at Washington University. ... more


Washington University receives $8 million to lead international childhood malnutrition effort


Jeffrey I. Gordon, M.D., the Dr. Robert J. Glaser Distinguished University Professor, will lead an international team of scientists to find new ways to diagnose, treat and prevent a critical global health problem: malnutrition in infants and children. The work is funded by an $8.3 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Gordon’s research first established a link between obesity and the trillions of friendly microbes that live in the intestine, where they extract nutrients and calories from food. His studies have shown that diet helps shape the mix of microbes in the intestine and that these microbes, in turn, influence how efficiently nutrients and calories are harvested from foods. ... more



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Graduated driving laws reduce teen drunk driving


State laws that limit driving privileges for teens have reduced the incidence of drinking and driving among the nation’s youngest licensees, according to a new study by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine. The vast majority of states now have laws that limit teen driving privileges and impose stiff penalties for driving under the influence. Graduated driving licensing laws limit the number of passengers young drivers may transport and how late at night they’re allowed to drive, among other restrictions. The researchers evaluated the effects of those laws on alcohol use and risky driving behaviors among teens in 45 states. ... more


Amazing mathematical music


During the day, David L. Wright, Ph.D., is chairman of the Department of Mathematics in Arts & Sciences at Washington University; at night, he is assistant director of Ambassadors of Harmony, a men’s a cappella chorus that has won international competitions. Math and music might seem a strange combination to some. Certainly many famous performers are able to bring audiences to their feet without once thinking about ratios or anything else overtly mathematical. But Wright always has been gifted with an unusual, even eerie, ability to hear both the music and the math simultaneously . ... more


Scientists identify protein required to regrow injured nerves in limbs


A protein required to regrow injured peripheral nerves has been identified by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine. The finding, in mice, has implications for improving recovery after nerve injury in the extremities. It also opens new avenues of investigation toward triggering nerve regeneration in the central nervous system, notorious for its inability to heal. ... more



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City youth help Saint Louis Zoo, WUSTL scientists study box turtles



Missouri has two species of box turtle, the Ornate box turtle (Terrapene ornata ornata) shown here and the Three-toed box turtle shown below. Box turtles get their name from a special hinge on the bottom part of their shell (the plastron) that allows them to close or “box up” as a form of protection against predators. Box turtles are omnivorous and typically eat worms, snails, berries, fungi, and arthropods. Because they have few offspring, are slow-moving and late in maturing, are particularly susceptible to human-related extinction.


PHOTO: Wikipedia Commons


Sixteen St. Louis youth were in Forest Park June 13 tracking box turtles, fitted with telemetry devices — all to help with a project aimed at studying box turtle movements and their health. The 12- and 13-year-olds are participating in a pilot study designed by scientists from the Saint Louis Zoo and Washington University to document box turtle movements and their health status in urban and rural areas in and around St. Louis. This study comes at a critical time as previous studies conducted across the globe show that many populations of turtles are being threatened by vehicles, habitat loss, and disease. However, the conservation status of box turtles in Missouri is not well-understood. ... more


Animal reservoir mystery solved


A team of scientists at Washington University has been keeping a wary eye on emerging tick-borne diseases in Missouri for the past dozen years, and they have just nailed down another part of the story. They knew from earlier work that the animal reservoirs for the diseases included white-tailed deer, wild turkey and a species in the squirrel family, but the DNA assay they had used wasn’t sensitive enough to identify the species. Squirrels belong to a large family called the Sciuridae, which includes chipmunks, fox squirrels, red squirrels, flying squirrels, ground hogs and prairie dogs . ... more


A part of the neighborhood


Last spring, Donesh Ferdowsi, Parker Keyes and Yurina Kodama — all architecture majors in the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts at Washington University — built dozens of outdoor benches for Patrick Henry Academy, an historic elementary school in downtown St. Louis. Carved from rough stumps of cedar, oak and walnut, the benches are simply designed yet boast a telling detail: Legs attach to seat via “wedged through tenons.” It’s a complicated form of joinery, at once strong and elegant, long associated with Arts & Crafts furniture-making. “It’s pretty, but it’s also very efficient,” says Keyes, who graduated in May. The joint itself becomes the decoration, showcasing the method of construction as well as the woods’ natural grain and color. “The wood informs the design.” ... more



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