LabBook November 9, 2012

Author Rebecca Skloot speaking to a group of 300 high school students at last week’s Personal Journeys in STEM event with the Association for Women in Science Chicago. Students interested in scientific careers listened to the lecture and toured our new Center for Care and Discovery. (Photo by Yvette Dostatni)

Welcome to LabBook, our weekly roundup of University of Chicago Medicine & Biological Sciences research news from around campus and the world wide web. Each Friday, LabBook will recap the week on the blog, link to news stories about our faculty and studies, and briefly summarize a handful of recent publications by our researchers.


At least 50 percent of people over 65 have diabetes or pre-diabetes, and older adults with type 2 diabetes have the highest rate of lower limb amputations, heart attacks, and kidney failures. Yet physicians have little research on how to treat this group. Elbert Huang was part of a panel convened by the American Diabetes Association to look at this troubling lack of knowledge, which issued a joint statement with new recommendations and treatment guidelines.

Coming up with a good idea for a new smartphone app is one thing; actually building it is another. The UChicago Mobile App Challenge is designed to help bridge that gap by hooking up students, researchers and faculty with experienced programmers (not to mention sweetening the pot with a $10,000 prize) to make their app ideas a reality.


About one-and-a-half million people in the US suffer from inflammatory bowel disease, including Crohn’s. While doctors still don’t know what causes this autoimmune disease, they are constantly researching new and more effective ways to treat it. This week on NPR, Russell Cohen discussed current research into Crohn’s, including finding its genetic roots and putting genetically engineered bacteria in yogurt that people can eat to heal the gut.

Last year Peggy Mason made quite a sensation with her study on how rats actually show empathy toward their mates who are trapped inside a cage, even forgoing chocolate to free them. This week Mason’s research was featured on an episode of PBS NOVA called “What Are Animals Thinking?

Finally, in more animal news, Yoav Gilad found that while humans share more than 90 percent of our DNA with our closest primate relatives, the activity or expression of those genes accounts for the differences between the species. Up to 40% of these differences can be explained by regulatory mechanisms that determine how genes transcribe proteins to RNA molecules. This research was covered by e! Science News, Science Daily and others.

About Matt Wood (531 Articles)
Matt Wood is a senior science writer and manager of communications at the University of Chicago Medicine & Biological Sciences Division.
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