LabBook November 30, 2012

Workers load a new MRI magnet through a window at the Center for Care and Discovery

Workers load a new MRI magnet through a window at the Center for Care and Discovery

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.


The places where we live and work are colonized by millions of bacteria, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The trick is finding the right balance between bacteria that make us sick and the ones that help us. Jack Gilbert is on a mission to catalog all the bacteria living in our new Center for Care and Discovery before and after it opens, to see how patients and medical staff change the microbial ecosystem and find ways to keep the bad guys at bay.

One of those nasty bacteria we’re trying to keep out is Staphylococcus aureus, or staph. Juliane Bubeck Wardenburg recently published a study about a cell receptor that helps staph do its evil deeds, which could lead to a better way to treat it.

And just how do you move a 7-ton MRI magnet into a new hospital? You’re gonna need a pretty big crane.

We also covered how researchers at the Computation Institute are modeling how the HIV virus builds its self-defense system, how ovarian cancer cells trick their healthy neighbors into doing their dirty work, and how climate change is making the ocean a harder place to live for shelled animals.


Three Stooges or America’s Funniest Home Videos? Humans can easily distinguish between someone being injured intentionally (Moe pokes Curly in the eye) and accidentally (Billy smacks a whiffle ball into Dad’s head). Jean Decety and Stephanie Cacioppo analyzed the brain activity of study subjects while they watched videos of intentional or accidental harm to see just how the brain is hardwired to distinguish between the two. Their work was covered by UPI and many other outlets.

There are plenty of cool things hidden away here on campus, but one of the coolest we’ve seen is Marcus Kronforst’s butterfly greenhouse on top of the Pritzker School of Medicine. He’s breeding them to study the genetics behind their bright coloration. His work was covered by DNAInfo Chicago.

Finally, the American Academy of Pediatrics is urging doctors to provide contraceptives, including the Plan B “morning after” contraception pill, to all adolescents regardless of age. Melissa Gilliam, whose research focuses on contraceptive use among teens and women who are at risk for unintended pregnancy, spoke to WBEZ about the AAP’s new guidelines.

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.
%d bloggers like this: