Welcome to LabBook, our weekly roundup of University of Chicago Medicine & Biological Sciences research news from around campus and the internet. 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.
LAST TWO WEEKS ON THE BLOG
Last week neurobiologists Dr. David Freedman and Dr. Chris Rishel published a new study where they pinpointed a part of the primate brain that both interprets spatial information and quickly categorizes visual stimuli. Rob Mitchum also spoke to Freedman last year for Science Life about his work identifying where the brain sorts visual information.
Also last week, Mike McHugh spoke to pediatrician and bioethicist Dr. Lainie Friedman Ross about the new recommendations on genetic screening for children issued jointly by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics. Ross was the lead author on the policy statement, the first set of guidelines on testing children for genetic diseases in more than a decade.
Earlier this week, I wrote about a study by grad student Nate Upham that tested a hypothesis that small rodents in the desert avoid moving around on nights with bright moonlight to protect themselves from predators like owls. It’s an old idea from the 1930s that had never really been questioned, and it turns out it’s not exactly true.
And on Wednesday, I spoke to medical student Ashwin Kotwal about his research on how emotions like anxiety and stress play into older men’s decision to get screened for prostate cancer. Despite recent recommendations against widespread screening, many men who wouldn’t benefit from the test are still getting it, so Kotwal and his mentor Dr. William Dale looked at the data to find out what’s going on.
RESEARCH IN THE NEWS
The University of Chicago has a long history of research on sleep, and this week two of our experts were featured in the news. The Boston Globe spoke to Dr. Kristen Knutson about how much sleep you need, and how that varies from person to person. The New York Times also cited the work of Dr. Matthew Brady on how lack of sleep alters the body’s fat cells in an article about how poor sleep induces weight gain.
Carrageenan is a common food additive used to give foods texture, but it has been linked to digestive problems. This week the Chicago Tribune wrote about a small clinical trial by Dr. Stephen Hanauer to assess carrageenan’s safety.
The Trib also interviewed Dr. Raymond Roos, director of our multidisciplinary ALS clinic, about advances in research and treatments for ALS, better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease (I’ll be posting my own interview with Dr. Roos in a few weeks as well).
Finally, several members of our biological sciences faculty recently received named professorships, including: geneticist and dean for research and graduate education Dr. T. Conrad Gilliam, neurosurgeon Dr. Issam Awad, cardiologist Dr. James Liao, cardiologist and geneticist Dr. Elizabeth McNally and dermatologist Dr. Christopher Shea. You can read more about their work in our Newsroom.