In this edition of Research Connections, find links to researchers in the news, updates on important deadlines, and more news for University of Rochester researchers. Email not displaying correctly?
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What could Rhett Butler and Scarlett O'Hara of Gone with the Wind possibly have to do with research at the University of Rochester? Watching and discussing movies about relationships is as effective in lowering divorce rates as other, more intensive early marriage counseling programs, according to a study by lead author Ronald Rogge, Associate Professor of Psychology, and a team of researchers. And yes, Gone with the Wind was one of 47 movies that participants could choose from during the study. Couples interested in trying the film discussions for themselves -- or signing up to participate in a followup study -- can visit Rogge's lab website. Co-author Thomas Bradbury, Professor of Psychology at UCLA, and researchers from Simon Frasier University (British Columbia), University of Iowa and Binghamton University also contributed to the study.

Do you have an interesting photo or other image that helps illustrate your research? We would like to showcase it. Send a high resolution jpg or other version, along with a description of what it shows, to

Poster sessions: Share your anecdotes

Research poster sessions have become a mainstay of University conferences and seminars. In upcoming issues we'll look at when and why poster sessions originated, and offer some tips for preparing posters. UR faculty and students are encouraged to share their tips, and memorable poster session experiences (good and bad!) by contacting

Crossing Elmwood: Neuroimaging tracks HIV's impact

Just to look at it, the HIV virus "is not particularly impressive," notes Giovanni Schifitto, Professor of Neurology and of Imaging Sciences. "It's a fairly simple virus. But it causes a lot of problems."

It certainly continues to challenge scientists, who have come up with an array of drugs that "tightly control" the virus' impact, but do not eradicate the HIV infection itself. Ironically, even as these treatments help HIV-infected patients live longer, they can make it harder to track the ongoing course of the disease in the central nervous system because the clinical manifestation of symptoms is delayed and confounded by aging related co-morbidities.

Hence the importance of the 10-plus year collaboration between Schifitto and Jianhui Zhong, Professor of Imaging Sciences and of Biomedical Engineering. Their presentation last week as part of the "Crossing Elmwood" seminar series described how they use structural and functional MRI to assess the impact of HIV-associated damage to the central nervous system, and to test the efficacy of new treatments.

Their tools include blood oxygen level dependent (BOLD) imaging, diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), arterial spin labeling (ASL), and MR spectroscopy.

"All of these modalities are used in one way or another in clinical trials," Schifitto said -- often more than one per study. "Usually you need more than one modality to convince you that there is a problem and where the problem is. Multiple modalities may tell you the same thing, but it is more believable to you and others than if it is just one."

The advantages of using neuroimaging are twofold:

1. The techniques are informative but noninvasive. Zhong, for example, says MR spectroscopy "essentially is like a biopsy but without opening up the brain."

2. They can detect underlying changes in a brain's metabolism and function even before clinical symptoms are manifested. That can speed up determinations about whether a new treatment is worth pursuing. "Instead of waiting five years conducting multiple clinical studies maybe we only have to wait five months by using neuroimaging biomarkers," Schifitto said.

(Next: Jeffrey Bazarian, Associate Professor, Departments of Emergency Medicine, Neurology, Neurosurgery, Physical Medicine and Public Health Sciences; Eric Blackman, Professor, Department of Physics and Astronomy, and Jianhui Zhong, Professor, Departments of Imaging Sciences and Biomedical Engineering. discuss a "A multidisciplinary effort toward identifying and mitigating closed-head brain injury," 12:15 p.m., Feb. 18, Helen Wood Hall Auditorium (1W-304).

Keeping your data secure: Need a server?

Let's say you need to spin up a thousand servers for 24 hours to do some optical character recognition. Or you have some complicated media transcoding you need to get done.

Why go out a buy servers and racks for $10,000, when instead you could "rent" a server at a fraction of the cost? And still be able to ensure the protection of restricted and confidential information about research subjects and patients?

URMC is piloting this approach with Amazon, which rents servers starting at 8 cents an hour through its EC2 service, and also provides data storage in a secure cloud for anywhere from 5.5 to 9.5 cents per gigabyte per month.

"What we've set up is an encrypted tunnel between our data center and the Amazon data center," explained Mike Pinch, URMC's chief information security officer. "You log in through our URMC Amazon web page, you create a server within Amazon cloud; you get a locally routable IP address. It looks and behaves as if it is sitting on our network behind our firewall."

Though this is still in the pilot stage, "I would love to have people testing this," Pinch added. That applies to River Campus researchers as well. Contact Pinch if you're interested.

The Whipple Years: A good time to build a library

(Nobel Laureate George Whipple, first dean of the School of Medicine and Dentistry from 1921 to 1953, helped shape the school from its inception, hiring faculty and staff and supervising the design and construction of buildings. This is one in a series of occasional snapshots of research during those early years of what is now the Medical Center, courtesy of Christopher Hoolihan, Rare Books & Manuscripts Librarian at the Edward G. Miner Library and Assistant Professor of Public Health Sciences).

George W. Corner, recruited by Whipple to be the first Chair of Anatomy, was also chairman of the medical school library committee. (At that time the school did not have a librarian such as Hoolihan, but left it up to faculty members to oversee its collections and operations.)

Corner believed that medical students "needed a grounding in history," Hoolihan notes, and persuaded a wealthy Rochester surgeon to underwrite the beginnings of a rare book collection.

Corner, not surprisingly, was partial to anatomical atlases, and managed to collect about 1,000 books published before 1800, in part because he was collecting them during the Depression. "A lot of collectors were trying to unload their books because had to pay coal bills and food bills, and had to buy shoes for their children," Hoolihan noted. "A lot of book dealers were in desperate straits and were selling their books at much reduced prices."

This was the foundation of a Rare Books and Manuscripts collection that the Miner Library has continued to support for more than 75 years, and now consists of more than 50,000 volumes published between 1481 and 1960.

Introducing a new faculty member

Danielle E. Marino has joined the Department of Medicine's Gastroenterology/Hepatology Division as an assistant professor. She has clinical expertise in all aspects of general gastroenterology and liver disease. Her research interests include Quality Improvement and Barrett's esophagus, in which the normal tissue lining the esophagus changes to tissue that resembles the lining of the intestine, increasing the risk of developing esophageal adenocarcinoma, a cancer of the esophagus. During her fellowship here, she was part of a research team that used computer assisted brush biopsies to take tissue samples from the esophagus, then analyze them for precancerous cells using a 3-Dimensionial computer imaging system that is based on an algorithm developed as part of the U.S. Strategic Defense Initiative missile defense program. She received her M.D. from Buffalo SUNY in 2006. Her post-doctoral training included an internship and residency in internal medicine at Yale New Haven Hospital.

Researchers in the news

A study led by Hong Zhang, Associate Professor of Radiation Oncology, shows that, even when prostate cancer is detected through a screening test and no symptoms are present, 1 in 6 of these men will have higher-risk disease. Men in this category tended to be older (72 as compared to 67 for the low-risk group), black, less likely to be married, and lower income, Research@URMC reports.

A new study shows that, when properly manipulated, a population of support cells found in the brain called astrocytes could provide a new and promising approach to treat Parkinson's disease. Using human brain cells, lead author Chris Proschel, Assistant Professor of Biomedical Genetics, and his colleagues isolated a cell population found in the central nervous system called glial precursors. Through the careful manipulation of culture conditions and cell signals, the researchers induced the precursor cells to produce a specific class of astrocytes that differ from those present in the mature brain. When implanted into the brains of rats with Parkinson's disease, the new cells were more effective at building connections between nerves and creating a suitable environment for growth and repair.

Congratulations to . . .

Cary Peppermint, Assistant Professor of Art, who has received this year's Lillian Fairchild Award from the Department of English for his portfolio of innovative and collaborative projects, which include Basecamp.exe, a workshop and art installation that explores environmental awareness, and INDUSTRIAL WILDERNESS, an online and community-based artwork that explores connections between industry and nature.

A team of Rochester researchers, led by Wojciech Zareba, Professor of Cardiology and Director of the University's Heart Research Follow-up Program, who will receive $2.9 million from the National Institutes of Health as part of a $9 million study of a group of heart muscle disorders called arrhythmogenic ventricular cardiomyopathies. AVCs account for up to 20 percent of cases of sudden death in young people. The researchers will join physicians and scientists from the University of Cincinnati, University of Arizona, University of Colorado and Harvard University in searching for new genes that cause AVCs and biomarkers that can help physicians better identify and treat these notoriously hard-to-diagnose disorders.

Mark your calendar

Feb. 11: Deadline to apply for a $5000 Geothermal Studies Scholarship for University of Rochester juniors, seniors, and/or graduate students. Contact Desmond Stubbs for more information. ATTN: Desmond Stubbs PHD, Senior Project Manager, ORAU/ORISE, PO Box 117, MS 36, Oak Ridge, TN.

Feb. 13: "Teaching Statistics for the Future, the MOOC Revolution and Beyond," presented by Brian S. Caffo, Professor of Biostatistics, Johns Hopkins University, Biostatistics and Computational Biology Spring Colloquium, 3:30-5 p.m., Helen Wood Hall (1w-501).

Feb.13: "Building a Tool Kit for Research Quality Part II." University Quality Improvement teams share their processes and pearls of wisdom. Learn from the best. Sponsored by SCORE. 12:00-1:30 p.m., Helen Wood Hall (1w-502).

Feb. 13-17: Annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Chicago. Learn more.

Feb. 20: "I Am Not a Failure, Even Though I Have a Ph.D.," presented by Joe Palca, Science Correspondent, NPR News. Graduate Women in Science Seminars, 3-4 p.m., Case Method Room (1-9576).

Feb. 27: Deadline to apply for Iberdrola USA Foundation Scholarships for students who will be engaged in master's level, energy-related studies next school year. Targeted for students at UR and University of Maine. Click here to learn more.

March 6-7: Grant Writing and Proposal Development Presentation, Society of Research Administrators International, Tampa, Fla. Learn more.

March 15: Deadline to apply for Bioinformatics Pilot Awards. Click here to find the RFA.

March 18-20: 8th Pre-Award Research Administration Conference, National Council of University Research Administrators, San Francisco. Learn more.

Please send suggestions and comments to Bob Marcotte.. To see back issues, click here.

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Rochester Connections is a weekly e-newsletter for all faculty, scientists, post docs and graduate students engaged in research at the University of Rochester. You are receiving this e-newsletter because you are a member of the Rochester community with an interest in research topics.