Images of research
This image, from the lab of Mahin Maines, Professor of Biochemistry and
Biophysics, shows a HeLa cancer cell line whose cells dramatically increase in size and morphology when human BVR (biliverdin reductase) is introduced in the cells with an expression plasmid.
BVR regulates kinases, a group of enzymes that control cell proliferation and growth. Maines is a leading expert in BVR research and has uncovered many applications for this enzyme.
For example, her lab has linked BVR to modulation of PKC (Protein kinase C) and found potent inhibitory peptides that may have utility in both understanding and treating cancer.
She also discovered two enzymes, HO-1 and HO-2, that are part of the same metabolic pathway as BVR. Her research in this area has opened up possible new therapeutic approaches to cardiovascular disease, diabetes and other disorders.
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Preventive problem solving may help people with age-related vision loss
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of blindness in aging adults, especially among the very aged. There is no cure, and one of the two forms of the disease cannot even be treated.
The resulting blurred vision, loss of central vision, inability to pick out details, and distortion of shapes and colors are bad enough. The mere diagnosis can be devastating psychologically.
"People are basically told 'you have macular degeneration and you're going to go blind.' It's a little more differentiated than that," explained Silvia Sörensen, a Research Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry, at a recent Aging Research Day sponsored by the University Committee on Interdisciplinary Studies and VWR. "They don't go completely blind, where they are seeing only black. They go legally blind, but people who go to the doctor don't know that and doctors sometimes don't explain that well."
How, then, do you motivate someone who may be 70, 80 or 90 years old to actively prepare to spend the rest of their life with this kind of disability? To take advantage of the gradual onset of the disease to make decisions that might help offset the social isolation, loss of enjoyable activities, depression and higher risks of falling that can occur among people with this disease?
"Some people actively avoid it," Sörensen said. "Their reaction is, 'I don't want to think about it.'" Others may try to tackle a problem, "try one solution and if it doesn't work, they give up."
A preventive problem-solving intervention program being piloted by Sörensen shows promising results in helping people with AMD. The study involves about 200 people diagnosed with AMD, ranging in age from 60 to 97. All attend initial classes at the Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired that explain AMD and describe coping strategies.
They then participate in one of two forms of eight-week at-home training. One stresses training in active problem solving for current and future problems, the other a more passive life review process.
Participants who received preventive problem solving were taught to identify a problem, such as "I'm lonely," define it more clearly -- "I want to see my friends more often," set a realistic goal -- "I'd like to see friends twice a week," then come up with a variety of solutions. They weigh the pros and cons of each, choose the most feasible, try it out, and if it doesn't work, figure out why and try one of the other alternatives, Sörensen explained.
Initial results show that these participants are more likely to engage in decision-making, and then take concrete steps to carry out their decisions about future care needs, Sörensen said. Moreover, "the changes that we see persist at a six-month follow up, which we have not found in this type of intervention before," she said.
Further testing and analysis will help determine whether the changes persist beyond six months, whether certain individuals are more likely to respond, whether the training could be offered in the context of regular eye care, and whether it could benefit people with other conditions related to aging.
Call for proposals for disabilities symposium
Proposals are being accepted until Monday, Aug. 4, for the first disabilities studies cluster symposium, "Complicating Normalcy: Disability, Technology, and Society in the 21st Century." The conference, to be held Nov. 14, will be organized around the documentary FIXED: The Science/Fiction of Human Enhancement. This film explores the meaning of "disability" and "normalcy" in contemporary times through the examination of technological and pharmacological advances designed to "fix or enhance the human body" and the bioethical implications and social tensions that arise from these scientific advances.
Some of these bioethical implications and social tensions include the rise in prenatal screening, euthanasia / "right to die" legislation, ongoing stigma and the continued marginalization of children and adults, especially those labeled with intellectual disability, including their segregation in schools, nursing homes and institutions, and the workplace.
The Symposium, which will host the Rochester premier of the documentary FIXED, will feature posters, sessions, workshops, and networking opportunities. This event is sponsored by the University of Rochester's Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, School of Nursing, Warner School of Education, and Strong Center for Developmental Disabilities.
Click here to learn more.
AS&E establishes fellowship and award database
Did you know that AS&E has established a fellowship and award database? This website contains more than 850 opportunities for undergraduate, graduate, postdoctoral and faculty fellowship/award opportunities in a searchable database.
While searches cannot be saved, results are now exportable to Excel. Also available: other links to online resources that can help you locate funding sources. Check it out!
CTSI announces new scholars and trainees
The KL2 Mentored Career Development program provides 2 years of support for new investigators interested in pursuing research careers in multidisciplinary clinical and translational science.
These scholars begin their funded projects on July 1, reports CTSI Stories:
Beau Abar, PhD (Mentor: Manish Shah) "Enhancing patient access to appropriate medical care across the lifespan, with a particular emphasis on access to substance abuse and other psychiatric treatment"
Suzannah Iadarola, PhD (Mentor: Tristram Smith) "Mindfulness-Based Intervention for Parents of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders"
Megan Lytle, PhD (Mentor: Vincent Silenzio) "Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) health disparities/suicide prevention"
The CTSI also supports medical students interested in a year-out experience of mentored research in clinical or translational research. Students who are selected as CTSI scholars receive stipend support. Further, the student's mentor receives funds to help support research activities. To learn more about the CTSI Year Out program, click here.
These trainees begin their funded projects on July 1:
Josef Bartels (Mentor: Ronald Epstein) "The Qualities of Science"
Michael Geary (Mentor: Regis O'Keefe) "Modulation of the prostanoid receptor EP4 to reduce scarring during flexor tendon healing"
Trevor Hansen (Mentor: Howard Langstein) "Thy1 Expression as a Marker and Therapeutic Target for Scar Formation in Capsular Contracture Following Reconstruction Mammoplasty"
Kelly Makino (Mentor: Anton Porsteinsson) "Advance Care Planning in Early Dementia Study"
Kyle Rodenbach (Mentor: George Schwartz) "Cystatin-C-based renal reserve in children with history of hemolytic uremic syndrome-associated acute kidney injury"
Lauren Roussel (Mentor: Howard Langstein) "Evaluating Upper Extremity Function Following Mastectomy in Reconstructed and Non-Reconstructed Women with Breast Cancer"
Elizabeth Saionz (Mentor: Jeff Bazarian) "Post-concussion progesterone decline in female athletes"
Lindsay Wahl (Mentor: Patricia Sime) "One Protein, Multiple Functions: The Role of Tissue Transglutaminase in Pulmonary Fibrosis"
Congratulations to . . .
Richard Aslin, the William R. Kenan Professor in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences and Director of the Rochester Center for Brain Imaging, who was inducted into the National Academy of Sciences at its 151st annual meeting in Washington, D.C. Aslin explores how infants and toddlers develop cognitive abilities in both language and object recognition. He studies how the statistics of the environment, or the probability that something will or will not happen, impacts learning. Using methods such as eye-tracking and brain-imaging, he has shown that learning is a process of forming statistical models in the brain, models which then allow a person to interpret or predict a changing environment.
Mark your calendar
Today: The 26th Annual URMC Genetics Day, 10 a.m. to 4:40 p.m. in the Class of '62 Auditorium. The annual one-day symposium showcases genetics research in oral and poster presentations. The Fred Sherman Lecture will be delivered by Randy Schekman from UC Berkeley, the winner of the Nobel Prize for Physiology and Medicine in 2013. Email Daina Bullwinkel for more information.
June 1: Deadline to apply for AS&E funding support for innovative and high-risk projects through PumpPrimer. Click here for more information.
June 5: Study Coordinators Organization for Research and Education (SCORE) Annual Seminar, focusing on Health Research Management for the Human Subject Research Coordinator. 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in Helen Wood Hall (1w-304). Click here for more information.
June 11: Annual Health Professions' Faculty Development Colloquium, 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. A professional development conference for faculty, educators, health care professionals, and trainees, advancing quality and best educational practices. Keynote speaker is Richard I. Levin, Director and co-founder of the Harvard Medical School Cambridge Integrated Clerkship. Click here for the full program and to register. Please contact the Office for Faculty Development with any questions.
June 19: "Research in the New Age," a mini summer institute, 8:45 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the University of Rochester (exact location will be sent to those registered). It will help URMC investigators, clinicians and trainees increase their knowledge of the developments, opportunities and challenges emerging in T2-T4 research, including methods and approaches to garnering new sources of funding. Click here for more information and to register by June 13.
Please send suggestions and comments to Bob Marcotte. To see back issues, click here.