The Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences

News

Researchers propose new cause of major depressive disorder

GABAergic deficits appear to play a central and causal role in Major Depressive Disorder, a neuropsychiatric disorder affecting approximately 17% of the population worldwide, according to researchers from the Center for Molecular Investigation of Neurological Disorders.

Drawing on a wide body of research including both older and emerging evidence, the researchers propose that mood disorders result from both genetic and stress-induced deficits in GABAergic transmission and that the current therapeutic approaches are effective as a result of downstream alterations

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Computations 19x faster with new adaptive algorithm

Researchers using a new algorithmic process for a heuristic embedding strategy they call "Adaptive GDDA-BLAST" can now see the results of their computations 19 times faster than with their previous computational method. The new method has the added benefits of detecting structural homology in highly divergent protein sequences and isolating secondary structural elements of transmembrane and ankyrin-repeat domains, with possibly wide-ranging impacts on human health and disease studies.

One of the major challenges faced by biologists is how to identify the relation between highly divergent protein sequences.

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Institute for CyberScience Faculty Fellows Program

The ICS Faculty Fellows Program is now accepting applications for 2011 for internal funding.

The Institute for CyberScience (ICS) Faculty Fellows Program is designed to support ICS faculty in their development of interdisciplinary collaborations for cyber-enabled discovery and innovation.

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Huck Institutes' graduate programs ranked among the nation's best

Three of the Huck Institutes' graduate programs were ranked among the nation's best in the latest report from the National Research Council (NRC). The NRC study ranked 5,000 doctoral programs from 212 universities in over 60 fields.

The National Research Council recently ranked the Huck Institutes’ Plant Biology,

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Root decomposition study calls for new experimental methods

Observations made in a new study of root decomposition dynamics to be published by the Ecological Society of America later this year were in some cases directly opposed to classic hypotheses, suggesting that true understanding of the contributions of root turnover to carbon and nutrient cycling requires a fundamental shift in experimental methods.

A team of researchers including Marc Goebel of the Huck Institutes, conducted a 36 month study comparing the decomposition of the first four root orders of four temperate tree species in three classes: white 1st and 2nd order

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Possible new target found in fight against malaria

A team of Penn State researchers has determined the dynamic expression and cellular localization of the PfMYST protein, and provided experimental evidence about its role in transcription regulation, cell cycle progression and DNA damage repair, providing a possible new target in the fight against a drug-resistant and extremely virulent form of malaria.

In the past few decades, Plasmodium falciparum, the causative agent of the most virulent form of malaria, has become increasingly resistant to most commonly used anti-malarial drugs, assisting in a global resurgence of the disease.

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Sequencing chocolate genome helps farmers in the developing world

The sequencing and analysis of the genome for Theobroma cacao, the chocolate tree, has been completed by an international team that included Mark Guiltinan, Siela Maximova, Stephan C. Schuster, John E. Carlson, Zi Shi, Michael Axtell, Zhaorong Ma, and Yufan Zhang of the Huck Institutes. The team sequenced the cacao Criollo type that produces a fine flavored chocolate, using a specimen that was collected in the Mayan mountains of Belize. The identification of various gene families that impact specific plant qualities and disease resistance could lead to accelerated breeding programs which would have a beneficial impact on the economy of many developing countries in which cocoa is of great economic importance.

The research team, led by Claire Lanaud of CIRAD, France, assembled the genome of Theobroma cacao.

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Scientists capture first-ever atomic view of key genetic processes

Using a 3-D visualization method called X-ray crystallography, Song Tan, associate professor of biochemistry and molecular biology has built the first-ever image of a protein interacting with the nucleosome -- DNA packed tightly into space-saving bundles organized around a protein core. The research, performed at the Penn State Center for Eukaryotic Gene Regulation of the Huck Institutes, is expected to aid future investigations into diseases such as cancer.

As the genetic blueprint of life, DNA must be deciphered or "read," even when densely packed into nucleosomes. The nucleosome is therefore a key target of genetic processes in a cell and a focus of scientific investigations into how normal and diseased cells work.

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Pulsed UV light shows promise in delivering a safer egg

Pulsed UV light has the ability to reduce Salmonella Enteritidis on eggshells by 99.999998%, greatly increasing public food safety, without affecting the quality of the egg, the strength of its shell or damaging its natural protective layer, the cuticle, Penn State researchers, including Ali Demirci of the Huck Institutes, found.

The majority of Salmonella Enteritidis outbreaks have been related to the consumption of raw or undercooked eggs or egg-containing foods, so reducing the bacteria that could penetrate the shell is a critical concern for public health.

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Ancient gene family linked to the future of epileptic seizures

A potassium-channel gene belonging to an ancient gene family more than 542 million years old is opening new avenues in epilepsy research, and may one day allow researchers to develop more effective drugs with fewer side effects for the treatment of epileptic seizures.

Timothy Jegla, an assistant professor of biology at Penn State University, in collaboration with Jeffrey Noebels at Baylor College of Medicine, discovered that mice missing the gene, Kv12.2, have frequent non-convulsive seizures.

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Carnivorous mice spread deadly plague in prairie dog towns

The abundance of the carnivorous grasshopper mouse determines whether or not prairie dog colonies live or die by the thousands from plague. This discovery, reported in a recent study co-authored by Dr. Marcel Salathe, a new member of the Center for Infectious Disease Dynamics at the Huck Institutes, may have critical ramifications on understanding plague dynamics in Africa and Asia.

Prairie dog populations in the Great Plains and Rocky Mountains have been repeatedly decimated by outbreaks of the plague over the last several decades.

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Faculty appointments in systems and computational genomics

We seek computer and information scientists, social scientists, life scientists, physicists, mathematicians, statisticians and biomedical researchers interested in analyzing genomic data, undertaking systems and functional genomics and in applying these results to a broad range of biological problems.
PLEASE NOTE: This faculty search is currently closed
 
 

Innovative building of cyber genomics with multiple appointments across the University

 

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Yingwei Mao joins the Center faculty

MIT post-doctoral fellow Yingwei Mao joins the Center's faculty in January 2011.

Yingwei Mao will be joining the Center's faculty from MIT in January 2011.

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Yingwei Mao joins the Center faculty

MIT post-doctoral fellow Yingwei Mao joins the Center's faculty in January 2011.

Yingwei Mao will be joining the Center's faculty from MIT in January 2011.

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Genetically defective mice shed new light on treating depression

Researchers led by Dr. Bernhard Luscher have characterized a new mouse model of depression that points to a new cause of Major Depressive Disorder in humans. The mice suffer from a genetic deficiency in GABA-A-receptors, and they exhibit hormonal and pharmacological properties indicative of a form of depression known as Melancholic Depression.

People with Melancholic Depression do not respond well to the popular anti-depressant drug Prozac, which acts on the neurotransmitter serotonin, but may be one step closer to relief thanks to these mice.

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Critical metabolic sensor uncovered in the fight against diabetes

Diabetes, A Journal of the American Diabetes Association: Sounak Gupta, Barbara McGrath and Douglas R. Cavener, Department of Biology, The Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences, Penn State Institute for Diabetes and Obesity


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Beth Shapiro selected as National Geographic Emerging Explorer

Molecular biologist Beth Shapiro has been selected by National Geographic as one of the world's most visionary young explorers.

Molecular biologist Beth Shapiro has been selected by National Geographic as one of the world’s most visionary young explorers.

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PLoS One: Unraveling the Secrets of Down Syndrome?

A surprising and crucial new structural model of complex protein and chromosomal interactions which can lead to Down's Syndrome and similar disorders has been discovered through an innovative method of minichromosome isolation and analysis.

PLoS One: Cohesin Interaction with Centromeric Minichromosomes Shows a
Multi-Complex Rod-Shaped Structure

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Congratulations to the Neuroscience Pilot Project Recipients

11 projects from the 36 submissions were chosen to be funded in the amount of $559,631.

The Penn State Institute of the Neurosciences was delighted by the number of applications from the neuroscience community at Penn State – 36 submissions were received.

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Electron Microscopy facility receives new digital camera

Jenoptik digital camera is now available on two optical microscopes in the EM facility.

The Huck Institutes' Electron Microscopy Facility at University Park has obtained a new Jenoptik digital camera for study of microstructu

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