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News - 2010

Doctor Honoris Causa Awarded
UTMB, Dec. 29, 2010
Istvan Boldogh, medical branch health professor in the department of microbiology and immunology, was awarded a doctor honoris causa degree by his alma mater, Semmelweis University, the oldest medical school in Hungary, established more than 240 years ago.

The prestigious degree is given for extraordinary achievements.

Boldogh was one of three graduates to be honored in 2010, selected from a field of 63 candidates.

Fish oil
KUHF-FM (88.7, Houston), Dec. 18, 2010
Omega-3 supplements may be the most common dietary supplements taken by adults in the United States, report UTMB’s Norbert Herzog and David Niesel in this week’s installment of Medical Discovery News. "Their benefits were discovered 25 years ago when epidemiologists noticed how few Eskimos died of cardiovascular disease. Scientists believed then that it was because the Eskimos ate a lot of fish. Studies now show that, by eating more fish or taking more fish oil supplements, a person’s level of triglycerides and blood pressure can fall." MDN airs locally at 10 a.m. every Saturday on KUHF-FM.

CSI — Microbiology
KUHF-FM (88.7, Houston), Dec. 11, 2010
In this week’s installment of Medical Discovery News, UTMB’s Norbert Herzog and David Niesel discuss microbial fingerprints. "A person’s skin has over a thousand types of bacteria; and they differ significantly from person to person, depending on where on the skin you look. … This microbial fingerprint can be more reliable than an actual fingerprint since it’s not surface dependent — meaning, you can recover it from fabrics, for example." MDN airs locally at 10 a.m. every Saturday on KUHF-FM.

Galveston has a history with dengue
Galveston County Daily News, Dec. 6, 2010
Galveston’s historic bouts with tropical diseases are intertwined with efforts to combat them, which eventually led to our world-renowned infectious disease research programs at UTMB Health, wrote Scott Weaver, director of the Institute for Human Infections and Immunity, and scientific director of the Galveston National Laboratory. "Scientists at UTMB are working hard on new vaccines and treatments for dengue, but for now the most effective prevention is elimination of standing water sources in our yards and neighborhoods, such as discarded tires, appliances and cans. Thus, we can reduce our risk of dengue while making Galveston a more attractive place to live and work, both worthy goals that we all can support."

Neanderthal genome
KUHF-FM (88.7, Houston), Dec. 4, 2010
Researchers have just published much of the DNA sequence of the Neanderthal genome, report UTMB’s Norbert Herzog and David Niesel in this week’s installment of Medical Discovery News. "Since Neanderthals are closely related to humans, this work will allow incredible insights into human evolution." MDN airs locally at 10 a.m. every Saturday on KUHF-FM.

Kansas concerns don’t apply to island laboratory
Galveston County Daily News, Nov. 22, 2010
The Galveston National Laboratory does not face the same safety concerns as those pinned on a proposed national lab in Kansas. In a report requested by Congress, the Department of Homeland Security questions the safety of building a lab to study dangerous animal diseases in Kansas. "These labs are quite different as they will study large animals," said Thomas G. Ksiazek, the director of high containment facilities at the GNL. "The animals would be loose out in the facility, so there’s not a certain secondary containment around the lab animals. When we work with mice or monkeys or tissue cultures, they’re always worked on within a device that limits it being released into a laboratory itself."

KUHF-FM (88.7, Houston), Nov. 20, 2010
Mention the word, Botox, and most people think it's Hollywood's cure to wrinkles. True, Botox can be a beauty treatment, but this bacterial toxin is actually being used to treat a number of serious health issues, report UTMB’s Norbert Herzog and David Niesel in this week’s installment of Medical Discovery News. Among the ailments being studied for treatment with Botox are overactive bladders, migraine headaches, and adult spasticity. Doctors already are using Botox for many other ailments such as chronic low back pain, traumatic brain injury, and stroke. Doctors in some countries outside the U.S. are also using it to treat juvenile cerebral palsy.

Unique opportunity at Galveston National Lab
Galveston County Daily News, Nov. 14, 2010
Heber Taylor, editor of the newspaper, attended the Galveston National Laboratory’s inaugural symposia series on "Topics in Biosecurity." He wrote that the GNL should be a leader in discussions about how to set rules that protect the public without crippling research. "The students at UTMB who were asking questions about the nature of the proposed regulations one day will be deciding what’s reasonable and what’s overly burdensome. The evolving rules should not be made by Homeland Security experts but by people who grow up in laboratories and who mature, as scientists, in a culture where a concern for safety — theirs, their colleagues’ and the public’s — is cultivated. A university campus is a good environment for a discussion about fair and reasonable regulation of an emerging field of great importance."

West Nile virus may persist for years after acute infection
Medscape Medical News, Nov. 10, 2010
West Nile virus might persist for years after acute infection, resulting in long-term neurological consequences in more people than previously thought, a new study from the University of Texas School of Public Health in Houston suggests. "This is a very interesting finding," noted UTMB’s Dr. Robert Tesh. "People in this cohort have been followed for as long as 7 or 8 years. This is a unique and valuable group that [the researcher] has collected," he told Medscape Medical News. "Hopefully, the virus can be isolated to strengthen the current findings." Tesh pointed out that the abstract states that 1.7 million people are estimated to have been infected, but that CDC estimates now indicate that as many as 3.5 million people in the United States have been infected with WNV since it was first identified in 1999. There is currently no vaccine or treatment for WNV. [Note: Free login required, or view text file for complete article.]

Space shuttle Discovery launch delayed till November 30
National Geographic, Nov. 5, 2010
A "significant" hydrogen gas leak from part of the space shuttle Discovery has forced NASA to scrub the craft’s planned liftoff until at least the end of the month. Discovery’s crew will be accompanied by 16 mice that are part of a science experiment aimed at understanding why spaceflight makes humans more vulnerable to infections by viruses and bacteria. "We’re going to study the effects of spaceflight on the immune system, and in particular the innate immune system, which is responsible for first detecting pathogens in the body and reacting to them," Dr. Roberto Garofalo, principal investigator of the Mouse Immunology-2 (MI2) experiment, told National Geographic News. Once Discovery returns to Earth, scientists will infect the animals with the respiratory syncytial virus and compare their health to a group of control mice that remained on Earth. The team chose the RSV virus because there is evidence that astronauts are more susceptible to certain respiratory infections, such as influenza, following spaceflight, said Garofalo, an immunologist at UTMB Health.

Summer research program still going strong
Galveston County Daily News, Nov. 4, 2010
The Summer High School Research Program, established more than 25 years ago for highly accomplished high school students, continues at UTMB Health, writes Kathy Tiernan, an associate professor and director of health outcomes. The purpose of the program is to expose youth to a biomedical science research career. "This program has been a launching ground for many students to enter the highly competitive field of biomedical research and is currently funded by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute through the efforts of Cliff Houston, associate vice president for educational outreach. UTMB faculty from the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences volunteer to mentor students in their labs, and recent mentors include Krishna Bhatt, Jiande Chen, Dr. Roberto Garofalo, Junji Iwahara, Jere McBride and Joan Nichols. Michele Carter, from the Institute for Medical Humanities, completes a very popular module on medical ethics."

Seasonal flu reasons
KUHF-FM (88.7, Houston), Oct. 30, 2010
In this week’s installment of Medical Discovery News, UTMB’s Norbert Herzog and David Niesel explain why more people get sick in the colder months. "The two key components are temperature and relative humidity. In the lab, researchers looked at how temperature and humidity affected transmission of the flu from infected to uninfected animals. What they saw is that, at room temperature, or 68 degrees Fahrenheit, influenza was transmitted the best at 50 percent humidity or less. But when they raised the humidity to 80 percent, there was no transmission of the virus. The highest rate of transmission occurred when they lowered the temperature to a chilly 41 degrees, with a humidity of 50 percent or less. But just by turning up the temperature to 86 degrees, no virus was transmitted. So this means the flu virus transmits best at both a low temperature and a low relative humidity." MDN airs locally at 10 a.m. every Saturday on KUHF-FM.

Shuttle mice to boost disease research
ScienceDaily, Oct. 30, 2010
When the space shuttle Discovery lifts off on its final flight, its six astronauts will be joined by 16 rodent passengers on a historic mission of their own. Riding in special self-contained modules that automatically supply them with food and water, the mice will be part of a long-term NASA effort aimed at understanding why spaceflight makes humans more vulnerable to infection by viruses and bacteria. The mouse experiment — a collaboration between teams at UTMB Health and NASA’s Ames Research Center in Mountain View, Calif. — will be the final immunology investigation planned for the shuttle program. “Since the Apollo missions, we have had evidence that astronauts have increased susceptibility to infections during flight and immediately post-flight — they seem more vulnerable to cold and flu viruses, urinary tract infections and viruses like Epstein-Barr, which infect most people and then remain dormant, can reactivate under the stress of spaceflight,” said Dr. Roberto Garofalo, a professor at UTMB Health and principal investigator for the project. "We want to discover what triggers this increased susceptibility to infection, with the goal both of protecting the astronauts themselves and people with more vulnerable immune systems here on Earth, such as the elderly and young children." The news is getting worldwide coverage and appears in The Hindu and UPI.com.

Cassava mosaic virus
KUHF-FM (88.7, Houston), Oct. 23, 2010
Like people, plants can be victims of viruses and can be killed by bacteria and fungi, report UTMB’s Norbert Herzog and David Niesel in this week’s installment of Medical Discovery News. "It happened in Ireland in the 1840s when a water mold caused the Irish potato famine. One million people died and even more emigrated to countries like the United States, which changed our history and culture. Now an epidemic of a plant virus may do as much damage, if not more. It’s called the ‘brown streak virus’ and infects the Cassava plant. You may know the crop as yucca, manioc or tapioca. And it feeds 800 million people across Africa, South America and Asia. … African farmers are learning to recognize diseased crops and to burn them. Ultimately, either a strain of Cassava resistant to this virus or a new farming technique will have to be developed to break the infectious cycle." MDN airs locally at 10 a.m. every Saturday on KUHF-FM.

Scientists may have to deal with another swine flu outbreak
KTRH-AM (740, Houston), Oct. 25, 2010
The H1N1 flu virus is changing. There’s word that a different strain is mutating in places like Australia and New Zealand. UTMB’s Dr. Joan Nichols with the Galveston National Laboratory says this is nothing unusual. "Flu viruses always change; this is really normal for what happens. That is why we have surveillance from the World Health Organization."

Exodo de Mexicanos a los Estados Unidos
Las Noticias por Adela Micha, Oct. 18, 2010
This Mexican news station reports on Mexicans working in the United States and features UTMB’s Alfredo Torres, an associate professor in the departments of microbiology and immunology and pathology. He discussed making the important decision to come to Texas for his work and its effect on his family.

Dental stem cells
KUHF-FM (88.7, Houston), Oct. 16, 2010
Stem cells isolated from dental pulp, which is the soft tissue inside a tooth, have the potential to treat neurodegenerative diseases, report UTMB’s Norbert Herzog and David Niesel in this week’s installment of Medical Discovery News. "In recent studies, undifferentiated cells from dental pulp were placed into mouse brains where they then differentiated into functional neurons. This opens up the real possibility that these cells could be used to repair injuries to the spinal cord or other damage to the central nervous system. … Stem cells derived from baby teeth are called SHED — stem cells from human exfoliated deciduous teeth. SHED have already been used to accelerate the healing of skull fractures in animals. In a recent human study, researchers have also used these cells from extracted wisdom teeth to re-grow bone at the extraction site of the same individual." MDN airs locally at 10 a.m. every Saturday on KUHF-FM.

Gut microbiome and obesity
KUHF-FM (88.7, Houston), Oct. 9, 2010
Certain types of bacteria in our intestines may be contributing to obesity, report UTMB’s Norbert Herzog and David Niesel in this week’s installment of Medical Discovery News. "Researchers compared the gut microbiota of lean and genetically obese mice. They did the same with human volunteers. The results showed obesity is connected to changes in the relative abundance of two dominant bacterias, the Bacteroidetes and the Firmicutes. They found that the obese microbiome are extremely good at harvesting energy from the diet. Plus, this trait is transmissible, which means when a germ-free mouse is colonized with ‘obese microbiota’ it ends up with significantly greater body fat than a mouse colonized with a lean microbiota. This shows the bacteria in our gut are another genetic factor in obesity. More importantly, it shows we may be able to change the makeup of the bacteria in our gut and hopefully help the many Americans who are obese or headed that way." MDN airs locally at 10 a.m. every Saturday on KUHF-FM.

Ebola experts join UTMB
UTMB Media, October 06, 2010
Virologists Thomas and Joan Geisbert, internationally recognized for their work with the deadly Ebola and Marburg viruses, have joined the infectious disease research program of the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston.

"Tom and Joan Geisbert bring a wealth of experience that will help us jump-start our program on hemorrhagic fever viruses, and provide valuable leadership as we train students, staff and faculty for work in the new containment laboratories in the Galveston National Laboratory," said James LeDuc, director of the GNL. "We are especially pleased and proud that Tom and Joan have chosen Galveston as their new home."

Printing skin
KUHF-FM (88.7, Houston), Oct. 2, 2010
A technology similar to inkjet printers could provide a superior approach compared to current treatment for treating burn victims who often have to live with disfiguring and painful scars, report UTMB’s Norbert Herzog and David Niesel in this week’s installment of Medical Discovery News. "Imagine a patient whose arms are severely burned. Nurses clean his wounds and then wheel over a machine where a laser begins to scan the burn areas. A computer hums and an inkjet printer starts to quietly whirr back and forth over the wound. With each pass, the appropriate cell types for the depth of the wound are sprayed into the right places. The patient starts to rapidly heal — possibly saving the patient’s life and limiting his scars. What we’re painting is the future researchers envision using a technology that is very similar to the inkjet printers you have in your homes. In mouse trials, the printed skin cells have proven to heal burn wounds quicker than skin grafts, with less scarring." MDN airs locally at 10 a.m. every Saturday on KUHF-FM.

Eat chocolate for health
KUHF-FM (88.7, Houston), Sept. 25, 2010
A new study suggests that eating a small piece of chocolate daily may reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke, report UTMB’s Norbert Herzog and David Niesel in this week’s installment of Medical Discovery News. "The people in this study ate the equivalent of a 3.5 ounce square of chocolate every day — that’s the size of two small chocolate bars. The result was a 39-percent lower risk of heart attack or stroke compared to people who ate much less chocolate. … The study followed 19,000 adults for 10 years. The participants received medical checkups when the study began and every two to three years filled out questionnaires about how much and how often they ate chocolate. By the end of the study, researchers found that people who ate the most chocolate, an average of only a quarter ounce a day — that’s less than two Hershey’s kisses — had a 27 percent lower risk of heart attack. And they had a 48 percent lower risk of stroke than people who ate the least amount of chocolate." The program airs locally at 10 a.m. Saturday on KUHF.

Reviving Hair Cells and Hearing
KUHF-FM (88.7, Houston), Sept. 18, 2010
More and more of us either have or will have hearing problems. In fact the number of Americans with hearing loss has nearly tripled in the last 40 years to 36 million. Now, gene therapy to the rescue, report UTMB’s Norbert Herzog and David Niesel in this week’s installment of Medical Discovery News. In this case a gene called Math1 has been used to generate new hair cells inside a guinea pig's inner ear known as the cochlea. For us, those tiny hairs pick up sound vibrations to allow us to hear. One reason why more Americans are facing hearing loss is prolonged exposure to loud noises. This type of hearing loss is called sensorineural which is damage to the cochlea or to the nerve pathways from the inner ear to the brain. The result is a reduction in sound level and difficulty hearing faint sounds. But a person can also have trouble understanding speech. The program airs locally at 10 a.m. Saturday on KUHF.

Ebola virus cure
Canadian Business magazine, Sept. 13, 2010
Contracting the Ebola virus has to be one of the absolute worst ways to go. The symptoms start with fever and inflammation. Then comes vomiting, diarrhea and bleeding from bodily orifices. Your organs fail and breathing becomes laboured. Within three weeks, you go into shock and die. Or almost always — the recorded fatality rate approaches 90% in humans. …

The sixth sense
KUHF-FM (88.7, Houston), Sept. 11, 2010
New research shows some people can detect a range of fatty acids in foods, report UTMB’s Norbert Herzog and David Niesel in this week’s installment of Medical Discovery News. "Traditionally there have been just four types of taste receptors: sweet, salty, sour and bitter. There is a fifth type called umami, Japanese for ‘yummy,’ which recognizes savory, protein-rich foods. Now, in this latest study, scientists set out to determine if oral sensitivity to fat played any role on fat intake, fat perception and body mass index. … What researchers learned in the study is that the threshold for detecting fats varied from person to person. More interestingly, there was a relationship with someone’s sensitivity to fatty acids and their BMI. Being hypersensitive to fat content correlated with healthy weights and a better diet, while those less able to detect fat were generally heavier and consumed more fat." MDN airs locally at 10 a.m. Saturday on KUHF.

Mercury fish
KUHF-FM (88.7, Houston), Sept. 4, 2010
In the latest studies, hundreds of fish taken from about 300 freshwater streams across the United States found that every one of them was contaminated with mercury, report UTMB’s Norbert Herzog and David Niesel in this week’s installment of Medical Discovery News. "Worse, more than a quarter of the fish had levels that exceed federal recommendations. People didn’t have to worry about this before the industrial age. But after 1850, when industry exploded, that all changed. The main source of mercury release in the U.S. is coal-burning power plants. Their smoke stacks release mercury into the atmosphere, and then it settles into soil. From there, the mercury is washed into streams and rivers, which then carry it into lakes and reservoirs. There, bacteria chemically alter it into methyl mercury, the most toxic form of mercury." MDN airs locally at 10 a.m. Saturday on KUHF.

The Hope for St. Luke's Arm
KUHF-FM (88.7, Houston), Aug. 28, 2010
Something that stands out in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is the number of soldiers who are losing limbs. In fact it’s at twice the rate of any previous American war, report UTMB’s Norbert Herzog and David Niesel in this week’s installment of Medical Discovery News. Several years ago, the federal government decided to fund research for robotic hands. As a result, the "Luke Arm" was developed, named after the Star Wars character Luke Skywalker’s robotic hand. MDN airs locally at 10 a.m. Saturday on KUHF.

Mutations and cancer
KUHF-FM (88.7, Houston), Aug. 21, 2010
In this week’s installment of Medical Discovery News, UTMB’s Norbert Herzog and David Niesel report that scientists hope to be able to identify key mutations of genes in each cancer type. "We’re talking about the potential of a simple blood test to reveal if and what mutations have occurred in your cells and whether you face a risk for cancer. If you do, you could then undergo regular testing to catch the disease early on." MDN airs locally at 10 a.m. Saturday on KUHF.

Doggie flu
KUHF-FM (88.7, Houston), Aug. 14, 2010
In this week’s installment of Medical Discovery News, UTMB’s Norbert Herzog and David Niesel report that dogs can indeed get the flu. The H3N8 equine influenza virus previously infected only horses, until 2004, when cases of an unknown respiratory illness showed up in dogs, initially greyhounds. "Apparently the virus had jumped species to dogs and now is considered a dog-specific lineage of H3N8. So far there’s no evidence this canine influenza has jumped to people, but scientists are being vigilant." MDN airs locally at 10 a.m. Saturday on KUHF.

New national lab to open in Galveston
KTRK-TV (Ch. 13, Houston), Aug. 13, 2010
In anticipation of UTMB’s Galveston National Laboratory going "hot," reporter Christi Myers interviewed Je T’aime "Jet" Newton and Anne-Sophie Brocard and went through a "mini" BSL4 training session to experience what researchers must go through while working in the laboratory. She suited up in proper personal protective equipment and learned how to conduct a proper suit check before entering the lab.

One shot fends off three strains of the flu
Houston Chronicle, Aug. 8, 2010
New flu vaccines that combine seasonal and H1N1 viruses in single doses should help Houston and the nation avoid a repeat of last year’s scramble for immunizations. Seniors have a higher risk of developing serious complications from flu. "As you age, your immune system doesn’t handle antigen as well — and that’s all a vaccine is," said Joan Nichols, an influenza researcher at UTMB’s Galveston National Laboratory.

We just don’t get enough sleep
KUHF-FM (88.7, Houston), Aug. 7, 2010
A study shows that people who sleep fewer than six hours a night are 12 percent more likely to die early than those who sleep six to eight hours every night, report UTMB’s Norbert Herzog and David Niesel in this week’s installment of Medical Discovery News. "Researchers compiled and analyzed data from 16 studies in Europe, Asia and the U.S., covering 25 years, 1.3 million people and over 100,000 deaths… While scientists are still figuring out why we need sleep, animal studies show it’s necessary for survival. Sleep is essential for well functioning immune and nervous systems." MDN airs locally at 10 a.m. Saturday on KUHF.

U.S. report pins down future biosecurity
Nature, Aug. 3, 2010
Can the disease-causing capabilities of an organism be predicted from its DNA? This was a key question faced by a 13-member committee of the U.S. National Research Council, chaired by James LeDuc, director of UTMB’s Galveston National Laboratory. The committee was trying to determine what it would take to develop a government system that spots bioweapons in the making by screening the genetic sequences routinely ordered from commercial suppliers of synthetic DNA. This week, the committee offered its answer in a 187-page report commissioned by the National Institutes of Health. The verdict: A biosecurity system that can predict the potential for harm lurking within a snippet of DNA is so technologically distant that the concept is useless for practical purposes. The committee also declined to describe a detailed scientific road map leading to such a predictive capability, because it felt that the information could be misused. "We were very hesitant to go down that path, because we felt that the ability to predict something relied on the same skill set that would be needed to design a pathogen," said LeDuc. The story also appears in Science, the Scientific American and USA Today.

Message from the Dean of Medicine - SOM Faculty Accomplishments, Dr. Clifford Houston
KUHF-FM (88.7, Houston), July 31, 2010
I am very pleased to announce that the UTMB Southeast Regional Texas Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (SRT-STEM) Center recently has received a $500,000 renewal of its grant. The SRT-STEM Center is the only T-STEM Center located in a major biomedical health sciences complex in Texas and one of two LEGO education academy sites in the country. The overall goals of this outreach program are to improve student performance in math and science, increase the number of students who pursue secondary study, and prepare Texas students for rewarding future careers. Clifford W. Houston, PhD is PI on the SRT-STEM Center grant, and has been instrumental in fostering collaborations and building partnerships with other institutions. Dr. Houston is assisted by Dr. Marguerite M. Sognier, Director of the Office of Educational Outreach (OEO) and Executive Director of the SRT-STEM Center, who plays a major role in the day-to-day operations of the OEO which includes the SRT-STEM Center as well as a dedicated staff. The major collaborators on this grant are the T-STEM Academies (including Ball High Preparatory Academy) and Rice University College of Engineering. Other partners include the Houston Museum of Natural Science, Moody Gardens, NASA Johnson Space Center, Texas Southern University, Galveston College, College of the Mainland, University of Houston-Clear Lake, and the Texas Regional Collaboratives. Other formal partners include networks such as East Texas, Greater Houston and Mid-Rio Grande Area Health Education Centers as well as Project GRAD, USA. Also included are a variety of businesses and industries such as Boeing throughout Texas, Educational Service Centers (ESCs), and the surrounding communities. Partnering independent school districts include Houston, Galveston, Cypress-Fairbanks, North Forest, Texas City and La Marque as well as charter and private schools.

King Tut paternity
KUHF-FM (88.7, Houston), July 31, 2010
In this week’s installment of Medical Discovery News, UTMB’s Norbert Herzog and David Niesel discuss King Tut, an Egyptian pharaoh who died at the age of 19 approximately 3,300 years ago. "Much to scientists’ surprise, the embalming method used in mummification also protected his DNA, allowing them to analyze not only how King Tut died but who his parents were. Scientists took DNA samples not only from King Tut’s bones but also from 10 other royal mummies. Only three of the mummies’ identities were already known. Using the Y male chromosome, which is passed from father to son, they constructed a five generation family tree." MDN airs locally at 10 a.m. Saturday on KUHF.

National lab ready to start its mission in earnest
Galveston County Daily News, July 25, 2010
In the next few weeks, researchers will move in to the Galveston National Laboratory and begin their work to develop vaccines, drugs and diagnostic methods to combat infectious diseases — both those occurring naturally and types spread by terrorists. It took 2,400 workers five years to design, engineer and build the 186,267—square—foot, $174 million laboratory. "We’re really excited," said Joan Nichols, associate director for research and operations at the laboratory. "We’ve been working hard since before Ike to get the facility put together and we’re really looking forward to the day we have people working in the building and doing what we’re supposed to do."” Despite Hurricane Ike, which struck just months before the dedication, the laboratory’s opening is on schedule.

Novel antiviral
KUHF-FM (88.7, Houston), July 24, 2010
Nearly a century ago, scientists began looking at the idea of broad spectrum drugs that would be effective against a number of infectious agents, report UTMB’s Norbert Herzog and David Niesel in this week’s installment of Medical Discovery News. Research at UTMB and at UCLA has identified a molecule called LJ001 that’s effective against some of the world’s most deadly viruses, including Ebola, HIV, influenza and more. MDN airs locally at 10 a.m. Saturday on KUHF.

Lead in spices
KUHF-FM (88.7, Houston), July 17, 2010
A love of cooking prompted UTMB’s Norbert Herzog and David Niesel to think about spices in this week’s installment of Medical Discovery News. Earlier this year, Indian children in the Boston area were diagnosed with lead poisoning, prompting investigators to study spices, food products and ceremonial powder. Some of the items tested positive for lead, and researchers are concerned those products could add to exposure from other sources and cause lead poisoning in children.

Second chance with cryogenics
KUHF-FM (88.7, Houston), July 10, 2010
Cryonics involves using very cold temperatures, under negative 238-degrees Fahrenheit, to preserve the human body. The hope is that future advances in technologies can revive the bodies and cure them of currently untreatable diseases, report UTMB’s Norbert Herzog and David Niesel in this week’s installment of Medical Discovery News. "So far, reviving people is still a problem. But, some scientists predict progress in areas like nanotechnology will make it possible to rebuild preserved tissues with the main focus on restoring the brain. Already studies with animal brains that were frozen to cryogenic temperatures and then revived showed normal brain wave activity." MDN airs locally at 10 a.m. Saturday on KUHF.

Lungs rebuilt in lab and transplanted into rats
Discover Magazine.com, June 25, 2010
In a lab at Yale University, a rat inhales. Every breath this rodent takes is a sign of important medical advances looming on the horizon, for only one of its lungs comes from the pair it was born with. The other was built in a laboratory. "I believe that they did not wait long enough with their cultured lung before they implanted it in the animal," Joaquin Cortiella, who works on lung tissue engineering at UTMB. His colleague Joan Nichols agrees. "The big problem with tissue engineering is that because of the clinical need very often researchers have rushed to implant tissues before they had really produced materials worthy of transplantation," she says. Nichols’s own group is working with engineered tissues that are two months old, and they only plan on implanting them into animals in four-six months, after careful evaluation.

Scientists grow new lungs using 'skeletons' of old ones
ScienceDaily, June 28, 2010
For someone with a severe, incurable lung disorder such as cystic fibrosis or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, a lung transplant may be the only chance for survival. Unfortunately, it's often not a very good chance. Researchers at UTMB are working on a solution using stem cells. "In terms of different cell types, the lung is probably the most complex of all organs — the cells near the entrance are very different from those deep in the lung," said Dr. Joaquin Cortiella.

Breakthrough in lung transplant
Examiner.com, June 27, 2010
This article looks at several studies in biomedical engineering that could lead to replacement lungs for humans in the near future. "If we can make a good lung for people, we can also make a good model for injury," said Joan Nichols, associate director for research at UTMB’s Galveston National Laboratory.

CAT scan overdoses
Medical Discovery News, June 26, 2010
CAT scans have revolutionized medical imaging by giving doctors a 3-dimensional image of the internal structures of the body. That popularity leads to concern about overuse because of the level of radiation patients are exposed to.

Heart disease before fast food
Medical Discovery News, June 19, 2010
A mummy who died 3,500 years ago was one of 22 from the museum of Egyptian Antiquities that underwent CAT scans to assess them for cardiovascular disease. The results show more than half the mummies had calcifications in their artery walls. They also had vascular disease, the very same type of cardiovascular disease people today suffer.

The birthday of the pill
KUHF-FM (88.7, Houston), June 12, 2010
First introduced in 1960, the birth control pill turns 50 this year thanks to a few tenacious individuals, report UTMB’s Norbert Herzog and David Niesel in this week’s installment of Medical Discovery News. “The driving force was a nurse named Margaret Sanger. In 1916, she founded the first birth control clinic in the U.S. and was often jailed and prosecuted. She wasn’t deterred and, in 1942, founded the Planned Parenthood Federation. Yet 40 years later, Sanger was frustrated there remained no oral contraceptive for women. At the age of 72, she met Gregory Pincus, an American biologist who believed hormones could be key to making an effective pill and agreed to help Sanger.” MDN airs locally at 10 a.m. Saturday on KUHF.

Mosquito saliva may signal infection outbreaks
Nature, June 7, 2010
Baiting mosquito traps with cards soaked in honey and then analyzing viral RNA in saliva left by mosquitoes that feed on them may be a way of tracking the spread of some diseases. Researchers at the Queensland (Australia) Health Forensic and Scientific Services in Coopers Plains have developed a method for collecting mosquito saliva by allowing the insects to feed on honey-drenched cards placed in a trap filled with carbon dioxide. The cards are infused with chemicals that preserve nucleic acids but inactivate viruses, enabling researchers to collect them safely. The team reported its new approach in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. However, the usefulness of the cards may vary according to the mosquito species and the geographical region. "The kinds of mosquitoes they trapped with this method are not necessarily the most important vectors for some viruses," says Scott Weaver, director of the UTMB Institute for Human Infections and Immunity and the scientific director of the Galveston National Laboratory.

Oil spills and human health
KUHF-FM (88.7, Houston), June 5, 2010
UTMB’s Norbert Herzog and David Niesel report on the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico and its impact on human health. "The hydrocarbon in the oil can have a damaging effect on ocean life. But there is a way to actually get rid of it with a process called bioremediation. While bacteria that can live off oil naturally occur in seawater, scientists have genetically engineered bacteria to become even more efficient at ‘eating’ the hydrocarbon components in oil. These are converted to biomass, which enters the food chain. These bacteria are harmless to humans and sea life and can be easily applied by spraying. Here’s another example of fundamental biological studies helping us with problems that affect our world. It’s why basic research needs to valued and continued." Medical Discovery News airs locally at 10 a.m. Saturday on KUHF.

The Beatles and CT
KUHF-FM (88.7, Houston), May 29, 2010
UTMB’s Norbert Herzog and David Niesel report that Beatlemania had a hand in one of the greatest medical inventions — the CT or CAT scanner. "It’s among today’s best diagnostic imaging tools. Here’s the connection. Back in 1962, the Beatles signed with Electric & Music Industries, EMI. The Beatles were so successful that EMI was able to fund other divisions of the company, in particular the work of engineer Godfrey Hounsfield. Hounsfield first conceived of the idea of the CT when he wondered if he could take an image of an object inside a box by using multiple x-rays. He was successful, and in 1972 made the first commercially available CT scanner that took only images of the brain. A few years later, Hounsfield developed a full body CT that won him the Nobel Prize in Medicine.&auot; Medical Discovery News airs locally at 10 a.m. Saturday on KUHF.

Biologists tackle cells’ identity crisis
Nature, May 27, 2010
Ever since biologists learned how to grow human cells in culture half a century ago, the cells have been plagued by a problem of identity: many commonly used cell lines are not actually what researchers think they are. Cell-line misidentification has led to mistakes in the literature, misguided research based on those results and millions wasted in grant money. But a universal system for determining the identity of cell lines may now be in view. Next month, a nonprofit biological repository based in Virginia that stores 3,600 cell lines from more than 150 species, plans to unveil standardized protocols for verifying the identity of cultured cells using DNA fingerprinting. Labs worldwide would use the protocols to determine whether a breast-cancer line, for instance, did come from breast tissue. The group also plans to create a public database to store DNA profiles of validated lines, allowing researchers to compare their own cell cultures with the reference lines. "I really think it’s fantastic progress," says Rolf K├Ânig, director of UTMB’s Tissue Culture Core Facility.

Anthrax most likely terrorist attack agent
San Antonio Express-News, May 28, 2010
An aerosol delivery of anthrax remains as the mostly likely attack scenario against U.S. soldiers for which a vaccine would be necessary to prevent illness, a top scientist said. UTMB’s Dr. C.J. Peters, John Sealy Distinguished University Chair in Tropical and Emerging Virology, speculates on the possibility of such an attack at the recent annual gathering of the Academy of Medicine, Engineering and Science of Texas in San Antonio. "These really are agents of mass destruction or mass casualties," Peters said. "You don’t have to go hand to hand with your targets. It could be deployed readily and it’s within the reach of motivated terrorist or state actors." Influenza A is often mentioned as the most likely form of attack that could potentially be directed at soldiers, but challenges in its distribution knock it off the top of the list among most likely attack agent, Peters noted

Academics take their message to the masses, on the radio
Chronicle of Higher Education, May 23, 2010
Lots of scientists complain about a lack of public support for biomedical science, but two professors in Galveston are doing something about it. They’re hitting the airwaves with weekly, two-minute segments on topics plucked from the headlines — like why Michael Jackson’s face turned white, how mussels are used in surgery and whether high cholesterol can lead to dementia. Norbert K. Herzog and David W. Niesel are the hosts of Medical Discovery News, a syndicated radio show produced at UTMB. The two professors, who have been friends and colleagues for about 30 years, haven’t missed a week since their first show, in November 2006. Even in September 2008, when Hurricane Ike’s floodwaters engulfed the medical school, they were able to keep the program going with prerecorded shows. "We meet at a local restaurant with free Wi-Fi, and we fight over every word," says Herzog. It takes about 12 hours to produce a single episode, including the research, writing, three layers of editing, and production. That’s an adjustment for professors accustomed to the freewheeling nature of classroom lectures. "The focus is so tight," says Herzog, "there can be no spare word in any script." (Note: Paid subscription required.)

Showerhead bacteria
KUHF-FM (88.7, Houston), May 22, 2010
UTMB’s Norbert Herzog and David Niesel report that showerheads harbor microbes because they’re warm, moist environments that are ideal for the formation of biofilms. Biofilms are naturally occurring collections of microbes that adhere to many surfaces and form layers inside places such as pipes and showerheads. Nearly 80 percent of showerheads tested positive for the microbe Mycobacterium avium. It’s normally not a threat to healthy people, but it is a threat to anyone whose immune system is compromised. MDN airs locally at 10 a.m. Saturday on KUHF.

IVD sperm
KUHF-FM (88.7, Houston), May 15, 2010
UTMB’s Norbert Herzog and David Niesel report that researchers at Newcastle University have created in-vitro-designed human sperm using embryonic stem cells. "The potential is of course to help infertile couples. But it’s not without unresolved moral and ethical questions. In this new approach, scientists take stem cells from a male and treat them with retinoic acid. This chemical sets them on the developmental path to becoming sperm cells. Not all cells become sperm but there are enough mature-looking sperm that are fully mobile." MDN airs locally at 10 a.m. Saturday on KUHF.

A scientist’s review of our year with H1N1
Houston Chronicle MedBlog, May 10, 2010
UTMB’s Joan Nichols, associate director of research and operations at the Galveston National Laboratory, offers her "lessons learned" from the novel H1N1 influenza virus that became a global pandemic. The infectious-disease researcher revealed that the so-called swine flu wasn’t entirely courtesy of the pig. "Genetically, we found out it had parts of bird, swine and human virus that had reassorted (mixed) over time," she said. View Nichols’ H1N1 slide show presentation.

A year later, a wary look at a killer
The Houston Chronicle, May 10, 2010
The H1N1 influenza threat that emerged a year ago killed thousands and sickened many more but didn't become the plague that some feared.

Dozens died in the Houston area, while an estimated hundreds of thousands fell ill. But people washed their hands more often and employed etiquette that cut the spread of germs. Hospitals learned how to keep the sick from infecting patients or medical providers.

A year later, what did we learn from our collective bout with H1N1?

“Genetically, we found out it had parts of bird, swine and human virus that had reassorted (mixed) over time,” said Joan Nichols, associate director of research and operations at the Galveston National Laboratory. She credits surveillance systems with helping scientists catch a unique, new virus in circulation and exposing how quickly the flu can spread.

UTMB doctor winning battle against mosquito virus
Galveston County Daily News, May 10, 2010
Imagine a mosquito-borne virus that already has infected millions of people in recent outbreaks in South and Southeast Asia, Africa, northern Italy and the islands of the Indian Ocean. Although seldom fatal, it causes highly painful arthritis-like symptoms that can linger for months or even years.

Now, researchers at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, UTMB, Purdue University and Bioqual Inc. have developed an experimental vaccine for chikungunya virus and successfully tested it in monkeys. Jim Kelly of UTMB’s Office of Public Affairs wrote this article.

Origins of the human rainbow
KUHF-FM (88.7, Houston), May 1, 2010
UTMB’s Norbert Herzog and David Niesel report on the most common type of leukemia in adults — acute myelogenous leukemia — in this week’s installment of Medical Discovery News. Despite the advances against other types of cancer, AML still has a five-year survival rate of less than 25 percent. Those odds may improve if a new treatment under development is successful. It is currently in Phase I clinical trials in England and in the United States and is among the growing number of cancer treatments that specifically target tumors, giving patients a better shot at beating the disease. MDN airs locally at 10 a.m. Saturday on KUHF.

Origins of the human rainbow
KUHF-FM (88.7, Houston), April 24, 2010
Variations in skin colors is a recent evolutionary development, report UTMB’s Norbert Herzog and David Niesel in this week’s installment of Medical Discovery News. Humans didn’t develop different skin tones until 50,000 to 100,000 years ago — when modern man migrated northward out of Africa. That’s when skin color began to lighten. For years, scientists believed evolutionary pressures produced lighter skin because in these higher latitudes the sun is less intense. Given the same amount of sun exposure, lighter skin will produce more vitamin D compared to darker skin. Though many ideas continue to be explored, the most likely explanation for the development of lighter skin tones is vitamin D production. People with dark skin need six times the exposure to sun light to produce the same amount of vitamin D as light-skinned people. As for the rainbow of human skin colors, we see today, it’s likely many factors made that happen. MDN airs locally at 10 a.m. Saturday on KUHF.

Swine flu outbreak may peak again
KTRK-TV (Ch. 13, Houston), April 23, 2010
UTMB’s Joan Nichols warns that we may see another cycle of the H1N1 virus this summer and advises that parents and children receive the vaccination if they haven’t already.

Viral Experts Doing Final Checks on Secure Pathogen Lab in Galveston
KUHF-FM (88.7) Houston Public Radio
C.J. Peters, James LeDuc and Tom Ksiazek are featured in this report about the Galveston National Laboratory. Peters says mosquito-borne Rift Valley Fever virus could easily invade the U.S., just as West Nile virus did in 1999. He’s working on a more effective vaccine. "Whenever you’re developing a vaccine like this, you may be able to work with it at level 2 or level 3, but when you’re going to challenge it with the wild-type virus, to see if the vaccine really works, you’re going to need level 4." Asked why the Galveston had been chosen for the GNL, lab director James LeDuc, the lab’s director answered,"There’s a tremendous history of tropical medicine in Galveston. We’ve had outbreaks of yellow fever. In fact, in the lobby, you can see photographs of an outbreak of plague that occurred here in the 1920s. We’ve had lots of very close intimate experience with infectious diseases, especially those transmitted by arthropods." Talking about the lab itself, Ksiazek said, "Some people sort of have the idea that a BSL 4 laboratory is this place that is teeming with infectious organisms, and actually everything is done to keep that from being the case. This would violate every protocol in the world but on an ordinary day I wouldn’t hesitate to walk into a BSL 4 lab without a space suit on and get out a sandwich and eat it. It’s that clean."

Conspiracy or bacteria in the death of Mozart
KUHF-FM (88.7, Houston), April 17, 2010
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart died just before he turned 36, in 1791. The music giant was then buried in an unmarked grave which was later dug up, so the plot could be reused. The cause of his death was unclear until recently, report UTMB’s Norbert Herzog and David Niesel in this week’s installment of Medical Discovery News. It had long been rumored that Mozart was poisoned, but studies now show he may have died from strep throat. He fell ill about November 20, 1791, and died 15 days later. Two of Vienna’s finest physicians diagnosed him with severe miliary fever which simply meant he had a rash and a fever. A recent epidemiological study of the death records and eyewitness accounts show Mozart may have died from complications of strep throat. The epidemic may have started in a nearby military hospital. MDN airs locally at 10 a.m. Saturday on KUHF.

Itch neurons
KUHF-FM (88.7, Houston), April 3, 2010
Scientists have determined that chronic itch and pain are perceived differently by the brain and travel along different nerve pathways, report UTMB’s Norbert Herzog and David Niesel in this week’s installment of Medical Discovery News. The most common type of itch is caused by the chemical histamine, released by immune cells, but there is a second type of itch that is chronic and debilitating because, unlike the common itch, it is not treatable with a simple topical ointment. Confirming pain and itch sensations use separate nerve pathways will make treatment for chronic itch easier. MDN airs locally at 10 a.m. Saturday on KUHF.

Vaccine history
KUHF-FM (88.7, Houston), March 20, 2010
While we think of vaccines as relatively modern, the concept of using modified infectious agents to "protect" us has been in practice for thousands of years, report UTMB’s Norbert Herzog and David Niesel in this week’s installment of Medical Discovery News. Records from China and India from 2,000 years ago describe inoculating people with scabs from others with mild cases of small pox. This was risky and many died but the practice persisted. In 1796, English physician Edward Jenner established that people were protected from smallpox when they were inoculated with cowpox, a related virus generally not a threat to humans. Thus, Jenner coined the word vaccination, which is derived from the Latin — vacca for cow. MDN airs locally at 10 a.m. Saturday on KUHF.

UTMB lab to help ID dangerous diseases
KTRK-TV (Ch. 13, Houston), March 16, 2010
UTMB’s Galveston National La b won’t go "hot" until inspections are completed and the microbes arrive, probably late summer. Joan Nichols, GNL associate director, allowed filming inside the lab for one day. She said, "It’s part of the education for people to understand that, first of all, we are keeping ourselves safe. We are keeping the people we work with safe and we’re keeping the community safe. … Once we start active work, that’s it — no one’s going to be allowed in." Seth Linde, GNL staff support specialist, demonstrates how he works in the cumbersome protective suits.

Infectious diseases program gets new leaders
Galveston County Daily News, March 17, 2010
Dr. Garland D. Anderson, provost and executive vice president at UTMB, has announced a new leadership team for the medical branch’s Galveston National Laboratory. The lab, the only national laboratory in Texas, serves as a national and international resource for research in the fight against emerging infectious diseases, such as West Nile virus, H1N1, tuberculosis and Ebola. James D. LeDuc, professor in the department of microbiology and immunology, will serve as director of the lab, and Scott C. Weaver, a professor in the department of pathology, will serve as scientific director of the lab and as director of the Institute for Human Infections and Immunity. "These internationally recognized scientists will ensure that the Galveston National Laboratory is at the forefront of infectious disease research," Anderson said. "Their contributions and accomplishments in their areas of expertise are a testament to the great team of researchers and scientists at UTMB."

Gray hair, who me?
KUHF-FM (88.7, Houston), March 13, 2010
In this week’s installment of Medical Discovery News, UTMB’s Norbert Herzog and David Niesel report that Japanese researchers have discovered that hair turns grey as a defense mechanism against disease. Hair becomes gray when people age because melanin is no longer formed. The researchers were looking at the stem cells that produce melanin and what kind of effect DNA damaging agents had on them. In mice, these agents caused enough DNA damage to result in premature grey hair. The researchers made a new discovery that cells with DNA damage can be eliminated as a whole, which is how the body protects itself from cells that could become cancerous. MDN airs locally at 10 a.m. Saturday on KUHF.

Hear how UTMB labs helped beat swine flu
Galveston County Daily News, March 10, 2010
UTMB is offering a free public demonstration on Wednesday, March 24, of the way in which it prepared for and responded to the swine flu outbreak. During the presentations, James LeDuc, deputy director of Galveston National Laboratory, and associate professor Rick Pyles, director of the medical branch’s molecular epidemiology laboratory, will discuss “Emergency Preparedness: Response to the H1N1 Pandemic — Challenges and Opportunities.” Although there is no charge to attend, reservations are required by Friday.

Nobel Prizes — 2009
KUHF-FM (88.7, Houston), March 6, 2010
UTMB’s Norbert Herzog and David Niesel report on last year’s winners of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in this week’s installment of Medical Discovery News. The honors went to a trio of Americans who answered a fundamental biological question: How do cells reliably divide and reproduce? Their work was on something called telomeres and the protein that creates them called telomerase. What the trio discovered is that telomeres are integral to the cell’s ability to faithfully divide and reproduce. By understanding telomeres and telomerase, it’s possible we could delay aging and discover new ways to fight cancer. This discovery has profoundly transformed our understanding of biology and medicine. MDN airs locally at 10 a.m. Saturday on KUHF.

Breast cancer signaling
KUHF-FM (88.7, Houston), Feb. 27, 2010
Every year more than 450,000 women die from breast cancer. Fortunately, physicians have an arsenal of treatment options against this disease and a new one may have just been developed, report Norbert Herzog and David Niesel in this week’s installment of UTMB’s Medical Discovery News. A group of Canadian researchers doing basic studies on breast cancer cells found a way to determine whether a patient’s breast cancer is likely to be aggressive. What they’ve found is that biochemical signaling among cancer cell proteins can be different in each woman. Remarkably, the researchers could associate the type of signaling with the outcome of the disease. Here’s another example of basic research that on the surface appears esoteric but delivers a powerful new approach to diagnosing disease. MDN airs locally at 10 a.m. Saturday on KUHF.

Diabetes — Islet cell transplantation
KUHF-FM (88.7, Houston), Feb. 20, 2010
UTMB is among several universities looking to find better treatments for diabetes, report Norbert Herzog and David Niesel in this week’s installment of UTMB’s Medical Discovery News. One innovative approach involves islet cell transplantation. Islet cells make insulin in the pancreas, which regulates the breakdown of glucose. The procedure isolates the islet cells from a patient’s removed pancreas, which are then transplanted back inside the patient’s body. What’s remarkable is that this “transplantation” does not require a scalpel. The islet cells are injected, and then they set up shop in the liver so that the body is able to make and regulate insulin again. MDN airs locally at 10 a.m. Saturday on KUHF.

CRWAD recognizes research, researchers
Journal of American Veterinary Medical Association, March 1 (cover date)
The American Association of Veterinary Immunologists presented the Distinguished Veterinary Immunologist Award to UTMB’s D. Mark Estes. Estes is an internationally recognized veterinary immunologist focusing on immunoregulatory mechanisms in infection and cancer.

Heart muscle regeneration
KUHF-FM (88.7, Houston), Feb. 13, 2010
The conventional wisdom has always been that the heart cannot generate new muscle cells so you die with the same heart you were born with, report Norbert Herzog and David Niesel in this week’s installment of UTMB’s Medical Discovery News. However, new research suggests that about half of your heart’s muscle cells are normally replaced over a lifetime. The excitement around these findings is the suggestion that science might be able to develop methods or drugs to accelerate or induce heart muscle regeneration. If scientists actually found a way to regrow muscle cells in the damaged areas, many lives could be saved. MDN airs locally at 10 a.m. Saturday on KUHF.

Anosomia — or what smell
KUHF-FM (88.7, Houston), Feb. 6, 2010
The sense of smell is important not only because of its effect on food but because it provides environmental cues, such as detecting smoke or avoiding spoiled or decaying food. The complete loss of smell is called anosomia. Recently, the Food and Drug Administration recommended that consumers stop using a product called Zicam, a nasal spray containing zinc. The FDA found that zinc could damage receptors in the nose, reducing or eliminating the ability to smell, report Norbert Herzog and David Niesel of UTMB’s Medical Discovery News.

‘Broad spectrum’ antiviral fights multitude of viruses
Science Daily, Feb. 2, 2010
Researchers from UTMB have teamed up with three other universities and the U.S. Army to develop and test a broad-spectrum antiviral compound capable of stopping dangerous viruses including Ebola, HIV, hepatitis C, West Nile, Rift Valley fever and yellow fever. The study is published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The findings are receiving widespread coverage and appear in R&D Magazine as well as the Galveston County Daily News.

UTMB performs life-changing cell transplantation (Link unavailable.)
Medical Journal — Houston, January 2010
A Harlingen woman suffering for two years with complications from pancreatitis found a cure at UTMB. Drs. Taylor Riall and Cristiana Rastellini performed a procedure called auto pancreatic islet transplantation that restored Marissa Garcia’s health. Her surgery was completed in the Texas Transplant Center’s newly constructed islet isolation facility — one of approximately 20 in the nation. "With the new islet facility, UTMB will be able to offer pancreatitis and diabetes patients across the country a much better quality of life than doctors could have imagined only a few years ago," said Rastellini.

Hey Dave, hope for hair loss
KUHF-FM (88.7, Houston), Jan. 23, 2010
In this week’s installment of UTMB’s Medical Discovery News, Norbert Herzog and David Niesel report that Japanese scientists recently discovered that when a gene called Sox21 is inhibited in mice, the rodents start losing hair two weeks after birth and are completely naked a week later. Turns out we humans also have the Sox21 gene. It’s found in human scalp tissue and in the outer layer of the hair. Though the study does not yet prove this gene is involved in human balding, it does increase knowledge of hair growth and retention and may help in developing treatments in the future. MDN airs locally at 10 a.m. Saturday on KUHF.

Medicinal wines from 5,000 years ago
KUHF-FM (88.7, Houston), Jan. 16, 2010
Ancient wine, mixed with a variety of herbs, was used to treat ailments in Egypt 5,000 years ago, report Norbert Herzog and David Niesel in this week’s installment of UTMB’s Medical Discovery News. Researchers investigating jars found in the tomb of Pharaoh Scorpion I believe "the concoctions were used to treat everything from upset stomachs to herpes virus infections. Dissolving herbs and resin in wine or beer can be particularly effective in extracting the medicinal components of the plants." MDN airs locally at 10 a.m. Saturday on KUHF.

Mussels in the surgical suite
KUHF-FM (88.7, Houston), Jan. 9, 2010
Recent research shows that the adhesive mussels produce to attach to a rock can be used to close wounds or knit bones together, report Norbert Herzog and David Niesel in this week’s installment of UTMB’s Medical Discovery News. One of its adhesive proteins can bond to plastic, wood, concrete and Teflon. Now scientists are trying to fabricate a biomimetic version of the mussel adhesive protein, which is known as MAPS. MDN airs locally at 10 a.m. Saturday on KUHF.

So what is so good about olive oil?
KUHF-FM (88.7, Houston), Jan. 2, 2010
In this week’s installment of UTMB’s Medical Discovery News, Norbert Herzog and David Niesel extol the virtues of olive oil, which can lower the risk of heart disease by reducing LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol levels. The FDA recommends two tablespoons a day, and Herzog and Niesel go a step further by recommending extra-virgin or virgin olive oils because they are the least processed of the various olive oil types. MDN airs locally at 10 a.m. Saturday on KUHF.