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January 2016

Cognitive neuroscientist Rosie Cowell at the University of Massachusetts Amherst received a five-year, $599,619 CAREER award from the National Science Foundation to develop and test a theory of how memory interacts with fine-grained visual perception and how both brain functions depend on the medial temporal lobe (MTL), which once was thought to be critical for memory but not for visual perception.

Lynne McLandsborough, food science, is quoted about the recent outbreak of listeria bacteria in packaged Dole lettuce.

A team of molecular biologists led by Dong Wang (M2M), working with the alfalfa-clover Medicago truncatula, has found how a gene in the host plant encodes a protein that recognizes the cell membrane surrounding the symbiotic bacteria, then directs other proteins to harvest the nutrients.

Rebecca Spencer, CPHM and psychological and brain sciences department, says it is possible to change the emotions attached to certain memories. She says asking a person to recall a certain memory and then introducing new cues to associate with the memory can do this

Eric Decker, food science, has received a three-year, $469,775 grant to explore ways to improve the nutrition of foods high in saturated fats. Results should help food producers address recent new dietary guidelines recommending that Americans eat fewer of those fats to reduce heart disease risk.

Catrine Tudor-Locke, CPHM and the Department of Kinesiology, says getting people to move around during their daily routines is a key way to increase the amount of exercise they get. She says it is part of the whole picture of a person’s level of exercise and that scientists shouldn’t focus just on formal exercise sessions.

Peter Reinhart, Director of IALS, was one the healthcare professionals on the Industry Panel at the Inaugural Session for Joint Committee on Health Care Financing in Springfield on Tuesday, January 19 to assess the costs and value of pharmaceutical drugs.

Charles River Laboratories is planning to hire up to 300 people in the next year in Massachusetts to work in its newly reopened drug safety lab in Shrewsbury.

Currently, Charles River employs 8,500 people, 1,000 of which are in Massachusetts. The company will add 1,400 out of state employees with the acquisition of WIL.

But much of the local expansion — pegged at 50 percent over the next three to five years — will be centered on Shrewsbury, which tests the safety of drugs in development in first lab settings and then animal studies.

Sarah Perry, Chemical Engineering Department, has been awarded individual grants from the American Chemical Society Petroleum Research Fund (ACS PRF). Perry received a two-year, $110,000 ACS PRF Doctoral New Investigator grant for a research project entitled "Designing the Liquid-to-Solid Transition in Polyelectrolyte Complexes.”

Corinna Serviente, a master’s and doctoral student in kinesiology, was honored for her presentation at the American Physiological Society (APS) Conference in Annapolis, Maryland, Nov. 17-20. The conference was subtitled “Cardiovascular, Renal and Metabolic Diseases: Physiology and Gender.”

Serviente, who is a member of Sarah Witkowski’s molecular and cardiovascular physiology lab and a CPHM member, presented an abstract at the conference, "Effects of menopause and acute exercise on brachial artery flow mediated dilation and plasma endothelial microparticles."

Rebecca Spencer, psychological and brain sciences, comments in a story about a new study that finds that taking cholesterol-lowering statin drugs may reduce the risk of heart disease because of sleep apnea, a common disorder that involves irregular breathing while sleeping. Spencer says the study may provide the first direct link between sleep apnea and vascular risk.

Molecules and other matter that take energy from their environment and form patterns spontaneously thanks to the collective behavior of thousands of units moving independently. Scientist hope they can learn more about what role motion plays in physical and biological processes. Ross says there appears to be little difference between laboratory-prepared active matter and living things. She says at her talks, she shows videos of active matter, and, “Whenever I present these to cell biologists in particular, they are always fooled.”