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Two Caltech Researchers Receive DARPA Young Faculty Awards
11/03/2009

Two Caltech Researchers Receive DARPA Young Faculty Awards

Kathy Svitil
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has selected Julia R. Greer, assistant professor of materials science, and Doris Tsao, assistant professor of biology, to participate in its Young Faculty Award (YFA) program. Greer and Tsao are among the 33 "rising stars" from 24 U.S. universities who each will receive grants of approximately $300,000 to develop and validate their research ideas over the next 24 months.
Julia Greer
Caltech Researchers Show Efficacy of Gene Therapy in Mouse Models of Huntington's Disease
10/30/2009

Caltech Researchers Show Efficacy of Gene Therapy in Mouse Models of Huntington's Disease

Lori Oliwenstein

Researchers at Caltech have shown that a highly specific intrabody (an antibody fragment that works against a target inside a cell) is capable of stalling the development of Huntington's disease in a variety of mouse models. "Gene therapy in these models successfully attenuated the symptoms of Huntington's disease and increased life span," notes Paul Patterson, the Anne P. and Benjamin F. Biaggini Professor of Biological Sciences. 

Cells in developing tissue consider their signaling exposure history to determine location
09/29/2009

Cells in developing tissue consider their signaling exposure history to determine location

Sonia Chernobieff

Researchers at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) have proposed a novel model that differs from a widely held hypothesis about the mechanisms by which developing animals pattern their tissues and structures. 

Caltech Scientists Get Detailed Glimpse of Chemoreceptor Architecture in Bacterial Cells
09/11/2009

Caltech Scientists Get Detailed Glimpse of Chemoreceptor Architecture in Bacterial Cells

Lori Oliwenstein

Using state-of-the-art electron microscopy techniques, a team led by researchers from Caltech has for the first time visualized and described the precise arrangement of chemoreceptors—the receptors that sense and respond to chemical stimuli—in bacteria. In addition, they have found that this specific architecture is the same throughout a wide variety of bacterial species, which means that this is a stable, universal structure that has been conserved over evolutionary time.

Caltech Researchers Pinpoint Neurons that Control Obesity in Fruit Flies
08/18/2009

Caltech Researchers Pinpoint Neurons that Control Obesity in Fruit Flies

Lori Oliwenstein

A team of scientists from Caltech have pinpointed two groups of neurons in fruit fly brains that have the ability to sense and manipulate the fly's fat stores in much the same way as do neurons in the mammalian brain. The existence of this sort of control over fat deposition and metabolic rates makes the flies a potentially useful model for the study of human obesity, the researchers note.

Caltech Scientists Help Launch the First Standard Graphical Notation for Biology
08/11/2009

Caltech Scientists Help Launch the First Standard Graphical Notation for Biology

Kathy Svitil

Researchers at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and their colleagues in 30 laboratories worldwide have released a new set of standards for graphically representing biological information—the biology equivalent of the circuit diagram in electronics. This visual language should make it easier to exchange complex information, so that biological models are depicted more accurately, consistently, and in a more readily understandable way.  

Caltech-led Team Shows How Evolution Can Allow for Large Developmental Leaps
07/20/2009

Caltech-led Team Shows How Evolution Can Allow for Large Developmental Leaps

Lori Oliwenstein

Most evolutionary changes happen in tiny increments. But when it comes to traits like the number of wings on an insect, or limbs on a primate, there is no middle ground. How are these sorts of large evolutionary leaps made? According to a team led by scientists at Caltech, such changes may at least sometimes be the result of random fluctuations, or noise (nongenetic variations), working alongside a phenomenon known as partial penetrance.

Maple Seeds and Animals Exploit the Same Trick to Fly
06/11/2009

Maple Seeds and Animals Exploit the Same Trick to Fly

Kathy Svitil

The twirling seeds of maple trees spin like miniature helicopters as they fall to the ground. Because the seeds descend slowly as they swirl, they're carried aloft by the wind and dispersed over great distances. Just how the seeds manage to fall so slowly, however, has mystified scientists. In research published in the June 12 Science, researchers from Wageningen University in the Netherlands and Caltech describe the aerodynamic secret of the enchanting swirling seeds.

Caltech Scientists Reveal How Neuronal Activity is Timed in Brain's Memory-Making Circuits
05/29/2009

Caltech Scientists Reveal How Neuronal Activity is Timed in Brain's Memory-Making Circuits

Lori Oliwenstein

Theta oscillations are a type of brain rhythm that orchestrates neuronal activity in the hippocampus, a brain area critical for the formation of new memories. For several decades these oscillations were believed to be "in sync" across the hippocampus, timing the firing of neurons like a sort of central pacemaker. A new study conducted by researchers at Caltech shows that, instead, theta oscillations sweep along the length of the hippocampus as traveling waves.  

Caltech, UCSF Scientists Determine How Body Differentiates Between a Scorch and a Scratch
05/19/2009

Caltech, UCSF Scientists Determine How Body Differentiates Between a Scorch and a Scratch

Lori Oliwenstein

You can tell without looking whether you've been stuck by a pin or burnt by a match. But how? In research that overturns conventional wisdom, a team of scientists from Caltech and UCSF, have shown that this sensory discrimination begins in the skin at the very earliest stages of neuronal information processing, with different populations of sensory neurons--called nociceptors--responding to different kinds of painful stimuli.