Science

Brain Science
5:01 am
Tue August 26, 2014

Seattle Scientists Find Brain Area Linked To Motivation To Exercise

Mice without a functioning dorsal medial habenula didn't feel like running in their wheels.
Kaytee Rlek Flickr

Seattle scientists have zeroed in on a part of the brain that seems to have an interesting job: motivating the brain’s owner to exercise. The findings could have implications for understanding depression.

The dorsal medial habenula is a little structure tucked inside the brain, above the brainstem. Psychiatrist Eric Turner of Seattle Children’s Research Institute knew it had something to do with regulating mood, but not a lot more.

“People asked me, 'Well, what does it do?' And I actually didn’t know. And when I looked it up I found that very little is known about this area of the brain,” he said.

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Science
4:06 pm
Mon August 25, 2014

Out Soon: Long-Awaited Scientific Volume On 'Kennewick Man' Skeleton

A new book about Kennewick Man is due to hit bookstands in mid-September.
Texas A&M University Press

A skeleton some 9,000 years old is giving up a few of his secrets. A new book about the so-called Kennewick Man, whose remains were found 18 years ago, is due to hit bookstands in mid-September.

Kennewick Man was found resting in the shallow water of the Columbia River. His early story was that of some strife; a rock-point was found buried in his hip bone.

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Space
4:00 pm
Thu August 14, 2014

UW Astronomer Gets His Hands On Pieces Of Far-Flung Stars

False color image of diffraction pattern from Orion.
Zack Gainsforth

An unmanned NASA research mission led by a Seattle scientist has caught what are believed to be seven tiny pieces of distant stars and brought them back to Earth.

The Stardust Mission sent a spacecraft on three trips around the sun, dipping into an extremely faint jet of interstellar particles flowing into the solar system. It grabbed seven motes of interstellar dust, giving us a glimpse of what stars other than the Sun are like.

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Neural Engineering
5:01 am
Wed August 13, 2014

The Dark Side Of Brain Science: Seattle Pair's 'Thought Experiment' Plays Out Onstage

Chris MacDonald and Devin Rodger play Miles and Candace in the play Brain Trust.
Alison Marcotte KPLU

Here’s a thought experiment: You’re a scientist researching a treatment for depression, and you’ve become profoundly depressed. Your work is slow and painstaking, and involves methodical experiments with monkeys. It’s likely years before anything you might discover would become available for people.

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Clinical Trials
5:01 am
Mon August 11, 2014

Northwest Hospitals To Bring Experimental Cancer Treatments To Underserved Areas

File image
Gerry Broome AP Photo

For someone with cancer who lives far from a big city, it can be hard to access cutting-edge care, but a network of Northwest hospitals is getting millions to bring clinical cancer trials to far-flung communities.

Clinical trials study experimental drugs and therapies, and they're the main tool for bringing new treatments to market. But they can also have more immediate benefits for the people enrolled in a study.

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Science
9:47 am
Wed August 6, 2014

How A Fat Grizzly Bear Could One Day Help Humans Avoid Diabetes

Washington State University is home to the nation's only captive grizzly bear research center.
Courtney Flatt

Washington State University’s mascot is the cougar, but the university is also home to the nation’s only captive grizzly bear research center. A new study involving those bears yields insights into possible therapies for human obesity and diabetes.

Grizzly bears pile on the fat every autumn. But in their obese state through hibernation, they don’t appear to suffer health consequences like overweight humans do.

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Oso Slide
4:34 pm
Tue July 22, 2014

Scientists Say Smaller 2006 Landslide Set The Stage For Oso Disaster

The 2014 Oso slide "remobilized" the zone of a smaller slide from 2006.
WSDOT

A small landslide in 2006 set the stage for the catastrophe that claimed 43 lives in Oso, Washington this past March, say a panel of scientists in a federally-funded study.

The hills above the North Fork of the Stillaguamish River had slid before, at least 15 times over the centuries, according to the study.

But one slide in particular left Oso vulnerable. In 2006, that smaller slide left a loosely-packed mass of debris perched dangerously above the Steelhead Haven development and its neighbors.

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Infectious Diseases
5:01 am
Mon July 21, 2014

Study Finds MRSA 'Superbug' Lurking At Washington Firehouses

Nearly 60 percent of firehouses sampled by UW School of Public Health researchers tested positive for MRSA.
Billy V Flickr

Fighting fires is a dangerous job, and new research on firehouses around Washington state has revealed another hazard — one that lurks on firefighters’ boots, their trucks and even their TV remotes.

MRSA is a nasty and sometimes deadly bacterium that’s hard to kill with antibiotics. It’s normally associated with hospitals, nursing homes or prisons, but researchers at the University of Washington School of Public Health recently tested 33 firehouses for the presence of MRSA. They found the bug at 19 of those firehouses. Twelve crews reported having at least one member who’d gotten an infection requiring medical care.

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Boston Marathon Bombing
5:01 am
Fri July 18, 2014

When A Bomb Goes Off During Your Study On Trauma: New UW Findings On PTSD

Medical workers aid injured people after two bombs exploded near the finish line of the Boston Marathon in Boston, April 15, 2013.
Charles Krupa AP Photo

When a traumatic event happens, some people find ways to cope while others get caught in the grip of post-traumatic stress disorder. A new study led by a Seattle researcher and enabled by an unexpected disaster suggests a way we might be able to predict who’s most likely to struggle.

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Cancer Research
5:00 am
Thu July 10, 2014

Seattle Scientist Trying To Disrupt HPV, Which Hacks Your Cells To Cause Cancer

Rachel Katzenellenbogen
Gabriel Spitzer

The human papillomavirus is a bit like a tiny hacker — black hat, of course — that sneaks into your cells, hijacks your hardware and uses it to copy itself. For nearly 80 million Americans, this is happening right now, and nearly all sexually-active people will pick up HPV at one time or another.

For a smaller number of us, that bit of forced entry touches off a chain of events that leads to cancer — mainly cervical cancer, but also penile, rectal, throat and tongue cancers. If scientists could figure out exactly how that happens, they might able to intervene and disrupt the process.

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Brain Development
4:32 pm
Tue June 24, 2014

Wash. Scientists Cheer Docs' Push To Read To Kids Starting At Birth — Or Earlier

Pediatricians will start urging parents to start reading their infants as soon as they're born.
Scott MacLeod Liddle Flickr

The nation’s largest association of pediatricians is recommending parents read to their children starting at birth. Research by Seattle-area scientists suggests kids can indeed benefit from hearing lots of language right from day one – or even earlier,  even though most kids don’t start talking until they’re at least a year old.

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Twins
5:01 am
Fri June 6, 2014

UW's Twinfest Will Celebrate Twin Culture, And Their Unique Contribution To Science

UW will celebrate twins' unique contribution to science, and publicize the UW Twin Registry, at this weekend's "Twinfest."
Jane Waterbury Flickr

The University of Washington will host a big party this weekend to drum up publicity for a key branch of research, and only twins are on the guest list.

Scientists have long had a keen interest in twins because people who share genes can help tease out the influences of nature and nurture.

“There’s this very unique kind of natural experiment that they provide,” said Dr. Glen Duncan, director of the UW Twin Registry. “So they really provide a very powerful approach to studying very difficult questions.”

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Comb Jellies
5:01 am
Thu May 22, 2014

A Shimmery Sea Blob From The San Juans May Have Just Upended Evolutionary History

Comb jellies may actually represent the first branch on animals' evolutionary tree.
Smithsonian Institution

A squishy little sea creature fished out of the Salish Sea may be rewriting our history of how animal life first evolved.

They’re called comb jellies, and they have nothing to do with hair products. They are translucent blobs that propel themselves with rows of shimmering threads called cilia.

Scientists captured specimens at the University of Washington Friday Harbor Laboratories and analyzed their genomes, coming to two pretty startling conclusions. First, these animals have nervous systems, but they look almost nothing like those of people or fish, or any other animal on Earth.

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Ancient Americans
11:00 am
Thu May 15, 2014

First Kennewick Man, Now Naia: Seattle-Area Scientist Probes Secrets In Ancient Skeleton

Divers Alberto Nava and Susan Bird transport the Hoyo Negro skull to an underwater turntable so that it can be photographed in order to create a 3D model.
Courtesy of Paul Nicklen/National Geographic

They call her Naia. She was probably about 16, a forager living mainly on fruit in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. One day she ventured into a cave when the floor gave out. She plunged maybe 100 feet and died.

And that’s how divers would find her, some 12,000 years later, alongside saber-tooth cats and other extinct animal bones in the now-underwater cave system.

“It’s the most complete female paleoamerican skeleton, period,” said James Chatters, owner of the Bothell-based company Applied Paleoscience.

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Science
11:59 am
Fri May 9, 2014

UW Labs May Move To Avoid Interference From Magnetic Light Rail Trains

Even 100 feet underground, a train can be a headache for scientists that rely on sensitive equipment.
Flickr

For engineers that use sensitive equipment like electron microscopes, a train is a big, moving, magnetic nightmare.

That’s why Sound Transit and the University of Washington are hashing out a deal that would give the university $43 million to move some of its labs across campus, away from a new light rail line in the works set to run beneath them.

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