News

Dark matter detector

The first 90-day run of the Large Underground Xenon (LUX) experiment showed the detector to be the most sensitive in the world. The experiment did not detect dark matter particles during its initial run, but it has ruled out “possible” findings elsewhere. The research team will fine-tune the detector’s sensitivity and begin a 300-day run in 2014.

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Report features RI research spinoffs

Two Providence companies with intellectual property roots in Brown University research are featured in a national report released Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013, by The Science Coalition. With 100 examples such as Nabsys Inc. and Tivorsan Pharmaceuticals, The Science Coalition’s report demonstrates the kind of economic impact that government investment in basic science research at universities can have around the country.

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Gold nanoparticles give an edge in recycling CO2
Less is more ... to a point:

It’s a 21st-century alchemist’s dream: turning Earth’s superabundance of carbon dioxide — a greenhouse gas — into fuel or useful industrial chemicals. Researchers from Brown have shown that finely tuned gold nanoparticles can do the job. The key is maximizing the particles’ long edges, which are the active sites for the reaction.

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Brown-led study highlights liver function

Rapamycin is an FDA-approved anti-cancer agent and immunosuppressant. Some research suggests it can even combat aging. But rapamycin also targets and inhibits the workings of two related molecular complexes in the liver, with potentially important effects on metabolism. In a study published online recently in The FASEB Journal, a team led by Dr. Philip Gruppuso, professor of pediatrics at Brown and Rhode Island Hospital, looked at what “mTORC2” — the less studied of the two complexes — does in the liver.

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Single mutation gives virus new target
Single switch:

In a new study published online in the journal PLoS Pathogens, an international team of scientists showed that by swapping a single amino acid they could change the sugar to which the human BK polyomavirus will binds on the surface of cells. The BK polyomavirus lost the ability to bind its usual target sugar and instead “preferred” the same sugar as its cousin SV40 polyomavirus, which is active in monkeys.

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Rats! Humans and rodents face their errors
Evidence of error:

What happens when the brain recognizes an error? A new study shows that the brains of humans and rats adapt in a similar way to errors by using low-frequency brainwaves in the medial frontal cortex to synchronize neurons in the motor cortex. The finding could be important in studies of “adaptive control” problems like obsessive compulsive disorder, ADHD, and Parkinson’s.

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Algorithm aids in cancer research

A computer algorithm developed by Brown computer scientists is helping to unlock the genetic drivers behind a variety of cancers. Research reported in the journal Nature identified a suite of mutations common in 12 types of cancer, including cancers of the breast, uterus, lung, colon, brain, and kidney.

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More meals for seniors could save $
Doing better by doing good:

Home-delivered meals bring not only food to seniors but also the
opportunity to remain in their homes. A new study by Brown University
public health researchers projects that if every U.S. state in the lower
48 expanded the number of seniors receiving meals by just 1 percent,
1,722 more Medicaid recipients avoid living in a nursing home and most
states would experience a net annual savings from implementing the
expansion

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Nobel in Physics: A long time in the making
A research tool for the 21st century:

Nearly 50 years of experiments and billions of dollars in equipment followed the prediction of the Higgs mechanism by theoretical physicists in 1964. Ulrich Heintz and Meenakshi Narain, two of the particle physicists at Brown University who worked on experiments at Fermilab and at CERN, note that the successful search for the Higgs was carried on by thousands of researchers.

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New Brown and Miriam Hospital research

A study in the journal Biological Psychiatry provides the first evidence that prenatal exposure to the stress hormones glucocorticoids predicts smoking and nicotine dependence later in life among women. It also corroborates previous findings that when moms smoke while pregnant, their children are more likely to become smokers.

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Blood in motion

Applied mathematician professor George Karniadakis and fellow researcher at Brown have created a new technique to models how diseases alter the body’s circulation. They have gathered new insight into the ways that diseases disrupt normal blood flow. Read more in Scientific American about their research.

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Brain anatomy and language in young children
Language acquisition and the child brain:

Researchers from Brown University and King’s College London have gained surprising new insights into how brain anatomy influences language acquisition in young children. Their study, published in the Journal of Neuroscience, found that the explosion of language acquisition that typically occurs in children between 2 and 4 years old is not reflected in substantial changes in brain asymmetry. Structures that support language ability tend to be localized on the left side of the brain.

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Costs of War: 12th-year update

The Institute-based Costs of War project has released its updated figures for the human and financial costs of the US war in Afghanistan that began 12 years ago. Costs of War researchers estimate that the financial cost to the US of war spending so far, as well as war costs obligated for the future such as veterans’ health care, totals $1.6 trillion. An additional $3 trillion may be due through 2053 for interest payments on borrowing to finance the war.

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