Brown unveils novel wireless brain sensor

A team of neuroengineers based at Brown University has developed a fully implantable and rechargeable wireless brain sensor capable of relaying real-time broadband signals from up to 100 neurons in freely moving subjects. Several copies of the novel low-power device, described in the Journal of Neural Engineering, have been performing well in animal models for more than year, a first in the brain-computer interface field.

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Meet “ro-bat,” Brown researchers build robotic bat wing
Wing of bat in life and lab:

The strong, flapping flight of bats offers great possibilities for the design of small aircraft, among other applications. By building a robotic bat wing, Brown researchers have uncovered flight secrets of real bats: the function of ligaments, the elasticity of skin, the structural support of musculature, skeletal flexibility, upstroke, downstroke.

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NASA science team member, Ralph Milliken answers your questions about the Mars Curiosity Rover Mission

Ralph Milliken, planetary geologist at Brown, was in NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab when the Curiosity rover successfully landed on Mars in Gale Crater, a site for which he was an advocate. Back at Brown, Ralph remains on the mission analyzing data, determining which instruments to use and for which purpose, which rocks to drill into and is hands-on with other day-to-day science operations. Read his answers to your questions.

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Three win NSF CAREER awards

Three Brown scientists have won National Science Foundation CAREER awards to advance their research. The five-year grants all start this month. Eric Darling, assistant professor in the Department of Molecular Pharmacology, Physiology, and Biotechnology and a member of Brown’s Center for Biomedical Engineering, will receive $401,792 to look at spatial variation in gene expression and mechanical properties of stem cells to learn more about how they turn into more specific tissue cells.

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Case Western joins BrainGate trial
Case Western Reserve:

Case Western Reserve University and University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland have joined the BrainGate2 clinical trial, in which researchers at Brown, the Providence VA Medical Center, Massachusetts General Hospital, and Stanford University have been assessing the safety and feasibility of the BrainGate* implanted brain-computer interface system in people with paralysis.

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Brown and Brazil are expanding exchanges

This week, Vice President for International Affairs Matthew Gutmann travels to Brazil, where he'll sign agreements with two local agencies that will serve to strengthen scholarship and research ties between Brown and the South American country, including one that will bring a Brazilian scholar to Brown each year to teach. He'll also join a delegation from the Alpert Medical School that will be touring area medical schools and meeting with health researchers. Gutmann spoke with Courtney Coelho about his trip and Brown's ongoing relationship with Brazil.

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Genomic study of pre-term births

The cover of the March issue of the journal Genomics features a study by Brown and Women & Infants researcher Jim Padbury and co-authors who looked at the genes associated with pre-term birth. In the United States one in eight women give birth pre-term, and researchers aren’t sure why. Informed by a systematic search of the scientific literature, the team then combed through genomic data from nearly 2,000 pre-term and regular term mothers. They identified 19 genetic pathways and networks of interest, encompassing 53 different genes.

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Brown creates School of Public Health
A new School of Public Health:

The Corporation of Brown University has approved creation of a School of Public Health in July. The new school will allow Brown’s already strong research and teaching in public health to expand further. Terrie “Fox” Wetle, associate dean of medicine for public health, will serve as the school’s inaugural dean. Her first task is to gain national accreditation, which should take about two years.

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Size of lunch dictates force of crunch
Big bite may not be best bite:

Many animals prefer food — snails, nuts, etc. — that must be cracked and crushed. Scientists have measured the maximum force of their impressive bites before, but a new study introduces a significant subtlety: bite force depends not only on the size and strength of the eater, but also the size of the eatee. That insight has important implications in the lives of predators and prey.

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How a microbial biorefinery regulates genes
The protein PcaV in the presence of protocatechuate:

Digesting lignin, a highly stable polymer that accounts for up to a third of biomass, is a limiting step to producing a variety of biofuels. Researchers at Brown have figured out the microscopic chemical switch that allows Streptomyces bacteria to get to work, breaking lignin down into its constituent parts.

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Brown Engineering Alumni H. David Hibbitt Ph.D. ’72 and Enrique Lavernia ’82 Elected to the National Academy of Engineering

Brown University engineering alumni H. David Hibbitt Ph.D. ’72 and Enrique Lavernia ’82 have been elected to the National Academy of Engineering (NAE). Hibbitt, founder and retired chairman of ABAQUS Inc. (now known as Dassault Systèmes Simulia Corp.), was honored for creation and development of the ABAQUS finite element code for nonlinear structural analysis and its worldwide dissemination. He is one of 11 new foreign associates elected.

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How the world’s saltiest pond gets its salt
Documenting the saltiest pond on Earth:

Antarctica’s Don Juan Pond might be the unlikeliest body of water on Earth. Situated in the frigid McMurdo Dry Valleys, only the pond’s high salt content — by far the highest of any body of water on the planet — keeps it from freezing into oblivion. Now a research team led by Brown University geologists has discovered how Don Juan Pond gets the salty water it needs to exist.

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Nurse-led teams help type 2 diabetes care
Proven help for underserved patients:

Researchers who conducted a clinical trial in American Samoa to test whether community health workers could help adults with type 2 diabetes found that the patients who received the intervention were twice as likely to make a clinically meaningful improvement as those who remained with care only in the clinic. The results appear in the journal Diabetes Care.

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Brown, UPEC build stronger ties

President Christina Paxson signed a memorandum of understanding with administrators from the Universite Paris-Est Creteil (UPEC) on Feb. 12, 2013. The MOU includes faculty and student exchanges and the creation of joint research programs, courses, and seminars. UPEC President Luc Hittinger, Chief of Staff Francoise Travernier, and Vice President of International Relations Isabelle Alfandary traveled to Brown to take part in the signing in President Paxson’s office.

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Study in mice yields Angelman advance
Two schematics: CN2097:

In a new study in mice, a scientific collaboration centered at Brown University lays out in unprecedented detail a neurological signaling breakdown in Angelman syndrome, a disorder that affects thousands of children each year, characterized by developmental delay, seizures, and other problems. With the new understanding, the team demonstrated how a synthesized, peptide-like compound called CN2097 works to restore neural functions impaired by the disease.

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