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HIV+ women respond well to HPV vaccine

HIV-positive women respond well to a vaccine against the human papillomavirus (HPV), even when their immune system is struggling, according to newly published results of an international clinical trial. The study’s findings counter doubts about whether the vaccine would be helpful, said the Brown University medical professor who led the study. Instead, the data support the World Health Organization’s recommendation to vaccinate women with HIV.

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Meditation as object of medical research
Mindfulness studies:

Mindfulness meditation produces personal experiences that are not readily interpretable by scientists who want to study its psychiatric benefits in the brain. At a conference near Boston April 5, 2014, Brown University researchers will describe how they’ve been able to integrate mindfulness experience with hard neuroscience data to advance more rigorous study.

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New model combines multiple genomic data
No longer an either-or proposition:

Data about DNA differences, gene expression, or methylation can each tell epidemiologists something about the link between genomics and disease. A new statistical model that can integrate all those sources provides a markedly improved analysis, according to two new papers.

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Early neural wiring for smell persists
A window of plasticity:

A new study in Science reveals that the fundamental wiring of the olfactory system in mice sets up shortly after birth and then remains stable but adaptable. The research highlights how important early development can be throughout life and provides insights that may be important in devising regenerative medical therapies in the nervous system.

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Doctor’s specialty predicts feeding tube use
Feeding tube: Who makes the decision?:

A new study shows that when elderly patients with advanced dementia are hospitalized, the specialties of the doctors at their bedside have a lot to do with whether the patient will end up with a gastric feeding tube – a practice that some medical organizations recommend against for frail, terminal patients.

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Heat of mantle sets height of mid-ocean ridges
Temperature, not chemistry:

By  analyzing the speed of seismic waves generated by earthquakes, scientists have shown that temperature differences deep within Earth’s mantle control the elevation and volcanic activity along mid-ocean ridges, the colossal mountain ranges that line the ocean floor. Recent research sheds new light on how temperature in the depths of the mantle influences the contours of the Earth’s crust.

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Three faculty receive NSF CAREER Awards

Baylor Fox-Kemper, assistant professor of geological sciences, Thomas Serre, assistant professor of cognitive, linguistic, and psychological sciences, and Erik Sudderth, assistant professor of computer science, have received CAREER Awards from the National Science Foundation, the NSF’s most prestigious award for junior faculty scientists.

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Ancient volcanic explosions shed light on Mercury’s origins
Measuring geological time:

Mercury was long thought to be lacking volatile compounds that cause explosive volcanism. That view started to change when the MESSENGER spacecraft returned pictures of pyroclastic deposits — the telltale signature of volcanic explosions. Now more detailed data from MESSENGER shows that volcanoes exploded on Mercury for a substantial portion of the planet’s history. The findings suggest Mercury not only had volatiles but held on to them for longer than scientists had expected.

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Meditation as object of medical research
Mindfulness studies:

Mindfulness meditation produces personal experiences that are not readily interpretable by scientists who want to study its psychiatric benefits in the brain. At a conference near Boston April 5, 2014, Brown University researchers will describe how they’ve been able to integrate mindfulness experience with hard neuroscience data to advance more rigorous study.

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Miller to receive Laetare Medal

The University of Notre Dame has named Kenneth Miller, professor of biology at Brown, the 2014 recipient of the Laetare Medal, the oldest and most prestigious honor among American Catholics. The medal will be conferred at Notre Dame’s commencement May 18. “Kenneth Miller has given eloquent and incisive witness both to scientific acumen and religious belief,” said the Rev. John I. Jenkins, Notre Dame’s president, in an announcement on Laetare Sunday, March 30, 2014.

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‘Block Party’ to spotlight future of R.I. robotics
Humanity-centered robotics:

Baxter, PR2, quadcopters and other robots and robotic devices demonstrateingtheir skills at a Robot Block Party, April 5, 2014, in the Pizzitola Sports Center at Brown University. The activities, free and open to the public, marked the start of National Robotics Week.

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Indonesian climate shift linked to glacial cycle
Beautiful at the core:

Indonesian waters are major agents for global levels of atmospheric water vapor. A prolonged dry spell in Indonesia thousands of years ago has been found to correlate with ice ages in the northern hemisphere. Brown researchers have compiled a detailed Indonesian climate record of the last 60,000 years, tracking telltale indicators in sedimentary cores: titanium levels (a marker for surface water runoff) and the carbon isotopes of leaf wax, a marker for plant varieties (grasses indicate dry conditions).

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Ainsworth named SIAM fellow

Mark Ainsworth, professor of applied mathematics, has been named a 2014 fellow of the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics. He joins 31 other scholars from all over the world in this year’s class. Ainsworth, who joined the Brown faculty in 2012, studies computer simulation — specifically how to interpret simulation results and quantify the margins of error inherent in them.

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Mind/Brain Research Day showcases science

On the first Mind/Brain Research Day at Brown University March 25, 2014, there was no shortage information. All that was hard to find was open space. Brain scientists ranging from Brown undergrads to residents at affiliated hospitals displayed a total of 157 posters in Sayles Hall.

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EEG study: Brain infers structure, rules of tasks
The advantage of structure:

A new study documents the brain activity underlying our strong tendency to infer a structure of context and rules when learning new tasks (even when a structure isn’t valid). The findings, which revealed individual differences, shows how we try to apply task knowledge to similar situations and could inform future research on learning disabilities.

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