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Science Life is a guide to the changing world of biomedicine, as seen from our home at the University of Chicago Medicine. We’re interested in clinical and theoretical advances – from new kinds of cancer treatments to new ideas about how life evolved. Patients can visit this blog to ask questions or offer their own insights into diseases and therapies. Doctors and scholars can trade ideas about the latest studies or controversies. And anyone curious about the life sciences can join us in figuring out what this fascinating field means for our everyday lives.

Rob Mitchum
86 posts

Matt Wood
18 posts

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  • June 4, 2013
  • 02:35 PM

Vibrations With Meaning

by Matt Wood in ScienceLife

New research by UChicago neurobiologist Sliman Bensmaia shows that the nervous system reproduces the vibrations produced by the sense of touch in the nerves, and all the way to the brain.... Read more »

  • May 29, 2013
  • 10:00 AM

Seeing Eye to Eye With Your Physician

by Matt Wood in ScienceLife

Rita Gorawara-Bhat and her colleagues from the Section of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine are researching how things like eye contact with a physician can affect patient care.... Read more »

  • February 11, 2013
  • 12:02 PM

A GPS for Personalized Medicine

by Matt Wood in ScienceLife

The 1200 Patients Project creates a database of how patients with particular genetic profiles react to specific drugs, and then puts that information online to help doctors make better decisions for their patients.... Read more »

O'Donnell PH, Bush A, Spitz J, Danahey K, Saner D, Das S, Cox NJ, & Ratain MJ. (2012) The 1200 patients project: creating a new medical model system for clinical implementation of pharmacogenomics. Clinical pharmacology and therapeutics, 92(4), 446-9. PMID: 22929923  

  • February 6, 2013
  • 11:01 AM

The List of Explanations for Ocean Acidification Keeps Getting Smaller

by Matt Wood in ScienceLife

Over the past 20 years, Cathy Pfister and her husband Tim Wootton, both biologists in the Department of Ecology and Evolution, have been traveling to Tatoosh Island off the northwestern tip of Washington state to study the rich variety of plant and animal life in and around its coastal waters.  And while they have turned [...]... Read more »

  • January 31, 2013
  • 10:30 AM

Need a Pen? Drug Companies Start Early When it Comes to Marketing to Med Students

by Matt Wood in ScienceLife

Drug companies spend billions of dollars on advertising to consumers online, in print and TV. Their ads are such an everyday part of the media landscape that Saturday Night Live can run a skit mocking the hilarious and scary list of disclaimers about side effects and everyone is in on the joke. And that’s just [...]... Read more »

Hodges LE, Arora VM, Humphrey HJ, & Reddy ST. (2012) Premedical Students' Exposure to the Pharmaceutical Industry's Marketing Practices. Academic medicine : journal of the Association of American Medical Colleges. PMID: 23269292  

  • January 8, 2013
  • 06:12 PM

A History Lesson from Genes: Using DNA to Tell Us How Populations Change

by Matt Wood in ScienceLife

When Charles Darwin first sketched how species evolved by natural selection, he drew what looked like a tree. The diagram started at a central point with a common ancestor, then the lines spread apart as organisms evolved and separated into distinct species. In the 175 years since, scientists have come to agree that Darwin’s original [...]... Read more »

Joseph K. Pickrell, & Jonathan K. Pritchard. (2012) Inference of population splits and mixtures from genome-wide allele frequency data. PLoS Genet 8(11): e1002967 (2012). arXiv: 1206.2332v1

  • January 2, 2013
  • 11:04 AM

Fecal “Transplant” Helps One-year-old Beat Relentless Infection

by John Easton in ScienceLife

The key moments may not have been quite as gripping as a heart or liver transplant, but this summer Grant Fisher of Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, rapidly, almost miraculously, regained his health thanks to a profoundly personal and entirely biological donation from his mother. On August 3, 2012, Fisher became the first child in the [...]... Read more »

  • December 21, 2012
  • 11:38 AM

Necessary and Insufficient: A Four-decade Search Points to a New Type of Gene Flaw

by John Easton in ScienceLife

The history of science is filled with Eureka moments, sudden flashes of insight, often metaphorical, that tilt the prepared mind toward a new way of thinking, a solution to a seemingly unsolvable problem. The first such moment may have taken place more than 4,000 years ago, when the Greek mathematician and inventor Archimedes realized he [...]... Read more »

  • December 13, 2012
  • 01:11 PM

Drug helps women who stop smoking keep weight off

by Matt Wood in ScienceLife

Naltrexone, a medication being tested to help smokers kick the habit also may help avoid the weight gain that is common after quitting but only in women, according to a study published in the December issue of Biological Psychiatry. This is the first medication shown to reduce weight gain for up to one year in [...]... Read more »

  • December 11, 2012
  • 12:12 PM

How Our Sense of Touch is a Lot Like the Way We Hear

by Matt Wood in ScienceLife

When you walk into a darkened room, your first instinct is to feel around for a light switch. You slide your hand along the wall, feeling the transition from the doorframe to the painted drywall, and then up and down until you find the metal or plastic plate of the switch. During the process you [...]... Read more »

Mackevicius EL, Best MD, Saal HP, & Bensmaia SJ. (2012) Millisecond precision spike timing shapes tactile perception. The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience, 32(44), 15309-17. PMID: 23115169  

  • November 28, 2012
  • 12:18 PM

Ovarian Cancer Cells Trick Healthy Neighbors to Do Their Dirty Work

by Matt Wood in ScienceLife

Cancer cells play dirty, using all kinds of tricks to multiply and spread throughout the body. For instance, ovarian cancer cells trick the healthy fibroblasts around them to alter their production of three microRNAs—small strands of genetic material that are important regulators of gene expression. This turns the healthy cells into cancerous ones that pump [...]... Read more »

  • October 31, 2012
  • 10:00 AM

Formulating a Prescription to Improve Asthma Care with Technology

by Matt Wood in ScienceLife

Asthma is an extremely common disease, especially among adolescents: Almost 10 percent of children under the age of 17 in the United States have it.  It’s also very treatable with inhaled corticosteroids. But, an estimated 50 percent of children don’t take their asthma medications on a regular basis. Ves Dimov, MD, assistant professor of pediatrics [...]... Read more »

  • October 23, 2012
  • 10:40 AM

Permission to Be Parents: Support Groups for Families Dealing with an Eating Disorder

by Matt Wood in ScienceLife

Parents of a child with anorexia nervosa often feel embarrassed or isolated, like they’re on their own dealing with this difficult illness. For decades, the first line of treatment for an adolescent with anorexia was inpatient care to restore their weight, with little parental involvement. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, however, clinicians started [...]... Read more »

  • October 18, 2012
  • 12:07 PM

Yet Another Reason to Think Twice About Eating Meat

by Matt Wood in ScienceLife

Earlier this year, the USDA found itself in hot water after an internal newsletter promoted “Meatless Mondays” in its cafeterias as part of a healthy eating initiative. The USDA eventually retracted their endorsement of the campaign after outcry from the livestock industry and farm state Congressmen, but the health benefits of eating less meat have [...]... Read more »

Aschebrook-Kilfoy, B., Ollberding, N., Kolar, C., Lawson, T., Smith, S., Weisenburger, D., & Chiu, B. (2012) Meat intake and risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Cancer Causes , 23(10), 1681-1692. DOI: 10.1007/s10552-012-0047-2  

  • October 17, 2012
  • 12:23 PM

Even Fat Cells Need Sleep

by Matt Wood in ScienceLife

Here’s a study to make you hit the bed early tonight. Matthew Brady, PhD, associate professor of medicine and vice-chair of the Committee on Molecular Metabolism and Nutrition at the University of Chicago, found that not getting enough sleep has a harmful impact on fat cells in body, reducing their ability to absorb insulin by [...]... Read more »

  • October 10, 2012
  • 03:15 PM

Plenty Left to Learn from One Isolated Population

by Matt Wood in ScienceLife

The Hutterites are an isolated, religious “founder population,” similar to the Amish or Mennonites, descended from a group of about 1,200 settlers that migrated to North America from Europe in the late 19th century. They settled in South Dakota, and then spread to Montana and western Canada, forming several self-sufficient, communal agricultural colonies. Today’s Hutterites [...]... Read more »

  • October 8, 2012
  • 11:07 AM

Targeting Cancer With a Devilish Plant

by Matt Wood in ScienceLife

Urban legend has it that the cure for cancer is probably buried in the root of some obscure plant in the middle of the Amazon rainforest, and we just haven’t found it yet. While that’s overstating what any one medicine can do to fight what’s actually hundreds of different diseases, that doesn’t mean natural remedies [...]... Read more »

  • October 1, 2012
  • 12:06 PM

The Hyperlocal Approach to Diabetes Disparities

by Matt Wood in ScienceLife

The epidemic of type 2 diabetes in the United States seems so widespread, so intractable, that only big solutions can make a difference. It feels like we need massive prime-time education campaigns, public fitness initiatives and diet counseling in every school cafeteria and dormitory. And yet for a disease that’s so closely tied to individual [...]... Read more »

Baig AA, Locklin CA, Wilkes AE, Oborski DD, Acevedo JC, Gorawara-Bhat R, Quinn MT, Burnet DL, & Chin MH. (2012) "One Can Learn From Other People's Experiences": Latino Adults' Preferences for Peer-Based Diabetes Interventions. The Diabetes educator, 38(5), 733-41. PMID: 22914046  

  • June 14, 2012
  • 02:10 PM

The Western Diet’s Immune Impact

by Rob Mitchum in ScienceLife

By John Easton Inflammatory bowel disease is an ailment on the rise. A European study found that the incidence of IBD roughly doubled from 1990 to 2001, and even larger surges in IBD cases have been observed in areas of the United States and Europe studied since 1965. But intriguingly, this epidemic of IBD appears [...]... Read more »

Devkota, S., Wang, Y., Musch, M., Leone, V., Fehlner-Peach, H., Nadimpalli, A., Antonopoulos, D., Jabri, B., & Chang, E. (2012) Dietary-fat-induced taurocholic acid promotes pathobiont expansion and colitis in Il10−/− mice. Nature. DOI: 10.1038/nature11225  

  • June 13, 2012
  • 05:33 PM

Where We Split From Sharks

by Rob Mitchum in ScienceLife

Over 400 million years ago, fish went through an evolutionary divorce that would someday be very relevant to humans. The split produced the two major groups of fish we see in our world today: those with skeletons of bone, which make up the majority of aquatic life, and those with cartilaginous skeletons, which today include [...]... Read more »

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