Thinking Without a Brain

If you didn’t have a brain, could you still figure out where you were and navigate your surroundings? Thanks to new research on slime molds, the answer may be “yes.” Scientists from the Wyss Institute at Harvard University and the Allen Discovery Center at Tufts University have discovered that a brainless slime mold called Physarum polycephalum uses its body to sense mechanical…
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Many cancers develop from cells that have a malfunctioning tumor suppressor gene, p53, which normally helps control unchecked cell growth and prevent cancer. Some scientists are pursuing a strategy of restoring p53 gene function in cancer cells to stop their unruly growth or kill them. The exact effects of reviving p53 activity in tumors are not yet fully understood. In some cancers, like lymphomas, reactivated p53 causes…
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New research in humans and mice identifies a particular signaling molecule that can help modify inflammation and the immune system to protect against Alzheimer’s disease. The work, which was led by investigators at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), is published in Nature. Cognitive decline associated with Alzheimer’s disease develops when neurons begin to die. “Neuron death can be caused by improper immune…
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US President Joe Biden’s administration wants to create a US$6.5-billion agency to accelerate innovations in health and medicine — and revealed new details about the unit last month1. Dubbed ARPA-Health (ARPA-H), it is the latest in a line of global science agencies now being modelled on the renowned US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), whose work a generation ago…
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Postdoc Spotlight: Haleh Fotowat

Postdoc Haleh Fotowat of the Engert Lab has always split her time between scientific and creative pursuits. “I always grew up with a strong hobby in my life—I always had something other than going to school or working,” Fotowat says. ”I’m not as happy if I do only one or the other. If I didn’t do art, I don’t think I’d be able to…
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Getting Closer to a Greener World

It sounds like science fiction: tweak the metabolism of microbes so that they can consume greenhouse gases and produce carbon-neutral products. But the Circe team of Shannon Nangle, Ph.D. and Marika Ziesack, Ph.D. is well on its way to making this dream a reality. Initiated in 2017 in the lab of Wyss Core Faculty member Pam Silver, Ph.D., Circe has been designated a Wyss Institute Project based…
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Researchers Develop Novel, Woman Controlled Contraceptive Product

Despite the availability of numerous effective birth control methods, more than 40 percent of pregnancies worldwide are unintended. In addition to contributing significantly to population growth, unintended pregnancies can have pronounced adverse effects on maternal physical, mental and economic wellbeing. BUSM researchers and ZabBio (San Diego, Calif.) have developed an anti-sperm monoclonal antibody, the Human Contraception Antibody (HCA), which they…
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Cognitive neuroscientist John Gabrieli has been named the 2021 winner of the Samuel Torrey Orton Award, the International Dyslexia Association’s highest honor. The award recognizes achievements of leading researchers and practitioners in the dyslexia field, as well as those of individuals with dyslexia who exhibit leadership and serve as role models in their communities. “I am grateful to the International Dyslexia Association for…
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The Massachusetts Life Sciences Center is awarding Dana-Farber Cancer Institute a $1.82 million grant titled, Mass Spectrometry Metabolomics Solutions for Highly Scalable Integrated OMics: Charting Metabolic Contributions to Disease Development and Therapeutic Outcomes. This award will help support a new facility at Dana-Farber that will provide cutting-edge metabolomics tools for scientists, including a unique technology for systematic application of discovery metabolomics…
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The Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University and Boston’s Brigham and Women Hospital (Brigham) announce their newly founded Diagnostic Accelerator (Brigham-Wyss DxA). By combining the institutions’ broad clinical and multi-disciplinary bioengineering expertise, the Brigham-Wyss DxA will enable the fast creation of diagnostic technologies through deep collaborations in a process driven by previously unmet needs. The Brigham-Wyss DxA…
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