Archive for February 8, 2012

Christina Takanishi Remembrance Announcement

February 8, 2012 Leave a comment
To our friends in the UC Davis Community,

Christina Takanishi, a UC Davis alumnus and postdoc, passed away on January 26th, 2012.  To honor her memory, the BMCDB graduate program and the DEB program are co-sponsoring a remembrance and celebration of her life at UC Davis. This event will be held at the UC Davis Recreation Pool Lodge on Saturday, February 18th, between 10:00 AM and noon. Light refreshments will be served.

We are collecting photos, stories, and memories of Chris from her time at UC Davis to share at the remembrance. There will be a slideshow, and materials will be provided to write down your stories which will be collected into an album for her family. Please e-mail any digital photos to for inclusion in the slideshow, and we can also arrange to print these photos for the album.  If you are unable to attend, please feel free to send any stories that you might want to share to the address above and we will also include them in the album.

This news has shaken our entire community. Please join us to remember a fellow friend and colleague, and to support each other through this tragedy.

Cindy Holsclaw and Erin Schwartz

Link to the facebook invite.

Categories: In memorium

A new realistic Parkinson’s cell line

February 8, 2012 Leave a comment

From the BBC by Michelle Roberts.

Scientists in the US have successfully made human brain cells in the lab that are an exact replica of genetically caused Parkinson’s disease.

The breakthrough means they can now see exactly how mutations in the parkin gene cause the disease in an estimated one in 10 patients with Parkinson’s.

And it offers a realistic model to test new treatments on – a hurdle that has blighted research efforts until now.

The team told Nature Communications their work was a “game-changer”.

“This is the first time that human dopamine neurons have ever been generated from Parkinson’s disease patients with parkin mutations,” said Dr Jian Feng who led the investigations.

“Before this, we didn’t even think about being able to study the disease in human neurons.

“The brain is so fully integrated. It’s impossible to obtain live human neurons to study.”

Studying human neurons is critical in Parkinson’s disease since animal models that lack the parkin gene do not develop the condition, rendering them useless for this research purpose.

To make the human neurons the scientists used a technique already successfully tested by others which can turn donated skin cells into brain tissue.

They used skin samples from four volunteers – two healthy people and two with Parkinson’s disease caused by a parkin gene mutation.

This allowed them to observe the parkin gene at work.

Normally, parkin controls the production of an enzyme called MAO (monamine oxidase) which, in turn, keeps a check on the brain-signalling chemical dopamine.

Read the entire article here.

Categories: Recent News

Extinct human genome sequenced

February 8, 2012 Leave a comment

And it can be yours with 159 GB of space, so easy a caveman can download it. From Max-Planck-Gesellschaft.

In 2010, Svante Pääbo and his colleagues presented a draft version of the genome from a small fragment of a human finger bone discovered in Denisova Cave in southern Siberia. The DNA sequences showed that this individual came from a previously unknown group of extinct humans that have become known as Denisovans. Together with their sister group the Neandertals, Denisovans are the closest extinct relatives of currently living humans.

he Leipzig team has now developed sensitive novel techniques which have allowed them to sequence every position in the Denisovan genome about 30 times over, using DNA extracted from less than 10 milligrams of the finger bone. In the previous draft version published in 2010, each position in the genome was determined, on average, only twice. This level of resolution was sufficient to establish the relationship of Denisovans to Neandertals and present-day humans, but often made it impossible for researchers to study the evolution of specific parts of the genome. The now-completed version of the genome allows even the small differences between the copies of genes that this individual inherited from its mother and father to be distinguished. This Wednesday the Leipzig group makes the entire Denisovan genome sequence available for the scientific community over the internet.

“The genome is of very high quality”, says Matthias Meyer, who developed the techniques that made this technical feat possible. “We cover all non-repetitive DNA sequences in the Denisovan genome so many times that it has fewer errors than most genomes from present-day humans that have been determined to date”.

The genome represents the first high-coverage, complete genome sequence of an archaic human group – a leap in the study of extinct forms of humans. “We hope that biologists will be able to use this genome to discover genetic changes that were important for the development of modern human culture and technology, and enabled modern humans to leave Africa and rapidly spread around the world, starting around 100,000 years ago” says Pääbo. The genome is also expected to reveal new aspects of the history of Denisovans and Neandertals.

Read the entire article here. Get the genome sequence here.

Categories: Recent News

2011 Nikon Small World in Motion contest – the top three

February 8, 2012 Leave a comment

Link to competition page.

Categories: Pictures/Videos