In The News

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Seven graduating University of Arizona seniors will be honored for their extraordinary accomplishments during a series of graduation ceremonies to celebrate the class of 2021. Nominated by faculty and peers, this year's seven student award winners were selected based on their integrity, notable achievements and positive contributions to their families and communities. Among these honorees are Alyssa Jean Peterson, Akshay Nathan, and Daniel Weiland, successful undergraduate researchers in the labs of BIO5 faculty, and all planning to continue their studies in STEM.
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On World Asthma Day, we applaud the innovative and translational lung research conducted by our BIO5 Institute members.
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Chemical insecticides are used extensively to kill pests and thereby limit the harm they cause. However, overreliance on insecticides can promote rapid evolution of insecticide resistance in insect populations. In a new study Dr. Xianchun Li, BIO5 member and insect molecular biologist in the UArizona College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, along with colleagues Wenqing Zhang and Rui Pang, discovered how one insect beats the cost of resistance. The paper focuses on the brown planthopper, a tiny hemipteran insect that is the world’s most destructive pest of rice.
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Millions are being vaccinated for COVID-19, but some researchers are looking for new ways to detect it. University of Arizona scientist and BIO5 member Dr. Judith Su, is searching for a method to find the disease at the molecular level. If successful, the coronavirus could be detected through sensors that can deliver results within a minute.
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Emily Merritt, who is pursuing a doctorate in immunobiology, was one of the first students to participate in the Infection and Inflammation as Drivers of Aging, a program funded by a National Institutes of Health T32 training grant, which supports four graduate or post-doctoral students annually. She and four other students presented their research virtually at the inaugural Infection and Inflammation as Drivers of Aging symposium in January. The research topics ranged from chronic inflammatory response to ischemic stroke and tracking antibody responses to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, in aging individuals. Merritt presented on Toxoplasma gondii, a single-celled parasite she studies under the guidance of Dr. Anita Koshy, professor of neurology and BIO5 member.
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On April 19, Dr. Floyd “Ski” Chilton discussed differences in COVID-19 disease severity as part of the Precision Wellness in the Time of COVID-19 series.
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Dr. Monica Kraft, professor and chair of the College of Medicine – Tucson’s Department of Medicine, deputy director of the Asthma and Airway Disease Research Center, and BIO5 faculty, has received the Paul Harris Fellowship Award from Rotary International for her contributions to precision medicine as both principal investigator for the University of Arizona – Banner Health All of Us Research Program and a renowned basic and translational physician-scientist specializing in precision medicine therapies to treat severe asthma.
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In this episode, hosts Brooke Moreno and Sean Cadin talk with Dr. Yves Lussier about the power of technology and bioinformatics in precision medicine.
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Dr. Laura Meredith, UArizona assistant professor of ecosystem genomics in the School of Natural Resources and the Environment (SNRE) and the BIO5 Institute, has been recognized for her early career success with a National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER Award. The award is the NSF’s most prestigious recognition for early-career faculty members and “embodies NSF’s commitment to encourage faculty and academic institutions to value and support the integration of research and education” and recognizes individuals “who have the potential to serve as academic role models in research and education and to lead advances in the mission of their department or organization.” Dr. Meredith will also use the funding to open additional opportunities to students, including within her own research and through a new internship program that will allow UArizona undergraduate students to conduct research with industry partners over the summer.
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If you had the coronavirus and recovered, your body launched an immune response, but how does your body’s reaction to the virus compare with your body’s reaction to the vaccine? Dr. Deepta Bhattacharya, immunobiologist at the University of Arizona and BIO5 member says it depends. Because natural immunity varies, Bhattacharya says the recommendation is you should get the vaccine even if you were exposed to COVID-19.
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Recognizing progress BIO5 researchers are making against this devastating neurodegenerative condition during Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Month.
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According to the Centers For Disease Control, common side effects from the COVID-19 vaccine include tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, fever and nausea. Dr. Elizabeth Connick, UArizona Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases and BIO5 member, weighs in on factors such as genetics, age, and sex as contributing factors behind a person’s response to receiving a vaccine. Dr. Connick explains the double-edged sword that women have more robust antibody responses than men, are more likely to have reactions to the vaccine, but are also less likely to get hospitalized and succumb to COVID than men.
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Dakota Reinartz, a UArizona COM-T doctoral student along with faculty mentors, BIO5 member Dr. Justin Wilson, and Dr. Julie Bauman, deputy director of the UArizona Cancer Center, are researching the role inflammation may play in the development of head and neck squamous cell carcinomas. Reinartz’s work with Drs. Wilson and Bauman is made possible through a National Cancer Institute training grant, known as a T32. The grant supports institutions in developing or enhancing research training opportunities for pre- and postdoctoral fellows in cancer research. The Cancer Center used the funding to establish the Integrated Cancer Scholars program.
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If you got the Pfizer vaccine, will you really need to get a third shot within a year? The CEO of Pfizer said that’s likely the case, however, a local expert says not so fast. Dr. Deepta Bhattacharya, BIO5 member and expert immunologist with the UArizona College of Medicine says that Pfizer and Moderna each released data showing no drop-off in efficacy. The wildcard then becomes whether or not there’s a new variant that appears, that more substantially evades the immune response than the ones that we know about right now.
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The designation of Regents Professor is an honored position reserved for faculty scholars of exceptional ability who have achieved national or international distinction. Dr. Ian Pepper joins 5 other UArizona researchers recognized in 2021. In addition to this honor, Dr. Pepper has been inducted as a fellow by the Soil Science Society of America, the American Society of Agronomy, the American Academy of Microbiology and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Recent awards include the 2019 Extraordinary Faculty Award from the University of Arizona Alumni Association and the 2020 Graduate Teaching and Mentoring Award from the University of Arizona Graduate College.
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The Arizona Board of Regents confirmed the appointments of six University of Arizona faculty members as Regents Professors, including UArizona CALS and BIO5 faculty, Dr. Ian Pepper. The designation of Regents Professor serves as recognition of the highest academic merit and is awarded to faculty members who have made a unique contribution to the quality of the university through distinguished accomplishments in teaching, scholarship, research or creative work. Dr. Ian Pepper is an internationally renowned environmental microbiologist who has worked at the interface of human health and soils, potable water and municipal waste. His research addresses real-world problems. His successful efforts to identify and quantify the COVID-19 virus in waste flows from university dormitories have gained international media attention. His team's "wastewater-based epidemiology," which enabled the university to avoid a major campus outbreak, has been implemented in many other locations.
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UArizona molecular and cellular biology professor and BIO5 member Dr. Daniela Zarnescu, leads her lab in using fruit flies to study neurodegenerative diseases, including ALS. Dr. Zarnescu’s team have shown that locomotor defects are observed, like with ALS patients, where Dlp, short for Dally-like protein – is reduced at the site. The next step in this research is restoring the protein that corresponds to Dlp in humans, with hopes that it will increase motor function in patients.
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The National Academy of Inventors has named 61 academic inventors to the 2021 class of NAI Senior Members. Among them are University of Arizona Health Sciences professors Drs. May Khanna and Meredith Hay. NAI Senior Members are active faculty, scientists and administrators from NAI Member Institutions who have demonstrated remarkable innovation producing technologies that have brought, or aspire to bring, real impact on the welfare of society.