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Month: December 2010

Don’t Forget to Suggest Books for Next Year by January 6th!!

Planning is already underway for next year’s Go Big Read, and nominations are now being accepted for the book selection. All genres may be nominated, from fiction and nonfiction to biography, science and science fiction.

Nominated books should do one or more of the following:

– promote enjoyment of reading by being readable, relevant and engaging;
– incorporate sufficient depth and scope to promote sustained discussion of different points of view;
– appeal to individuals from a variety of backgrounds; and
– have cross-disciplinary flexibility that can tie into a variety of campus activities and programming.

The nomination deadline is midnight on Thursday, Jan. 6. The review committee will sift and winnow through all the submissions to create a short list of book titles for the chancellor to consider.

To suggest a title and see the list so far, visit

Sarah McDaniel
Go Big Read

Visit to the “Informing Consent” Exhibit

A Display Case on the history of research at UW-Madison, informed consent, and the McCardle Laboratory for Cancer Research.

Recently a group of students visited the “Informing Consent: Unwitting Subjects in Medicine’s Pursuit of Beneficial Knowledge” exhibit at the Ebling Library for the Health Sciences. Noticing that the students were bent over the display cases, discussing artifacts and items with one another, and taking notes, I asked them if they were there for a class- as generally, twenty students, all in one place, for over an hour, when it is not a social event- is noteworthy.

They were here from Edgewood College, from their class, BIO 402- Cell and Molecular Biology. The students, taught by Fern Murdoch,PhD., had read “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” at the beginning of the semester and had written a paper about one of the scientific uses of HeLa cells. They were finishing the semester with a paper on the ethics of human tissue use. They found the exhibit to be a great jumping off point for their discussions. Their discussion centered on who owns human cells? Is the good provided by medical research more important that an individual’s claim on their own tissue? A number of students were particularly interested in the development of skin cultures in the Allen-Hoffman lab (which there is a case on in the exhibit) and where those cells came from. Another student brought up the issue of the rights, or lack of rights, of prison inmates to consent to participate in research studies. As Professor Murdoch wrote, “Overall, I think the exhibit contributed significantly to the students’ thinking about the ethics using human tissues in medical research.”

The exhibit continues until the end of March, 2011. If you or your class (or book club) would like a tour of the exhibit, or would like to come on your own time, we invite you to attend! Contact Micaela for more information:

80 to 25: Age Reversal in Mice

Scientists have been able to partially reverse aging in mice. Researchers at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston discovered that by reactivating an enzyme called telomerase, it can repair and revitalize the genes it affects, called telomeres.

Telomeres sit on chromosomes and act like the plastic caps on shoe laces and as humans age, the telomeres shorten because cells stop dividing. Scientists know that telomerase, at low levels, can work against telomeres but Dr. DePinho thought that maybe a reactivation — or higher levels– could reverse the affect. Their experiment was successful and the mice who had many ills associated age, like organ decay, were reversed.

While this discovery has a lot of potential to change the way people age, it comes with many questions and risks. For example, reactivating enzymes and changing the natural progression of cell degradation can cause cancer, which is at the most simple level the uncontrollable replicating of cells. For scientists, solving telomeres is only the first step in the journey of age reversal.

Check out the full article from the Wall Street Journal at Aging Ills Reversed in Mice.

Curious about the aging process? Check out WYNC’s Radiolab’s Podcast (section 2 linked): Radiolab Founation of Youth.

Elizabeth Huggins

Graduate Student