QB3-Berkeley news archive – 2015

Highlights of QB3-Berkeley research, awards, and events news from 2015.

December 16, 2015 – Diamonds May Be the Key to Future NMR/MRI Technologies
A study led by Alexander Pines has demonstrated that diamonds may hold the key to the future for nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technologies. NMR/MRI signals were significantly strengthened through the hyperpolarization of carbon-13 nuclei in diamond using microwaves. More >

December 1, 2015 – CRISPR Inventor Calls for Pause in Editing Heritable Genes
A three-day international summit on the ethics of making permanent, hereditary changes in the human genome is taking place in Washington, D.C., the fruit of an informal discussion organized in January by Jennifer Doudna, the inventor of the CRISPR-Cas9 technology that makes such changes cheap and easy. More >

November 12, 2015 – Nanocarriers May Carry New Hope for Brain Cancer Therapy
Ting Xu, a polymer scientist who specializes in self-assembling bio/nano hybrid materials, has developed a new family of nanocarriers formed from the self-assembly of amphiphilic peptides and polymers. These nanocarriers may be able to effectively delivering a therapeutic drug to glioblastoma multiforme tumors. More >

November 12, 2015 – CRISPR-Cas9 Gene Editing: Check Three Times, Cut Once
Two new reports from Jennifer Doudna’s lab and that of UC Berkeley colleague Robert Tjian show in much greater detail how the Cas9 protein searches through billions of base pairs in a cell to find the right DNA sequence, and how Cas9 determines whether to bind, or bind and cut, thereby initiating gene editing. More>

November 6, 2015 – New Clues to How Gatekeeper for the Cell Nucleus Works
Mohammad Mofrad and his research group have uncovered new clues to how a molecular machine inside the cell acts as a gatekeeper, allowing some molecules to enter and exit the nucleus while keeping other molecules out. More >

November 1, 2015 – CellScope Loa
In the years since, the CellScope has enabled studies of everything from retinal disease in Thailand to water quality in southern California. This fall, the Dan Flethcher’s CellScope team is rolling out a new device which enables safe treatment of river blindness. More >

November 1, 2015 – Microscopic Models of the Human Heart
Kevin Healy’s laboratory has been a source of rapid advances in the technology of human induced pluripotent stem cells, or hiPSC (often shortened to iPS). Earlier this year, Healy and his collaborators and colleagues introduced two novel structures based on human cardiomyocytes — heart muscle cells — derived from iPS cells. More >

October 22, 2015 – It Takes a Thief
The discovery by Jennifer Doudna and her research group of the structural basis by which bacteria are able to capture genetic information from viruses and other foreign invaders for use in their own immunological system holds promise for studying or correcting problems in human genomes. More >

September 17, 2015 – What the Inuit Can Tell Us About Omega-3 Fats and ‘Paleo’ Diets
The traditional diet of Greenland natives – the Inuit – is held up as an example of how high levels of omega-3 fatty acids can counterbalance the bad health effects of a high-fat diet, but a new study led by Rasmus Nielsen hints that what’s true for the Inuit may not be true for everyone else. More >

September 7, 2015 – Genome Engineering Pioneers Headline Berkeley Symposium
Leading scientists in genome engineering presented their research to a sold-out crowd on August 24, at a Berkeley event hosted by QB3 and IGI and sponsored by Agilent and Thermo Fisher Scientific. New advances offer novel insights and applications.

August 20, 2015 – Engineered Hot Fat Implants Reduce Weight Gain in Mice
Kevin Healy and his research colleagues have developed a novel way to engineer the growth and expansion of energy-burning “good” fat, and then found that this fat helped reduce weight gain and lower blood glucose levels in mice. More >

August 17, 2015 – Major Innovation in Molecular Imaging Delivers Spatial and Spectral Information Simultaneously
Using physical chemistry methods to look at biology at the nanoscale, Ke Xu has invented a new technology to image single molecules with unprecedented spectral and spatial resolution, thus leading to the first “true-color” super-resolution microscope. More >

August 12, 2015 – Octopus Genome Reveals Cephalopod Secrets
An international team of scientists co-led by Daniel Rokhsar has sequenced the genome of an octopus, bringing researchers closer to discovering the genes involved in the creature’s unusual biology, including its ability to change skin color and texture and a distributed brain that allows its eight arms to move independently. More >

August 4, 2015 – Atomic View of Microtubules
Through a combination of high-resolution cryo-electron microscopy and a unique methodology for image analysis, a team of researchers led by Eva Nogales has produced an atomic view of microtubules, the cytoskeletons of living cells, showing the crucial role played by a family of end-binding proteins in regulating microtubule dynamic instability. More >

July 31, 2015 – Heating and Cooling with Light Leads to Ultrafast DNA Diagnostics
New technology developed by Luke Lee and his research colleagues promises to make the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, a workhorse lab tool, cheaper, more portable, and many times faster by accelerating the heating and cooling of genetic samples with the switch of a light. More >

July 21, 2015 – Genome Analysis Pinpoints Arrival and Spread of First Americans
The original Americans came from Siberia in a single wave no more than 23,000 years ago, at the height of the last Ice Age, and apparently hung out in the north – perhaps for thousands of years – before spreading in two distinct populations throughout North and South America, according to a new genomic analysis by Rasmus Nielsen and his colleagues. More >

July 14, 2015 – Researchers Create Model of Early Human Heart Development from Stem Cells
Kevin Healy, Bruce Conklin, and their research colleagues have developed a template for growing beating cardiac tissue from stem cells, creating a system that could serve as a model for early heart development and as a drug-screening tool to make pregnancies safer. More >

June 30, 2015 – Chang Wins Blavatnik National Award for Young Scientists
Christopher Chang, professor of chemistry and of molecular and cell biology, has won the Blavatnik National Award for Young Scientists for his research to identify and understand the roles of all basic chemical elements that are essential to the brain’s functioning and his efforts to develop technologies for sustainable energy. More >

June 22, 2015 – Doudna and Charpentier Share $500,000 Gruber Genetics Prize
UC Berkeley biochemist Jennifer Doudna and microbiologist Emmanuelle Charpentier of the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research in Germany and of Umeå University in Sweden have received the 2015 Gruber Genetics Prize for their invention of a gene-editing technology known as CRISPR/Cas9, which has revolutionized the field of molecular genetics. More >

June 16, 2015 – Scientists Use Molecular ‘Lock and Key’ for Potential Control of GMOs
J. Christopher Anderson and his research colleagues have developed a way to put bacteria under a molecular lock and key as a way to contain its accidental spread. The method involves a series of genetic mutations that render the microbe inactive unless the right molecule is added to enable its viability. More >

June 11, 2015 – Ke Xu Named Pew Scholar
Assistant professor of chemistry Ke Xu has been selected as one of this year’s Pew scholars, an award for sarly-career researchers showing outstanding promise in science relevant to the advancement of human health. More >

May 26, 2015 – Ke Xu Named Bakar Fellow
Chemist Ke Xu has joined the ranks of the Bakar Fellows Program, which supports Berkeley faculty working to apply scientific discoveries to real-world issues in the fields of engineering, computer science, chemistry and biological and physical sciences. His research on super-resolution microscopy could open new avenues of research in biology and material science. More >

May 19, 2015 – Discovery Paves Way for Homebrewed Dugs, Prompts Call for Regulation
John Dueber and his colleagues have completed key steps needed to turn sugar-fed yeast into a microbial factory for producing morphine and potentially other drugs, including antibiotics and anticancer agents. The process could soon become as straightforward as making homebrewed beer, prompting calls for urgent regulation. More >

May 19, 2015 – Britt Glaunsinger and Andy Martin Selected by HHMI
Britt Glaunsinger and Andy Martin are among the nation’s 26 top biomedical researchers selected as Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) investigators. HHMI will provide investigators with their full salary, benefits, and a research budget over an initial five-year appointment to move their research in creative new directions. More >

May 13, 2015 – Drug Perks Up Old Muscles and Aging Brains
Irina Conboy, David Schaffer, and their colleagues have discovered that a small-molecule drug simultaneously perks up old stem cells in the brains and muscles of mice, a finding that could lead to drug interventions for humans that would make aging tissues throughout the body act young again. More >

May 6, 2015 – Smartphone Video Microscope Automates Detection of Parasites in Blood
Dan Fletcher and his colleagues have developed a new mobile phone microscope that uses video to automatically detect and quantify infection by parasitic worms in a drop of blood. This next generation of CellScope technology could help revive efforts to eradicate debilitating diseases in Africa by providing critical information for health providers in the field. More >

May 1, 2015 – Kuriyan Elected into Royal Society
John Kuriyan was elected a Foreign Member of the Royal Society. Kuriyan has made fundamental discoveries concerning the structure and mechanism of the enzymes and molecular switches responsible for cellular signal transduction and DNA replication. More >

April 28, 2015 – Nogales and Thorner Named to National Academy
Eva Nogales and Jeremy Thorner of molecular and cell biology are among five UC Berkeley faculty members to be elected to the National Academy of Sciences on April 28 in recognition of their distinguished and continuing achievements in original research. More >

April 24, 2015 – “Intelligent Design” Can It Deliver?
Rather than trying to quiet the body’s defenses against viruses, David Schaffer has favored a kind of intelligent design approach to modify the virus. Known as directed evolution, the strategy uses genetic engineering to find variations in the virus that will allow it to effectively deliver drugs to target cells. More >

April 23, 2015 – Bustamante and Clarke Elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences
Carlos Bustamante and John Clarke have been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Each year the Academy recognizes the “world’s most accomplished scholars, scientists, writers, artists and civic, business, and philanthropic leaders.” More >

April 16, 2015 – Major Advance in Artificial Photosynthesis Poses Win/Win for the Environment
By combining biocompatible light-capturing nanowire arrays with select bacterial populations, a potentially game-changing new artificial photosynthesis system developed by Chris Chang, Michelle Chang, and other researchers offers a win/win situation for the environment: solar-powered green chemistry using sequestered carbon dioxide. More >

April 16, 2015 – Doudna Among Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World
Time magazine has named Jennifer Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier, co-discoverers of the DNA-editing technique CRISPR-Cas9, to its 2015 list of the 100 most influential people in the world. The list also includes President Barack Obama, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Russian President Vladimir Putin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton and rapper Kanye West. More >

April 9, 2015 – Researchers Get $5.8 Million NIH Grant to Fight Drug-Resistant Microbes
Lee Riley, Luke Lee, and Niren Murthy and their research team will receive $5.8 million over five years from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, to develop tools to quickly spot and identify drug-resistant pathogens. More >

April 7, 2015 – Possible New RNA Engineering Tool
Researchers led by Jennifer Doudna and Eva Nogales have shown that complexes of proteins touted for their potential use as a tool for editing DNA might also serve as an engineering tool for RNA, the molecule that translates DNA’s genetic instructions into the production of proteins. More >

April 6, 2015 – New Target for Anticancer Drugs: RNA
Jamie Cate and his research team have found that a subset of messenger RNAs – many of which have been linked to cancer – have unique tags that make them promising targets for anticancer drugs. These short RNA tags bind to a protein, eIF3, that regulates translation at the ribosome. More >

March 24, 2015 – Turn the Light On: A Non-Visual Opsin Could Help Future Studies of the Brain and Central Nervous System
A research team led by neurobiophysicist Ehud Isacoff has discovered a light-sensitive opsin protein that plays a surprising and possibly critical role in neuron maturation and circuit formation in the central nervous system. More >

March 19, 2015 – Scientists Urge Caution in Using New CRISPR Technology to Treat Human Genetic Disease
Jennifer Doudna, Michael Botchan, and five other UC Berkeley scientists co-authored a commentary in the journal Science this week urging caution when using new precision DNA scissors to do gene therapy, and strongly discouraged their use to alter the human genome in ways that can be inherited. Doudna is one of the co-inventors of this technology, referred to as CRISPR-Cas9. More >

March 9, 2015 – Bioengineers Put Human Hearts on a Chip to Aid Drug Screening
A research team led by bioengineering professor Kevin Healy have created a “heart-on-a-chip” that effectively uses human cardiac muscle cells derived from adult stem cells to model how a human heart reacts to cardiovascular medications. The system could one day replace animal models to screen for the safety and efficacy of new drugs. More >

March 4, 2015 – Metabolic Path to Improved Biofuel Production
Researchers led by Jamie Cate have found a way to increase the production of fuels and other chemicals from biomass fermented by yeast without the need of environmentally harsh pre-treatments or expensive enzyme cocktails. More >

February 27, 2015 – Unlocking the Key to Immunological Memory in Bacteria
A powerful genome editing tool may soon become even more powerful. Jennifer Doudna and her colleagues have unlocked the key to how bacteria are able to “steal” genetic information from viruses and other foreign invaders for use in their own immunological memory system. More >

February 11, 2015 – Bringing Up Baby
While proponents of complete sequencing at birth speak of the dawn of “precision medicine,” a time when doctors will be able to go directly to the genome to predict and address a person’s health needs, Steven Brenner and his research collaborators think sequencing will, initially, not be nearly as effective and advise caution. More >

February 5, 2015 – Innovative Genomics Initiative Launched
UC Berkeley and UCSF scientists joined colleagues from the biopharmaceutical industry on Feb. 4 to celebrate the launch of the Innovative Genomics Initiative, which aims to perfect gene editing technology discovered at Berkeley and apply it to the development of new drugs to fight disease globally. More >

January 8, 2015 – Quantum Dots: From the Lab to Your Digital Device
The Alivisatos lab’s quantum dots have not only found their way into tablets, computer screens, and TVs, they are also used in biological and medical imaging tools. Now Paul Alivasatos’ lab is exploring them for solar cell as well as brain imaging applications. More >

Faculty Media Mentions, 2015

December 18, 2015, Science
Making the Cut

November 25, 2015, Wall Street Journal
Giving Thanks for the Innovation that Saves Babies

November 9, 2015, New York Times Magazine
The Crispr Quandary

October 26, 2015, Chemical & Engineering News
Seeking Better Biofuels

October 11, 2015, Science
Gene-Editing Method Revives Hopes for Transplanting Pig Organs into People

July 30, 2015, Cell
Mechanistic Origin of Microtubule Dynamic Instability and Its Modulation by EB Proteins

July 27, 2015, KQED
How Do You Make Greener Fuel? Copy a Leaf

July 7, 2015, Business Insider
The Researchers Behind ‘The Biggest Biotech Discovery of the Century’ Found It by Accident

May 11, 2015, New York Times
Jennifer Doudna, a Pioneer Who Helped Simplify Genome Editing

May 6, 2015, NPR
Smartphones Can Be Smart Enough to Find a Parasitic Worm

April 16, 2015, Time
The 100 Most Influential People

April 14, 2015, Reuters
Heart Chip Beats Toward Better Drug Screening, Personalized Medicine

March 19, 2015, New York Times
Scientists Seek Ban on Method of Editing the Human Genome

March 16, 2015, KQED
A CRISPR Solution to ‘Bubble Boy’ Disease?

March 9, 2015, CNET
Human Heart on a Chip Could Replace Animal Drug Testing

March 1, 2015, The Scientist
Red Hot: CRISPR/Cas Is All the Rage – and Getting More Precise and Efficient

February 20, 2015, eLIFE
Autoinhibition of Bruton’s Tyrosine Kinase (BTK) and Activation by Soluble Inositol Hexakisphosphate

February 19, 2015, Cell
Ribosome Excursions During mRNA Translocation Mediate Broad Branching of Frameshift Pathways