Leaks from the Lab: 10.8.08

High-speed galaxy collision might stop new star formations

While studying new images of a galaxy cluster located close to Earth, Yale astronomers have discovered that high-speed collisions between large elliptical galaxies might inhibit the formation of new stars. The data from the study provide some of the most substantial evidence discovered so far for high-speed collisions between large galaxies. It also offers scientists an explanation other than black holes for what prevents star formation in big galaxies.

Rapid reproduction rates linked to faster evolution among plants

A recent study by Yale researchers has determined that plants that reproduce earlier and more often end up evolving more quickly, linking rapid reproductive cycles to rapid evolutionary processes. The findings reinforce an idea first proposed in 1916, using high-powered technology to establish the hypothesis for certain. While the variation in rate of molecular evolution has long been ascribed to differences in body size, metabolic rate and other factors in animals, the differences have been much more evasive in plant species. The study’s findings have significance for a greater understanding of evolution facilitated by the critical role of the computer in revealing major evolutionary patterns.

Schools issued report cards for nutrition education, physical activity curriculum

The Connecticut State Department of Education released wellness policy reports for Connecticut school districts participating in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s child-nutrition programs. The report cards are for the benefit of parents, students and school districts to improve each school’s nutrition-education and overall physical-health policies. The schools were rated in seven areas, including school meals, physical activity and communication. The scores and report cards are available on the State Department of Education’s Web site.

Yale professor testifies for improved healthcare practices

Yale School of Public Health assistant professor Jennifer Prah Ruger is working to find ways to reduce disparities in health care among women, adolescents, minorities and other groups. She was recently invited to testify in front of the Institute of Medicine — a national advisory board on health-related matters — about how the current management of global health institutions and governance might be improved. Ruger advocates the creation of clinical and public health programs that make more efficient use of scarce resources while improving current healthcare practices. Ruger is also the codirector of the Yale/World Health Organization Centre for Health Promotion, Policy and Research.

New Innovator Award given to Yale professor for MRI enhancements

Assistant professor of diagnostic radiology and biomedical engineering Erik Shapiro recently received the $1.5 million New Innovator Award from the National Institutes of Health. He is currently working on developing new methods to enhance cellular and molecular magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technology. These innovations will enable scientists to observe, measure and even manipulate cell migration in living tissue.

Professors take new posts in psychiatry, biophysics departments

Three Yale science professors have recently been appointed to new posts in the departments of psychiatry and molecular biophysics and biochemistry. Mark Hochstrasser and Scott Strobel have taken new posts in molecular biophysics and biochemistry as the Eugene Higgins Professor and the Henry Ford II Professor, respectively. Hochstrasser is working on research at the intersection of biochemistry and genetics, looking at eukaryotic protein degradation on a molecular level. Strobel is studying RNA splicing, ribosome-catalyzed peptide-bond formation and RNA riboswitches. Angus Nairn is the Charles B.G. Murphy Professor of Psychiatry. His work focuses on the molecular actions of dopamine in the basal ganglia.

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