Cells internally process external signals

A new study by Yale researchers shows that a switching station beneath the cell surface is key to detecting and processing signals from outside the cell. The study, published in the March 20 issue of the journal Cell, also describes the molecular details of a switch that turns off signaling from this station. The findings confirm a more “complex and fluid system of cellular information processing than previously envisioned,” said Derek Toomre, assistant professor of cell biology and co-author of the study, in a press release.

Fleming appointed associate professor of physics

Bonnie Fleming was recently named the Horace B. Taft Associate Professor of Physics. Her research focuses on the properties of interactions among neutrinos — the smallest building blocks of matter. She has been involved in a 10-year experiment, called MiniBooNE, that aims to investigate the behavior of neutrinos based on observations made in the 1990s using the Department of Energy’s Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Liquid Scintillator Neutrino Detector.

Study will investigate effects of exercise on cancer prognosis

Thanks to a nearly $7 million grant, Melinda Irwin, associate professor of chronic disease epidemiology at the Yale School of Public Health, will embark on a study to investigate the effects of exercise on two types of cancers that affect women. Irwin will test her hypothesis that regular exercise — in conjunction with more traditional forms of treatment, such as chemotherapy — has a positive effect on prognosis and survivorship of cancer patients by countering fatigue resulting from surgery and chemotherapy. The study will enroll 230 women in Connecticut who have completed treatment for ovarian cancer, engaging half in a regimen of moderately intense aerobic exercise.

Study links perceptions of obesity to opinions on public policies

New research at the Yale School of Public Health shows an individual’s beliefs about the origins of weight problems predicts whether he or she will support public health policies designed to counter obesity. For instance, people who perceive obesity to be a function of poor individual habits and choices are less likely to be in favor of public health responses such as food labeling, healthy school lunch programs and the imposition of taxes on junk food. On the other hand, those who deem obesity a consequence of environmental factors, such as a lack of available healthy food in low-income neighborhoods, are more likely to be in favor of such responses.

Food and tobacco industries practice similar strategies

Yale researchers have published a review and analysis of tobacco and food industry practices revealing that the two industries share similar tactics, including influencing government and professional organizations and funding scientists who produce favorable research, to sell their products. “While we recognize the inherent differences between cigarettes and food, the food industry must accept responsibility for what they are selling and how they are selling it,” Kelly Brownell, director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, said in a press release. “Consumers have a right to accurate information — not just spin — about the safety and nutritional value of the food they are eating.”