Researchers have long suspected that overweight people tend to have large fat deposits in their pancreases, but they’ve been unable to confirm or calculate how much fat resides there because of the organ’s location.

Until now.


Scientists at UT Southwestern Medical Center are the first in the U.S. to use an imaging technique called magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) to measure the amount of pancreatic fat in humans. Though scientists worldwide already use MRS to investigate a number of diseases including breast cancer and epilepsy, the UT Southwestern group has successfully used the noninvasive method to measure pancreatic fat.

Berkeley, CA — There’s a new way to explore biology’s secrets. With a flash of light, scientists from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of California, Berkeley zeroed in on the type of neural cell that controls swimming in larval zebrafish.

Using innovative light-activated proteins and gene expression techniques, the scientists zapped several zebrafish with a pulse of light, and initiated a swimming action in a subset of fish that was traced back to the neuron that drives the side-to-side motion of their tail fins.

by Deborah Halber, Picower Institute

New role discovered for brain waves

You're meeting a friend in a crowded cafeteria. Do your eyes scan the room like a roving spotlight, moving from face to face, or do you take in the whole scene, hoping that your friend's face will pop out at you? And what, for that matter, determines how fast you can scan the room?

An adaptation of two-photon microscopy, the go-to method for seeing neurons below the surface of the brain, has improved its spatial resolution threefold. The new imaging technique will allow scientists to focus on tiny structures, such as those that mediate communication between neurons, within relatively intact samples of brain tissue.

WHAT: In a new study of nearly one million adults between the ages of 18 and 64, nearly 70 percent of participants underwent at least one medical imaging procedure between July 2005 and December 2007, resulting in an average effective dose of radiation nearly double the amount they would otherwise be exposed to from natural sources. Nearly 20 percent of participants received at least moderate annual doses of radiation from diagnostic tests, and women and older individuals were at greater risk for radiation exposure, according to a report in the August 27 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

If you wanted to perform a single run of a current model of the explosion of a star on your home computer, it would take more than three years just to download the data. In order to do cutting-edge astrophysics research, scientists need a way to more quickly compile, execute and especially visualize these incredibly complex simulations.

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This news service is provided by Good Samaritan Institute, located in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida.

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