Friday, September 19, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
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Name droppers: Jennifer Ervin receives U of A masters, starts Ph.D.

By
From page A7 | September 12, 2012 |

Jennifer Ervin received a master’s degree from the department of communications at the University of Arizona, Tucson, in May. She received the recognition for her exceptional teaching performance as a teacher’s aide and for maintaining a 4.0 grade-point average throughout the master’s program.

Ervin is now enrolled in the university’s Ph.D. program. She graduated from Davis High School in 2001.
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Jimmy Yo and Alejandro Lavernia, both of Davis, took their first academic step as students at Purdue University, by taking part in the annual STAR program at the school’s West Lafayette campus.

Summer Transition, Advising and Registration is Purdue’s program for new undergraduate students to receive academic advice and create their initial course schedule.
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Walter Leal, chemical ecologist and former chairman of the UCD entomology department, helped convince the International Congress of Entomology to meet in the United States in 2016 in a successful bid spearheaded by the Entomological Society of America. Leal served on the initial committee that submitted the successful bid and is co-chairing the organizing committee.

ESA president Grayson C. Brown, professor at the University of Kentucky, announced the successful proposal on Aug. 23.
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Paul Knoepfler, associate professor of cell biology and human anatomy at UC Davis School of Medicine, has been awarded a $100,000 grant from the St. Baldrick’s Foundation to pursue his novel research into the molecular causes of brain tumors in children. It is the second consecutive year Knoepfler as been given awarded the grant.

St. Baldrick’s, which is known for its annual head-shaving event fundraisers, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting research into childhood cancers.

Knoepfler specializes in regenerative medicine and cancer-related research. Some of his work focuses on understanding how stem cells are programmed and how that programming can go awry, thereby causing birth defects or cancer. He specifically has analyzed the epigenetic changes in stem cells — the mechanisms, apart from mutations, by which environment influences gene expression and may lead to tumors or birth defects.

Knoepfler’s research includes a focus on the most common type of pediatric brain tumors: medulloblastomas. The tumors are more prevalent in children under the age of 5, and are more often found in males than females. Current treatments remain limited and often have toxic side effects in young patients, including lifelong cognitive impairment.

Medulloblastomas, while rare, are responsible for up to 25 percent of all pediatric brain cancers, according to National Cancer Institute. About 500 cases around the nation are diagnosed annually. The tumors occur in a part of the brain (cerebellum) that controls balance and other complex motor functions.

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Stephanie L. Barrow, Melissa D. Bauman and Tara A. Niendam are among only 200 researchers worldwide selected from more than 1,000 applicants for the NARSAD Young Investigator Grants. The grants are distributed by the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation, formerly known as the National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression, the world’s leading private philanthropy devoted to funding research on psychiatric disorders.

Schizophrenia is a chronic, severe and disabling brain disorder affecting about 1 percent of Americans today, according to the National Institutes of Mental Health. People with schizophrenia may hear voices other people don’t hear, believe that people are reading their minds, controlling their thoughts or plotting to harm them. People with schizophrenia are also at high risk for suicide.

The NARSAD Young Investigator Grants support early career investigators with grants of $60,000 over two years to pursue brain and behavior research in four main categories: basic research, new technologies, diagnostic tools/early intervention and next-generation therapies. The grants are among the most competitive in biomedical research, because of the great ability and career success of the applicants.
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