IMAGE:  August 2004
LINK:  Research
Research at Chicago  
LINK:  Features
Myth information  
Medical muse  
If journalists listened to media scholars…  
Requiem for a dorm  

LINK:  Class Notes
Alumni News  
Alumni Works  

LINK:  Campus News
Chicago Journal  
University News e-bulletin  

LINK:  Also in every issue
Editor's Notes  
GRAPHIC:  University of Chicago Magazine

GRAPHIC:  ResearchInvestigations

Catching their breath

University researchers may have gotten much nearer to the cellular root of sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS. In the United States approximately 3,000 babies die each year from the disorder, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, when they abruptly stop breathing. A team led by neurobiologist Jan-Marino Ramirez reports in the July 8 Neuron that certain respiratory neurons handle gasping, an autoresuscitation mechanism whose malfunctioning could cause SIDS.

IMAGE: Paul Sereno examines a dinosaur’s jaw.
Mike Hettwer
Paul Sereno examines a dinosaur’s jaw.

Continental cleavage

Africa kissed South America and India good-bye much later than previously thought, according to the June 2 Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, Biological Sciences. New findings suggest that the region formed 100 million years ago, not 120 million as scientists had earlier guessed. The change in continental drift theory follows discoveries by Chicago paleontologist Paul Sereno and his team of dinosaur diggers. A 2000 Sereno-led expedition in the Sahara desert unearthed the skull of a meat-eating species belonging to the abelisaurid family whose members roamed between continents, likely by land bridges. Before Sereno’s team located the fossil and an ancient relative, tracked down in Niger in 1997, such predators were virtually unknown in Africa. Both carnivores lived during the Cretaceous Period.

Out of this University

Apiece of Chicago has made astronomy history. A dust detector built by Anthony Tuzzolino, SM’55, PhD’57, a senior scientist at the Enrico Fermi Institute, is on board NASA’s Cassini-Huygens spacecraft, which became the first vessel to enter Saturn’s orbit June 30 after a six-and-a-half year, 2.2-billion-mile journey. Tuzzolino’s High Rate Detector will collect dust data over the next four years as Cassini circles the planet 76 times along different planes and executes 52 close encounters with its 31 charted moons.

Anthrax antidote

Anewly identified compound could stop some bioterrorists in their tracks. The protein DS-998 appears to curb anthrax lethal factor, the deadly toxin behind the infectious disease, chemistry professor Milan Mrksich, graduate student Dal-Hee Min, SM’01, and Ben May Institute for Cancer Research Institute associate professor Wei-Jen Tang report in the June Nature Biotechnology and the May 16 online edition. Currently taking antibiotics soon after infection is the only effective treatment, placing patients who are unknowingly exposed and thus slower to seek medical care in danger.

The water’s fine

Shuttering Lake Michigan’s public beaches when E. coli exceeds federal regulations doesn’t add up, according to Don Coursey, the Ameritech professor in the Irving B. Harris School of Public Policy Studies. In an ongoing study, Coursey found that weekly bacteria checks lack reliability. Examining closures at Indiana Dunes State Park from 1998 to 2001, he estimated that more than half were unnecessary, costing $111,000 to $518,000. Even with E. coli there for the testing, he notes, the risk of contracting the bacteria from swimming in the lake remains low.—M.L.


2007 The University of Chicago® Magazine | 401 North Michigan Ave. Suite 1000, Chicago, IL 60611
phone: 773/702-2163 | fax: 773/702-8836 |