Briefly

UCSD biologists recently discovered a process to alter leaves genetically so they take the form of petals.

The biologists published their findings in the February issue of Current Biology. The findings describe how the scientists found a new floral gene which, when combined with three other genes, creates the capability to turn leaves into petals. UCSD biology professor Martin F. Yanofsky conducted the experiment along with Soraya Pelaz, Rosalinda Tapia-Lopez and Elena R. Alvarez-Buylla. Yanofsky described the other genes in the May issue of “”Nature”” and explained how the mutation of these genes can create a “”double flower”” where the petals, stamens and carpels of a flower all become sepals.

The discovery will allow scientists to create entirely new plant species.

Nominations Teaching Awards Being Sought

The Academic Senate Committee on Distinguished Teaching, which is comprised of faculty and student representatives, is soliciting nominations for this year’s annual Distinguished Teaching Awards.

The awards will be given to a select number of faculty and graduate students who have made extraordinary contributions to UCSD as distinguished teachers. The committee will consider nominations from students and department faculty and will recommend a slate of candidates to be voted on by the Representative Assembly.

Award recipients will be honored at an awards presentation and reception in June.

Nominations must include the nominee’s name, the course or courses for which they are being nominated and a detailed letter explaining the quality and nature of the nominee’s teaching effectiveness. The deadline for submission is March 2. Additional details concerning award criteria and the nomination process can be obtained from the chair or director of the nominee’s department or program.

Student Regent to Speak About Application Process

UC student Regent Tracy Davis is scheduled to visit UCSD on Feb. 16 to have lunch with students and discuss the student regent application process that is currently underway.

Davis is a graduate student at UCLA and was appointed by the Regents in September 2000. Davis will begin her term on July 1, 2001.

Applications can be obtained on each campus from the student regent campus coordinator. The deadline for application submission is 5 p.m., Friday, Feb. 23. For more information visit www.ucop.edu/regents.

UCSD Researchers Imitate Lupus Gene in Mice

Researchers at the UCSD School of Medicine have discovered a gene in mice that simulates the systemic lupus erythamatous (SLE) disease.

Lupus is a fatal disease in humans that attacks numerous organs and turns people’s immune systems against them.

The UCSD scientists published their findings in the Jan. 30 issue of “”Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.”” In the issue, they explain that a mutation in an enzyme called alphamannosidase causes the development of a systemic autoimmune disease that is similar to lupus.

Approximately 1 million people in the United States suffer from lupus, according to the Lupus Foundation of America. The discovery may lead to new treatments of the disease.

The research was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health and the Howard Hughes Institute, along with contributions from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and Welcome Trust.

Cancer Center Researchers Make Cells Self-Destruct

UCSD Cancer Center researchers have discovered a new way to make leukemia cells self-destruct.

The process began by using a two-drug combination and coaxing a deadly cancer-causing molecule called Bcr-Abl from its command center in the cell cytoplasm. Next, the team trapped it deep into the cell nucleus where it eventually self-destructed.

Two drugs that the team found to be useful in this process were STI571 and Leptomycin B.