The UC Board of Regents officially appointed UC Berkeley junior Dexter G. Ligot-Gordon as student-regent designate at their meeting Oct. 17.

The 21-year-old from Vallejo, Calif. is majoring in political economy of industrial societies at UC Berkeley.

As the student-regent designate, Ligot-Gordon is able to participate in deliberations but cannot vote. His term as student regent begins in July 2002. He then becomes a voting member.

Ligot-Gordon is the first Filipino-American student-regent designate to serve on the Board of Regents.

Ligot-Gordon said he finds it ironic that, in light of his high-visibility position, he had to use the appeals process to gain admission to UC Berkeley.

He is the 28th student regent since the position was established in 1975. Tracy M. Davis, a graduate student at UCLA, is the current voting student regent.

Molecular motor packs DNA into viruses at high pressures

The DNA inside some viruses has an internal pressure of 10 times that of the pressure inside a champagne bottle, according to biophysicists at UCSD, UC Berkeley and the University of Minnesota.

Researchers suspect that the high pressures help the virus transfer its DNA into human cells. Once the DNA is inside, it begins retooling the cell to make more viruses.

The tight packing inside the virus is achieved by powerful molecular motors.

The motor studied by the researchers is part of the bacteriophage phi-29, a virus that is the scourge of the common soil bacterium Bacillus subtilis.

Douglas E. Smith, an assistant professor of physics at UCSD, was the first author of a paper on the topic, which appeared in the Oct. 18 issue of Nature.

UCSD Regional Burn Center releases 2000 statistics

The UCSD Regional Burn Center released its annual statistics report, listing numbers and types of burns suffered by people in San Diego and Imperial counties.

Some 440 patients were admitted to the center in 2000 for injuries and smoke inhalation. This represents a 5 percent increase in burn patients from 1999, but the lowest mortality rate since 1996. In 2000, there were eight deaths.

People age 18 to 65 constituted 285 admissions. Twenty of those admitted were over age 65. Infants up to age three constituted 75 admissions and children from four to 12 made up 33 admissions. Teen-agers age 12 to 18 were 27 of the patients admitted.

Most accidents in all groups were home accidents. For the youngest two age groups, cooking and scalding accidents were the most common. Contact with objects such as curling irons, clothing irons, hot coals, fireworks, gasoline, gunpowder and barbecues were also common causes of accidents involving young children.

Males were 72.5 percent of those admitted to the burn center.

Huntington’s Disease Clinic designated Center of Excellence

The UCSD Huntington’s Disease Clinic was recognized by the Huntington’s Disease Society of America as a Center of Excellence. The clinic was one of the first centers in the western United States to receive this recognition.

The brain disorder primarily strikes men and women age 30 to 45. It causes involuntary movements, severe emotional disturbance and cognitive decline. Affected individuals often die from complications such as choking, infection or heart failure.

Huntington’s disease has been diagnosed in 30,000 Americans, with 150,000 at risk. Family members have a 50 percent chance of inheriting the disorder from an affected parent.

Approximately 278 individuals in San Diego have been diagnosed with the disorder and 1,521 are at risk. The UCSD center has seen a significant number of these patients.

There is currently no treatment for the disease. The UCSD clinic provides medication for the movement disorder and antidepressants for the cognitive problems.

Members of the UCSD program focus on conducting research to find new treatments for Huntington’s disease.

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