BRIEFLY

Students who do not waive the Undergraduate Student Health Insurance Plan on StudentLink by Friday, Jan. 11 will be assessed with the plan’s quarterly fee of $163. Those who successfully waived the fee for the entire 2001-02 academic year last fall will not have to do so again for the winter quarter.

For students who desire to waive the USHIP fee and have health insurance policies that provide minimum requirements, an online waiver form is available at http://www.studentlink.ucsd.edu.

The minimum requirements to have the fee waived have been lowered since Fall Quarter, so those who did not qualify to waive the plan and still wish to do so may try again before the Jan. 11 deadline.

More information about USHIP can be found on the Web at http://www.ucsd.edu/shs or by contacting USHIP Coordinator Sylvia Saiz at (858) 822-5980.

UCSD scientists finds genetic link to cardiac death

A gene discovered to play a role in heart failure has been cloned by UCSD’s Institute of Molecular Medicine.

The gene, Kv Channel-Interacting Protein 2, is said to cause the irregular heartbeats that can ultimately lead to sudden cardiac death. KChIP2 regulates the electrical currents that cause the human heart to sustain a normal rhythmic beat.

UCSD IMM scientists demonstrated the genetic link by cloning KChIP2 and then breeding mice that were deficient of the gene. While these mice did not physically display any irregularity in basic functions, a single extra heartbeat by a mouse led to a sustained malignant heart rhythm that would typically cause sudden death in humans.

IMM director Dr. Kenneth R. Chien headed the study, which was recently published in the Dec. 14, 2001 issue of Cell.

UCSD lab tests could aid in development of AIDS drugs

Researchers at the UCSD School of Medicine and Veterans Administration San Diego Healthcare System have developed a new test that enables the measurement of molecular components during HIV’s initial contact with a human cell.

The new test allows scientists to study and design new compounds that halt the infection of the virus’ molecular compounds.

The groundbreaking method will allow researchers to test newly designed drugs that work to restrain enzymes that lead to the spread of HIV throughout the cell. While there is no medicine that has yet been approved to prevent the virus from splicing its DNA into the host cell, scientists are optimistic that this new testing method will allow the development of such drugs.

Last month, the GlaxoSmithKline pharmaceutical company awarded a Drug Discovery and Development Award to the study’s senior author, Dr. Richard Kornbluth, who is also a UCSD associate professor of medicine.

The study was printed in the December 2001 issue of the Journal of Biochemistry Medicine.

First discovery announced of a planet orbiting a giant star

Three UCSD astronomers were involved in a major scientific discovery announced Wednesday at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Washington.

Sabine Frink, David S. Mitchell and Andreas Quirrenbach, all from UCSD’s Center for Astrophysics and Space Science, joined UC Berkeley’s Debra A. Fisher and Geoffrey W. Marcy, and Carnegie Institution of Washington’s Paul Butler in discovering the first planet orbiting a giant star.

The star, iota Draconis, is a very old star that has already burned all of the hydrogen fuel in its core and had grown to a radius 13 times that of the sun.

This is a significant discovery because it provides the first evidence that planets at an earthlike distance can survive the evolution of their host star into a giant star, according to Frink, a postdoctoral researcher at UCSD.

Iota Draconis is located 100 light years from Earth and is visible with an unaided eye in the morning sky. It can be seen just east of the Big Dipper in the constellation of Draco.

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