Jeffrey Elman, associate dean of social sciences and a cognitive science professor at UCSD, was one of five inaugural fellows selected by the Cognitive Science Society for his outstanding contributions to the field.

    Elman’s work includes the T.R.A.C.E. model and Simple Recurring Network architecture. He has also developed a new theoretical framework for understanding the nature versus nurture debate. Elman, who helped found the cognitive science department, is currently working on language development, processing and computational models of cognition.

    The Cognitive Science Society brings researchers from various fields together with the goal of understanding the nature of the human mind. As a new fellow, Elman will work with a committee to help select the next 10 fellows.

    Gene-therapy trial for leukemia launched May 22

    A Phase II gene-therapy clinical trial for patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia was launched May 22 by researchers at the Rebecca and John Moores UCSD Cancer Center in conjunction with San Diego-based Tragen Pharmaceuticals, previously known as Immunogenex, Inc.

    The 40 patients in the study received infusions of their own leukemia cells that were genetically modified to induce a cancer-killing response in their immune systems.

    The research is based on promising results from a previous UCSD study in which 11 patients were each treated with a modified version of their own leukemia cells. In that Phase I study, the immune response prompted by the modified cells destroyed both the harmless modified cells and the active leukemia cells.

    The Phase II study is designed to determine whether multiple injections will maintain low leukemia cell counts for a longer period. The research project is being led by an associate professor of clinical medicine at UCSD’s School of Medicine, M. Wayne Seville. The concept of the approach for modified cell injections was created in the UCSD laboratory of Thomas Kipps.

    CLL is a chronic disease in which immune cells in the body accumulate because they do not die, thus rendering the patient suspect to diseases. Its cause is unknown.

    UC Santa Cruz to receive renowned photo archive

    UC Santa Cruz will receive the entire archive accumulated by renowned nature photographer and environmentalist Philip Hyde over his 50-year career.

    The donated archive, which consists of prints, negatives, field notes and correspondence, is worth over $1 million.

    Hyde began photographing nature during his first trip to Yosemite National Park in 1938. He joined the Sierra Club in the early 1950s and used his large-format, black-and-white photos to support the organization’s conservation efforts.

    The Philip Hyde Photographic Archive will be housed in Special Collections at the UCSC Library.

    New evidence found to validate dwarf galaxies

    Evidence that galaxies are surrounded by halos containing hundreds of dwarf galaxies was discovered by astrophysicists Neal Dalal of UCSD and Christopher Kochanek of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Mass.

    Their discovery strongly supports the theory that most of the matter in the universe is in the form of dark, which is undetected, slow-moving particles. The conclusion is based on an analysis of the gravitational lensing of light from distant galaxies by intervening galaxies.

    The model provided by Dalal and Kochanek predicts that large galaxies like the Milky Way should have numerous small satellite galaxies around them.

    The discovery is described in the June 10 issue of The Astrophysical Journal.

    New worm research may lead to medical advances

    UC Davis researchers have found a gene in the nematode worm, Caenorhabditis elegans, that may aid researchers in studying the human gene that causes dystonia, a disabling neurological disease.

    Dystonia causes muscle contractions that force the body into abnormal and painful postures. The disease is second only to Parkinson’s Disease in numbers of people who suffer from it, affecting about half a million people in the United States and Canada. Scientists are not sure what causes dystonia and only milder types can be treated.

    An assistant professor of molecular and cell biology at UC Davis, Lesilee Rose, discovered the worm gene, OOC-5. A database search showed that the protein that OOC-5 produces is related to the human protein found in nerve cells of humans with the early onset of Dystonia.

    Rose’s lab has received a $43,325 grant from the dystonia Medical Research Foundation. The lab plans on researching how OOC-5 interacts with other proteins in the worm to show how human gene distortion lead to dystonia.

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