A computer model was used to predict variations of diseases based on an individual’s DNA for the first time ever by a team at the Jacobs School of Engineering.

Until now, most medical approaches have relied on statistical correlations between reported genetic mutations and occurrences of disease variants. The new technique actually defines the mechanism by which a genetic defect causes a disease and is thus able to predict which genetic mutations will result in specific versions of diseases.

The study, led by Bernhard Palsson, is published in the November issue of Genome Research.

AMD patients helped by self-management program

A six-week self-management program can be beneficial for individuals with vision loss caused by age-related macular degeneration, according to a team of physicians and researchers from the UCSD Shiley Eye Center and School of Medicine.

The program, which is especially helpful for patients who suffer from depression as a result of AMD, includes participating in a 10-minute exercise program and developing a clear way to describe their disease to others. As a result, the researchers documented an increase in self-efficiency and a drop in depression and anxiety.

The disease is caused by the degeneration of cells and blood vessel leakage in the macula, which is the area of the retina responsible for central vision. There is presently no cure for the condition.

AMD is the most common cause of vision loss in older adults, affecting an estimated one-in-five individuals over the age of 65.

Shiley Eye Center specialists were prompted to develop this program based on other studies showing that similar self-management programs have successfully enhanced the quality of life in patients with other incurable chronic conditions, such as heart disease and cancer.

The results of the study are reported in the November Archives of Ophthamology.

UCSD ranks fourth among research universities

In a recent report examining the impact of research at the top 100 federally funded research universities, UCSD was ranked fourth in the nation from 1997 to 2001 by the Institute for Scientific Information.

By examining both the number of research papers produced at the universities and the amount of citations they garnered, the report ranks the schools in 21 fields in the biological, physical and social sciences. Of those 21 fields, UCSD ranked highly in clinical medicine (second), pharmacology (third), molecular biology and genetics (fourth), plant and animal sciences (third), chemistry (fifth), biology and biochemistry (eighth), geosciences (seventh), computer science (10th), and psychology and psychiatry (10th).

In terms of the number of citations within the 21 fields, UCSD tied Massachusetts Institute of Technology with nine appearances, preceded by Harvard University with 15 appearances and Stanford University with 11. Yale University, UC Berkeley and Columbia University followed UCSD with eight.

The top “”highest impact”” university was Harvard, followed by Stanford and MIT. The rankings are reported in the fall edition of Science Watch.

MarshallPalooza! to kick off Thurgood Marshall Week

Thurgood Marshall Week will kick off on Nov. 15 with MarshallPalooza from noon to 10 p.m. on Marshall Field.

Events will continue Nov. 18 when the Dean’s Casual Forum will offer free burgers and cake from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in front of the Thurgood Marshall College Administration Building.

The following day will feature the Preuss School Student Day of Service from noon to 3 p.m. in Oceanview Terrace. On Nov. 20, the U.S. Postal Service Justice Marshall commemorative stamp will be unveiled in Price Center Plaza from noon to 1 p.m.

On Nov. 21, the final day of festivities, Randall Kennedy, an author and former law clerk to Justice Marshall, will give a speech titled “”The Greatness of Thurgood Marshall”” at 8 p.m.