Briefly

    Yale graduate student strike cancels classes

    Administrators at Yale University were forced to cancel approximately 450 classes, affecting roughly 7,500 undergraduates, as a result of a weeklong strike by the campus’ graduate student teachers seeking recognition of its union and better benefits.

    The strike was one of two labor stoppages — the other took place at Columbia University — though graduate students across the country expressed their support by signing a joint declaration of principle, asserting the rights of graduate students to organize.

    The labor disputes have been joined by solidarity actions at universities around the world, including some as distant as Australia. The European Parliament also issued a written declaration backing the unions representing graduate students at the two campuses, and the Rev. Jesse Jackson made an appearance at Yale in a show of support.

    A contract between New York University and its graduate students is also set to expire next year, and the university has suggested that it may choose not to renegotiate.

    The subject of collective bargaining for graduate students has attracted wide national attention over the past several years, including mixed rulings from the National Labor Relations Board. Last year, the University of California signed a contract with its teaching assistants after the union representing them held a one-day strike.

    Researchers film cellular signals

    Researchers at Jacobs School of Engineering, with colleagues at UC Irvine, have for the first time captured on video footage of chemical signals moving through the cells of the body in response to tiny mechanical stimulations.

    The video and technical details of their observations were released in conjunction with a paper published last week in the journal Nature.

    The researchers utilized a new molecular “reporter” system that allowed them to visually study the activation of a single protein. Post-doctorate researcher and lead author of the paper Peter Yingxiao Wang spent two years developing the system that causes reporter molecules to light up in response to a single protein.

    They predicted that current findings could be used to track the activation and movement of different proteins in the body. The technology could also be used to diagnose certain kinds of cancers, they said.

    Scripps team predicts Tahoe quake activity

    Using a unique combination of high-tech scientific instruments, researchers led by a team from Scripps Institution of Oceanography have produced the first-ever predictions of earthquake activity in several fault areas of Lake Tahoe.

    In research to be published next month, the group analyzed more than 60,000 years of fault data. They predicted the occurrence of a large earthquake — measuring seven on the Richter scale — every 3,000 years in the region. Scientists at University of Nevada, Reno, have shown that such a shake could create tsunami waves between three and 10 meters high.

    The team plans to study further the individual fault ruptures over the past several dozen millennia to get a better understanding of the role each fault has played in the earthquake cycle, a series of events scientists call “strain accumulation and rupture.”

    New method indicates cancer cell severity

    In a study to be published next month, UCSD researchers will describe a new method they believe will make it easier for doctors to identify differences between nonmetastatic and highly metastatic breast-cancer cells.

    The new findings rely on variations in gene activity between different cancer cell lines derived from the same human to assess the capability of the cells to spread to distant organs. Previous methods have looked at cellular variations among different cancer patients, with genetic variation between subjects distorting the ability of scientists to make clear interpretations.

    The discovery, doctors predict, could someday lead to the identification of “marker genes” that could quickly predict the behavior of tumors taken from human patients.

    UCLA scientists find HIV binding block

    Scientists believe that new findings by researchers at UCLA may lead to a new class of drugs capable of blocking sexually transmitted HIV infections.

    In a new study, the researchers have demonstrated that blocking the access of HIV to naturally occurring molecules on certain immune cells may reduce the ability of the cells to transport the infection into the body. The results of the study indicate that using other substances and antibodies to bind to the molecules may prevent its transmission.

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