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  • The researchers in the laboratory.

    Experts boost activity of potential therapeutic target in triple-negative breast cancer

    Less than 20% of diagnosed breast cancers are designated “triple-negative,” meaning that the affected tissues lack three types of receptors often found in other breast cancer types, but TNBCs are often aggressive with a higher risk of recurrence, metastasis and mortality. In a study conducted in TNBC cells and in a mouse model of the disease, researchers found that targeting a specific estrogen receptor that is sometimes present in TNBCs alters the activity of dozens of cancer-related genes and slows the growth and metastasis of these breast cancers.

  • Ian Ludden, graduate student; Janet A. Jokela, interim executive associate dean of the Carle Illinois College of Medicine; Sheldon H. Jacobson, professor of computer science.

    Second year of pandemic deadlier for middle aged than the first, analysis finds

    The first two years of the COVID-19 pandemic saw an increase in mortality rates, both from COVID-19 and other causes, but the groups hardest hit shifted between the first and second years, according to an analysis of publicly available data. Both years saw an increase in deaths over the five years preceding the pandemic, even with COVID-19 numbers removed. But while the first year was most deadly for those over age 65, the second year hit middle-aged adults the hardest, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign researchers found.

  • Photo of the researchers on this year's list.

    Nine Illinois scientists rank among world's most influential

    Nine U. of I. researchers have been named to the 2022 Clarivate Analytics Highly Cited Researchers list. The list recognizes research scientists and social scientists who have demonstrated exceptional influence – reflected through their publication of multiple papers frequently cited by their peers during the last decade. This year’s list includes 6,938 individuals from around the world whose papers rank in the top 1% by citations for field and year in the Web of Science.

  • Atul Jain

    How can the 2022 Global Carbon Budget report help inform UN Climate Summit?

    The Global Carbon Project published the Global Carbon Budget 2022 today, giving world leaders access to data on atmospheric carbon concentrations, emissions and trends for the 2022 United Nations Climate Summit – or COP27 – in Egypt. Illinois atmospheric scientist Atul Jain was among the many scientists worldwide who contributed data to the report. Jain talked about this year’s findings with News Bureau physical sciences editor Lois Yoksoulian.

  • Researchers stand in the Molecule Maker Lab.

    Artificial intelligence and molecule machine join forces to generalize automated chemistry

    Artificial intelligence, building-block chemistry and a molecule-making machine teamed up to find the best general reaction conditions for synthesizing chemicals important to biomedical and materials research – a finding that could speed innovation and drug discovery as well as make complex chemistry automated and accessible.

    Researchers at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and collaborators in Poland and Canada reported their findings in the journal Science.

  • Photo of a viper skull with fangs out.

    Model calculates energetics of piercing fangs, claws and other biological weapons

    Researchers have created a model that can calculate the energetics involved when one organism stabs another with its fangs, thorns, spines or other puncturing parts. Because the model can be applied to a variety of organisms, it will help scientists study and compare many types of biological puncturing tools, researchers said. It also will help engineers develop new systems to efficiently pierce materials or resist being pierced.

  • Researchers stand alongside an elongated treadmill used in the research.

    Team uses digital cameras, machine learning to predict neurological disease

    In an effort to streamline the process of diagnosing patients with multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease, researchers used digital cameras to capture changes in gait – a symptom of these diseases – and developed a machine-learning algorithm that can differentiate those with MS and PD from people without those neurological conditions.

  • Photos show differences and similarities in the plumage of males and females of several thrush species.

    Male/female plumage differences in thrushes promote species recognition

    In 1868, the naturalist Charles Darwin wrote that differences in plumage coloration between male and female birds of the same species were likely the result of sexual selection: Female birds – he used the peahen and peacock as an example – seemed to prefer the showiest males. A new study of thrushes offers evidence that another dynamic is at play, and helps explain why this phenomenon, called sexual dichromatism, is not universal among birds, its authors say.

  • Photo of the researchers standing in front of an outdoor playground.

    More physical activity, less screen time linked to better executive function in toddlers, study finds

    A new study found that 24-month-old children who spent less than 60 minutes looking at screens each day and those who engaged in daily physical activity had better executive function than their peers. Executive function includes the ability to remember, plan, pay attention, shift between tasks and regulate one's thoughts and behavior.

  • Photo of David Rosenboom at a piano keyboard with a computer screen next to him.

    Experimental composer headlines events examining art-science connections

    David Rosenboom, a pioneer in experimental music, will lecture, perform and conduct workshops with students during a two-week series of events beginning Oct. 3. “Experimental Arts & Sciences at UIUC” is hosted by the School of Music.

  • Artists rendering of cornaviruses. A virus in the foreground is wrapped in a DNA net that is giving off a glowing signal.

    DNA nets capture COVID-19 virus in low-cost rapid-testing platform

    Tiny nets woven from DNA strands can ensnare the spike protein of the virus that causes COVID-19, lighting up the virus for a fast-yet-sensitive diagnostic test – and also impeding the virus from infecting cells, opening a new possible route to antiviral treatment, according to a new study led by the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

  • Photo of a circle arms of different people extended with their hands in the middle.

    Krannert Center performance combines art, science to examine what makes us human

    “The Joy of Regathering” combines science, music and movement to explore humanity’s place in the universe in a Sept. 17 performance at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts.

  • Photo of a least bittern in a marsh.

    Study tracks waterbird use of Chicago-area wetlands

    A three-year study in northeastern Illinois and northwestern Indiana found that – even at small scales – emergent wetlands or ponds support many wetland bird species. The study also found that, at least in the years surveyed, the level of urbanization had little effect on most of the studied species’ use of such sites, provided the right kinds of habitat were available.

  • Nicholas Antonson prepares a nest box to accommodate a prothonotary warbler nest.

    Cowbird chicks do best with two warbler nest mates – not four, not zero, study finds

    Brown-headed cowbirds are generalist brood parasites, laying their eggs in the nests of many other bird species and letting the host parents raise their young. A new study seeks to understand the strategies cowbird chicks use to survive in prothonotary warbler nests when they hatch with different numbers of warbler nestlings. The study reveals that a cowbird chick does better with two than with four or zero warbler nest mates. 

  • Photo of Jacob S. Sherkow, a professor of law at Illinois who studies the ethical and policy implications of advanced biotechnologies

    Paper: Valuable antibody patents vulnerable to overly broad doctrinal shift in patent law

    A new paper co-written by University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign legal scholar Jacob S. Sherkow advocates for a middle ground in patent claims involving antibodies, the backbone of modern bioscience.

  • Eric R. Larson and Sally McConkey

    How do we measure community disaster resilience?

    In a new study, retired Illinois State Water Survey engineer Sally McConkey and Eric R. Larson, a professor of natural resources and environmental sciences at the U. of I., examined the metrics used at a county scale for national assessments to determine whether communities are prepared to withstand and recover from natural disasters such as floods and fires. McConkey spoke to News Bureau life sciences editor Diana Yates about what they found.

  • Photos of numerous primate species whose territories overlap with Indigenous peoples' lands around the world.

    Study links protecting Indigenous peoples' lands to greater nonhuman primate biodiversity

    By comparing geographic patterns of nonhuman primate biodiversity and human land-use, researchers discovered that areas managed or controlled by Indigenous peoples tend to have significantly more primate biodiversity than nearby regions. They also found that lorises, tarsiers, monkeys and apes whose territories overlap with Indigenous areas are less likely to be classified as vulnerable, threatened or endangered than those living fully outside Indigenous lands.

  • Portrait of Kai Zhang

    Light-activated technique helps bring cell powerhouses back into balance

    Light-activated proteins can help normalize dysfunction within cells and could be used as a treatment for diseases such as cancer or mitochondrial diseases, new research suggests.

    Researchers from the University of Cincinnati, the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and the University at Buffalo published the results of their study in the journal Nature Communications. The research centers on the functions of mitochondria, organelles within a cell that act as the cell’s “power plant” and source of energy.

  • photo of five leafhopper species

    Study tracks plant pathogens in leafhoppers from natural areas

    Phytoplasmas are bacteria that can invade the vascular tissues of plants, causing many different crop diseases. While most studies of phytoplasmas begin by examining plants showing disease symptoms, a new analysis focuses on the tiny insects that carry the infectious bacteria from plant to plant. By extracting and testing DNA from archival leafhopper specimens collected in natural areas, the study identified new phytoplasma strains and found new associations between leafhoppers and phytoplasmas known to harm crop plants.

  • Photo of professor Allen Barton

    Study links insulin resistance, advanced cell aging with childhood poverty

    Black adolescents who lived in poverty as children and were pessimistic about their future had accelerated immune cell aging and greater levels of insulin resistance in their mid- to late twenties, according to a study by Allen W. Barton, a professor of human development and family studies.

  • Photo of Mound 14 surrounded by water

    North 'plaza' in Cahokia was likely inundated year-round, study finds

    The ancient North American city of Cahokia had as its focal point a feature now known as Monks Mound, a giant earthwork surrounded on its north, south, east and west by large rectangular open areas. These flat zones, called plazas by archaeologists since the early 1960s, were thought to serve as communal areas that served the many mounds and structures of the city.

    New paleoenvironmental analyses of the north plaza suggest it was almost always underwater, calling into question earlier interpretations of the north plaza’s role in Cahokian society. The study is reported in the journal World Archaeology.

  • Photo of the researcher.

    In survey, COVID-19 vaccine recipients report changes in menstrual bleeding

    A new analysis of reports from more than 35,000 people offers the most comprehensive assessment so far of menstrual changes experienced by pre- and post-menopausal individuals in the first two weeks after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. Published in the journal Science Advances, the study adds to the evidence that significant numbers of people experience this unexpected side effect.

  • Photo of Mani Nakamura and his co-authors professor emeritus John Erdman, alumna Catherine Applegate and graduate student Mindy Lee

    Study: Individualized eating program helps dieters lose weight, keep it off

    An individualized diet plan developed by nutritionists at the U. of I. shows promise at helping users lose weight and keep it off. The program uses a visual tool that encourages dieters to select foods high in protein and fiber.

  • Photo of the researcher.

    Study explores unusual interaction between viruses, live vaccines

    A study of a herpes virus that infects chickens offers new insights into potentially problematic interactions between vaccines made from live viruses and the viruses they are meant to thwart.

  • A computer rendering of an atomic-level model of viral spike proteins

    COVID-19 virus spike protein flexibility improved by human cell's own modifications

    When the coronavirus causing COVID-19 infects human cells, the cell’s protein-processing machinery makes modifications to the spike protein that render it more flexible and mobile, which could increase its ability to infect other cells and to evade antibodies, a new study from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign found.

    The researchers created an atomic-level computational model of the spike protein and ran multiple simulations to examine the protein’s dynamics and how the cell’s modifications affected those dynamics. This is the first study to present such a detailed picture of the protein that plays a key role in COVID-19 infection and immunity, the researchers said.

  • Photo of elephant shrew

    Study explores coevolution of mammals and their lice

    According to a new study, the first louse to take up residence on a mammalian host likely started out as a parasite of birds. That host-jumping event tens of millions of years ago began the long association between mammals and lice, setting the stage for their coevolution and offering more opportunities for the lice to spread to other mammals.

  • Photo of the researcher

    Will renaming carp help control them?

    Illinois officials this month announced that Asian carp would now be called “copi” in an attempt to make the fish more desirable for eating. Joe Parkos, the director of the Illinois Natural History Survey’s Kaskaskia, Ridge Lake and Sam Parr biological stations in Illinois, spoke with News Bureau life sciences editor Diana Yates about scientific initiatives to study and control carp/copi fish populations and the potential for rebranding to aid those efforts.

     

  • Martin Burke stands behind a seated Stella Ekaputri

    Small molecule transports iron in mice, human cells to treat some forms of anemia

    A natural small molecule derived from a cypress tree can transport iron in live mice and human cells lacking the protein that normally does the job, easing a buildup of iron in the liver and restoring hemoglobin and red blood cell production, a new study found.

  • Photo montage of the researcher’s face reflected in a chat screen with several other people onscreen.

    Staring at yourself during virtual chats may worsen your mood, research finds

    A new study finds that the more a person stares at themself while talking with a partner in an online chat, the more their mood degrades over the course of the conversation. Alcohol use appears to worsen the problem, the researchers found.

    Reported in the journal Clinical Psychological Science, the findings point to a potentially problematic role of online meeting platforms in exacerbating psychological problems like anxiety and depression, the researchers said.

  • Photo of professor Susan Aguinaga

    Latin dance may be a step toward better working memory for older Latinos

    Latin dance lessons may boost the working memory of Latino older adults and help prevent age-related cognitive decline, says new research by kinesiology and community health professor Susan Aguiñaga.

  • A masked student holds a saliva collection test tube

    SHIELD program a model for effective pandemic management, data show

    In the fall of 2020, the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign welcomed students back for in-person instruction amid the powerful first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. The university successfully maintained operations throughout the semester – with zero COVID-19-related deaths or hospitalizations in the campus community – thanks to its “SHIELD: Target, Test, Tell” program. In a sweeping report, the team behind the campuswide collaboration details the innovations in modeling, saliva testing and results reporting that helped mitigate the spread of the virus, and shares the data collected and lessons learned through the process.

  • Research Team

    Corn genetic heritage the strongest driver of chemical defenses against munching bugs

    Plants release chemical distress signals when under attack from chewing insects. These “911 calls" alert other bugs that dinner or a nice place to lay their eggs is available nearby. If predatory or parasitic insects detect the right signal, they swoop in like saviors to make a meal out of – or lay their eggs in – the bodies of the herbivore insects.

    A new study explores the factors that contribute to corn plants’ chemical signaling capacity, comparing how different corn varieties respond to herbivory in the presence or absence of a soil bacterium known to promote plant health.

  • Portrait of researcher Angad Mehta in his laboratory

    Scientists create viable, reproducing yeast-cyanobacterial hybrids

    Every plant, animal or other nucleus-containing cell also harbors an array of miniature “organs” that perform essential functions for the cell. In plants, for example, organelles called chloroplasts photosynthesize to generate energy for the organism. Because some organelles contain their own DNA and resemble single-celled organisms, scientists have long theorized that the evolution of complex life forms got its start when one cell engulfed another and the two learned to live in harmony – eventually forming, and belonging to, a single entity.

  • Photo of researchers

    Study tracks COVID-19 infection dynamics in adults

    A team led by scientists at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign tracked the rise and fall of SARS-CoV-2 in the saliva and nasal cavities of people newly infected with the virus. The study was the first to follow acute COVID-19 infections over time through repeated sampling and to compare results from different testing methodologies.

  • Graphic illustration of antibodies attacking the SARS-CoV-2 virus

    Machine-learning model can distinguish antibody targets

    A new study shows that it is possible to use the genetic sequences of a person’s antibodies to predict what pathogens those antibodies will target. Reported in the journal Immunity, the new approach successfully differentiates between antibodies against influenza and those attacking SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

  • Photo of researchers

    New approach enhances muscle recovery in aged mice

    Scientists have developed a promising new method to combat the age-related losses in muscle mass that often accompany immobility after injury or illness. Their technique, demonstrated in mice, arrests the process by which muscles begin to deteriorate at the onset of exercise after a period of inactivity.

  • Photo of the research team at the U. of I.: first author Neda Seyedsadjadi, Raul Alfaro Leiva, M. Yanina Pepino and Dr. Blair Rowitz

    Study: First-pass metabolism of alcohol occurs in women's stomachs

    Research led by scientists at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign identifies the stomach, not the liver, as the site of alcohol first-pass metabolism in women who had sleeve gastrectomies and control-group peers.

  • research team

    Team identifies compound with potent antiseizure effects

    Researchers studying epileptic seizures of the temporal lobe – the most common type of epilepsy – discovered a compound that reduces seizures in the hippocampus, a brain region where many such seizures originate. The compound, known as TC-2153, lessened the severity of seizures in mice.

  • Photo of Researcher

    Study ties present-day Native American tribe to ancestors in San Francisco Bay Area

    A genomic study of Native peoples in the San Francisco Bay Area finds that eight present-day members of the Muwekma Ohlone Tribe share ancestry with 12 individuals who lived in the region several hundred to 2,000 years ago.

  • Portrait of the researcher outdoors.

    Vigilantism is an identity for some people, researchers report

    A new study finds that some people routinely monitor the behavior of others and are eager to punish those who violate laws or societal norms, especially when they believe authorities have failed to do so. These self-appointed enforcers willingly embrace the job of keeping order, aren’t particularly concerned about accidentally punishing innocent people, and consider themselves kind and moral actors, the researchers found.

  • Photo of Lowell Gentry

    How do we solve the problem of agricultural nutrient runoff?

    Agricultural runoff from Midwestern farms is a major contributor to a vast “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico. Nitrogen, phosphorous and other farm nutrients drain into the Mississippi River, which empties into the Gulf, spurring algae to overpopulate and suffocating other aquatic life. Illinois is a main culprit in this ongoing environmental blight. News Bureau life sciences editor Diana Yates spoke with U. of I. natural resources and environmental sciences researcher Lowell Gentry about possible solutions.

  • Research team photo

    Team uses MRI to image epigenetics in the brain

    A multidisciplinary team at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign has devised a new approach to 3D imaging that captures DNA methylation, a key epigenetic change associated with learning in the brain. The scientists say their proof-of-concept study in pigs will easily translate to humans, as the new method relies on standard MRI technology and biological markers already in use in human medicine.

  • Photo of Researcher

    Can pet dogs be infected with coronavirus?

    Researchers at the U. of I. diagnosed a pet dog in Chicago with infection with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 in humans. This is the first dog in Illinois to test positive for the coronavirus. A team led by pathobiology professor Ying Fang made the diagnosis. She talks about the findings and future research in pets.

  • Photo of research team.

    Study identifies key regulator of cell differentiation

    Scientists have identified a molecule that regulates the fate of cells, switching off their ability to differentiate into distinct cell types.

  • Image of artwork featuring a drawing of a wasp and the Insect Fear Film Festival title.

    Stinging insects and their venom are focus of Insect Fear Film Festival

    The short films and film clips will feature humorous and horrific depictions of stinging insects and their effects.

  • Photo of researchers Anna Arthur, Amirah Burton Obanla and Brenda Koester

    Oncology dietitians rarely ask cancer patients about food insecurity, study finds

    While many cancer survivors experience food insecurity, few oncology registered dietitians interviewed by U. of I. researchers indicated that they routinely screen their patients for it.

  • Photo of researcher in a lab coat

    How can Illinois address the problem of PFAS pollution?

    The state of Illinois is investigating the occurrence of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances in community water supplies across the state, with an eye toward developing policies to reduce their use. Exposure to PFAS has been linked to increased risk of certain cancers and potential developmental problems in children. News Bureau life sciences editor Diana Yates spoke about the issue with John Scott, a senior chemist with the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center.

  • Deborah Leckband

    'Molecular Velcro' enables tissues to sense, react to mechanical force

    The Velcro-like cellular proteins that hold cells and tissues together also perform critical functions when they experience increased tension. A new University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign study observed that when tugged upon in a controlled manner, these proteins – called cadherins – communicate with growth factors to influence in vitro tumor growth in human carcinoma cells.

  • Photo of the researchers in front of their molecule machine

    New set of chemical building blocks makes complex 3D molecules in a snap

    A new set of molecular building blocks aims to make complex chemistry as simple and accessible as a toy construction kit. Researchers at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign developed a new class of chemical building blocks that simply snap together to form 3D molecules with complex twists and turns, and an automated machine to assemble the blocks like a 3D printer for molecules. This automation could allow chemists and nonchemists alike to develop new pharmaceuticals, materials, diagnostic probes, catalysts, perfumes, sweeteners and more.

  • Photo of researcher.

    14 Illinois faculty members elected AAAS Fellows

    Fourteen University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign faculty members have been elected 2021 fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.