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  • Illinois scientists Erik Nelson, Kelly Swanson and Brett Loman

    Mice study suggests metabolic diseases may be driven by gut microbiome, loss of ovarian hormones

    The findings of a study in mice led by scientists at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign may shed light on the reasons why postmenopausal women have higher incidence of metabolic problems, such as obesity, Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

  • Image of the logo for the 41st Insect Fear Film Festival featuring an ant.

    Insect Fear Film Festival features 'Ant-Men' – movies about humans shrunk to size of ants

    The 2024 Insect Fear Film Festival will feature films in which humans are shrunk to the size of ants and participate in ant societies.

  • Flooded farm field draining into stream

    Study: 'Legacy' phosphorus delays water quality improvements in Gulf of Mexico

    The same phosphorous that fertilizes the thriving agriculture of the Midwest is also responsible for a vast “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico near the Mississippi Delta. Efforts to reduce the amount of phosphorus that enters the Mississippi River system are underway, but research led by the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign suggests that remnants of the contaminant are left behind in riverbeds for years after introduction and pose an overlooked – and lingering – problem.  

  • Photo of Yong-Su Jin in the laboratory

    Microbial division of labor produces higher biofuel yields

    Scientists have found a way to boost ethanol production via yeast fermentation, a standard method for converting plant sugars into biofuels. Their approach, detailed in the journal Nature Communications, relies on careful timing and a tight division of labor among synthetic yeast strains to yield more ethanol per unit of plant sugars than previous approaches have achieved.

  • James Dalling in the plant conservatory on the U. of I. campus

    Back from the dead: Tropical tree fern repurposes its dead leaves

    Plant biologists report that a species of tree fern found only in Panama reanimates its own dead leaf fronds, converting them into root structures that feed the mother plant. The fern, Cyathea rojasiana, reconfigures these “zombie leaves,” reversing the flow of water to draw nutrients back into the plant.

  • Portrait of Catherine Dana in the laboratory. She is standing behind a display of cicada specimens in a specimen drawer. Her colleague, who is closer to the camera, is using a magnifying glass to magnify a few of the cicada specimens in the drawer.

    Will 2024 be the year of the cicada in Illinois?

    According to cicada expert Catherine Dana, 2024 will be an eventful year in Illinois with the emergence of two periodical cicada broods across most parts of the state.

  • Portrait of Susan Schantz and Megan Woodbury in the Beckman Institute at the U. of I.

    Higher acetaminophen intake in pregnancy linked to attention deficits in young children

    A new study links increased use of acetaminophen during pregnancy – particularly in the second trimester – to modest but noticeable increases in problems with attention and behavior in 2-, 3- and 4-year-olds. The study adds to a growing body of evidence linking the frequent use of acetaminophen in pregnancy to developmental problems in offspring.

  • Portrait of Susan Schantz

    Study: Acetaminophen use during pregnancy linked to language delays in children

    Acetaminophen is considered the safest over-the-counter pain reliever and fever reducer available during pregnancy and studies have shown that 50%-65% of women in North America and Europe take the analgesic during pregnancy. A new study from researchers at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign explored the relationship between acetaminophen use during pregnancy and language outcomes in early childhood. It found that increasing acetaminophen use was associated with language delays.

  • Photo of Stephen Long holding a soybean leaf in the sun.

    In TED Talk, Long describes three photosynthetic changes that boost crop yields

    In a newly released TED Talk, Stephen Long, a University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign professor of plant biology and crop sciences, described his and his colleagues’ efforts to boost photosynthesis in crop plants. He described three interventions, each of which increased crop yields by 20% or more.

  • Research team portrait.

    Team discovers rules for breaking into Pseudomonas

    Researchers report in the journal Nature that they have found a way to get antibacterial drugs through the nearly impenetrable outer membrane of Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a bacterium that – once it infects a person – is notoriously difficult to treat.

  • An artists rendering of an amphotericin B sterol sponge

    New antifungal molecule kills fungi without toxicity in human cells, mice

    A new antifungal molecule, devised by tweaking the structure of prominent antifungal drug Amphotericin B, has the potential to harness the drug’s power against fungal infections while doing away with its toxicity, researchers at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and collaborators at the University of Wisconsin-Madison report in the journal Nature.

  • Photo of James O'Dwyer

    Single model predicts trends in employment, microbiomes, forests

    Researchers report that a single, simplified model can predict population fluctuations in three unrelated realms: urban employment, human gut microbiomes and tropical forests. The model will help economists, ecologists, public health authorities and others predict and respond to variability in multiple domains, the researchers say. The new findings are detailed in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

  • Thomas Benson stands outside the Beckman Institute on campus.

    Do we need a new approach to prevent bird window strikes?

    In early October, nearly 1,000 birds perished after colliding with the windows of a convention center near Lake Michigan in Chicago, marking the largest mass bird die-off in decades. But bird window-strike fatalities are an ongoing threat. Illinois Natural History Survey wildlife ecologist Thomas J. Benson, an expert in bird population trends in Illinois, spoke to News Bureau life sciences editor Diana Yates about the problem and what new strategies may help.

  • Portrait of Helaine Silverman

    How can Illinois better preserve its cultural identities?

    Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker recently announced new funding to support communities working to preserve and celebrate their unique cultural heritage. The “State Designated Cultural District” initiative will provide $3 million to selected cultural districts to aid such efforts. U. of I. anthropology professor Helaine Silverman, whose work focuses on the ways that nations and communities create and deploy cultural heritage as a means of building identity and attracting tourism, spoke to News Bureau life sciences editor Diana Yates about the new program and its implications for the state.

  • Portrait of Nicolas Martin standing in front of the Morrow Plots cornfield on the U. of I. campus

    Management zone maps of little use to corn growers, study finds

    A multiyear analysis tested whether management zone maps based on soil conditions, topography or other landscape features can reliably predict which parts of a cornfield will respond best to higher rates of seeding or nitrogen application. The study found that – contrary to common assumptions – crop-plot responses to the same inputs vary significantly from year-to-year. The most unpredictable factor – the weather – seemed to have the biggest impact on how the crops responded to these inputs.

  • Portrait of Lisa Lucero.

    Paper: Ancient Maya reservoirs offer lessons for today’s water crises

    Ancient Maya reservoirs, which used aquatic plants to filter and clean the water, “can serve as archetypes for natural, sustainable water systems to address future water needs," writes U. of I. anthropology professor Lisa Lucero in a perspective in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

  • Portrait of Xinzhu Yu holding a model of a brain

    Yu receives NIH Director's New Innovator Award

    Xinzhu Yu, a professor of molecular and integrative physiology at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, is a recipient of the National Institutes of Health Director’s New Innovator Award from the NIH Common Fund’s High-Risk, High-Reward Research program. 

    According to the NIH, the New Innovator Award “supports investigators at each career stage who propose innovative research that, due to their inherent risk, may struggle in the traditional NIH peer-review process despite their transformative potential.” The award provides $2.4 million in funding over the next five years.

  • Lynette Strickland, Brian Allan and Samantha Capel

    State politics, industry drive planetary health education for K-12 students in US

    While the climes may be a-changing, the state science standards that shape what U.S. schoolchildren learn about environmental problems are shaded by state politics, leaving many unprepared for the challenges ahead, a new study says.  

  • Professor Zeynep Madak-Erdogan in her lab

    ER-positive breast cancer presents differing metabolic signatures in African American, white women

    New research finds that blood levels of amino acids may predict estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer in African American women while free fatty acid levels may predict the disease in non-Hispanic white women.

  • Co-authors include members of Alaska Native groups

    Study links epigenetic changes to historic trauma in Alaska Native communities

    CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Researchers investigated the relationship between historical traumatic events experienced by Alaska Native communities and epigenetic markers on genes that previous studies have linked to trauma. The new study found a similar pattern among Alaska Native participants, with specific epigenetic differences observed in those who reported experiencing the most intense symptoms of distress when reflecting on historic losses. 

    The study also found that individuals who strongly identified with their Alaska Native heritage and participated in cultural activities generally reported better well-being. The new findings are detailed in the International Journal of Health Equity.

  • Margo Schiro, 7, gets her blood pressure taken.

    IKIDS child health research gets another boost in funding

    Seven years after an initial $17.9 million award from the National Institutes of Health, the Illinois Kids Development Study at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign will receive approximately $13.7 million – awarded in two phases – to continue its work for another seven years. The money coming to Illinois is part of a national collaborative effort to explore how environmental exposures influence child development, cognition, growth and health.

  • Professor Makoto Inoue stands outside wearing a dark grey suit.

    T-cells infiltrate brain, cause respiratory distress in condition affecting the immunocompromised

    When an immunocompromised person’s system begins to recover and produce more white blood cells, it’s usually a good thing – unless they develop C-IRIS, a potentially deadly inflammatory condition. New research from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign has found that the pulmonary distress often associated with C-IRIS is caused not by damage to the lungs, but by newly populated T-cells infiltrating the brain. Knowing this mechanism of action can help researchers and physicians better understand the illness and provide new treatment targets.

  • Researchers, from left, Sanda Dolcos, Florin Dolcos and Paul Bogdan

    Study: People expect others to mirror their own selfishness, generosity

    New research shows that a person’s own behavior is the primary driver of how they treat others during brief, zero-sum-game competitions. Generous people tend to reward generous behavior and selfish individuals often punish generosity and reward selfishness – even when it costs them personally. The study found that an individual’s own generous or selfish deeds carry more weight than the attitudes and behaviors of others.

  • "Old Man Sorrowing (At Eternity's Gate)," a painting by Vincent Van Gogh, depicts a man hunched in a chair with his head in his hands.

    GABA receptors in brain could be targets to treat depression and its cognitive symptoms

    A new paper spanning known data about the neurotransmitter GABA and its principal receptors showcases evidence of the receptors’ importance in depression and potential as therapeutic targets. Based on evidence from research on the receptors’ function in the brain and the drugs that can activate or inhibit them, the authors propose possible mechanisms by which GABA-modulating treatments could help address the cognitive and affective symptoms associated with depression.

  • The research team sits and stands together as a group in a research setting.

    CAR-T immune therapy attacks ovarian cancer in mice with a single dose

    CAR-T immune therapies could be effective against solid tumors if the right targets are identified, a new study led by University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign researchers suggests. The researchers successfully deployed CAR-T in a mouse model of ovarian cancer, a type of aggressive, solid-tumor cancer that has eluded such therapies until now.

  • The team included, from left, research scientist Chengjian Mao, graduate student Xinyi Dai, biochemistry professor David Shapiro, graduate student Junyao Zhu and molecular and integrative physiology professor Erik Nelson.

    Team identifies key driver of cancer cell death pathway that activates immune cells

    Scientists have identified a protein that plays a critical role in the action of several emerging cancer therapies. The researchers say the discovery will likely aid efforts to fine-tune the use of immunotherapies against several challenging cancers. They report their findings in the journal Cancer Research.

  • Daniel Simons portrait.

    New book explores the psychology of being duped

    According to two psychologists who study memory and perception, fraudsters tend to exploit the common habits of thought and decision-making that make us susceptible – and often oblivious – to their fabrications. Their book, “Nobody’s Fool: Why We Get Taken In and What We Can Do About It,” gives readers an overview of dozens of types of scams, hoaxes and strategies used by cheaters to deceive, and explains how to evaluate their ploys and avoid becoming a victim.

  • Ying Fang in her laboratory

    Team develops all-species coronavirus test

    In an advance that will help scientists track coronavirus variants in wild and domesticated animals, researchers report they can now detect exposure to the SARS-CoV-2 virus in any animal species. Most coronavirus antibody tests require specialized chemical reagents to detect host antibody responses against the virus in each species tested, impeding research across species.

  • Portrait of entomology professor Adam Dolezal holding a frame filled with honeycomb and honey bees.

    Are honey bees, wild bees still in trouble?

    A new report reveals that U.S. beekeepers lost roughly half of the honey bees they managed last year. In an interview, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign entomology professor Adam Dolezal describes the current status of bees in the U.S.

  • Postdoctoral fellow Neda Seyedsadjadi and professors M. Yanina Pepino and Dr. Blair Rowitz standing in front of Bevier Hall.

    Lean body mass, age linked with alcohol elimination rates in women

    Women with greater lean body mass, including those with obesity or who are older, eliminate alcohol from their system faster than those of normal weight or who are younger, says research by a team at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

  • A living example of the genus Arethaea.

    Ancient katydid fossil reveals muscles, digestive tract, glands and a testicle

    50 million years ago in what is now northwestern Colorado, a katydid died, sank to the bottom of a lake and was quickly buried in fine sediments, where it remained until its compressed fossil was recovered in recent years. When researchers examined the fossil under a microscope, they saw that not only had many of the insect’s hard structures been preserved in the compressed shale, so had several internal organs and tissues, which are not normally fossilized.

  • Image of the interior of the cave and the massive trench with people standing at different levels and looking into the trench. The cave is dark and you can see the grid of guidelines used to plot the location of items found in the dig. There are bright worklights overhead.

    Cave excavation pushes back the clock on early human migration to Laos

    Fifteen years of archaeological work in the Tam Pa Ling cave in northeastern Laos has yielded a reliable chronology of early human occupation of the site, scientists report in the journal Nature Communications. The team’s excavations through the layers of sediments and bones that gradually washed into the cave and were left untouched for tens of thousands of years reveals that humans lived in the area for at least 70,000 years – and likely even longer.

  • U. of I. plant biology professor James O'Dwyer

    Team finds reliable predictor of plant species persistence, coexistence

    Like many ecological scientists, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign plant biology professor James O’Dwyer has spent much of his career searching for ways to measure and predict how specific plant communities will fare over time. Which species in a diverse population will persist and coexist? Which will decline? What factors might contribute to continuing biodiversity?

    In a new study reported in the journal Nature, O’Dwyer and his colleague, U. of I. graduate student Kenneth Jops, report the development of a method for determining whether pairs or groups of plant species are likely to coexist over time.

  • A hand holds two vials of solution, one pink and one blue.

    Imaging agents light up two cancer biomarkers at once to give more complete picture of tumor

    Cancer surgeons may soon have a more complete view of tumors during surgery thanks to new imaging agents that can illuminate multiple biomarkers at once, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign researchers report. The fluorescent nanoparticles, wrapped in the membranes of red blood cells, target tumors better than current clinically approved dyes and can emit two distinct signals in response to just one beam of surgical light, a feature that could help doctors distinguish tumor borders and identify metastatic cancers.

  • Mother and juvenile golden snub-nosed monkey, Rhinopithecus roxellana.

    Study tracks social, genetic evolution in Asian colobine primates

    Asian colobines, also known as leaf-eating monkeys, have been on the planet for about 10 million years. Their ancestors crossed land bridges, dispersed across continents, survived the expansion and contraction of ice sheets and learned to live in tropical, temperate and colder climes. 

    A new study reported in the journal Science finds parallels between Asian colobines’ social, environmental and genetic evolution, revealing for the first time that colobines living in colder regions experienced genetic changes and alterations to their ancient social structure that likely enhanced their ability to survive. 

  • An artist's rendering of an implant with the smart coating

    Smart surgical implant coatings provide early failure warning while preventing infection

    Newly developed “smart” coatings for surgical orthopedic implants can monitor strain on the devices to provide early warning of implant failures while killing infection-causing bacteria, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign researchers report. The coatings integrate flexible sensors with a nanostructured antibacterial surface inspired by the wings of dragonflies and cicadas.

  • Photo of Jeff Hoover in the woods.

    How does climate change affect global bird reproduction?

    A new study assessed changes in the reproductive output of 104 bird species around the world between 1970 and 2019. Illinois Natural History Survey avian ecologist Jeff Hoover, a co-author of the report, explains how climate change is altering bird ecology and health.

  • The sea slug, Pleurobranchea californica

    Study: Brain circuits for locomotion evolved long before appendages and skeletons

    Hundreds of millions of years before the evolution of animals with segmented bodies, jointed skeletons or appendages, soft-bodied invertebrates like sea slugs ruled the seas. A new study finds parallels between the brain architecture that drives locomotion in sea slugs and that of more complex segmented creatures with jointed skeletons and appendages.

  • The research team in the lab. A screen behind them displays brain regions involved in the new analysis. In the room behind them, an MRI machine.

    Study links nutrients, brain structure, cognition in healthy aging

    A new study found that blood markers of two saturated fatty acids along with certain omega-6, -7 and -9 fatty acids correlated with better scores on tests of memory and with larger brain structures in the frontal, temporal, parietal and insular cortices.

  • A picture of Pheidole dentata ants attending to eggs in their nest.

    In Florida study, nonnative leaf-litter ants are replacing native ants

    A new look at decades of data from museum collections and surveys of leaf-litter ants in Florida reveals a steady decline in native ants and simultaneous increase in nonnative ants – even in protected natural areas of the state, researchers report.

  • Photo of the researchers.

    Are Illinois farmers aware of the risk of tick-borne diseases?

    Illinois Ph.D. candidate Sulagna Chakraborty describes awareness of ticks and tick-borne disease among Illinois farmers.

  • Photo of the research group

    AI predicts enzyme function better than leading tools

    A new artificial intelligence tool can predict the functions of enzymes based on their amino acid sequences, even when the enzymes are unstudied or poorly understood. The researchers said the AI tool, dubbed CLEAN, outperforms the leading state-of-the-art tools in accuracy, reliability and sensitivity. Better understanding of enzymes and their functions would be a boon for research in genomics, chemistry, industrial materials, medicine, pharmaceuticals and more.

  • Photo of Brian Monson

    Study compares third-trimester sound exposures in fetuses, premature infants

    A new study is the first to compare the sound exposures of fetuses in the last 16 weeks of pregnancy with their age-matched premature peers. The analysis reveals profound differences in their exposures to noise, language and the biological sounds of the mother, with implications for the infants’ development.

  • Portrait of Kathryn Clancy

    Book tackles myths about science of menstruation

    A new book from University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign anthropology professor Kathryn Clancy takes an unflinching look at the many ways humans have struggled – and often failed – to understand one of the greatest mysteries of human biology: menstruation.

  • Image of the logo design for the 40th Insect Fear Film Festival, featuring a dragonfly bursting out from a rock or fossil.

    Insect Fear Film Festival celebrates 40 years of entertaining, educating about insects

    The 2023 Insect Fear Film Festival celebrates 40 years of entertaining and educating people about insects and their close relatives. This year’s festival features living fossil organisms.

  • Photo of professor Sandraluz Lara-Cinisomo and graduate student Mary Ellen Mendy standing in front of an arched window

    Study examines COVID-19 pandemic's effect on Black, Latina women's mental health

    Black and Latina women had high rates of anxiety and depressive symptoms during the pandemic, but prayer had differing effects, kinesiology and community health professor Sandraluz Lara-Cinisomo found in a study.

  • The graphic shows an orange and blue fractal image illustrating mathmatical order and chaos

    Theory sorts order from chaos in complex quantum systems

    It’s not easy to make sense of quantum-scale motion, but a new mathematical theory could help, providing insight into the various computing, electrochemical and biological systems. Chenghao Zhang, a physics graduate student at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and chemistry professor Martin Gruebele performed a computational analysis of the new mathematical theory developed by Rice University theorist Peter Wolynes and theoretical chemist David Logan at Oxford University. The theory gives a simple prediction for the threshold at which large quantum systems switch from orderly motion like a clock to random, erratic motion like asteroids moving around in the early solar system.

  • Illustration showing fentanyl pills, a syringe, an ambulance and a chunk of crystal methamphetamine.

    Study finds 'staggering increase' in methamphetamine deaths tied to opioid co-use

    The U.S. methamphetamine mortality rate increased fiftyfold between 1999 and 2021, with most of the added deaths also involving heroin or fentanyl, researchers report in the American Journal of Public Health.

  • A graphic of a DNA shield guarding a simple human figure with the liver highlighted

    Possible genetic basis and mouse model found for severe nonalcoholic fatty liver disease

    A mutant or damaged gene may be a cause of a severe, mysterious form of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign researchers have found. Mice and human liver cells lacking the SRSF1 gene show all the hallmarks of nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, also known as NASH, the researchers found. The unique mouse model captures all three hallmarks of excess fat, inflammation and scarring in the liver, opening the doors to better understanding and development of treatments for NASH.

  • Photo of Dominika Pindus

    Study links exercise intensity, attentional control in late-adolescent girls

    Adolescent girls who engage in more moderate and vigorous physical activity each day have better attentional control, a new study finds. The study focused on girls and boys aged 15-18.