Scientists at Work: Hoosier Oncology Group

Hoosier Oncology Group It was 1985. Ronald Reagan was in the White House. Gas cost about $1.20 per gallon. And a small group of young docs who had recently completed their fellowships in hematology/oncology at IU's medical school were talking about the fact that patients had to go to large, academic medical centers -- such as IU's Indianapolis-based campus -- to participate in clinical trials. While huddled in the cafeteria at IU Hospital, the late Stephen Williams, Patrick Loehrer Sr. and Lawrence Einhorn agreed it was odd that only doctors in academic settings could enroll patients in clinical trials. At the time, doctors who chose to practice non-academic medicine rarely participated in the scientific testing of new drugs and treatment protocols.  Full Story

IU's Carlson among international team of six scientists announcing new species of prehistoric human


Indiana University anthropologist Kristian J. Carlson was part of an international team with six other scientists announcing discovery of the fossil remains of a new species of early human that could help rewrite the path of human evolution. The two partial skeletons, dating from between 1.78 and 1.95 million years old, were discovered in South Africa and appear to represent features and attributes closer to humans -- the genus Homo -- than those from any other of our closest ancestors, the australopithecines. The new species, Australopithecus sediba, was announced in the magazine Science by principal investigator Lee Berger of the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, and the research team.

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A different kind of mine disaster

Xikuangmine tailings

The world's largest antimony mine has become the world's largest laboratory for studying the environmental consequences of escaped antimony -- an element whose environmental and biological properties are still largely a mystery. Scientists from Indiana University Bloomington, the University of Alberta, and the Chinese Academy of Sciences have found the waters around Xikuangshan mine in southwest China contain antimony at levels two to four orders of magnitude higher than normal (0.33 - 11.4 parts per million). The scientists' report will appear in an upcoming edition of Environmental Geochemistry and Health (now online).

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Closing in on a carbon-based solar cell

Graphene skeletal model

To make large sheets of carbon available for light collection, Indiana University Bloomington chemists have devised an unusual solution -- attach what amounts to a 3-D bramble patch to each side of the carbon sheet. Using that method, the scientists say they were able to dissolve sheets containing as many as 168 carbon atoms, a first. The scientists' report will appear in a future issue of Nano Letters, an American Chemical Society journal.

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From ground, air, and space, IU geographers hope to refine climate science data

Forest productivity measurement

Indiana University Bloomington geographers have received funding from NASA to study the accuracy of satellite data used in climate change research. The $527,000, three-year project is led by Faiz Rahman, an expert on the use of satellite data to study complex terrestrial ecosystems. Rahman's co-principal investigators are Danilo Dragoni, geography assistant scientist, and postdoctoral fellow Daniel Sims. The relationship between reflected light (visible and otherwise) and the health or activity of forests, lakes and oceans is well established. Two forests of similar composition can produce vastly different intensities of a given range of light wavelengths, and these differences often indicate how productive the forests are.

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Our universe at home within a larger universe? So suggests IU theoretical physicist's wormhole research


Could our universe be located within the interior of a wormhole which itself is part of a black hole that lies within a much larger universe? Such a scenario in which the universe is born from inside a wormhole (also called an Einstein-Rosen Bridge) is suggested in a paper from Indiana University theoretical physicist Nikodem Poplawski in Physics Letters B. The final version of the paper was published in the journal April 12.

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Traces of early Native Americans -- in sunflower genes


New information about early Native Americans' horticultural practices comes not from hieroglyphs or other artifacts, but from a suite of four gene duplicates found in wild and domesticated sunflowers. In an upcoming issue of Current Biology, Indiana University Bloomington biologists present the first concrete evidence for how gene duplications can lead to functional diversity in organisms. In this case, the scientists learned how duplications of a gene called FLOWERING LOCUS T, or FT, could have evolved and interacted to prolong a flower's time to grow. A longer flower growth period means a bigger sunflower -- presumably an attribute of great value to the plant's first breeders.

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Previous issue

Center for Genomics and Bioinformatics robot

The March 16, 2010, issue of Discoveries featured the Center for Genomics and Bioinformatics, an elite research center on the Bloomington campus. Also featured were stories on women physicists at CERN, the breast cancer drug fulvestrant, a new IUPUI science building, tuberculosis, an honor for biologist Yves Brun, and the relationship between alcohol retailers and violence.

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