Today at Berkeley Lab

PBD’s Murthy Recipient of NIH Grant to Spot Drug-Resistant Microbes

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases recently awarded Berkeley researchers, including Niren Murthy of the Physical Biosciences Division, $5.8 million over the next five years to develop tools to quickly detect and identify drug-resistant pathogens in blood, urine, and other clinical samples. More>

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Major Artificial Photosynthesis Advance Poses Environmental Win/Win

Peidong Yang, Christopher Chang, and Michelle Chang led a potentially game-changing breakthrough. By combining biocompatible light-capturing nanowire arrays with select bacterial populations, they created a solar-powered system in which valuable chemical products can be produced from sequestered carbon dioxide. More>

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Lab’s Doudna Makes Time Magazine’s ‘100 Most Influential’ List

Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier were recognized for their development of CRISPR-Cas9 technology, which gives scientists the power to remove or add genetic material at will. Geneticists have used this technology to cut out HIV, to correct sickle-cell anemia, and to alter cancer cells to make them more susceptible to chemotherapy. More>

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New Target for Anticancer Drugs: RNA

Most of today’s anticancer drugs target the DNA or proteins in tumor cells, but a new discovery by scientists — led by Physical Biosciences’ Jamie Cate — unveils a whole new set of potential targets: the RNA intermediaries between DNA and proteins. More>

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Possible New RNA Engineering Tool

Jennifer Doudna and Eva Nogales of the Life Sciences and Physical Biosciences Divisions led a study that showed how complexes of bacterial proteins known as “CRISPR-Cas,” which are touted for their potential use as a DNA editing tool, might also serve as an engineering tool for RNA. More>

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Scientists Study Beetle Flight with Tiny Computers

PBD Faculty Engineer Michel Maharbiz and his former graduate student Hitoko Sato have been strapping computers and radios on the backs of beetles to discover how they fly. Watching them twist and turn and hover in the air will inform the design and development of tiny flying robots. The research was covered in SFGate. More>

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Opsin Protein Could Aid Studies of Brain, Central Nervous System

Ehud Isacoff led a team that discovered a light-sensitive opsin protein that plays a surprising and possibly critical role in neuron maturation and circuit formation. This discovery could lead to a potentially powerful new tool in the on-going search for a better understanding of how the brain and central nervous system develop. More>

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Caution Urged in Using New DNA Editing Technology for Gene Therapy

A group of 18 scientists — including Berkeley Lab’s Jennifer Doudna — and ethicists warned that a revolutionary new tool to cut and splice DNA should be used cautiously when attempting to fix human genetic disease, and strongly discouraged any attempts at making changes to the human genome that could be passed on to offspring. More>

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Jennifer Doudna on Importance of Women Pursuing STEM Fields

Jennifer Doudna, scientist in the Physical Biosciences Division, chatted with Huffington Post Live while at the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland about how important it is for women to pursue careers in STEM fields. “I think that for a lot of women there’s a subtle but unfortunately effective discouragement of women pursuing the STEM fields,” she said. More>

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Metabolic Path to Improved Biofuel Production

Jamie Cate of the Physical Biosciences Division led a team of researchers at the Energy Biosciences Institute that found a way to increase the production of fuels and other chemicals from biomass fermented by yeast without the need of environmentally harsh pre-treatments or expensive enzyme cocktails. More>

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