Today at Berkeley Lab

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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Unlocking the Key to Immunological Memory in Bacteria

Researchers have unlocked the key to how bacteria and archaea are able to “steal” genetic information from viruses and other foreign invaders for use in their own immunological memory system. Their findings could provide an alternative way of introducing needed genetic information into a human cell or correcting a problem in an existing genome. More>

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First Bioprocess Pilot Production of Malonic Acid From Renewables

Lygos, Inc., and Berkeley Lab’s Advanced Biofuels Process Demonstration Unit (ABPDU) have collaborated to scale up production of this biomass-derived specialty chemical, which is used to make a variety of pharmaceuticals, flavors, fragrances, and other materials. More>

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PBD’s Dueber Helps Make Blue Jeans Greener

John Dueber (right) of the Physical Biosciences Division has studied the chemical steps plants use to naturally make indigo, and he thinks he has found an environmentally green way for the industry to churn out the dye without the use of the toxic compound. More>

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Analytis, Ginsberg Receive Sloan Fellowships

James Analytis of the Materials Sciences Division and Naomi Ginsberg of the Physical Biosciences Division are among 126 fellows named on Feb. 23. The fellowship provides $50,000 to further the research of early-career scientists and scholars. More>

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Renewable Biofuels Development Requires ‘Renaissance Researchers’

Physical bioscientists Blake Simmons (right) and Doug Clark were quoted in a recent Bioenergy Connection article about breaking down cell walls, a necessary step for unlocking sugars in biofuels production. The piece also touches on work PBD faculty scientist, Jamie Cate, is doing with enzymes that can aid in deconstruction. More>

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Solving an Organic Semiconductor Mystery

Naomi Ginsberg of the Materials Sciences and the Physical Biosciences Divisions led a team that identified the mysterious source of performance issues that can plague organic semiconductors as nanocrystallites in domain interfaces. More>

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