Volume XXVII Number 1
Research at IU will soon be represented on a newly designed Web site at research.indiana.edu, the online home of the Office of the Vice President for Research. In January 2005, the front page will feature a new research logo (at left) and highlight recent research news. The site will also offer information to faculty on how to get a research project started at IU, including assembling proposals, finding funding, creating budgets, and administering a grant or award. Updated information on changing federal regulations, educational opportunities, and contact information will also be available.
Arts & Humanities Awards
Twenty-three faculty members from several IU campuses have received grants in the fourth round of the Presidents Arts & Humanities Initiative. The initiative, established in 2000, has awarded $4 million to IU faculty to foster research and creative activity in the arts and humanities. The new awardees and their projects are:
How the Lizard Got Its Horns
Rhinos, buffalo, and goats have them, but hippos, horses, and llamas don't. Why do some species feature horns? In a study published in Science, IUB biologist Edmund D. Brodie III found that for at least one species—the flat-tailed horned lizard—its predators play an important role in natural selection. The loggerhead shrike, a type of bird that impales its prey on thorns, twigs, or even barbed wire, is a key lizard predator. Dried-out skulls of horned lizards hanging in trees and bushes serve as a record of shrike attacks. Brodie and his collaborators compared the horn lengths of shrike-killed lizards with the horns of living lizards. The average horn size on the living lizards was about 10 percent longer than the horns on the lizards who were killed. The study concludes that defense against shrike predation is one factor driving the radical elongation of horns in some species of horned lizards. Or as Brodie put it in a New York Times story about his work, "you can look at it as 'bigger is better."
Who You Gonna Call?
When it comes to West Nile virus in Indiana, its IU. First reported in the United States in 1999, West Nile virus spread rapidly. By 2002, thousands of human cases were reported, including more than 250 deaths. Since fall 2002, Professor of Biology Claude Baker established a West Nile Virus Surveillance Program at IU Southeast, part of a nationwide effort supported by the Centers for Disease Control. Working with county health departments in the area, Baker and IUS students trap, identify, and test mosquitoes to try to prevent the spread of WNV to humans. This summer, IUS students discovered a new mosquito breed carrying WNV in Indiana, an Asian species known as Ochlerotatus japonicus. Meanwhile, researchers at the IU School of Medicine are participating in a National Institutes of Health clinical trial of an experimental WNV treatment. The study is testing the safety and effectiveness of a substance derived from blood plasma that contains antibodies to the virus.
And This Drug Went to Market
Roger Roeske, professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at the IU School of Medicine, has made university history as the first faculty researcher to discover the makings of a drug that has made it to market. The FDA approved the drug, Plenaxis, late last year. Plenaxis is used to treat prostate cancer. Roeske developed the compound that serves as the basis of the drug; the compound blocks the body's production of testosterone, the hormone that enables most prostate cancers to grow. To honor his research leading to the creation of Plenaxis as well as his contributions to research on age-related diseases such as Alzheimers, Roeske received the Innovator of the Year Award from IUs newly named Research & Technology Corporation (formerly ARTI).
Using a technology developed for looking into deep space, IU researchers are creating a kind of super vision for looking inside our eyes. Donald Miller and Larry Thibos, professors in the Visual Sciences Group at the IU School of Optometry, are employing adaptive optics, a technology used on the ground-based Keck Telescope to eliminate distorting effects caused by Earth's atmosphere. Similar distortion occurs inside the eye. The human retina is only an inch away at the back of the eye, but tear film, eye fluid, and flaws in the eye blur the retinal image. Adaptive optics technology relies on adjustable, deformable mirrors that change shape to compensate for distortions and produce crisp images. Combining adaptive optics technology with an imaging technique called optical coherent tomography, Miller and Thibos are building complex cameras that act as telescopes for the eye, allowing doctors to see the retina in transparent detail. The researchers have been able to create extremely high-resolution images of cells at different depths in the retina (retinal cells are arranged in separate layers). Eventually, the specialized cameras will enable earlier, faster, and more accurate diagnoses of serious eye diseases such as glaucoma. IUs adaptive optics research is part of the national Center for Adaptive Optics, funded by the National Science Foundation.
The first research center in the world devoted to the study of early human culture now has a new facility near the IU Bloomington campus. Jointly directed by IUB anthropologists Kathy Schick and Nicholas Toth, who are also co-directors of the IU Center for Research on the Anthropological Foundations of Technology, the Stone Age Institute features a 35-foot-tall stone tower entrance and houses three laboratories, 10 research offices, a press room, conference room, and a library of more than 50,000 books and articles. The institute hosted a major conference on human origins research in the spring, drawing human evolution experts from South Africa, Spain, and the United States.
On June 1, Julia R. Heiman became the sixth director of IU's renowned Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction. A professor of psychology and psychiatry, formerly at the University of Washington, Heiman brings extensive research experience to her new role, especially contributions to the study of sexual psychophysiology. She replaces John Bancroft, who has retired and returned to his home in England after nine years as director. The institute, one of 33 research centers supported by the Office of the Vice President for Research, was founded in 1947 by zoologist Alfred Kinsey. Kinsey, the man and his work, are the subject of Kinsey, a major motion picture due to be released on Nov. 12, starring Liam Neeson, Laura Linney, Chris O'Donnell, and John Lithgow. A PBS documentary about Kinsey is scheduled to air in early 2005.