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In the Headlines

October 2013

The Washington Post (October 19)

Brains flush toxic waste in sleep, including Alzheimer's-linked protein, study of mice finds

sleeping couple
Scientists say this nightly self-clean by the brain provides a compelling biological reason for the restorative power of sleep. "Sleep puts the brain in another state where we clean out all the byproducts of activity during the daytime," said study author and University of Rochester neurosurgeon Maiken Nedergaard. Those byproducts include beta-amyloid protein, clumps of which form plaques found in the brains of Alzheimer's patients.  

(Also reported in: Newsday, New York Daily News, Fox News, NBC News, Forbes, Bloomberg Businessweek, Discovery News, Chicago Tribune, Huffington Post UK, Globe and Mail, Yahoo! News, England BBC News, Time Magazine, U.S. News and World Report, ABC News, CBS News, USA Today, New York Times, NPR, Newsday, Los Angeles Times, England Daily Mail)

PBS (October 25)

Naked mole rats show us how to build a better protein

Naked Mole Rat
A naked mole rat will never win a beauty contest. But the nearly hairless rodents, with their sparse whiskers, big buck teeth, wrinkly skin and scraggly tails, may hold clues to longer, healthier lives. While researching the rats, Vera Gorbunova and her husband Andrei Seluanov at the University of Rochester came across something unusual in the naked mole rat ribosomal RNA. While extracting the RNA, they noticed that one of the ribosomal RNA molecules -- the 28s -- split into two unequal parts. They had never seen this sort of split before.  

(Also reported in: NPR, CBC News,, National Geographic, Cosmos Magazine, Science Friday, Christian Science Monitor, International Business Times, Headline & Global News, Times of Malta, French Tribune, Science Recorder, Science World Report, Bioscience Technology Online, InvestorPlace)

Rochester Democrat & Chronicle (October 18)

UR announces $50 million Big Data plan

new building rendering
The University of Rochester will spend $50 million to establish itself as a leader in the evolving field of "big data" research - constructing a 50,000-square-foot home for a new Institute for Data Science and hiring at least 20 new faculty members. "We intend for the University of Rochester to be among the world's leaders in this new discipline," said UR president Joel Seligman.

(Also reported in: Wall Street Journal, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle 10-19-13, Rochester Business Journal, WHAM 1180, 13WHAM-TV, WHEC-TV, WXXI News, Auburn Citizen, San Francisco Chronicle)

The Washington Post (October 7)

Study equates high number of slaves in Southern counties with today's racial resentment

map of soutern states
Three University of Rochester political scientists have released a controversial study that says pre-war Southern counties that had a high concentration of slaves harbor more racial resentment than other counties that had a lower percentage of slaves.  

(Also reported in: Newsweek 10/3/2013 , Louisiana Weekly, The Daily Beast, Rochester Democrat & Chronicle)

The Washington Post (October 8)

Nobel committee's 'Rule of Three' means some Higgs boson scientists were left out

Carl Hagen
Carl Hagen
, 76, a professor of physics at the University of Rochester, is one of six physicists, five of them still alive, who have been credited with developing the theory that led to the epic quest for the particle known as the Higgs boson. Scientists at CERN, the European physics laboratory, announced last year in Geneva that they had found it with the atom-smasher called the Large Hadron Collider. Tuesday morning, Hagen awoke at 6:30 and looked at his phone. No calls.  

(Also reported in: New York Times, NBC, Seattle Times, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Spectrum Online, The New York Times, 13WHAM-TV, Rochester Democrat & Chronicle)

USA Today (October 29)

Hospital cuddlers add extra level of infant care

baby being held
For nearly a decade, the children's hospital at the University of Rochester Medical Center has enlisted the help of a team of volunteers who comfort infants when family members can't be there. The "cuddlers," as they're called in the NICU, are mostly older women, and they aren't nurses or medical professionals. But when faced with a crying infant, many have a lifetime of experience to call upon.

The Wall Street Journal (October 14)

Simon Says: 'Toughen Up'

Toughen Up
University of Rochester's Simon Business School has a new message for prospective students: Toughen up. It's not that the business school is calling its students weak. Rather, it's branding itself as a school that will toughen up students and prepare them to handle a competitive business environment after graduation. "It's not an accusatory statement, it's an emboldening statement," says Keir Meisner, executive director of marketing and communications at Simon. He says the school is positioning itself more as a coach to an Olympic athlete than a drill sergeant-intense, but supportive.  

(Also reported in: Bloomberg Businessweek, Market Watch, YNN Rochester)

Chicago Tribune (October 7)

Americans: don't weigh costs of new treatments

hand holding syringe Most Americans don't want the government to decide if medical treatments are economical before letting patients use them, a new survey suggests. Dr. Alec B. O'Connor, who has studied cost-effectiveness at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry in New York, agreed. "What I think is interesting about this is Americans seem to really focus on themselves as the patient," he told Reuters Health. But, he said, Americans don't seem to focus on themselves as the ones who are paying the bill.  

(Also reported in: Yahoo! News, Newsmax Health)

Rochester Democrat & Chronicle (October 2)

Doug Lowry, dean emeritus of Eastman, dies

Main Hall, the lofty atrium that connects the Eastman School of Music and the Eastman Theatre, will be re-named for Doug Lowry, dean emeritus of the Eastman School of Music, who died Wednesday from cancer. Seligman had earlier announced the death of Mr. Lowry in a statement that praised his many accomplishments and leadership skills. "He brought together the Eastman School community in ways that were deeply appreciated by its faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends," he said. Mr. Lowry, who was 62, recently stepped down from the dean position because of his failing health, but he was given the title of dean emeritus. He had served as dean since 2007.  

(Also reported in: Rochester Business Journal, Rochester City Newspaper, WXXI News, YNN, WHEC-TV, 13WHAM-TV, WHAM 1180, WROC-TV, Cincinnati Enquirer)

Rochester Democrat & Chronicle (October 27)

URs big data research could be big deal for us

The University of Rochester recently announced a $50 million commitment to establish itself as a leading academic institution in "big data" research. So is big data the next big deal? It certainly could be. As we have become painfully aware through revelations on the practices of the National Security Agency, never in history has more data been captured and archived. The most interesting application for big data research and where UR could secure a leading role is in personalized medicine - using enormous amounts of medical data to design predictive models and determine a treatment plan specific to each patient.  

(Also reported in: Rochester Democrat & Chronicle 10-28-2013)

Chicago Tribune (October 7)

Americans: don't weigh costs of new treatments

Most Americans don't want the government to decide if medical treatments are economical before letting patients use them, a new survey suggests. Dr. Alec B. O'Connor, who has studied cost-effectiveness at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry in New York, agreed. "What I think is interesting about this is Americans seem to really focus on themselves as the patient," he told Reuters Health. But, he said, Americans don't seem to focus on themselves as the ones who are paying the bill.

(Also reported in: Yahoo! News, Newsmax Health)

Rochester Democrat & Chronicle (October 12)

Ronald Rettner Hall for Media Arts and Innovation opens

Engineering technology meets creative arts inside the Ronald Rettner Hall for Media Arts and Innovation, which officially opened to students, faculty and guests during a ceremony Friday at the University of Rochester. The new hall is aimed at appealing to the brightest students and faculty by offering a learning environment without the restrains of traditional classroom structure, said University of Rochester President Joel Seligman. "Some of the best learning is not when you listen, but when you create," Seligman said. "And that is the spirit of this building."

(Also reported in: WHEC-TV, YNN, WHAM AM 1180 Rochester)

New York Times (October 26)

Living in a World of Fantasy Can Be Dehumanizing

Renee Miller, a neuroscientist at the University of Rochester, has examined fantasy games' dehumanizing effect. "In fantasy football, we're valuing players according to what they can do for us," said Miller, the author of "Cognitive Bias in Fantasy Sports: Is Your Brain Sabotaging Your Team?" "The fact that we are using football players for our own purpose necessitates our distancing ourselves from them. They are people, but people who work for us, and with whom we have no personal contact."

Rochester Business Journal (October 11)

Fast Start: Wisdom gained in a prison's chapel

Behind the walls of a prison, everyday life goes on. Society views prison as a tantalizingly scary place, says Joshua Dubler, a University of Rochester assistant professor of religion. TV shows like "Orange Is the New Black" paint incarceration with a sexy glow. Behind the fence, though, "there's a lot of nothing that happens there," Dubler says. "It's 25 to life, eight hours at a time." It is in this setting that Dubler's new book takes place. "Down in the Chapel: Religious Life in an American Prison" tells the story about one week in the chapel of Graterford Prison, a maximum-security prison in Pennsylvania.

The New York Times (October 2)

Who Will Heal the Doctors?

In my previous column, I reported on the problem of widespread burnout among doctors and medical students - and I described a response that, in recent years, has spread to half the nation's medical schools: a course called The Healer's Art, created by a physician, Rachel Naomi Remen, to help doctors and students discover and reconnect to the deep meaning of their work and maintain their commitment for it. Not only do improvements in mindfulness appear to improve doctors' sense of well-being, they seem to improve their patient-centeredness, as well - something known to be associated with better, safer and more satisfying care, explains Michael S. Krasner, an Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, who has co-written a study on the topic.

Scientific American (October 28)

Visual Test Reveals New Dimension of IQ

For more than a century researchers have been trying and failing to link perception and intelligence-for instance, do intelligent people see more detail in a scene? Now scientists at the University of Rochester and at Vanderbilt University have demonstrated that high IQ may be best predicted by combining what we perceive and what we cannot. “Suppressing information is a really important thing that the brain does,” explains University of Rochester neuroscientist Duje Tadin. He explains that the findings underscore how intelligence requires that we think fast but focus selectively, ignoring distractions.

USA Today (October 23)

Confederate flag raises issues, ire at a N.Y. college

A University of Rochester student says college officials violated his right to free expression by forcing him to take down a Confederate flag he had put in the window of his room on campus. "I am from North Carolina and the school is blatantly ignoring my rights to express the cultural identity I choose to identify with, even though the school prides itself on how 'culturally diverse' it is." Even though the University of Rochester is a private college, (university dean) Matthew Burns said there should be no intention to inhibit free expression. "The whole purpose of higher education is to get ideas out there that sometimes are unpalatable," said Burns.  

(Also reported in: Inside Higher Ed, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle)

The Wall Street Journal (October 11)

A Simple Method to Pick a Winning Stock

The implication: Between two companies that are otherwise similar, pick the one with the greatest profitability. Note carefully that this new research focuses on gross profits rather than earnings. That is because a company's earnings reflect myriad factors having nothing to do with how profitable it is likely to be in future years, says Robert Novy-Marx, a finance professor at the University of Rochester.

The Huffington Post (October 2)

Twin Birth Study Finds No Benefits To Planned C-Section

The latest report says that an influential study released more than a decade ago, known as "The Term Breech Trial," increased support for a general policy of planned C-sections for twins. The earlier study argued that C-sections result in better outcomes than planned vaginal births for babies who are breech (meaning they present with their feet or buttocks first) -- although that study looked at singletons, not twin births. "A lot of [doctors] had been on the fence, and they kind of got scared away," said Dr. Christopher Glantz, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology with the University of Rochester and an expert on high-risk pregnancy. "It's a medical-legal issue, because if you have a paper out there that says cesarean is better, it's hard to buck the trend."

artdaily (October 10)

One hundred years after founding, Memorial Art Gallery explores how memory shapes identity

A major exhibition celebrating the Memorial Art Gallery's 100th anniversary opens October 9, 2013 at the Gallery and remains on view through December 29. Memory Theatre 2013 brings together historical and contemporary objects that explore how memory shapes both personal and cultural identities, and the ways in which museums function as "memory theatres."

Fox News (October 9)

What are Obamacare's Health Insurance Co-ops?

Consumers shopping for health insurance in the Obamacare online marketplaces, or exchanges, are likely to spot insurance companies they've never heard of before, including some startups known as "co-ops." The exchanges will introduce at least two dozen or so Consumer Operated and Oriented Plans -- co-ops, for short -- which are new nonprofit, private insurers that will operate in a manner similar to credit unions. "There are critics who argue that co-ops will have a hard time saving money because of high startup costs, even with initial government funding," says Gerry Wedig, a professor and health care economist with the Simon School of Business at the University of Rochester. "But the co-ops argue that they'll be able to cut costs because they can be more efficient and won't have to pay profits to shareholders."

Technology Review (October 8)

First 3D Movies From a Single Pixel Camera

Single pixel cameras are taking the world of imaging by storm. These counterintuitive devices have the ability to photograph an entire scene in 3D and at a resolution of choice using a single pixel. Today, Gregory Howland at the University of Rochester in New York State and a few pals take this new technique even further. These guys have built a single pixel camera capable of making 3D images, used it to create a video images and even to track a moving object for the first time.

Rochester Democrat & Chronicle (October 30)

Summit surveys state of NY schools

During a panel discussion about better integrating schools as a way to improve student performance, University of Rochester associate professor Kara Finnigan revealed that a soon-to-be-released Civil Rights Project report ranked New York last in that respect.The Civil Rights Project, which has done extensive research on school segregation, had previously provided an analysis that ranked Rochester 27th out of 381 U.S. metropolitan areas when it came to the separation of black and white students. That review found that more than 70 percent of the area's black or white students would need to attend a different school to achieve perfect integration across the region. That put the area in the category of "extreme" segregation.

WHEC TV NBC 10 Rochester (October 1)

Children at Golisano Childrens Hospital leave their mark at new building site

On Tuesday, patients at Golisano Children's Hospital will decorate a steel beam to commemorate the progress on the new children's hospital at the University of Rochester Medical Center. The new hospital will be 245,000 square feet and will have 8 floors dedicated to children and families. It is scheduled to be finished in 2015.

Her Campus (October 31)

The 10 Most Epic College Halloween Celebrations

2. University of Rochester's Scare Fair To be perfectly honest, libraries give us the creeps: anxiety-inducing aisles, fluorescent lights and the very slim chance that a secret passageway will open as soon as you grab that book off the shelf all make us a little freaked out. So it makes perfect sense that the University of Rochester hosts its famed Scare Fair at Rush Rhees, the school's main library. For more than 80 years, Rush Rhees has been transformed into a haunted house, which also features a scavenger hunt.

Astronomy Magazine (October 8)

Researchers find that bright nearby double star Fomalhaut is actually a triple

The nearby star system Fomalhaut - of special interest for its unusual exoplanet and dusty debris disk - has been discovered to be not just a double star, as astronomers had thought, but one of the widest triple stars known. Eric Mamajek from the University of Rochester, New York, and his collaborators found the triple nature of the star system through a bit of detective work. "I noticed this third star a couple of years ago when I was plotting the motions of stars in the vicinity of Fomalhaut for another study," he said. "However, I needed to collect more data and gather a team with different observations to test whether the star's properties are consistent with being a third member of the Fomalhaut system."

USA Today (October 8)

Shutdown forces Rochester to find new homecoming opponent

As a head football coach, Scott Greene's job is to prepare for any possible situation. But there's nothing in the University of Rochester playbook under "game canceled, government shutdown." "It's pretty unfortunate," Greene said Tuesday after it was announced that the Yellowjackets' homecoming game with the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy has been canceled. The football game traditionally is the centerpiece of Meliora Weekend, the annual gathering of alumni, family and friends. University officials expect around 9,000 visitors this weekend. Those who venture to Fauver Stadium at 1 p.m. will see UR play football, but the opponent will be Alfred State, a provisional NCAA Division III member.  

(Also reported in: Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, 13WHAM-TV, WROC-TV, YNN, Stars and Stripes)

YNN (October 8)

New Test For Breast Cancer Patients Offered Locally

Women who have HER2 positive breast cancer tend to be younger and have a more aggressive form of the disease, but if treated with the right medicines, can make remarkable recoveries. A new test at the University of Rochester is helping make the right diagnosis. "Fifty percent reduction in the relative risk for recurrence when HER2 positive disease is treated with a HER2 targeted therapy. Thirty percent improvement in survival. Those are dramatic numbers. There's a number of new targeted agents that are available," said Dr. David Hicks, University of Rochester Medical Center surgical pathology director.

Rochester City Newspaper (October 30)

JAZZ | Clay Jenkins

Right out of college, trumpeter Clay Jenkins earned his stripes with the Stan Kenton Orchestra. He went on to tour with Harry James, Buddy Rich, and Count Basie before becoming a professor at the Eastman School of Music. Clay Jenkins performs Tuesday, November 5, 8 p.m. at Hatch Recital Hall, Eastman School of Music, 26 Gibbs St., $10 (free with UR ID),, 274-1100.

 (Also reported in: Rochester Democrat and Chronicle)

Rochester Democrat & Chronicle (October 27)

New MAG exhibit is an artful time machine

When the Memorial Art Gallery held an opening reception for its new major exhibit, "Memory Theatre 2013," earlier this month, Marie Via took a moment to stand back and soak it all in. Indeed, "Memory Theatre 2013," a continuation of exhibits marking the MAG's 100th anniversary, offers a rich tray of art for guests to experience with many of their senses.

WROC TV CBS 8 Rochester (October 23)

U of R Study Shows Common Core Tests Positively Impacts Teachers

The Common Core tests have angered parents and teachers, saying that students shouldn't have to take them, and teachers shouldn't be judged on test scores. But a new study shows the Common Core Curriculum may be better than expected. University of Rochester researchers polled close to 400 middle school math teachers across 48 states. 90% of them said the new state assessments will influence the way they teach, and researchers say that's a good thing.

YNN Rochester (October 13)

Memorial Art Gallery Turns 100

"We have one of the most well balanced largest collections in Western New York," said Debora McDell-Hernandez, Coordinator of Community Programs and Outreach. And now the Memorial Art Gallery, that members say has something for everyone, has turned 100 years old. To celebrate this achievement the Memorial Art Gallery had a birthday party on Sunday where they had many different forms of art and even activities for children.  

(Also reported in: Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, WXXI News, WHAM 1180)

13WHAM-TV (October 16)

URMC testing bird flu vaccine

Researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center are playing a vital role in preventing the spread of the bird flu, which hit China. The flu, called H7N9, mainly affected people in their 50s and 60s. It caused severe respiratory symptoms. 30 percent of those who got sick died. Dr. John Treanor, Chief of Infectious Diseases at the University of Rochester Medical Center, said the U of R is the only center testing a live vaccine which would prevent the bird flu.

Rochester Democrat & Chronicle (October 13)

At UR, former defense secretary Robert Gates talks about Washington dysfunction

Robert M. Gates, the former U.S. defense secretary and intelligence director, spoke in Rochester Saturday morning about the threats posed by terrorists, rogue states and nuclear proliferation. "The world is becoming ever more turbulent, more complex in some areas more dangerous," said Gates during an hour-long talk Saturday morning in Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre that was part of the University of Rochester's Meliora Weekend. "I truly believe that at this point, the single greatest danger to our national security and our economy resides in the two square miles that encompass Capital Hill and the White House," he said to sustained applause and laughter from the 2,000 or so UR students, parents, alumni and guests who filled Kodak Hall.  

(Also reported in: WXXI News)

YNN (October 2)

Small Business Owners To Soon Feel Effects Of Shutdown

"Most people are not going to notice much of a difference unless maybe they planned a vacation to Washington and want to visit the monuments, which will be closed. I think where you'll actually see an affect is if the federal government doesn't extend the debt ceiling in a few weeks, which would mean essentially the government wouldn't be able to pay its bills, then you'll see enormous repercussions for the country, but right now I think we're okay," said University of Rochester political science professor David Primo. Even though the government shutdown will have little affect on most of us, there's one segment of the population that could be hit hard if this goes on for an extended period of time. Small business owners may begin feeling an affect in the coming days.  

(Also reported in: Christian Science Monitor, 13WHAM-TV)

WXXI News (September 30)

Chalkboard Question Asks Rochesterians to Ponder Life Choices

They've been seen in cities around the world, and now one has popped up in Rochester's southwest quadrant: A chalkboard asking people to complete the sentence, "Before I die, I want to..." 'To be missed and for everyone to think I was a good person.' That one really stuck with me," said University of Rochester student Corinne Calabretta, who designed the project with her aunt, Maria Zwack. The chalkboard is at the corner of Jefferson Avenue and Bartlett Street. Calabretta says she's planning some more thought-provoking projects in the future.