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Dutch Rubicon laureate Chris Smit has concluded that small mammals, such as rabbits and mice, play a major role in the development of natural diversity. Smit researched how scrub becomes established in natural grassland. It seems that prickly shrubs are important in protecting plants and preventing animal species from grazing. Smit has also demonstrated that natural disturbances such as flooding and animal diseases are very important for the diversity of natural areas.

International organisations frequently have high expectations about their interventions. Dutch researcher Mathijs van Leeuwen's work on peacebuilding reveals the need to exhibit modestly and to link into local agendas. Instead of wanting to realise ambitious programmes and to take the lead in social change, international organisations must instead try to be partners in peace.

AUSTIN, Texas—A dynamic way to alter the shape and size of microscopic three-dimensional structures built out of proteins has been developed by biological chemist Jason Shear and his former graduate student Bryan Kaehr at The University of Texas at Austin.

Shear and Kaehr fabricated a variety of detailed three-dimensional microstructures, known as hydrogels, and have shown that they can expand and bend the hydrogels by altering the chemistry of the environment in which they were built.

BATON ROUGE – LSU associate professor of sociology Troy C. Blanchard recently found that a community's religious environment – that is, the type of religious congregations within a locale – affects mortality rates, often in a positive manner. These results were published in the June issue of Social Forces, a leading journal in the field of sociology.

GALWAY, IRELAND – In response to the global health crisis, 26 leading authorities in competency-based and accreditation movements in global health promotion, health education, and public health reached an accord last week on what should comprise the domains of core competency in health promotion and health education.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. --- A farm irrigation canal would seem a healthier place for toads than a ditch by a supermarket parking lot.

But University of Florida scientists have found the opposite is true. In a study with wide implications for a longstanding debate over whether agricultural chemicals pose a threat to amphibians, UF zoologists have found that toads in suburban areas are less likely to suffer from reproductive system abnormalities than toads near farms – where some had both testes and ovaries.

Researchers at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA have solved the structure of a class of proteins known as sodium glucose co-transporters (SGLTs), which pump glucose into cells. These transport proteins are used in the treatment of chronic diarrhea via oral rehydration therapy, saving the lives of millions of children each year. The solution of the SGLT structure will accelerate development of new drugs designed to treat patients with diabetes and cancer.

DALLAS – July 6, 2008 – Tiny strands of genetic material called RNA – a chemical cousin of DNA – are emerging as major players in gene regulation, the process inside cells that drives all biology and that scientists seek to control in order to fight disease.

The idea that RNA (ribonucleic acid) is involved in activating and inhibiting genes is relatively new, and it has been unclear how RNA strands might regulate the process.

The study, published online in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, calls for trials of aggressive therapies against childhood eczema in attempt to reduce the incidence of asthma in later life.

The study, conducted by the University of Melbourne, Monash University and Menzies Research Institute in Tasmania, has followed more than 8500 people who are part of the Tasmanian Longitudinal Health Study from the ages of seven to 44.