Most recent news releases
Researchers Irving L. Weissman and Joan Massagué have won this year’s Charles Rodolphe Brupbacher Prize for Cancer Research: Weissman, from Stanford University, for his work on healthy and sick stem cells; Massagué, from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, for his research on metastatic spread. The award, which carries CHF 100,000 each in prize money, is to be presented on January 29 during the international symposium on “Breakthroughs in Cancer Research and Therapy” in Zurich.
Martin Jinek from the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Zurich has won the Friedrich Miescher Prize, which carries CHF 20,000 in prize money. The award is the highest accolade for budding researchers in biochemistry in Switzerland.
Melanoma, the most aggressive of all skin cancer strains, is often fatal for patients due to the pronounced formation of metastases. Until now, a melanoma’s rampant growth was mainly attributed to genetic causes, such as mutations in certain genes. However, researchers from the University of Zurich now reveal that so-called epigenetic factors play a role in the formation of metastases in malignant skin cancer. This opens up new possibilities for future cancer treatments.
Plants use genetic mechanisms to prevent inbreeding by recognizing self and non-self pollen. Researchers from the Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies at the University of Zurich have now found evidence that a group of 18 male proteins recognize 40 female proteins between them – in contrast to one-to-one relationships studied to date. The self-recognition mechanism in petunia shows similarities to the immune defense in vertebrates.
Jan 7, 2015 Two brain regions join forces for absolute pitch
People who have “absolute pitch” can identify notes immediately without relying on a reference tone. Intensive research is being conducted into the neuronal basis of this extraordinary ability at the University of Zurich’s Department of Neuropsychology. The researchers have now detected a close functional link between the auditory cortex in the brain and the frontal lobe in these extraordinary people – a discovery that is not only important in theory, but also in practice.
A protein that influences the epigenetic characteristics of tumor cells is directly linked to the grade of malignancy of prostate cancer. This key discovery has been made by a team of scientists from the University of Zurich, German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), Hamburg-Eppendorf University Hospital, Heidelberg University, and other institutes in a study of 7,700 samples of tumor tissue. The detection of this biomarker may serve as an indicator of the likelihood that the disease may take an aggressive course, and may thus be helpful in choosing an appropriate treatment.
ETH Zurich and the University of Zurich are founding a new translational research centre at the interface of medicine, science and engineering: the Wyss Translational Center Zurich. A USD 120 million donation from Dr. h.c. mult. Hansjörg Wyss to the two Zurich universities is making this possible. Through an interdisciplinary approach, the new centre aims to accelerate the development and application of innovative medical therapies and groundbreaking robotic systems.
Dec 10, 2014 Anyone who is good at German learns English better
Your literacy skills in your first language heavily influence the learning of a foreign language. Thus, anyone who reads and writes German well is likely to transfer this advantage to English – regardless of the age of onset of foreign language learning. Foreign language lessons at an early age, however, pay off less than was previously assumed. In fact, they can even have a negative impact on the first language in the short run, as a linguist from the University of Zurich reveals in her long-term study involving 200 Zurich high-school children.
In cell competition the strong eliminate the weak, thereby ensuring optimal tissue fitness. Molecular biologists at the University of Zurich and Columbia University have now demonstrated that the innate immune system plays a key role in this important mechanism. However, cancer cells also make use of this: they can cause cells that are important for healthy tissue to die.
With over 30,000 species worldwide, the ray fins are currently the largest group of fish. These bony fish were not always as numerous, however. Losses of other fish species, such as cartilaginous fish, helped them to spread successfully. As paleontologists from the University of Zurich together with international researchers reveal, a series of serious extinction events between 300 to 200 million years ago played a central role in the development of today’s fish fauna.
Nov 26, 2014 DNA survives critical entry into Earth’s atmosphere
The genetic material DNA can survive a flight through space and re-entry into the earth’s atmosphere – and still pass on genetic information. A team of scientists from UZH obtained these astonishing results during an experiment on the TEXUS-49 research rocket mission.
Nov 26, 2014 How various brain areas interact in decisions
Our decisions can be pictured in the brain. Scientists at the University of Zurich were able to show in a recent study which areas are most active in decision making. Often the so-called prefrontal cortex not only apparently shows increased activity during decisions that require self-control, but in general during decision making. The results could be of use in promoting decision skills in difficult decisions.
Bank employees are not more dishonest than employees in other industries. However, the business culture in the banking industry implicitly favors dishonest behavior, as an economic study at the University of Zurich indicates. A change in norms would thus be important in order to improve the battered image of the industry.
Nov 13, 2014 Architecture of a lipid transport protein revealed
For the first time, the complex architecture of a protein that controls the transport of lipids between the two layers of a cell membrane has been described. With this structure, Biochemists from the University of Zurich have now gained insight into processes that trigger blood coagulation.
Turtle shells are unique in the animal kingdom. In order to be able to breathe in this inflexible casing, tortoises have a muscle sling which is attached to the shell to ventilate the lung. A team of researchers including paleontologist Torsten Scheyer from the University of Zurich can now reveal that the turtle's ancestor Eunotosaurus africanus already breathed with the aid of such a sling – even though it did not yet have a solid shell. The muscle sling was thus the anatomical prerequisite for the development of the rigid turtle shell.
Nov 5, 2014 Swiss employees craft their own jobs
Four out of five employees in Switzerland actively shape their own jobs. Through what is known as job crafting, employees seek to positively influence their work situation. This was one of the results of the Swiss HR Barometer 2014, which was carried out by the University of Zurich and ETH Zurich. The study recommends that employers promote job crafting by granting employees greater involvement and influence over their jobs.
A skin-eating fungal disease brought to Europe by humans now poses a major threat to native salamanders and newts, scientists of the Universities of Zurich and Ghent University have warned. They say nations need to urgently consider appropriate biosecurity measures to stop the further spread of this pathogen.
Collaboration will speed clinical translation of cardiovascular tissue engineering technologies for repairing and regenerating the diseased heart.
Oct 20, 2014 Structure of an iron-transport protein revealed
For the first time, the three dimensional structure of the protein that is essential for iron import into cells, has been elucidated. Biochemists of the University of Zurich have paved the way towards a better understanding of iron metabolism. The results also provide a basis for novel approaches to treat iron-related metabolic diseases.
Diverse plant communities are more successful and enable higher crop yields than pure monocultures, a European research team headed by ecologists from the University of Zurich has discovered. The scientists are convinced that the cultivation of crop mixtures in agriculture and forestry will play a key role in food safety in the future.