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MU Research of Zebrafish Neurons May Lead to Better Understanding of Birth Defects like Spina Bifida

The zebrafish, a tropical freshwater fish similar to a minnow and native to the southeastern Himalayan region, is well established as a key tool for researchers studying human diseases, including brain disorders. Using zebrafish, scientists can determine how individual neurons develop, mature and support basic functions like breathing, swallowing and jaw movement. Researchers at the University of Missouri say that learning about neuronal development and maturation in zebrafish could lead to a better understanding of birth defects such as spina bifida in humans.

Undergraduate Research and Creative Achievements Forum Will Feature More Than 300 Projects

MU undergraduates will present their work at the Undergraduate Research Creative Achievements Forum. The forum showcases student research and scholarly and creative achievements to the Mizzou community. MU undergraduates from any major and all academic levels are eligible to present their work.

More Individuals Discussing End-Of-Life Wishes with Loved Ones

Discussing end-of-life wishes with loved ones can be difficult, but new research from the University of Missouri shows more individuals are engaging in advance care planning. Advance care planning includes discussing end-of-life care preferences, providing written end-of-life care instructions and appointing a durable power of attorney for health care.

New Transitional Stem Cells Discovered

Pre-eclampsia is a disease that affects 5 to 8 percent of pregnancies in America. Complications from this disease can lead to emergency cesarean sections early in pregnancies to save the lives of the infants and mothers. Scientists believe pre-eclampsia is caused by a number of factors, including shallow placentas that are insufficiently associated with maternal blood vessels. Now, researchers from the University of Missouri, in an effort to grow placenta cells to better study the causes of pre-eclampsia, serendipitously discovered a previously unknown form of human embryonic stem cell. R. Michael Roberts, a Curators Professor of Animal Science and a professor of biochemistry, and his colleagues, says these new stem cells can help advance research on pre-eclampsia and a number of other areas of the human reproductive process.

BPA Can Disrupt Sexual Function in Turtles, Could be a Warning for Environmental Health

Bisphenol A (BPA) is a chemical that is used in a variety of consumer products, such as food storage products and resins used to line plastic food and beverage containers. Often, aquatic environments such as rivers and streams become reservoirs for BPA, and the habitats of fish and turtles are affected. Now, a collaboration of researchers from the University of Missouri, Westminster College, the U.S. Geological Survey and the Saint Louis Zoo have determined that BPA—which mimics estrogen—can alter a turtle’s reproductive system and disrupts sexual differentiation. Scientists are concerned findings could indicate harmful effects on environmental and human health.

Perceptions of Environmental Damage by Beetles Improve over Time, Despite Lack of Real Change

Invasive pests known as spruce bark beetles have been attacking Alaskan forests for decades, killing more than 1 million acres of forest on the Kenai Peninsula in southern Alaska for more than 25 years. Beyond environmental concerns regarding the millions of dead trees, or “beetle kill” trees, inhabitants of the peninsula and surrounding areas are faced with problems including dangerous falling trees, high wildfire risks, loss of scenic views and increased soil erosion. Now, a researcher from the University of Missouri and his colleagues have found that human perception of the beetle kill problem in the Kenai Peninsula has improved over time, despite little improvement in the environmental conditions. Hua Qin, an assistant professor of rural sociology and sustainable development at MU, says this trend in how time affects human attitudes and behavior is important to understand as environmental changes increase around the world.

Violent Video Games Not Linked to Aggression in Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Following the 2012 shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, some in the media and the public speculated a link existed between autism spectrum disorder and violence and, in particular, that violent video games may cause gamers with autism to act violently. Now, a study from the University of Missouri has found evidence to contradict this speculation. It is the first study to test the effects of violent video games on aggression in adults with autism spectrum disorder.

Engineers Now Understand How Complex Carbon Nanostructures Form

A University of Missouri researcher has developed a way to predict how carbon-nanotube structures are formed. By understanding how CNT arrays are created, designers and engineers can better incorporate the highly adaptable material into devices and products such as baseball bats, aerospace wiring, combat body armor, computer logic components and micro sensors used in biomedical applications.

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