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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.

Scientists Unravel Elusive Structure of HIV Protein

HIV, or human immunodeficiency virus, is the retrovirus that leads to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome or AIDS. Globally, about 35 million people are living with HIV, which constantly adapts and mutates creating challenges for researchers. Now, scientists at the University of Missouri are gaining a clearer idea of what a key protein in HIV looks like, which will help explain its vital role in the virus’ life cycle. Armed with this clearer image of the protein, researchers hope to gain a better understanding of how the body can combat the virus with the ultimate aim of producing new and more effective antiviral drugs.

Patient Outcomes Could Improve by Preparing Nursing Homes for Health Information Exchange

When older adults transfer between nursing homes and hospitals, inefficient and unclear communication between the organizations can hinder patient care. Now, a team of MU researchers is working to improve patients’ health outcomes by increasing efficient, secure communication between nursing homes and hospitals using an electronic communication system called a health information exchange (HIE).

Internationally Recognized Life Sciences Researcher to Join Faculty

The University of Missouri continues to build its global reputation in research and teaching by hiring high-impact faculty, thereby raising its profile as a public land-grant research institution and member of the Association of American Universities (AAU). In January 2016, Professor Lloyd W. Sumner will join MU’s Department of Biochemistry, administrators announced today.

Clients Lost in System when Safety-Net Agencies Close

Safety-net agencies, such as food banks and nonprofits offering health care, serve vulnerable individuals who are uninsured or underinsured and help them connect with services, such as health care, legal aid and housing. A researcher from the University of Missouri studied the closure of a large, safety-net agency and how the closure affected clients and other, smaller agencies that depended on the larger agency for referrals. Based on her research, Nidhi Khosla, an assistant professor of health sciences in the MU School of Health Professions, offers recommendations for agency leaders and policymakers to make sure safety-net agencies are sustainable and, if they do close, clients continue to receive the services they need.

Genetic Study of ‘Co-Evolution’ Could Provide Clues to Better Food Production

In 1964, renowned biologists Peter Raven and Paul Erhlich published a landmark study that introduced the concept of co-evolution. Using butterflies and plants as primary examples, the team determined that two species can reciprocally drive each other’s evolution and development. Now, an international team of researchers led by the University of Missouri and Stockholm University has used cutting-edge genomics to analyze the co-evolution theory and identified the mechanisms responsible for this phenomenon. Scientists believe that understanding how co-evolution works could help provide genetic clues for producing heartier plants and food for a growing global population.

BPA Can Adversely Affect Parenting Behaviors in Mice

Roger Meissen, meissenr@missouri.edu, 573-884-7443

Inexperienced Investors Should Take Advantage of “Auto-Pilot Investing”

For inexperienced investors with little knowledge about the investment process, it may be important to invest in funds that do not require much maintenance. Now, a researcher at the University of Missouri has found that investors with less investment knowledge are more likely to invest in target-date funds (TDFs). Michael Guillemette, an assistant professor of personal financial planning in the MU College of Human Environmental Sciences, says this is a positive trend which will help inexperienced investors invest safely without risking significant losses based on their lack of knowledge.

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