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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.

Alternate Theory of Inhabitation of North America Disproved

There has long been a debate among scholars about the origins of the first inhabitants of North America. The most widely accepted theory is that sometime before 14,000 years ago, humans migrated from Siberia to Alaska by means of a “land bridge” that spanned the Bering Strait. However, in the 1990s, a small but vocal group of researchers proposed that North America was first settled by Upper Paleolithic people from Europe, who moved from east to west through Greenland via a glacial “ice bridge.” Now, researchers at the University of Missouri, working with colleagues the Cleveland Museum of Natural History and elsewhere, have definitively disproved the ice bridge theory.

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.

Better Social Media Techniques Increase Fan Interest, Engagement

Due to the ever-increasing number of people using social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, businesses and organizations, such as professional sports teams, are expanding their marketing and communication efforts to engage people with their brands through those sites. Now, Nicholas Watanabe, an assistant teaching professor at the University of Missouri, along with colleagues from MU and Louisiana State University, analyzed Major League Baseball (MLB) teams’ use of Twitter to engage and increase fan interest. They found that the more individual teams released original content from their Twitter accounts, such as score updates or player profiles, the more followers they gained and engagement they initiated. The researchers say their findings could provide guidance for many businesses struggling with how to use social media.

Difficult Decisions are Easier if Focus is on End Goal

When making difficult decisions, people tend to become preoccupied with the many factors that make up the choice, often prolonging the time it takes to come to a conclusion. Now, a University of Missouri researcher explains how individuals can make complex deliberations efficiently by ignoring past decisions or events that are irrelevant and by focusing on the consequences of their decisions and end goals. Doing so, he argues, can help decision-makers come to efficient and meaningful conclusions.

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.

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