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Professor Ning Wang led a team that found the precise combination of mechanical forces, chemistry and timing to help stem cells differentiate into three germ layers, the first step toward developing specialized tissues and organs.

Stem cells take initial step toward development in the lab

Author: Liz Ahlberg, Physical Sciences Editor

Published Date:May 30, 2014

The gap between stem cell research and regenerative medicine just became a lot narrower, thanks to a new technique that coaxes stem cells, with potential to become any tissue type, to take the first step to specialization. It is the first time this critical step has been demonstrated in a laboratory.

Published Date: May 30, 2014


University of Illinois chemistry professor Martin Burke led a team that discovered a simple system to synthesize a large class of medically important molecules using only 12 different chemical building blocks.

Making better medicines with a handful of chemical building blocks

Author: Liz Ahlberg, Physical Sciences Editor

Published Date:May 19, 2014

Soon, making and improving medical drugs could be as easy for chemists as stacking blocks is for a child.

Published Date: May 19, 2014


Illinois researchers have developed materials that not only heal, but regenerate. The restorative material is delivered through two, isolated fluid streams (dyed red and blue). The liquid immediately gels and later hardens, resulting in recovery of the entire damaged region. This image is halfway through the restoration process.

Regenerating plastic grows back after damage

Author: Liz Ahlberg, Physical Sciences Editor

Published Date:May 8, 2014

Looking at a smooth sheet of plastic in one University of Illinois laboratory, no one would guess that an impact had recently blasted a hole through it. Illinois researchers have developed materials that not only heal, but regenerate. Until now, self-repairing materials could only bond tiny microscopic cracks. The new regenerating materials fill in large cracks and holes by regrowing material.

Published Date: May 8, 2014


Professor Bruce Schatz and colleagues developed a smartphone app, GaitTrack, which monitors chronic heart and lung patients by analyzing the way they walk.

GaitTrack app makes cellphone a medical monitor for heart and lung patients

Author: Liz Ahlberg, Physical Sciences Editor

Published Date:May 6, 2014

By simply carrying around their cellphones, patients who suffer from chronic disease could soon have an accurate health monitor that warns their doctors when their symptoms worsen.

Published Date: May 6, 2014


University of Illinois chemists developed analogs of a new tuberculosis drug that could treat many other diseases and defy resistance. From left, research scientist Lici A. Schurig-Briccio, undergraduate Shannon Bogue, graduate student Xinxin Feng, research scientist Kai Li and chemistry professor Eric Oldfield.

Multitarget TB drug could treat other diseases, evade resistance

Author: Liz Ahlberg, Physical Sciences Editor

Published Date:April 17, 2014

A drug under clinical trials to treat tuberculosis could be the basis for a class of broad-spectrum drugs that act against various bacteria, fungal infections and parasites, yet evade resistance, according to a study by University of Illinois chemists and collaborators.

Published Date: April 17, 2014


Thin, soft stick-on patches that stretch and move with the skin incorporate commercial, off-the-shelf chip-based electronics for sophisticated wireless health monitoring. The new device was developed by John A. Rogers of Illinois and Yonggang Huang of Northwestern University.

Off the shelf, on the skin: Stick-on electronic patches for health monitoring

Author: Liz Ahlberg, Physical Sciences Editor

Published Date:April 3, 2014

Wearing a fitness tracker on your wrist or clipped to your belt is so 2013. Engineers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Northwestern University have demonstrated thin, soft stick-on patches that stretch and move with the skin and incorporate commercial, off-the-shelf chip-based electronics for sophisticated wireless health monitoring.

Published Date: April 3, 2014


Professors Praveen Kumar, right, and Stephen Long developed a computer modeling system to help plant scientists breed soybean crops that produce more and use less water.

Scientists say new computer model amounts to a lot more than a hill of beans

Author: Liz Ahlberg, Physical Sciences Editor

Published Date:April 3, 2014

Crops that produce more while using less water seem like a dream for a world with a burgeoning population and already strained food and water resources. This dream is coming closer to reality for University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign researchers who have developed a new computer model that can help plant scientists breed better soybean crops.

Published Date: April 3, 2014


A new course co-developed by plant science professor Katy Heath teaches graduate students skills such as communicating about their research with nonscientists and developing educational outreach programs. Part of the Amplify the Signal course: graduate students, from left, front row, Cassandra Wesseln, Jennifer Han and Miranda Haus; back row, Rhiannon Peery, Christina Silliman and Heath.

Aspiring scientists learning to translate their research into language public understands

Author: Sharita Forrest, News Editor

Published Date:April 3, 2014

Communicating the relevance of one’s scientific research to general audiences and developing educational outreach programs are critical to the career success of college professors and researchers, but graduate curricula often fail to help students cultivate these essential skills.

Published Date: April 3, 2014


University of Illinois cell and developmental biology professor Fei Wang, left; visiting scholar Qiuhao Qu, center; materials science and engineering professor Jianjun Cheng; and their colleagues improved the process of converting stem cells into motor neurons. (Neurons are green; motor neurons are red in the image on the screen).

Team finds a better way to grow motor neurons from stem cells

Author: Diana Yates, Life Sciences Editor

Published Date:March 31, 2014

Researchers report they can generate human motor neurons from stem cells much more quickly and efficiently than previous methods allowed. The finding, described in Nature Communications, will aid efforts to model human motor neuron development, and to understand and treat spinal cord injuries and motor neuron diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

Published Date: March 31, 2014


Gillen DArcy Wood, a professor of English, is the author of Tambora: The Eruption That Changed the World, that documents the aftereffects of an 1815 volcanic eruption, the largest in recorded history. In his book, Wood describes the broad-ranging consequences, including climatic cooling, a worldwide cholera pandemic, a boom in opium production and an economic depression in the U.S.

New book tells the story of a little-known volcano's global impact

Author: Dusty Rhodes, Arts and Humanities Editor

Published Date:March 20, 2014

The 200th anniversary of the largest volcanic eruption in recorded history will be marked by the publication of a new book by University of Illinois professor Gillen D’Arcy Wood. If you think the title character might be Vesuvius, or Krakatoa, or maybe Pinatubo, you’re wrong. Wood’s focus is Tambora – a mountain in the Indonesian archipelago that erupted so violently in April of 1815 that today, it is ranked as “super colossal” on the scientific Volcanic Explosivity Index. And the explosion was only the first dose of Tambora’s destructive power.

Published Date: March 20, 2014