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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


Illinois Natural History Survey insect behaviorist Joseph Spencer, left, former crop sciences professor Manfredo Seufferheld, entomology professor Barry Pittendrigh and their colleagues found that different Western corn rootworm populations respond differently to RNAi technology.

Success of new bug-fighting approach may vary from field to field

Author: Diana Yates, Life Sciences Editor

Published Date:March 10, 2014

A new technique to fight crop insect pests may affect different insect populations differently, researchers report. They analyzed RNA interference (RNAi), a method that uses genetic material to “silence” specific genes – in this case genes known to give insect pests an advantage. The researchers found that western corn rootworm beetles that are already resistant to crop rotation are in some cases also less vulnerable to RNAi.

Published Date: March 10, 2014


Infant mortality rates for black women are unlikely to decline sharply enough to achieve the federal governments targeted rate in 2020, according to a new study by alumnus Shondra Loggins, right, and Flavia Cristina Drumond Andrade, a professor of kinesiology and community health.

Most U.S. infant death rates not likely to fall enough to meet goal

Author: Sharita Forrest, Education Editor

Published Date:March 6, 2014

The infant mortality rate set forth as a national goal in the federal government’s Healthy People 2020 initiative is likely to be attained by only one demographic group – highly educated white mothers, the authors of a new study say.

Published Date: March 6, 2014


Stephen Long, a professor of crop sciences and of plant biology, with his colleague, postdoctoral researcher Justin McGrath (below), used a computer model of photosynthesis to find ways to boost crop yields.

Team models photosynthesis and finds room for improvement

Author: Diana Yates, Life Sciences Editor

Published Date:March 3, 2014

Teaching crop plants to concentrate carbon dioxide in their leaves could increase photosynthetic efficiency by 60 percent and yields by as much as 40 percent, researchers report in a new study.

Published Date: March 3, 2014


University of Illinois neuroscience professor Aron Barbey led a study that found a gene variant associated with improved recovery from traumatic brain injury.

One gene influences recovery from traumatic brain injury

Author: Diana Yates, Life Sciences Editor

Published Date:February 26, 2014

Researchers report that one tiny variation in the sequence of a gene may cause some people to be more impaired by traumatic brain injury (TBI) than others with comparable wounds.

Published Date: February 26, 2014


Fred Kummerow, a professor of comparative biosciences at the University of Illinois, reports that LDL cholesterol results from a simple dietary deficiency.

'Bad cholesterol' indicates an amino acid deficiency, researcher says

Author: Diana Yates, Life Sciences Editor

Published Date:February 25, 2014

Low-density lipoprotein (LDL), the “bad cholesterol” that doctors consider a sign of potential heart disease, is merely a marker of a diet lacking all of the essential amino acids, says University of Illinois comparative biosciences professor Fred Kummerow, 99, a longtime opponent of the medical establishment’s war on cholesterol.

Published Date: February 25, 2014