PHOTO CREDIT: Mayo Clinic

Biomedical Research News

  • Columbia University Announces 2021 Louis V. Gerstner Jr., Scholars

    Four physician-scientists at the Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons—Jennifer Gelinas, Catherine Spina, Aaron Viny, and Xiao Zhao—have been named 2021 Louis V. Gerstner Jr. Scholars. Eliza C. Miller, a 2018 Gerstner Scholar, has been named a 2021 Louis V. Gerstner Jr. Merit Awardee. Since 2008, The Louis V. Gerstner Jr. Scholars Program has supported tenure-track physicians who conduct research that has the promise to bring new treatments to patients. The fund provides a stipend of $75,000 per year, for up to three years, to support the awardees’ research projects. Scholars are nominated by a committee of distinguished research faculty and selected by the VP&S dean. The program also presents the Gerstner Merit Award to an outstanding third-year Louis V. Gerstner Jr. Scholar who has made great strides in research.

    Read more about this year's scholars at columbia.edu
  • New Fossil of Extinct Human Relative Suggests Climate Change Led to Rapid Evolution
    November 18, 2020

    A new fossil discovery in South Africa suggests that Paranthropus robustus, an extinct species that co-existed with early members of our own genus, Homo, may have evolved rapidly during a turbulent period of local climate change about 2 million years ago. “This is an incredibly well-preserved fossil that adds to the evolutionary story of this small-brained, large-toothed hominin from South Africa. The ability to document this level of anatomical detail in one of our extinct relatives is a rare and exciting opportunity for understanding human evolution,” said Carrie Mongle, a Gerstner Scholar and Postdoctoral Fellow at the Museum who was part of an international research team that discovered and described the specimen, one of the most complete skulls of P. robustus ever found, in a study published this week in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution.

    Read more at amnh.org
  • Children Produce Different Antibodies in Response to New Coronavirus
    November 16, 2020

    Children and adults produce different types and amounts of antibodies in response to infection with the new coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, a new study from researchers at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons has found. The differences in antibodies suggest the course of the infection and immune response is distinct in children and most children easily clear the virus from their bodies. “Our study provides an in-depth examination of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in kids, revealing a stark contrast with adults,” says Columbia University immunologist Donna Farber, PhD, the George H. Humphreys II Professor of Surgical Sciences in the Department of Surgery, who led the study with Matteo Porotto, PhD, associate professor of viral molecular pathogenesis in Columbia’s Department of Pediatrics. Major contributors to the study include Stuart Weisberg, MD, PhD, assistant professor of pathology & cell biology, and Thomas Connors, MD, assistant professor of pediatrics; Both are recent Gerstner Scholars who are working alongside Dr. Farber, their mentor through the Scholars program.

    Read more at columbia.edu
  • Study Identifies New “Hidden” Gene in COVID-19 Virus
    November 12, 2020

    Researchers have discovered a new “hidden” gene in SARS-CoV-2—the virus that causes COVID-19—that may have contributed to its unique biology and pandemic potential. In a virus that only has about 15 genes in total, knowing more about this and other overlapping genes—or “genes within genes”—could have a significant impact on how we combat the virus. “Overlapping genes may be one of an arsenal of ways in which coronaviruses have evolved to replicate efficiently, thwart host immunity, or get themselves transmitted,” said lead author Chase Nelson, a postdoctoral researcher at Academia Sinica in Taiwan and a visiting scientist at the American Museum of Natural History. “Knowing that overlapping genes exist and how they function may reveal new avenues for coronavirus control, for example through antiviral drugs.” Prior to the pandemic, while working at the Museum as a Gerstner Scholar in Bioinformatics and Computational Biology, Nelson developed a computer program that screens genomes for patterns of genetic change that are unique to overlapping genes.

    Read more at amnh.org