News & Announcements

"Lots of apps claim they can help you fight jet lag. Now Michigan researchers say mathematical formulas suggest it's possible to adjust to new time zones a bit faster than previously thought, and they created their own free app to help. Doctors have long said exposure to light is key. But how much, and when? "If you get light in the wrong time or wrong way, it'll send you the wrong direction," said University of Michigan math professor Daniel Forger, who led the research published Thursday. A master biological clock, called a circadian rhythm, regulates when we become sleepy and when we're more alert. Travel across time zones and the body clock has to reset itself. Light is that clock's strongest regulator. In a study partly funded by the Air Force, the Michigan team used two equations proven to predict someone's circadian rhythm, and with computer modeling calculated different schedules of light exposure for more than 1,000 possible trips. It's possible to customize a block of time each day when you should be in light, the brighter the better, and another when you should avoid it, Forger's team reported in the journal PLoS Computational Biology. (It didn't address other potential remedies such as melatonin.)" - AP

Dr. Vivian Cheung
Dr. Vivian Cheung, professor of Pediatric Neurology and CCMB faculty member, has been selected as the vice president-elect of the American Society for Clinical Investigation (ASCI). With this election, she will serve as the president-elect in year two and president in year three. Dr. Cheung is a HHMI investigator and research professor in the Life Science Institute. Dr. Cheung currently is serving on the Board of the American Society of Human Genetics, the Council of the NIH/ NIEHS and the ASCI Council. The ASCI is an honorary society to which physician-scientists from all medical specialties belong. Members are elected to ASCI on the basis of an outstanding record of scholarly achievement in biomedical research. The ASCI includes physician-scientists who are active clinically, in basic research, or in teaching. Many of its senior members are widely recognized leaders in academic medicine. The ASCI supports research into basic mechanisms and/or treatments of human disease, and to the education of future generations of physician-scientists. The ASCI considers the nominations of several hundred physician-scientists from the United States and abroad each year and elects up to 80 new members each year for their significant research accomplishments relatively early in their careers.

Dream 8 Challenge
Perturbation experiments are vitally important in causal signaling network inference, drug treatment simulation, etc. However, such experiments are expensive and time-consuming. How to generalize the observed time-course network dynamics to unseen situations remains a challenging task. To solve this problem, the Guan Lab developed a protein phosphorylation dynamics prediction method using truncated singular value decomposition (SVD). Their method is based on stationary Markov assumption and uses a regression method similar to Lasso regression. Any time-course data could be used as inputs (with or without inhibitors) to predict the perturbation under other inhibitors within the same cell culture. The Guan Lab have developed a novel network time-course projection algorithm that is capable to predict dynamic and direction networks across a specific time course.They applied this algorithm to the 2013 HPN-DREAM (Dialogue for Reverse Engineering Assessments and Methods) Breast Cancer Network Challenge. Among over 200 participating teams and over 100 final-round submissions, the Guan Lab's algorithm was one of the six winning methods.

Michelle Wynn
The purpose of the ProQuest Distinguished Dissertation Awards is to recognize exceptional and unusually interesting work produced by doctoral students in the last phase of their graduate work. The nominees’ overall academic accomplishments will also be taken into account.

 John A. Williams, M.D., Ph.D.
"This award is the highest honor bestowed by the Medical School upon a faculty member for research in the biomedical sciences. Dr. Williams is recognized for his numerous research accomplishments, a strong focus on teaching and mentoring, and his valuable leadership to science, the Medical School, and the University. His contributions include serving as chair of the Department of Molecular & Integrative Physiology for 21 years, teaching and mentoring faculty, and as a training grant director for 20 years. Dr. Williams also started the expansion of his department’s scientific focus and status as a leader in research and graduate education."

The Rackham International Student Fellowship assists outstanding international students, particularly those who may be ineligible for other kinds of support because of citizenship.

Dr. H.V. Jagadish
"H.V. Jagadish of the University of Michigan in the U.S. will take disparate datasets on diverse topics, including education, health, and the environment, which are often reported using different geographical units such as Zip Code or County, and realign them to a common unit so they can be better compared and used. Jagadish will develop four general techniques for aligning data partitions and apply them to existing datasets in one state in the U.S. so that they can be viewed according to different geographical units. Jagadish will also produce an interface so that policy analysts and NGOs can easily access and query these data, and collect feedback to improve the approach."

Performances are at the Power Center for the Performing Arts between Fri., Dec. 13 – Sun., Dec. 15. Tickets are available at the Michigan Union Ticket Office or online:

Two U-M medical researchers win top national awards Huda Akil, Ph.D., and Gilbert S. Omenn, M.D., Ph.D., honored by Association of American Medical Colleges at annual meeting A neuroscientist who probes the intersection between brain biology and mental health, and a physician who has led national health care change for decades, today received top national awards for their achievements. Both are leaders at the University of Michigan Health System, and faculty at the U-M Medical School. In fact, U-M is the only institution with two winners among the 10 recipients of this year’s six top awards from the Association of American Medical Colleges, or AAMC. The awards were presented at the AAMC’s meeting in Philadelphia.

David E. Rogers Award:

Gilbert S. Omenn, M.D., Ph.D. Fittingly, Omenn was inspired early in his career by the physician leader for whom the award is named – and went on to make the major contributions to improving the health and health care of the American people that the award recognizes. Omenn is a U-M professor of Computational Medicine and Bioinformatics, Internal Medicine, Human Genetics, and Public Health. He directs the university-wide Center for Computational Medicine and Bioinformatics as well as the global Human Proteome Project. From 1997 to 2002, he was CEO of the U-M Health System and U-M executive vice president for medical affairs, during the pivotal years of forming a modern academic medical center. Over five decades, “Gil made fundamental basic scientific contributions, led major public health studies and initiatives, championed the role of academic medical centers, and played a key role in forming health policy for our nation,” says David Ginsburg, M.D., his U-M colleague and past AAMC Distinguished Research Award winner. For more on Omenn’s work, and achievements, see the AAMC award profile.

Award for Distinguished Research in the Biomedical Sciences:

Huda Akil, Ph.D. Akil, the Gardner C. Quarton Professor of Neurosciences in Psychiatry at the U-M Medical School and co-director and senior research professor at U-M’s Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience Institute, received AAMC’s top award for outstanding clinical or laboratory research conducted by a medical school faculty member. A pioneer of what is now called systems neuroscience, she has made seminal contributions to the understanding of the neurobiology of emotions and the interplay between pain, anxiety, depression, stress, and substance abuse. “Huda’s scientific work has transformed our understanding of the molecular, anatomical, and behavioral mechanisms of emotionality,” said James O. Woolliscroft, M.D., dean and Lyle C. Roll Professor of Medicine at the Medical School. For more on Akil’s work, and achievements, see the AAMC award profile.

Cristen Willer
" A global hunt for genes that influence heart disease risk has uncovered 157 changes in human DNA that alter the levels of cholesterol and other blood fats – a discovery that could lead to new medications. The huge scan of genetic variations linked to blood lipid levels used an advanced device called a Metabochip. Each of the changes points to genes that can modify levels of cholesterol and other blood fats and are potential drug targets. Many of the changes point to genes not previously linked to blood fats, also called lipids. A surprising number of the variations were also associated with coronary artery disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and high blood pressure. The research also reveals that triglycerides – another type of blood lipid – play a larger role in heart disease risk than previously thought. The results, published in a paper and a letter appearing simultaneously in the journal Nature Genetics, come from the Global Lipids Genetics Consortium -- a worldwide team of scientists who pooled genetic and clinical information from more than 188,000 people from many countries and heritages. The analysis of the combined data was led by a team from the University of Michigan Medical School and School of Public Health. They used sophisticated computing and statistical techniques to search for genetic variations that modify blood lipid levels. The results increase by more than a third the total number of genetic variants linked to blood lipids. All but one of the variants associated with blood lipids are near stretches of DNA that encode proteins. “These results give us 62 new clues about lipid biology, and more places to look than we had before,” says Cristen Willer, Ph.D., the lead author of one paper and an assistant professor of Internal Medicine, Human Genetics and Computational Medicine & Bioinformatics at the U-M Medical School. “Once we take the time to truly understand these clues, we’ll have a better understanding of lipid biology and cardiovascular disease -- and potentially new targets for treatment.” But, cautions senior author and U-M School of Public Health Professor Gonçalo Abecasis, Ph.D., it will take much further work to study the implicated genes and to find and test potential drugs that could target them. The consortium’s “open science” approach will include publishing further detail online for other researchers to use freely toward this goal. A further analysis of the dataset, published as a letter with lead author Ron Do, Ph.D. and senior author Sekar Kathiresan, M.D. from the Broad Institute and Massachusetts General Hospital, suggests triglyceride levels have more impact on coronary artery disease risk than previously thought."

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