Morton S. Fuchs, professor emeritus in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Notre Dame, died Dec. 31 in Surprise, Arizona, after a long illness. His career at Notre Dame spanned more than four decades and his influence can still be felt in the department.
From 1981 to 1984, Fuchs served as chair of the Department of Microbiology and in 1984 he accepted additional responsibilities as chair of the Department of Biology. The following year, Fuchs was instrumental in guiding the merger of the two departments into one, unified Department of Biological Sciences. In 2001, Fuchs earned emeritus status.
After trekking through the biting South Bend cold on Nov. 26, 1842, Rev. Edward Sorin, C.S.C., first laid eyes on the 524 acres bequeathed to the Congregation of Holy Cross to build a Catholic university, admired its two lakes and surrounding forest, and started planning his ideal landscape.
He may have encountered a young sycamore tree that grows behind what is now Corby Hall. Currently one of the largest trees the University of Notre Dame’s campus, it is 80 feet tall and has thick, finger-like limbs that curl toward heaven in apparent angst. And certainly Father Sorin appreciated the ash trees, oaks, hickories and maples that surrounded St. Mary’s and St. Joseph’s lakes. But taming this “savage wilderness,” as one newspaper account in 1844 described the property, was necessary in order to create the pedestrian-friendly, academic utopia Father Sorin envisioned.
Michael Pfrender sits facing a whiteboard in his lab at the Galvin Life Science Center. He’s discussing the genomics of Daphnia – water fleas, found in every standing body of water in the world – and has a tendency to sketch when he speaks.
“You want to see some of them?” he asks. “That’s the fun part, right?”
At the back of the lab, two beakers sit on a table near a microscope. There isn’t much to see at first glance. Even leaning in, Daphnia are so small they look like bouncing flecks in the water, frantically trying to keep afloat.
Tuberculosis-causing mycobacteria use a select group of proteins known as virulence factors to transmit the disease, which infects roughly one third of the world’s population and causes 1.7 million deaths annually. Those proteins are cargo transported by molecular machinery, a microscopic gateway that promotes the survival of bacteria in the host.
A new study by researchers at the University of Notre Dame and Michigan State University, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, reveals that mycobacteria can sense when this molecular machine is present.
Dr. Harald E. Esch, Professor Emeritus of Biological Sciences, passed away peacefully on October 7, 2017, at the age of 85 in Farragut, TN. Dr. Esch was born in 1931 in Dusseldorf, Germany. Originally trained as a physicist and mathematician at the University of Bonn and Free University, Harald shifted to biology for his doctoral studies. At the University of Würzburg, Harald studied with Dr. Karl von Frisch, the 1973 Nobel Prize Laureate in Physiology or Medicine best known for his pioneering work on the ‘waggle dance’ of the common honeybee, Apis mellifera. Under von Frisch’s tutelage, Harald earned a doctorate in 1960 in Zoology and Mathematics for his work on insect chemosensory physiology. Harald remained in Germany until 1964 as an Assistant Professor in the Radiation Research Laboratory at the University of Munich Medical School, where he worked on the effects of ionizing radiation on cell membranes.
In 1996, biological sciences professor Gary Lamberti published the first edition of his textbook to fill a major need in aquatic science. Twenty-one years later, Methods in Stream Ecology, now in its third edition, is up for consideration for a prestigious PROSE Award, an annual accolade that recognizes the best in professional and scholarly publishing.
“In general, cases of Zika have definitely decreased in most of Central and South America, but the virus is not gone. The mosquitoes carrying Zika and other diseases are still there, and the risk for another infection outbreak is still quite prevalent,” says Elitza Theel, director of the Infectious Diseases Serology Laboratory and co-director of the Vector-Borne Diseases Service Line at Mayo Clinic.
Though Zika virus was identified in 1947, the World Health Organization (WHO) says it was largely localized for 60 years. In 2007, the first recognized outbreak of Zika affected 5,000 people on Yap Island in the Federated States of Micronesia. From there, it moved to French Polynesia and then in 2015 to Brazil, where an outbreak quickly devastated South America.
Notre Dame’s first Life Sciences Symposium brought together leading biomedical researchers for a day of lectures and poster presentations, drawing about 200 students and scientists from across the area.
The event, “Bridging the Gap from Bench to Bedside,” was held Oct. 11, 2017, at the Morris Inn and was organized and hosted by students in the Department of Biological Sciences graduate program. Attendees came from Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, and Ohio to hear researchers present topics from stem cells in cancer to neurobiology and regeneration.
Research took precedence over relaxation for several College of Science students this summer who spent 10 weeks completing undergraduate research projects at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas. Two students from biological sciences, Colin Sheehan and Shane Davitt, were among the participants.
The University of Notre Dame Summer Undergraduate Research Program at MD Anderson is a competitive program designed for outstanding and highly motivated undergraduate students interested in pursuing a career in cancer research. Students participated in various types of research in different labs, attended lectures and presentations, and collaborated with others as they fostered their interest in a research career path.
From studying Fragile X Syndrome to understanding algorithms for artificial intelligence, 47 students participated in a summer’s worth of research, thanks to the College of Science Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships (SURF).
The program is made possible through donors and in collaboration with the Center of Undergraduate Scholarly Engagement, Indiana University School of Medicine–South Bend, and the Glynn Family Honors program.
The Notre Dame Linked Experimental Ecosystem Facility (ND-LEEF) will debut its new “in-nest” livestreaming camera, mounted above the bald eagle nest located at St. Patrick’s County Park during the 5th Annual Science Sunday event Oct. 22.
While the previous camera was popular, with 100,000 live feed views, its low angle prevented viewers from seeing eagles when in the nest and made it hard to see them when leaves were present in summer.
New Notre Dame research has been used to support the Orphan Drug designation for IT-139, a compound that when used in combination with chemotherapy has proved to be significantly more effective in treating pancreatic cancer than the current standard of care. The Orphan Drug program is administered by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and identifies promising drugs that are intended for the treatment of rare diseases, which impact fewer than 200,000 Americans at any time, or affect more than 200,000 people but are not expected to recover the costs of developing and marketing a treatment drug. Currently, pancreatic cancer has one of the lowest cancer survival rates, with one-year and five-year rates of 20 and 7 percent, respectfully.
Recreational fishing is a longstanding American outdoor tradition, generating $25 billion annually. Whether fishing on lakes, rivers or streams; from shorelines, boats or embankments; freshwater fishing remains the most popular form of fishing, attracting more than 37 million participants last year.
While recreational fisheries are culturally and economically valuable, freshwater ecosystems are vulnerable to degradation and collapse.
University of Notre Dame biologist Michael Ferdig, Ph.D., is leading a new $11.5 million program project (P01) grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Ferdig and his team at Notre Dame are partnering with researchers at the Center for Infectious Disease Research (CID Research) in Seattle and Texas Biomedical Research Institute (TBRI) to better understand the genes in the malaria parasite that are responsible for drug resistance and virulence in order to reduce and ultimately eliminate the often deadly disease.
Jennifer Tank, Galla Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Notre Dame and director of the Environmental Change Initiative, has been announced as the president-elect of the Society for Freshwater Science (SFS).
The University of Notre Dame has received $138.1 million in research funding for fiscal year (FY) 2017, surpassing the previous record of $133.7 million set in FY 2015.