In The News

NEWS
The world’s hottest rainforest is located not in the Amazon or anywhere else you might expect, but inside Biosphere 2, the experimental scientific research facility in the desert outside Tucson, Arizona. A recent study of tropical trees planted there in the early 1990s reported a surprising result: They have withstood temperatures higher than any likely to be experienced by tropical forests this century.
NEWS
Drs. Laura Meredith and Jana U’Ren pivoted their scheduled field work trip to Alaska to infer the impact of terrestrial carbon loss on climate change.
NEWS
Funding has been awarded to five student teams to develop inventions that benefit society. The Student Innovation Challenge organized by Tech Launch Arizona, the office that commercializes inventions stemming from University of Arizona research, is continuing its series of competitions to engage students in innovation and commercialization. A team of Eller College students including BIO5 public affairs assistant Lily Andress, is developing a gaming headband for the hearing impaired.
NEWS
Dr. Eliot Herman, a professor of plant sciences, has dedicated his career studying why plants, such as the soybean plant, trigger allergic reactions and how to reduce the likelihood of them being triggered. By crossing a non-allergenic strain of soybeans with more commonly grown soybeans, Herman and his team were able to create a new, productive plant with reduced allergic sensitivity.
NEWS
The annual BIO5 Inspiring Women in STEM event empowers girls and young women with advice to help navigate a STEM career while pursuing a balanced life.
NEWS
Working with researchers throughout the Pac-12 Conference, some of the most significant challenges all athletic departments are facing include testing and a cooperative working relationship with local public health departments. At the University of Arizona, everyone is working together with a direct link to athletics. The advisory team includes Dr. John Galgiani, director of the UA Valley Fever Center for Excellence and BIO5 member, along with people representing the intensive care unit at Banner – University Medical Center Tucson. In calls with the other Pac-12 schools, we preach that you have to work with your county health department and ensure that everyone works together and shares as much data as possible.
NEWS
The NASA Astrobiology Program has selected eight new interdisciplinary research teams to inaugurate its Interdisciplinary Consortia for Astrobiology Research program, including two teams at the University of Arizona. One team led by Dr. Betül Kaçar, Molecular and Cellular Biology assistant professor and BIO5 member, was selected from a pool of more than 40 proposals. The breadth and depth of the research of these teams spans the spectrum of astrobiology research, from cosmic origins to planetary system formation, origins and evolution of life, and the search for life beyond Earth.
NEWS
Children infected with the coronavirus produce weaker antibodies and fewer types of them than adults do, suggesting they clear their infection much faster, according to a new study. Having weaker and fewer antibodies does not mean that children would be more at risk of re-infections, said other experts including Dr. Deepta Bhattacharya, immunologist at the University of Arizona College of Medicine-Tucson and BIO5 member.
NEWS
Through trust, education and inclusion, Dr. Sairam Parthasarathy will work to combat the health inequities of American Indian, African American and Hispanic/Latinx people as one of 11 principal investigators for the National Institutes of Health Community Engagement Alliance Against COVID-19 Disparities.
NEWS
Most Arizona residents, like people in much of the country, do not have antibodies for the virus yet, and those who do can’t count on how long they will be protected against reinfection. Antibody tests in recent weeks show a statewide positivity rate of about 10%, according to Arizona Department of Health Services data. Regardless of the exact numbers, this means one thing, roughly 90% of Arizonans have not been exposed to the virus, and are therefore vulnerable, says Dr. Janko Nikolich-Zugich, head of the UArizona Department of Immunobiology and BIO5 member.
NEWS
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has awarded $7.7 million to the University of Arizona to find out how long COVID-19 immunity lasts. UArizona was chosen due to its widespread antibody testing that will help in the research. Lead investigator of the study, Dr. Jeff Burgess, BIO5 member and associate dean of research at the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, said the study will include frontline workers such as grocery store employees, restaurant workers, bus drivers, and many others.
NEWS
Director of the BIO5 Institute Dr. Jennifer Barton has been named the Thomas R. Brown Distinguished Chair of the College of Engineering. As chair, Barton will be responsible for advancing biotechnological research and education, fostering collaborations, promoting and working with diverse teams, and providing national leadership in the field of bioengineering to meet societal needs.
NEWS
Dr. Michael Worobey, head of the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and BIO5 associate director, is hoping to add another tool to the university's testing arsenal – one that relies instead on a simple saltwater rinse and gargle. A new diagnostic test for coronavirus relies on gargling with saltwater instead of using a nasal swab.
NEWS
Extraordinary efforts are underway to develop COVID-19 vaccines and other therapies to combat this virus. But for these efforts to succeed, understanding how the virus enters cells is critical. To that end, in two papers published in Science, two teams independently discovered that a protein called the neuropilin-1 receptor is an alternative doorway for SARS-CoV-2 to enter and infect human cells. This is a major breakthrough and a surprise, because scientists thought neuropilin-1 played roles in helping neurons make the correct connections and aiding the growth of blood vessels. Before this new research, no one suspected that neuropilin-1 could be a door for SARS-CoV-2 to enter the nervous system.
NEWS
Experts were asked about why women are left out of research populations and what is being done to address the issue. “There are sex differences in immune responses, drug metabolism and disease states. Some differences are mediated by hormonal differences and others by other biological factors,” explained Dr. Elizabeth Connick, BIO5 member, professor, and chief of the division of infectious diseases at the University of Arizona College of Medicine. “It is essential to include women in research studies so that they can benefit from the results of research in the same way as men,” Dr. Connick said in an interview.
NEWS
Many of the symptoms experienced by people infected with SARS-CoV-2 involve the nervous system. Patients complain of headaches, muscle and joint pain, fatigue and “brain fog,” or loss of taste and smell—all of which can last from weeks to months after infection.
NEWS

UArizona and BIO5 members Drs. Paloma Beamer, Judith Gordon, Janko Nikolich-Žugich, Jun Wang, and Frederic Zenhausern, share their tips for and experiences working with the media to broadcast their research to the general public.

NEWS
The daily number of cases according to Arizona's COVID dashboard have nearly doubled in the past weeks. Dr. Michael Worobey, head of the the University of Arizona's Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and associate director at the BIO5 Institute, has written and researched pandemics worldwide. He agrees Arizona is on the edge right now. "We need to be preparing for a potentially very tough winter," Dr. Worobey said. While he says we need to take the possibility of a wave seriously in the next weeks, it should be done within context.