In the news / Health and Food Safety

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Swollen Shoot disease is affecting cacao trees in Ghana. UA Plant Sciences professor Dr. Judith Brown, notes that the disease is threatening to affect the supply of chocolate. Dr. Brown is using genome sequencing technology to look deeper into the viruses found to cause damage in cacao plant samples.
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A Tucson startup with technology to help fish farmers boost production were one of two grand prize winners of a business pitch competition at the 2019 edition of IdeaFunding. The founders of GenetiRate, including BIO5’s Dr. Benjamin Renquist shared in the $25,000 grand prize sponsored by UAVenture Capital
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Firefighters and advocates from across Arizona gathered Thursday for the first meeting of a state Senate ad hoc committee tasked with tackling the issue of cancer among first responders. During the first meeting, the University of Arizona’s Dr. Jeff Burgess gave a presentation on his nearly 20 years of studying
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An easy-to-use, self-administered blood test that quickly could evaluate a person’s radiation exposure would help triage emergency medical treatment in the event of a radiological or nuclear event. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services long has sought ways to monitor a population’s radiation
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Coinciding with World Food Day, a team of plant scientists from King Abdullah University for Science and Technology (KAUST) established a major project to improve global date palm production and protection.
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Researchers, including UA COM-T Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine professor and BIO5 faculty member Dr. Donata Vercelli, are beginning to explore the various ways that microbes in the soil might protect us and benefit our health. This marks a turning point in soil research, as scientists used to hold the belief that soil is nothing more than a matrix to hold plants and minerals.
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The demand for potable and irrigation water has never been greater, and as such methods are being developed so new plant cultivars, farming technology, and irrigation can draw more out of arable land. UA Agriculture and Biosystems Engineering professor and BIO5 faculty member Dr. Joel Cuello, has developed the Vertical-Hive (V-Hive) Green Box, an indoor vertical modular growth system. The V-Hive reduces water consumption by 80 to 90 percent compared to traditional field farming.
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The deadly swollen shoot disease is ravaging cocoa trees across West Africa, where about three-quarters of the world’s cocoa is grown. The disease was identified nearly a century ago, yet scientists, including BIO5 researcher and professor in the UA School of Plant Sciences Dr. Judith Brown, say a cure is years away and early detection methods are only just being introduced. The severity of this devastating disease has been muted, as the Ivory Coast experienced a record cocoa crop year.
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BIO5 Faculty Dr. Haijiang Cai, lead a team of UA neuroscientists in a new study which shows that multiple neurons within the brain come together to regulate the need to eat and feeling of fullness, or satiety.
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A study has been initiated by Hendrix Genetics and GenetiRate, a US based start-up founded by UA Animal and Comparative Biomedical Sciences associate professor and BIO5researcher Dr. Benjamin Renquist, to apply a new technology that has the potential to measure the feed conversion rate of rainbow trout. The ability to select trout with significantly improved feed conversion would mean farmers would gain the benefit of increased growth rate while maintaining feed intake.
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Clean Earth Tech, a startup of UA Biomedical Engineering assistant professor and BIO5 member Dr. Minkyu Kim, is commercializing a newly invented biocompatible dust control polymer. The aim is to provide companies with a way to suppress dust without negatively impacting the environment.
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Horticultural technology has made some significant leaps over the last few years, and that trend has been accelerating in recent months. But other crops and production systems are driving innovation as well. Dr. Gene Giacomelli, UA Agricultural Biosystems Engineering professor and BIO5 faculty, says that automation is a must and that growers must match proper technology to respective needs.
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Dr. Jeff Burgess, UA Associate Dean for Research in the College of Public Health, researches the exposure firefighters encounter when they first start their careers, to the end of their service. Dr. Burgess’ research has already been used to help the Tucson Fire Department, who are working with other local groups to assemble wash kits used to limit the exposure of first responders to cancer causing chemicals.
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Ovarian cancer is relatively rare, striking 1 out of 78 women, but is also one of the deadliest cancers, with only 44% of patients surviving five years past their diagnosis. After their disease goes into remission, many patients worry the cancer will return. Many clinicians advise patients to make positive changes in diet and exercise, as these choices lay a foundation for good health overall.
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Dr. Patricia Stock, Interim Director of the UA School of Animal and Comparative Biomedical Sciences, BIO5 member, and UA Entomology Professor, has discovered compounds derived from Photorhabdus, an insect pathogenic bacterium, that have antimicrobial and nematicidal properties that can potentially replace chemical pesticides.
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BIO5 member Dr. Roger Miesfeld, a UA Distinguished Professor and Head of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, and researchers in his lab, have discovered a protein that prevents mosquitoes from hatching, opening the possibility of developing new drugs that could act as birth control for mosquito populations.
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BIO5's Dr. Felicia Goodrum Sterling, Associate Professor of Immunobiology at the UA College of Medicine—Tucson, has co-authored an article that addresses the many factors that play into health equality, including access to health care and health insurance.
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Unregulated compounds were found in two of Marana's water systems. UA Associate Professor of Environmental Health Services and BIO5 member Dr. Paloma Beamer said these compounds are man-made, but more research needs to be done to understand the compounds' effects.
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Contaminated food is an issue that affects nearly 1 in 10 people in the world every year. BIO5 Institute's Dr. Sadhana Ravishankar, and a group of UA researchers have been working for ten years to improve food safety using all-natural sanitizers to prevent outbreaks of E. Coli, salmonella and listeria.
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Here are three easy-to-swallow tips for changing your cancer risk through dietary choices from Dr. Cynthia Thomson, BIO5 researcher and Professor in the College of Public Health.
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Local communities can benefit from controlled environment agriculture (CEA) too, says BIO5 member and UA professor of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering, Dr. Gene Giacomelli. Greenhouses aren't just for astronauts and polar explorers hoping to grow fresh foods in space and Antarctica, though CEA is used for that as well.
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Sustainable agriculture has become ever more important as global leaders try to answer the question of how to feed a world population approaching 10 billion. "That would be the equivalent of adding another China and another India to our planet in terms of population," says Joel Cuello, BIO5 member and UA researcher looking for answers, in the form of vertical farming.
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Some people go on diets to lose weight, but what if there's a diet that could help save your life? Researchers at the UA, led by BIO5 member Dr. Donato Romagnolo, say eating a "Mediterranean diet" reduces the risk for cancer.
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BIO5 members Donato Romagnolo, PhD, and Ornella Selmin, PhD, of the UA Cancer Center and College of Agriculture & Life Sciences, delve into current research to examine how the Mediterranean diet is connected to the prevention of several chronic diseases, including colorectal cancer and breast cancer.
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The rice of the future may be in our bowls sooner than we think. Researchers, led by Dr. Rod Wing, BIO5 member and director of the Arizona Genomics Institute, completed the genome sequencing of 13 varieties of rice with hopes to cultivate new varieties to feed a changing world.
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A UA plant scientist is on a quest to figure out what makes them sick — and develop tools that will help growers fight for their livelihood. Dr. Judith Brown, a plant virologist at the BIO5 Institute, is working with African scientists and farmers to create greater awareness and develop ways to combat this disease.
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A UA Cancer Center and College of Agriculture and Life Sciences research team is conducting a series of studies investigating how genistein, a component of soy foods, might suppress the development of breast cancer. The team is led by BIO5's Dr. Donato F. Romagnolo.
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UA mushroom expert and BIO5 member Dr. Barry Pryor and his colleagues are teaching a workshop on how to raise mushrooms — a highly lucrative crop. Dr. Pryor's workshop will detail the variety of ways that mushroom production can provide big benefits for small, local farmers.
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The University of Arizona’s department of chemistry and biochemistry has long been a research powerhouse and is now a leading producer of intellectual property. Dr. Roger Miesfeld, head of the department and member of the BIO5 Institute, attributes their commercial successes to the entrepreneurial drive of his faculty.
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A team of UA College of Pharmacy faculty including BIO5 Member Dr. Donna Zhang, are looking at a compound called bixin, that can prevent skin cancer by preventing sunburn. Bixin is found in annatto, a natural food additive that gives cheese its yellow color, and is derived from the seeds of the achiote fruit.
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Researchers at the University of Arizona are about to start a human clinical trial that could help determine whether turmeric reduces the painful effects of rheumatoid arthritis. Leading the trial is BIO5 member Dr. Janet Funk, who has been studying the spice since 2002.
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Dr. Janet Funk speaks to Arizona Public Media about her upcoming clinical trial regarding the effectiveness of turmeric for preventing and treating rheumatoid arthritis.
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A UA research team has found that turmeric, a spice known for it's anti-inflammatory properties, is as effective for treating arthritis as some pharmaceuticals. The team, led by Dr. Janet Funk, member of the BIO5 Institute, is now moving the project from the laboratory to patient testing.
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New WEST Center in Tucson aims to be a leader for innovations in water and energy technologies, while simultaneously creating jobs, and providing opportunities for education and training. BIO5 researchers Drs. Ian Pepper and Shane Snyder is the co-directors at WEST.
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Dr. Jeff Burgess is leading an investigative study in conjunction with the UA College of Public Health on local firefighters. Dr. Burgess and fellow BIO5 member Dr. Shane Snyder are working together to study the range of occupational exposures on firefighters, and how those exposures are affecting their bodies, health, and risk of disease.
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Continuing coverage: The 3,000 Rice Genomes Project is a collaborative, international research program that has sequenced 3,024 rice varieties from 89 countries. "The dataset provides access to millions of genetic markers that can be used to design sustainable crops for the future; that is, ones that are high-yielding and more nutritious, while at the same time, requiring less water, fertilizer and pesticides," said Dr. Rod Wing, director of the Arizona Genomics Institute at the UA and a pioneer in rice genome sequencing.
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A World Health Organization report stated that processed meat causes colorectal cancer, and that red meat probably causes cancer. Not all meat is processed meat, but it is best to maintain a plant-based diet, especially when fighting cancer, said Dr. Cynthia Thomson, director of the UA Canyon Ranch Center for Prevention and Health Promotion.
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Tucson residents can help to improve community health by voting for smart urban planning. BIO5 member Dr. Esther M. Sternberg, founding director of the University of Arizona Institute on Place and Wellbeing, and research director of the University of Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine, explains in her guest article for the Daily Star.
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Growing fruits and vegetables on Mars? it's a possibility because of the research being done in greenhouses with environments simulated to be like those on the red planet. BIO5 member Dr. Gene Giacomelli, director of the Controlled Environment Agriculture Center at the UA, is at the forefront of that research.
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Dr. Barbara Timmermann, a former UA Regents Professor of pharmacology and toxicology, Dr. Clark Lantz, UA professor of cellular and molecular medicine, and their colleagues have been awarded a grant to develop a new anti-inflammatory drug based off of the spice Turmeric.
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Two BIO5 members, Drs. Donato Romagnolo and Ornella Selmin, also of the University of Arizona Cancer Center, have been awarded a $1 million research grant from the Department of Defense to study the impact of soy isoflavones intake and risk of breast cancer.
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In a special OP-ED written for the Daily Star, Dr. David Galbraith, researcher at the BIO5 Institute, touches on themes from the recent movie "The Martian", and suggests that life beyond earth's atmosphere is unlikely.
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Is there a better way to wash organic leafy greens before putting them in our salads or on our plates? The BIO5's Dr. Sadhna Ravishankar, a researcher and associate professor in the School of Animal and Comparative Biomedical Sciences, has been studying the issue and has found a natural solution.
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From mesquite bean pods to greasy pizza boxes, the UA's trash is being turned into something gourmet. The MycoCats program is a student-run organization funded by the UA Green Fund. It is directed by Dr. Barry Pryor, BIO5 member and professor of Plant Sciences.
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Scientists have made major strides toward creating new breeds of rice that could be more sustainable, as well as more resilient to environmental stresses. "This dataset provides access to millions of genetic markers that can be used to design sustainable crops for the future" says Dr. Rod Wing, director of the Arizona Genomics Institute at the UA and member of The BIO5 Institute.
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Most surfactants are currently made from non-renewable petroleum sources and some can persist in the environment for decades. BIO5's Dr. Jeanne Pemberton and her team are working to create bio-inspired surfactants to 'green' many common household products.
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The Water Research Foundation bestows BIO5's Dr. Shane Snyder with 2015 Research Innovation Award. The award honors researchers who have significantly advanced the science of water.