Los Angeles S&T Newsletter #69 – December 2015




November is always the busiest time for Universities, when professors and students alike are deluged by end-of-the-semester work. However, the extraordinary scientists that brought you this past months research findings did not let final exams stop them ! We invite you to also read about the upcoming scientific events in December.
We, at the Office of Science and Technology, would also like to give a warm welcome to our new Deputy Attaché for Science and Technology, Gabrielle Mérite. We are very excited to have her on board, and we are sure that you will enjoy the great scientific content she will bring !

ASCB 2015 - The annual meeting of the American Society for Cell Biology, ASCB2015, will be taking place at the San Diego Convention Center December 12 – 16, 2015. Each meeting in the past has had a different theme, and this year is no different : This year’s meeting, ASCB2015, will focus on cellular connections at the intracellular, tissue, organism and macrocosmic levels. This meeting will attract researchers and experts in the field of cellular biology who will collaborate to find solutions to important problems in the domains of medicine and ecosystems. ASCB2015 will feature numerous talks on the latest research on cellular biology and also provide informational events to students interested in pursuing a career in this field.

We would also like to inform our readers about the “Cell Biology in France” booth that will be found at the ASCB2015 meeting. There, you can get information about contributions to cellular biology made by French scientists. You can also pick up a free memory stick that is preloaded with information about cellular biology career opportunities like post-doc deals and group leadership offers as well as information about various cellular biology research centers. To top it off, they will also be holding a raffle where you can have a chance to win a gift from France ! We would also like to thank the Thematic Multi-Organization Institute (ITMO) (Cell Biology, Development and Evolution Division), and la Société de Biologie Cellulaire de France (SBCF) for making this booth a reality.

Café des Sciences at the Alliance Francaise of Los Angeles : Talk by Marie-Francoise Chesselet – As many of our Southern Californian readers may know, the Alliance Française of Los Angeles has been organizing the “Cafés des Sciences” for a while now. What you may not know is about the new format change of the Café des Sciences : Starting in 2016 will feature a series of dual lectures that will be comprised of a seminar related to a STEM topic followed by a conference focusing on a subject from the Humanities. The next edition of the Los Angeles Café des Sciences will take place at the Alliance Française on Wednesday, December 9, at 7:00pm. The featured speaker is UCLA Professor, Dr. Marie-Francoise Chesselet, MD, PhD. She will be delivering her presentation, “Les Mouvements Involontaires & Maladies Neurodégénératives : Maladie de Parkinson et Maladie de Huntington” (“Involuntary Movements and Neurodegenerative Diseases : Parkinsons Disease and Huntington Disease.”) The presentation will cover the origins of these serious diseases and discuss the challenges faced by scientists seeking cures. There will be a discussion and a reception following the presentation. We hope to see you there ! More information can be found below :

Location : Alliance Française of Los Angeles, 10390 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90025
Parking is available in the building for $3.00
More Information : http://www.france-science.org/Cafe-des-Sciences-in-Los-Angeles,8400.html

SAVE THE DATE ! Friday January 8, 2016 - Café des Sciences at the Alliance Française of Pasadena : Talk by Christophe Sotin / JPL – Start the New Year right by going to the first Café des Sciences of 2016, which will be led by Christophe Sotin, Chief Scientist, Solar System Exploration Directorate at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). The evening will include Dr. Sotin’s talk that is entitled “L’exploration de Titan par la mission Cassini-Huygens” (“The Exploration of Titan by the Cassin-Huygens Mission), followed by a reception. Skip the $10 admission fee by signing up to be an Alliance Française member today ! More information about the event can be found below :

Date : Friday January 8, 2016
Time : 7:00pm to 9:00pm
Location : Alliance Française of Pasadena, 34 E. Union Street, Pasadena, CA 91103
Admission : Free for Alliance Française members, $10 for non-members
Website : http://afdepasadena.org/events/2016/01/lexploration-titan-par-cassini-huygens/

Freddie Papazyan, Science and Technology Intern
Gabrielle Mérite, Deputy Attaché for Science and Technology
Fabien Agenes, Attaché for Science and Technology

To read the full version of the December 2015 newsletter, please scroll down. You can also register here to receive emails about events organized by the OST LA.



November 6, 2015 : Can robots come to your rescue in a burning building ?

Imagine that people are trapped on the top floor of a burning skyscraper as firefighters scramble to rescue them. What if robots intervened, putting fewer lives on the line ? Two teams at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering are working to make that scenario a reality.

To access the full article :

November 12, 2015 : Family of genes linked to cartilage generation and arthritis

Arthritis, the leading cause of disability in the United States, involves the loss of a special type of cartilage cell lining the joints. In a study appearing on the cover of the latest issue of Developmental Cell, first author Amjad Askary — a doctoral student in the USC Stem Cell lab of Gage Crump — and his colleagues identify roles for a family of genes, called Iroquois (Irx) genes, in protecting these joint cartilage cells.
To access the full article :

November 3, 2015 : Researchers track gene that keeps stem cells in check

When it comes to stem cells, too much of a good thing isn’t wonderful : Producing too many new stem cells may lead to cancer ; producing too few inhibits the repair and maintenance of the body. In a paper published in Stem Cell Reports, USC researcher In Kyoung Mah, who works in the lab of Francesca Mariani, and colleagues at the University of California, San Diego, describe a key gene that maintains this critical balance. Called Prkci, the gene influences whether stem cells self-renew to produce more stem cells or differentiate into more specialized cell types, such as blood or nerves.

To access the full article :

November 02, 2015 : New 3-D printing method creates complex micro objects

Bioengineers from the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science have developed a new method of 3-D printing that allows production of complex micro-scale objects smaller than the width of a human hair. The technique, using patterned ultraviolet light and a custom-shaped flow of polymer material, creates 3-D objects that can be first designed with software and could be used in a variety of biomedical and industrial applications.

To access the full article :

November 05, 2015 : Nanoparticle delivery maximizes drug defense against bioterrorism agent

Scientists from the California NanoSystems Institute at UCLA have developed a nanoparticle delivery system for the antibiotic moxifloxacin that vastly improves the drug’s effectiveness against pneumonic tularemia, a type of pneumonia caused by inhalation of the bacterium Francisella tularensis.

To access the full article :

November 03, 2015 : Studies reveal key insights about how viral RNA genomes organize and replicate

In separate studies published in the peer-reviewed journals eLife and Nature, scientists at the California NanoSystems Institute at UCLA have revealed the three-dimensional atomic structure of a double-stranded RNA, or dsRNA, virus. The research demonstrates for the first time how viruses sense environmental conditions inside a host cell to trigger transcription, and presents key findings about how the dsRNA genome is organized inside the virus and RNA’s mechanism for self-replication.

To access the full article :

November 23, 2015 : Biologists Create Malaria-Blocking Mosquitoes

Using a groundbreaking gene editing technique, biologists at UC San Diego, working in collaboration with biologists at UC Irvine, have created a strain of mosquitoes capable of rapidly introducing malaria-blocking genes into a mosquito population through its progeny, ultimately eliminating the insects’ ability to transmit the disease to humans.

To access the full article :

November 20, 2015 : Electric Fields Remove Nanoparticles From Blood With Ease

Engineers at the University of California, San Diego developed a new technology that uses an oscillating electric field to easily and quickly isolate drug-delivery nanoparticles from blood. The technology could serve as a general tool to separate and recover nanoparticles from other complex fluids for medical, environmental, and industrial applications.

To access the full article :

November 16, 2015 : New Findings on Fat Cell Metabolism Could Lead to New Approaches for Treating Diabetes and Obesity

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego report new insights into what nutrients fat cells metabolize to make fatty acids. The findings pave the way for understanding potential irregularities in fat cell metabolism that occur in patients with diabetes and obesity and could lead to new treatments for these conditions. The researchers published their findings online in the Nov. 16 issue of Nature Chemical Biology.

To access the full article :

November 20, 2015 : Neurons Encoding Hand Shapes Identified in Human Brain

Neural prosthetic devices, which include small electrode arrays implanted in the brain, can allow paralyzed patients to control the movement of a robotic limb, whether that limb is attached to the individual or not. In May 2015, researchers at Caltech, USC, and Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center reported the first successful clinical trial of such an implant in a part of the brain that translates intention—the goal to be accomplished through a movement (for example, "I want to reach to the water bottle for a drink")—into the smooth and fluid motions of a robotic limb. Now, the researchers, led by Richard Andersen, the James G. Boswell Professor of Neuroscience, report that individual neurons in that brain region, known as the posterior parietal cortex (PPC), encode entire hand shapes which can be used for grasping—as when shaking someone’s hand—and hand shapes not directly related to grasping, such as the gestures people make when speaking.

To access the full article :

November 17, 2015 : Choosing the T-Cell Profession : Higher Education for Stem Cells

Your body is continuously making new blood cells from a reservoir of "starter" cells called stem cells. Blood cells come in many types, including the highly versatile T cells that play a number of key roles in the immune system. All stem cells are alike, and all the T cells that come from them start out alike before choosing specific careers in response to signals from their environment.

To access the full article :

November 20, 2015 : Neurons Encoding Hand Shapes Identified in Human Brain

Neural prosthetic devices, which include small electrode arrays implanted in the brain, can allow paralyzed patients to control the movement of a robotic limb, whether that limb is attached to the individual or not. In May 2015, researchers at Caltech, USC, and Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center reported the first successful clinical trial of such an implant in a part of the brain that translates intention—the goal to be accomplished through a movement (for example, "I want to reach to the water bottle for a drink")—into the smooth and fluid motions of a robotic limb. Now, the researchers, led by Richard Andersen, the James G. Boswell Professor of Neuroscience, report that individual neurons in that brain region, known as the posterior parietal cortex (PPC), encode entire hand shapes which can be used for grasping—as when shaking someone’s hand—and hand shapes not directly related to grasping, such as the gestures people make when speaking.

To access the full article :

November 17, 2015 : Ms. Clean

Blood may be thicker than water, but for UC Santa Barbara chemist Abby Knight the two liquids share an uncommon common bond. Knight, a postdoctoral scholar in UCSB’s Hawker Group, would like to take what she learned from her doctoral research about removing a metal from water and extracting a different metal from human blood and apply similar concepts to develop metal-coordinating polymeric materials — a diverse group of organic components used in engineering.

To access the full article :

November 18, 2015 : An Easy Pill to Swallow

An insulin pill being developed by researchers at UC Santa Barbara may in the near future give another blood sugar management option to those who suffer from diabetes. The novel drug delivery technology may also apply to a wide spectrum of other therapies.

To access the full article :

November 5, 2015 : UCI-led study offers model to predict how microbiomes may respond to change

Scientists studying microbiomes have created a framework for predicting how the composition of these complex microbial communities may respond to changing conditions.

To access the full article :

November 19, 2015 : Salk scientists make serotonin-transmitting neurons in a dish

Scientists at the Salk Institute have taken human skin cells and turned them into neurons that signal to one another using serotonin, a brain chemical that is crucial to our mental well-being.

To access the full article :

November 18, 2015 : Blocking immune cell treats new type of age-related diabetes

Diabetes is often the result of obesity and poor diet choices, but for some older adults the disease might simply be a consequence of aging. New research has discovered that diabetes—or insulin resistance—in aged, lean mice has a different cellular cause than the diabetes that results from weight gain (type 2). And the findings point toward a possible cure for what the co-leading scientists, Ronald Evans and Ye Zheng, are now calling a new kind of diabetes (type 4).

To access the full article :

November 12, 2015 : Experimental drug targeting Alzheimer’s disease shows anti-aging effects

Salk Institute researchers have found that an experimental drug candidate aimed at combating Alzheimer’s disease has a host of unexpected anti-aging effects in animals.

To access the full article :


November 16, 2015 : Lucentis effective for proliferative diabetic retinopathy

A clinical trial funded by the National Institutes of Health has found that the drug ranibizumab (Lucentis) is highly effective in treating proliferative diabetic retinopathy. The trial, conducted by the Diabetic Retinopathy Clinical Research Network (DRCR.net) compared Lucentis with a type of laser therapy called panretinal or scatter photocoagulation, which has remained the gold standard for proliferative diabetic retinopathy since the mid-1970s. The findings demonstrate the first major therapy advance in nearly 40 years.

To access the full article :

November 18, 2015 : NIH-led effort details global brain disorders research agenda in Nature supplement

Infants are starved of oxygen during difficult births. Children’s cognitive function is permanently damaged due to malnutrition or exposure to infections or toxins. Adults suffer from crippling depression or dementia. The breadth and complexity of these and other brain and nervous system disorders make them some of the most difficult conditions to diagnose and treat, especially in the developing world, where there are few resources. An NIH-led collaboration has studied these complex issues that occur across the lifespan and today published a supplement to the journal Nature that lays out a research strategy to address them.

To access the full article :

November 30, 2015 : DNA repair factor linked to breast cancer may also play a role in Alzheimer’s disease

Mutant forms of breast cancer factor 1 (BRCA1) are associated with breast and ovarian cancers but according to new findings, in the brain the normal BRCA1 gene product may also be linked to Alzheimer’s disease. The results, published in Nature Communications, suggest that low levels of BRCA1 protein in the brain may contribute to dementia. The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health.

To access the full article :

November 12, 2015 : Batten disease may benefit from gene therapy

In a study of dogs, scientists showed that a new way to deliver replacement genes may be effective at slowing the development of childhood Batten disease, a rare and fatal neurological disorder. The key may be to inject viruses that carry the codes for the gene products into the ventricles, which are fluid-filled compartments in the center of the brain that serve as a plumbing system. The study, published in Science Translational Medicine, was partially funded by the National Institutes of Health.

To access the full article :


November 27, 2015 : A promising new prototype of battery

After two years of research, a French team, mostly including researchers from the CNRS and CEA within the RS2E network on electrochemical energy storage (Réseau sur le stockage électrochimique de l’énergie)1 have just designed an alternative technology to Li-ion for application in specific sectors. The researchers have developed the first battery using sodium ions in the usual “18650” format, an industry standard. The main advantage of the prototype is that it relies on sodium, an element far more abundant and less costly than lithium. The batteries have displayed performance levels comparable to their lithium counterparts, and this new technology is already attracting industrial interest. It could be used to store renewable energies in the future.

To access the full article :

November 23 2015 : Defective connections throughout the brain involved in certain autistic disorders

Researchers at Neurocentre Magendie (Inserm/University of Bordeaux) have just shown how altered connections between cells of the nervous system are involved in fragile X syndrome, a cause of severe autistic spectrum disorders. Using MRI, Andreas Frick, Inserm Research Fellow, and his team have actually observed, in a mouse model of this syndrome, an alteration in the connections and communication between different areas of the brain. These new data are likely to explain certain symptoms of autistic spectrum disorders, such as hypersensitivity to sensory information and alterations in visual perception.

To access the full article :

November 11 2015 : An indicator for predicting emergence from coma

It is difficult to judge the progress of patients in a coma following head trauma or recovery from cardiac arrest. Researchers from Unit 825, “Brain imaging and neurological handicaps” (Inserm/Université Toulouse III – Paul-Sabatier), in collaboration with Toulouse University Hospital, show that the quality of communication between two structures in the brain predicts patient recovery at 3 months. This new indicator, obtained by conducting MRI analysis on the brain of patients at rest, may provide additional help in establishing a prognosis.

To access the full article :

November 24 2015 : Gut Microbes Signal to the Brain When They’re Full

Don’t have room for dessert ? The bacteria in your gut may be telling you something. Twenty minutes after a meal, gut microbes produce proteins that can suppress food intake in animals, reports a study published November 24 in Cell Metabolism. The researchers also show how these proteins injected into mice and rats act on the brain reducing appetite, suggesting that gut bacteria may help control when and how much we eat.

To access the full article :

November 19 2015 : A new neural circuit involved in the control of movement

The team led by Claire Wyart, an Inserm researcher at the Brain and Spine Institute, has just demonstrated the ability of sensory neurons located in the spinal cord to modulate movement. In the zebrafish, the researchers have shown that activation of these neurons triggers locomotion when the animal is at rest, and inhibits it when the animal is moving. These results offer hope that it will one day be possible to specifically stimulate these circuits in order to generate movement in patients with spinal cord injuries. This work is published in Current Biology.

To access the full article :




Ice Worlds
December 6, 2015 – 2:00 PM
Location : Beckman Auditorium
Featured Speaker : Jennifer Walker, Caltech
More Information : http://www.caltech.edu/content/ice-worlds-0

The Scripps Research Institute
More Information : http://www.scripps.edu/events/

Dart NeuroScience Seminar : "All-Optical Electrophysiology"
December 15, 2015 – 10:00 AM - 11:00 AM
Location : DNA Auditorium
Featured Speaker : Dr. Adam Cohen, Harvard University

Reversible stress-induced RNA/protein granules
December 16, 2015 – 2:00 PM - 3:00 PM
Location : BCC1 - W.M. Keck Foundation Amphitheater
Featured Speaker : Dr. Allan Drummond, University of Chicago

The University of Arizona

Lecture - ’Native American/indigenous health’
December 7, 2015 – 5:30PM
Location : Harvill, Room 332A
Featured Speaker : Teisha Solomon
More Information : http://uanews.org/calendar/61516-lecture-native-americanindigenous-health

Seminar - ’The Birth of an Agricultural Revolution : Controlled Environment Agriculture’
December 11, 2015 – 4:00PM
Location : Controlled Environment Agriculture Center, 1951 E. Roger Road
Featured Speaker : Merle Jensen, University of Arizona
More Information : http://uanews.org/calendar/61787-seminar-birth-agricultural-revolution-controlled-environment-agriculture

Lecture - ’Enzymatic Bioelectrocatalysis : From Metabolic Pathways to Metabolon’
December 10, 2015 – 4:00PM
Location : Koffler, Room 218
Featured Speaker : Shelley Minteer, University of Utah
More Information : http://uanews.org/calendar/60870-lecture-enzymatic-bioelectrocatalysis-metabolic-pathways-metabolon


Boyd Deep Canyon Lecture Series
December 10, 2015 – 6:00 – 7:30PM
Location : UCR Palm Desert 75080 Frank Sinatra Drive, Palm Desert
Featured Speaker : Christopher Tracy
More Information : http://events.ucr.edu/cgi-bin/display.cgi?comp_id=43643:20151210180000


The Exciting New World of the Arenaviruses
December 11, 2015 – 12:00 – 1:00PM
Location : Tamkin Student Lecture Building Room F114
Featured Speaker : Dr. Michael J. Buchmeier
More Information : http://today.uci.edu/events/event/the-exciting-new-world-of-the-arenaviruses/

The University of New Mexico

BRaIN Seminar Series : The Neurovascular in a dish : Making a healthy and diseased blood-brain barrie
December 14, 2015 – 12:00 – 1:00PM
Location : Domenici Hall, 1101 Yale Blvd N.E. Rm. 1023 Across from the North Golf Course
Featured Speaker : Dr. Abraham Al-Ahmad
More Information : http://unmevents.unm.edu/EventList.aspx?fromdate=12/1/2015&todate=12/31/2015&display=&type=public&eventidn=7028&view=EventDetails&information_id=12007

Salk Institute for Biological Studies
More Information : http://www.salk.edu/events/science-events/

Innate Mechanisms of Thermogenesis
December 17, 2015 – 4:00PM
Trustees Room
Featured Speaker : Ajay Chawla, University of California, San Francisco


Les bulletins électroniques
Les articles et les rapports produits par les activités de veille scientifique menées par les Missions Scientifiques et Technologiques dans 40 zones géographiques sont accessibles gratuitement via les Bulletins Electroniques. Ils sont édités par l’Agence pour la Diffusion de l’Information Technologique (ADIT), sur une base mensuelle ou hebdomadaire.

Le Fil de Marianne
Le Fil de Marianne est une publication hebdomadaire des bureaux de l’INSERM et du CNRS aux Etats-Unis. Il offre une information détaillée sur les évolutions de la politique de recherche française, les appels d’offres et les manifestations scientifiques en France. L’abonnement est gratuit.

Le Service pour la Science et la Technologie du Consulat Général de France à Los Angeles
Des informations sur le rôle de notre service au sein de la Mission pour la Science et la technologie (MS&T) peuvent être trouvées sur le site du Consulat Général de France à Los Angeles. Le planning des événements à venir ainsi que nos coordonnées et nos activités, sont également disponibles en ligne.


The Office for Science and Technology of the Consulate General of France in Los Angeles
Information about the OST LA’s missions and activities can be found here.


We value your feedback. Please send us your comments and suggestions at

Please also subscribe to the following newsletters for more information on the activities of the Consulate General of France in Los Angeles :


Subscribe to the monthly French arts and culture newsletter to receive information about shows, exhibitions and much more, by sending an email to : culture@consulfrance-losangeles.org


Subscribe to the monthly French Film and TV newsletter to receive information about projections and events, by sending an email to : frenchfilminla@consulfrance-losangeles.org

Dernière modification : 17/12/2015

Haut de page