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December 2007
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February 2008

MU gets $25 million gift

Donation takes engineering complex fund raising beyond halfway point

By ERICA PEREZ
eperez@journalsentinel.com
Posted: Jan. 29, 2008

An anonymous $25 million gift from the family of a Marquette University alumnus takes the school's vision of a transformed College of Engineering facility beyond the financial halfway mark, university President Father Robert Wild said Tuesday.

Proceeds from the gift will go toward construction of the planned Discovery Learning Complex, a scholarship fund for engineering students and other uses in the college, including an energy workshop, Marquette spokeswoman Mary Pat Pfeil said.

The complex, with an estimated price tag of $100 million, is one piece of the school's $167 million strategic plan, which includes $35 million for seven endowed faculty chairs and $32 million for scholarships. Marquette hopes to boost the number of engineering undergraduates from 1,140 this year to about 1,200 in three years.

Wild announced the gift to Marquette faculty and staff at the annual president's address Tuesday afternoon in the Alumni Memorial Union.

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Lithium and Beryllium No Longer "Lack Chemistry"

Even though the lightest known metals in the universe, lithium (Li) and beryllium (Be), do not bind to one another under normal atmospheric or ambient pressure, an interdisciplinary team of Cornell scientists predicts in the Jan. 24 issue of Nature that Li and Be will bond under higher levels of pressure and form stable Li-Be alloys that may be capable of superconductivity. Superconductivity is the flow of electricity with zero resistance.

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Kohler Co. Establishes Chair in Cardiovascular Research at Medical College of Wisconsin

Kohler Co. Establishes Chair in Cardiovascular Research at Medical College of Wisconsin

Making its largest gift ever to the Medical College of Wisconsin, the Kohler Co. has established an endowed chair that will expand the resources available for scientific study in cardiovascular health. The $1 million donation has created the Kohler Co. Chair in Cardiovascular Research.

David R. Harder, Ph.D., director of the College's Cardiovascular Center, has been named the first Kohler Co. Professor in Cardiovascular Research.  Dr. Harder, professor of physiology, of medicine, and of pediatrics, is internationally-recognized as an expert in the regulation of blood flow in the brain. His pioneering research has profound implications for the treatment of stroke, heart disease and cancer.

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Biotech association to get its own office

State trade group moving to Madison research park

By KATHLEEN GALLAGHER
kgallagher@journalsentinel.com
Posted: Jan. 24, 2008

In a move that symbolizes the growth of its industry in the state, a Wisconsin biotechnology association will leave its space in a Madison law firm for its own offices.

The Wisconsin Biotech and Medical Device Association will move next week into an office at University Research Park in Madison, said James Leonhart, executive vice president of the trade group.

"We've just reached a point where certainly our board wanted us to have our own shingle - to be more recognized," Leonhart said.

Full story.


Algae could be key to faster computer chips

The key to the next big computer chip breakthrough could be tiny algae that encase themselves in intricately patterned, glass-like shells.

The unicellular algae, called diatoms, exist in oceans, lakes and even wet soil and build their hard cell walls by laying down microscopic lines of silica, a compound related to the key material of the semiconductor-industry silicon.

"If we can genetically control that process, we would have a whole new way of performing the nanofabrication used to make computer chips," Michael Sussman, a UW-Madison biochemistry professor and director of the UW-Madison's Biotechnology Center, said in a UW press release.

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Mature Human Embryos Created From Adult Skin Cells

By Rick Weiss

Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, January 18, 2008; A01

Scientists at a California company reported yesterday that they had created the first mature cloned human embryos from single skin cells taken from adults, a significant advance toward the goal of growing personalized stem cells for patients suffering from various diseases.

Creation of the embryos -- grown from cells taken from the company's chief executive and one of its investors -- also offered sobering evidence that few, if any, technical barriers may remain to the creation of cloned babies. That reality could prompt renewed controversy on Capitol Hill, where the debate over human cloning has died down of late.

Five of the new embryos grew in laboratory dishes to the stage that fertility doctors consider ready for transfer to a woman's womb: a degree of development that clones of adult humans have never achieved before.

No one knows whether those embryos were healthy enough to grow into babies. But the study leader, who is also the medical director of a fertility clinic, said they looked robust, even as he emphasized that he has no interest in cloning people.

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Feeling the Heat: Berkeley Researchers Make Thermoelectric Breakthrough in Silicon Nanowires

Energy now lost as heat during the production of electricity could be harnessed through the use of silicon nanowires synthesized via a technique developed by researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and the University of California (UC) at Berkeley. The far-ranging potential applications of this technology include DOE’s hydrogen fuel cell-powered “Freedom CAR,” and personal power-jackets that could use heat from the human body to recharge cell-phones and other electronic devices.

“This is the first demonstration of high performance thermoelectric capability in silicon, an abundant semiconductor for which there already exists a multibillion dollar infrastructure for low-cost and high-yield processing and packaging,” said Arun Majumdar, a mechanical engineer and materials scientist with joint appointments at Berkeley Lab and UC Berkeley, who was one of the principal investigators behind this research.

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Embryo-friendly technique produces stem cells

Thu Jan 10, 2008 12:59pm EST

By Maggie Fox, Health and Science Editor

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A company that devised a way to make embryonic stem cells using a technique it said does not harm human embryos reported on Thursday it has grown five batches of cells using this method and urged President George W. Bush to endorse it.

Massachusetts-based Advanced Cell Technology has been working with a method sometimes used to test embryos for severe genetic diseases. Called preimplantation genetic diagnosis, it involves taking a single cell from an embryo when it contains only eight or so cells.

The method usually does not harm the embryo, which is frozen for possible future implantation into the mother's womb. The ACT team also froze the embryos and used the single cell that was removed as a source of human embryonic stem cells.

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Supreme Court: Farmers can't use seed from patented crops

The company has sued more than 100 farmers for using seed from previous year's crops.

By CHRISTOPHER S. RUGABER
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court on Monday let stand, without comment, a lower court ruling that punished a Mississippi farmer for re-using Monsanto Co.’s patented, genetically modified soybeans.

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Doyle aims to help tech firms

By Judy Newman
608-252-6156
January 8, 2008

More tax breaks and more state funding — those are some of the tools Gov. Jim Doyle will recommend as a way to encourage investment in young technology companies.

Doyle told a meeting Monday of the steering committee of Thrive, the economic development arm for the eight-county Madison region, that he is proposing a plan called Accelerate Wisconsin.

"My vision is for Wisconsin companies to have access to the capital they need to flourish," Doyle said.

Full story.