Discovering New Drugs and Biomarkers for Alzheimer’s Disease

Watch the latest Alzheimer’s Disease programs from the Brain Channel:

1761Embracing Innovation: Discovering New Drugs for Alzheimer’s Disease
How can we create more effective drugs for Alzheimer’s disease? Michael Jackson, PhD joins William Mobley, MD, PhD to discuss the process of turning an idea into a drug. Creating connectivity between basic scientists, pharmaceutical companies, and the physicians on the front lines is a critical step as is embracing new ideas that may lead us to new therapeutic options.


1761Seeking the Biomarkers of Alzheimer’s Disease
The biomarkers for many diseases can be found through blood tests, can Alzheimer’s disease eventually be diagnosed this way? Douglas R. Galasko, MD joins William Mobley, MD, PhD to discuss the search for these biomarkers and how they might one day lead to earlier and more accurate diagnoses of the disease, improved therapies, clear maps of progression, and much more.

The Brain Channel’s flagship series On Our Mind takes a closer look at Alzheimer’s disease. Join Dr. William Mobley as he meets with those on the front lines of this disease to discuss current and potential therapies, testing, clinical trials, neuropathology, public policy and so much more.

Watch all of the Alzheimer’s Disease programs.

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Supercomputing and the Nobel Prize

8232Sometimes research worthy of the Nobel prize requires NERSC.

NERSC? — National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center. It’s home to extremely powerful, extremely fast and extremely accurate computing and just turned 40. They celebrated the anniversary with a look at the research behind four Nobel Prizes:

George Smoot, UC Berkeley – 2006 Nobel Prize for Physics
Cosmic microwave background radiation

Saul Perlmutter, UC Berkeley – 2011 Nobel Prize for Physics
The expanding universe

Martin Karplus, Harvard – 2013 Nobel Prize in Chemistry
The courses of chemical reactions

Warren Washington, National Center for Atmospheric Research – 2007 Nobel Peace Prize to the Intergovernmental
Panel on Climate Change; Man-made climate change

What does it take to be called a supercomputer? Edison, the newest computer at NERSC, boasts 322 terabytes of memory, 124,608 processing cores, 462 terabytes per second of global memory bandwidth, 11 terabytes per second bisection bandwidth, and 7.56 petabytes of disk storage. That’s a lot of computer!

Watch A Perspective on Biology featuring John Kuriyan from Martin Karplus’ team as he describes the research that led to the 2013 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

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Cyber Security: Planes, Trains and Automobiles

8232The first known use of the term “cyber security” was in 1994, yet 20 years later, it has become a powerful new field of academic research and public fascination.

In an era of ‘black hats’, denial-of-service attacks, worms, viruses and Edward Snowden, society is increasingly turning to computer scientists for solutions. While much of the debate has centered on cyber crime, surveillance and securing the Internet as we know it, computer scientists at UC San Diego see new threats arising as cyber security threats make their way into cyber-physical systems – those real-world systems that rely heavily on computers and networking to get things done. Like the electrical power grid, or the wireless communications infrastructure, there is growing evidence that the global transportation infrastructure faces escalating new security threats.

“…you don’t think of your car as being software version 3.1, but it is…these are fundamentally computers, it’s just that they’re computers that control a two-ton vehicle that we have hurtling forward with us in it at 75 miles an hour.”

- Stefan Savage: Professor, Computer Science and Engineering Department, UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering

Chair of the Computer Science and Engineering (CSE) department at UC San Diego Rajesh Gupta, an expert in cyber-physical systems, hosts two renowned cyber security experts from the computer-science faculty in UC San Diego’s Jacobs School of Engineering: Prof. Stefan Savage, and Prof. Hovav Shacham.

Since 2010, Prof. Savage and his team, including colleagues from the University of Washington, have generated controversy and debate over public policy after they demonstrated the vulnerability of modern automobiles to attack from hackers who can take advantage, directly or remotely, of internal as well as external digital components and systems in today’s cars.

Most recently, Prof. Shacham uncovered surprising security vulnerabilities involving the full-body backscatter, X-ray scanners deployed at entrances to airports, train stations and other public places.

“…passengers are going through a variety of devices…every single one of these devices…is a computer…we found the software is replaceable, our machine ran DOS, it ran Windows, it had no kind of access control on it…these were designed and evaluated in secret…either they found the same flaws we did…or in their testing they didn’t find these flaws…”

- Hovav Shacham: Professor, Computer Science and Engineering Department, UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering

So just how vulnerable is the global transportation infrastructure to cyber attack? Can computer science short-circuit attacks before they inconvenience or risk the lives of drivers, airline passengers and other consumers? And what can computer scientists proactively do to prevent future attacks… or will cyber security always be a reaction to new threats as they arise?

Watch Cyber Security: Planes, Trains and Automobiles to learn more, and stay tuned for more in the Computing Primetime series.

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A Good Tune – SummerFest 2014

8232In past seasons the SummerFest programs aired on UCSD-TV tended to the eclectic, mixing different styles, eras and composers broadly representative of the chamber music genre. This year, we’re focusing on four great masters of the Classical style: Franz Joseph Haydn, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Franz Schubert, and Johannes Brahms.

Some definitions are useful here. We use the term classical music (note the small “c”) colloquially to include all Western “art music” (or “serious music”) from roughly the ninth century to the present, and especially the seventeenth century to the nineteenth. In fact, the loose term classical music encompasses a broad variety of forms, styles, genres, schools, movements, historical periods, and composers. The Classical period (note the capital “C”) highlighted in our programs was predominant from the mid-18th to the mid-19th centuries, and was largely developed in Germany and Austria. It derived from the Baroque period and lead to the Romantic period. The hallmarks of the Classical style include a rejection of the ornamentation of the Baroque in favor of a cleaner, simpler style, one with a lighter texture and concerned with logical development, structural balance, adherence to form, proportion, and “rightness” of phrasing. It was highly organized and melodic music, well suited to the Age of Reason. As is always the case when attempting to strictly define historical periods there was considerable overlap between the different styles, and several well-known composers are considered transitional figures – Haydn, Beethoven, and Schubert, for example (though it’s been argued that Beethoven is a genre unto himself).

Each of the four composers whose works are performed in our programs made contributions to the development of Classical style. Haydn is considered the key transitional figure from Baroque to Classical; indeed, more than any other composer he may be said to have invented Classical style, and has been called the “Father of Sonata Form.” Mozart, who was a contemporary of Haydn and greatly admired the older man, worked within Classical forms and brought them to an unsurpassed degree of perfection. Schubert, an admirer of Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven, brought his own innovations to the style and paved the way for the Romantic era that followed. Brahms was a late Classical composer, a Keeper of the Faith who resisted the siren call of Romanticism, fighting a rearguard action against the onslaught of Richard Wagner and his acolytes.

Alas for Brahms, history was on the side of Wagner. Romanticism was followed by modernism, serialism, minimalism, aleatroricism, primitivism, Neoclassicism, New Romanticism, post-modernism, etc., etc. ad nauseam. For a time Classical style fell out of favor – with composers, that is; it never lost its allure for audiences, and by the 1970s younger composers and performers were re-discovering its charms, once again immersing themselves in study of the period and its leading figures. Perhaps they were looking for order amidst the chaos of seventy-plus years of experimentation; or perhaps the older forms were seen as a tonic against the extremely subjective and drily academic nature of much modern music, and a way to reconnect with audiences.

Or perhaps, as SummerFest Music Director Cho-Liang (Jimmy) Lin notes, it’s as simple as “a good tune is always a good tune – there’s no substitute,” and the Classical masters offered good tunes in abundance.

Watch La Jolla Music Society’s SummerFest 2014 Season.

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When Drugs Do More Harm Than Good – Three Takeaways

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Recently published research in The American Journal of Psychiatry shows that steroid therapies can cause neuropsychiatric damage.

Commonly prescribed medications such as prednisone can lead to erratic and self-destructive behavior among patients. Dr. Lewis Judd and Dr. Sherwood Brown, two of the paper’s authors, sat down with Nick Binkley of the Diana Foundation to share their findings in-depth. Here are three great takeaways from their discussion:

• Glucocorticoid treatment is associated with a seven-fold increased risk of a suicide or suicide attempt.

• Women appear more likely to develop depression during glucocorticoid treatment while men may be at greater risk for mania, delirium, confusion or disorientation.

• Despite the prevalence and potential seriousness of adverse effects, patients are often not warned about the risks before starting treatment.

To learn more and find out how patients and doctors can work together to reduce risk factors, watch When Drugs Do More Harm Than Good: Adverse Effects of Glucocorticoids on the Brain.

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