News & Announcements

Katz, Lyzinski to Explore Neuron-Level Mechanisms of How Brains Make Decisions

photo of Paul Katz

Paul Katz, professor of biology and director of neuroscience, and Vincent Lyzinski, a network expert and assistant professor of mathematics and statistics, recently received a three-year, $3.5 million grant from the NIH’s National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke for a new collaboration between researchers at four universities who will explore the neuron-level mechanisms of how the brain makes decisions.

The project is part of President Obama’s 2013 Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) initiative at NIH, which seeks to accelerate the development and application of new technologies leading to “a revolutionary new dynamic picture of the brain that, for the first time, shows how individual cells and complex neural circuits interact in both time and space.” Read more

UMass Amherst researchers studied origins of adverse effects of a common anti-cancer treatment

Results of a new study by neuroscientists at the University of Massachusetts Amherst suggest that a new treatment approach is needed – and how this may be possible – to address adverse effects of aromatase inhibitors, drugs commonly prescribed to both men and women to prevent recurrence of estrogen-positive breast cancer.

Neuroscientists Agnès Lacreuse, Luke Remage-Healey and their graduate students at UMass Amherst, collaborator Jessica Mong at the University of Maryland and first author Nicole Gervais worked together on this research. Gervais, who conducted the experiments as a postdoctoral researcher at UMass Amherst, is now at the University of Toronto. The authors studied a small group of aged male and female marmosets, non-human primates whose brains are much like humans’ and which exhibit “complex behavior,” senior author Lacreuse explains. (Read more)

Researchers Study Dormant Cancer Cells and What Causes Them to Reawaken

photo of Jungwoo Lee

Researchers led by chemical engineer Jungwoo Lee are developing microenvironments that allow them to study how cancer cells that move around the human body change from dormant to active. Understanding this process, the researchers say, could lead to treatments to prevent cancer from metastasizing. Read more

NSF Supports UMass Amherst Scientists Creating New Discipline

A team of three researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst recently was awarded a three-year grant from a new National Science Foundation program to pursue an unusual intersection of their disciplines, which aims to grow an entirely new field, “touch-based bacterial communication,” on their campus and beyond. Polymer scientist Maria Santore, physicist Mark Tuominen and microbiologist Sloan Siegrist will receive $975,000 from NSF’s new “Convergence Program,” which aims to create new fields of study to address scientific issues by bringing together investigators from disciplines that are somewhat removed from each other, Santore explains. Read more


UMass scientists discover what causes this insidious disease and how to prevent it.

Breast cancer begins with one lethal rogue cell. Cancerous cells in the breast then grow out of control in a mind-boggling process that researchers worldwide have yet to fully understand, despite years of study and billions of dollars in funding.  At the University of Massachusetts Amherst, researchers in many areas, backed by government organizations and private foundations, are attacking breast cancer on multiple fronts. They are investigating environmental toxins and breast milk, leading large epidemiological studies, creating new treatments, identifying individuals likely to get breast cancer, and advocating for changes in chemical testing and regulation. Read more

Twelve UMass Amherst Researchers Among Most Highly Cited in the World

Twelve researchers at UMass Amherst, including MCB faculty Vince Rotello and Hang Xiao, have been recognized for being among the world’s most highly cited researchers in 2018. The analysis by Clarivate Analytics, owner of Web of Science, serves as the basis for regular listings of researchers whose citation records put them in the top 1 percent by citations for their field and year. Read more

Rare and Diverse Giant Viruses Unexpectedly Found in a Forest Soil Ecosystem

photo of Jeff Blanchard and colleagues

Until recently, scientists thought of viruses as mostly small infectious agents, tiny compared to typical bacteria and human cells. But biologist Jeff Blanchard and Ph.D. student Lauren Alteio with others at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Joint Genome Institute have discovered giant viruses – relatively speaking the size of Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade balloons – in soil at Harvard Forest in Petersham. Read more

Study Demonstrates ‘Tunability’ of Molecular Chaperone

photo of Lila Gierasch

For decades, molecular biologists studying a class of molecular chaperones known as heat shock proteins (Hsp70s) have relied on the Hsp70s found in bacteria as the model system. Now, Lila Gierasch, one of the world’s experts on the molecule and her team report that their investigation into whether Hsps from mammalian cells behave like those in bacteria reveals “key evolutionary variations” between them. Read more

Clark Elected Fellow of Entomological Society of America

photo of John Clark

John Clark, professor of veterinary and animal sciences, has been elected by the governing board of the Entomological Society of America as a research fellow and was recognized during the society’s joint annual meeting of the Entomological Societies of America, Canada and British Columbia, on Nov. 11-14, in Vancouver, British Columbia. Read more

Rotello Delivers Keynote at Science Teachers’ Conference

photo of Vince Rotello

Vincent Rotello, Distinguished Professor of chemistry, delivered the Nov. 2 keynote, “Multidisciplinary Thinking Outside the Box: Fighting Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria using Nanomaterials,” at the annual conference of the Massachusetts Association of Science Teachers in Boxborough. Read more