Rustem Ismagilov, the new John W. and Herberta M. Miles Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering at Caltech, believes in the ability of science and technology to address significant societal problems—from the spread of HIV and drug resistance to bacterial imbalances in the gut.
Over the past year, researchers at Caltech, and around the world, have been studying a group of potent antibodies that have the ability to neutralize HIV in the lab; their hope is that they may learn how to create a vaccine that makes antibodies with similar properties. Now, biologists at Caltech led by Nobel Laureate David Baltimore have taken one step closer to that goal: they have developed a way to deliver these antibodies to mice and, in so doing, have effectively protected them from HIV infection.
Using highly potent antibodies isolated from HIV-positive people, researchers have recently begun to identify ways to broadly neutralize the many possible subtypes of HIV. Now, a team led by biologists at Caltech has built upon one of these naturally occurring antibodies to create a stronger version they believe is a better candidate for clinical applications.
Mark E. Davis and David A. Tirrell of Caltech have been elected to the Institute of Medicine, an honor that is considered among the highest in the fields of health and medicine. Both Davis and Tirrell are already members of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering, making them two of only 13 living individuals who have been elected to all three branches of the National Academies.
The cameras in our cell phones have dramatically changed the way we share the special moments in our lives, making photographs instantly available to friends and family. Now, the imaging sensor chips that form the heart of these built-in cameras are helping engineers at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) transform the way cell cultures are imaged by serving as the platform for a "smart" petri dish.
Responding to faces is a critical tool for social interactions between humans. Without the ability to read faces and their expressions, it would be hard to tell friends from strangers upon first glance, let alone a sad person from a happy one. Now, neuroscientists from Caltech, with the help of collaborators at Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, have discovered a novel response to human faces by looking at recordings from brain cells in neurosurgical patients.
Four members of the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) faculty—William Clemons Jr., assistant professor of biochemistry; Thanos Siapas, professor of computation and neural systems; Long Cai, assistant professor of chemistry; and Lea Goentoro, assistant professor of biology—have been named among the researchers being given National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director's Awards.
Caltech senior Wilson Ho spent his summer completing a SURF project in the lab of Robert Grubbs, one of the winners of the 2005 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Ho tells his nonscientist friends and family that the goal of his project is to develop "stem-cell Band-Aids" that might one day help restore vision in those suffering from macular degeneration.
Much like cities organize contingency plans and supplies for emergencies, chronic infectious diseases like HIV form reservoirs that ensure their survival in adverse conditions. But these reservoirs—small populations of viruses or bacteria of a specific type that persist despite attack by the immune system or drug treatment—are not always well understood. Now, however, researchers at Caltech believe they have begun to decode how a reservoir of infection can persist in HIV-positive populations.
One looks like little more than a stethoscope head attached to a wire; the other seems to be an oven mitt with three metal disks sewn on. Simple, yes, but these prototype medical devices—developed by young Caltech researchers working on a SURF project—could one day save lives.