Science & Research

Science & Research Roundup: Feb. 5, 2014

By
Science & Research Editor
Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Researchers model new nanomaterial

 

Thirty-six boron atoms in the shape of a flat donut with a hexagonal hole could become an important new nanomaterial if scientists can find a way to produce it in the lab, according to a recent study in Nature Communications.

Lai-Sheng Wang, principal investigator of the study and professor of chemistry, and his research teamshowed that this structure is theoretically stable and low-energy, according to the study.

“It’s beautiful,” Wang said in a University press release. “It has exact hexagonal symmetry with the hexagonal hole we were looking for. The hole is of real significance here. It suggests that this theoretical calculation … might be right.”

The structure, termed borophene, is similar to graphene — a strong one-atom wide material that can conduct electricity. But unlike grapheme, borophene is likely to be fully metallic. This means the new material may be an even better conductor of electricity than graphene, according to the release.

The next step for scientists is to figure out how to assemble this structure, Wang said in the release.

 

Potential emerges for a new diagnostic tool for bacterial infection

 

A team of researchers from the University and Rhode Island Hospital identified components of the bacteria Clostridium difficile that could be used to rapidly diagnose patients with an infection, according to a study published online in The Journal of Molecular Diagnostics last month.

Using these components for a test could tell healthcare providers whether patients with diarrheal symptoms are suffering from a C. difficile infection. It could also distinguish between hyper-virulent and other strains of bacteria, according to a Lifespan press release.

“C. difficile can be a life-threatening infection,” said co-author Leonard Mermel, a professor of medicine and the medical director of the department of epidemiology and infection control at Rhode Island Hospital. “We believe that rapid identification of this bacterium will assist in timely initiation of antimicrobial therapy.”

The current methods of diagnosis, such as stool cultures and toxin testing, are effective but relatively slow, according to the release. The researchers also found this new target for a diagnostic test could provide the rapid results needed for emergency situations.

 

Health services professor wins investigator award

 

Joan Teno MS’90, professor of health services, policy and practice, is one of the 11 researchers to be awarded $335,000 as part of an Investigator Award by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The foundation is based at the Boston University School of Management.

Teno has researched instances of poor care and transitions for elderly patients in hospices, a trend that is more prevalent since Medicare has encouraged senior citizens to live in hospices, according to a University press release.

Teno said she  plans to use the  grant  to further her research of palliative and hospice care with interviews and analysis of Medicare data. She said in the release that the goal of her research is “to envision a future that promotes patient- and family-centered medical care.”

“We are eager to support these new investments in cutting-edge research, especially at a time when the health care landscape is rapidly changing and the way Americans care for their health is changing with it,” said Alan Cohen, director of the RWJF Investigator Awards in Health Policy Research program, in the release.