Harvard News

New drug-detecting tool could help save lives

November 13, 2019

The landscape of the illegal drug trade changes constantly, particularly amid the current opioid crisis. Law-enforcement officers regularly find or confiscate pills, powders, and other substances and need to know their composition as quickly as possible to determine legal charges and sometimes to issue lifesaving warnings.

Carfentanil is a case in point. This cousin to fentanyl has emerged on the nation’s streets in recent years to the alarm of law and public health officials, and with good reason. It is estimated to be 10,...

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Better delivery system for sending chemo to cancerous lung tissue

Better delivery system for sending chemo to cancerous lung tissue

November 13, 2019

Chemotherapy has been the backbone of cancer treatment for decades, but it is notorious for its toxicity to healthy cells, severe side effects, and poor targeting of the intended tumors.

Efforts to improve chemotherapy’s efficacy and tolerability include packaging drugs into nanoparticles, which can protect them from degradation in the body, control their release pattern, and shield the patient from some of the drugs’ side effects.

However, nanoparticles have so far failed to show significant accumulation in target sites, even when they are engineered with surface proteins designed...

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Evolution more complex than ‘survival of the fittest’ had us believe

November 13, 2019

If, soon, you can receive a better flu vaccine, you can thank some very fit yeast — and the eight scientists who have observed them. In a new paper in Nature, a Harvard-led team of researchers has pioneered a study that advances the field of organismic and evolutionary biology, but promises real-world results.

The example of the flu vaccine illustrates the problem. With influenza, Michael Desai, professor of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology (OEB) and of physics, explained...

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At Harvard, hundreds rally to defend DACA

November 12, 2019

A crowd of about 250 students, faculty, and staff gathered on the steps of Harvard’s Memorial Church on Veterans Day for a Defend DACA rally that was part of a nationwide student walkout. The attending, some carrying protest signs, listened respectfully as members of the Harvard community told their stories about DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) and TPS (Temporary Protected Status). Between speakers, there was applause and chants such as “Undocumented, unafraid. We are home and here to stay.”

On Tuesday the U.S. Supreme Court began hearings that are likely to decide the fate...

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Excerpt from ‘The Deafblind Woman Who Conquered Harvard Law’

Excerpt from ‘The Deafblind Woman Who Conquered Harvard Law’

November 8, 2019

The following is excerpted from Haben Girma’s new memoir “Haben: The Deafblind Woman Who Conquered Harvard Law.” More information on Haben and her memoir is available here.

“Can you hear me?”

The voice coming through my earbuds sounds scratchy. The earbuds connect to an FM receiver, part of an assistive listening device. Harvard Law School hired American Sign Language interpreters with voice transliteration skills to provide access to audio and visual information in my classes. Celia Michau...

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Clearing up the confusion over red meat recommendations

Clearing up the confusion over red meat recommendations

November 8, 2019

Meaty subjects have been in the news recently, with a series of studies questioning dietary recommendations that we eat less of the red stuff, even as plant-based substitutes have moved into the spotlight with fast-food breakthroughs. A new generation of faux burgers, such as Impossible Burgers and Beyond Meat, which more closely replicate the experience of eating the real thing (they even “bleed”), have been popping up on the menus of chains like Burger King, Subway, and KFC. Scientists re-examining the dietary role of red meat, meanwhile, turned the nation’s nutrition landscape on its...

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An artist and a transplant researcher discuss the heart

November 8, 2019

Doris A. Taylor’s so-called replacement “ghost heart” suggests something otherworldly, but the eerie-looking form is far from an apparition. It’s an innovative approach to organ transplantation that has inspired many in the medical community — and at least one artist.

The Texas researcher’s process piggybacks on nature’s sophisticated design. Together she and a team of researchers strip cells off human and animal cadaver hearts with a soapy solution, leaving ghostly white protein shells that retain the form of the organ....

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How the brain regulates variability in motor functions

November 7, 2019

Anyone who has ever tried to serve a tennis ball or flip a pancake or even play a video game knows, it is hard to perform the same motion over and over again. But don’t beat yourself up —errors resulting from variability in motor function is a feature, not a bug, of our nervous system and play a critical role in learning, research suggests.

Variability in a tennis serve, for example, allows a player to see the effects of changing the toss of the ball, the swing of the racket, or the angle of the serve — all of which may lead to a better performance. But what if you’re serving ace after...

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Veteran transfer students make Harvard home

Veteran transfer students make Harvard home

November 7, 2019

Harvard College admits an average of 12 transfer students per year from a pool of about 1,500, and veterans represent a growing segment within this select population. These four vets came to Cambridge by way of an enriching community college experience after — and in one case before — serving in the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force.

Professors say they are impressed by how these students approach their work with a sense of purpose and urgency. David Laibson, Robert I. Goldman Professor of Economics, called Jesse Carlos “one of the most intellectually engaged students in a class of...

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Angela Davis looks back on her life, her legacy

Angela Davis looks back on her life, her legacy

October 30, 2019

At Radcliffe’s Schlesinger Library, the life of scholar and political activist Angela Davis unfolds in an array of vivid ephemera. Items such as the letters she received from supporters while incarcerated, a manuscript of her autobiography marked with comments in the margins by her friend Toni Morrison, the FBI’s wanted poster of Davis, unpublished speeches, photographs, and much more shed light on her decadeslong commitment to activism.

“When I saved all the material I had no way in imagining that it would culminate in...

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