Harvard News

Harvard’s Federico Cortese explains enduring appeal of “The Nutcracker”

Harvard’s Federico Cortese explains enduring appeal of “The Nutcracker”

December 14, 2018

Last month, Walt Disney Studios released “The Nutcracker and the Four Realms,” the latest interpretation of German author E.T.A. Hoffmann’s story of a toy that comes to life to battle a giant mouse king. The best-known “Nutcracker” is a ballet based on Alexander Dumas’ adaptation of Hoffman’s tale, with music by the Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. The piece premiered in St. Petersburg in 1892, a year before the Tchaikovsky’s death. More than a half-century later, George Balanchine transformed it into an American classic.

“It was Balanchine in New York that made it,” said...

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Researchers identify pathway that drives sustained pain following injury

Researchers identify pathway that drives sustained pain following injury

December 13, 2018

A toddler puts her hand on a hot stove and swiftly withdraws it. Alas, it’s too late — the child’s finger has sustained a minor burn. To soothe the pain, she puts the burned finger in her mouth.

Withdrawing one’s hand to avoid injury and soothing the pain of that injury are two distinct evolutionary responses, but their molecular origins and signaling pathways have eluded scientists thus far.

Now research led by investigators at Harvard Medical School, published Dec. 10 in Nature, identifies the nerve-signaling pathway...

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Annual Harvard Title IX report released

Annual Harvard Title IX report released

December 13, 2018

Harvard University’s Title IX Office and the Office for Dispute Resolution (ODR) today released their fiscal year 2018 annual report, a document that underscores continued progress in shared efforts to better prevent and respond to gender-based and sexual harassment.

“Creating a community in which all of us can do our best work is my highest priority as president,” said Larry Bacow in a...

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Harvard community rallies for one of its own

Harvard community rallies for one of its own

December 12, 2018

The way a community rallies around one of its members during hardship can speak volumes about its strength and bonds of unity.

On Tuesday during a fundraiser at El Jefe’s Taqueria, that sense of support was on full display when members of the Harvard community packed the Cambridge restaurant to support Ben Abercrombie ’21, a first-year safety who was seriously injured last year during his first football game for the Crimson.

The effort echoes important efforts by the Harvard Varsity Club’s Abercrombie Fund, which has drawn major donations to support Abercrombie and his recovery....

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Cardiologists can reduce leaky heart valves with 3-D printing

Cardiologists can reduce leaky heart valves with 3-D printing

December 11, 2018

More than one in eight people age 75 and older in the U.S. develop moderate to severe blockage of the aortic valve in their hearts, usually caused by calcified deposits that build up on the valve’s leaflets and prevent them from fully opening and closing.

Many of these older patients are not healthy enough to undergo open-heart surgeries; instead, they have artificial valves implanted into their hearts using a procedure called transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR), which deploys the valve via a catheter inserted into the aorta.

There are challenges with this procedure,...

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Harvard neuroscientist Paola Arlotta sees disease-fighting potential in brain organoids

Harvard neuroscientist Paola Arlotta sees disease-fighting potential in brain organoids

December 11, 2018

Human brain disorders have always presented researchers with a daunting challenge. They’re hard to study in laboratory mice because they affect the very organ that separates us from animals. And they’re difficult to study in humans because patient safety depends on noninvasive techniques.

Enter the brain organoid. Advances in stem cell biology and a new appreciation of the self-organizing powers of developing brain tissue have allowed researchers to create 3-D clusters of living brain that open a new window onto brain development and disease.

“I think that these brain organoids...

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Playwright Inua Ellams discussed research behind “Barber Shop Chronicles”

Playwright Inua Ellams discussed research behind “Barber Shop Chronicles”

December 11, 2018

A new show at the American Repertory Theater lifts the curtain on a universal meeting space for men of color: the barbershop.

“There’s always been a need for black men to find spaces where they could commune without fear of a sort of judgmental or voyeuristic gaze,” said Nigerian-born poet-playwright Inua Ellams, who spent weeks traveling around England and Africa researching “Barber Shop Chronicles,” at the Loeb Mainstage through Jan. 5.

“Barbershops,”...

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Harvard specialist focuses on opioid crisis as U.S. life expectancy drops

Harvard specialist focuses on opioid crisis as U.S. life expectancy drops

December 10, 2018

Life expectancy in the U.S. declined in 2017, largely because of increases in suicide and lethal overdose, according to reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Though slight, the drop from 78.7 in 2016 to 78.6 in 2017 marks the third consecutive year of decline in a statistic that in 1900 stood at 49.24.

Experts see the fingerprint of the opioid epidemic in the numbers, as well as the economic inequality, depression, and despair that elevate suicide risk. R. Kathryn McHugh, an associate...

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Harvard specialist focuses on opioid crisis as U.S. life expectancy drops

Harvard specialist focuses on opioid crisis as U.S. life expectancy drops

December 10, 2018

Life expectancy in the U.S. declined in 2017, largely because of increases in suicide and lethal overdose, according to reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Though slight, the drop from 78.7 in 2016 to 78.6 in 2017 marks the third consecutive year of decline in a statistic that in 1900 stood at 49.24.

Experts see the fingerprint of the opioid epidemic in the numbers, as well as the economic inequality, depression, and despair that elevate suicide risk. R. Kathryn McHugh, an associate...

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Inosine could be a potential route to the first RNA, Harvard study says

Inosine could be a potential route to the first RNA, Harvard study says

December 10, 2018

Prehistoric Earth, bombarded with asteroids, rife with bubbling geothermal pools, would seem an inhospitable place. But somewhere, the right chemicals combined in the precise sequence needed to form the building blocks of life. How? For decades, scientists have attempted to create miniature replicas of infant Earth in the lab. There, they hunt for the chemical pathways that led to life on Earth.

It’s attractive to chase our origin story. But this pursuit can bring more than just excitement. Knowledge of how Earth built its first cells could inform the search for extraterrestrial life. If...

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