This month, NYU researchers found that New Yorkers are more likely to buy lottery tickets when it’s sunny out and our sports teams are winning, that workers in the city’s hookah bars are susceptible to dangerous levels of carbon monoxide inhalation, and that fancy water dispensers installed in New York City public schools can help fight childhood obesity.
NYU biologists examined tandem DNA repeat arrays in yeast, and drew an analogy between the coupled processes of making messenger RNA molecules and the relationship between a moving escalator and a person walking on it. Dentistry’s Anna Di Gregorio studied the molecules that switch on gene expression in the notochord (a kind of evolutionary precursor to the backbone) in sea squirts, research that could one day help scientists better understand the genetic factors in back pain among humans.
Steinhardt’s Tsu-Hsin Howe and colleagues identified four predictors—medical complications at birth, maternal education, early motor assessments, and early cognitive assessments—of later cognitive function and motor performance for children born early and at a very low birth weight, while Langone researchers explored how immune responses to viral infections in pregnant mice seemed to cause autistic behavior in their offspring.
NYU neuroscientists investigated why we slow down after making a mistake (doh!), identified distinct groups of neurons in the brains that seem to fire just before we move our eyes or our arms, and studied how young zebra finches go from listening to their fathers’ courtship songs to knowing the songs themselves.
On the cancer front, medical researchers developed a better blood test to track the potential spread of metastatic melanoma and pioneered new, minimally invasive technology that allows surgeons to knock out cancer lesions in the prostate without harming—or removing—the surrounding tissue.
And Langone’s Mario Delmar led a team that used new imaging techniques and mathematical models to construct detailed 3D images of the protein structures that connect heart muscle cells—images that could someday help doctors identify people at risk of developing life-threatening arrhythmias.