On Monday, November 3, 2014, Dr. Pat Iverson gave a seminar on the biochemistry, infectivity, and spread of Ebola virus. Pat holds a joint appointment as a Professor in the Department of Environmental and Molecular Toxicology and Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics.
For those who could not make it to the evening seminar, Kevin Ahern videotaped Pat’s presentation and posted it on youtube.
Dr. Beckman and Dr. Zhang’s respective research received mentioned in a Popular Science article published October 21 that discusses the impact of viral campaigns on science funding.
Social media has spawned the slacker-activist, someone who supports a cause through an audacious public display that actually requires very little effort. This summer, the #IceBucketChallenge clogged newsfeeds with videos of folks dumping ice water on their heads instead of (or often in addition to) donating to the ALS Association. In a single month, the nonprofit collected more than $100 million–36 times what it had raised the previous August–to support research for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). “It’s an unprecedented situation, not just for our cause, but for any charity outside disaster relief,” says ALS Association spokesperson Carrie Munk.
But how much can a viral campaign actually propel medical research? Does slacktivism advance science in a meaningful way? ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, kills off the motor neurons that control voluntary muscles. Next comes paralysis, and then death in as few as a couple of years. Even after decades of study, scientists still don’t fully understand its biological mechanisms. Treatment is palliative. A cure remains a pipe dream.
Government funding for ALS research is limited, so few scientists are drawn to it, making progress slow. This new influx of funds could attract a wave of researchers to the field, says Joe Beckman, a biochemist at Oregon State University. Exploring ALS from fresh angles increases the odds of a breakthrough.
Read the full article here: http://www.popsci.com/article/science/does-slacktivism-really-drive-science-forward
Congratulations to first year BB grad student Rachael Kuintzle for winning the graduate student poster prize at this years Fall CGRB Conference!
On Saturday September 6th, 23 of our BB students, faculty, friends and family enjoyed hiking along the beautiful Metolious River and visiting the Wizard Falls Fish Hatchery.
Joe Beckman says he’s not opposed to the idea of dumping a bucket of ice water on his head to support the ALS Association. In fact, the University Distinguished Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics puts himself through a similar experience every time he goes whitewater rafting, a favorite hobby outside the lab and classroom.
Beckman studies Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, commonly known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease, at Oregon State and says he’s actively trying to understand the fatal motor neuron disease.
He is glad the viral “ice bucket challenge” is raising awareness about ALS to the general public.
An explanation of the disease can’t be boiled down to a five-second sound bite, says Beckman.
“There are 200,000 motor neurons in your body,” he explains. “ALS kills them relentlessly one after the other. Eventually, most victims can’t move a muscle or blink an eye.”
Most ALS patients pass away from respiratory failure or pneumonia a few years or even months after they are diagnosed.
The disease is fast moving, and Beckman receives emails almost every day from ALS patients or affected family members asking him to move even faster, to advance his research and to help find a cure.
“I always tell those people to get in contact with their local ALS Association chapter,” Beckman says. “They work with patients and families to understand the disease as it progresses and really can improve the quality of life.”
Beckman hopes to find treatment for the devastating disease soon, but he points out that better understanding of ALS itself must come before a treatment or cure. He encourages those taking part in the ice bucket challenge and donating to the ALSA to also write their legislators to urge them to support biomedical research.
Oregon State University President Ed Ray agrees and says he is proud of the work Beckamn is doing. “Joe Beckman at the Linus Pauling Institute is working on finding appropriate treatments and hopefully one day a cure for ALS.”
Ray participated in the ice bucket challenge. The video debuted at the Beaver football game against Portland State University at Reser Stadium.
“There is no guarantee for a cure so I don’t want to make a promise,” Beckman says. “But I can say that at Oregon State we are working seven days a week to better understand ALS.”
Kevin Ahern was featured in a Gazette Times article today, and talks about his Limericks. Ahern is known for his creativity, and writes a limerick every day. “Kevin Ahern’s 1001 Punniest Limericks” is his most recent book of Limericks.
BB Senior Instructor Indira Rajagopal, along with Graduate School Dean Brenda McComb and Chemistry Senior Instructor Margie Haak, were recognized as this year’s “Woman of Achievement” awardees.
BB undergraduates Deepthika Enamuri and Lubna Khan, along with students Alejandra Sanchez, Kristina Schnell, Stephanie Grocke and Jennifer Lam, were this year’s “Student Leader” awardees.
More information about the awardees is available at: