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news-and-notes

Mindful eating during the holidays

Photo: Tim Sackton, https://flic.kr/p/dwhrVt, CC2.0

Thanksgiving: A time to be thankful, and oftentimes a time to overeat. No one wants to skip one of the biggest meals of the year, but keeping a mindful approach to eating can be tricky.

“The key is finding balance and making conscious choices,” said Mary Jo Kreitzer, Ph.D., R.N., founder and director of the University of Minnesota’s Center for Spirituality & Healing.

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beyond-minnesota

What happens to a rehabilitated eagle after release?

The Jackson Bay female is released in Hastings, Minnesota in July 2014.

Each year in September, The Raptor Center at the University of Minnesota releases a small number of rehabilitated birds back to the wild at Carpenter St. Croix Valley Nature Center in Hastings, Minnesota. While a few thousand spectators come out to observe the release and see education birds including bald eagles, great horned owls and kestrels up-close, it’s not often that the audience gets to learn what happens in the days, weeks and months following.

Did the bird make it? Did it fall prey to another urban landscape challenge such as a chimney, window or methane burner? Or is the bird we saw fly free in good health, hunting and soaring over the plains?

For one bird released in July, there was a rare opportunity to find out.

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beyond-minnesota

U of M School of Nursing faculty join southern Liberia Ebola response

Photo: CDC Global/CC 2.0/ flic.kr/p/or5Vfa

Four University of Minnesota School of Nursing faculty were invited by the American Refugee Committee (ARC) to be part of a leadership team of health professionals charged with launching a new Ebola treatment center in southern Liberia. Two members of the group departed today to aid in the response efforts.

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research-and-clinical-trials

Health Talk recommends: Treating diabetes with beneficial bacteria

Photo: Courtesy of OVPR

Editor’s note: This article originally appeared on Inquiry.

University of Minnesota researchers are on a mission to treat diabetes, and they’ve enlisted a few trillion microscopic helpers.

In place of drugs or surgery, a team of researchers is studying how to improve diabetes patients’ insulin sensitivity by introducing trillions of beneficial bacteria into their intestines. Researchers believe this unusual approach, conducted through a fecal microbiota transplant, could improve how the body regulates blood sugar, the central problem in diabetics. The project is part of MnDRIVE (Minnesota’s Discovery, Research and InnoVation Economy), a $36 million biennial investment by the state that aims to solve grand challenges. As a part of MnDRIVE’s Transdisciplinary Research Program, the project will bridge multiple fields of research and bring together experts from across the U to work on the same clinical trial.

Patients with diabetes have too much glucose in their blood, which leads to a host of serious health problems, from heart disease to obesity. Dr. Alexander Khoruts, a gastroenterologist at the U of M and lead principal investigator on the project, said the right balance of bacteria has the potential to improve the body’s energy metabolism, in part by enhancing insulin function. Insulin drives glucose from blood into cells of the body.

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news-and-notes

Origin of HeLa cells continues to impact research ethics

Photo: Pablo Ramdohr, Some changes made, https://flic.kr/p/9fYG9F

The modern medical world owes a lot to HeLa cells: the polio vaccine, cancer treatments and in vitro fertilization, to name a few. It was the first immortal cell line, or group of tissue samples that could survive in a lab – and reproduce indefinitely. This characteristic made the cells ideal for research environments. HeLa cells became a catalyst for medical progress, from studying gene mapping to cancerous activity, and the cells remain in high demand today, even 60 years after the initial sample was collected.

Yet the source of those cells, Henrietta Lacks, never gave consent for her tissue samples to be used in research. And her family didn’t either.

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expert-perspectives

The Expert Is In: Liver damage from dietary supplements

Photo: Public Domain

Liver damage is a well-established risk of many prescription drugs. However, recent research out of the Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia reveals herbal and dietary supplements may be causing liver damage in some U.S. regions as well. Bodybuilding and non-bodybuilding herbal supplements alike were implicated in the find, which spotlighted a small slice of one of the world’s fastest growing industries.

The findings came as no surprise to Chengguo Xing, Ph.D., professor of medicinal chemistry at the University of Minnesota College of Pharmacy and member of the Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota.

Xing is investigating how to reduce liver damage associated with a kava dietary supplement, which was found earlier this year to prevent tobacco-smoke induced lung cancer in a mouse model.

Here’s what Xing had to say:

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