Divisions & Units - Biological Sciences

Seven early-career faculty win Sloan Research Fellowships

February 20, 2019

Seven assistant professors from the fields of astronomy, biology, computer science, economics and statistics have been named 2019 Sloan Research Fellows. They include Courtney Dressing, astronomy; Shirshendu Ganguly, statistics; Priya Moorjani, molecular and cell biology; and Philipp Strack and Gabriel Zucman, economics.

U.S. patent office indicates it will issue third CRISPR patent to UC

February 8, 2019

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has issued a notice of allowance for a University of California patent application covering systems and methods for using single molecule guide RNAs that, when combined with the Cas9 protein, create more efficient and effective ways for scientists to target and edit genes. U.S.

Scientists find new and smaller CRISPR gene editor: CasX

February 4, 2019

A new gene-editing protein, CasX, may give CRISPR-Cas9 a run for its money. Discovered two years ago by UC Berkeley scientists Jill Banfield and Jennifer Doudna in some of the world’s smallest bacteria, the enzyme's size creates an advantage in delivering a gene editor into a cell.

Dr. Gentry Patrick Speaking Feb 1

January 31, 2019

Dr. Gentry Patrick

How does one take a kid from Compton on a life journey and academic career path to Professor in Neurobiology at UC San Diego by way of UC Berkeley (B.A.), Harvard University (Ph.D.), and postdoctoral studies at California Institute of Technology?

Discovery could help improve cystic fibrosis treatment

January 30, 2019

Researchers exploring the effects of a long-standing treatment for cystic fibrosis have discovered a potential new target for drugs to treat the disease, which has no cure and typically cuts decades off the lives of patients. The research, a collaboration between the University of Saskatchewan in Canada and UC Berkeley, is based on a unique method to measure fluid secretion in the lungs.

Whopping big viruses prey on human gut bacteria

January 28, 2019

Some of the largest ever bacteria-eating viruses, or "bacteriophages", have been discovered in the human gut, where they periodically devastate bacteria just as seasonal outbreaks of flu lay humans low. The new study was Jill Banfield, who leads the Innovative Genomics Institute’s microbiology initiative and is a UC Berkeley professor of earth and planetary science and of environmental science, policy and management.

Mouse studies question ‘inhibition’ theory of autism

January 21, 2019

A new study of mouse models of autism challenges the most common assumption about what goes wrong in brain circuits to cause disease symptoms. UC Berkeley neuroscientists demonstrated that while inhibition does decrease in the brains of these mice, altering the balance between excitation and inhibition, the changed balance does not affect spiking at all. Instead, this altered balance seems to be a compensatory mechanism that stabilizes brain activity in response to the disorder.

Recorded sounds that plagued U.S. diplomats in Cuba just crickets hard at work

January 10, 2019

A mysterious noise that allegedly sickened employees at the US embassy in Cuba in a suspected "sonic attack" was actually just noisy crickets, says Berkeley integrative biology Ph.D. student Alexander Stubbs. The results of the study were revealed at the annual meeting of the Society of Integrative and Comparative Biology.

Giving Cas9 an ‘on’ switch for better control of CRISPR gene editing

January 10, 2019

UC Berkeley researchers, including molecular and cell biology David Savage, have now made CRISPR gene editing even more versatile by giving it an “on” switch, allowing users to keep the Cas9 gene editor turned off in all cells except its designated target.

Feisty hummingbirds prioritize fencing over feeding

January 2, 2019

Most hummingbirds have bills and tongues exquisitely designed to slip inside a flower. But some male hummers have traded efficient feeding for bills that are better at stabbing and plucking other hummingbirds as they fend off rivals for food and mates, according to new research led by Integrative Biology postdoc Alejandro Rico-Guevara and co-authored by Professor Robert Dudley.