Biology

Saturated fatty acids build lipids that form ‘frozen islands’ (blue) in cell membrane (green).

Columbia researchers developed a new microscopy technique that allows for the direct tracking of fatty acids after they’ve been absorbed into living cells. What the researchers found could have significant impact on both the understanding and treatment of obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Biofilms are multicellular communities formed by densely-packed microbes that are often associated with persistent infections. Steep gradients of nutrients and oxygen form in these crowded structures. The human pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa produces molecules called phenazines that help it to cope with the oxygen-limited conditions within biofilms. Columbia researchers have uncovered new roles for proteins of the electron transport chain that implicate them in utilization of phenazines. Illustration by Nicoletta Barolini.

Columbia University biologists have revealed a mechanism by which bacterial cells in crowded, oxygen-deprived environments access oxygen for energy production, ensuring survival of the cell. The finding could explain how some bacteria, such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa (P.

Energy harvested from evaporation can cut by half the amount of water lost to natural evaporation, researchers say.  Water-strapped cities with growing populations and energy needs could benefit most, including greater Phoenix, served by the above reservoir and irrigation system fed by the Colorado River. (Central Arizona Project)

In the first evaluation of evaporation as a renewable energy source, researchers at Columbia University find that U.S. lakes and reservoirs could generate 325 gigawatts of power, nearly 70 percent of what the United States currently produces.

Ivaylo Ivanov is studying how commensal bacteria (green) interact with intestinal tissues (pink) to activate immune cells in the gut to fight infection. Image courtesy of Ivanov.

Ivaylo Ivanov, an immunologist at Columbia who studies the role of intestinal bacteria in the body’s immune response, in collaboration with Caltech researcher Pamela Bjorkman, has received a two-year, $200,000 Innovation Fund award from the Pew Charitable Trusts. The grant will fund Ivanov’s ongoing research with Bjorkman.
In a study analyzing the genomes of 210,000 people in the United States and Britain, Columbia researchers find that the genetic variants linked to Alzheimer’s disease and heavy smoking are less frequent in people with longer lifespans, suggesting that natural selection is weeding out these unfavorable variants in both populations.
Ken Shepard
Ken Shepard is part of a growing push to develop brain-computer interfaces to repair senses and skills lost to injury or disease.
Stavros Lomvardas
Stavros Lomvardas has studied smell to the molecular level, uncovering how the nose knows different scents.
Amelia Wolf walking through a field of flowers and a mountain scenery behind her.

Amelia Wolf in the California field she used to study what effect diversity loss would have on the remaining plants.

Gardeners and nature lovers have noticed that plants are flowering earlier every year—a phenomenon generally attributed to climate change.

Columbia University researchers have developed an extremely low-cost, low-maintenance, on-site dipstick test they hope will aid in the surveillance and early detection of fungal pathogens responsible for major human disease, agricultural damage and food spoilage worldwide.

In this cover drawing for Cell Reports, Columbia researchers illustrate the concept that neurons fire in a consistent pattern during a seizure no matter how quickly the seizure spreads. The above string pattern stays the same regardless of whether both hands move closer or farther apart. (Michael Wenzel) 

Of the 50 million people who suffer from epilepsy worldwide, a third fail to respond to medication. As the search for better drugs continues, researchers are still trying to make sense of how seizures start and spread.

Pages