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Archive for Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Heard on the Hill: Cancer Center collaborates to bring drug to trial; KU Libraries’ funds shrinking as percentage of overall budget; KU research shows age of eyes can affect circadian rhythm

February 22, 2012

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• It’s a big day for the KU Cancer Center today, as it will be escorting around visitors from the National Cancer Institute site visit team. It’s one last hurdle the KU Cancer Center has to clear before it sits and waits to see whether it received NCI designation.

But, in the meantime, you can enjoy this recent blog post from the Wall Street Journal that talks about a collaboration between KU, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and the National Institutes of Health on the drug auranofin.

That drug had originally been used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and was thought to have some properties that were effective against a type of leukemia.

The three groups worked together to bring the drug to a clinical trial, which is ongoing right now.

“We were able to go from discovery of the drug in a screen to being in trial in patients in an extraordinarily short period of time,” Christopher Austin, the scientific director for the NIH’s Center for Translational Therapeutics, told the newspaper.

The NIH is looking to apply the same collaboration model to other projects, too.

• Here’s a tidbit of information from the Association of Research Libraries, which collects data on the percentages of total university spending that goes to libraries.

That association, which loves its books and researchers, brings together that data each year.

KU is part of the data set that includes data from 1982 to 2009.

During the most recent year, the survey reports KU spent about $23 million on libraries, as opposed to a $966.9 million in the total university’s budget — meaning the libraries accounted for about 2.38 percent.

In 1982, KU spent $7.1 million on libraries, which was just over 4 percent of the total university budget of $175.6 million.

(And, yes, universities have apparently gotten a little more expensive to operate over the last 30 years or so).

The percent of money today spent on KU’s libraries was right around most of the other universities in the survey. There were a few exceptions, of course. The University of California-Davis spent 0.72 percent of its budget on libraries. And Princeton University put 4.1 percent of its funds into libraries.

• If you’re having trouble sleeping, you might just have old eyes. That’s the word from some KU Medical Center research mentioned in the New York Times recently.

According to research from Martin Mainster and Patricia Turner, the lens of your eye gets yellower as you get older, and that disturbs the circadian rhythm, which the Times described as the “internal clock” of the body.

As the eyes get older, less and less light gets through. And the light helps out cells in the retina that take care of the circadian rhythm.

Interesting stuff — and you can read more of it here.

• You’d better send me some tips for Heard on the Hill to ahyland@ljworld.com, or I’m going to be forced to send more of my trained, power-line-eating mice to campus.

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