Friday, February 15, 2013

Science Games Online

Happy Friday, everyone!

In case you haven't seen them, here are a few science games you can play online. The first few are part of a movement called "citizen science," where researchers are taking advantage of clever brains around the world to help answer scientific questions.

Foldit, asks players to help figure out optimal ways to fold proteins, a question that could help researchers predict how new proteins will fold, and thus how to create new enzymes. 

Interested in helping to diagnose malaria? Both MalariaSpot and MOLT (the latter developed by our very own Prof. Aydogan Ozcan) ask players to help identify malaria or malaria infected cells from images of blood samples. Researchers are hoping to leverage this talent and pool the results to help real patients who may not have access to adequate health care.

Lastly, Nanocure, is a game offered by Nanooze, a magazine to get kids excited about science. It involves setting up an immune system to defend against viral attacks. It's not as educational or as helpful as the others--unless you take the time to read the real virus information available on the site--but it's a lot of fun to play!


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Summer 2013 :: CNSI's Nanoscience Lab for High School Students

Images of various campus locations

Registration has just begun for this year's CNSI Nanoscience Lab!  This exciting summer workshop is geared towards high school students who have an interest in the sciences and provides a unique opportunity to explore questions similar to those currently investigated by the scientific community.  This five day program teaches students the key concepts of nanoscale research with the use of fun and engaging scientific experiments, instrumentation trainings, and science and career mentorship.  This program also carries 2 quarter units of UCLA course credit, and a limited number of full and partial scholarships are made available.

Due to a larger number of applicants than expected from last year's program, there will be two course sessions this year: 

Session A: July 8-12
Session B: July 15-19

The activities in the NanoScience Lab require a strong science foundation in chemistry, physics, and biology. The program is designed for students going into the 10th grade level or higher next school year, but 9th graders with exceptional scientific knowledge and the ability to work productively in teams are considered on a case by case basis.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Entrepreneurship for Science, Medicine, and Technology

Recently, CNSI started a new experiment. In partnership with the Price Center for Entrepreneurial Studies in the UCLA Anderson School of Management, the Institute offered the "Entrepreneurship for Science, Medicine, and Technology" course geared toward research scientists, medical practitioners, and engineers who want to learn more about the business side of technology transfer and entrepreneurship.

One of CNSI's most important goals is to encourage university collaborations with industry and enable the rapid commercialization of discoveries. To help meet this goal, the Institute is developing a multi-prong approach that will support its community regardless of where its members are in their career or their past experience with industry. The class, taught by Anderson Lecturer George Abe, strives to educate people with little or no experience with the entrepreneurial space, and, judging from the enthusiastic participation in the first two classes, people definitely want this information. The last class focused on issues such as incorporating your business and benefit packages, and Abe's 2-hour lecture was constantly interrupted with interesting questions and scenarios (many of them surrounding a hypothetical lemonade stand founded by the students in the front row). The group also happily skipped the midway break in the hopes of covering all of the week's material in time.

An important component of the course will be group work to develop product pitches for the class and possible guests. Already, students have offered up their own technology, and teams are forming for the first elevator pitch session happening next week.

If successful, the class may be offered again in the future.

Stay tuned!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The EnGen Roadshow :: NSF-IGERT Clean Energy for Green Industry Graduate Fellowship Program

The NSF-IGERT CGI graduate fellowship program at UCLA and the California NanoSystems Institute present the EnGen Roadshow, energy education for Los Angeles area high schools:

About: The Clean Energy for Green Industry IGERT (CGI) at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) is designed to train U.S. Ph.D. scientists and engineers for leadership roles in the clean energy sector--university-industry-government. Emphasis is placed on economic expansion through transformational research, new business, highly trained workforce development, equity and inclusion. The Clean Green IGERT addresses the urgent societal challenge of meeting increasing energy needs without further negatively affecting the environment. Meeting this challenge requires a revitalized energy production and delivery infrastructure in which innovative and commercially viable energy harvesting, storage, and conservation solutions are developed in concert. The development of such solutions is only feasible through university-industry-government partnerships with highly-skilled, broadly-educated, globally-minded leadership. Such partnerships have high potential for economic development in urban areas primed for growth in this sector, with a well-trained workforce, a supportive government and visionary industrial foundations.

The Clean Green IGERT at UCLA will establish new programs, networks and relationships that do not currently exist, and will invoke enduring impact on UCLA campus and local Los Angeles community. The Clean Green IGERT program will support economic development in the Los Angeles basin accomplished by launching new businesses through UCLA spin-offs and transfer innovative technology to existing business. We will also educate a local workforce primed for cleangreen science, policy and business. In the community, we will provide education and awareness to K-12 students on clean-energy issues, science and careers. We have placed significant emphasis on equity and inclusiveness in the Clean Green fellowship ranks and green industry workforce addressed by aggressive, mentoring and retention objectives. These programs will increase minority applicant pool at UCLA, increase participation in underrepresented students in this topical area of clean energy and create new jobs especially in Los Angeles.

One of the unique strategies of this IGERT program is its specific emphasis on local green industry and workforce development. Their goal is three-fold: first to provide a highly trained, culturally diverse and globally-minded clean-energy workforce, second to introduce new green industry jobs in our local community through new business development and third is to provide existing companies with new solutions generated by close industry-university collaborations. Exposing science and engineering students to the culture of IP generation, business development, energy policy, providing training and support for these endeavors and providing interaction with local business and government, accomplish these goals.
To learn more, visit:

Friday, February 1, 2013

Mobilizing medicine through mHealth

In many ways, our mobile phones know more about us than our doctors do. They know who we talk to. They know what we've seen. They know where we are, where we've been, and sometimes where we're going. Now, people involved in the healthcare industry are trying to figure out ways to take advantage of our mobile phone's knowledge of us to improve patient care.

Mobile Health

The recent movement to use mobile devices to support medical care and public health is called "mobile health" or "mHealth." Developers are figuring out ways to help patients monitor such things as their stress levels, their physical activity, their cigarette cravings, and their adherence to medication routines. Patients no longer need to rely on their memories at the end of the day or at their latest doctor's appointment to report on these experiences. Instead, they can enter reports easily and immediately throughout the day. A few of these tools include: BodyMedia FIT or Fitbit systems, both of which can track your physical activity, sleep, and caloric intake. Glucometers allow people to monitor their blood sugar levels at home. Some smartphone apps and devices can even monitor diseases such as asthma or COPD by relying on built-in microphones or attachments. mHealth strategies are also helping to improve care in low- and middle-income countries, helping deal with pregnancies or diseases such as HIV/AIDS.    

Who will see this information?

A concern among potential users is who will see this information. Self-reports can instantly be correlated to a person's location, perhaps revealing more than what was intended.

Does a person want her doctor to know that she was out drinking at 4 a.m.?

Does a patient want his therapist to know that he hasn't been taking his anti-depression medication?

Many developers are keeping privacy matters in mind, assuring that the data is seen only by the user and others the user allows access to. At the same time, they would like to be able to strike a balance in data collection if at all possible. After all, the collected information from millions of people with multiple diseases could provided extremely valuable information for research purposes. 

The field of mHealth has been quickly gaining popularity. The second mHealth Summit, organized by HiMSS media, The Foundation for the National Institutes of Health, mHealth Alliance, and The National Institutes of Health, hosted (tens of) thousands of people in 2012. And, UCLA is co-sponsoring the Heritage Open mHealth Challenge with Heritage Network Provider and Open mHealth. The challenge will award $100,000 to a team proposing the best app to help manage clinical conditions. With so many great minds working on this new face of healthcare, it will be interesting to see how the field develops over the next few years.