Scientists in La Jolla debut interactive chemistry textbook

Industrial chemists working toward new drugs, as well as organic chemistry students, have a unique new resource to guide them through chemical challenges. A trio of scientists from The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) has created the first fully interactive advanced organic chemistry textbook.

A decade in the making, “The Portable Chemist’s Consultant: A Survival Guide for Discovery, Process, and Radiolabeling” is available as an iTunes download (  In contrast to traditional print books that have simply been converted to electronic form, this textbook was created from the ground up exclusively for tablets using Apple software.

Lynne Friedmann, Research Report

The authors characterize the interactive textbook as a cross between a Boy Scout manual and Consumer Reports. It teaches all the basics like a survival guide, and, in the style of Consumer Reports, offers unbiased guidance.

Because the book is electronic it will never be out of date as it continues to add new chapters and other material driven by interactive reader feedback. Another selling point: The book is available for $39.99, a far cry from standard textbooks that cost $125 to $250.

— More information at

Enzyme contributes to inflammation, obesity

Many recent studies have suggested that obesity is associated with chronic inflammation in fat tissues. In a new study, researchers at the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute discovered that an imbalance between an enzyme and its inhibitor causes inflammation, obesity, insulin resistance, and fatty liver disease. This enzyme is produced by neutrophils (a type of white blood cell), which play an important role in the body’s immune defense against bacteria.

The researchers found that obese humans and mice have increased neutrophil elastase activity and decreased levels of a protein that inhibits the elastase. When the team reversed this imbalance in a mouse model and fed them a high-fat diet, the mice were resistant to body weight gain, insulin resistance (a precursor to type 2 diabetes), and fatty liver disease.

The study appears in the journal Cell Metabolism.

—More information at

How the brain tracks similar but distinct memories

Every day we have to remember subtle differences between how things are today, versus how they were yesterday; from where we parked our car to where we left our cell phone. The process of taking complex memories and converting them into representations that are less easily confused is known as pattern separation.

Now, scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies have discovered how a sub region of the hippocampus helps keep memories of similar events and environments separate. Computational models tracking brain function in mouse models suggest that this region helps perform pattern separation of memories by activating different groups of neurons when an animal is in different environments.

The findings help clarify the mechanisms that underpin memory formation and as well as what happens when disruptions occurs either by injury to or diseases of the nervous system.

The finding is reported in the journal eLife.

—News release at

Lynne Friedmann is a science writer based in Solana Beach.

Columnist receives journalism workshop grant

Freelance science writer and La Jolla Light columnist Lynne Friedmann has received a grant from the National Association of Science Writers to organize a workshop on cross-border science journalism.

This first-of-its-kind workshop is designed to create and strengthen cross-border exchanges for journalists reporting on science, the environment, agriculture, public health, and other issues in which the U.S. and Latin America have a shared link and vital stake. Speakers from both sides of the border will address the current state of cross-border science journalism, resources, new markets, innovative ways to use technology in reporting, and creation of a network for cross-border reporting – because, science doesn’t stop at the border.

Cross-Border Science Journalism takes place on Saturday, April 27, at the Institute of the Amercias, located on the UCSD campus.

— More information at

Related posts:

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  2. Sanford-Burnham research projects selected for upcoming space mission
  3. Scientists study binge-drinking rats to better understand mechanisms of addiction
  4. Research Report: Stress signal in cancer cells aids tumor growth
  5. Research Report: Hair growth discovery a surprise

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Posted by Staff on Apr 11, 2013. Filed under Columns, Editorial Columns, Research Report. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

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