La Jolla News Nuggets

The former Unocal 76 gas globe, and its pole, can still be seen at 801 Pearl St. You just have to look harder.

Former 76 station drops ball

The pole and globe advertising the brand of gasoline once sold at 801 Pearl St. were taken down on Sept. 25, according to eyewitnesses. Instead of being carted away, however, they were tossed into the hole created on Jan. 24, when the tanks were yanked from the ground.

La Jolla resident and real-estate investor David Bourne, who owns the former Unocal 76 station, told the Light that the pole and globe will eventually be removed. He has previously stated that construction of a mixed-use building would begin on the site in summer 2020.

The site has received temporary new life as a pumpkin patch/Christmas-tree lot, with the hole separated from the new business via security fencing.

Torrey Pines Elementary is City’s only Blue Ribbon School

Torrey Pines Elementary School was the only school in the City of San Diego designated a National Blue Ribbon School for 2019 by the U.S. Department of Education.

“We are pleased that this award recognizes the consistent day-to-day instruction and work of our teachers, staff, students and families,” said Torrey Pines principal Nona Richard.

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos recognized 362 public and private schools — 30 of which are from California — as National Blue Ribbon Schools for 2019 based on their overall academic excellence or their progress in closing achievement gaps among student subgroups.

Aquarium ratchets classes up to national standards

Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography has aligned all classes for kindergarten through grade 12 students with national Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Its revised 14 science programs now meet NGSS and use the “5E” instructional model, according to an announcement from Birch, referring to a research-based method for developing science lessons with a learning sequence approach.

“We believe the best way to understand science is to do science,” said Birch school programs manager Emily Arnold. “The NGSS, with their focus on Science and Engineering Practices in addition to content, really get at the heart of what scientists do every day. We know that teachers look to our programs to supplement what they’re doing in the classroom and we are proud to continue to support them as they work with these new standards.”

Discovery Labs with Birch Aquarium kicked off Sept. 30. (858) 534-7336.

Leukemia drug could treat a childhood brain cancer

A drug used to treat chronic myeloid leukemia appears to be more effective at stopping a type of deadly pediatric brain tumor in mice than existing treatments, reports a multi-institutional team led by researchers at Skaggs School of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences at UC San Diego.

In the study, published in the journal PLOS One, mouse models show the repurposed drug nilotinib specifically targets cancer cells that have an abnormal activation of a cell communication system, called the Hedgehog pathway, via two different mechanisms, making it more effective and less toxic than combining drugs.

“While more research is needed, this pharmaceutical could potentially be used for several cancer types with an overactive cell-signaling pathway,” said senior author and Skaggs professor Ruben Abagyan.

Nilotinib is already Food & Drug Administration-approved for chronic myeloid leukemia with a safety profile, making it a good therapeutic candidate alone or in combination with surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy, wrote the authors.

Salk Institute researchers find emotions in motion

Salk Institute scientists have discovered a direct link from the brain’s emotion circuit to its movement circuit.

During high-stress situations, some athletes experience a rapid decline in performance under pressure, known as “choking.” Now, Salk Institute researchers have uncovered what might be behind the phenomenon: One-way signals from the brain’s emotion circuit short out the movement circuit.

The study, published in the scientific journal eLife, could lead to new strategies for treating disorders with disrupted movement, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety and depression — and in recovery from spinal cord injuries or physical performance under pressure.

“This finding is very exciting as it is the first time that a comprehensive circuit mechanism has been found showing how emotional states can influence movement through connections in an area of the brain called the basal ganglia, a region involved in guiding behavior,” said Salk associate professor Xin Jin, senior author on the paper.

“We did not previously know much about this pathway, so it brings about a whole new paradigm for examining psychiatric disorders as well as spinal-cord injury.”

Federal Student Aid forms due for college hopefuls

High-school seniors planning to attend college or technical school next fall should fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as soon as possible beginning Oct. 1, according to the Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority (KHEAA), a public corporation and governmental agency created to improve access to college.

The information on the FAFSA determines if students qualify for federal grants and student loans. It is also required to apply for state grants and scholarships. In addition, many colleges use the information to award their own grants and scholarships.

The FAFSA asks for information about income, assets and expenses. A formula set by Congress determines eligibility for federal and state aid. If the student is considered a dependent under federal guidelines, both the student and parents must provide financial information.

Some student-aid programs have limited money and provide funds on a first-come, first-served basis. So, KHEAA emphasizes, it is important to submit the FAFSA as soon as possible. (Even if they don’t think they’ll qualify for financial aid, students should submit the FAFSA. They may be surprised because student aid rules change all the time.)

— Compiled by Corey Levitan from local reports