Research Report: Scripps Oceanography team exploring Chile quake site


Scientists from Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UCSD will explore the earthquake rupture site of the Feb. 27 massive 8.8-magnitude Chilean earthquake, one of the largest earthquakes in recorded history. The expedition, called the Survey of Earthquake And Rupture offshore Chile (SIOSEARCH), will use Scripps’ research vessel Melville, which happened to be conducting geology and biology studies off the coast of Chile when the earthquake struck.

This is a unique scientific opportunity to capture fresh data from a momentous geological event; data that will contribute to ongoing efforts to characterize structural changes in the seafloor that resulted from movement along faults and submarine landslides.

For SIOSEARCH cruise blog entries and other information, visit

Cigarette marketing targets girls

The tobacco industry is prohibited from advertising practices that encourage teenagers to smoke, yet research out of the Moores Cancer Center at UCSD has found that a 2007 cigarette marketing campaign was effective in encouraging young girls to start smoking.

The research involved 1,036 males and females ages 10 to 13 years. Between 2003 and 2008, scientists conducted five telephone interviews, which included questions about smoking. Consistent with earlier research, youths who had never smoked but who reported having a “favorite” cigarette ad were 50 percent more likely to begin smoking.

The number of girls reporting a favorite ad was consistent across the first four surveys, but by the fifth survey — which took place after the start of RJ Reynolds’ “Camel No. 9” advertising campaign — the proportion of girls who reported a favorite ad increased 10 percentage points (to 44 percent). The Camel brand accounted almost entirely for this increase. The number of boys reporting a favorite ad remained steady across all five surveys. The study appears in the journal Pediatrics. More information at

Treating roundworms

Several drugs currently in use, or in development, work in the same manner to control parasitic worms. That concerns health workers in developing countries where reinfestations often require repeated treatments. Should worms develop resistance to one drug, other treatments would also likely fail.

A research group at UCSD recently demonstrated that a potential new drug, based on a protein crystal made by bacteria that works by a different mechanism, rids laboratory animals of intestinal worms. In addition, worms resistant to currently available drugs were found to be more susceptible to the crystal protein. When researchers combined the two types of anti-worm treatments they discovered that lower doses of both drugs proved effective. This synergistic approach could head off future drug resistance and at the same time lower the cost of treatment. The paper appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. More information at

Lynne Friedmann is a science writer based in Solana Beach.