Today's news

October 29, 2004

Cambridge design faculty under threat
The department of architecture at Cambridge University is facing closure after failing to meet the university's research standards. The General Board, which ensures faculties meet their academic requirements, has recommended closure after two reviews backed up concerns "about aspects of the department's research profile going back over two decades". Yesterday, the Royal Institute of British Architects said it was shocked and fully backed the department. The department has until December 8 to present its case. The university insists that its recommendations were made on academic and not financial grounds. However, Professor Marcial Echenique, acting head of the department, said: "It is essentially a problem of finance because there is a big gaping hole of nearly £400,000."
Times

Loan crisis hits thousands of students
Nearly 100,000 students are still waiting for their university loans almost two months after the academic year began, it was revealed yesterday. A record 829,000 scholars have applied for loans but only 733,000 have been processed so far. The Student Loans Company, which doles out the cash for the Government, blamed the delay on computer glitches. The company also claimed that one in four applications was received after the July 2 deadline, making late payments inevitable.
Sun

Manchester mooted as a source of investment ideas
Alan Gilbert, the new president of Manchester University, is not well known to most of the City of London's corporate financiers and fund managers. However, Professor Gilbert, chief executive of a university with a £500 million budget and 9,000 staff, has a surprising amount of freedom to shake things up. His business-minded approach to running the north of England's flagship university, and its intellectual property policies, might trigger the interest of small-cap fund managers with longer-term time horizons. One of Professor Gilbert's espoused goals is to capitalise on the enlarged university's strong science base and crank up the commercialisation of its research ideas.
Financial Times

'Trojan horse' could unclog Alzheimer brains
Laboratory tests at Stanford University, reported today in the journal Science , suggest that a new "Trojan horse" approach to treating Alzheimer's disease can protect brain cells by drastically reducing the build-up of amyloid protein clumps that poison neurons. The treatment involves dispatching a small drug molecule into the cell, where it enlists the aid of a larger "chaperone" protein to block the accumulation of the brain-clogging protein.
Financial Times

Scientists see eye to eye with Darwin
Explaining the origin of the eye was a challenge for Charles Darwin. He had no clear answer when asked how something as intricate as the human eye could have arisen through natural selection. This week, scientists at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Heidelberg claim to have discovered an evolutionary origin for the light-sensitive cells of our eyes, the rods and cones. The researchers report in Science that they come from an ancient population of cells initially located in the brain.
Financial Times

Special squeeze is a natural type of Viagra
Once derided by red-blooded males as the preserve of pregnant women and New Age gurus, pelvic floor exercises could soon become a part of every man's fitness regime now that research suggests they can dramatically improve sexual prowess. A study conducted on a group of impotent men found that almost half regained a normal level of sexual performance after being put on a course of pelvic exercises. The men, all of whom were unable to maintain an erection for more than 30 seconds, found they could perform for up to five times longer after spending 30 minutes a day strengthening their pelvic floor muscles. Details of the research are published in the British Journal of General Practice .
Times

Prozac may endanger unborn babies
Scientists at Columbia University in New York have discovered that Prozac, also known by the generic name fluoxetine, raises anxiety levels in newborn mice, which suggests that it may be risky if taken by pregnant women or young children.
Times, Independent

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