10 research stories from 2013

Even as it works to promote education on campus and around the globe, Yale University is dedicated to advancing knowledge about the natural world, human society, disease, and dysfunction — the better to develop new technologies and better approaches to help address the important issues facing humankind.

The list of breakthroughs made by Yale researchers in 2013 is long and varied. Here, in no particular order, are 10 of these discoveries.

 See also: 23 campus stories from 2013

1. Salt as trigger of autoimmune diseases

For the past few decades, health officials have reported increases in the incidence of autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis. A team from the Yale and Harvard medical schools and the Broad Institute identified a prime suspect in the mystery.

2. The warning signs of a violent volcano eruption

Volcanoes prone to explosive eruptions exist all over the world. A team of scientists including a senior author from Yale identified the key signals of imminent eruption.

3. Printing a 3-D brain

Radiology resident Dr. Mark Michalski has used the 3-D printers at Yale’s Center for Engineering Innovation and Design to human print organs — arteries and bones, a liver, a heart, a knee. “The next step will be a brain,” he says.

4. A promising new target for Alzheimer’s drugs

Yale School of Medicine researchers discovered a protein that is the missing link in the complicated chain of events that lead to Alzheimer’s disease.

5. The antifreeze secrets of a Siberian beetle

Yale undergraduates found a potent antifreeze protein culled from the beetle Rhagium inquisitor, which has the potential to make ice cream smooth and creamy or help preserve transplant organs long enough to save lives.

6. Left-handed and psychotic?

A Yale researcher and his colleagues found that among those with mental illnesses, people with psychotic disorders like schizophrenia are much more likely to be left-handed than those with mood disorders like depression or bipolar syndrome.

7. Oxytocin and improving brain function in autistic children

Yale researchers reported that single dose of the hormone oxytocin, delivered via nasal spray, can enhance brain activity while processing social information in children with autism spectrum disorders.

8. Social networks and urban violence

A new study of gun violence in Chicago, led by a Yale sociologist, revealed that a person’s social network is a key predictor in whether that person will become a victim of gun homicide.

9. Rewriting a genome with a healthy twist

Scientists from Yale and Harvard recoded the entire genome of an organism and improved a bacterium’s ability to resist viruses, a dramatic demonstration of the potential of rewriting an organism’s genetic code.

10. Found: A planet smaller than Mercury

A team of scientists including two Yale University astronomers discovered the smallest planet yet detected.