Could snail venom replace addictive opioid painkillers?
A handful of University of Utah researchers for years have investigated the venom of marine snails and how it might be transformed into a safer alternative to opioid painkillers. Now, they have new backing to expand their research. The U. this week said it has received $10 million from the Department of Defense to further study cone snail venom and search for similar compounds from the venom of other marine organisms. Years from now, they hope, a synthetic version of the venom will become a substitute for drugs like morphine, fentanyl and oxycodone. “We’re going back to natural sources to find the next generation of pain drugs,” said Russell Teichert, a research associate professor in the Department of Biology.
2018 Willard Gibbs Medal
Cindy Burrows has been selected as the recipient of the 2018 Willard Gibbs Medal of the Chicago Section of the American Chemical Society. This is one of the most prestigious honors in chemistry, its purpose "To publicly recognize eminent chemists who, through years of application and devotion, have brought to the world developments that enable everyone to live more comfortably and to understand this world better." Medalists are selected by a national jury of eminent chemists from different disciplines, the nominee being a chemist who, because of the preeminence of his/her work in and contribution to pure or applied chemistry, is deemed worthy of special recognition. This award has been given since 1911, and only one previous Utah chemist (Henry Eyring, 1968) has received it. Please join us in congratulating Dr. Burrows on this impressive recognition!
‘Oscar of Science’ Awarded To U. Mathematician
Christopher Hacon, University of Utah mathematician, will be award the 2018 Breakthrough Prize in Mathematics at a ceremony in Silicon Valley on Dec. 3. The awards ceremony, hosted by Morgan Freeman, will be broadcast from NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, CA and begins at 8 p.m. Mountain Time. Live streams of the broadcast can be found on the Facebook and YouTube platforms of Breakthrough Prize and National Geographic. The $3 million prize recognizes Hacon’s work in algebraic geometry, the field that studies geometric objects defined by polynomial equations. It connects and elevates algebra, which solves polynomial equations, and geometry, which describes the shapes arising from those equations.
Physics & Astronomy
Faculty Spotlight: Anil Seth
Anil Seth, Associate Professor of Physics and Astronomy, fell in love with astronomy in high school in Lincoln, Nebraska. Now, when he isn’t teaching classes at the U, or mentoring graduate students, he spends his time searching for black holes at the centers of low-mass galaxies.