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UA explores medicine through simulation

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The Arizona Simulation Technology and Education Center might seem like Dr. Frankenstein’s laboratory. However, the disembodied limbs and strange technology lying around the lab is not used to make monsters, but rather to train medical students. The Lab, known as ASTEC on the University of Arizona Campus, provides simulated environments in which undergraduate and medical students can learn routine medical procedures. Simulation labs at universities have become a popular way to teach medicine over the last 10-15 years. ASTEC opened in 2005, when Dr. Allan Hamilton turned his neurosurgery laboratory into a simulation center. “We can do anything here. We can dial up our simulations to the most sophisticated trauma case that you would find, all the way down to something as simple as someone coming in with asthma,” said David Biffar, director of operations at ASTEC. What makes...

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UA researchers hope to cure diseases with a common brain parasite

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There might be a parasite in your brain. It’s estimated that up to one-third of the world’s population is infected with the brain parasite Toxoplasma Gondii. The U.S. has a relatively low rate of infected people, estimated to be between 10 to 25 percent. Countries such as France have an infection rate of 60 to 80 percent. As far as parasites go, Toxoplasma Gondii isn’t’ that bad, unless you’ve had a transplant and are left immunocompromised. Folks who have a weakened immune response can suffer brain damage, and even death if infected with toxoplasmosis. University of Arizona researchers are studying whether the unique relationship between the parasite and the brain could lead to breakthroughs in understanding Alzheimer’s and other brain-related illnesses. “There are very few microbes that can persist in the brain without causing symptoms,” said Dr. Anita Koshy, a research physician...

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Turning waste products into plastics

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University of Arizona chemists hope to profit on the smelly remains of refined petroleum after discovering a way to turn sulfur into plastic infrared lenses. The process of hydro desulfurization was developed in the 1980s to remove sulfur from petroleum to prevent acid rain. In the years since, sulfur deposits have grown rapidly. The U.S goes through approximately 20 million barrels of oil a day. Five percent of every barrel of oil is sulfur. The sulfur removed from petroleum is often stacked in large pyramid like deposits. Tons of pure elemental sulfur sits in these reservoirs, with minimal practical use. “We have more sulfur in the world then we know what to do with. We talk about this as one of the biggest environmental problems no one knows about,” said Research Chemistry Professor Jeffery Pyun.  While working on research...

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