Which came first: brain size or drinking propensity?

For years, researchers have observed that alcohol consumption is associated with reduced brain volume and concluded that drinking can literally shrink the brain. But new research turns that theory on its head, suggesting that reduced brain volume may represent a genetically-conferred predispositional risk factor for heavier alcohol consumption. “Our results suggest that associations between alcohol […]

Grant to help train researchers on mental health disparities in U.S., abroad

Researchers at Washington University in St. Louis have been awarded a grant from the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to train young scientists to recognize, investigate and work toward correcting disparities in access to mental health care in the United States and sub-Saharan Africa. Although […]

Dementia patients’ adult kids diagnosed earlier than their parents

A person’s chance of developing dementia is influenced by family history, variations in certain genes, and medical conditions such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes. But less is known about the factors that affect when the first symptoms of forgetfulness and confusion will arise. A new study from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis […]

NIH gives major boost to microbiome research on Medical Campus

Tens of trillions of microbes, including bacteria, viruses, parasites and fungi, live in and on the human body. Their microbial genomes, collectively known as the microbiome, contain at least 100 times more genes than our human genome. Such microbial genes provide us with capabilities that we have not evolved on our own, including the ability […]

Gutmann to be fellow at Berlin Institute of Health

Gutmann David Gutmann, MD, PhD, the Donald O. Schnuck Family Professor of Neurology at the School of Medicine, has received a second Einstein Visiting Fellowship from the Berlin Institute of Health to study how immune cells in the brain known as microglia are linked to cancer, vision loss and behavioral problems in the disease neurofibromatosis type […]

Human gut microbes could make processed foods healthier

A new study from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis sheds light on how human gut microbes break down processed foods — especially potentially harmful chemical changes often produced during modern food manufacturing processes. Eating processed foods such as breads, cereals and sodas is associated with negative health effects, including insulin resistance and […]

Cause of rare, fatal disorder in young children pinpointed

Scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis appear to have solved a decades-long mystery regarding the precise biochemical pathway leading to a fatal genetic disorder in children that results in seizures, developmental regression and death, usually around age 3. Studying a mouse model with the same human illness — called Krabbe disease […]

CAPA Clinic shows promising results for addiction treatment patients in St. Louis

The Community Academic Partnership on Addiction (CAPA) Clinic, a partnership between the Brown School and Preferred Family Healthcare (PFH), was able to increase treatment completion rates by 11% over a six-month time period. “This is excellent work and very strong findings,” said Mary McKay, the Neidorff Family and Centene Corporation Dean of the Brown School at Washington University […]

Zika diagnostic test granted market authorization by FDA

Zika virus can cause babies to be born with devastating brain damage. But the signs of Zika infection in adults – rash, fever, headache and body aches – are nonspecific, so a pregnant woman who develops such symptoms can’t be sure if she has contracted Zika or something less risky for her fetus. A diagnostic […]

Genes linked to Alzheimer’s risk, resilience ID’d

An international team of researchers led by scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis has identified a pair of genes that influence risk for both late-onset and early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. Most genes implicated thus far in Alzheimer’s affect neurons that transmit messages, allowing different regions of the brain to communicate with one […]

For malnourished children, new therapeutic food boosts gut microbes, healthy development

A new type of therapeutic food, specifically designed to repair the gut microbiomes of malnourished children, is superior to standard therapy in an initial clinical trial conducted in Bangladesh. An interdisciplinary team of investigators from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research in Dhaka, Bangladesh, have […]

Immune cells determine how fast certain tumors grow

Tumors arise when cells shake off their restraints and start to multiply out of control. But how fast a tumor grows does not depend solely on how quickly the cancer cells can divide, a new study has found. By examining brain tumors in mice, researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis discovered […]

$9.5 million aimed at detecting autism earlier in childhood

A multicenter research team led jointly by Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has received a five-year, $9.5 million grant to further evaluate whether brain imaging can help detect very high risk of autism spectrum disorder in early infancy. Researchers believe that if they […]

Wearable motion detectors identify subtle motor deficits in children

A wristwatch-like motion-tracking device can detect movement problems in children whose impairments may be overlooked by doctors and parents, according to a new study from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. The findings, published April 26 in JAMA Network Open, could help identify children with subtle motor impairments so they can be treated […]

$10 million gift aimed at improving treatments for mental illness

Philanthropists Andrew and Barbara Taylor and the Crawford Taylor Foundation have committed $10 million to Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis to continue research to investigate the scientific underpinnings of psychiatric illnesses, with the goal of improving diagnosis and treatment. The new gift will support the Taylor Family Institute for Innovative Psychiatric Research, established […]

‘Jumping genes’ drive many cancers

Mistakes in DNA are known to drive cancer growth. But a new study, from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, heavily implicates a genetic phenomenon commonly known as “jumping genes” in the growth of tumors. The study is published March 29 in the journal Nature Genetics. Since jumping genes aren’t mutations — mistakes […]

Medications to treat opioid addiction are effective, though not widely used

With more than 2 million Americans suffering from an opioid use disorder and the escalating rate of deaths from opioid overdoses reaching about 130 per day, efforts to date have had little impact in curbing this crisis across the country. As a result, a committee of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine released on March […]

How team sports change a child’s brain

Adult depression has long been associated with shrinkage of the hippocampus, a brain region that plays an important role in memory and response to stress. Now, new research from Washington University in St. Louis has linked participation in team sports to larger hippocampal volumes in children and less depression in boys ages 9 to 11. […]

Blunting pain’s emotional component

Chronic pain involves more than just hurting. People suffering from pain often experience sadness, depression and lethargy. That’s one reason opioids can be so addictive — they not only dampen the pain but also make people feel euphoric. What if it were possible to develop a pain killer that could curb the negative emotions associated […]

Doctors address mental health crisis among Rohingya refugees

COX’S BAZAR DISTRICT, Bangladesh — A 12-year-old Rohingya boy flatly, stoically tells of how, within three hours one day in August 2017, the Myanmar military murdered 56 members of his family in their village in western Myanmar. Of his immediate family, his parents and three sisters were slain; only he and his brothers — ages […]

Young kids with suicidal thoughts understand concept of death

Depressed children ages 4 to 6 who think and talk about committing suicide understand what it means to die better than other kids, according to new research at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Such children with suicidal thoughts and words — what psychiatrists call suicidal ideation — were more than three times […]

WashU Expert: Want to stop e-cig epidemic? Don’t forget state, local policies

Tobacco control experts Douglas Luke and Todd Combs of Washington University in St. Louis would welcome regulation of e-cigarette commercials on television and radio. But an advertising ban, as recently suggested by a member of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), should be part of a broader plan to curb the vaping epidemic among America’s youth, […]

Computational biology project aims to better understand protein folding

When Greg Bowman presents a slideshow about the proteins he studies, their 3D shapes and folding patterns play out as animations on a big screen. As he describes these molecules, it might be easy to miss the fact that he can’t really see his own presentation, at least not the way the audience does. Bowman, […]

Needlemans commit $15 million aimed at therapies for chronic diseases

Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis has received a $15 million commitment from longtime benefactors Philip and Sima Needleman to support two cutting-edge research centers aimed at developing new treatments for diseases that collectively affect millions. The Needlemans have a long relationship with the university; Philip served as head of the former Department […]

Nerve transfer surgery gives hope to children with rare paralyzing illness

At Brandon Noblitt’s first appointment with Washington University surgeon Amy Moore, MD, a year ago, he was barely able to walk, mostly using a wheelchair to get around. Only 6 years old at the time, Brandon had come down with a cold. A week later, he was unable to move his right arm and leg. “One […]

Less anesthesia during surgery doesn’t prevent post-op delirium

Many older adults who have major surgery experience postoperative delirium in the days after their operations. Previous research has suggested that closely monitoring the brain during surgery and making adjustments to protect the brain from too much anesthesia could reduce risk of postoperative delirium. But in a new study of more than 1,200 older surgical […]

Women’s brains appear three years younger than men’s

Time wears differently on women’s and men’s brains. While the brain tends to shrink with age, men’s diminish faster than women’s. The brain’s metabolism slows as people grow older, and this, too, may differ between men and women. A new study from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis finds that women’s brains appear […]