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From the College of Natural Sciences
Researchers Solve Decades-Old DNA Mystery

Researchers Solve Decades-Old DNA Mystery

A team of researchers from The University of Texas at Austin and University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center have solved a decades-old mystery about how DNA organizes itself in the cell. In doing so, the researchers have potentially unlocked clues about a set of rare genetic conditions.

Central Texas Salamanders, Including Newly Identified Species, At Risk of Extinction

Central Texas Salamanders, Including Newly Identified Species, At Risk of Extinction

This newly identified, unnamed salamander lives near the Pedernales river west of Austin, Texas. Photo credit: Tom Devitt.

Biologists at The University of Texas at Austin have discovered three new species of groundwater salamander in Central Texas, including one living west of Austin that they say is critically endangered. They also determined that an already known salamander species near Georgetown is much more endangered than previously thought.

UT Scientists, Mathematicians and High Schoolers Partner for Success

UT Scientists, Mathematicians and High Schoolers Partner for Success

Gold medalists in an astrophysics Olympic-style event, award-winners at a statewide science fair and budding genetic engineers who shared their research 2,000 miles away are among the high schoolers who found success after working closely with members of the Texas Science community in 2018.

Advice from a Recent Grad, Since Recruited to a Top MD-PhD Program

Advice from a Recent Grad, Since Recruited to a Top MD-PhD Program

​Ryan Huizar, a recent UT Austin alum, is embarking on a new journey this fall at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine at one of the most competitive MD-PhD programs in the nation. The MD-PhD dual doctoral degree prepares students for careers as physician-scientists, balancing research and clinical care of patients.

Scientists Map a Complicated Ballet Performed in Our Cells

Scientists Map a Complicated Ballet Performed in Our Cells

For years, scientists have looked at human chromosomes, and the DNA they carried, poring over the genetic code that makes up every cell for clues about everything from our eye color to congenital diseases. In a new study, however, scientists have demonstrated the movement of chromosomes within cells also may play a role in human traits and health.

How to Make the Gene-Editing Tool CRISPR Work Even Better

How to Make the Gene-Editing Tool CRISPR Work Even Better

Among the most significant scientific advances in recent years are the discovery and development of new ways to genetically modify living things using a fast and affordable technology called CRISPR. Now scientists at The University of Texas at Austin say they've identified an easy upgrade for the technology that would lead to more accurate gene editing with increased safety that could open the door for gene editing safe enough for use in humans.

Fish’s Use of Electricity Might Shed Light on Human Illnesses

Fish’s Use of Electricity Might Shed Light on Human Illnesses

Brienomyrus brachyistius, commonly known as the baby whale.

Deep in the night in muddy African rivers, a fish uses electrical charges to sense the world around it and communicate with other members of its species. Signaling in electrical spurts that last only a few tenths of a thousandth of a second allows the fish to navigate without letting predators know it is there. Now scientists have found that the evolutionary trick these fish use to make such brief discharges could provide new insights, with a bearing on treatments for diseases such as epilepsy.

DNA Barcodes That Reliably Work: A Game-Changer for Biomedical Research

DNA Barcodes That Reliably Work: A Game-Changer for Biomedical Research

This illustration shows the most common structure of DNA found in a cell, called B-DNA. Credit: Richard Wheeler (Zephyris). Used under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 license.

In the same way that barcodes on your groceries help stores know what's in your cart, DNA barcodes help biologists attach genetic labels to biological molecules to do their own tracking during research, including of how a cancerous tumor evolves, how organs develop or which drug candidates actually work. Unfortunately with current methods, many DNA barcodes have a reliability problem much worse than your corner grocer's. They contain errors about 10 percent of the time, making interpreting data tricky and limiting the kinds of experiments that can be reliably done.

UT Austin and Texas A&M Scientists Seek to Turn Plant Pests into Plant Doctors

UT Austin and Texas A&M Scientists Seek to Turn Plant Pests into Plant Doctors

Oleander aphid. Credit: Alex Wild

Scientists from The University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M University are investigating an innovative new way to protect crops from pathogens, thanks to a four-year cooperative agreement worth up to $5 million awarded through the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency Insect Allies Program.

New Technique Enables Safer Gene-Editing Therapy Using CRISPR

New Technique Enables Safer Gene-Editing Therapy Using CRISPR

A CRISPR protein targets specific sections of DNA and cuts them. Scientists have turned this natural defense mechanism in bacteria into a tool for gene editing. Illustration: Jenna Luecke and David Steadman/Univ. of Texas at Austin.

Scientists from The University of Texas at Austin took an important step toward safer gene-editing cures for life-threatening disorders, from cancer to HIV to Huntington's disease, by developing a technique that can spot editing mistakes a popular tool known as CRISPR makes to an individual's genome. The research appears today in the journal Cell.