News In Brief

UCI Scientists Funded to Develop Device to Facilitate Stem Cell Research
UC Irvine scientists, Lisa Flanagan and Orhan Nalcioglu will receive grants just under $1.6 million from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) for the purpose of the development and enhancement of stem cell sorting and tracking devices. These devices are geared toward the improvement of future treatment for patients with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, among other things.
The governing board of the CIRM has awarded 23 grants totaling $29 million. CIRM funding for UCI has been brought to a total of $52.8 million, making it the fourth largest recipient among the other 18 recipient institutions.
Flanagan, an assistant adjunct pathology and laboratory medicine professor, remarked that while her project is often regarded as too risky by other funding agencies, CIRM realized its potential and allowed the project to move forward. She is currently in the process of perfecting a device that sorts stem cells by distinguishing their electrical properties. The existing technology consists of expensive, bulky equipment, which often damages cells while they are being marked. Flanagan’s development is much smaller, inexpensive and does not necessitate marking, thus eliminating damaged cells.
Nalcioglu’s project is the development of a device, which will combine two existing techniques to track stem cells inside the body, which is essential in determining whether the cells travel to the proper place and treat the disorder.

Lindon Barrett Murder Case Set to Begin Jan. 6
The arraignment for the murder case of former UC Irvine Professor Lindon Barrett will occur on Jan. 6 at the Long Beach Courthouse.
On Dec. 18, at the preliminary hearing, Judge Joan Comparet-Cassani of the Long Beach Superior Court found sufficient evidence to hold the suspect Marlon Martinez, to answer. According to Detective Russell Moss, the police are “keeping most of the information confidential,” but the suspect was “held to answer and the information was filed.”
Martinez is a 21-year-old construction worker from Long Beach and a former acquaintance of Barrett’s. The suspect was arrested shortly after police had set up surveillance on Barrett’s car and found Martinez with it.
Now held on $1 million bail, the suspect attended the hearing behind a metal gate. The arraignment will result in a formal reading of the criminal complaint, as well as the defendant’s former plea of not guilty.

iPod Keeps Jobs Afloat in Horrible Economy
Despite decreased output and the weakening job market, the Personal Computing Industry Center at UC Irvine released a 2008 study showing how the success of the iPod has resulted in an employment boost both within and outside of the United States.
An estimated 41,000 jobs have been created due to iPod and its many components. With outsourcing, around 27,000 of these jobs are outside of the United States and 14,000 remain within the United States However, since Apple retains most of its marketing, top management and corporate support functions within the United States there are over 5,800 professional and engineering jobs available for U.S. workers.
While innovative companies such as Apple provide some job opportunities, the overall unemployment rate rises to 6.7 percent, as reported late December 2008 by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Study Finds Link Between Obesity and Proximity to Fast Food
Dr. Christopher Carpenter, assistant professor of economics and public policy at UC Irvine, and Dr. Brennan Davis of Azusa Pacific University published their recent findings regarding the “Proximity of Fast-Food Restaurants to Schools and Adolescent Obesity” in the American Journal of Public Health.
Using data from 2002 to 2005, Davis and Carpenter studied over 500,000 adolescents from various middle schools and high schools in the California Healthy Kids Survey.
With fast-food restaurants conveniently clustered within walking distances of most schools, 28 percent of these students were overweight and 12 percent were obese. More than half of the students were at schools that were located within half a mile of a fast-food restaurant.
Carpenter and Davis concluded that young people closer to a fast-food restaurant were more likely to be overweight or obese than those at schools without such easy access to unhealthy food.
These adolescents were also more likely to drink more soda, as well as being less likely to opt for fresh fruits or vegetables.

California Woman Oldest in the World at 114
California resident Gertrude Baines is officially the oldest woman in the world, at 114 years old. The previous oldest woman was 115 and passed away last week, according to the Guinness World Records.
Overall, life expectancy rates in the United States have been rising in general due to technological advancements in the medical field; however, the United States has also been slipping in international rankings as other countries improve their health care and lifestyles.
Japan and most of Europe are among the total of 41 other countries that have higher life expectancies than the United States, which stands with a 77.9 year life expectancy for anyone born in 2004 according to the National Center for Health Statistics.