The University of Texas Medical Branch’s 25th annual observance of Earth Day will take place Friday. Festivities will be held on the administration plaza at the intersection of University Boulevard and Market Street beginning at 10 a.m. The keynote address will be by David Niesel, UTMB’s chief research officer, vice president and dean of the graduate school of biomedical sciences. A highlight of the day will be the always popular “Recycle in Style” fashion show when employees and attendees will model outfits created with a variety of recycled products. Local food trucks, live music, exhibition booths also will be at the celebration. The public is welcome to attend.

Chick-fil-A and the reopening of Café on

the Court

The temporary Café on the Court location within John Sealy Hospital on the Galveston Campus will close at 2 p.m. Friday in preparation for the grand reopening of the Café on the Court and the new Chick-fil-A at 7 a.m. Monday. In addition to the existing Subway sandwich shop, improvements to the food court include expanded food selections and the return of hot food service. There is an Einstein’s Bros. Bagels in Jennie Sealy Hospital. Starbucks Coffee is located on the first floor of John Sealy Hospital, near the lobby and a second Starbucks is on the first floor of the Moody Medical Library.

Breathing and Wheezing at Sci Café

The next Sci Café discussion, “Breathing or Wheezing: The Fight for Air When You Have Severe Asthma,” is at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at Mod Coffeehouse, 2126 Postoffice, in Galveston. Leading the discussion will be Dr. William J. Calhoun, vice chair of research in the internal medicine division of pulmonary critical care and sleep medicine; and KarryAnne Belanger, graduate assistant in the department of biochemistry and molecular biology. Sci Café is presented by UTMB’s Center for Environmental Toxicology, the Institute for Translational Sciences and the Sealy Center for Environmental Health & Medicine. For information, call Amber Anthony, 409-772-9136.

UTMB and University of Minnesota to study Lassa fever

Researchers from the medical branch and the University of Minnesota, working together to study Lassa fever virus, received a new five year grant of $3.8 million from the National Institutes of Health. Professor Slobodan Paessler, leading the medical branch research team, said the new funding will enable the team to gain a deeper understanding of how the Lassa fever virus infects the host.

The team is focusing on a particular protein produced by the virus and its role in new immune system suppressing and disease-causing mechanisms. The team’s findings could have major impacts to basic scientific research as well as research that could translate to patient care related to arenaviruses, a family of typically rodent-transmitted viruses such as Lassa virus, Junin virus and others. The research could also provide new insights on how the viruses interact with a host it infects, how the host responds and how the virus evades the immune system.

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