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Ant colonies behave like neural networks when making decisions 

Colonies decide to flee rising temperatures in much the same way that neural computations give rise to decisions.

How a fly's brain calculates its position in space

New research reveals how neurons in a fly's brain signal the direction in which the body is traveling. The cells appear to literally perform vector math in order to act as a biological compass.

Study detects origins of Huntington's disease in two-week-old human embryos

The findings shed new light on the root causes of this disease, which leads to the degeneration of neurons in midlife.

The physics behind a water bear's lumbering gait

Animals as small and soft as tardigrades seldom have legs and almost never bother walking. But a new study finds that water bears propel themselves through sediment and soil on eight stubby legs, in a manner resembling that of insects 500,000 times their size.

When ant colonies get bigger, new foraging behavior emerges

By increasing the size of ant colonies bit by bit, scientists identified the mechanism responsible for the evolution of mass raiding behavior.

New findings to boost IVF success rates

New research casts doubt on a genetic test used to screen would-be embryos for IVF implantation. The findings suggests that these embryos can develop into healthy babies regardless of whether or not they’ve been flagged as defective by the test.

Scientists release error-free genomes of 25 animals—with another 70,000 coming up

Scientists have launched an ambitious effort to produce high-quality reference genomes for all vertebrate species, from mammals to birds and reptiles. The result could be discoveries with implications for animal conservation as well as human health and disease.

A case for simplifying gene nomenclature across different organisms

Scientists call it oxytocin in humans, isotocin in fish, mesotocin in birds, and valitocin in sharks. But according to a new study, it’s all the same hormone—and high time we settled on just one name.

Financial crashes, pandemics, Texas snow: How math could predict "black swan" events

Statistical modeling may one day help scientists anticipate and manage a wide range of extreme occurrences, according to a new study.

Synthetic “micro lungs” could take COVID-19 research to the next level

Scientists have developed stem-cell technology to mass-produce tissue cultures resembling our breathing organs. These tissues offer a powerful model in which to study how SARS-CoV-2 wreaks havoc in the lungs and to screen for new drugs.

What bats can teach us about COVID-19

Unlike most humans, bats are naturally resistant to coronavirus infection. Researchers are now searching their genomes for clues that might explain why SARS-CoV-2 can cause devastating disease in our own species.

Vanessa Ruta named a 2019 MacArthur Fellow

Ruta, who investigates how the brain is modified by experience, has received a MacArthur Fellowship, an award intended to encourage people of outstanding talent to pursue their own creative, intellectual, and professional inclinations.


Study gives clues to the origin of Huntington’s disease, and a new way to find drugs

Using a new technique to study brain development, scientists were able to trace the causes of Huntington's back to early developmental stages when the brain has only just begun to form.

From the tiny testes of flies, new insight into how genes arise

A common birthplace of new genes, the male testes are a hotspot for biological innovation. Within these organs, scientists have found a trove of virgin genetic sequences—and a better understanding of how evolution moves forward.

Fruit flies find their way by setting navigational goals

Navigating fruit flies do not have the luxury of GPS, but they do have a kind of neural compass. In a new study, researchers found that the animals decide which way to turn by comparing this internal compass needle to a fixed goal.

Three-dimensional model illuminates key aspects of early development

Researchers have created a new 3D model of human embryonic tissue that promises to shed light on critical components of development—including processes that go awry during pregnancy complications.

Learning from experience is all in the timing

Animals learn the hard way which sights, sounds, and smells are relevant to survival. New research in flies shows that the timing of these cues plays an important role in how mental associations arise, and elucidates brain pathways involved in this process.


Researchers find genetic link to tuberculosis

Rockefeller scientists have identified a genetic condition that makes people prone to developing tuberculosis. In a British population, they found that the condition underlies one percent of cases of the disease—a finding that may ultimately lead to new treatment options.

Fundraising campaign surpasses goal two years ahead of schedule

Launched in 2011, the university’s Campaign for Transforming Biomedicine has raised $1.059 billion as of September 30 this year.

University updates policy on storm-related closures

Beginning this winter, Rockefeller will close during days that New York City public schools close due to weather emergencies.

Embryos remember the chemicals that they encounter

A new study shows that embryonic cells retain a memory of the chemical signals to which they are exposed. Without these memories, cells fail organize into distinct tissue types.

Gaby Maimon and Luciano Marraffini are named HHMI investigators

Maimon, who studies cognition and decision-making, and Marraffini, who studies the bacterial defense system CRISPR-Cas, are among 19 scientists nationwide to receive this designation.


In brief: Mutation explains why some people are more vulnerable to viral brain infection

Scientists identified mutations in a single gene that impair immunity to viruses in a region of the brain called the brain stem.

Uncovering the early origins of Huntington’s disease

The symptoms of Huntington’s typically appear in middle age, but the disease may in fact originate much earlier. New research shows that a patient’s neural abnormalities may arise already during embryonic development—suggesting that treating the disease early may be beneficial.

Neuroscientist Vanessa Ruta promoted to associate professor

Ruta, who explores how brains produce such flexible responses to fixed stimuli, has been promoted to Gabrielle H. Reem and Herbert J. Kayden associate professor.

Daniel Kronauer, who uses ants to study social behavior, is promoted

Kronauer has been promoted to associate professor. He has dedicated his laboratory to investigating the molecular basis underlying complex social behavior among insects.

First mutant ants shed light on evolution of social behavior

Scientists disrupted a gene essential for sensing pheromones, resulting in severe deficiencies in the ants’ social behaviors and their ability to survive within a colony.

Researchers create interactive touchscreen for dolphins

To learn more about dolphin cognition and communication, researchers have developed an underwater touchscreen using optical technology, the first of its kind.

Scientists identify a neural circuit that rotates a fly’s internal compass

Researchers have uncovered the neurons that spin a fly’s internal compass when the insect turns—the first such mechanism identified in any animal.

New research explains why a common bacterium can produce severe illness

As much as we try to avoid it, ­we are constantly sharing germs with those around us. But even when two people have the same infection, the resulting illnesses can be dramatically different—mild for one person, severe or even life-threatening for the other. Now, new research from The Rockefell...

Talking Science lecture introduces students to the genetic aspects of infectious diseases

As he opened this year’s Talking Science lecture, geneticist Jean-Laurent Casanova made a stark observation to his teenage audience: “If we had been here 150 years ago, about half of you would already have died.” The primary reason, he told the 350 high school students and 60 teachers present,...

Newly discovered beetle species named after Rockefeller’s Daniel Kronauer

 Scientists can rack up many awards, but to have one’s name cemented in scientific nomenclature is a special kind of honor. In an homage to his mentor Daniel Kronauer, former Rockefeller postdoctoral associate Christoph von Beeren has named a new species of beetle Nymphister kronaueri. ...

Study reveals the structure of a protein crucial for DNA replication

Our DNA contains instructions crucial for virtually all forms of life on this planet. But for life to propagate, this blueprint must be copied and passed on to future generations. New findings describing the structure of a key molecule involved in DNA replication place another piece in the puzzle...

New research offers clues into how the brain shapes perception to control behavior

What you see is not always what you get. And that, researchers at The Rockefeller University have discovered, is a good thing. “Every time you move your eye, the whole world moves on your retina,” says Gaby Maimon, head of the Laboratory of Integrative Brain Function. “But you don’t perce...

Human embryo discovery wins People’s Choice of Science Breakthrough of the Year

A revolutionary method developed by Rockefeller University scientists that allows researchers to study human embryo development in the lab has been voted Breakthrough of the Year by Science magazine readers. The technique, pioneered by Ali Brivanlou, Robert and Harriet Heilbrunn Professor of the ...

Jean-Laurent Casanova receives the 2016 Inserm Grand Prix

Jean-Laurent Casanova, professor and head of the St. Giles Laboratory of Human Genetics of Infectious Diseases, has won the 2016 Inserm Grand Prix for his work on the genetic basis of infectious diseases. The prestigious award, given annually by Inserm—the French National Institute of Health and ...

Four Rockefeller scientists named 2016 HHMI Faculty Scholars

Four Rockefeller University scientists—Daniel Kronauer, Luciano Marraffini, Agata Smogorzewska, and Sohail Tavazoie—have been named Howard Hughes Medical Institute Faculty Scholars. The Faculty Scholars program, a new collaboration between HHMI, the Simons Foundation, and the Bill & Melinda Gate...

Rockefeller’s newest faculty member studies birdsong to illuminate the origins of human language

by Katherine Fenz, media relations manager The ability to speak has allowed our species to pass knowledge between generations, articulate complex ideas, and build societies. Erich Jarvis, the newest addition to Rockefeller’s faculty, uses songbirds as a model to study the molecular mechan...

Mary E. Hatten and Daniel Kronauer honored with teaching awards

by Alexandra MacWade, assistant editor Mary E. Hatten, Frederick P. Rose Professor and head of the Laboratory of Developmental Neurobiology, and Daniel Kronauer, assistant professor and head of the Laboratory of Social Evolution and Behavior, were honored at this year’s Convocation luncheon w...

New faculty member investigates how genes are born and proliferate

It’s a central question in evolution: How does something new emerge? Li Zhao, an evolutionary biologist and the most recent addition to Rockefeller’s faculty, approaches this problem by investigating the birth of new genes. Appointed a tenure-track assistant professor and head of laboratory, Zha...

New faculty member investigates how genes are born and proliferate

by Wynne Parry, science writer It’s a central question in evolution: How does something new emerge? Li Zhao, an evolutionary biologist and the most recent addition to Rockefeller’s faculty, approaches this problem by investigating the birth of new genes. Appointed a tenure-track assistant pr...

New method allows first look at key stage of human development, embryo implantation

Accompanying commentary recommends revisiting current bioethical guidelines in light of advance       Despite significant biomedical advances in recent decades, the very earliest events of human development­—those that occur during a critical window just after fertilization—h...

Nathaniel Heintz and Stanislas Leibler elected to the National Academy of Sciences

Nathaniel Heintz, James and Marilyn Simons Professor and head of the Laboratory of Molecular Biology, and Stanislas Leibler, Gladys T. Perkin Professor and head of the Laboratory of Living Matter, have been elected to the U.S. National Academy of Sciences. They are among 84 new national and 21 ne...

Rockefeller scientists in the news

by Katherine Fenz, media relations manager Mutant mosquitoes Earlier this month, PBS Newshour featured Leslie Vosshall in a segment on the use of mutant mosquitoes to fight Zika and dengue fever. “Mosquitoes—especially the mosquitoes that are spreading Zika, dengue, and chikungunya...

New findings suggest severe tornado outbreaks are increasingly common

One tornado alone can cause intense destruction, but the largest impact on both death rates and economic losses stems from “outbreaks,” in which six or more tornadoes occur within a limited time. New research from Joel Cohen, Abby Rockefeller Mauzé Professor and head of the Laboratory of Pop...

In the News - Mental Floss - Brivanlou

What Iran May Be Able to Teach Us About Stem Cells "Now, there are opportunities for collaborations with non-Iranian scientists—which has Ali Brivanlou, who leads the Stem Cell Biology and Molecular Embryology lab at The Rockefeller University, intrigued about the possibilities."

Rockefeller hosts the first New York City symposium on human genetics

by Katherine Fenz, media relations manager Tapping into human genetics holds great promise for understanding and treating disease, but there is still much to be learned. Scientists continue to have questions about how our DNA is altered in various afflictions, and how to effectively sort thr...

Awards, arrivals, and promotions

Congratulations to our latest award winners: Jean-Laurent Casanova has been recognized with the Stanley J. Korsmeyer Award for his work investigating the genetic basis of pediatric infectious diseases. The award is given by the American Society for Clinical Investigation, an honor society of phys...

In the News - Newsweek - Casanova

To fight superbugs, scientists are turning toward antibodies   "'The bottom line is that the bacteria now develop resistance to anti-infectious agents faster than we can develop the anti-infectious agents,' says Dr. Jean-Laurent Casanova, a professor at Rockefeller University who studies how ge...

Jean-Laurent Casanova honored with the Korsmeyer Award

Jean-Laurent Casanova, professor and head of the St. Giles Laboratory of Human Genetics of Infectious Diseases, is the recipient of the 2016 Stanley J. Korsmeyer Award for his work investigating the genetic basis of pediatric infectious diseases. The award, given by the American Society for Clini...

In the News - The Scientist - Kronauer

Methylation’s Role in Eusocial Insect Behavior Questioned   "'Discovering that there is no evidence to support methylation as a reason why two ants can behave so differently was, on the one hand, a little sobering,' said study coauthor Daniel Kronauer of Rockefeller University in a press rele...

New findings challenge popular explanation for why a social insect becomes a worker or queen

The exquisite social hierarchy of insect colonies has long fascinated scientists. Take two eggs—both contain identical genetic material, but while one becomes a sterile worker, the other may develop into a queen that can reproduce. Workers perform brood care and other crucial tasks that keep the ...

Researchers develop gene-filtering tool to identify disease-causing mutations

Despite their bad reputations, the vast majority of mutations are not harmful. Even in very rare genetic disorders, only one or two genetic variations ­— out of tens of thousands — is actually the cause of disease. Distinguishing between harmful and harmless mutations has long been a challenge....

New research explores how the fly brain reroutes odor information to produce flexible behavior

Some responses come automatically, like reflexes. Others vary with circumstance and experience. A once-delicious smell can be easily overlooked during a stressful moment or when it calls to mind a bout of food poisoning, for instance. This happens because, within the brain, molecules known as neu...

Awards, arrivals, and promotions

Congratulations to our latest award winners: Jesse Ausubel has been awarded an American Geographical Society honorary fellowship. The fellowship recognizes an individual who has made significant contributions to the field of geography. Certificates of this honor will be presented during the so...

In the News - Newsday - O'Donnell

  Researchers at Brookhaven lab, Stony Brook and Rockefeller universities make new discoveries about double helix copying   "In Manhattan, Michael O'Donnell, who heads Rockefeller's Laboratory of DNA Replication, said the finding will change how students understand DNA replication. 'It's a pa...

Study reveals the architecture of the molecular machine that copies DNA

DNA replication is essential to all life, yet many basic mechanisms in that process remain unknown to scientists. The structure of the replisome—a block of proteins responsible for unwinding the DNA helix and then creating duplicate helices for cell division—is one such mystery. Now, for the ...

Jean-Laurent Casanova elected to the National Academy of Medicine

Jean-Laurent Casanova, who investigates genetic vulnerability to infectious diseases among children, has been elected to the U.S. National Academy of Medicine, the health and medicine arm of the National Academy of Sciences. Casanova is professor and head of the St. Giles Laboratory of Human Gen...