Featured Research Stories

Recent articles from the science writers of Penn Today

Listen on repeat: Exploring medieval refrain songs

Music professor Mary Channen Caldwell brings together over 400 devotional Latin refrain songs from the Middle Ages in her new book, the first to explore the medieval refrain in song outside of vernacular contexts.

–Published 2022-09-27

Environment influences coral’s resilience to acidification

Ocean acidification is an effect of climate change that threatens the health of coral. A new study examines how coral samples from the Great Barrier Reef fare in acidic conditions.

–Published 2022-09-26

Undergraduate research celebrated

Showcasing undergraduate student research with Penn faculty, a record 361 posters were on display with students presenting their work at the Fall Research Expo sponsored by the Center for Undergraduate Research and Fellowships in Houston Hall.

–Published 2022-09-21

What beliefs shape our minds?

Jer Clifton of the Positive Psychology Center developed a framework to study primal world beliefs, our most fundamental sentiments about the world as a whole. Now, he’s ready for everyone to discover what their primal world beliefs are.

–Published 2022-09-21

$55M gift creates new ‘Cancer Interception’ Institute at Penn’s Basser Center for BRCA to stop hereditary cancers at the earliest stages

Funding for the Institute from Mindy and Jon Gray will propel early detection and prevention of breast, ovarian, pancreatic, and prostate cancers.

–Published 2022-09-15

Landscape and climate factors can predict prevalence of Lyme disease bacteria

Environmental models, developed by biologist Dustin Brisson of the School of Arts & Sciences, former graduate student Tam Tran, and colleagues, could help forecast disease hotspots.

–Published 2022-09-14

T cells that ‘nibble’ tumors unwittingly help cancer evade the immune response

Blocking this process, known as trogocytosis, improved the ability of a CAR T cell therapy to treat cancer in mice, according to research led by School of Veterinary Medicine scientists.

–Published 2022-09-09

When curved materials flatten, simple geometry can predict the wrinkle patterns that emerge

The findings—from a collaboration between Penn, Syracuse, and the University of Illinois Chicago—have a range of implications, from how materials interact with moisture to the way flexible electronics bend.

–Published 2022-09-08

Chewing to curb COVID

Penn Medicine will conduct a new clinical trial to evaluate the safety and efficacy of a chewing gum designed by School of Dental Medicine researchers to trap SARS-CoV-2 in the saliva.

–Published 2022-09-07

Which teens are more likely to vape? Research shows surprising patterns in race and sexuality

A new study from the Annenberg School for Communication aims to examine differences in current e-cigarette use prevalence among youth at the intersections of sexual orientation with race and ethnicity in the U.S.

–Published 2022-09-02

Undergraduates help songbird research project take flight

Through the PURM internship program, Julia Youngman and Eric Tao had the opportunity to work in neuroethologist Marc Schmidt’s lab studying the neural basis of courtship behaviors in songbirds.

–Published 2022-08-24

Singing, speech production, and the brain

This summer, rising second-years Audrey Keener and Nicholas Eiffert worked in the lab of Penn linguist Jianjing Kuang studying vowel articulation in song, running an in-person experiment and built a corpus of classical recordings by famous singers.

–Published 2022-08-19

What the genomes of ancient humans can teach us about modern health

Iain Mathieson, an assistant professor of genetics, is working with two PURM interns to analyze genome data from ancient humans.

–Published 2022-08-17

A novel method for monitoring the ‘engine’ of pregnancy

By combining optical measurements with ultrasound, researchers were able to study oxygen levels in the placenta, paving the way for a better understanding of this complex, crucial organ.

–Published 2022-08-15

How ideologically divided is the American public?

The Polarization Research Lab, a new initiative from Annenberg’s Yphtach Lelkes and colleagues at Dartmouth and Stanford, will work to answer that question through surveys and partnerships with community organizations.

–Published 2022-08-15

A new connection between topology and quantum entanglement

The theoretical work led by physicist Charles Kane reveals an unexpected link between two major principles in physics that may inform future experimentation and an understanding of how to harness quantum information.

–Published 2022-08-12

Cancer cells selectively load ‘drones’ to keep T cells from infiltrating tumors

Biologist Wei Guo and colleagues elucidate the process of sorting and loading cargo for these biological drones with implications for a more targeted and effective use of checkpoint inhibitor drugs in cancer treatment.

–Published 2022-07-29

Progress toward a stem cell–based therapy for blindness

A multi-institutional effort led by researchers at the School of Veterinary Medicine is taking steps to develop an effective technique to regenerate photoreceptors cells and restore sight in people with vision disorders.

–Published 2022-07-28

TV news top driver of political echo chambers in U.S.

Duncan Watts and colleagues found that 17% of Americans consume television news from partisan left- or right-leaning sources compared to just 4% online. For TV news viewers, this audience segregation tends to last month over month.

–Published 2022-07-26

Can nature-inspired designs affect cognition and mood?

A team from the Center for Neuroaesthetics created a biophilic room to test the idea. Preliminary findings from a small pilot show promise, but also spur many questions about how to best use such a space.

–Published 2022-07-25

Intervening to stop bone loss

A study led by Shuying (Sheri) Yang of the School of Dental Medicine identified a new role for a protein that keeps osteoclasts—the cells that break down bone—in check, and may guide the development of new therapies to counter bone loss.

–Published 2022-07-25

New evidence suggests human brain produces immature neurons throughout lifespan

Work from Perelman School of Medicine and elsewhere found these neurons in significant numbers in the hippocampus. The findings pave the way for the deeper study of the role this neuron formation plays in memory, mood, behavior, and brain disorders.

–Published 2022-07-22

Inspired by nature, artificial microtubules can work against a current to transport tiny cargoes

Technology developed by Arnold Mathijssen of the School of Arts & Sciences and colleagues could one day clear blockages in blood vessels or precisely target chemotherapy drugs to a tumor.

–Published 2022-07-21

Inspired by the human heart, Penn Engineers design tear-resistant soft material

Engineers have designed a soft material for robotics, medical devices, and wearable technologies that are both tear-resistant and able to resist deformation.

–Published 2022-07-19

Where and when violent crime rates fall, heart disease deaths fall, too

A study of data from Chicago by Perelman School of Medicine researchers revealed that, as violent crime decreases, so does the area’s death rate from heart disease.

–Published 2022-07-15

Both gun owners and non-gun owners trust doctors in gun safety talks

New Penn Medicine research shows that parents are open to talking about gun safety measures with their children’s pediatricians and willing to change firearm storage practices.

–Published 2022-07-13

Deconstructing the mechanics of bone marrow disease

A new understanding of how mechanical features of bone marrow affect resident immune cells in a fibrotic cancer points to future therapeutic strategies for cancers and fibrotic diseases.

–Published 2022-07-11

Music-making and the flow of aerosols

If simply breathing can spread the SARS-CoV-2 virus to others nearby, what about blowing into a tuba? Researchers from the School of Engineering the School of Arts & Sciences used fluid mechanics to study the movement of aerosols generated by musicians.

–Published 2022-07-08

In the pursuit of scientific truth, working with adversaries can pay off

The Adversarial Collaboration Project, run by Cory Clark and Philip Tetlock, helps scientists with competing perspectives design joint research that tests both arguments.

–Published 2022-07-07

The Higgs boson discovery, 10 years later

Penn physicist Elliot Lipeles reflects on the past, present, and future of physics, from the discovery of the Higgs boson to theories about new subatomic particles.

–Published 2022-07-07


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