Volume II, Issue 4: January 2010


The mummy's curse: hardened arteries

Mummy undergoes CT scan
The mummy of Esankh, an Egyptian man who lived between 1070 B.C. and 712 B.C., undergoes CT scanning.

Hardening of the arteries — often attributed to today's fatty, super-size-me diets — has been detected in Egyptian mummies as old as 3,500 years, suggesting the condition causing heart attacks and strokes isn't just a modern malady. After giving mummies whole-body CT scans, "we found atherosclerosis was rather common in ancient Egyptians of high socioeconomic status," says UCI associate clinical professor of cardiology Dr. Gregory Thomas, part of an international team that conducted the study. While diets of individual mummies could not be determined, upscale Egyptians did enjoy duck, geese and cattle — but no Quarter Pounders.

Mummy's curse »

On-again atom smasher had help from UCI scientists

Large Hadron Collider under construction
The 17-mile Large Hadron Collider, seen during construction, is the largest, most powerful particle accelerator ever built.

After more than a year of repairs, the Large Hadron Collider — the world's largest, most powerful particle accelerator — is back on track. On Nov. 20, particle beams resumed zooming around a 17-mile underground ring near Geneva, Switzerland, producing high-energy collisions that may yield extraordinary insights into physics. This was especially good news for the UCI faculty, postdoctoral researchers and staff who helped develop electronics, computer systems and software for the project.

Atom smasher »

Satellites reveal state's shrinking water supply

Parched orchards near Coalinga
Orchards wither in the dry fields near Interstate 5 north of Coalinga. The area has been rocked by environmental and political developments.

Groundwater in California's agricultural region is drying up, according to UCI Earth system science professor Jay Famiglietti and NASA scientists, who made the discovery by studying data obtained from space. Satellite-based findings revealed that since October 2003, aquifers for the Central Valley and its major mountain water source, the Sierra Nevada, have lost nearly enough water combined to fill Lake Mead, America's largest reservoir. The findings reflect California's extended drought and increased pumping of groundwater for human uses such as irrigation.

Shrinking groundwater »

Senior cancer patients overlooked in clinical trials

Dr. Homayoon Sanati
Dr. Homayoon Sanati says older cancer patients are underrepresented in clinical trials because — among other reasons — they require special care.

Across the country, myriad clinical trials of new cancer treatments are under way, but they involve relatively few older patients — and that's "a recipe for disaster," says Dr. Homayoon Sanati, a UCI geriatric oncologist. "You have a population with 10 times the incidence and mortality rate for cancer and almost no clinical trials for their treatment," he says. Sanati leads UCI's effort to advance cancer research and care for older adults through the Cancer & Aging Collaborative Group.

Senior care »