UCLA Campus Report: New Understanding of Bi-Polar Disorder, More

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A look at some of the non-sports stories making headlines around campus

An occasional report from around campus that recognizes that UCLA is a school with a world-class reputation for research and innovation and whose people make real impact on the real world:

This week's news includes UCLA researchers who are increasing our understanding of bi-polar disorder, the film industry's diversity woes and a new grant awarded to UCLA doctors studying hand paralysis.

UCLA Headines

Understanding the basic biology of bipolar disorder

Scientists know there is a strong genetic component to bipolar disorder, but they have had an extremely difficult time identifying the genes that cause it. So, in an effort to better understand the illness's genetic causes, researchers at UCLA tried a new approach.

Instead of only using a standard clinical interview to determine whether individuals met the criteria for a clinical diagnosis of bipolar disorder, the researchers combined the results from brain imaging, cognitive testing, and an array of temperament and behavior measures. Using the new method, UCLA investigators - working with collaborators from UC San Francisco, Colombia's University of Antioquia and the University of Costa Rica - identified about 50 brain and behavioral measures that are both under strong genetic control and associated with bipolar disorder. Their discoveries could be a major step toward identifying the specific genes that contribute to the illness.

The results are published in the Feb. 12 edition of the journal JAMA Psychiatry.

Hollywood failing to keep up with rapidly increasing diversity, UCLA study warns


When it comes to influential positions in the entertainment industry, minorities and women are represented at rates far below what would be expected given their percentage of the general population, according to a new study done at UCLA's Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies.

In fact, the report shows, the proportion of female and minority actors, writers, directors and producers in films and TV ranges from just one-twelfth to one-half of their actual population percentage.

"The report paints a picture of an industry that is woefully out of touch with an emerging America, an America that's becoming more diverse by the day," said lead author Darnell Hunt, the center's director.

The underrepresentation is especially noteworthy because the study found that greater diversity in TV and film productions actually increases viewers, resulting in higher profits for studios and networks.

UCLA scientists awarded $6 million to study new ways to restore hand movement after paralysis

The National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering has awarded UCLA researchers Dr. Daniel Lu (Brentwood) and Dr. Reggie Edgerton (Bel Air) a $6 million, five-year grant to explore new therapies for the approximately 273,000 Americans living with spinal-cord injuries. Some 12,000 Americans suffer such injuries each year.

The UCLA research will focus on restoring hand function to patients paralyzed from the neck down. Cervical spinal-cord injuries - those involving the neck - make up more than half of the cases in the U.S.

"Spinal-cord injury typically strikes people in the prime of their lives, with nearly half between ages 16 and 30," said Lu, an assistant professor of neurosurgery at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and a clinician at the UCLA Spine Center. "Currently there are no effective treatments for spinal-cord injury, and the resulting paralysis has been viewed as permanent. We are exploring ways to change that."

UCLA in the News

Developing Smarter, Greener Cars

An article in Thursday's San Diego Union-Tribune about alternative-fuel vehicles mentioned funding received by UCLA Smart Grid Energy Research Center and the Luskin Center for Innovation to develop alternative fuel and advanced vehicles in Southern California.

UCLA No. 1 in Financial Donations

The Los Angeles Times reports today that UCLA ranked first among public universities and 11th among all universities in the U.S. in 2012-13 private giving, according to a Council for Aid to Education survey.

Exercise Strengthens Relationships

UCLA psychology professors Benjamin Karney and Thomas Bradbury, co-directors of the Relationship Institute at UCLA, were interviewed Tuesday on KTTV-Channel 11 about their new book, "Love Me Slender," which explores why couples who exercise together find it easier to lose weight and end up with stronger relationships.

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