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UCLA Campus Report: New Research on Pollution; Education for Latinas

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 research that looks at new research on pollution and education for Latinas.

UCLA study: L.A. neighborhoods show striking differences in transit-related air pollution

UCLA researchers pitted four Los Angeles neighborhoods head-to-head to compare their air pollution levels and found that while more affluent neighborhoods generally fared better, the Mar Vista community near the Santa Monica Airport scored worse for ultrafine particle pollutants than freeway-laced downtown and Boyle Heights and far worse than neighboring portions of West Los Angeles.
Researchers used an emissions-free electric vehicle filled with instruments to measure real-time air pollutant concentrations in residential areas of Boyle Heights, downtown, West Los Angeles and the Mar Vista neighborhood known as North Westdale. During typical daytime weather patterns, the North Westdale community is immediately downwind of the Santa Monica Airport.

Large differences were observed among these communities during summer afternoons that featured very similar meteorology. Noxious particulate concentrations in the North Westdale neighborhood were highest, followed by Boyle Heights and then downtown Los Angeles; neighborhoods in West Los Angeles had the lowest pollutant levels.

The findings are published in December issue of the journal Atmospheric Environment.

UCLA study funded by Eva Longoria IDs factors that improve educational outcomes for Latinas

Young Latinas who have Latina and Latino teachers and counselors as role models and who are involved in extracurricular activities in high school have a much better chance of educational success, according to a new research report from the Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles at UCLA's Graduate School of Education and Information Studies.

The report, "Making Education Work for Latinas in the U.S.," and a companion video were commissioned by actress and philanthropist Eva Longoria, founder of the Eva Longoria Foundation. Longoria's foundation works to empower Latinas to reach their full potential through education and entrepreneurship.

"We were frustrated to primarily find analysis of what does not work for Latinas, and we wanted to find out what does," Longoria said. "The findings from this study will help us fine-tune our education work, and we hope others will use this research to support Latina achievement."

Danger in disguise: UCLA researchers find brain cancer cells can 'hide' from drugs

Researchers from UCLA's Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center have discovered a biological mechanism that makes brain tumor cells drug resistant by allowing them to escape from the drugs designed to target them. The study was published online Dec. 5 by the journal Science.

Glioblastoma is the most common and deadliest form of brain cancer, and the surface of its cells are marked by telltale mutations that accelerate tumor growth. The drugs currently used to find and kill glioblastoma cells target those mutations.

Led by first author David Nathanson, assistant professor of molecular and medical pharmacology at UCLA, and former UCLA professor Paul Mischel, now at the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research at UC San Diego, the researchers found that the tumor cells temporarily eliminate the gene mutation when they sense the presence of the cancer drug, essentially removing the drug's target and allowing the tumor to become drug resistant.

Remarkably, the study also found that after the drug is removed, the tumor cells reacquire the gene mutation (called an oncogene) that helps the tumor cells grow more robustly, and that they can repeat this cycle as often as the drug is given. Importantly, that ability is what could make the cancer cells vulnerable to the original therapy: Doctors may be able to use pulsative drug delivery, for example, to take better advantage of the periods when the cancer cells are sensitized to the drugs.

UCLA in the News

Los Angeles' Pint-Sized Parks

The Christian Science Monitor on Thursday highlighted research by faculty and students at UCLA's Luskin School of Public Affairs analyzing how "parklets" - park-like pockets of public space formed from parking spaces, alleyways and other underutilized spaces for cars - can transform and revitalize neighborhoods. Madeline Brozen, director of the Luskin School's Complete Streets Initiative, and Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris, professor of urban planning and associate dean of the school, were quoted.

UCLA Ranked Among ‘Best Value' Colleges

Ohio's Columbus Dispatch and Sacramento's KTXL-Channel 40 reported today that UCLA has been ranked No. 5 among the 100 best-value public colleges and universities in the U.S. in Kiplinger's annual "top value" colleges survey.

UCLA Among Tops in Research Spending The Washington Post reported Monday that UCLA has been ranked No. 8 on the National Science Foundation's list of the nation's colleges and universities that spend the most on research.

Why Teens Act All Crazy

An article in Saturday's New York Post highlighted research by Dr. Daniel Siegel, clinical professor of psychiatry at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and co-founder of UCLA's Mindful Awareness Research Center, on teenage behavior and the development of the adolescent brain. The piece referenced Siegel's book "Brainstorm: The Power and Purpose of the Teenage Brain." Siegel was quoted.

John Garnett

Garnett, UCLA professor of mathematics, was quoted Thursday in a Los Angeles Times article about the odds of winning the current $400 million Mega Millions lottery jackpot.