Friday, October 9, 2009

Stem Cell Techniques Advance Liver Research

UC San Diego researchers are using stem cell technologies in order to do the basic research necessary to develop treatments for liver fibrosis—which according to information on PubMed is “the excessive accumulation of extracellular matrix proteins including collagen that occurs in most types of chronic liver diseases.”

Put another way, liver fibrosis is the formation of scar tissue in response to liver damage. Hepatic stellate cells--the major cell type involved in liver fibrosis--are responsible for secreting collagen that produces a fibrous scar, which can lead to cirrhosis.

The high-throughput cellular array technology developed by UCSD researchers systematically assesses and probes the complex relationships between hepatic stellate cells and components of their microenvironment. The scientists found that certain proteins are critical in regulating activation of hepatic stellate cells and that the proteins influence one another’s actions on the cells. The findings were published in a paper entitled “Investigating the role of the extracellular environment in modulating hepatic stellate cell biology with array combinatorial microenvironments” in the September 2009 issue of Integrative Biology. Authors: David A. Brafman, Samuele de Minicis, Ekihiro Seki, Kevan D. Shah, Dayu Teng, David Brenner , Karl Willert and Shu Chien.
Read more here:

This interdisciplinary research project involved both Dr. Shu Chien, Jacobs School bioengineering professor and Director of the Institute of Engineering Medicine at UCSD; and Dr. David Brenner, Vice Chancellor for Health Sciences and the Dean of the UCSD School of Medicine.

Computer Science Alum "Building" Rome in a Day

Computer scientists around the world are working on various projects that involve automated reconstruction of 3-D images from photos pulled off the Web. One of the researchers working in this area is Sameer Agarwal, who earned his computer science PhD here at the Jacobs School of Engineering. Agarwal is now Acting Assistant Professor of Computer Science & Engineering at the University of Washington.

National Geographic recently profiled Agarwal's "building-Rome-in-a-day" work. Read the story at

Sameer Agarwal earned his PhD in the Computer Vision Laboratory at UC San Diego, where Serge Belongie was his advisor. At UCSD, Agarwal worked on a similar project--from pictures to three dimensions--with Department of Computer Science and Engineering PhD student Manmohan Chandrakar (who just started a post-doc at UC Berkeley with Prof. Ravi Ramamoorthi). Excerpt from that 2008 story below:

Your pictures of the Grand Canyon, Times Square or other destinations may be pretty good, but wouldn’t it be nice to show them off in three dimensions? An award-winning 3D reconstruction algorithm designed by a team of computer science researchers from UC San Diego brings this dream within the grasp of reality.

This research gets at the heart of “autocalibration,” a well-studied, fundamental problem in computer vision. Autocalibration aims to recover the three dimensional structure of a scene using only its images, acquired from cameras whose internal settings and spatial orientations are unknown.