Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Mary Aegerter

Summer 2003

Minding her B's & T's

In the fast paced world of immunological research, it’s not your p’s and q’s you have to mind, but your b’s and t’s. That’s B cells and T cells, two of the main players in the complex orchestra that makes up your immune system. B. Paige Lawrence, assistant professor in the College of Pharmacy, keeps track of both in her research into how the environmental contaminant dioxin affects immune system function but spends most of her time with T cells.

Dioxins are the byproducts of many industrial processes, including the incineration of municipal and medical wastes and of plastics. While they are destroyed by heat, … » More …

Winter 2001

Asking for trouble

Hunting may create cougar problems

IF THE COUGAR IS ANYTHING like its fellow carnivore the grizzly, then the method we’re using to try to solve our current problems with cougars may well aggravate rather than alleviate them.

Rob Wielgus, director of the Large Carnivore Conservation Laboratory at Washington State University, turned the Canadian wildlife management world upside down with his graduate and postgraduate research showing that trophy hunting of grizzly bears in the Kananaskis region of Alberta was neither beneficial nor benign to the resident population. His work indicated that trophy hunting would lead to the extinction of the grizzly population in 15 to 20 … » More …

Winter 2001

Shanthi the elephant is due in December

AS YOU MIGHT WELL IMAGINE, artificially inseminating an elephant is a touchy business. But, says Janine Brown, artificial insemination (AI) is an important tool, because natural reproduction can be difficult for captive elephants. Bulls are dangerous to keep, there aren’t many of them around, and transporting the females to where the bulls are is both stressful and expensive.

Brown, who completed two degrees in animal science (’80 M.S., ’84 Ph.D.) at Washington State University, is the senior endocrinologist at the Smithsonian Institution National Zoological Park in Washington, D.C. There, in late February 2000, she coordinated the successful artificial insemination (AI) of Shanthi, a 24-year-old … » More …

Winter 2001

Curing what ails you

IF GARY MEADOWS is right, popping Prozac will do more for you than relieve depression. Meadows’s preliminary data suggest that fluoxetine, the generic form of Prozac, inhibits the growth of melanoma tumors in mice.

The Prozac project began about two years ago in collaboration with neurophysiologist Tanja Obradovic, then at Washington State University. Obradovic and Meadows, who is Dorothy O. Kennedy distinguished professor and director of WSU’s Cancer Prevention and Research Center in Spokane, knew that melanoma cells not only make the neurotransmitter serotonin, but also have receptors for it. A receptor is a site on a cell that binds with substances such as … » More …

Winter 2002

A bizarre, slimy animal shows its stuff

Without jaws, most vertebrates-including us-would be stuck hanging around in the ocean or on the ground, unable to bite and scooping up or filtering food. We’d also be smaller. Instead, we’re fearsome predators and herbivores, with big brains and an infinite range of food sources. We have evolution to thank for our fortune-and  Jon Mallatt to thank for helping us appreciate the fact.

“The evolution of jaws a half billion years ago was the single most important factor in the success of vertebrates,” says Mallatt, associate professor in the School of Biological Sciences and in basic medical sciences.

Mallatt began his study of the evolution … » More …

Fall 2004

As you read this, thank your ion channels

When Mike Varnum, assistant professor, Veterinary and Comparative Anatomy, Pharmacology, and Physiology, visits the aquarium, he looks at the sea creatures a bit differently than the rest of us. What interests him most about a creature is not its bright color or odd shape, but whether it makes a toxin that blocks an ion channel. Oddly, many of the creatures do.

Many toxins, in fact, block specific ion channels, though Varnum uses different agents in his work. Ion channels are pores in the membranes of many different types of cells-highly selective, gated pores-that permit the passage of specific charged particles, or ions, into or out … » More …

Summer 2004

A Vision Thing: Diagnostic tools and a vaccine for paratuberculosis

Bill Davis, professor of veterinary microbiology and pathology at Washington State University, exhibited true vision in the 1970s, when he recognized the potential for veterinary science of monoclonal antibody technology.

Antibodies are proteins produced by cells of the immune system. They help neutralize pathogens and produce immunity. Most pathogens stimulate their hosts to produce a population of diverse antibodies. Monoclonal antibodies, on the other hand, are populations of identical antibodies and are created in the laboratory. A given monoclonal antibody might be specific for an individual cell type, its state of activation, the strain of a pathogen, such as the 0157:H7 component of the infamous … » More …