ENDLESS FRONTIER:
INNOVATIONS IN SCIENCE & ENGINEERING

July 2009

Energy

Cutting CO2 Emissions From Existing Coal Plants
Professor Ernest Moniz, director of the MIT Energy Initiative (MITEI) and former undersecretary of the U.S. Department of Energy, unveiled a report reducing carbon dioxide emissions from existing coal plants. The report is based on the findings of a major MIT symposium on retrofitting coal-fired power plants, and identifies a range of possible next steps for the consideration of policy makers, industry and others engaged in CO2 emissions mitigation.. Read more >>

The symposium included 54 subject matter experts from a range of stakeholder groups, including academia, government, public interest groups and industry. Symposium participants were provided three-commissioned white papers on key issues in advance.

Health Science

RNA Snippet Suppresses Spread of Aggressive Breast Cancer
High levels of a tiny fragment of RNA appear to suppress the spread of breast cancer in mice, according to researchers at Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research.

Measuring levels of this so-called microRNA, which is also associated with metastatic breast cancer in humans, may more accurately predict the likelihood of metastasis (which accounts for 90 percent of cancer-related deaths) and ultimately help determine patient outcomes Read more >>
This research was supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) and Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

MIT, CDC find H1N1 Flu Virus Ill-Suited For Rapid Transmission
A team from MIT and the Centers for Disease Control has found a genetic explanation for why the new H1N1 "swine flu" virus has spread from person to person less effectively than other flu viruses. The HiN1 strain, which circled the globe this spring, has a form of surface protein that binds inefficiently to receptors found in the human respiratory tract, the team reports in the July 2 online edition of Science. Read more >>

The research done at MIT was funded by the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology and the National Institutes of General Medical Sciences.

Extending the Shelf Life of Antibody Drugs
A new computer model developed at MIT can help solve a problem that has plagued drug companies trying to develop promising new treatments made of antibodies: Such drugs have a relatively short shelf life because they tend to clump together, rendering them ineffective

Antibodies are the most rapidly growing class of human drugs, with the potential to treat cancer, arthritis and other chronic inflammatory and infectious diseases. About 200 such drugs are now in clinical trials, and a few are already on the market. Read more >>

The research was funded by Novartis Pharma AG and computer time was provided in part by the National Center for Supercomputing Applications.

Engineering Breakthroughs

Mathematicians Take Aim at 'Phantom' Traffic Jams
Countless hours are lost in traffic jams every year. Most frustrating of all are those jams with no apparent cause-- no accident, no stalled vehicle, no lanes closed for construction.

Such phantom jams can form when there is a heavy volume of cars on the road. In that high density of traffic, small disturbances can quickly become amplified into a full-blown, self-sustaining traffic jam.

A team of MIT mathematicians has developed a model that describes how and under what conditions such jams form, which could help road designers minimize the odds of their formation. Read more >>

The research done at MIT was funded by the U.S. Air Force Office of Scientific Research, the National Science Foundation and the (Canadian) Natural Science and Engineering Research Council.