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In this issue:
Public Lecture: The Violent Universe
Science Today: Physicists Discover a New Structure of Cationic Lipid-DNA Complexes for Gene Therapy
Free Flu Shots at Vaden
Mark Your Calendar: Upcoming Benefits Fair

SLAC Today

Thursday - October 19, 2006

(Image - public lecture poster)

Public Lecture: The Violent Universe

Although the night sky appears calm, it is in fact populated by colossal explosions and cosmic conflagrations. In 1967, a U.S. satellite monitoring nuclear explosions suddenly recorded a huge burst of energy coming from space. No one had any idea of what it could be, as nothing like this had ever been seen before. The extraordinary power of this event, since named a gamma-ray burst, signaled that there were vast explosions taking place out in the universe and the hunt was on to find an explanation. Equally amazing in their power and their influence are supernova explosions. The collapse of massive stars make for some of the most dramatic of all events in our universe and, what's more, they have been essential to the creation of life on earth.

In next Tuesday's public lecture, Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology (KIPAC) astrophysicist Eduardo do Couto e Silva will describe gamma-ray bursts and supernovae in "The Violent Universe." The event takes place at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, October 24, in Panofsky Auditorium. All are welcome to attend.

(Daily Column - Science Today)

Physicists Discover a New Structure of Cationic Lipid-DNA Complexes for Gene Therapy

(Image - vectors)
Structures of CL-DNA complexes:
a) lamellar liquid crystal phase LαC,
b) inverted hexagonal phase HIIC and
c) hexagonal phase HIC

Gene therapy is one of the most promising future approaches to fighting disease on the molecular level. By inserting genes into an individual's cells and tissues with a DNA carrier (also known as a vector), this novel medical approach seeks to cure cancers, inherited diseases, cardiovascular diseases and many others. Numerous studies have been conducted worldwide and several clinical trials in this field are currently ongoing, in the effort to develop and fundamentally understand gene delivery vectors.

Cationic liposome (CL)-DNA complexes are a prevalent non-viral delivery vector, and extended investigations have been performed in order to understand their formation, structure and mechanism of action. The goal is to explore the correlation between their structure and transfection efficiency, thus enabling one to design a vector with desired properties. Working at both our home institution – the University of California, Santa Barbara – and at SSRL, we in Cyrus Safinya's group focus on answering this question.  Read more...

Free Flu Shots at Vaden

Vaden Health Center will hold flu immunization clinics from 3 to 6 p.m. on the following Tuesdays: Oct. 24 and 31; Nov. 7, 14 and 28; and Dec. 5. The vaccine will not be given to individuals with a severe cold or infection or who are allergic to eggs.

The shot is free for university employees, and a valid Stanford ID must be presented at the time of vaccination. Those eligible include faculty, staff, emeritus faculty, retired staff, Medical School and research faculty and staff. Stanford Hospital and Clinics employees are not eligible for free vaccination.

The vaccine is plentiful at Vaden this year, so anyone who might be hesitant to attend one of the upcoming clinics—in light of last year's shortage—should not be concerned, said Amy Baldwin, the health center's associate director.

The shot is $22 for spouses and domestic partners of university employees. The cost for students and their spouses or domestic partners also is $22.

Mark Your Calendar: Upcoming Benefits Fair

You're invited to the Benefits Fair on Friday, November 10 at Panofsky Auditorium. There will be representatives from all of SLAC's health plans available to answer your questions and give you information. In addition, free flu shots will be available during Fair hours from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

If you're interested in What's New for 2007, come to an informational presentation given by a member of the Benefits staff on Friday, November 3 in the Orange Room/Building 40 from 10 to 11 a.m.

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