This week in Massachusetts

A collection of science headlines from around the state.
Compiled by Anne Pycha.

At UMass Amherst:  Studies Discover New Estrogen Activity in the Brain
Research by University of Massachusetts Amherst neuroscientist Luke Remage-Healey and colleagues has for the first time provided direct evidence that estrogens are produced in the brain’s nerve cell terminals on demand, very quickly and precisely where needed. “This is an incredibly precise control mechanism and it solidifies a new role for estrogens in the brain,” says Remage-Healey.

At Woods Hole: Global impact of ocean acidification on mollusk harvesting
Changes in ocean chemistry due to increased carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are expected to damage shellfish populations around the world, but some nations will feel the impacts much sooner and more intensely than others, according to a study by scientists at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI).

At Harvard: Gauging forest changes
Harvard scientists are leading a new international collaboration that is working to match up a global network of forest plots with a similar network created in China, to provide scholars with more comprehensive information about the planet’s changing forests.

At Boston University: A faster, cheaper test for lung cancer
Technology that makes possible a new, noninvasive method for the early detection of lung cancer has earned Avrum Spira, an associate professor at the School of Medicine, the 2011 Innovator of the Year award, given to a BU faculty member whose research led to the formation of companies that benefit society at large.

At Mass General: Natural killer cells participate in immune response against HIV
A new study shows for the first time that natural killer cells, which are part of the body’s first-line defence against infection, can contribute to the immune response against HIV. The findings may help develop new preventive or treatment strategies.

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