Research

With a commitment to free and open inquiry, our scholars take an interdisciplinary approach to research that spans arts to engineering, medicine to education. Their work transforms the way we understand the world, advancing fields of study, and often creating new ones. Generating new knowledge for the benefit of present and future generations, UChicago research has had an impact around the globe, leading to such breakthroughs as discovering the link between cancer and genetics, establishing revolutionary theories of economics, and developing tools to produce reliably excellent urban schooling.

Research News

Bacterial circadian clocks set by metabolism, not light

December 15, 2015—Most organisms on Earth, from bacteria to humans, possess a circadian clock—a biological mechanism that synchronizes activities such as rest or growth to daily changes in a 24-hour day. Although the circadian clock is commonly thought to be tied to the day-night cycle, it actually appears to be set by metabolic rhythms, according to a new study by scientists from the University of Chicago. By genetically re-engineering cyanobacteria to be able to feed on sugar, the team discovered that the cyanobacterial clock was unaffected by light or dark, but responded only to metabolism.

Repurposed genes responsible for unique fins of skates and rays, study finds

December 14, 2015—The evolution of the striking, wing-like pectoral fins of skates and rays relied on repurposed genes, according to new research by scientists from the University of Chicago. Studying embryonic skates, they discovered that the rear portion of the fin is built by typical limb-development genes; but the front portion develops through a different set of genes that are usually found in the shoulder areas of other species.

Brain cell death a possible trigger of multiple sclerosis, study finds

December 14, 2015—Multiple sclerosis may be triggered by the death of brain cells that make myelin, the insulation around nerve fibers, according to research on a novel mouse model developed by scientists from the University of Chicago and Northwestern Medicine. The death of these cells initiates an autoimmune response against myelin, the main characteristic of the disease, which leads to MS-like symptoms in mice.

Men’s attitudes toward babies linked with hormonal responses to sexually explicit material

December 11, 2015—Young men with positive attitudes toward babies and parenting have relatively low physiological reactivity to sexually explicit material, according to new research published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

New test may improve diagnosis, treatment of gastrointestinal cancers

December 10, 2015—University of Chicago researchers have developed a method to diagnose pancreatic cancer earlier in patients. By collecting samples from the portal vein—which carries blood from the gastrointestinal tract, including from the pancreas, to the liver—physicians can learn far more about a patient’s pancreatic cancer than by relying on peripheral blood from a more easily accessed vein in the arm.