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Dr. Aruna Kilaru, Biological Sciences, was invited by the Mexican Society of Molecular Biology to speak at the 18th annual Moss International Conference held in Cancun, Mexico, from Nov. 30-Dec. 3.  She presented her research, “Discovery of anandamide, a novel lipid signaling molecule in moss and its implications.” 

Several graduate and undergraduate students and a postdoctoral researcher in Kilaru’s lab, along with members of Dr. Ruth Welti’s lab at Kansas State University, contributed to this research.  The group has been working with moss plants for the past four years to elucidate the mechanisms by which these early land plants tolerate drought; this project recently attracted funding from the National Science Foundation.

The conference included 19 select oral presentations and several posters contributed by more than 160 researchers representing 15 countries.

The offices of the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and the vice provost for Research and Sponsored Programs supported Kilaru’s travel through the Travel Award for Arts and Sciences Faculty program.  This competitive award is given to select individuals who are invited to give presentations of major significance in an international context.

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Drs. Kesheng Wang and Liang Wang, Biostatistics and Epidemiology, have contributed a book chapter titled “Genes Associated with Alcohol Withdrawal” to the textbook, Molecular Aspects of Alcohol and Nutrition, which was edited by Dr. Vinood Patel of the University of Westminster in London and published by Academic Press in November. 

Worldwide, alcohol is the third leading risk factor for disease burden associated with 2.5 million deaths every year.

“Alcohol dependence is a complex disease, with devastating effects on individuals, families and society,” Kesheng Wang said.

It is estimated that 76.3 million people worldwide have suffered from alcohol use disorders, including alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence.

Alcohol withdrawal refers to a cluster of symptoms that may occur when a heavy drinker suddenly stops or significantly reduces his or her alcohol intake. These symptoms can start as early as two hours after the last drink, persist for weeks, and range from mild anxiety and shakiness to severe complications, such as seizures and delirium tremens.

“Family, twin and adoption studies have indicated that genetic and environmental factors contribute to the development of alcohol dependence,” Liang Wang said.

Several gene-related studies have successfully identified chromosome regions and genes related to alcohol dependence and alcohol withdrawal symptoms. The chapter reviews the recent findings in genetic studies of alcohol withdrawal symptoms.

“Molecular Aspects of Alcohol and Nutrition” is a resource for nutrition researchers and nutritionists who study or treat alcohol-related diseases. Experts from across the field of alcohol research explain how alcohol disrupts normal fat, carbohydrate and protein metabolic processes in the liver and other parts of the body.

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