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Two U.Va. Findings in the Running for Year’s Biggest Scientific Breakthroughs

Monday, December 7, 2015  
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Science, one of the world’s most prestigious scientific journals, has selected 10 finalists for the year’s biggest scientific breakthrough, and the University of Virginia has taken two spots on the list.

President Teresa A. Sullivan said the double recognition speaks to the exceptional research enterprise underway at the University.

“The two projects recognized by Science represent the great quality and breadth of research at U.Va.,” she said. “They also demonstrate how research conducted at U.Va. has the potential to dramatically improve human health and well-being.”

This is the 20th year that Science has named a Breakthrough of the Year, with the goal of recognizing the “most momentous scientific discovery, development or trend of 2015.”

The journal, published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, will announce its selection December 17.

U.Va.’s two contenders

The missing link between the brain and immune system

School of Medicine researchers Jonathan Kipnis and Antoine Louveau discovered previously unknown vessels connecting the brain directly to the lymphatic system. The shocking discovery redrew the map of the human lymphatic system, rewrote medical textbooks and struck down long-held beliefs about how the immune system functions in the brain. The discovery could have profound implications for a huge array of neurological diseases, from multiple sclerosis to Alzheimer’s disease.

Kipnis is a professor in the Department of Neuroscience and director of U.Va.'s Center for Brain Immunology and Glia. Louveau is a research scientist who joined Kipnis’ lab as a postdoctoral fellow.

Reproducibility of psychology studies

U.Va. psychology professor Brian Nosek examined the reproducibility of 100 psychology studies and found that fewer than half could be reproduced. While some of this may result from problems with the studies themselves, the results also testify to the challenge researchers face in replicating findings effectively and creating results that can be reproduced. The work by Nosek and his colleagues represents a step toward enhancing the reproducibility of psychology studies.

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