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Skyping for a Cure

By Amy Robinson | 05 de julio de 2012

From ships to planes and phones to e-mail our world has become smaller and smaller. Not physically -- but with each connection and conversation bridges are formed and the great oceans separating continents no longer seem so vast. Dr. Feng Liu, professor of pharmacology at UT Health Science Center and the founding director of the Metabolic Syndrome Research Center at Second Xiangya Hospital, is taking advantage of the latest technology that shrinks our world to allow real-time international collaboration.

San Antonio.- From ships to planes and phones to e-mail our world has become smaller and smaller. Not physically -- but with each connection and conversation bridges are formed and the great oceans separating continents no longer seem so vast. Dr. Feng Liu, professor of pharmacology at UT Health Science Center and the founding director of the Metabolic Syndrome Research Center at Second Xiangya Hospital, is taking advantage of the latest technology that shrinks our world to allow real-time international collaboration.

Liu’s first job requires his presence in Texas, while the second has him firmly across the seas in … China. The ability to be in two places at once is just another offshoot  of  technology many of us use every day  to connect with loved ones and far-flung friends – a type of internet video conferencing tool known as Skype.

Dr. David Weiss, vice president for research and dean of the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at the UT Health Science Center, commends Liu’s global efforts.

“Here is a guy who runs labs on opposite sides of the globe,” Weiss said. “While he performs graduate teaching and Ph.D. student teaching here, he directs research activities in the Metabolic Syndrome Research Center by using Skype to communicate at night with the people there.”

Liu and his team indeed work night and day to find the key to unlock a cure for diabetes, frequently connecting on Skype to discuss progress and approaches to the research they are doing.

Liu studies adiponectin, a hormone that regulates glucose levels and helps break down fatty acids. Learning more about how the hormone works could lead to more effective treatments for diabetes and even obesity.

According to the American Diabetes Association, diabetes plagues 25.8 million children and adults in the United States --. 8.3 percent of Americans. Liu’s research is spanning the globe to help fight the disease.

“We are seeing the globalization of science,” Weiss said in reference to Liu’s work.

Liu’s international collaboration might also help augment America’s decreased funding in the sciences.

“The U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) is not funding about 90 percent of grant proposals,” Alan Frazer, Ph.D., professor and chairman of pharmacology in the School of Medicine, said.

The Lack of funding could force scientists like Liu to look elsewhere to complete their important work

In the meantime, Liu and his team make the best use of cutting-edge technology to collaborate across continents. Thanks to the internet, they are globalizing science and creating new horizons for medical research to discover the solutions we need today.

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Health / Salud