Ivory Towers

Toasting to a long life is taking on a new significance, thanks to Rice University scientists who are creating beer that could extend your life.
The team spliced three genes into special brewer’s yeast to yield what they call BioBeer, which takes about 10 days to make. The genes code for the production of resveratrol, the chemical in red wine that is thought to protect against diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer’s and other age-related conditions.
Unfortunately, a few on the team of eight graduate and undergraduate students cannot legally consume their product. “We started out with a strict policy that we aren’t supposed to drink anything in the lab,” said Peter Nguyen, the team’s graduate adviser.
They have been working on this project since May. “We do have a strain, and verified that it has the genes, and are in the process of brewing the beer,” Nguyen said.
Although other laboratories have already produced resveratrol in yeast, Nguyen believes that no one has put the compound in beer yet. According to Nguyen, resveratrol in beer is essentially a free health benefit since it is in a ready-to-consume format and does not need to be extracted.
“Ultimately, the point of the project is that it will be so cheap to put reserveratol in beer,” said junior Thomas Segall-Shapiro. “I want to see it like iodized salt, as a free health benefit. Resveratol in beer should be the new standard.”
Since the first batch of beer will have residual antibiotics potentially harmful to humans, it will be some time before it appears in stores. “If we were trying to market this, I can imagine the amount of red tape to get the genetically modified yeast to be fit for human consumption,” Stevenson said.
As a long-term project, the team plans to add some more components to finalize BioBeer and begin writing for publication immediately.

Discovery News and The Rice Thresher
Brown University students
obtain ordinations online

A number of Brown University students will one day enter the job market with an extra credential on their resumes: “ordained minister.”
Among the students who have been ordained online through the Universal Life Church (ULC) is Mike Bohl, a sophomore who was raised Jewish but now calls himself a “die-hard atheist.” For him, the ordination was “a way to rebel against organized religion.”
Bohl’s roommate ordained him online through the church’s site, www.themonastery.org. Applicants need only fill out basic information then hit “ordain me.” Ministers ordained through ULC, based in Modesto, Calif., can legally perform marriages, baptisms and funerals. They are not required to comply with any formal doctrine, and, according to the e-mail the church sends out to its newly ordained ministers, “Ordination is for life, without price and without question of your specific beliefs.” The only stipulation is that ministers must “always do the right thing.”
Sophomore Ben Bonyhadi discovered the church while doing some recreational research on religion during his senior year of high school. For Bonyhadi, the perks of being a minister include having his mail addressed to the “Rev. Ben Bonyhadi.” The sign on Bohl’s door currently reads “The Reverend Michael Bohl.”
The legality of ULC ministers has been disputed. Two federal court cases as well as nine cases in five different states have attempted to challenge the church and its ministers, but in Universal Life Church v. The United States of America and Universal Life Church v. the State of Utah, the rights of the church were upheld and the ability of ULC-ordained ministers to perform marriages was affirmed.
For Bonyhadi, who was raised by “liberal-hippie-Berkeley-Jewish parents,” becoming a minister was reflective of his growing disenchantment with institutionalized religion, in particular its treatment of marriage. “I’m not sure I appreciate marriage in its current establishment,” he said
Although none of these students has performed a marriage or a baptism, Bonyhadi said they are challenging perceptions. “It keeps people on their toes … about what a religious leader looks like, what a religious leader acts like,” he said.

The Brown Daily Herald

Viral outbreak strikes 400,
college closed temporarily

The Hope College campus was deserted on Sunday, on day four of a contagious noroviris-like outbreak which caused Ottawa County Health Department officials to order the campus to close Friday. The small liberal arts college in Michigan is now slated to reopen today.
Hope College officials say since Friday, more than 400 staff and students have come down with symptoms of this flu. “I feel like a leper,” said Paul Austin, a freshman who fell ill Thursday and vomited for eight hours. “My roommate is avoiding me like the plague.”
County Health Promotions Officer Lisa Stefanovsky said the source of the virus, which is intense but not serious, may never be known. Health inspections have ruled out a food-borne illness, although the virus could have been transferred from one of the two kitchens on campus, she said.
Health officials urged students to remain on campus, but not congregate. Many students able to travel decided to go home, despite cautions that people typically remain contagious three days after recovering.
Campus cleaning crews were busy last weekend inside all campus buildings, sanitizing common surfaces. The main cafeteria on campus, has re-opened for take-out orders served in disposable containers.

The Grand Rapids Press

Compiled by Yue-Yi Hwa, news editor.

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