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VUToday: Robotic autism research in weekly roundup of VU news stories

by Mar. 31, 2017, 3:42 PM

University News and Communications publishes VUToday, a compilation of Vanderbilt mentions in the media, each weekday. Read a selection of Vanderbilt news stories for the week of March 27. To subscribe to the daily VUToday newsletter, visit

ABC News: Scientists use robot, other gadgets to advance autism research in young children

Studies are being conducted at Vanderbilt with the goal of exploring how robotics and technology could assist in the development of children with autism spectrum disorder. Researchers hope the data collected from these and other studies can highlight ASD indicators in kids younger than 2, the typical age for clinical diagnosis. The video features a 2-year-old who was diagnosed with ASD last year. Zachary Warren, associate professor of pediatrics, and Nilanjan Sarkar, professor of mechanical engineering, are quoted and interviewed.

The Tennessean: Vanderbilt University, VUMC have $9.5 billion impact, report says

Vanderbilt University and Vanderbilt University Medical Center pumped a combined $9.5 billion into the Tennessee economy during the 2015-16 fiscal year, according to a report released this week. University Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos is quoted and Jeff Balser, dean of the University’s School of Medicine, is mentioned.

Nature: Mini reproductive system on a chip mimics human menstrual cycle

In the quest to study human reproduction, scientists have built a rudimentary model of the female system in the lab. Every 28 days, the “ovary,” cultured on a small plastic chip, releases an egg and starts producing hormones to prepare for pregnancy. The hormones travel through a series of tiny channels that mimic fallopian tubes and into a uterus-like chamber made of human tissue. The article quotes John Wikswo, Gordon A. Cain University Professor, who has been leading an effort to link at least 10 organ systems together to form a complete human-on-a-chip, but was not involved with this research. A related story in Scientific American quotes Kevin Osteen, Pierre Soupart Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, who was not involved with the study.

The Tennessean: Nashvillians optimistic about city, worried about growth, new Vanderbilt poll finds

In a new Vanderbilt Poll, 68 percent of respondents said they believe Nashville is headed in the right direction, compared with just 26 percent who said the city is on the wrong track. And yet in the same poll, 65 percent of Nashvillians said the city is growing too quickly, a 15-point jump from October 2015. Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Professor of Political Science John Geer, who co-directs the poll, is quoted. Several related articles about the poll also appeared in The Tennessean. Topics included the approval ratings of Nashville Mayor Megan Barry and the Metro Nashville Public Schools board, and opinions on a pathway to citizenship for immigrants, a higher tax for improving public transit, and the use of police body cameras. Geer is quoted in a few of the articles.

USA Today: What next for cities abandoned by NFL teams?

Oakland Raiders fans are fuming after the NFL approved a plan on Monday for the Raiders to move to a new $1.9 billion stadium in Las Vegas in 2020—after more than 44 years in Oakland. John Vrooman, senior lecturer in economics, is quoted. Related stories ran in Yahoo! Sports (about the success of the Las Vegas hockey team in light of the Raiders’ move) and MSN.

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