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Latest News from PBRC

Tuesday, 13 September 2022

Kewalo Marine Laboratory celebrates 50 years Featured

A leading institution in exceptional marine biology—the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa’s Kewalo Marine Laboratory (KML) celebrated its 50th anniversary in August. KML, housed in the UH Mānoa School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology, began operations in 1972, and over the past five decades, has supported cutting-edge research focused on the study of unique marine organisms of Hawaiʻi…
The nematode parasite Angiostrongylus cantonensis (rat lungworm) has a complex life cycle involving rats (definitive hosts) and gastropods (intermediate hosts), as well as various paratenic hosts. Humans become infected and develop rat lungworm disease (neuroangiostrongyliasis) when they consume intermediate or paratenic hosts containing the infective parasite larvae. This study synthesizes knowledge of paratenic hosts of A. cantonensis and investigates their…
While many people know that rat lungworm disease can be spread to humans by slugs and snails, new research shows those creatures are not the only ones that have been transmitting the illness. Researchers from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa and the University of London, UK, combed through nearly 140 scientific studies published between 1962–2022 and found 32 species…
Microbes are found in nearly every habitat and organism on the planet, where they are critical to host health, fitness, and metabolism. In most organisms, few microbes are inherited at birth; instead, acquiring microbiomes generally involves complicated interactions between the environment, hosts, and symbionts. Despite the criticality of microbiome acquisition, we know little about where hosts’ microbes reside when not…
The nematode parasite Angiostrongylus cantonensis (rat lungworm) has a complex life cycle involving rats(definitive hosts) and gastropods (intermediate hosts), as well as various paratenic hosts. Humans becomeinfected and develop rat lungworm disease (neuroangiostrongyliasis) when they consume intermediate or paratenichosts containing the infective parasite larvae. This study synthesizes knowledge of paratenic hosts ofA. cantonensis and investigates their role in causing human…
In support of her dissertation research on the effects of microplastics on coral reef health and resilience, Keiko Wilkins, a doctoral student in the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa Marine Biology Graduate Program, has been awarded a prestigious and highly competitive NOAA Nancy Foster Scholarship. Wilkins received both her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Biology from Miami University (Oxford, OH)…
Monday, 13 June 2022

Leaving a lasting ocean legacy Featured

Island communities have developed some of the most effective practices to support the sustainable use of coastal and ocean resources, we just need to take heed. In a vast ocean area with around 30,000 known islands, traditional navigators of the Pacific have been known to say, ‘first you choose your destination, then you figure out how to get there’. The…
Monday, 13 June 2022

Empty oceans Featured

Fish stocks and seas face multiple threats, but marine scientists are working to find solutions to restore our vast blue ecosystem. The ocean is a significant source of livelihood, food and medicine for billions of people around the world — oceans are the real lungs of our world. But the cumulative impact of human mistreatment is taking a toll on…
Indigenous leaders from the Pacific Remote Islands Coalition are writing to President Joe Biden asking him to expand protection of the waters around the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument, specifically around Palmyra and Howland and Baker islands. The coalition is made up of cultural practitioners, scientists, conservationists, fishers, and community members, working together toward protecting the precious ocean waters…
A key number of hours of darkness during the lunar cycle triggers mature Hawaiian box jellyfish (Alatina alata) to swim to leeward shores on Oʻahu to spawn. That’s according to a published study comprising more than a decade of work by a cross-disciplinary team of University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa researchers. Led by Angel Yanagihara, associate research professor at the …
Most bottom-dwelling marine invertebrate animals, such as sponges, corals, worms and oysters, produce tiny larvae that swim in the ocean prior to attaching to the seafloor and transforming into juveniles. A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) and led by University of Hawai‘i (UH) at Mānoa researchers revealed that a large, complex molecule,…
Thursday, 19 May 2022

Mystery of seafloor metamorphosis unlocked Featured

Most bottom-dwelling marine invertebrate animals, such as sponges, corals, worms and oysters, produce tiny larvae that swim in the ocean prior to attaching to the seafloor and transforming into juveniles. A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and led by University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa researchers revealed that a large, complex molecule, called lipopolysaccharide, produced…
Six faculty members at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa have been listed among the top 1,000 scientists in the disciplines of ecology and evolution as evaluated by Research.com. School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology’s (SOEST) Hawaiʻi Institute of Marine Biology (HIMB) Researcher Brian Bowen; SOEST Pacific Biosciences Research Center Professor Emeritus Michael Hadfield; School of Life Sciences…
Thursday, 05 May 2022

COBRE-Nutrition Pilot Projects Featured

Integrative Center for Precision Nutrition and Human HealthCOBRE Pilot Project Program2022 Call for Pre-Proposals Call for Pre-Proposals Pre-Proposal Cover Page Pre-Proposal Form Biosketch Form COBRE-Nutrition Specific Aims COBRE-Nutrition Community Engagement and Outreach Core COBRE-Nutrition CRAFT Core
"Accidental Host - The Story of Rat Lungworm Disease" is a 53-minute documentary about a silently-spreading foodborne parasite that invades human brains and now thrives in tropical areas of five continents, including Hawaii and the southeastern U.S. The film features patient stories and expert interviews shot in Hawaii, Florida and California. The threat it depicts — an illness which varies…
Tuesday, 01 February 2022

Earth on trajectory to Sixth Mass Extinction Featured

The history of life on Earth has been marked five times by events of mass biodiversity extinction caused by extreme natural phenomena. Today, many experts warn that a Sixth Mass Extinction crisis is underway, this time entirely caused by human activities. A comprehensive assessment of evidence of this ongoing extinction event was published recently in the journal Biological Reviews by…
Friday, 28 May 2021

New research at UH to fight obesity Featured

UH Researcher Dr. Lucia Seale has been awarded a 5-year R01 grant of nearly $2M from the National Institutes of Health to investigate how specialized fat cells and the micronutrient selenium interact to produce body heat. Born in Brazil, Dr. Seale didn’t experience cold weather until her mid-20s, and she is not a fan of it. In addition to her…
Tuesday, 23 March 2021

Rat Lungworm Disease Featured

Randi Rollins, PhD student in Robert Cowie’s PBRC lab, recently published the second in a pair of papers addressing the determinants of the levels of infection of snails and slugs with the parasite known as the rat lungworm (Angiostrongylus cantonensis), the cause of serious disease (neuroangiostrongyliasis) in people and animals in Hawaii. Co-authors on the papers were Matt Medeiros (PBRC…
Randi Rollins was awarded the GSO Merit Based Award for Research (PhD)for 2019-2020. Her dissertation focuses on the natural and zoonotictransmission of rat lungworm (Angiostrongylus cantonensis), a parasiticroundworm and cause of a debilitating and occasionally deadly neglectedtropical disease, angiostrongyliasis. Despite discovery of the diseasein 1961, relatively little is known about the parasite?s biology andecology. Randi employs ecological concepts in conjunction…
UROP is honored to present the Douglas S. Yamamura Scholarship to outstanding undergraduate students, enrolled in any field of study, who are engaged in research and creative work initiatives. The scholarship was established with a generous endowment from the estate of Paul T. Yamamura, in order to support scholarly research at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa.Each semester, UROP considers…
Future Tech Podcast September 23, 2019 Margaret Mc-Fall Ngai, Ph.D., is director of the Pacific Biosciences Research Center and professor in the Kewalo Marine Lab at the University of Hawaii. Her research is focused on animal-bacteria symbioses, and she’s using the symbiosis between the Hawaiian bobtail squid and an illuminous bacterium as a model for this research. Burying itself in…
At MACNA 2019, MASNA will be awarding its annual MASNA Student Scholarships at the MACNA Banquet on Saturday, August 31st, 2019. Two $4,000.00 scholarships will be granted, one to an undergraduate student and one to a graduate student. The 2019 – 2020 MASNA Undergraduate Student Scholarship recipient is Lauren Block. Lauren is a full-time Junior pursuing a Bachelor of Science…
The Hawaiian bobtail squid might be small, but this walnut-sized critter is one of the sea’s mightiest masters of disguise. During its evening jaunts, the squid protects itself by casting an eerie glow to match the moonlight, obscuring its silhouette to predators lurking in the water column below. This cloak of invisibility is an illusion by collusion, all thanks to…
The buzz over a recent $10.4-million grant to five junior researchers at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa is about much more than mosquitoes.The funds from the National Institutes of Health Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) support the first center focusing on the interface between environmental microbiomes and human health.Microbiomes are communities of microorganisms that live on and in…
Tuesday, 11 December 2018

2018 R.E Kane Lecture Video

On 17 June, several families were celebrating Father's Day here at Dalahican Beach, a popular bathing spot near Lucena, a city on Luzon island. A steady breeze blew across sand that looked like fine brown sugar. Children splashed in the dark green water. Suddenly, people started to scream as a toddler was lifted unconscious from the water, his lips pale.…
Thursday, 18 October 2018

Turning The Tide On Jellyfish Stings Featured

You may think that sharks are the most dangerous animal you’ll encounter at the beach. But in places like Hawaii, sharks, which only cause 10 human fatalities a year, are not the marine creature to worry about when swimming. The more serious threat is the box jellyfish—a clear, translucent sea creature that can be lethal when touched. The jellyfish kills…
Friday, 05 October 2018

2018 R.E Kane Lecture

Angel Yanagihara, one of the world’s foremost experts on jellyfish, has started a six-week post as a U.S. State Department Fulbright Specialist to collect lethal box jellyfish in Thailand and train researchers on how to best treat the gelatinous creature’s stings. Read the full story here
A study led by Pacific Biosciences Research Center researchers revealed that Angiostrongylus cantonensis or rat lungworm is widespread in the Hawaiian Islands, and its distribution may expand, especially toward higher elevations as the climate warms. Rat lungworm is a parasitic nematode with a complicated life cycle, part of which requires living inside snails and slugs. Human infection by this parasite…
In the wild, shortly after hatching, these squid would normally be colonized by microbes. But they are selective about their partners: Of the thousands of species of microbes in the ocean, only one—Vibrio fischeri—is allowed to enter the squid’s body. Once inside, it begins to glow. And that glow, it is said, perfectly matches the moonlight welling down on top…
PBRC Director Margaret McFall-Ngai is one of fourteen leading scientists to be awarded a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Science Professorship. The $1 million award "recognizes excellence in research and education and empowers recipients to explore new approaches to important challenges in science education." See the links below for more information. http://www.hawaii.edu/news/2017/12/13/mcfall-ngai-howard-hughes-professorship/ https://www.hhmi.org/news/fourteen-hhmi-professors-take-important-challenges-science-education
In the far reaches of the sub-arctic North Pacific, scientists are using genetic profiling of high latitude zooplankton to better understand complex regional oceanography and commercial fish stocks. The Gulf of Alaska supports successful commercial fisheries, but productivity depends on robust fish populations, which in turn depend on a ready supply of zooplankton. Novel genetic sequencing of zooplankton RNA is…
Wednesday, 27 September 2017

PBRC Research Has Enduring Impact

A recent Journal Club article in Nature Reviews Immunology celebrates work done by the McFall-Ngai and Ruby labs at Kewalo Marine Laboratory in 2004. Read the article here [PDF]
Wednesday, 20 September 2017

2017 Fall Seminar Schedule

Margaret McFall-Ngai, professor and director of the Pacific Biosciences Research Center, is the only woman at the University of Hawaiʻi who is a member of the National Academy of Sciences. In her inaugural article published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, commemorating her induction into one of the country’s most distinguished scientific groups, she and…
Recently, representatives from islands across the Pacific gathered on Guam to develop approaches to increase participation of Pacific Islanders in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields. Michael Hadfield, biology professor emeritus at the Pacific Biosciences Research Center, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa and Joni Quenga Kerr, associate professor of science at Guam Community College were awarded a collaborative grant…
Scientists, including Tina Weatherby with the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), published a study wherein they reconstructed the skin of endangered green turtles, marking the first time that skin of a non-mammal was successfully engineered in a laboratory. In turn, the scientists were able to grow a tumor-associated virus to better…
Thursday, 15 June 2017

Robert Richmond New Zealand Geographic Video Featured

Robert Richmond was invited by the Pew Foundation to meet with the NewZealand Government in support of their proposal to establish the KermadecIslands as one of the world's largest Marine Protected Areas. View thisvideo produced by New Zealand Geographic for more information:https://www.facebook.com/NewZealandGeographic/videos/10155416258894100/
When Dr. Kiana Frank was a young girl growing up in Kailua, Ko‘olaupoko, O‘ahu, her great-grandmother shared a mo‘olelo (oral history) with her about sweet-tasting mud in nearby Kawainui Marsh. Her quest to find this legendary lepo ‘ai ‘ia was her first step toward a career as one of Hawai‘i’s experts in aquatic microbes and the role they play in…
A cohort of 12 Native Hawaiian and Pacific Island undergraduate students arrived at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa in May to participate in a summer research internship called Environmental Biology for Pacific Islanders, hosted by UH Mānoa’s Pacific Biosciences Research Center (PBRC). The opportunity, funded for three years by the National Science Foundation’s Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program,…
Narrissa Spies, a PhD candidate at PBRC’s Kewalo Marine Laboratory, recently traveled to New York to speak about her work on ocean protections. She was invited to participate in a panel of experts to make the case for marine protected areas, as part of a side event in preparation for the upcoming UN Ocean Conference. Her presentation focused on the…
Monday, 13 March 2017

Rat lungworm Disease in Hawaii

Dr. Robert Cowie of PBRC discusses the rat lungworm problem in Hawaii in aninterview for ThinkTechHawaii that aired live on 10 March 2017. The ratlungworm is a parasite with a natural life cycle that involves snails andrats as hosts. However, if someone eats a raw or undercooked snail or slugthey can become infected by the parasite, which moves to the…
Dr. Christie Wilcox, a Yanagihara lab Post-Doctoral Scientist, has published a new non-fiction popular science book on venom. Her book and current UH-based research were featured on this week's Bytemarks Cafe on HPR. Dr. Wilcox has been working under PBRC faculty member Dr. Angel Yanagihara for just over one and a half years, studying box jelly venom pathophysiology and developing…
An international team of scientists led by University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa researcher Joanne Yew may have discovered a new and effective way to control insect pests that are a threat to agriculture and humans. Yew and her team identified a gene in vinegar flies responsible for the insect’s waterproof coating, which provides them protection from microbes and environmental stress.…
Wednesday, 08 June 2016

NSF STEM Workshop

Recognizing and removing barriers to STEM education for Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders. With support from a National Science Foundation grant, the Pacific Biosciences Research Center at UHM hosted a two-day workshop on June 1 and 2, 2016 to explore, in depth, the causes underlying the large disparity in numbers of Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders (NHPIs) vs. the general…
Wednesday, 01 June 2016

Microbiome Initiative Featured

PBRC Director Margaret McFall-Ngai was present at the White House in Washington, DC, when the Office of Science and Technology Policy announced a National Microbiome Initiative on May 13. Dr. McFall-Ngai and other PBRC/SOEST faculty members will collaborate with researchers from other units in a University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa microbiome initiative. See more details in the UH press release:http://manoa.hawaii.edu/news/article.php?aId=7931
Angel Yanagihara, Assistant Research Professor in the Bekesy Laboratory ofNeurobiology, PBRC, SOEST, has been newly selected as a FulbrightSpecialist by the J. William Fulbright Council for International Exchangeof Scholars, on behalf of the Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs ofthe U.S. Department of State.As the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by theU.S. government, the Fulbright Specialists Program (FSP) is…
PBRC/Kewalo Marine Laboratory receives new NSF award. NSF just approved and funded a regional STEM education grant entitled: NSF-ATE: Partnership for Advanced Marine and Environmental Science Training for Pacific Islanders. This grant, supported by $900,000 in funds over three years, will enhance marine and environmental science education at the five minority-serving community colleges of the Pacific Islands: American Samoa Community…