No More STAT Madness, Just Good Research

Man and woman in blue lab coats, in a chemistry lab.
<strong>David Olson, assistant professor of chemistry, in his lab, speaking with Alaysia Madison, a chemistry student visiting from Xavier University, in August 2018.</strong>

Updated 10:25 a.m. March 22: David Olson’s run in the STAT Madness bracket competition has come to the end of the lab bench, halted in the Round of 16 by research out of the MIT Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research. Congratulations, though, to Olson, assistant professor of chemistry, for his STAT Madness-worthy work on how psychedelic drugs affect nerve cells and might be used to treat depression, anxiety and other mental disorders. See who made it to the Round of 8 and cast your vote.

Updated 10 a.m. March 15: A UC Davis researcher’s work has made it to the Sweet 16 round of STAT Madness, a bracket-style competition to find the most innovative biomedical research of 2018.

UC Davis’ entry is research from Assistant Professor David Olson’s lab in the Department of Chemistry on how psychedelic drugs affect nerve cells and might be used to treat depression, anxiety and other mental disorders.

Bracket (cropped)
See the complete bracket and vote here.

Round 3 voting runs until Thursday (March 21), via the STAT Madness webpage. The competition is organized by the news site

In Round 1, among 64 schools and other institutions, Olson’s work defeated alcoholism research out of Texas A&M University. In Round 2, his work defeated the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center’s study of minimally invasive surgical techniques and their link to higher cancer recurrence and lower overall survival.

And, now, Round 3: Olson’s work vs. research from the MIT Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research. STAT Madness summarizes the match as follows:

UC Davis

LSD for depression? — Several psychedelic drugs appear to have rapid antidepressant and anti-anxiety effects, and UC Davis research may explain why. In a study of rats, LSD and other drugs spurred rapid remodeling of neuronal connections in the prefrontal cortex, an area involved in depression and other disorders. These changes mirror known cellular effects of the anesthetic ketamine, which has shown recent promise as a fast-acting antidepressant. The findings could lead to a new class of psychiatric drugs.

MIT Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research

Small-batch meds, on demand — The manufacturing of protein-based medicines typically involves large-scale processes that produce big batches. Small amounts of drugs tailored for rare diseases or for individual patients pose logistical and economic challenges. MIT scientists developed a desktop system that can whip up custom batches of clinical-grade, protein-based drugs in as little as three days. The technology could be a boon for personalized medicine.

The winner will advance to the Round of 8, to face either the University of South Dakota (treatment after heart attack) or Michigan Medicine (tinnitus treatment).

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