- Older problem gamblers may face greater suicide risk than younger counterparts
- New Institute on Corruption Studies at the School of Criminal Justice
- Mice missing 'fear' gene slow to protect offspring
- Biologists identify plant genes that could lead to more productive crops
- Rutgers study: People with disabilities represent valuable and underutilized resource
Older problem gamblers may face greater suicide risk than younger counterparts
Compared to their younger counterparts, older problem gamblers who ask casinos to bar them from returning are three to four times more likely to do so because they fear they will kill themselves if they don’t stop betting.
Lia Nower, associate professor of social work and director of Rutgers’ Center for Gambling Studies, and Alex Blaszczynski, of the University of Sydney, Australia, looked at 1,601 self-described problem gamblers who asked between 2001 and 2003 to be banned from Missouri casinos.
The results of their study were published in the September issue of Psychology and Aging that published by the American Psychological Association.
Older adults (over age 55) reported gambling an average of 17 years before “self-exclusion” – more than twice the length of time reported by younger adults. All participants were asked to cite why they sought to be barred from casinos. Younger, middle-aged, and older adults all gave the following as primary reasons: gaining control, needing help, and hitting rock bottom; however, nearly 14 percent of older adults surveyed – a higher proportion than any other group – indicated that that they sought help because they wanted to prevent themselves from committing suicide.
“This is particularly troubling because, irrespective of age, problem gamblers have reported rates of suicidal ideation and/or attempts as high as six times those found in the general population,” Nower said.
The study is the first to examine age differences in the demographic characteristics and gambling preferences of people who ask to be barred from casinos. Under these programs, gamblers who believe they have a problem can enter an agreement with a casino or state regulators authorizing casino staff to bar them. If they are found on the premises, they agree to be removed and possibly charged with trespass. Exclusion periods can range from six months to an irrevocable lifetime ban.
Click here for full news release.
– American Psychological AssociationBack to Top
New Institute on Corruption Studies at the School of Criminal Justice
New Jersey’s reputation for corruption takes on new meaning with the establishment of the Rutgers Institute on Corruption Studies (RICS) in Newark under the auspices of the School of Criminal Justice. Led by Dean Adam Graycar, dean of the School of Criminal Justice, the institute will train students to conduct research on public corruption as well as ways to reduce it.
Crossing disciplines and global boundaries, the institute will work with a wide range of researchers and experts at Rutgers and beyond to ensure the best interdisciplinary analysis. The institute is also expected to work with international agencies, companies, non-governmental organizations, and nations seeking to strengthen their economic and governance infrastructure.
“The World Bank estimates that one trillion dollars annually is paid in illegal bribes, and about $400 million is looted each year by corrupt officials,” Graycar said.
According to Graycar, solutions to addressing corruption lie in prevention, transparency, appropriate policies and procedures, accountability, enforcement, and education. The institute’s areas of study will include opportunities for corruption, ways of reducing the rewards gained from corruption, methods of combating bribery, sector susceptibility, and corruption indicators. RICS will focus on specific elements of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption, such as preventive measures, law enforcement, international cooperation, asset recovery, and technical assistance.
– Carla Capizzi
Mice missing 'fear' gene slow to protect offspring
First, he discovered a gene that controls innate fear in animals. Now Rutgers geneticist Gleb Shumyatsky has shown that the same gene promotes “helicopter mom” behavior in mice. The gene, known as stathmin or oncoprotein 18, motivates female animals to protect newborn pups and interact cautiously with unknown peers.
Shumyatsky's newest finding could enhance our understanding of human anxiety, including postpartum depression and borderline personality disorders. Working with female mice genetically engineered to have an inactive stathmin gene –Shumyatsky demonstrated that these mutant mice were slow to retrieve pups placed outside the nest at corners of the cage. Females with normally active stathmin, however, were quick to bring similarly dispersed pups back to the nest.
The abnormal behavior, concludes Shumyatsky, is based on the mouse’s lack of fear – in this case, fear for the safety of pups in her care. Retrieving wayward pups is a behavior motivated by innate fear of attack by predators, a likely outcome for wild pups that stray from the relative safety of a nest.
“The human analog might be parents on a playground with their children when it starts to thunder,” said Shumyatsky, an assistant professor of genetics in the School of Arts and Sciences. “The typical parental behavior would be to gather their children and seek shelter. Parents who behave as these mice do would say, ‘so they get a little wet, what’s the problem.’ That’s definitely not the kind of helicopter parenting that newborn mice need to survive, and by extension, the species needs to survive.”
– Carl BleschBack to Top
Biologists identify plant genes that could lead to more productive crops
A team of biologists from Rutgers and the University of California-San Diego (UCSD); the Salk Institute for Biological Studies; and Oregon State University has identified the genes that enable plants to undergo bursts of rhythmic growth at night when their leaves are shaded by other plants.
The discovery of the genetic underpinnings of the rhythmic plant movements that enthralled Charles Darwin more than a century ago could eventually allow scientists to design crops that can grow faster and produce more food than the most productive varieties today.
The researchers, writing in the most recent issue of the journal Public Library of Science (PLoS) Biology, said that these genes control the complex interplay of plant growth hormones, plant light sensors, and circadian rhythms that permit plants to undergo growth spurts at specific times of the day or year in response to varying levels of light and other environmental conditions.
“It was known that the circadian clock confers an adaptive advantage to plants in nature, and these findings provide a direct mechanism by which plants optimize their growth by synchronizing hormone signaling with the environment,” said Todd Michael, an assistant professor at Rutgers’ Waksman Institute of Microbiology and School of Environmental and Biological Sciences. Michael is the first author on the new PLoS paper.
How plants grow to maximize their survival in different environments has long fascinated biologists. In 1880, Charles Darwin published The Power of Movement in Plants, one of his lesser-known books. While many people might assume that plants grow at a slow and steady rate throughout the day and night, Darwin and others found that they grow in regular nightly spurts, with plant stems elongating fastest in the hours just before dawn.
Why plants have evolved mechanisms to grow rhythmically at night or in the hours just before dawn is a mystery; but a similar interplay of light sensing, plant hormones, and circadian rhythms that leads to growth by plants during certain seasons and when shaded by other plants has a clear survival value.
Identifying mechanisms that regulate this process is going to be a key goal for the future, helping scientists control plant growth and yield. “It's a very exciting time for biologists,” said Joanne Chory at Salk Institute's Plant Biology Laboratory. “The tools now exist to answer questions about complex processes, such as how plants grow or how human metabolism goes awry.”
– Joseph BlumbergBack to Top
Rutgers study: People with disabilities represent valuable and underutilized resource
The low employment rate of people with disabilities is not due to a lack of interest in obtaining jobs or to job preferences that differ from those of other job seekers, according to the analysis of a national survey by researchers from Rutgers and the Burton Blatt Institute at Syracuse University.
The majority of nonemployed people with disabilities would like to be working, and their job preferences are well within the mainstream,” said Professor Douglas Kruse of Rutgers’ School of Management and Labor Relations (SMLR) and lead analyst of the disability module in the 2006 General Social Survey (GSS) conducted by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago. Except for the U.S. Census, the GSS is the most frequently analyzed source of information in the social sciences.
The analysis found that among nonemployed, working-age people with disabilities, 80 percent said they would like a paid job now or in the future, which is comparable to the 78 percent of nondisabled, working-age people who are not employed. The groups attached similar importance to job security, income, flexibility, and chances for advancement. Most nonemployed people with disabilities were not as optimistic as their nondisabled counterparts about their prospects for employment, however. Only 25 percent believed they were very likely to get a job compared to 51 percent of nondisabled people.
According to Kruse, the survey represents a new generation of research on disability and employment and offers opportunities to examine desired work arrangements among both employed and nonemployed people with disabilities as well as the attitudes and experiences of workers with disabilities.
“The results cast doubt on the idea that the low employment rate of people with disabilities is due to low motivation ... ," Kruse said. "Given the coming labor shortages as baby boomers retire, people with disabilities represent a valuable and underutilized resource."
– Steve Manas