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25 Ways
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Summer 2000
25 Ways
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Stargazer: The question of what lies at the center of our galaxy, 24,000 light years away, had been the subject of a raging debate among astronomers for more than a quarter-century. UCLA astronomer Andrea Ghez found that a monstrous black hole resides at the center of our Milky Way galaxy, with a mass more than 2 million times that of our sun. The center of the Milky Way was identified in 1968 by UCLA Professor of Physics and Astronomy Eric Becklin.

Salt-free: In 1959, UCLA professors were the first to demonstrate a practical process of reverse osmosis. They produced a synthetic membrane capable of rejecting salt and passing freshwater at reasonable flow rates. The impact of this discovery has been felt worldwide, ranging from home water filters to the creation of rivers of freshwater in the Middle East and North Africa, where desalination facilities produce trillions of gallons of pure water every day.

Undergrad research: If one accepts the adage, "Give a man a fish, he eats for a day; teach a man to fish, he eats for life," then one of the greatest accomplishments a university can claim is that it empowers people to do great things. UCLA is one of just 10 universities to receive the National Science Foundation's Recognition Award for the
Integration of Research and Education. The award recognizes UCLA's systemic approach to combining research with undergraduate curricula. UCLA's Student Research Program, one of the largest of its kind in American higher education, allows undergraduates to work face-to-face with world-renowned UCLA scholars on cutting-edge research, ranging from U.S. foreign policy to neural function in animal communication to HIV infection in children.

Interior lives: Michael Phelps, chair of the Department of Molecular and Medical Pharmacology and chief of nuclear medicine, invented the positron emission tomography (PET) scanner, an imaging system that provides the means to watch and measure biochemical processes of the human body. The first rectilinear scintillation scanner, an imaging device to pinpoint the location of radioisotopes in the body, find tumors and enable the study of kidney, liver and lung function, was developed at UCLA in 1950. The scanner ushered in the age of nuclear medicine and led to the development of other imaging devices by UCLA faculty: an early version of the CAT scanner and the PET scanner.

Origins of life: UCLA paleobiologist J. William Schopf's research has revealed that primitive life existed on Earth 3.46 billion years ago, much earlier than previously suspected. Much of his research has focused on the first 85 percent of Earth's history, when developments included the first living organisms, the modern food chain, photosynthesis, the ability to breathe oxygen, the development of the atmosphere and oceans, various types of cell division and sexual reproduction.

Coming to grips with AIDS: The nation's first case of AIDS was identified at UCLA Medical Center in 1981. UCLA researchers in 1995 documented the first known case of an HIV-infected infant who eliminated the virus from his body. The UCLA AIDS Institute ranks fourth in the United States in total federal grant support. The AIDS clinical trials research program has a national reputation for the evaluation of new, immune-based therapies. More than 90 UCLA medical and dental scientists are currently studying AIDS.

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