Science News in Brief: DTU moves up in innovation rankings

Elsewhere, oil spills can impact Arctic more than believed and winter bathing could help curb obesity

The Technical University of Denmark (DTU) has once again made inroads on Reuters’ World’s Most Innovative Universities’ rankings, moving up eight places to 57 overall.

DTU remains the most innovative university in the Nordics and the only Danish university in the top 100 – ranking number 13 in Europe.

“Overall, the United States continues to dominate the list, with 46 universities in the top 100; Germany and Japan are tied for second best performing country, with nine universities each. South Korea has eight universities on the list; China, France and the United Kingdom each have 5; Switzerland has 3; Belgium, Canada, Israel and the Netherlands have 2, and Denmark and Singapore each have 1,” the rankings report found.

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Stanford shining
The ten indicators for the ranking are Patent Volume, Patent Success, Global Patents, Patent Citations, Patent Citation Impact, Percent of Patents Cited, Patent to Article Citation Impact, Industry Article Citation Impact, Percent of Industry Collaborative Articles and Total Web of Science Core Collection Papers.

Stanford University topped the ranking, following by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Harvard, University of Pennsylvania and University of Washington.

University of Texas System, KU Leuven, Imperial College London, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill and Vanderbilt University rounded out the top 10. See the top 100 here (in English).

Winter bathing for obesity
A new Danish research project conducted by the city hospital Rigshospitalet is looking into whether winter bathing can help people struggling with obesity lose weight. The project, the first of its kind in the world, will look into whether cold shock increases the energy consumption of the body and helps activate the body’s healthy brown fat, which burns energy and produces heat. From the end of this month and four months forward, 15 participants in the project will winter bathe three times a week, while another 15 will be the control group. All will wear a pulse watch and keep a daily log book so the results can be compared.

Arctic more vulnerable to oil spills
New research results from the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) and consultancy group COWI has shown that oil spills are more damaging to the Arctic region than previously believed. The finding, published in the scientific journal Environmental Science & Technology, revealed that plankton – the underpinning of the food chain in the Arctic seas – is impacted by much lower concentrations of oil pollution than previously thought. The research showed that half of the Arctic copepod Calanus Glacialis population died when exposed to doses of the oil compound pyrene that were 300 times less than had been seen until now. Pyrene had a negative effect on the copepod’s ability to eat, re-generate its fat deposits and produce eggs.

Headache pills impact puberty
In a ground-breaking study, researchers from Aarhus University have discovered a link between the headache pill paracetamol during pregnancy and accelerated puberty in girls. The findings, published in the scientific journal American Journal of Epidemiology, showed that the longer a woman took paracetamol while pregnant, the earlier the onset of puberty was in her daughter. The study also documented that there was no change in puberty in boys. The finding is based on research gleaned from about 100,000 women providing detailed information regarding paracetamol consumption during pregnancy. The study showed that girls entered puberty 1.5-3 months earlier if the mother had taken headache pills for more than 12 weeks during pregnancy.

Danish multiple sclerosis mapping
The national institute of public health, Statens Institut for Folkesundhed, has looked into where people with multiple sclerosis were born and raised. The study found that people born or raised in Thyholm, Esbjerg, Nyborg, Randers, Favrskov and Aarhus had an increased risk of contracting multiple sclerosis, compared to other parts of the country. On average, there is an 18 percent higher chance of contracting multiple sclerosis for people who live in the six areas above, compared to the rest of the country. The research project did not offer any reason for the heightened risks in the six areas, but a researcher who was part of the project suggested that genetics and the environment, such as drinking water, possibly played a role.