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April 15, 2004 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 2004-04-15

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NEWS

The Michigan Daily - Thursday, April 15, 2004 - 5A

World's oldest mouse helps u

1 1

0

By Chloe Foster
Daily Staff Reporter
Tucked away in a laboratory in the University's
medical center, there lives a tiny creature whose
sole existence has caused celebration and antici-
pation within the scientific community. This tiny
creature is a dwarf mouse, and his name is Yoda.
Though not on a calorie-restricted diet
like other elderly mice, Yoda is the world's
oldest known living mouse, turning four
last Saturday - approximately 136 in
mouse years.
Weighing about one-third the size of a nor-
mal mouse and aging much more slowly, dwarf
mice are ideal for aging research because like
small dogs, they tend to live longer than their
larger counterparts.

Richard Miller, associate director of
Research for the University's Geriatrics Center,
said his goal is to develop a comparison
between the genes and hormone levels of slow-
aging mice, like Yoda, and those of other mam-
mals. The key is to understand which chemicals
change in the body as aging occurs and eventu-
ally to delay the effects of aging.
Despite Unit for Lab Animal Medicine office
assistant Liz Sherbert's claim that "he has big,
bushy eyebrows and walks with a cane," Yoda has
not suffered the traditional adverse effects of
aging. His fur is a bit tattered, but he is primarily
free of disease and other age-induced ailments
like arthritis, cataracts and cancer.
Dwarves' considerable lifespans allow
researchers to map out the aging process careful-
ly and understand what chemicals change in the

nlock aging secrets
typically used in aging research, and Yoda is part "Yoda gives us evidence that hormone
of this stock. therapy may influence aging," Miller said.
Dwarf mice are small because their genetic Researchers like Miller speculate that hor-
code contains a dwarfing mutation that inhibits mone shots may influence aging, and
secretion of the thyroid hormone, which is research like that done on Yoda could verify
responsible for growth in mice, humans and this hypothesis.
other mammals. Yoda's cage mate, named Princess Leia in
Yoda is an example of how the dwarfing muta- keeping with the Star Wars theme, is responsi-
tion has slowed down aging and kept him rela- ble for keeping him from freezing at night.
tively healthy for his age, Miller said. Because dwarves have a low level of the thy-
"Yoda's case is pretty rare," said Howard Rush, roid hormone, their bodies cannot maintain
director of ULAM. "We don't normally see mice constant temperatures, Miller said. Yoda and
live this long." Princess Leia currently live happily together in
Miller's research also focuses on the conse- the lab.
quences of aging on immunity. How much longer Yoda will live is
An experiment like Yoda provides insight into unknown because, at this point, there is no
what chemicals in the body are responsible for way to predict his lifespan, he added.
aging. "Your guess is as good as mine," Miller said.

COURTESY OF RICHARD MILLER, Medical School
Yoda, left, sniffs cage mate Princess Lela.
body as the animals age. Miller has been working
on breeding mice that age more slowly than mice

Institute provides
* econ with a twist

Boathi'ij

weather

Institute places students
to teach companies, countries
about developing economes
By Adhira Dutt
Daily Staff Reporter
From deploying students to help-
ing Proctor and Gamble introduce
new products in Latin America to
sending students to teach companies
about NATO, the William Davidson
Institute has placed more than 1,400
students in business projects since its
inception in 1992.
The institute has been under the direc-
tion of Jan Svejnar since 1996 and has
evolved from studying emerging mar-
kets in Central and Eastern Europe to
looking at such markets worldwide.
Moreover, it attracted former Secretary
of State Madeleine Albright two years
ago to become the institute's first "dis-
tinguished scholar."
But after eight years as director of the
institute, Svejnar will step down at the
end of this month because a rotation of
the position is necessary, he said.
Beginning on May 1, current associ-
ate director Robert Kennedy, who came
to Michigan from Harvard University in
September, will assume the position of
director. The institute will continue to
focus on its global projects initiative,
executive education, technical assistance
and research.
Like the University of Michigan
Alumni Association and the University
Musical Society, the WDI is legally
separate from the University, though
they institute has very close ties, Svej-
nar said.
Through its global projects initiative,
the institute created and manages three
research options within the Business
School, including the International
Multi-disciplinary Action Project.
Every year, more than 200 graduate
students from all disciplines research
issues and provide recommendations to
companies and countries involved with
emerging or transitioning markets.
With WDI's help, MBA student
Praveen Suthrum co-founded the Experi-
mental Multi-disciplinary Action Project.
"Twenty-one students spent four
months in 10 locations where their
research focused on the bottom of the
economic pyramid," Suthrum said,
adding that he spent last semester in
Washington adapting his project to
Iraq. The research the students did will
be compiled into a book, which will be
published later this year.

Along with a partner, Suthrum co-
created an eGovernance model for
emerging markets in the Indian state of
Andhra Pradesh and worked with the
government there.
Suthrum and his colleague applied
that model to Iraq while they were in
Washington. With the help of the WDI,
they were able to use the institute's
office as well as its other resources in
the area, he said.
"Personally, the Davidson institute
was very willing to connect me with dif-
ferent individuals in D.C. It was a good
jumpstart," Suthrum said.
In his project, MBA student Jose
Arredondo worked with the Interna-
tional Finance Corporation, a World
Bank division. The IFC wanted to cre-
ate a global business school network in
Africa, so Arredondo and others audit-
ed 24 graduate and business schools in
seven African countries. They then rec-
ommended which schools the IFC
should get to join the network.
"It's a great opportunity because you
get to put all the concepts and theory
you learn in the first year and a half into
practice," Arredondo said.
Among the institute's other efforts,
the executive education focus helps
managers from more than 100 compa-
nies acquire the skills necessary to
work in developing countries, Svejnar
said. Through technical assistance, the
institute helps business schools around
the world and provides other institu-
tions with its expertise on emerging
markets.
The institute's concentration on
research involves the participation of
nearly 40 faculty members from the
University as well as an additional 130
faculty members from all over the
world. This effort results in about 100
analytical research papers every year,
Svejnar said.
These efforts give the institute its
expertise in emerging markets in devel-
oping nations.
"We are a premier think-tank that cre-
ates new findings and disseminates
them all over the world," Svejnar said.
The non-profit WDI was established
witn a financial commitment from the
Guardian Industries Corporation in
Auburn Hills. The institute was named
after the corporation's founder, William
Davidson, who graduated from the Uni-
versity in 1947. Davidson is also the
majority owner of the Detroit Pistons.
"Emerging markets in Eastern and
Central Europe were the impetus of why
William Davidson provided funds," Sve-
jnar said.

LAURA SHIECTER/Daily
Dave Joseph, a second-year Art and Design student, and Engineering senior Eric Laitala promote their water skiing team on the Diag
with a boat from their sponsor yesterday.

State sees increase in Web-base

LANSING (AP) - An increasing
number of Michigan residents are fil-
ing their income tax returns electroni-
cally rather than by mail, which could
cut down on the number of people rac-
ing to the post office to beat today's
deadline.
As of Monday, the state has received
2.2 million tax returns filed electronical-
ly, up from 1.4 million at this time last
year, state Department of Treasury
spokesman Terry Stanton said yesterday.
"We're 51 percent ahead of where
we were last year," he said. "That obvi-
ously is great news. It reflects the
growing popularity of e-filing."
A big part of the increase in e-filing is
a rule implemented in January by the
Department of Treasury that requires tax
preparers to file returns electronically if
they handle more than 200.
The change was intended to help the
department handle the loss of $2.7 mil-
lion cut from its budget. Without the
rule change, the department would
have had to hire temporary workers to
process paper returns.
The Department of Treasury expects
2.9 million returns will be filed elec-
tronically. If the department gets that

number it would mean that 60 percent
of all returns were filed electronically,
Stanton said.
Regardless of the method taxpayers
use to file their returns, the state
always has a rush in the last week
before the deadline. This year it's mid-
night tonight.
Approximately 1.4 million returns
were filed during the last week with 1
million expected to come on the last
day, or about 20 percent of all returns,
Stanton said.
The department is two weeks behind
where it was last year in processing
paper returns, which means it's an
average seven weeks for a refund on
those returns, Stanton said.
"We're right in the middle of this
huge crush and that has slowed things
down," he said. "Once they're no
longer coming in droves, the process-
ing will pick up."
That delay for a refund is longer
than the typical four-to-six week wait
for paper returns. But it's a little bit
better than the situation in February
when the department reported an aver-
age wait of eight to 10 weeks for a
refund on a paper return. The state's

tight budget kept the treasury from hir-
ing 200 temporary workers to handle
the paper returns as they had in past
years to get refunds out in the usual
four to six weeks.
Ron Marabate, who works for the
Michigan Economic Development
Corp., was at the downtown Lansing
post office yesterday afternoon to mail
his tax payment.
"I'm not too late," said Marabate, of
Okemos. "I'm not going to rush to
make a payment."
As of April 7, the Department of

I tax filig
Treasury processed 2.7 million returns
and about three-quarters of those were
filed electronically, Stanton said.
The state expects about 5 million tax
returns will be filed this year. It has
taken in about 3.4 million returns so far,
leaving between 1.4 million and 1.6 mil-
lions yet to be filed, Stanton said.
So far the average refund has been
$406, $18 higher than last year's aver-
age, Stanton said. He attributed the
increase to a combination of slower
income tax growth and more rapid
property tax growth.

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