Thursday, March 15, 2012

What do sex-deprived fruit flies alcohol preferences mean to us?

Sex-Deprived Fruit Flies’ Alcohol Preference Could Uncover Answers for Human Addictions

After being deprived of sex, male fruit flies, known as Drosophila melanogaster, may turn to alcohol to fulfill a physiological demand for a reward, according to a study recently published in the journalScience.

Troy Zars, an associate professor ofbiological sciences at the University of Missouri and neurobiology expert, said that understanding why rejected male flies find solace in ethanol could help treat human addictions.“Identifying the molecular and genetic mechanisms controlling the demand for reward in fruit flies could potentially influence our understanding of drug and alcohol abuse in humans, since previous studies have detailed similarities between signaling pathways in fruit flies and mammals,” Zars said.

In the study, male fruit flies that had mated repeatedly for several days showed no preference for alcohol-spiked food. On the other hand, spurned males and those denied access to females strongly preferred food mixed with 15 percent alcohol.

The researchers believed the alcohol may have satisfied the flies’ desire for physical reward.Zars said the new discovery could lead to greater understanding of the relationship between the social and physical causes of substance abuse in humans.

“The authors provide new insights into a neural circuit that links a rewarding social interaction with a lasting change in behavior preference,” Zars said.Zars has been a faculty member at MU since 2002. He leads investigations of the molecular and systems level mechanisms of behavioral genetics in the fruit flyDrosophila melanogaster. He is well known for his experiments identifying molecular mechanisms and neural circuits that support behaviors in the relatively simple fly brain.

His work has been published in leading scientific journals such asScience, Nature, Proceedings of the National Academy of Science,Current Biology, Learning and Memory, and Neuron.Previously, Zars received the prestigious Alexander von Humboldt Post-doctoral Fellowship to investigate the molecular mechanisms of behavioral plasticity with Prof. Martin Heisenberg at the University of Wuerzburg, Germany.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Back Again--Broadway Our Way

Uptown Players presents its 10th annual fundraiser

Broadway Our Way: A Decade of Divas

March 16 – 25, 2012 at the Kalita Humphreys Theater.

The Uptown divas return for another entertaining evening of Broadway music with plenty of twists, laughs and surprises. Providing host duties for this year's festivities will be the incredibly funny and talented Paul J. Williams and Marisa Diotalevi.

This year’s divas will sing and dance to 30 songs from recent Broadway hits such as Catch Me If You Can, Xanadu, The Wedding Singer, Memphis and Shrek,as well as classic favorites like Fiddler On The Roof, Sweet Charity, Dreamgirls and Chicago.
This year’s cast includes Michael Albee, Beth Albright, Lon Barrera, Kayla Carlyle, B.J. Cleveland, Coy Covington, Brendan Cyrus, Marisa Diotalevi, Sergio Garcia,Whitney Hennen, Jim Johnson, Summer Kenny, Jeff Kinman, Linda Leonard, SaraMartin, Tony Martin, Kelly McCain, Kevin Moore, Arianna Movassagh, Mark Oristano,Chad Peterson, Thomas Renner, Stephanie Riggs, Rick Starkweather, Amy Stevenson, Max Swarner, Angel Velasco, and Paul J. Williams.

This year Broadway Our Way is written and directed by B. J. Cleveland with music direction by Kevin Gunter and Adam C. Wright and choreography by John de los Santos. The evening also features a gallery of nearly 100 terrific auction prizes, including theatre tickets, restaurant gift certificates, hotel stays, artwork and much more!

A reception follows each performance.The production runs March 16 through March 25, 2012, with shows at 8 p.m. onThursday through Saturday and 2 p.m. on Sundays.

Performances take place at the Kalita Humphreys Theatre, 3636 Turtle Creek Blvd (at Blackburn), Dallas, TX 75219.Tickets are $40-$45, including the post-performance reception, and can be purchased online at or by phone at (214) 219-2718.

Now in its eleventh season, Uptown Players has gathered a dedicated following with an annual audience base of over 15,000 patrons, including nearly 1000 season subscribers. The response from the community and critics has been remarkable,including over 25 Leon Rabin Awards from the Dallas Theatre League, several hundred “The Column” Awards and 15 Theatre Critics Forum Awards in its first 10 seasons.

In recent years, Uptown Players has also been named the best theatre company by the Dallas Voice Readers Awards, and the Dallas Observer, and has appeared on the WFAA-A list and Best of Big D – D Magazine. Uptown Players is a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization, presenting plays and musicals that challenge audiences artistically, build cultural bridges, and strive to create greater positive public awareness and acceptance through the performing arts. There is no other theater group with this unique mission in the Dallas area.