University of Colorado

Top University of Colorado Discoveries:

Discovery that the genetic messenger ribonucleic acid (RNA) can act like an enzyme and trigger catalytic reactions; with applications for novel therapeutics. Thomas Cech, Distinguished Chemistry and Biochemistry Professor and co-winner of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 1989.
Creation of a new state of matter known as the Bose-Einstein condensate, a chilled gas that condenses into a “superatom” and behaves as a single entity; with applications for atom-dispensing lasers and optoelectronics. Physics Professors Carl Wieman and Eric Cornell, who shared the Nobel Prize in Physics for this discovery in 2001.
Development of a process known as SELEX in which thousands of RNA molecules produced in test tubes replicate and evolve to bind to specific proteins (“evolution in a test tube”); the RNA molecules produced via this process are capable of altering the functions of proteins involved in a variety of diseases, thus paving the way for new genetic therapies. Craig Tuerk and Larry Gold, Dept. of MCD Biology, 1990.
Discovery of a new ring around the planet Saturn known as the “F” ring using data from the Voyager 2 satellite (launched in 1978), as well as evidence for a massive volcanic eruptions on Venus in the early 1980s that was hundreds of times as powerful as the Mt. St. Helens eruption in Washington. Professor Larry Esposito, Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics.
The first successful liver transplant, assisted by a pilot program in the use of the drug cyclosporin, was performed in 1963 by Dr. Thomas Starzl of the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center.
Established the foundation for the development of automated gene synthesizers, which are essential for chromosome mapping, DNA sequencing and the diagnosis of diseases and genetic disorders. Professor Marvin Caruthers, Chemistry and Biochemistry, 1992.
The nation’s first double-blind, placebo-controlled surgical trial to test the safety and effectiveness of fetal dopamine-cell implantation for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease, demonstrating that patients receiving transplants were better able to move and perform other activities. Robert Breeze and Curt Freed, UC Health Sciences Center clinical pharmacology and toxicology, 1988.
Development of the “safe school” planning assistance program (“safe schools kit”), which was made available to all of Colorado’s 1500 schools and provided blueprints for violence prevention. Professor Delbert Elliot, Sociology, 1999.
Demonstration that solutions to flood plain hazards and access to fresh water supplies must take into account social, cultural, political and policy decisions to preserve aquatic ecosystems. Professor Emeritus Gilbert White, Geography, 1999.
Creation of a new quantum gas by cooling a vapor of fermions – along with bosons, one of the two basic types of quantum particles – to less than one-millionth of a degree above absolute zero, resulting in a quantum state where atoms behave like waves. This discovery may help unlock the mysteries of high-temperature superconductivity, leading to increased efficiency of electrical transmission systems and the potential development of magnetically levitated trains. Professor Deborah Jin, postdoctoral researcher Markus Greiner and graduate student Cindy Regal, Physics / Joint Institute for Laboratory Astrophysics.