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Courtesy of VistaLab TechnologiesMatthew Springer learned to take breaks and rest his hands after suffering two repetitive-motion injuries. "I ended up with two basically useless arms." In constant pain, he says, he could not type for more than a few seconds or do simple tasks like grasp a steering wheel.The injury sent him to physical therapy and he followed a prescribed regimen for a full year. He also practiced yoga, and learned to manage stress. With help from colleagues, who took over his m

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Butler's Last Stand

By | March 1, 2004

On Wednesday, March 10, Thomas Butler, the Texas Tech University researcher convicted last December of fraud and improperly shipping plague samples, is scheduled to be sentenced in a US District Court in Lubbock, Texas.Found guilty on 47 counts, Butler, a plague expert, faces sentences that when added together, total 315 years, and he may be ordered to pay more than $100,000 (US) in fines. "[He] took extraordinary steps to conceal contracts from his employer, pocketed the proceeds from those con

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Stealth Stipulation Shadows Stem Cell Research

By | March 1, 2004

A mid the flurry that followed the United States Congressional winter 2003 recess, the presidential primaries, and the debate over this year's budget, lawmakers gave final approval to 30 words that could have far-reaching consequences for the scientific community. With few hearings, and scant review or debate, Congress sanctioned a plan that forbids the US Patent and Trade Office (PTO) to issue patents on human organisms.1While seemingly innocuous – after all, the federal government has lo

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King of the Roadmap

By | February 16, 2004

Elias Zerhouni listens to the gripes at his third town hall meeting with employees since becoming director of the National Institutes of Health nearly two years ago. The Bethesda, Md., campus lacks adequate parking. The new computer system is a mess. The parking lots are too dark.Zerhouni shares his problems, too. Congress wants him to explain why government scientists are earning millions in fees and stock options from private firms. The agency remains on edge as its the nation's first line of

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Scientists Abandon their Software

By | February 16, 2004

Last summer, a member of the biology department of the University of Udine in Italy approached Nicola Vitacolonna with an intriguing project. The ANREP program, which annotates structural motifs in gene or protein sequences, was out of date having been written more than a decade ago. Although still used by molecular biologists, its slow computing ability meant a straightforward multiple search could take all night on a desktop PC. The Udine biologist wanted Vitacolonna, a postdoctoral fellow in

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Accounting for British Science

By | February 2, 2004

Figure 1The people responsible for commissioning research in the UK government departments agree: They are spending public money and they must make scientists more accountable. But researchers, already dogged by paperwork and procedure, fear the introduction of yet more layers of bureaucracy. That civil servants, and not scientists, set the new standards makes matters worse. Researchers argue that rather than promoting high-quality research, government bureaucrats are simply making it more diffi

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Biotech Financing Freed

By | February 2, 2004

Figure 1After several punishing years, the window for biotechnology financing in the US appears to be reopening, though mainly for larger companies with a strong product pipeline, leaving early-stage biotechs to scrap over a tightening pool of federal and local funds. Biotech companies raked in more than $12 billion (US) in 2003, the industry's second highest annual total, but well behind the $32 million raised in the boom year of 2000.Even more significant, analysts say, is the reappearance of

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Glofish Gives New Shine to GM Debate

By | February 2, 2004

Figure 1Walter Courtenay, a 35-year veteran of government and academic science, looks into his office aquarium and hopes he isn't seeing the future. University of Miami molecular geneticist Patrick Gibbs looks into his, and sees a mystery. Both researchers are watching a merry-looking breed whose trademark name is Glofish – America's first genetically engineered pet.Courtenay, a USGS research fishery biologist and specialist in invasive species, says the three vivid little Glofish that he

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Save Money, Hire Masters

By | February 2, 2004

Figure 1A workforce crisis brewing in biotech will cost companies valuable time and money unless managers wise up and change their ways. Forecasters point to looming shortages of qualified staffers for bench lab and other emerging biotech jobs caused by a one-two punch: the turnaround economy and long-held hiring prejudices that favor academic research scientists.Poised for growth, many biotech companies are shifting focus from discovery to bringing their products to market. In turn, the job mar

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Astrobiology Isn't a Dirty Word Anymore

By | January 19, 2004

The Martian Landers are a first step on a long journey that is part of the new agenda at a biology-centric NASA

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