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By | January 1, 2011

Contributors Samuel S. Myers and Aaron Bernstein are interested in the bigger picture. Both enrolled in interdisciplinary programs in college and moved on to medical school. But even their medical school and residency experiences were untraditional. Myers enlarged his view of the world by taking a two-year break from his medical residency at the University of California, San Francisco, when Tibetan officials invited him to become the health administrator of Qomolangm

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Eau de Choice

By | January 1, 2011

By Richard P. Grant Eau de Choice HIDDEN JEWEL In the wild, male animals typically compete with each other for the attention of the opposite sex. When the female of a species—mouse, rat, cat, dog, or human—puts the lion’s (or rather, lioness’s) share of effort into raising offspring, she becomes a shrewd investor who must be choosy about her mate. Evolutionary biologist Jane Hurst at the University of Liverpool has found that male mice

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Eavesdroppings

By | January 1, 2011

Eavesdroppings Speaking of Science © T-Immagini / istockphoto.com Understanding brain code, and connecting it with a computer chip, is the next pivotal frontier, analogous to how cracking the DNA code astronomically progressed science. —Caroline Rothstein, in “Implant Memory Chips in Our Brains,” a Big Think interview with Gary Marcus When we’re shown trust, our brains motivate us to be trustworthy. It’s a beautiful ki

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From Simple To Complex

By | January 1, 2011

By Jef Akst From Simple To Complex The switch from single-celled organisms to ones made up of many cells has evolved independently more than two dozen times. What can this transition teach us about the origin of complex organisms such as animals and plants? Sean McCabe Given the complexity of most organisms—sophisticated embryogenesis, differentiation of multiple tissue types, intricate coordination among millions of cells—the emergence of multicel

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Garage Innovation

By | January 1, 2011

The potential costs of regulating synthetic biology must be counted against putative benefits.

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Human Effects

By | January 1, 2011

By Richard P. Grant Human Effects Erle Ellis, Kees Klein Goldewijk, Stefan Siebert, Deborah Lightman, and Navin Ramankutty. 2010. The paper E.C. Ellis et al., “Anthropogenic transformation of the biomes, 1700 to 2000,” Glob Ecol Biogeogr, 19:589-606, 2010. Free F1000 Evaluation The finding To accurately measure the changes to the terrestrial biosphere on a global scale, Erle Ellis at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and coworker

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Interfering with Cancer

By | January 1, 2011

By Katherine Hyde and Paul Liu Interfering with Cancer MicroRNAs may drive the development of leukemia. Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is a cancer of the blood-cell producing bone marrow with several subtypes, and is usually fatal within months, or even weeks, if left untreated. It is now becoming clear, however, that dysregulation of microRNAs (miRs) is not simply a side effect of the cancer; rather, it could play a mechanistic role in the development of leukemia.

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Jeremy Reiter: Hunting for Cilia

By | January 1, 2011

By Cristina Luiggi Jeremy Reiter: Hunting for Cilia Michael Winokur Photography Assistant professor of biochemistry, University of California, San Francisco. Age: 39 In late summer of 2005, budding developmental biologist 1 and an offer for tenure at UCSF quickly followed. RESULTS: Reiter’s passion for research was ignited during the PhD half of his MD/PhD training at UCSF, when he worked in Didier Stainier’s lab studying zebrafish he

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Labcations

By | January 1, 2011

By Vanessa Schipani Labcations Getting to know your colleagues outside the lab makes for better science. Stowe Mountain Resort, Vermont PHOTO courtesy of Stowe Mountain Resort Every winter, throngs of sleds carry children of all ages down Marshall Hill in Stowe, Vermont. Hands down, it’s “the world’s best tobogganing and inner tube hill,” sending fearless young sledders down its slope at “a million miles an hour,” says Wi

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Mail

By | January 1, 2011

Mail Really Learning Biology At least in the Unites States, most undergraduate biology majors are required to take an evolution course as part of their core curriculum, but I know of no undergraduate curriculum that requires a course in systematics. While evolution does indeed explain the “why” of homology, systematics tackles the more fundamental questions of “what is homology, how do we discover it, and use it to infer phylogene

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