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Best Places to Work Postdocs, 2011

By | March 1, 2011

By Cristina Luiggi Best Places to Work Postdocs, 2011 Setting up your own scientific laboratory is no easy task, but this year’s respondents are using their postdoc experiences to prepare for the challenge. The postdoctoral years are a critical time in a budding scientist’s career. Decades ago, doing a postdoc was a voluntary option for new PhDs who were not quite ready to commit to a permanent position. Now postdoctoral positions are required trainin

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Bitter Pill

By | March 1, 2011

By Richard P. Grant Bitter Pill 3d4medical / photo researchers inc. The paper D.A. Deshpande et al., “Bitter taste receptors on airway smooth muscle bronchodilate by localized calcium signaling and reverse obstruction,” Nat Med, 16:1299-304, 2010. Free F1000 Evaluation The finding Stephen Liggett and colleagues at the University of Maryland School of Medicine set out to identify the G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs) involved in the cont

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Book excerpt from The Wisdom of Birds

By | March 1, 2011

By Tim Birkhead Book excerpt from The Wisdom of Birds In Chapter 9, “Darwin in Denial,” author Tim Birkhead explains how Darwin’s failure to recognize avian female promiscuity resulted in a century of misconceptions about sexual selection On a small area of waste ground outside the Andalusian town of Gaudix half a dozen middle-aged men are preparing for a contest that will determine their social status for weeks to come. Five of the men each carr

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Calcium Kicks

By | March 1, 2011

By Richard P. Grant Calcium Kicks Medi-Mation ltd / Photo researchers inc. The paper M.D. Fuller et al., “Molecular mechanism of calcium channel regulation in the fight-or-flight response,” Sci Signal, 3:ra70, 2010. Free F1000 Evaluation The finding Pounding heart, tight muscles, and rapid breathing are all familiar effects of the “fight or flight” response. Adrenaline receptors turn on protein kinase A (PKA), which opens ca

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Capsule Reviews

By | March 1, 2011

By Bob Grant Capsule Reviews Asleep: The Forgotten Epidemic That Remains One of Medicine’s Greatest Mysteries by Molly Caldwell Crosby Berkley Publishing Group (March 2010, in paperback February 1, 2011) In Asleep, science writer Molly Caldwell Crosby awakens the specter of a rapacious disease that killed more than one million people all over the world in the 1920s. Encephalitis lethargica, or sleeping sickness, emerged from the ashes of World War I to

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Character Flaws?

By | March 1, 2011

By Vanessa Schipani Character Flaws? The West African forest gecko, which Fujita and Leaché determined to be at least four distinct species Piotr Naskrecki / Minden pictures Imposing distinct separations on the fluid process of evolution inevitably breeds disagreement on what exactly constitutes a species. On Christmas Eve, 1856, Charles Darwin wrote in a letter to Joseph Dalton Hooker, botanist and friend: “It is really laughable to see what differe

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Come Inside

By | March 1, 2011

By Richard P. Grant Come Inside Lesley McKeane, MRC Visual Aids (virus) The paper D.L. Mallery et al., “Antibodies mediate intracellular immunity through tripartite motif-containing 21 (TRIM21),” PNAS, 107:19985-90, 2010. Free F1000 Evaluation The finding Antibodies work by activating the complement cascade, preventing invading microorganisms from entering cells, or binding to a pathogen and marking it for destruction by immune cells. Now,

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Contributors

By | March 1, 2011

Contributors Mysteries have always appealed to Manel Esteller, a self-proclaimed “aficionado” of Sherlock Holmes. “I like the possibility to deduce a whole starting from a minimal clue.” Trying to solve the mystery surrounding the molecular genetics of endometrial carcinoma during his PhD program at Universidad de Barcelona led him to devote himself to epigenetics, after he found that pure genetics was unable to explain his results. He move

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Environmental Impact

By | March 1, 2011

By David Berreby Environmental Impact Research in behavioral epigenetics is seeking evidence that links experience to biochemistry to gene expression and back out again. Jasper James / Gettyimages In the late 1970s, when Hans Reul was a student running gels on the rich soup of proteins around DNA and RNA, he found himself wondering about the function of those nongenetic molecules in his samples. “I asked my supervisor, ‘What are those proteins down

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Epigenetic Changes in Cancer

By | March 1, 2011

By Manel Esteller Epigenetic Changes in Cancer The study of how covalent marks on DNA and histones are involved in the origin and spread of cancer cells is also leading to new therapeutic strategies. Lung cancer close-up MOREDUN ANIMAL HEALTH LTD/SPL / Gettyimages Much of the current hype in epigenetics stems from the recognition of its role in human cancer. Yet, intriguingly, the first epigenetic change in human tumors—global genomic DNA hypomethylatio

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