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News in a nutshell

By | February 15, 2010

Biology department casualtiesThe Chronicle of Higher Education has posted linkurl:remembrances;http://chronicle.com/article/Remembering-the-Victims/64199/ of the three researchers killed on Friday when Amy Bishop, an assistant professor of biology at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, opened fire in a faculty meeting, reportedly because she had been denied tenure. linkurl:Media reports;http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/15/us/15alabama.html?ref=us revealed this weekend that Bishop had fatally

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Genetic coding revamp

By | February 14, 2010

Scientists have developed a new genetic language using a ribosome that can read instructions that are 4 base pairs long, enabling the construction of designer proteins containing a variety of unnatural elements, according to a study published online today (February 14) in Nature. Image: Wikimedia commons, S. Jähnichen"It is brilliant," said organic chemist linkurl:John Sutherland;http://www.chemistry.manchester.ac.uk/aboutus/staff/showprofile.php?id=390 of the University of Manchester in th

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Pork for science - good or bad?

By | February 11, 2010

Congressional earmarks are typically associated with bridges, parks, or other public works -- but science? Indeed, science is also a recipient of this process, in which money comes directly from the appropriations bills (i.e - your tax dollars), sans the competition that marks most government awards, courtesy of legislators adept at funneling cash into their home states.Image: Steven Lek via Wikimedia Commons Research funded by earmarks usually comes in the form of agricultural and defense pro

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First ancient human sequenced

By | February 10, 2010

For the first time researchers have sequenced an ancient human genome, revealing characteristics of Greenland's first inhabitants and providing evidence of a previously unknown human migration, according to a study published in this week's Nature. Artist rendition of ancient Saqqaq Image: Nuka GodfredtsenPast studies have sequenced partial genomes or mitochondrial DNA, which only codes for the mother's side of the genome, said linkurl:David Lambert,;http://www.griffith.edu.au/environment-plan

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Yeast heaters

By | February 10, 2010

Yeast living in the nectar of flowering plants can act as miniature space heaters for winter-blooming flowers, suggesting the microorganisms may be a third player in what scientists have traditionally viewed as a two-part plant-pollinator relationship, according to a study published online today (February 9) in Proceedings of the Royal Society B. Helleborus foetidusImage: Carlos Herrera"It's pretty exciting," said evolutionary microbiologist linkurl:André Lachance;http://www.uwo.ca/biology

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News in a nutshell

By | February 8, 2010

No conflict, but FDA's head drug official steps aside from an approval processlinkurl:Janet Woodcock,;http://www.fda.gov/AboutFDA/CentersOffices/ucm193984.htm director of the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER) at the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), has recused herself from the approval process for two competing blood-thinning drugs that mimic the anticoagulant with a troubled recent past, heparin. The FDA linkurl:claimed;http://www.baltimoresun.com/entertainment/michael-jackso

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NSF director heads to Purdue

By | February 5, 2010

Arden L. Bement is stepping down as the director of the National Science Foundation (NSF) to head up Purdue University's new Global Policy Research Institute (GPRI), which will offer faculty and student fellowships, a certificate in public policy, and a graduate program in public policy and public administration. Arden L. BementImage: linkurl: Sam Kittner;http://portfolio.kittner.com/ "Arden Bement is a leader in the national and global science community," Purdue president and National Science

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Science: Auto-tuned

By | February 5, 2010

It's Carl Sagan like you've never heard him: his digitized, remixed voice sounds more like something emanating from a radio tuned to a pop music station than from a TV playing a public television documentary. Footage of the scientist in his award-winning PBS series linkurl:Cosmos;http://www.hulu.com/cosmos mingles with stunning computer animations depicting complex scientific concepts. This is all part of a novel project called linkurl:Symphony of Science,;http://www.symphonyofscience.com/index.

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RNA repeats protect DNA

By | February 4, 2010

Repeat untranscribed DNA sequences are generally thought to be genetic junk at best, harmful at worst, but in ribosomes they are essential to repairing DNA damage, according to a study published this week in Science. Ribosomal protein complex Image: Wikimedia Commons Ribosomal DNA (rDNA) codes for the RNA that makes up a major component of ribosomes, the site of protein synthesis. Ribosomal RNA (rRNA) comprises 80% of the RNA found in a typical cell and is highly conserved from bacteria to hum

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Sperm motility secrets revealed

By | February 4, 2010

Reproductive biologists have identified the mechanism that triggers sperm's race to the egg, reports a study in Cell today. Stained sperm cells(Blue, nucleus; red, mitochondria; green, Hv1protein localized in the sperm flagellum) Image: Yuriy KirichokBy measuring the electrical current passing through the sperm cell membrane, researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, identified a channel that releases a flood of protons from a sperm cell, initiating its trip up the fallopian

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