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Merck and Schering-Plough to merge

By | March 9, 2009

In yet another merger between two major pharmaceutical companies, Merck will acquire Schering-Plough for $41.1 billion, the two companies linkurl:announced;http://www.merck.com/newsroom/press_releases/corporate/2009_0309.html this morning (March 9). The deal is projected to be completed in the fourth quarter of this year. The newly formed company will keep Merck's name and its headquarters in Whitehouse Station, NJ, and Merck's CEO, Richard C. Clarke, will remain head of the combined entity.

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Plotting chimps?

By | March 9, 2009

Chimpanzees may have the ability to plan further into the future than previously thought, according to an article in the online version of Current Biology.Chimpanzee Image: barnoid/flickr The study by Matthias Osvath, a primatologist at Lund University in Sweden, was based on the case report of Santino, a 21-year-old chimpanzee living in on a small island surrounded by a water moat at the Furuvik Zoo in Sweden. For several years, Santino would calmly collect and hoard stones and chunks of conc

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A gene's second coming

By | March 6, 2009

A long-defunct gene that is now involved in Crohn's disease was resurrected over the course of human evolution after being "dead" for millions of years, according to a linkurl:report;http://www.plosgenetics.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pgen.1000403 published online today (Mar. 5) in __PLoS Genetics__. "This is probably the first example of a gene coming back from the dead after being gone for 25 million years," linkurl:Evan Eichler,;http://www.gs.washington.edu/faculty/eichler.htm a gen

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Obama to lift stem cell ban

By | March 6, 2009

President Barack Obama will lift restrictions on the federal funding of embryonic stem cell research on Monday. linkurl:__The Washington Post__;http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/03/06/AR2009030602285.html?hpid=topnews reports that Obama will announce the executive order at 11:00 AM (EDT), citing unnamed "sources close to the issue." Researchers and science advocates have been anticipating the announcement ever since Obama took office earlier this year. The loosening of

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Monkey lab in hot water

By | March 5, 2009

The largest primate facility in the US is drawing fire after an investigation by the Humane Society of the United States produced video footage of alleged animal welfare violations at the center. A Humane Society investigator spent nine months in 2007 and 2008 videotaping alleged abuses at the linkurl:New Iberia Research Center,;http://nirc.louisiana.edu/index.html which is administered by the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. The facility houses more than 6,000 primates, including rhesus m

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Upping access to open access

By | March 5, 2009

With the current system of scholarly publishing in a state of flux -- some might even say in crisis -- several institutions are experimenting with innovative ways of ensuring that their researchers can continue to effortlessly publish, read, and disseminate their work. Image: linkurl:flickr/wakingtiger;http://www.flickr.com/photos/wakingtiger/3157622608/ The problems in publishing aren't new, but are getting worse: Journal subscription costs are far out-stripping library budgets and research in

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You've been plagiarized

By | March 5, 2009

Some experts claim that plagiarism is rampant in the scientific literature. Others say that it's a serious but relatively rare occurrence. The trouble is it's hard to put one's finger on exactly how prevalent plagiarism, duplication, improper citation, and other less tractable taboos have become in scientific publishing. It's even harder to unearth the reactions of the interested parties -- original and secondary authors and journal editors. A new survey appearing in this week's issue of __Scie

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New hope for HIV microbicide

By | March 4, 2009

A new study has revived hopes for an effective vaginal microbicide in preventing the transmission of HIV. A compound widely used in cosmetics and foods can block transmission of the virus by interfering with the immunological steps to infection, linkurl:researchers report;http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nature07831.html in Nature this week. Representation of virus expansionafter SIV exposure. Greencrosses: clusters of infected cells. Image: A. HaaseThe compound's microbi

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New NIH stimulus grants go live

By | March 4, 2009

The National Institutes of Health is inviting researchers to apply for newly created grants, funded by the $10 billion that the agency netted in the recently-signed economic stimulus legislation. The new initiative, called the NIH Challenge Grants in Health and Science Research, will make a pot of $200 million of that stimulus cash available for projects focusing on a broad array of more than one hundred topics, from behavioral sciences and genomics to stem cells and translational science. Thes

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Piggybacking to pluripotency

By | March 1, 2009

Researchers have for the first time reprogrammed human skin cells to a pluripotent state without using viruses, according to twin studies published online today in __Nature__. The approach "is truly epigenetic," linkurl:Richard Young,;http://web.wi.mit.edu/young/ a geneticist at the Whitehead Institute in Cambridge, Mass., who was not involved in the research, told __The Scientist__. "You introduce a set of master regulators, they're expressed, they reprogram the cell, and then you successfully

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