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New front in animal rights war

By | April 21, 2010

A recent legal dispute between the University of South Dakota and an animal rights group represents a new front to the battle between scientists and animal rights groups: state open records laws. Image: Wikimedia CommonsAsociacion Animalista Libera!Specifically, activists have turned to state open records laws to obtain information about biomedical research happening at state institutions. "In addition to the federal [Freedom of Information Act], animal rights groups are also using state open

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FRPAA's back!

By | April 20, 2010

On Capitol Hill, as the dust settles from the tortured passage of healthcare reform legislation, and US lawmakers ready for a coming fracas over financial reform, a bill that would make data from almost all federally funded research available to the public within six months of publication returns to the legislature's to do list. Image: Wikimedia CommonsDavid MonniauxAccording to linkurl:GenomeWeb,;http://www.genomeweb.com/house-bill-proposes-federal-open-access-policy late last week, Representa

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Tough microbes to treat toxins?

By | April 20, 2010

Human pollutants can cause drastic decreases in microbial diversity, but the bacteria that survive the contamination may yield clues for how to remove such toxins from the environment, according to a study published in The International Society for Microbial Ecology Journal. This study suggests "that bacteria can survive in highly toxic environments," said linkurl:Mihai Pop,;http://www.cbcb.umd.edu/~mpop/ a bioinformaticist at University of Maryland, who was not involved in the research.Aircraf

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Crab shells help spinal injury?

By | April 19, 2010

Material from crushed up crab and shrimp shells can restore electrical function to damaged guinea pig spinal cords, suggesting it may one day serve as a treatment for spinal cord injuries, according to a study published April 16th in the Journal of Experimental Biology. This paper is an "intriguing first step," said linkurl:Scott Whittemore,;http://louisville.edu/kscirc/bios/dr-scott-r-whittemore.html professor of neurological surgery at the University of Louisville, who was not involved in th

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News in a nutshell

By | April 19, 2010

Overlooking the Eyjafjallajökull glacierand the ongoing volcano eruption fromHvolsvöllur on April 18th, 2010Image: Wikimedia commons, BoawormAsh axes scientific conferencesIt's not just flights that are disrupted -- the linkurl:5th European Plant Science Organisation (EPSO) conference,;http://www.epsoweb.org/event/conference/finland-2010 scheduled for April 18 through 22 above the Arctic Circle, near Muonio in Lapland, has been postponed until 2011 due to the lingering volcanic ash cloud

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Catastrophic art

By | April 16, 2010

When artists Jebney Lewis and K.R. Wood asked University of Pennsylvania mathematical biology postdoc Todd Parsons for a complex concept that needed to be communicated to the broader public, it was hysteresis: the idea that seemingly gradual change can suddenly become catastrophic. Over dinner, pad of paper and pencils in hand, the three started brainstorming ways to visually embody the slow growth and sudden collapse. Several months and many sketches later, their work is now on display as an

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NIH funding rates drop

By | April 15, 2010

Last year, the NIH funded fewer grants than it has for any year in the last nine years, and the average grant success rate -- 20.6 percent of reviewed grant applications funded among 26 institutions -- was the second lowest since 2000. Success rates are down from 21.8 percent in 2008 and only slightly higher than the 2006 ten-year low, when the NIH dispersed its funds out among only 20.0 percent of reviewed proposals. In total, 8,881 grant applications were funded last year, down from 9,460

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PhD student admits misconduct

By | April 15, 2010

An Indiana University student researching the molecular physiology of diabetes admitted to a string of misconduct -- falsifying data in two papers, a successful grant application to the National Institutes of Health, and her defended PhD thesis. Image by Tomomarusan via WikimediaThe Office of Research Integrity (ORI) announced the misconduct finding this week in the linkurl:Federal Register.;http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2010/2010-8386.htm Emily Horvath, who got her PhD from Indiana University

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Nuclei swap to stop disease?

By | April 14, 2010

A technique may one day prevent something that is currently unpreventable -- the transmission of mitochondrial diseases from mother to child, according to a proof-of-concept paper published online today (April 14) in Nature. Blastocyst on day 5 after fertilizationImage: Wikimedia commons, EkemThe authors swapped the nuclei from one fertilized human egg with the nuclei from another, creating an embryo with nuclear DNA from the donor egg, but mitochondrial DNA primarily from the recipient. They s

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Top killers share genes

By | April 12, 2010

Cancer, obesity, and even atherosclerosis share a common set of differentially expressed genes, suggesting a diverse number of human diseases share the same disrupted biological pathways, according to new research published this week in Cancer Cell. The genetic link also suggests that drugs currently used for the treatment of metabolic and cardiovascular diseases might also be used against cancer, researchers say. DNA microarrayImage: Wikimedia commons, Guillaume Paumier "In any year, there a

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