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Collins confirmed as NIH head

By | August 7, 2009

Geneticist Francis Collins was confirmed by the US Senate this afternoon (7th August) as the next director of the National Institutes of Health, a spokesperson for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told __The Scientist__. Collins's confirmation proceeded via unanimous consent, without the need for a hearing in the US Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions or a roll-call vote on the Senate floor. "Dr. Collins will be an outstanding leader," said Department of Health and Human


Stem cell fraud...again?

By | August 6, 2009

Stem cell researchers at the University of Minnesota are once again under investigation for falsifying data, linkurl:New Scientist reported; this week. Mouse embryonic stem cellsImage: Wikimedia commonsEarlier this year, New Scientist identified at least two potentially manipulated or duplicated images in a linkurl:2008 American Journal of Physiology pape


Collins confirmation imminent

By | August 5, 2009

Francis Collins may be just days away from officially being confirmed to lead the National Institutes of Health, according to Congressional staffers close to the issue. Francis CollinsImage: WikipediaA spokesperson for Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY), who is ranking member of the US Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, told __The Scientist__ that the committee OKed Collins's nomination without holding a confirmation hearing. The spokesperson, Craig Orfield, said that the committe


Contract research on the rise

By | August 5, 2009

The global economic crisis has got most businesses pinching pennies just to stay afloat, and the drug development industry is no exception. But at least one area of the biotechnology sector -- contract research organizations (CROs) -- is on the rise. Image: Wikimedia commons, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Public Health Image LibraryCROs first showed up in the biotech industry in the late 1970s and quickly took on a significant role in research and development (R&D), eventually ex


Plum Island for sale?

By | August 5, 2009

Looking for a little island property near the Hamptons in New York? How about a charming old Biosafety Level 3 facility? Plum Island Animal Disease Center Image: Wikipedia The US government is taking steps to sell Plum Island Animal Disease Center, the government-run lab which has conducted experiments on pathogens such as foot and mouth disease. The town board of Southold in Long Island, New York, received a visit this week from representatives of the United States General Services Administrat


Severed axons regrow to target

By | August 2, 2009

Scientists have met one of the long-standing challenges of regenerative medicine: For the first time, they have succeeded in coaxing an injured spinal cord to regenerate sensory axons in rats that reinnervate the specific place they would need to reach in order to regain function. Human vertebral columnImage: Gray's Anatomy, via Wikipedia However, the paper, published online in Nature Neuroscience, showed that the regenerated axons, which also formed synapses, showed little to no activity. "


Newton the gumshoe

By | July 31, 2009

Everyone knows the story about Sir Isaac Newton's run-in with an apple. But when you read linkurl:Newton and the Counterfeiter; by Thomas Levenson, you realize that there was more to the man than an extraordinary understanding of physics and philosophy. The book tells the story of how, in the author's words: "Newton, only months removed from the life of a Cambridge philosopher, managed incredibly swiftly to mast


NIH 2010 budget tweaked

By | July 30, 2009

A U.S. Senate panel has okayed President Barack Obama's request for next year's funding for the National Institutes of Health -- a $442 million boost, for a total of $30.8 billion. According to linkurl:a statement; released by the Senate, lawmakers decided not to award the agency a huge amount of funding because of the recent stimulus package, which passed $10 bi


Stressed brains rely on habit

By | July 30, 2009

Exposure to chronic stress causes alterations in brain anatomy that may compel rats to rely too much on routine, even when a change in circumstances calls for a change in behavior, according to a new study published this week in Science. Image: Wikimedia commons, Janet StephensThe study provides "a really nice animal model for a subtle, important problem with cognition that can be caused by chronic stress in humans," neuroscientist linkurl:Robert Sapolsky;


Alzheimer's clue found

By | July 29, 2009

Researchers report a step forward in understanding the pathology of Alzheimer's disease. Two genes that are commonly mutated in the early-onset form of Alzheimer's may cause the disorder by altering how presynaptic neurons release neurotransmitters, according to a study published this week in Nature. Image: Wikimedia commonsThe mechanism may apply to other neurodegenerative disorders as well, the researchers say. "This is a new concept that's interesting to know," said molecular neurobiologi


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