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Collins tapped to lead NIH

By | July 8, 2009

The Obama administration has nominated geneticist Francis Collins to take the helm of the National Institutes of Health. Francis CollinsImage: WikipediaCollins, who led the US government's push to sequence the human genome as head of the National Human Genome Research Institute in the 1990s, previously linkurl:told;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/54702/ __The Scientist__ that he believes science should play a prominent role in policy making. "I would hope that there would be a strong

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DNA sorts carbon nanotubes

By | July 8, 2009

Researchers have coopted DNA for a non-biological use -- sorting carbon nanotubes. A new linkurl:study;http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v460/n7252/abs/nature08116.html reports that synthetic DNA molecules can form paper-like sheets that can be used to separate nanotubes of different diameters, lengths, chiralities, and electronic properties. The study reveals some of "the richness of the structural motifs that nucleic acids may have," said Ming Zheng, a biochemist and materials scientist at

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Immune drug boosts lifespan

By | July 8, 2009

A drug used to prevent the rejection of transplanted organs and as an experimental cancer treatment in humans can significantly increase lifespan when given to adult mice, researchers have found. Mice that were administered the immunosuppressant rapamycin lived an average of 9-14% longer than mice that were not fed the drug, according to a paper published online in __Nature__ today (July 8th). "Four times a mouse" by Jacquesde GheynImage: Wikimedia"This is pretty remarkable," linkurl:Panjak Kap

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New FASEB head takes office

By | July 8, 2009

linkurl:Mark Lively,;http://www1.wfubmc.edu/biochem/Faculty/Lively.htm who took office as the 94th president of the linkurl:Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB);http://www.faseb.org/ last week (July 1), plans to focus the group's policy efforts on issues such as animal use in research, rules for conflicts of interest, and biosecurity regulations relating to the use of select agents, FASEB said in a statement. Image: Wake Forest University School of Medicine"I think

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Animal use details to go online

By | July 6, 2009

The linkurl:United States Department of Agriculture (USDA);http://www.usda.gov/ must post annual reports from animal research facilities that document the levels of pain and distress experienced by animals in experimental procedures, according to a court settlement last week (July 1) of a lawsuit between the USDA and linkurl:The Humane Society of the United States.;http://www.hsus.org/ Image: Wikimedia commons"We have been taking a variety of steps to increase transparency on a number of issue

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NIH loosens stem cell consent rules

By | July 6, 2009

Final rules for human embryonic stem (ES) cell research, announced this afternoon (July 6) by the National Institutes of Health, require strict documentation detailing voluntary donation of embryos leftover from in-vitro fertilization procedures, but they also contain a mechanism for approving individual cell lines that don't meet the letter of the law but still adhere to the spirit of informed consent. Human embryonic stem cellsImage: Wikimedia/PLoSThe draft guidelines proposed in April expli

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Spores spill evolution's secrets

By | July 6, 2009

Developmental "noise" -- the imprecision in molecular pathways that leads to minor slip-ups in development -- creates fodder for evolution. That's the conclusion of a linkurl:paper;http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vaop/ncurrent/abs/nature08150.html published online yesterday (July 5) in __Nature__, which shows that a single mutation in bacterial spore formation that affects individuals in different ways generates morphological diversity that can then be genetically fine-tuned to maximize an

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Limbs regrow without pluripotency

By | July 1, 2009

The cells responsible for the salamander's famed ability to regenerate amputated limbs aren't pluripotent, as scientists have thought, a linkurl:study published online in Nature;http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v460/n7251/abs/nature08152.html today reports. That's good news for regenerative medicine: If the mechanism salamander cells use for regrowing body parts doesn't depend on pluripotent stem cells, it may be easier than researchers have assumed to mimic that organism's regenerative stra

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New tool for grant seekers

By | July 1, 2009

Elsevier is launching a new grant searching tool called SciVal Funding, which allows researchers to collate grant information that is otherwise dispersed in many locations across the Web. The computer program plugs researchers into the usual government, corporate and non-corporate funding sources, but it also helps them find collaborators and scan for projects that received awards in the past to hone their applications and searches. linkurl:SciVal Funding;http://www.info.funding.scival.com/ al

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Union busting at NIEHS?

By | July 1, 2009

Union organizers at a federal science agency have failed in their efforts to unionize researchers and technicians there, prompting allegations of suppression and union busting. In a mid-May ballot, scientists and technicians at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, voted against establishing a union. According to the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA), there were 70 votes against forming the union and 43 for it. The numb

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