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Collins seen as boon to NIH

By | July 9, 2009

It would be difficult to find a more universally lauded and liked researcher than geneticist Francis Collins, who the Obama administration linkurl:nominated;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/55818/ yesterday (July 8) to take the reins at the National Institutes of Health. Collins led the US government's Human Genome Project in his time as director of the NIH's National Human Genome Research Institute. Francis CollinsImage: WikipediaAlmost immediately after the announcement of Collins's

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Embryonic twist yields turtle shell

By | July 9, 2009

The bizarre body plan of turtles may be less of an evolutionary feat than scientists once believed. According to a linkurl:study;http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/325/5937/193 published online today in Science, the unique organization of the ribs and the development of the unusual shell that turtles call home may be explained by a relatively small structural variation from their animal relatives that occurs during embryonic development. Image: Wikimedia commons"The turtle body plan

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The bio-comedian

By | July 9, 2009

It may be hard to find the humor in biology for researchers crouched over lab benches or dozing through yet another conference presentation. What's so funny about biology? Plenty, if you ask ecologist-turned-comedian linkurl:Tim Lee,;http://www.powerpointcomedian.com/ who draws on years of formal scientific training and research experience to spin the banalities of biology into standup success. Lee features the sometimes tedious PowerPoint medium popular for presenting scientific research as his

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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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