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Can monkeys mislead?

By | June 3, 2009

Capuchin monkeys cry "predator" to trick more senior members of their troop into fleeing the dinner table, leaving more food for themselves, according to a linkurl:study published online this week;http://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/early/2009/06/02/rspb.2009.0544.abstract?sid=004f43ad-84b7-461e-a605-d647c5c15086 in Proceedings of the Royal Society B. Image: Brandon Wheeler"This is one of the only studies which has actually [used] an experimental paradigm to look at tactical deceptio

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Texas school under investigation

By | June 1, 2009

A leading American faculty organization is formally investigating the mass termination of tenured and tenure-track professors on grounds of financial exigency made by the University of Texas System and its Medical Branch in Galveston in the wake of Hurricane Ike. These layoffs "raise key issues of academic freedom, tenure, and due process," the linkurl:American Association of University Professors;http://www.aaup.org/ (AAUP) wrote in a linkurl:letter;http://txfacassn.typepad.com/files/combest-c

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Patched-up human stem cells

By | May 31, 2009

For the first time, researchers have combined gene therapy and cellular reprogramming technologies in human cells to correct a genetic defect. After taking skin and hair cells from patients with a rare genetic disorder and fixing the aberrant mutation, the investigators successfully reprogrammed the cells to an embryonic-like state and then turned them into the very cell types that usually go awry, according to a linkurl:study;http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vaop/ncurrent/abs/nature08129.ht

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Geckos invade Philly museum

By | May 29, 2009

Geckos get around. They're among the most diverse and widely distributed lizards, populating every continent except Antarctica and inhabiting everything from tropical beaches and humid rainforests to chilly mountain ranges and arid deserts. This Saturday (May 30), geckos are making an appearance at The Academy of Natural Sciences (ANS) in Philadelphia. The traveling exhibit, "Geckos -- Tails to Toepads" will be open for public viewing until Labor Day (September 7). The exhibit, operated by link

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Is tenure worth saving?

By | May 28, 2009

The economy is depressed, money is tight, and universities are feeling the pinch. One radical proposal for trimming budgets is to eliminate tenure-track positions, shifting faculty to part-time and full-time non-tenure-track positions. The move away from tenure has been slowly brewing for decades. While core tenure-system positions comprised approximately 55% of all faculty in 1970s, by 2003 that number had dropped to 41% and further still to 31% in 2007. Dan Clawson Image: University of Massa

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Of men, not mice

By | May 28, 2009

Researchers have identified a protein that plays a central and hitherto-undescribed role in glucose trafficking in humans but isn't even expressed in mice, they report in this week's __Science__. "We always knew that mice and humans were different from each other," said Yale Medical School cell biologist linkurl:Jonathan Bogan,;http://www.cellbiology.yale.edu/faculty/bogan_j/bogan_j.html who was not involved in the study. "This gives us some insight into perhaps how, specifically, they're diffe

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Patient-ready iPS cells?

By | May 28, 2009

For the first time, human skin cells have been reprogrammed without using DNA, according to a linkurl:study;http://www.cell.com/cell-stem-cell/fulltext/S1934-5909(09)00214-8 published online today (May 28) in __Cell Stem Cell__. Although further optimization is still required, this new technique, which involves only four genetically engineered proteins, could yield the first clinic-ready human induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells. Human iPS cells generatedby direct protein deliveryImage: Kwang-

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Researcher razzle-dazzle

By | May 28, 2009

Biomedical researchers don't typically rub elbows with rock-'n-roll royalty in the pages of glossy magazines. In fact, they never do. Until now. Seal, Eric Topol, and David AgusImage: Geoffrey Beene / GQIn the June issue of__ linkurl:GQ,;http://men.style.com/gq __a popular men's fashion magazine, 11 of America's leading biomedical researchers appear alongside celebrated pop musicians for a multi-page spread called "Rock Stars of Science." The scientists traded in their elbow-patched tweed for s

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Ancient organism, modern immunity

By | May 27, 2009

The adaptive immune system, which can recognize, attack, and remember potentially harmful microbes, may have appeared on the evolutionary scene millions of years earlier than scientists thought. The immune system of the sea lamprey, a primitive, jawless fish, contains two cell types that recognize and respond to characteristic molecules associated with invading pathogens, researchers report in this week's __Nature__. "It's amazing to us," lead author linkurl:Max Cooper,;http://www.gra.org/Emine

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Going against the group

By | May 27, 2009

A new theoretical model of parasite virulence linkurl:published;http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nature08071.html in this week's __Nature__ puts a chink in the armor of group selection theory, the idea that organisms act altruistically for the betterment of groups as a whole. Image: flickr/polandezeThe study "contributes to this debate that evolutionary biologists really seem to enjoy, which is at what level selection seems to act," linkurl:Geoff Wild,;http://www.apmaths.

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