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Fertilizers shape plant genomes

By | March 10, 2009

Spraying plants with nitrogen-rich fertilizers does more than just make crops grow bigger; it also molds the chemical composition of their genomes and proteomes, according to a linkurl:study;http://mbe.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/msp038 published online last week (Mar. 2) in the journal __Molecular Biology & Evolution__. "This tells us how modifications in the environment can have a big effect on a species and its genome, and how quickly it can happen," said linkurl:Sudhir Kumar,;ht

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Industry set for stem cell profits

By | March 9, 2009

As President Barack Obama lifts eight-year-old restrictions that have kept scores of researchers from receiving federal dollars for embryonic stem cell research, some life science entrepreneurs are readying for an uptick in business. Michael West, CEO of California based biotech linkurl:BioTime,;http://www.biotimeinc.com/ told __The Scientist__ that he's been preparing for Obama's announcement for the past year. Knowing that the next US president would likely overturn the 2001 Bush ban on gover

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Merck and Schering-Plough to merge

By | March 9, 2009

In yet another merger between two major pharmaceutical companies, Merck will acquire Schering-Plough for $41.1 billion, the two companies linkurl:announced;http://www.merck.com/newsroom/press_releases/corporate/2009_0309.html this morning (March 9). The deal is projected to be completed in the fourth quarter of this year. The newly formed company will keep Merck's name and its headquarters in Whitehouse Station, NJ, and Merck's CEO, Richard C. Clarke, will remain head of the combined entity.

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Plotting chimps?

By | March 9, 2009

Chimpanzees may have the ability to plan further into the future than previously thought, according to an article in the online version of Current Biology.Chimpanzee Image: barnoid/flickr The study by Matthias Osvath, a primatologist at Lund University in Sweden, was based on the case report of Santino, a 21-year-old chimpanzee living in on a small island surrounded by a water moat at the Furuvik Zoo in Sweden. For several years, Santino would calmly collect and hoard stones and chunks of conc

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A gene's second coming

By | March 6, 2009

A long-defunct gene that is now involved in Crohn's disease was resurrected over the course of human evolution after being "dead" for millions of years, according to a linkurl:report;http://www.plosgenetics.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pgen.1000403 published online today (Mar. 5) in __PLoS Genetics__. "This is probably the first example of a gene coming back from the dead after being gone for 25 million years," linkurl:Evan Eichler,;http://www.gs.washington.edu/faculty/eichler.htm a gen

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Obama to lift stem cell ban

By | March 6, 2009

President Barack Obama will lift restrictions on the federal funding of embryonic stem cell research on Monday. linkurl:__The Washington Post__;http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/03/06/AR2009030602285.html?hpid=topnews reports that Obama will announce the executive order at 11:00 AM (EDT), citing unnamed "sources close to the issue." Researchers and science advocates have been anticipating the announcement ever since Obama took office earlier this year. The loosening of

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Monkey lab in hot water

By | March 5, 2009

The largest primate facility in the US is drawing fire after an investigation by the Humane Society of the United States produced video footage of alleged animal welfare violations at the center. A Humane Society investigator spent nine months in 2007 and 2008 videotaping alleged abuses at the linkurl:New Iberia Research Center,;http://nirc.louisiana.edu/index.html which is administered by the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. The facility houses more than 6,000 primates, including rhesus m

11 Comments

Upping access to open access

By | March 5, 2009

With the current system of scholarly publishing in a state of flux -- some might even say in crisis -- several institutions are experimenting with innovative ways of ensuring that their researchers can continue to effortlessly publish, read, and disseminate their work. Image: linkurl:flickr/wakingtiger;http://www.flickr.com/photos/wakingtiger/3157622608/ The problems in publishing aren't new, but are getting worse: Journal subscription costs are far out-stripping library budgets and research in

5 Comments

You've been plagiarized

By | March 5, 2009

Some experts claim that plagiarism is rampant in the scientific literature. Others say that it's a serious but relatively rare occurrence. The trouble is it's hard to put one's finger on exactly how prevalent plagiarism, duplication, improper citation, and other less tractable taboos have become in scientific publishing. It's even harder to unearth the reactions of the interested parties -- original and secondary authors and journal editors. A new survey appearing in this week's issue of __Scie

16 Comments

New hope for HIV microbicide

By | March 4, 2009

A new study has revived hopes for an effective vaginal microbicide in preventing the transmission of HIV. A compound widely used in cosmetics and foods can block transmission of the virus by interfering with the immunological steps to infection, linkurl:researchers report;http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nature07831.html in Nature this week. Representation of virus expansionafter SIV exposure. Greencrosses: clusters of infected cells. Image: A. HaaseThe compound's microbi

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