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Announcing The Scientist's Labbies

By | April 7, 2010

Is your lab keyed in to cutting-edge technologies that help disseminate your life science research? Enter your lab website, blog, research videos, slideshow, or other presentation for a chance to win one of The Scientist's 2010 multimedia awards -- the Labbies! Expanding on our linkurl:Video Awards from last year,; The Scientist is looking for scientists and scientific laboratories that show real tech savvy in presenting their research to the wider world


Gut bacteria are what we eat

By | April 7, 2010

Gut microbes, which help humans degrade otherwise indigestible plant material, acquire some crucial digestive enzyme genes from the bacteria in the food we eat, according to a study published this week in Nature. This new finding provides an example of horizontal gene transfer by which diet can influence the genetic diversity and functionality of the human gut microbiome. Image: Wikimedia commons, Alessandro Scotti"It's a fascinating story," said microbiologist linkurl:Jeffrey Gordon;http://gor


The stem cell banking crisis

By | April 7, 2010

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has allowed a contract for the dissemination of embryonic stem cell lines approved for US government funding to lapse, shuttering a key stem cell bank, and doubling the price researchers pay for samples of some human embryonic stem cell (hESC) lines. Human embryonic stem cellsImage: Wikimedia commons, Nissim BenvenistyResearchers hoped that stem cell research would be moving forward by leaps and bounds with the number of hESC lines approved for federal fu


Wildlife manager or exterminator?

By | April 6, 2010

Alaskan wildlife biologists are questioning the new head of the linkurl:Alaska Division of Wildlife Conservation at the Department of Fish and Game; (ADFG) -- both his qualifications (or lack thereof) and his pro-hunter management strategies. A group of nearly 40 retired state biologists wrote a linkurl:letter; last month to linkurl:Denby Lloyd,; commission


News in a nutshell

By | April 5, 2010

Image: Wikimedia commons, NASAScience to spaceSpace shuttle Discovery lifted off on schedule this morning (April 5) at 6:21 A.M., bringing a new micro-laboratory and other equipment and experiments to the International Space Station about 220 miles above Earth. The micro-laboratory, a joint venture between the Houston-based firm NanoRacks and a Kentucky-based non-profit space research collaboration called Kentucky Space, is the "first-of-its-kind" -- a "standardized, economical and lightweight t


Beyond the field trip crowd

By | April 2, 2010

Most people who go to natural history museums come by way of a yellow school bus. linkurl:The Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia; is trying to broaden their audience and bring more adults into the museum. "For some reason natural history museums are thought of as a place for kids and they are," said Barbara Ciega, vice president of public operations for the Academy. She continued, "You can enjoy natural history as much as an adult as you could when you were a child.


Father of liposomes dies

By | April 2, 2010

Alec Bangham, the researcher who in 1961 discovered liposomes -- tiny close-membraned vesicles -- died last month at the age of 88. A liposomeImage: Wikimedia commons, Dennis BartenTrained as a clinical pathologist, Bangham eventually switched paths to lead a 60-plus-year research career, during which time he became known as the father of liposomes, which have since been used to deliver drugs for cancer and other diseases. "[Alec] would have an idea, and he would not think about whether thi


Plagiarism retracts review

By | April 1, 2010

A two-year-old review paper on advances in using genetically engineered biofuel crops to boost ethanol production was retracted from __Nature Reviews Genetics__ (__NRG__) because the author stole the bulk of a paragraph from another paper she had peer reviewed. BiofuelsImage by Steve Jurvetson via WikimediaThe review author, Michigan State University plant scientist Mariam Sticklen, wrote in the current issue of __NRG__ that she was linkurl:retracting;


Bird genes help explain speech

By | March 31, 2010

The first genome sequence of a songbird, published in Nature this week, has provided scientists with the tools to begin studying the molecular underpinnings of vocal learning -- an ability present in just a few other animals, including whales, bats and humans. The zebra finch gets its name from the black-and-white stripes on the male finch's throatImage: L. Brian Stauffer, U. of Illinois News Bureau"This is a really important step forward for our field," said linkurl:Allison Doupe,;http://kec


Key cancer patents killed

By | March 30, 2010

A federal judge ruled yesterday (March 29) to invalidate seven patents related to two genes associated with breast cancer, casting doubt on the thousands of other patents covering human genes. Image: Wikimedia commons"If a decision like this were upheld, it would have a pretty significant impact on the future of medicine," Kenneth Chahine, a visiting law professor at the University of Utah, linkurl:told the New York Times.; Chahine filed an


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