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Six biologists win Nat'l Medal

By | September 18, 2009

linkurl:Francis Collins;http://www.genome.gov/10000779 and linkurl:J. Craig Venter,;http://www.jcvi.org/cms/about/bios/jcventer/ former adversaries in the race for sequencing the human genome, are two of the six life scientist who will receive the linkurl:National Medal of Science;http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/President-Honors-Nations-Top-Scientists-and-Innovators/ this year. Image: WikipediaAlso among the awardees is linkurl:Joanna Fowler,;http://www.bnl.gov/medical/Personnel/Fow

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More regulatory science: FDA chief

By | September 17, 2009

The US must bolster study on how to best craft regulations that bring drugs, medical devices and vaccines to market, the commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration stressed in a speech delivered yesterday (September 16th) in Philadelphia. linkurl:Margaret Hamburg,;http://www.fda.gov/AboutFDA/CommissionersPage/default.htm the former New York City health commissioner who was named FDA commissioner earlier this year, was speaking at the annual Regulatory Affairs Professional Society confe

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New role for righty molecules

By | September 17, 2009

Researchers have identified a role for rare, right-handed versions of amino acids. This so-called D-form of nature's building blocks allows bacterial cell walls to adapt to changes in the environment, says a study in Science this week -- marking one of the few times the D-aminos have been linked to biological function. Scanning electron microscope image of Vibrio cholerae Image: Wikipedia Commons"If you go back in literature dating 20-40 years ago, it was widely believed that we existed in a st

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A biotech's battle lost

By | September 16, 2009

Altus Pharmaceuticals, a 17-year-old Boston-area biotech whose struggle for survival we linkurl:profiled last month,;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/55882/ will join the boneyard of companies that have not made it through the current economic crisis. Yellow stickers in the company's lab mark equipment to be sold"Very simply, we have not been able to secure financing," Georges Gemayel, Altus's CEO, told The Scientist this morning. The company announced in a linkurl:Securities and Ex

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Colorblind monkeys see new light

By | September 16, 2009

Gene therapy has successfully given colorblind adult monkeys the ability to see red and green, according to a study published this week in Nature, demonstrating a striking plasticity in the adult visual system and providing new hope for treating vision disorders that until now were thought to be incurable in adults. Monkey taking color vision testImage: Neitz Laboratory"The surprise is that you can do it with an adult animal," said neuroscientist linkurl:Jerry Jacobs;http://www.psych.ucsb.edu/

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Q&A: Hail to the chief (of staff)

By | September 15, 2009

At the beginning of September, the new director of the National Institutes of Health, linkurl:Francis Collins,;http://www.nih.gov/about/director/index.htm welcomed a friend and colleague back into the NIH fold. He named linkurl:Kathy Hudson;http://www.bioethicsinstitute.org/mshome/?ID=89 -- who had been simultaneously wearing the hats of bioethicist, geneticist and public policy guru at Johns Hopkins University -- his new chief of staff, a position that's never before formally existed at NIH. Hu

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2009 Lasker Awards announced

By | September 14, 2009

linkurl:John Gurdon;http://www.gurdon.cam.ac.uk/gurdon.html of Cambridge University and linkurl:Shinya Yamanaka;http://www.gladstone.ucsf.edu/gladstone/site/yamanaka/ of Kyoto University and the University of California, San Francisco, will share the 2009 Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award for their contributions to stem cell research -- specifically, for their work in reverting adult cells to an embryonic-like state, the Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation announced today (September 14).

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Norman Borlaug dies

By | September 14, 2009

The Nobel Peace Prize-winning researcher who developed a high-yielding variety of disease resistant wheat and improved varieties of other crop plants that fed legions of starving people died this Saturday (September 12). Norman Borlaug won the 1970 peace prize for launching the green revolution -- which more than doubled world food production from the 1960s to the 1990s -- from his post at a research institute in Mexico. According to Texas A&M University, where Borlaug was a distinguished profes

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Critter cams

By | September 11, 2009

What happens in the far corners of the animal kingdom when no one is looking? A lot, as you might imagine. Armadillos scamper, tripod fish sit at the bottom of the ocean, waiting for prey to pass by, laughing kookaburras nest in gum trees. And you can watch it all from the comfort of your cubicle at a recently launched online museum called the linkurl:Museum of Animal Perspectives.;http://www.sameasterson.com/map "I feel like if people see this footage -- because it's so immersive -- they

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Neurons don't waste energy

By | September 10, 2009

A classical model of how neurons power their chemical messages may need revision. Neurons from the rat hippocampus use three times less energy to propagate an action potential down an axon than was previously believed, according to a new study published in this week's issue of Science -- providing important clues for interpreting brain imaging techniques. Golgi staining of pyramidal cells in human hippocampusImage: Wikimedia commons, MethoxyRoxy"Many people will be surprised by this," said neur

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