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Flagellar friendship

By | March 19, 2009

A bacterium found in sewage sludge uses its tail-like flagellum to lasso a symbiotic archaeon and keep it close at bay so that the two microbial partners can synchronize their metabolism, a Japanese research team reports in the Mar. 20 issue of __Science__. Scanning electron micrograph ofPelotomaculum thermopropionicumImage: PNNLThe paper is "important for understanding how organisms that are so incredibly different, at least phylogenetically, are able to cooperate," linkurl:Joseph Grzymski,;ht

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Mental health means new neurons?

By | March 19, 2009

A gene strongly associated with schizophrenia and other neuropsychiatric disorders regulates the birth of new neurons in the adult brain, according to new research. linkurl:The study,; published in Cell this week, supports a controversial theory linking diseases such as schizophrenia and depression to neurogenesis and provides new targets for the treatment of psychiatric conditions. Image: flicker/linkurl:Staurland;


Schools in energy states flourish

By | March 18, 2009

Science programs in many state schools are feeling the pinch of hard times, but there's an exception to the suffering: Universities in big energy-producing states are thriving, with some even gaining a competitive edge over their hurting counterparts by luring senior level faculty. Times are tough at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville (UTK). After taking a 5.8% hit in their approximately $750 million budget last year, they are facing an 8 to 20% cut in state funding this year, said Willia


Did lefty molecules seed life?

By | March 16, 2009

The molecular orientation of compounds brought to Earth by meteorites could have determined the world's chemistry long before life began, according to a new linkurl:study; published online today (Mar. 16) in the __Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences__. Artist's impression of the origins ofleft-handedness (click to enlarge)Image: NASA/Pat RawlingsAmino acids come in left-handed and right-handed forms, which, like a pair of human hand


Cancer center fires researchers

By | March 13, 2009

Facing budget cuts of around $34 million, linkurl:Roswell Park Cancer Institute; in Buffalo, NY, laid off 24 of its staff scientists last week. Roswell Park Cancer CenterImage: flickr/Roswell ParkThe fired researchers -- who fall under three titles: research affiliate, lab technician and research associate -- were "physically walked out of the building" last Friday (Mar. 6) with "no warning," Darcy Wells, a spokesperson for the linkurl:New York State Public Employees


FDA head chosen, NIH names swirling

By | March 12, 2009

Former New York City health commissioner Margaret Hamburg seems to be the Obama administration's pick to head the embattled Food and Drug Administration, with Baltimore health commissioner Joshua Sharfstein slated to serve as FDA's deputy commissioner, according to linkurl:__The Washington Post__.; Hamburg served as NYC health commissioner for much of the 1990s, after a brief stint at the Natio


In bed with big pharma

By | March 12, 2009

As accusations of undisclosed financial conflicts among university researchers swirl, drug makers and academics are entering a new stage of closer collaboration. Instead of striking traditional licensing deals with academic labs that produce commercializable results, companies are starting to reach farther back, all the way to the inception of basic research projects. The motivation from both sides is obvious: Pharma has a pipeline problem, and universities are clamoring for research dollars as


3% boost for NIH passed in Senate

By | March 11, 2009

US Senators last night (March 10) passed the long-delayed $410 billion omnibus spending bill that includes $30.3 billion for the National Institutes of Health in FY09. President Barack Obama is expected to sign the legislation today. The NIH allotment would be a $938 million boost over the agency's FY08 budget - a 3% increase, which roughly tracks inflation. The National Science Foundation is set to get nearly $6.5 billion in FY09, a 5.9% increase over its FY08 budget. In addition, the Departm


Doctor faked pain studies

By | March 11, 2009

A world-renowned Massachusetts anesthesiologist appears to have perpetrated what may be one of the most extensive cases of medical fraud, faking data and even making up entire studies in at least 21 cases. Scott Reuben, the former chief of acute pain at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, Mass., admitted that he falsified data in 10 articles in Anesthesia and Analgesia, as well as an additional 11 articles in journals including Acute Pain, Anesthesiology, and others. The studies all relat


How to starve a tumor

By | March 11, 2009

Calorie-restricted diets are thought to protect against cancer and slow tumor growth, and a new study published in this week's Nature begins to tease out why the measure works for some tumors, and not for others. Chubby, and more cancer prone Image: Gaetan_lee/flickr For almost a century, researchers have known that fasting helps animals live longer and avoid some cancers, "but which type of cancers would be amenable to this approach, from a therapeutic standpoint, is still an open question,"


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