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Chile fires science council chief

By | October 23, 2009

The Chilean science council was rocked by a funding scandal earlier this week -- almost a year to the day after the country embarked on a program to increase funding, research opportunities, and transparency in an effort to reduce its brain drain. Image: Towndown, Wikimedia CommonsThe controversy, which resulted in the dismissal of the council's president, Vivian Heyl, was sparked by an linkurl:internal investigation;http://blogs.elmercurio.com/cienciaytecnologia/2009/10/15/cambio-en-ponderacio

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The Michelangelo of forensics

By | October 23, 2009

The forensic scientists depicted in popular TV shows CSI and NCIS often work in slick, technologically-decked out labs solving case after scintillating case. But for forensic sculptor linkurl:Frank Bender,;http://www.frankbender.us/ reconstructing the faces of decomposing bodies or skeletons is a much more hands-on, creative process done in his paint-stained, converted-butcher-shop-studio in South Philadelphia. Frank Bender Image: Katherine BagleyThrough a career that's spanned 33 years, Bender

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Frog fungus disrupts skin function

By | October 22, 2009

Researchers may have finally solved the mystery of the fungal pathogen that has been devastating amphibian populations worldwide. The fungus, known as Batrachonchytrium dendrobatisdis (Bd), appears to alter the permeability of amphibian skin, which can lead to a fatal osmotic imbalance, according to a study published this week in Science. The endangered corroboree frog infected with chytridiomycosis.Image: Jamie Voyles, Alex Hyatt and Frank Fillipi"It's a great study," said ecologist linkurl:K

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More promises for EU research

By | October 22, 2009

The European Commission (EC) has promised to improve how research is funded in Europe. Responding to a critique of the European Research Council (ERC) today (October 22), the EC provided linkurl:timelines;http://ec.europa.eu/research/evaluations/pdf/archive/other_reports_studies_and_documents/commission_communication_on_the_erc_review_-_22_october_2009.pdf for appointing a scientist to head the council and for developing faster reimbursement procedures for peer reviewers of ERC grants. Image:

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NIH heart institute loses head

By | October 22, 2009

linkurl:Elizabeth Nabel,;http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/about/director.htm the director of the National Institutes of Health's National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) will be leaving her post on January 1, 2010 to take a position as president and CEO of Brigham and Women's/Faulkner Hospitals in Boston, according to internal NIH emails. Elizabeth NabelImage: NHLBINabel, a cardiologist by training, joined NHLBI 10 years ago as the institute's scientific director of clinical research. She took o

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Primate evolution claim challenged

By | October 21, 2009

An analysis of 37 million year old primate fossils is fueling a debate over the existence of an evolutionary link between lemur-like and monkey-like primates -- a link that could more fully explain human evolution. The linkurl:study,;http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v461/n7267/ published in this week's issue of Nature, challenges the linkurl:claim;http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0005723 that Darwinius -- a rare, almost-complete skeleton whose unveiling cau

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Fly study retracted

By | October 20, 2009

Researchers have retracted a study that pinpointed a specific gene in Drosophila required to maintain healthy cell activity, published two years ago in Current Biology. In a linkurl:retraction notice;http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6VRT-4XF85VF-P&_user=10&_rdoc=1&_fmt=&_orig=search&_sort=d&_docanchor=&view=c&_acct=C000050221&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=10&md5=37ff9ee170319a71ae14c5c0a2a41692 published in the journal earlier this month (October 13), they attributed

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Modest HIV protection confirmed

By | October 20, 2009

With the full results of the Thai HIV vaccine trial released this morning (October 20) at a conference in Paris, the HIV/AIDS research community can breathe a sigh of relief: The vaccine candidate does appear to offer a real, albeit modest, level of protection against HIV infection. Human Immunodeficiency VirusImage: Wikimedia commons, NIAID"What we saw today was a more complete presentation of different types of analyses that were done, [and] the scientific conclusions are as they were describ

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FDA hires consumer advocate

By | October 19, 2009

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has added a vocal consumer advocate to its policy team. Peter Lurie, former director of the health research group at Washington, DC-based watchdog group Public Citizen, will be serving in the Office of Policy helping to "develop strategies to facilitate medical product availability to meet critical public health needs," Peter Pitts, president of the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest (CMPI) and former FDA official, wrote on the CMPI's linkurl:Dr

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Peer-review-less grants, round 1

By | October 19, 2009

University College London (UCL), which last year linkurl:announced;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/55282/ plans to award unorthodox research grants without robust peer review, deadlines, directives, or milestones, has linkurl:chosen;http://www.ucl.ac.uk/media/library/VentureLane its first awardee -- a biochemist who will study the evolutionary switch from simple to more complex cellular structures. The researcher, linkurl:Nick Lane,;http://www.nick-lane.net/index.html was deemed worth

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