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Tentacles test tenets of evolution

By | November 18, 2008

Novel genes, rather than regulatory DNA, underlie the evolution of morphological traits, according to research published today (Nov. 17) in __PLoS Biology__. The new linkurl:study;http://biology.plosjournals.org/perlserv/?request=get-document&doi=10.1371/journal.pbio.0060278 reports that genes found in simple freshwater animals -- but not in any other evolutionary lineage -- can drive changes in body plan, and stokes the flames of a long-standing debate among evolutionary developmental biologist

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The future of brain interfaces

By | November 18, 2008

We're writing a feature to check in on scientists working on bridging the gap between brain and machine. We're planning on asking them, "What's taking so long?" When I think of brain-machine interfaces, a couple of things come to mind: The Borg from Star Trek, whose neural implants give it the ability to communicate telepathically as well as control implanted tazers and pincers. Then there's The Matrix, where a plug in the back of the brain connects the user to an elaborate virtual world. W

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Itchy neurons fingered

By | November 17, 2008

Neurons involved in pain processing have been the subject of much research in the past decades, but neurons responsible for a more pesky problem -- itchy skin -- remain elusive. In fact, many neurons seem to be involved in itch response, a process closely linked to the processing of pain in the brain, researchers reported today at the linkurl:annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience,;http://www.sfn.org/am2008/ in Washington, D.C. To find which neurons were responsible for the itching res

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Battle of the X's

By | November 14, 2008

In the course of human history, something wonky happened to the levels of genetic diversity on the X chromosome -- scientists just can't agree on what. Two research teams reported conflicting reports about X chromosome diversity yesterday (Nov. 13) at the __American Society of Human Genetics__ linkurl:meeting;http://www.ashg.org/2008meeting/ in Philadelphia, with differing interpretations about human mating and migration. Because males only carry one X chromosome, sex-biased evolutionary forces

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Book lists key govt. science posts

By | November 14, 2008

Job seekers hoping to land a position in President-elect Barack Obama's administration would be wise to pick up a copy of the US government's Plum Book, which lists some key science positions to be filled as Obama linkurl:takes over;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/55167/ from outgoing President, linkurl:George W. Bush.;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/54983/ Speculation has already started to linkurl:swirl;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/55173/ around who Obama w

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Stress strikes cytogenetics

By | November 14, 2008

Cellular stress during replication induces many small deletions and duplications in the genome, adding fuel for human diversity and disease, researchers reported today (Nov. 13) at the __American Society of Human Genetics__ linkurl:meeting;www.ashg.org/2008meeting/ in Philadelphia. Replication stress is known to be hazardous for the cell, and is thought to contribute to ageing and cancer. But exactly how stress causes DNA damage has remained unclear. Last year, a team led by linkurl:Thomas Glo

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Stressed postdoc attempts murder

By | November 14, 2008

Have you ever been so fed-up with colleagues at work that you considered poisoning them? Hopefully not, but at least one lab researcher can claim to have been stressed to the point of insanity. A postdoc in the urology department at the University of California, San Francisco, was arrested last week and charged this week for attempted murder, after he slipped a chemical buffering agent designed to control acid levels in lab solutions into a colleague's drink. The postdoc, Benchun Liu, admitted

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Expert advice on surviving $ mess

By | November 13, 2008

Build up cash reserves, don't over-cut in research and staff... These are some of the steps that can help life science companies get through the linkurl:current financial turbulence,;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/55142/ according to an expert who has made a career out of linkurl:helping life science companies stay afloat.;http://www.the-scientist.com/2008/01/01/s48/1/ We're hearing a lot of linkurl:different prognoses;http://www.the-scientist.com/community/posts/list/233.page for th

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NIH research director steps down

By | November 13, 2008

The US National Institutes of Health (NIH) deputy director for extramural research stepped down last month to take on a new post. Norka Ruiz Bravo, who had been in her position at the NIH for five years, vacated the role at the end of October and is now a special advisor to the NIH director (another position that linkurl:recently changed).;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/55050/ For the meantime she will be replaced by Salley Rockey, who has been in the Office of Extramural Research f

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Skin microbes mapped

By | November 13, 2008

Beauty may be skin deep, but our body's outer coating has an ugly side, too: microbes. Researchers reported at the __American Society of Human Genetics__ linkurl:meeting;www.ashg.org/2008meeting/ in Philadelphia today (Nov. 13) that they have drawn up a head-to-toe map of the microorganisms crawling on our skin. "The skin is two square meters of ecosystems comprised of a variety of habitats and niches, and each of these habitats harbors its own microflora," said linkurl:Elizabeth Grice,;http:/

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