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New head for US genome institute

By | November 17, 2009

National Institutes of Health director Francis Collins today (November 17) announced a successor to fill his vacant post as head of NIH's National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI). linkurl:Eric Green,; who has served as NHGRI's scientific director since 2002, will take over the top spot. Eric Green Image: NIH It's the first time in NIH's history that an institute's director has appointed his own successor. "Green is the perfect choice to be NHGRI director,"


China reaches for African science

By | November 16, 2009

China took on a new role in African science last weekend (November 8), announcing plans to promote research in agriculture, medicine, and clean energy as part of its $10 billion investment in the region. Image: US AID At the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation in Egypt, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao told attendees that the country would create a science and technology partnership with Africa, which would entail carrying out 100 joint research projects and training 100 African postdocs in China, link

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When does oversight overstep?

By | November 16, 2009

When vascular biologist linkurl:John Cooke; of Stanford University received a grant in 2007 from the linkurl:California Institute for Regenerative Medicine; (CIRM) to launch stem cell research in his lab, he never expected the agency to linkurl:take back the money; -- especially not when his research was just starting to take him in some exciting new directions. Human embryonic stem ce


Docs that rock

By | November 13, 2009

On a recent Monday night at World Cafe Live in Philadelphia, four bands took to the stage to determine who ruled rock. But manning the mics, guitars, and drums weren't your typical hipsters -- the members of these bands were students and administrators from Philadelphia's premier medical schools, and their scientific credentials are almost as hot as their licks. For example, the nine members of funk band the linkurl:Freaks of Nurture; are publishing in prest


Q&A: Gene therapy turnaround

By | November 12, 2009

Judging by the stream of studies in the last few months, it seems the field of gene therapy is beginning to replace its troubled history with the beginnings of a promising future. Mark Kay Image: Stanford University In September, linkurl:researchers reported; that viral delivery of a pigment gene allowed colorblind squirrel monkeys to see red and green for the first time, providing hopes that the technique could be used to treat colo


Family versus science

By | November 11, 2009

The pressures of family obligations and child-rearing are pushing young female researchers out of science, according to a new study released this month by the Center for American Progress (CAP), a think tank based in Washington, DC. linkurl:The report; provides a contrast to an earlier report by the National Academies of Sciences that focused on dissecting the linkurl:subtle biases against women;


New drug target for cancer

By | November 11, 2009

Scientists have developed a new drug that blocks a transcription factor -- previously thought to be un-blockable -- that has been causally linked to leukemia and several other cancers of the lungs, ovaries, pancreas, and gastrointestinal tract, they report in linkurl:Nature; this week. Bone marrow smear showing acute lymphoblastic leukemia Image: Furfur, Wikimedia Commons The Notch transcription factor regulates cell-cell communication in the Notch signal


The blogopharmasphere?

By | November 10, 2009

This year has been a busy one for Big Pharma: Billion dollar legal settlements, game-changing mergers, and labor cutbacks of epic proportions have kept the industry (and industry watchers) off balance for much of 2009. But all the turmoil hasn't stopped a few of Big Pharma's giants from communicating directly with the internet-browsing public through official blogs of their own. The newest addition to the Big Pharma blogosphere is AstraZeneca's linkurl:__AZ Health Connections__,;http://www.azh


Paul Zamecnik dies

By | November 9, 2009

Paul Zamecnik, a Lasker award-winning biologist who co-discovered transfer RNA, died late last month at the age of 96. Zamecnik died at his Boston home after battling cancer. Paul ZamecnikImage: Massachusetts General HospitalIn the mid-1950s, along with molecular biologists Mahlon Hoagland and Mary Stephenson, Zamecnik linkurl:discovered; the molecule responsible for


Early stress alters epigenome

By | November 8, 2009

Scientists have figured out how stress experienced early in life can cause long-lasting changes in physiology and behavior -- via epigenetics. Image: Max-Planck Institute of Psychiatry, MunichSpecifically, early stress appears to induce epigenetic changes in a specific regulatory region of the genome, affecting the expression of a hormone important in controlling mood and cognition into adulthood, according to a study published online today (November 8) in Nature Neuroscience. This is the fi


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