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British bacteriologist dies

By | February 22, 2010

Patricia Clarke, a distinguished British biochemist who deepened the field's understanding of bacterial evolution and was a role model for women in science, died last month at 90 years of age. Pseudomonas aeruginosaImage: Wikimedia Commons, CDC/Janice Haney Carr "She had always been determined to get into academia," said Barbara Banks, a physiological chemist and a former colleague at the University College London. "She was a student at Cambridge - before the days when they gave degrees to wome

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News in a nutshell

By | February 22, 2010

NIH tweaks stem cell rulesThe US National Institutes of Health on Friday (Feb 19) proposed a change to its definition of a human embryonic stem cell. Presently, stem cell lines are defined as being derived from a blastocyst-stage embryo. The proposed revision would amend that wording to "up to and including the blastocyst stage." The policy, published in the linkurl:Federal Register,;http://www.federalregister.gov/OFRUpload/OFRData/2010-03527_PI.pdf is open for public comment. The issue was rais

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Shuffling genes without sex

By | February 22, 2010

Researchers have discovered one way that asexually reproducing organisms maintain variation in their DNA. Female whiptail lizards can actually double their own chromosomes during meiosis, according to a study published online today in Nature. A checkered whiptail lizard Image: Peter Baumann "It's a great piece of work," said linkurl:Charles Cole,;http://www.amnh.org/science/divisions/vertzoo/bio.php?scientist=cole a herpetologist with the American Museum of Natural History in New York who was

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New head for European research

By | February 19, 2010

The European Research Council (ERC), today (February 19) elected social scientist linkurl:Helga Nowotny;http://www.helga-nowotny.eu/ as president of the agency. Nowotny, an emeritus social scientist at ETH Zurich, served as one of two vice presidents of the ERC during the tenure of its previous president, linkurl:Fotis Kafatos,;http://openwetware.org/wiki/Kafatos:Fotis_C._Kafatos who left the post last month to linkurl:pursue his research.;http://erc.europa.eu/pdf/ANNOUNCEMENT_Prof_Kafatos.pdf

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Banking on hope

By | February 18, 2010

Ten years ago, scientists discovered stem cells in the dental pulp of human teeth. Despite the fact that there are still no FDA-approved therapies using these cells, companies are emerging that charge consumers up to $1,600 to extract and store them. But is there enough scientific evidence to support this type of cellular banking? Image: Wikimedia commons, Loadmaster (David R. Tribble)"We simply don't know how useful these cells will be for tissue engineering and regeneritve medicine," said lin

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Cancer genetics gets personal

By | February 18, 2010

Researchers have developed a novel technique for identifying patient-specific biomarkers in tumor DNA which they say can reliably monitor the progression of individual patients' cancers. Their findings are presented this week at the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in San Diego and will be published next week in Science Translational Medicine. Image: Courtesy of Life Technologies and Digizyme, Inc."This study pushes the limits of what we can do and what we might be

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NIH deputy director leaving

By | February 18, 2010

Deputy Director Raynard Kington is leaving the National Institutes of Health (NIH) this summer after 10 years with the agency to take a position as president of Grinnell College in Iowa. Raynard KingtonImage: Wikimedia commons, NIH"I have a lump in my throat imagining Raynard leaving the NIH, where he has made so many outstanding and long-lasting contributions," Collins wrote in linkurl:a statement announcing Kington's resignation;http://www.nih.gov/about/director/02172010_statement_kington.ht

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African genomes sequenced

By | February 17, 2010

Scientists have sequenced the genomes of five individuals from indigenous populations in southern Africa, including famed South African Bishop Desmond Tutu, revealing new genetic variation among humans that they say will advance medical genomics research, according to a study published this week in Nature. Bushmen of southern AfricaImage: Stephan C. Schuster"It's the first genome sequence of a minority population in Africa," said human geneticist linkurl:Sarah Tishkoff;http://www.med.upenn.edu

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Science crime: A recent history

By | February 16, 2010

Last Friday, biology professor Amy Bishop shocked the country when she linkurl:allegedly shot and killed;http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/13/us/13alabama.html?emc=eta1 three of her colleagues at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, purportedly motivated by the university's recent decision to deny her tenure. Although certainly one of the most heinous crimes in recent memory, it is by no means the first criminal offense to disturb the scientific community. Here is a timeline of some disquieting

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News in a nutshell

By | February 15, 2010

Biology department casualtiesThe Chronicle of Higher Education has posted linkurl:remembrances;http://chronicle.com/article/Remembering-the-Victims/64199/ of the three researchers killed on Friday when Amy Bishop, an assistant professor of biology at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, opened fire in a faculty meeting, reportedly because she had been denied tenure. linkurl:Media reports;http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/15/us/15alabama.html?ref=us revealed this weekend that Bishop had fatally

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