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Neuroscience's famed patient dies

By | December 8, 2008

Henry Molaison (HM), a patient with amnesia who helped scientists to unlock the secrets to how the brain processes learning and memory, died last week at the age of 82. HM participated in thousands of memory studies over the past 50 years, after a surgery to cure his debilitating epilepsy in the early 1950s altered his ability to form new memories. "[HM] was an extremely cooperative and gentle human being," linkurl:Brenda Milner,;http://www.mcgill.ca/about/history/pioneers/milner/ a neuropsyc

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The 3 cent microfluidics chip

By | December 8, 2008

Chemists have created a device -- using little more than paper and sticky tape -- that can precisely separate liquids for further medical or environmental analysis. The scientists write in a __Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences__ linkurl:paper;http://www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.0810903105 published today that they made their small, lightweight microfluidics chips for about $0.03 a piece. Similar "lab-on-a-chip" devices made of glass and polymers can cost hundreds of dollars

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Bailout for British biotech?

By | December 5, 2008

Twenty-two leaders from the British biotech sector pleaded for a government bailout yesterday (Dec. 4) to save the industry's "survival and future viability" in the face of the global financial crisis. The dossier sent to the UK government called for two funds, each worth over £500 ($730) million. One would help smaller companies consolidate, with grants between £10 ($14.6) to £40 ($58) million; the other would give biotechs up to £100 ($146) million to fund acquisitions an

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Glaxo, USPTO back in court

By | December 5, 2008

Big pharma is once again fighting with the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) over controversial changes to patent regulations that the USPTO tried to institute last year. The new rules would limit the number of times a patent could be reevaluated to two, and limited the number of claims that could be filed on a patent to 25. University tech transfer offices and biotech companies have argued that those changes will make it difficult and expensive to defend patents in the life sciences -- n

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NIH to act on conflicts within 1 year

By | December 5, 2008

The National Institutes of Health may change its regulations for managing financial conflict of interest among extramural grantees within 12 months, the acting director of the NIH said today (Dec. 5). "In roughly six months to a year, we're going to have action on this," NIH's acting director linkurl:Raynard Kington;http://www.nih.gov/about/director/directorbio.htm told an linkurl:advisory committee,;http://acd.od.nih.gov/ adding that there may be legislative action forcing the NIH to alter its

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Quid pro PhD

By | December 5, 2008

Britain's largest ever single-shot investment in doctoral student training will be rolled out today (Dec. 5th) by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), with goodies in store for prospective applied biology PhD students. The £250 ($370) million initiative will create 44 centers across the UK that will train more than 2000 PhD students across five yearly cohorts starting in fall 2009. Most of the multidisciplinary centers -- which provide funding for three and a ha

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Fired faculty speak out

By | December 4, 2008

Tenured professors who were given the pink slip last week by the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) in Galveston said they felt "shocked" and "betrayed" by the action, and have been given little rationale for why they were singled out, and little direction on what to do until they leave. In total, the medical school fired more than 3,000 people -- around one-third of its total staff, including 83 tenured and tenure track faculty and 44 non-tenure track researchers -- after Hurricane Ike

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Kansas wins controversial biolab?

By | December 4, 2008

Manhattan, Kansas has been chosen as the site for the much-contested $450 million government biolab, which will house research on some of the most highly infectious human and animal pathogens, according to a draft document from the Department of Homeland Security leaked to the press. (Click linkurl:here;http://www2.ljworld.com/documents/2008/dec/03/nbaf-preferred-alternative-selection-memorandum/ for the document, posted by the Lawrence Journal World and News.) The decision on the prospectiv

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The secret of HIV control

By | December 4, 2008

The immune tricks that keep HIV in check in long term non-progressors (LTNPs) -- people who carry the virus but don't get AIDS -- have been a mystery for decades. It turns out that T cells in LTNPs destroy the virus by punching holes in infected cells and injecting a strong dose of apoptotic proteins, according to a study to be published in the December 19th issue of Immunity. "This study brings us closer to a potential vaccine or cure for AIDS," linkurl:Guido Silvestri;http://www.med.upenn.edu

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NIEHS gets new leader

By | December 3, 2008

linkurl:Linda Birnbaum,;http://www.f1000biology.com/about/biography/3056654395292771 a toxicologist and former head of EPA's Experimental Toxicology Division, will be the new head of the NIH's National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), ending a period of turmoil under her predecessor David Schwartz, who resigned from the institute early this year amidst allegations of mismanagement. linkurl:Raynard Kington,;http://www.nih.gov/about/director/directorbio.htm acting head of NIH,

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