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The science of storytelling

By | June 18, 2009

Science is a story -- a story about ideas, but also a story about the remarkable people who devote their lives to unraveling the wonders of nature. Scientists themselves, however, rarely have a vessel to impart their personal wisdoms since the main outlet for scientific research -- peer-reviewed literature -- is typically devoid of narrative. Not so last Friday (June 12) night at the linkurl:World Science Festival; in New York City. Two Nobel Laureates, two n


Animal facility goes underground

By | June 17, 2009

The University of Iowa has gotten the green light to build a subterranean vivarium that will house experimental animals to be used in biomedical research and offer an extra measure of protection from animal rights extremists. The Iowa Board of Regents linkurl:approved; $11.2 million for the roughly 35,000 square foot facility -- which will lie under a grassy courtyard bordered by three research buildings -- last we


NY to pay for eggs for research

By | June 17, 2009

New York has become the first and only state to opt to pay women for eggs donated for human embryonic stem cell research. The linkurl:Empire State Stem Cell Board; (ESSCB), which oversees New York's $600 million stem cell research program that was launched last year, came to the decision last week (June 11) following "extensive deliberation" from its ethics committee. Human oocyteImage: Wikimedia"The Board agreed that it is ethical and appropriate for women donating oocyt


Splitting two birds with one gene

By | June 17, 2009

A single base pair change that turned a colorful bird entirely black probably guided the formation of a new species, researchers linkurl:report; in the August issue of __The American Naturalist__. Melanic (above) and chestnut-bellied (below) Monarch flycatchersImage: J. Albert Uy"It looks like we have a single mutation that's driving speciation in these birds," linkurl:J. Albert Uy,; an evolutiona

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Lilly offers "free" assays

By | June 16, 2009

In a new initiative that aims to forge broader partnerships between pharma and academia, Eli Lilly has announced that it will conduct free drug development assays in four therapeutic areas on any compounds academic researchers and small biotechs care to send along. In exchange, the company will get first dibs on any licensing deals or collaborations that promising compounds might yield. What differentiates this initiative from the plethora of partnering opportunities out there, Alan Palkowitz,


Pluripotency: the third option?

By | June 16, 2009

The excitement surrounding cellular reprogramming and the possibility of federal funding for human embryonic stem cell (ESC) research in the US could be overshadowing another promising therapeutic source of stem cells: those derived via parthenogenesis, some researchers say. But later-developed techniques such as induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) could make this approach obsolete, and the final draft of the stem cell guidelines, due out by July 7, might put the nail in the parthenote coffin


Watching wisdom

By | June 12, 2009

As young assistant professors in the Harvard biology department of the 1950s and 60s, the eminent biologists linkurl:James Watson; and linkurl:Edward O. Wilson; famously didn't get along, to say the least. Wilson once called Watson "the most unpleasant human being I have ever met." Watson, in turn, dismissed Wilson as little more than a "stamp collector." Over the past few decades, the two have made amends, and that rapprochemen


Editors quit after fake paper flap

By | June 11, 2009

The editor-in-chief of an open access journal has stepped down from his post after learning that the journal accepted a fake, computer-generated article for publication. So has an editorial advisory board member of a second journal published by the same company, linkurl:Bentham Science Publishers.; Image: Jupiter Imageslinkurl:Bambang Parmanto,; a University of Pittsburgh information scientist, resigned from his editorship at linkurl:__Th


Why we go gray

By | June 11, 2009

Researchers have identified the mechanism for why hair goes gray with age and stress -- and in the process discovered a novel response to DNA damage in stem cells, they report in the June 12 issue of __Cell.__ It's generally thought that accumulated DNA damage is a likely culprit in aging phenotypes such as graying hair, but researchers have been unable to show a direct link, said linkurl:David Fisher; chairman of the department of


Bone fat squelches new blood

By | June 10, 2009

Fat cells have long been considered to be mere filler in bone marrow, but linkurl:a study published online today; in Nature reports that these cells serve an important function -- namely, they put the brakes on blood formation. Grey's Anatomy illustrationof human bone marrow Image: Wikipedia "I think it's fundamentally important," linkurl:Sean Morrison,; director of


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