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Texas school hired while firing

By | March 31, 2009

The University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston is bringing in new assistant professors at the same time as around 30 fired faculty members, many of them tenured, fight for the jobs they lost in the aftermath of Hurricane Ike. After the Sept. 13 storm hit the island campus, UTMB declared financial exigency and linkurl:conducted mass layoffs; that ultimately cost around 2,500 jobs, including the posts of linkurl:127 faculty members,;http://txfa


Are lab standards harmful?

By | March 30, 2009

Standardizing the laboratory environment may be doing science more harm than good: Removing all variability from animal experiments makes them less reproducible, rather than more, according to a study published online today in Nature Methods. Image:Wikipedia The study "is certainly a clear demonstration of why standardization can indeed decrease reproducibility, and I hope that from now on this idea will appear less counterintuitive in the field," linkurl:Neri Kafkafi;


Lousy with chromosomes

By | March 30, 2009

Scientists have found an unprecedented evolutionary modification deep within the cells of the lowly human body louse (__Pediculus humanus__): the tiny blood sucker contains not one but 18 separate mitochondrial chromosomes.A female human body louse (__Pediculushumanus corporis__). Photo courtesy of Richard Webband Renfu Shao "It's a big surprise to me and my colleagues," wrote linkurl:Renfu Shao,; lead autho


NIH stimulus grants for postdocs

By | March 27, 2009

The National Institutes of Health, awash in $10 billion dollars of stimulus cash and scrambling to get it out the door, has linkurl:announced; a new round of supplemental grants that aim to retain or hire new postdoctoral fellows in the labs of NIH-funded investigators. These "administrative supplements" are meant to "promote job creation and economic development along with accelerating the pace and achievement of scientific rese


Pluripotency via plasmids

By | March 26, 2009

Researchers are one step closer to reprogramming stem cells that are safe for use in the clinic with a new virus-free method for deriving human induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells that doesn't rely on integrating foreign DNA, according to a linkurl:study; published online today in __Science__. Skin cells induced to a pluripotent stateImage: Junying Yu / UW-MadisonSince these cells' genomes have never been genetically modified, they provide


Trial safety lacking, says GAO

By | March 26, 2009

The system for protecting the safety of people who participate in clinical trials is in shambles and needs a major overhaul, according to the conclusions of a two-year undercover US government investigation. The undercover investigation, which caught a commercial institutional review board approving a fake study made up by investigators at the Government Accountability Office (GAO), is "absolutely" a positive step, said Adil Shamoo, a professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at the Univ

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EU animal research under fire

By | March 25, 2009

New proposed European laws to harmonize animal research across the EU could seriously hamper biomedical research, according a linkurl:report; published yesterday (Mar. 24) by the European Science Foundation (ESF) and a linkurl:declaration; issued today (Mar. 25) by a group of leading British life sciences organizations. Image: Understanding Animal Researc


India debates open access

By | March 24, 2009

India's premier publicly-funded research organization is pushing to make all research published at its institutions open access. But its pleas are falling on deaf ears, critics say, as individual laboratories have been slow to take up the charge. Image: India MostLast month (Feb. 6), the head of research and development planning at India's linkurl:Council of Scientific and Industrial Research; (CSIR), linkurl:Naresh Kumar,;


The genomics of ethnicity

By | March 24, 2009

Researchers have assembled the first-ever map of copy number variants (CNV)-- duplications, deletions or rearrangements in the genome that result in different gene copy numbers -- in African Americans. The study, appearing in linkurl:__BMC Genetics__; today, also identified two CNVs that differed in frequency between African American genomes and those in people of European descent. linkurl:Joseph McElroy,;


Are cavers killing bats?

By | March 23, 2009

The continued spread of a mysterious disease that has killed thousands of bats in the Northeast United States may have a surprising human cause. Scientists are suggesting that cavers may be inadvertently transporting fungal spores on their clothing or gear and contributing to the deadly march of White Nose Syndrome (WNS), named for the downy coat of fungus covering the muzzles of its victims. Little brown bats with WNS"It appears that there's been a significant tracking via cavers," linkurl:De


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