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The Nutshell

Daily News Roundup

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New neurons rewire mouse brain

By | February 25, 2010

Embryonic neurons transplanted into mice can induce a period of flexibility in a relatively rigid older brain, suggesting a possible mechanism to repair damaged brain circuits, according a study published this week in Science. Inhibitory neurons transplantedfrom the embryonic braininto the postnatal brain Image: Derek Southwell"It's terrific," said neuroscientist linkurl:Takao Hensch;http://golgi.harvard.edu/Faculty/faculty_profile.php?f=takao-hensch of Harvard University, who was not involved

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Bacteria drive electric mud?

By | February 24, 2010

Underwater mud can conduct electricity, possibly with the help of bacteria in the sediment -- a result that helps explain the large amount of electrical activity researchers have detected in ocean sediments, a linkurl:study published;http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v463/n7284/full/nature08790.html in this week's in __Nature__ reports. The finding could change how researchers think about microbes' contributions to geochemical processes. Grey, orange and white layers of mud from the Bay

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Regulatory science gets boost

By | February 24, 2010

The linkurl:National Institutes of Health;http://www.nih.gov/ (NIH) and the linkurl:US Food and Drug Administration;http://www.fda.gov/ (FDA) linkurl:announced a new collaboration;http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm201706.htm this morning (Feb 24) that will support efforts in translational and regulatory science, including a contribution of $6.75 million in regulatory research grants over the next three years. Image: Wikimedia commonsSince Margaret Hamburg took the rei

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NIH reviewers praise new rules

By | February 23, 2010

While the transition to the new shortened grant applications at the linkurl:National Institutes of Health;http://www.nih.gov/ (NIH) and the corresponding review guidelines hasn't been completely smooth, reviewers who have participated in the first few rounds of funding under the new system generally support the changes. Image: Wikimedia commons"I think it's an improvement over the old system," said linkurl:Karin Rodland,;http://www.pnl.gov/biology/staff/staff_info.asp?staff_num=5747 a researche

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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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