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DNA factory launches

By | January 21, 2010

Need a gene promoter? You may soon be able to order one from a catalog. California synthetic biologists are launching a linkurl:production facility;http://www.biofab.org/ that will provide free, standardized DNA parts for scientists around the world. A light programmable biofilm madeby the UT Austin / UCSF team, iGEM 2004 Image: Wikipedia The project, called BIOFAB: International Open Facility Advancing Biotechnology -- or just BIOFAB for short -- aims to boost the ease of bioengineering with

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NSF slaps school over grant

By | January 20, 2010

A small university in Georgia has agreed to pay back $500,000 of a multi-million dollar grant from the National Science Foundation for failing to accurately document some expenditures associated with the grant program. The NSF alleged that administrators at Fort Valley State University (FVSU), one of Georgia's historically black universities located about 100 miles south of Atlanta, violated the False Claims Act, legislation usually invoked to punish Medicare fraudsters or war profiteers. The

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Wanted: Records of revoked grants

By | January 20, 2010

Deciding when to pull a grant for any reason is one of the most difficult tasks any funding agency faces. It is not a decision that is taken lightly, and is usually a last resort. But it happens. Scientists who falsify data or misuse funds or even fail to show satisfactory progress do, from time to time, lose their funding. Image: Wikimedia commonsThe National Institutes of Health (NIH) admits to the occasional termination of basic research grants, emphasizing the rarity of such a drastic measu

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Marshall Nirenberg dies

By | January 19, 2010

Marshall W. Nirenberg, who received the 1968 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his work on the language of codons and how DNA is translated into proteins, succumbed to cancer at age 82 in his New York home last week (January 15), after several months of illness. Marshall Nirenberg performing anexperiment, circa 1962Image: Wikimedia commons, MacVicar,National Institutes of Health"We feel like [we are] losing our close friend who has created the base of the current molecular biology and t

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Ancient humans more diverse?

By | January 18, 2010

Researchers have delved back further than ever into the genetic history of humans, and found that the ancient population that gave rise to modern humans may have been nearly twice as genetically diverse than humans today, according a study published this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Scientific reconstruction of a Homo erectusImage: Wikimedia commons, linkurl:Lillyundfreya;http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Homo_erectus.JPG While most studies on the genetics of an

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News in a nutshell

By | January 18, 2010

- Is the US Food and Drug Administration's 2006 initiative to gain approval for old drugs that predate the current approval process boosting safety or just inflating the cost of such medicines, asks linkurl:an article;http://www.latimes.com/features/health/la-he-unapproved-drugs18-2010jan18,0,7696622.story in the LA Times. - Researchers have launched linkurl:an open access database;http://www.wellcome.ac.uk/News/Media-office/Press-releases/2010/WTX058219.htm of more than 520,000 small molecule

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Engineering cellular synchrony

By | January 15, 2010

Scientists have engineered bacteria that can communicate with each other in a synchronized manner, lighting up in waves of fluorescent green, according to report in this week's Nature. The advance paves the way for developing environmental sensors and drug delivery systems that can time the release of medicines in periodic bursts. A supernova burst in a colony of coupledgenetic clocks after critical cell densityImage: Tal Danino, Octavio Mondragon-Palamino, Lev Tsimring"I think [the study] rep

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Is America competing?

By | January 15, 2010

America still produces some of the most well respected science, but with the growth seen in Asia, that may not be the case for much longer, according to linkurl:new data;http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/seind10/ released from the National Science Foundation (NSF) today (15 January). "Science and technology is no longer the providence of rich developed countries," said Rolf Lehming, director of NSF's Science &Engineering Indicators (S&EI) Program, during a press conference on Wednesday. "That ope

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Tips to safely provide records

By | January 15, 2010

With attacks against animal researchers on the rise, three biomedical research groups compiled a guide to scientists for properly responding to requests for data and records while protecting themselves from animal rights activists who may take the information out of context and use it for harassment. Image: Wikimedia commonsAccording to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and state open record laws, researchers are required to disclose information about federally or state-funded research proj

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Cancer lines contaminated

By | January 14, 2010

Three of 13 established esophageal adenocarcinoma (EAC) cell lines are not EAC after all. Instead, the lines -- which have led to two clinical trials, more than 100 publications and 11 US patents -- represent three different cancer types altogether, a study published online today (January 14) in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute (JNCI) found. Histopathologic image illustrating welldifferentiated squamous cell carcinomain the excisional biopsy specimenImage: Wikimedia commons"It's a s

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