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Forensic fishing

By | September 26, 2008

How is a kidnapper's text message similar to a jellyfish? Both are tiny points in a sea of data that scientists can use to draw conclusions about a bigger picture -- be it identifying a serial rapist or measuring linkurl:biodiversity,; according to linkurl:Andrew Price,; a marine ecologist who is working with forensic scientists to apply taxonomic techniques to crime assessment. Ecologists routin


Safer iPS cells

By | September 25, 2008

Until now, reprogramming fully differentiated cells into a pluripotent state has had a major drawback: the use of genome-integrating linkurl:retroviruses; to do the job. But a new study published tomorrow in Science reports on the creation of reprogrammed cells without such integrating viruses. "The number one priority for labs working on iPS translation is to alleviate this problem of integration of viruses into the human genome," linkurl:Ali Bri

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Stem cell banks galore

By | September 25, 2008

In the last several years, stem cell banks and registries have begun springing up across the country and internationally. But are all these facilities helping research, or just duplicating efforts? The latest addition to the list of such facilities is the stem cell registry at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, launched earlier this month. That school also has a human embryonic stem cell (HESC) core facility to store and distribute the cell lines. There are plenty of others: the N

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Pfizer embraces stem cells

By | September 24, 2008

Big pharma's interest in linkurl:stem cell research; is picking up speed. Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer is expanding its research into the technology and plans to open a second regenerative medicine unit in Cambridge, UK, this November, Reuters linkurl:reported; yesterday. Pfizer isn't the only one. In July, GlaxoSmithKline entered a linkurl:5-year, $25 million collaboration;ht


Zerhouni resigns as NIH head

By | September 24, 2008

The 15th head of the National Institutes of Health, linkurl:Elias Zerhouni,; will step down from his post, he announced today (Sept 24). In a conference call with reporters today, Zerhouni said that he would be leaving NIH at the end of October as a part of what he called "the natural cycle of tenures for this position." "It's with mixed emotions that I move on," he said. President George W. Bush linkurl:appointed;


A new twist on nanoparticle behavior

By | September 23, 2008

Researchers hoping to develop linkurl:nanoparticles; as medicines or carriers of therapeutic molecules have much more to worry about than the type of material they plan on miniaturizing, according to a linkurl:study; in this week's issue of the __Proceedings of the National Academy of Science__. Researchers in Ireland found that the corona, or cloud of proteins and other biomolecules that adher


Four biologists win "genius" prize

By | September 23, 2008

The MacArthur Foundation today announced the recipients of its 2008 MacArthur Fellows (a.k.a. Genius Awards): Among the 25 winners, who will receive $500,000 over the next five years, four were life scientists. Here's the line-up: linkurl:Kirsten Bomblies,; a plant evolutionary geneticist at the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology, studies genetic incompatibility in Arabidopsis as a model for the development of new plant species in shared


Who's advising McCain on science?

By | September 23, 2008

While Democratic Presidential hopeful linkurl:Barack Obama; unveiled an impressive stable of science policy advisers last week, his opponent linkurl:John McCain; has yet to ante up. As linkurl:__Wired__; reported on Wednesday, the Obama science team includes Nobel laureates linkurl:Harold Varmus;


High risk NIH grants announced

By | September 22, 2008

Forty-seven researchers -- including 31 early career investigators -- will split a pot of $138 million dollars for research recognized by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) as bold and potentially transformative. The NIH Director's Pioneer and New Innovator Awards aim to fund high risk-high reward projects that tend to get passed over during the linkurl:peer-review selection; for NIH R01 grants. "There's a tendency for investment early in


Ancient fingers and toes

By | September 21, 2008

Were animals with four limbs the first to evolve fingers and toes-- or did such digits evolve long before? A linkurl:study published today; (September 21) in Nature claims to resolve this long-standing question. For many years, most paleontologists debated whether digits arose 380 million years ago as a novel evolutionary trait in tetrapods, or four-footed creatures. The new study, led by Catherine Boisvert, at Uppsala Unive

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