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Fragile flu, siliciferous smallpox

By | October 2, 2009

A virus has a relatively easy time replicating itself. It's just a matter of hijacking a cell to generate the necessary components and in minutes, the capsid shell proteins self-assemble around a coil of viral genome. But for the glassblowers working with British artist linkurl:Luke Jerram; replicating a virus wasn't so easy.Luke Jerram holding his swineflu sculptureImage: The Wellcome Trust Jerram and his assistants created glass genomes, ca

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Pathogen-resistant mosquitoes?

By | October 1, 2009

A bacterium that infects insects may provide a biological method for stunting the spread of a range of devastating human diseases. The bacteria may protect their hosts against disease-causing pathogens by hiking up the insects' immune response, according to a study published online today (October 1) in Science. Image: Wikimedia commons, US Department of Agriculture"I think the paper is quite exciting," linkurl:Scott O'Neill; of the University


PNAS butterfly flap heats up

By | October 1, 2009

The __Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences__ has halted the print publication of a controversial scientific paper, saying it's investigating the conditions under which it was ushered through peer review by a distinguished academy member who advocated for its inclusion in the journal. The linkurl:paper;, written by University of Liverpool researcher linkurl:Donald Williamson,;


New president for EMBO

By | September 30, 2009

The European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) announced today (September 30) linkurl:the appointment; of a new president: Maria Leptin, a developmental biologist at the University of Cologne, Germany. Maria LeptinImage: EMBOLeptin will be the first woman appointed to the position, and takes over from Herman Bujard, the director since 2007, who is stepping down to devote more time to his research on malaria and gen


NIH recovery grants top $5 billion

By | September 30, 2009

Grants to be announced today (September 30) will bring the total amount of recovery act funding spent by the National Institutes of Health to more than $5 billion, top officials said this morning. The NIH has awarded 12,000 biomedical research grants since the the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 was passed in February. An linkurl:analysis; published last week by the American Association for the Advancement of Science indicated that the NIH had awar


Nobels ripe for overhaul?

By | September 30, 2009

The Nobel Prize system is dated and in desperate need of an overhaul, a group of top scientists and engineers said today (September 30) in a linkurl:letter; to the Nobel Foundation. Alfred Nobel Image: Wikimedia Commons In their letter, addressed to the foundation's executive director, Michael Sohlman, the researchers recommend that the awards should be broadened to include advancements


Mahlon Hoagland dies

By | September 29, 2009

Mahlon Hoagland, a molecular biologist whose discoveries of transfer RNA and the mechanisms behind amino acid activation helped build the foundation of genetics, died in his home in Thetford, VT, on Friday. He was 87 years old. Mahlon Hoagland Image: VACE As a young scientist in the 1950s and 1960s, Hoagland studied RNA and DNA alongside Paul Zamecnik at Harvard Medical School and Francis Crick at Cambridge University. He made his most significant contributions to biology in his 30s and largely


Q&A: Is stem cell research misguided?

By | September 29, 2009

Searching for a set of molecular characteristics common to all stem cells is, at best, a quixotic quest, argues a systems biologist in an opinion linkurl:piece; recently published in the __Journal of Biology__. This overly-simplified view of stem cells, the article notes, may be leading science down unfruitful paths and holding back clinical research. Instead, the author of the review, University of California, Irvine, researcher linkurl:Arthur Lander;http://lan


Short-term stress stops cancer

By | September 28, 2009

Stress is commonly thought to increase susceptibility to disease, but a new study in Brain, Behavior, and Immunity finds short-term stress can actually boost the immune system and help reduce the number of skin cancer tumors in mice. Squamous cell carcinoma Image: Wikimedia Commons "It does not make sense that stress should always or necessarily be harmful since its most basic form is the fight-or-flight response," linkurl:Firdaus Dhabhar,;


2009 Nobel predictions go public

By | September 25, 2009

The identities of top contenders for annual Nobel Prizes are kept under wraps during the nomination and selection process, no one quite knowing what happens behind the committees' closed doors. That secrecy doesn't stop a few brave organizations from trying to predict the winners every year, often with varying degrees of success. Alfred NobelImage: Wikipedia Publishing and information company Thomson Reuters released their linkurl:list of finalists; yest


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