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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;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/54893/ for NIH R01 grants. "There's a tendency for investment early in

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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;http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vaop/ncurrent/abs/nature07339.html (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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More fat cells, less fat?

By | September 18, 2008

A fat-based hormone, the first of its kind to be identified, may regulate the body's metabolic rate, according to a linkurl:report;http://www.cell.com/content/article/abstract?uid=PIIS0092867408010143 in this week's __Cell.__ The results paradoxically suggest that aspects of metabolic disease could be controlled by spurring the production of new fat cells. "There's a strong dogma that excess fat is bad in every form, that the effects will always be negative," said principal investigator Gokhan

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Politics in the body?

By | September 18, 2008

Do you strongly support the war in Iraq and strict immigration policies? If so, you're more likely to have strong physiological responses to threatening stimuli such as loud noises and disturbing images, according to a study published in Science this week. Using tests of skin conductance in response to different types of images and startle response to loud sounds, researchers found that people with higher physical sensitivity to threatening stimuli are more likely to favor political policies t

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$500 million NIH funds boost?

By | September 17, 2008

The National Institutes of Health may be getting a healthy funding boost by year's end. Within the next couple of weeks, the US Senate is expected to debate a supplementary funding package that includes $500 million to NIH for 2008. Senate Committee on Appropriations chairman Robert Bryd (D- WVa) linkurl:introduced the supplement;http://appropriations.senate.gov/News/2008_07_31_Byrd_Comments_on_Second_Stimulus_Supplemental,_Releases_Details_of_Legislation.pdf?CFID=8566385&CFTOKEN=62920191 at t

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Haitian HIV clinic weathers storms

By | September 17, 2008

The trio of hurricanes that raked across Haiti recently left the linkurl:HIV/AIDS clinic that I visited;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/54367/ there earlier this year battered but not broken. While Gustav, Hanna, and Ike wrought widespread destruction across the country and killed hundreds of people, the Haitian Study Group on Kaposi's Sarcoma and Opportunistic Infections (GHESKIO) clinic in Port-au-Prince continues to function, according to the center's director linkurl:Jean Pape.;

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NAS to review anthrax evidence

By | September 17, 2008

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) yesterday (September 16) announced it will turn over scientific evidence against their chief suspect in the 2001 anthrax attacks, a US army microbiologist who linkurl:committed suicide;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/54907/ in July, to scientists at the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) for independent review. Bruce Ivins, a researcher at the U.S. Army Medical Institute for Infectious Disease at Fort Detrick, Md, conducted studies on anthrax

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McCain changes stem cell tune

By | September 15, 2008

US Republican Presidential candidate, John McCain, appears to be backing off from his strong support of federal funding for linkurl:embryonic stem cell research,;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/54727/ according to his responses to an online questionnaire on national science issues. "While I support federal funding for embryonic stem cell research," Senator McCain (R-AZ) linkurl:wrote;http://www.sciencedebate2008.com/www/index.php?id=44 in response to a survey from science advocacy gro

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2008 Lasker Awards announced

By | September 13, 2008

Three researchers, linkurl:Victor Ambros,;http://www.umassmed.edu/faculty/show.cfm?faculty=1266 at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, linkurl:Gary Ruvkun,;http://www.hms.harvard.edu/dms/bbs/fac/ruvkun.html at Massachusetts General Hospital, and linkurl:David Baulcombe,;http://www.plantsci.cam.ac.uk/research/davidbaulcombe.html at the University of Cambridge in the UK, will share the 2008 Albert Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research for their discovery of microRNAs, the Albert and

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Is it life now?

By | September 12, 2008

The wires - including, um, linkurl:Wired;http://blog.wired.com/wiredscience/2008/09/biologists-on-t.html - are abuzz this week with talk of research by Jack Szostak, a Harvard researcher who is trying to create synthetic life. The attention stems from results he presented last week at an Origin of Life conference, as well as data he's published recently. Loyal readers will recall that linkurl:we wrote about;http://www.the-scientist.com/2006/1/1/30/1/ Szostak's work nearly two years ago,

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