The Nutshell

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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; 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,; who left the post last month to linkurl:pursue his research.;


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


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


NIH deputy director leaving

By | February 18, 2010

Deputy Director Raynard Kington is leaving the National Institutes of Health (NIH) this summer after 10 years with the agency to take a position as president of Grinnell College in Iowa. Raynard KingtonImage: Wikimedia commons, NIH"I have a lump in my throat imagining Raynard leaving the NIH, where he has made so many outstanding and long-lasting contributions," Collins wrote in linkurl:a statement announcing Kington's resignation;

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African genomes sequenced

By | February 17, 2010

Scientists have sequenced the genomes of five individuals from indigenous populations in southern Africa, including famed South African Bishop Desmond Tutu, revealing new genetic variation among humans that they say will advance medical genomics research, according to a study published this week in Nature. Bushmen of southern AfricaImage: Stephan C. Schuster"It's the first genome sequence of a minority population in Africa," said human geneticist linkurl:Sarah Tishkoff;


Science crime: A recent history

By | February 16, 2010

Last Friday, biology professor Amy Bishop shocked the country when she linkurl:allegedly shot and killed; three of her colleagues at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, purportedly motivated by the university's recent decision to deny her tenure. Although certainly one of the most heinous crimes in recent memory, it is by no means the first criminal offense to disturb the scientific community. Here is a timeline of some disquieting


News in a nutshell

By | February 15, 2010

Biology department casualtiesThe Chronicle of Higher Education has posted linkurl:remembrances; of the three researchers killed on Friday when Amy Bishop, an assistant professor of biology at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, opened fire in a faculty meeting, reportedly because she had been denied tenure. linkurl:Media reports; revealed this weekend that Bishop had fatally


Genetic coding revamp

By | February 14, 2010

Scientists have developed a new genetic language using a ribosome that can read instructions that are 4 base pairs long, enabling the construction of designer proteins containing a variety of unnatural elements, according to a study published online today (February 14) in Nature. Image: Wikimedia commons, S. Jähnichen"It is brilliant," said organic chemist linkurl:John Sutherland; of the University of Manchester in th


Pork for science - good or bad?

By | February 11, 2010

Congressional earmarks are typically associated with bridges, parks, or other public works -- but science? Indeed, science is also a recipient of this process, in which money comes directly from the appropriations bills (i.e - your tax dollars), sans the competition that marks most government awards, courtesy of legislators adept at funneling cash into their home states.Image: Steven Lek via Wikimedia Commons Research funded by earmarks usually comes in the form of agricultural and defense pro


First ancient human sequenced

By | February 10, 2010

For the first time researchers have sequenced an ancient human genome, revealing characteristics of Greenland's first inhabitants and providing evidence of a previously unknown human migration, according to a study published in this week's Nature. Artist rendition of ancient Saqqaq Image: Nuka GodfredtsenPast studies have sequenced partial genomes or mitochondrial DNA, which only codes for the mother's side of the genome, said linkurl:David Lambert,;


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