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UCLA sues animal rights groups

By | February 21, 2008

In response to several recent linkurl:attacks; on University of California, Los Angeles researchers, the school is suing three animal rights groups and several people associated with the groups. "Enough is enough," UCLA Chancellor Gene Block said in a university linkurl:press release.; "We're not willing to wait until somebody is injured before taking legal act


$1 million fine for biosafety snafus

By | February 20, 2008

Texas A&M University will pay an unprecedented $1 million in fines for more than a dozen safety violations in its research program on bioterrorism agents, the university announced today (February 20). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention linkurl:suspended; the university's bioterrorism research efforts in July, 2007, after an inspection prompted by the biosafety watchdog group, the linkurl:Sunshine Project,;


Crowdsourcing for science?

By | February 20, 2008

Last night, I and other attendees of the Knight Science Journalism Fellowships 25th Anniversary Symposium in Boston were introduced to an interesting idea, courtesy of Clive Thompson, science writer extraordinaire for Wired and other outlets: linkurl:Write blogs; to get ideas. It's a basic concept. Thompson -- a surprisingly dapper (for a writer), well-coiffed, quick-talking presenter -- explained that he constantly feeds his blog,, becau


FDA inspects wrong Chinese plant

By | February 19, 2008

The linkurl:US Food and Drug Administration; admitted yesterday that it never inspected a Chinese facility supplying the active ingredient in heparin, a widely used blood thinner recently implicated in more than 350 adverse reactions and four deaths in US patients. The oversight resulted from a case of mistaken identity, according to a linkurl:story;


Geneticist Ray Wu dies

By | February 19, 2008

Geneticist and genetic engineering pioneer Ray Wu died on February 10 of cardiac arrest. He was 79. In 1970, Wu developed a new location-specific primer-extension technique that became the first method of sequencing DNA. In the following decade, Frederick Sanger adapted the approach for faster sequencing, and received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the work in 1980. Wu's lab also devised other approaches that were used to analyze genetic sequences and to construct vectors for cloning genes,


Help wanted: Science advisors

By | February 19, 2008

Who should the next US president appoint as director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy? That and more than 50 other science-related linkurl:positions; in the executive branch will more than likely be up for grabs come next January. The scientific community has already called for a linkurl:science debate; by presidential candidates. But policy experts at this weekend's meeting of the Ame


Another HIV microbicide a bust

By | February 18, 2008

Another microbicide to prevent linkurl:HIV; transmission has been deemed ineffective. The Population Council, a nonprofit research organization, which has been developing the microbicide Carraguard, announced today that phase III clinical results show it ineffective in linkurl:preventing HIV; transmission. The trial, which ended in March of last year, involved 6,202 women and cost around $40 mil


Animal studio portraits: Slideshow

By | February 15, 2008

The images you see in [Creature, a new book of photographs by Andrew Zuckerman] are the product of a journey of discovery and of learning how to connect with the soul and essence of all creatures. In animals, as in humans, the eye connects the creature to the outside world and centers our focus to see deeper into the heart and very nature of the creature. The goal of these images is to intensify the viewer's connection to the animals and inspire new perspectives on the familiar and immediate lin

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Pet dog to be cloned by Korean biotech

By | February 15, 2008

A South Korean biotech company has announced it will, for the first time ever, commercially clone a pet dog, according to linkurl:reports; coming out of the country. RNL Bio said last week that it received an order from Californian Bernann McKunney, to clone her deceased pet pitbull, Booger, to the tune of $150,000. Booger died in 2005, but not before McKinney had tissue from his ear preserved. The Korean company told the linkurl:

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Autoimmunity in plants?

By | February 14, 2008

Can plants suffer from autoimmunity? The term is generally reserved for organisms with an adaptive immune system, but one of the speakers last night at the Keystone meeting on plant signaling and immunity described a scenario that she called "the plant world version of autoimmunity." Farmers as well as plant researchers have long known that every once in a while, when two healthy plants are crossbred, the offspring (called F1) is inexplicably sickly - maybe its leaves are necrotic, or maybe it


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