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Subtle cues prompt cell signals

By | January 24, 2008

If you thought that all it took to kick-start a signaling pathway was a ligand binding to a receptor, think again. How and when that binding occurs, it turns out, is what determines what happens inside the cell. In linkurl:a study;http://www.cell.com/content/article/fulltext?uid=PIIS0092867408000470 published online in Cell today, Sherry LaPorte of Stanford University and colleagues describe the structure of the Interleukin-4 and Interleukin-13 (IL-4/13) cytokines and the complete set of recept

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Fixing gene therapy trials

By | January 23, 2008

When my editor forwarded me a press release yesterday promoting a linkurl:series of articles;http://www.liebertonline.com/toc/hum/0/0 in January's issue of Human Gene Therapy on informed consent, he mentioned that the authors of those pieces were the key players in the death of an 18-year-old in a 1999 gene therapy trial that had called informed consent into question. The issue's editorial was written by James Wilson, the journal's editor-in-chief, and one of the articles was written by Univers

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Stanford denies Big Oil U. status

By | January 23, 2008

A Stanford University official has denied linkurl:allegations;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/54188/ that the university's climate and energy research is influenced by its corporate sponsors. The linkurl:report,;http://cspinet.org/new/pdf/bigoilu.pdf released by Center for Science in the Public Interest accused Stanford and other major US universities of granting energy company sponsors control over research and publication. But Franklin Orr, the director of Stanford's linkurl:Global

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UK proposes strict stem cell rules

By | January 23, 2008

UK scientists are objecting to a new law that would require researchers wishing to work on embryonic stem cells to obtain consent from the cells' donors. Yesterday (January 21), 29 researchers, including three Nobel laureates, published a linkurl:letter;http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/letters/article3221046.ece in the Times arguing that while such consent should be required in the future, obtaining it retroactively for cell lines and disease-specific tissue banks already inexistence w

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1000 genome project launched

By | January 22, 2008

An international consortium linkurl:announced;http://www.1000genomes.org/ today (Jan 22) a plan to sequence at least 1000 genomes from people all over the world. "The 1000 Genome Project" seeks to assemble the most comprehensive map yet of human genetic variation. The project will be supported by the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in England, the Beijing Genomics Institute, Shenzhen (BGI Shenzhen) in China, and the National Institutes of Health's National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI)

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Banned UNH prof. reinstated

By | January 22, 2008

I just got a call from John Collins, former chair of the biochemistry and molecular biology department at the University of New Hampshire, who told me that as of today he is officially reinstated as a professor. Collins had been banned from campus since last June after an incident involving another professor, and then dean of research, Stacia Sower, which you can read about linkurl:here;http://www.the-scientist.com/news/display/53383/ and linkurl:here.;http://www.the-scientist.com/news/display/

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Greasing the academic wheel

By | January 22, 2008

Petrochemical companies hold too much sway over research at some US universities, according to a science watchdog group. The Center for Science in the Public Interest released a linkurl:report;http://cspinet.org/new/pdf/bigoilu.pdf yesterday (Jan 21) that surveyed a handful of major universities and found that several grant large oil corporations access to the research and publication processes in exchange for funding biofuel or other global warming-themed research program. Among these universit

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NIH meetings move west

By | January 22, 2008

NIH peer reviewers based on the West Coast now have less far to travel for study section meetings, according to the Center for Scientific Review, the gateway for all NIH grant applications. For reviewers based far away from DC who have lamented the burden of traveling to Washington for study section meetings, the agency says half of scientific review officers will hold one meeting in Chicago, Seattle, Los Angeles, or San Francisco in 2008. All SROs will do so by 2009, according to in Peer Revie

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Peer reviewed, or just blogged?

By | January 22, 2008

A University of California, San Diego communications professor is starting an unusual experiment today (Jan 22): He's testing whether a large online community of academic bloggers are better at peer review than a few hand-picked experts. To compare the two review methods, Noah Wardrip-Fruin is posting excerpts from his new book about video games onto the linkurl:blog;http://grandtextauto.org/ Grand Text Auto, run by himself and five colleagues. He linkurl:told;http://chronicle.com/free/2008

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Stem cell trial death

By | January 22, 2008

A nine-year-old girl enrolled in a stem cell therapy trial has died, according to the company running the trial, StemCells, Inc. An independent committee ruled that the death was not caused by the stem cell treatment. The girl was one of six children being treated for a neurodegenerative disorder -- called Batten Disease -- with transplants of linkurl:neural stem cells;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/54169/ derived from fetal tissue. Nature's stem cell blog linkurl:The Niche;http:

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