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UK activists guilty of blackmail

By | December 23, 2008

Four British animal rights activists were found guilty today (Dec. 23) of blackmailing companies that supplied linkurl:Huntingdon Life Sciences; (HLS), a contract animal-testing company based near Cambridge, England. The activists, part of a group called linkurl:Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC),; led a campaign from 2001 to 2007 to intimidate several companies with ties to HLS in an effort to shut down the laboratory. Their tactics involved pra


Blind man aces obstacle course

By | December 22, 2008

How much can you see with non-functioning visual cortex? A clinically blind man, with lesions on both sides of his visual cortex, was able to flawlessly navigate an obstacle course, a paper to be published tomorrow in Current Biology reports. The patient, called only TN in the paper, is a former doctor, who had suffered two strokes that damaged both sides of his striate cortex, the brain region dedicated to processing vision. The findings reinforce previous observations that other routes in the


Varmus, Lubchenco top Obama team

By | December 22, 2008

U.S. President-elect Barack Obama named more scientists to top posts over the weekend: Harold Varmus and Eric Lander will serve as co-chairs of the president's Council of Advisers on Science and Technology, headed up by Harvard physicist John Holdren. Jane Lubchenco, a marine biologist and former head of the AAAS, will also lead the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). These scientists are no strangers to our pages: Two years ago, Varmus, president of Memorial Sloan Ketterin

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Physicist to advise Obama?

By | December 18, 2008

President-elect Barack Obama plans to nominate Harvard physicist John Holdren for role of presidential science advisor, according to Science's blog linkurl:ScienceInsider.; linkurl:Holdren; is the director of the Science, Technology and Public Policy program at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government. He is also a professor of environmental science and public policy. His re

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Tweet tweet

By | December 18, 2008

We at __The Scientist__ are all a-flitter because we're now on Twitter. Starting this week, you can sign up to receive our "tweets" at Twitter is a simple messaging service that allows users to share brief text updates -- otherwise known as tweets -- of up to 140 characters. (The last sentence was exactly 140 characters.) Readers can receive Twitter posts on the Web, on their mobile phones, via instant messaging, RSS feeds, Facebook, and various Twitter-dedicated ap


Flagging fraud

By | December 17, 2008

A team of French life sciences grad students has launched an online repository of fraudulent scientific papers, and is calling on researchers to report studies tainted by misconduct. The website -- called linkurl:Scientific Red Cards; -- is still in a beta version, but once it's fully operational it should help the scientific community police the literature even when problems slip past journal editors, the students claim. The database might also prevent resear


MS drug sickens patient...again

By | December 16, 2008

Another case of a potentially fatal brain infection has been reported in a patient taking the multiple sclerosis drug Tysabri, the biotech who developed the drug announced yesterday. This is the fourth case of infection, called progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML) this year. They are the only cases reported since the drug was taken off the market in 2005 because of three cases of infection. The FDA allowed Tysabri back on the market in 2006 with restrictions and stronger warnings.


Cash for CA stem cell co's

By | December 15, 2008

Six California stem cell biotech companies received more than $5 million in funding last week from the state's stem cell funding body -- the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), according to a linkurl:news release ; from the agency. The money represents the first major pay out to companies from the state's $3 billion research enterprise. Until now, only Novocell Inc. had received a small grant of $50,000. The grants are part of 23 gr


Prion pioneer dies

By | December 15, 2008

D. Carleton Gajdusek, a virologist and anthropologist who won the 1976 Nobel Prize for his work on the infectious brain agents now known as prions, died last Friday (Dec. 12) in Tromso, Norway. He was 85. "He was a genius," linkurl:Robert Klitzman,; a psychiatrist at Columbia University in New York and Gajdusek's biographer, told __The Scientist__. "His brain was faster and at a higher level than anyone I've ever met." In the 1950s, link


Columbia neuro employees steal 200K

By | December 12, 2008

Two employees in the pediatric neurological research department at Columbia University were arrested Wednesday (December 10) for scamming the institution out of more than $200,000. John Bzdil, the former manager of the pediatric neurosciences department at the university's Neurological Institute, and his wife, Heather Rinehart, will be presented with charges today (Dec 12) of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud, a press officer from the US Attorney's office, Southern D



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