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Med school conflict policies lacking: study

By | February 12, 2008

Most US medical schools excel at keeping an eye on linkurl:conflicts of interest;http://www.the-scientist.com/news/display/53381/ among their faculty. But they're not so good at keeping an eye on themselves, according to a study out today. In a 2006 survey of the nation's 125 accredited allopathic medical school deans, only 38 percent of survey respondents said that they had adopted institutional conflict of interest policies applicable to their institution's own financial ties. In contrast, mo

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The cell wall defense

By | February 12, 2008

What if our textbooks aren't quite correct, and the plant cell wall isn't just the purely structural organ it's thought to be? That's the theory linkurl:Shauna Somerville;http://www-ciwdpb.stanford.edu/research/research_ssomerville.php of Stanford's Carnegie Institution described yesterday (February 11) in her talk at the Keystone joint meeting on plant signaling and innate immunity in Keystone, Co. Somerville studies powdery mildew, a fungal disease that infects as many as 9,000 different spec

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Ex-NIEHS director speaks out

By | February 11, 2008

National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) director David Schwartz, who officially linkurl:resigned;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/54296/ from the agency last Friday, told __The Scientist__ that NIEHS "could do better" and will "be more successful" under new leadership. Schwartz also said that the environmental health community misunderstood his goals as director of NIEHS. "There was a belief that I was creating a clinical institute," he said, "when I had no intentio

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Geneticist sentenced in art case

By | February 11, 2008

A geneticist was sentenced to one year of unsupervised release (no jail time) and a $500 fine for supplying bacteria to an artist, linkurl:according to;http://www.buffalonews.com/258/story/273792.html the Buffalo News, bringing to an end a well-publicized case that began more than three years ago. Robert Ferrell, based at the University of Pittsburgh, linkurl:pled guilty in October;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/53702/ to a misdemeanor, after he supplied Steven Kurtz with bacteria fo

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Lasker winner Frank Dixon dies

By | February 11, 2008

Frank Dixon, a Lasker winner and founder of the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, Calif., died on Friday (February 8) of heart failure. He was 87 years old. Dixon was best known for his work showing that immunologic responses can cause harm, including kidney and cardiovascular diseases, among others. That research earned him the 1975 Albert Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research. Dixon's colleagues remembered him as a "no-nonsense," focused scientist. Dixon was a "very severe, very toug

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Postdoc's budget blues

By | February 11, 2008

NIH-funded postdocs won't be getting a raise this year. The agency linkurl:announced;http://grants1.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-08-036.html last week that it would freeze National Research Service Award (NRSA) stipends for linkurl:postdocs;http://www.the-scientist.com/2007/3/1/49/1/ and trainees in 2008. Because the NIH froze NRSA funding last year also, first-year postdocs will get $36,996 in stipends, the same they received in 2006. These budget amounts fall short of the 2001 NIH

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Schwartz resigns from NIEHS

By | February 11, 2008

After a tumultuous three-year stint, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) director David Schwartz officially stepped down on Friday (Feb. 8). During his time as NIEHS director, Schwartz's leadership was often questioned. Scientists and lawmakers criticized Schwartz in 2005 when he pushed for privatizing the institute's journal, __Environmental Health Perspectives__, and last August more than 100 NIEHS researchers linkurl:voted no confidence;http://www.the-scientist.com/ne

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Biodefense watchdog goes dark

By | February 8, 2008

The Sunshine Project, a Texas-based group that has monitored safety and oversight issues in research on bioterror agents, suspended operations on February 1, according to the group's linkurl:Web site.;http://www.sunshine-project.org/ Ed Hammond, who heads the non-profit operation and whom I've spoken with a handful of times, has gained a reputation as something of a pitbull tearing on the pantleg of the US's growing biodefense research program. One of the group's main strategies has been simply

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My time at Science: Don Kennedy

By | February 7, 2008

It was the days before the two competing groups of researchers published the first draft of the human genome (released in February, 2001), and Don Kennedy was stressed out. As editor of Science, he was trying to get both groups to publish simultaneously, and in his journal. In the end, he got his first wish, but not his second. "I told somebody that if we had succeeded in that venture it would have made an issue of Science bigger than the Christmas issue of Vogue," he recalled recently.

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New direction for gene therapy

By | February 7, 2008

Researchers have identified a new strategy for circumventing the safety problems that have plagued linkurl:gene therapy;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/23064/ according to a linkurl:study;http://www.cell.com/content/article/abstract?uid=PIIS0092867408001165 published online in Cell today. The study reports that adenovirus, a common vector for delivering gene therapy, transfects liver cells by a different mechanism than previously thought. That mechanism offers a new target for modi

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