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Splitting two birds with one gene

By | June 17, 2009

A single base pair change that turned a colorful bird entirely black probably guided the formation of a new species, researchers linkurl:report; in the August issue of __The American Naturalist__. Melanic (above) and chestnut-bellied (below) Monarch flycatchersImage: J. Albert Uy"It looks like we have a single mutation that's driving speciation in these birds," linkurl:J. Albert Uy,; an evolutiona

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Lilly offers "free" assays

By | June 16, 2009

In a new initiative that aims to forge broader partnerships between pharma and academia, Eli Lilly has announced that it will conduct free drug development assays in four therapeutic areas on any compounds academic researchers and small biotechs care to send along. In exchange, the company will get first dibs on any licensing deals or collaborations that promising compounds might yield. What differentiates this initiative from the plethora of partnering opportunities out there, Alan Palkowitz,


Pluripotency: the third option?

By | June 16, 2009

The excitement surrounding cellular reprogramming and the possibility of federal funding for human embryonic stem cell (ESC) research in the US could be overshadowing another promising therapeutic source of stem cells: those derived via parthenogenesis, some researchers say. But later-developed techniques such as induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) could make this approach obsolete, and the final draft of the stem cell guidelines, due out by July 7, might put the nail in the parthenote coffin


Watching wisdom

By | June 12, 2009

As young assistant professors in the Harvard biology department of the 1950s and 60s, the eminent biologists linkurl:James Watson; and linkurl:Edward O. Wilson; famously didn't get along, to say the least. Wilson once called Watson "the most unpleasant human being I have ever met." Watson, in turn, dismissed Wilson as little more than a "stamp collector." Over the past few decades, the two have made amends, and that rapprochemen


Editors quit after fake paper flap

By | June 11, 2009

The editor-in-chief of an open access journal has stepped down from his post after learning that the journal accepted a fake, computer-generated article for publication. So has an editorial advisory board member of a second journal published by the same company, linkurl:Bentham Science Publishers.; Image: Jupiter Imageslinkurl:Bambang Parmanto,; a University of Pittsburgh information scientist, resigned from his editorship at linkurl:__Th


Why we go gray

By | June 11, 2009

Researchers have identified the mechanism for why hair goes gray with age and stress -- and in the process discovered a novel response to DNA damage in stem cells, they report in the June 12 issue of __Cell.__ It's generally thought that accumulated DNA damage is a likely culprit in aging phenotypes such as graying hair, but researchers have been unable to show a direct link, said linkurl:David Fisher; chairman of the department of


Bone fat squelches new blood

By | June 10, 2009

Fat cells have long been considered to be mere filler in bone marrow, but linkurl:a study published online today; in Nature reports that these cells serve an important function -- namely, they put the brakes on blood formation. Grey's Anatomy illustrationof human bone marrow Image: Wikipedia "I think it's fundamentally important," linkurl:Sean Morrison,; director of


OA publisher accepts fake paper

By | June 10, 2009

An open access journal has agreed to publish a nonsensical article written by a computer program, claiming that the manuscript was peer reviewed and requesting that the "authors" pay $800 in "open access fees." Philip Davis, a PhD student in scientific communications at Cornell University, and Kent Anderson, executive director of international business and product development at the __New England Journal of Medicine__, submitted the fake manuscript to linkurl:__The Open Information Science Jour


Minding the human genome gap

By | June 9, 2009

Many of the unsequenced gaps in the human genome arise because their DNA sequences cannot be read by the bacteria used in traditional sequencing methods, according to a linkurl:paper; published last week in __Genome Biology__. In the paper, a team of Broad Institute researchers report a simple, new way to fill in those gaps using next-generation sequencing technology. Image: Wikimedia Commons"There are some regions of the genome which bacteria don't like,"


Sens. to Sebelius: Support the NIH

By | June 9, 2009

Today on Capitol Hill, Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius caught a little guff from Senators Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Arlen Specter (D-PA) about the paltry increase -- just about $442 million -- that HHS is proposing for the National Institutes of Health's 2010 budget. "I would urge you to take another look at that figure," Specter said to Sebelius at a Senate subcommittee linkurl:hearing.;


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