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Histones are everywhere

By | May 11, 2006

Just the other day I was talking to a researcher on the phone whose work had unexpectedly intersected with nucleosome remodeling. I get the feeling it?s not an uncommon occurrence. I?ve enjoyed following the linkurl:explosion of research;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/23392/ on this topic in the past decade, in part because the analogies are irresistible. As the now pat intro to numerous papers on the subject says, with the sequence of the human genome at hand, scientists are lo

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A word about BioMedCentral

By | May 1, 2006

Some of you may be wondering why The Scientist is today publishing a linkurl:news story;http://www.the-scientist.com/news/display/23352/ that on the face of it seems quite critical of BioMedCentral, our sister company. It's a fair question, and one with a simple answer: We are commited to covering significant developments, in science publishing and elsewhere, that are likely to be of interest to our readers, irrespective of the source of the story. This particular article is a test of the edit

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A genome center on a chip?

By | April 25, 2006

A nifty paper in yesterday's online edition of PNAS could presage the future of microfluidics development -- not to mention of sequencing technology. linkurl:Richard Mathies;http://chem.berkeley.edu/people/faculty/mathies/mathies.html of the University of California, Berkeley, and colleagues linkurl:report;http://www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.0602476103 the development of an integrated chip capable of performing the complete Sanger sequencing protocol, from template to gel. Lab-on-a-chip, o

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Goodbye, science writing mentor

By | April 25, 2006

I didn't know Laura van Dam particularly well, but I did have the chance to work with her. In 1993, while I was in college, I was an intern at Technology Review, where she was a senior editor. It was a good experience for me, thanks in no small part to Laura, who always had time for this unpolished kid who seemed to always be running off to the lab to finish my thesis. She was infinitely patient, particularly with the pieces that didn't make it into the magazine. I probably learned more when she

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Petition backs animal research

By | April 21, 2006

In the UK, the battle for people's hearts and minds over animal research continues apace. For a long time, opponents of animal research dominated the news but linkurl:these days;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/23166/, the tables seem to have turned. The latest thrust came yesterday when the Coalition for Medical Progress launched an linkurl:online petition;http://www.thepeoplespetition.com/signup/ for those who see experiments on animals as being essential. As I write, after midnight

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Chips spark surge in epigenetics

By | April 20, 2006

Since my colleague Brendan Maher returned from a chromatin meeting in January, it seems there's been a burst of activity in the epigenetics field, much of it covered here in __The Scientist__. On March 17, for instance, I linkurl:reported;http://www.the-scientist.com/news/display/23235/ on the publication of three papers in __Genes & Development__, which mapped the binding of the Dosage Compensation Complex (DCC) across the __Drosophila__ X chromosome during fly development. Today, __linkurl:Na

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Clinical diagnostics in a Starbucks package

By | April 13, 2006

The __New York Times__ linkurl:has an interesting business story;http://www.nytimes.com/2006/04/13/business/13diagnose.html on the growth of high-priced clinical diagnostic tests involving genomic and proteomic technologies. One chief scientific officer praised the makers of Oncotype DX (which rates the risk of breast cancer recurrence based on a panel of 12 genes) for validating their product in the clinic and then placing it ?in a Starbucks package at a high price.? At $3500 a pop, the test

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Bill Clinton wants corn

By | April 12, 2006

The mood at linkurl:BIO yesterday;http://www.bio.org/ preceding Bill Clinton's speech felt more like a rock concert than a keynote address. In fact, I was very nearly carried away in a stampede when the conference organizers finally opened the barriers to the hall. When everyone finally got settled in, there was rapt attention during Clinton's 45-minute speech. True to form, he spoke with perfect organization, seamlessly citing statistics and facts without ever looking at notes. His theme for t

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Clinton is at BIO-- or is he?

By | April 11, 2006

Former president Bill Clinton is scheduled to speak at the 2006 linkurl:BIO meeting;http://www.bio.org/events/2006/ today. But when I arrived this morning, I saw large signs alerting the media that the event was closed to the press. Why would BIO prevent the media from reporting on likely the biggest speaker that?s ever attended the conference? Surely this would be a huge plug for the organization. When I spoke to BIO media officials, they told me the decision came from Clinton?s people, not th

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Is pharma putting more money into early R&D?

By | April 11, 2006

This morning at the 2006 linkurl:BIO meeting;://www.bio.org/events/2006/ in Chicago, I listened to a panel of high profile executives at a range of companies within the biotech/pharma sector, all of whom seemed to agree that pharmaceutical companies are taking more risks in recent years by investing in earlier-stage products. This is a major shift for the industry, which has traditionally chosen to spend more money on later-stage products with more data to suggest they work, rather than throw th

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