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Polycomb getting its due at Keystone

By | January 23, 2006

I didn?t want to give the impression from my last two posts that it?s all RNAi all the time at this year?s Keystone Symposium on Epigenetics and Chromatin Remodeling in Development. Polycomb group complex (PgC) proteins, their binding sites, and/or how they set up silencing states in development has been a feature in practically every other talk or poster, here. Not simply a 60-year old vagary of __Drosophila__ development that gave rise to wacky phenotypes, PgCs deserve more respect says Renat

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Systems biology gets a shot in the arm

By | January 23, 2006

A fundamental goal of systems biology is to define a biological system precisely, such that it becomes possible to predict the outcome of perturbing that system. Yesterday (Jan. 22) a team of researchers from German drug discovery firm Cellzome and the European Molecular Biology Laboratory linkurl:reported in __Nature__;http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vaop/ncurrent/abs/nature04532.html a significant step toward the creation of such models, at least in budding yeast. Giulio Superti-Furga a

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Getting Repetitive in Keystone

By | January 22, 2006

Repeats appear important in gene silencing. Repeats appear important in gene silencing. At least two talks at the Keystone Symposium Conference on Epigenetics and Chromatin Remodeling in Development implicate the power of tandem repeats in RNA-interference induced silencing. Rob Martienssen of Cold Spring Harbor talked about silencing of transposable elements (in keeping with the grand history of his institution). He explained how his lab has found that RNAi-independent and RNAi-dependent mec

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Tangled up in Keystone

By | January 21, 2006

A funny thing happened to the Keystone symposium on epigenetics and development, apparently a few years back it got invaded by chromatin people. At my first day at the symposium, I uncovered just a little grumbling that the histone modifications that control the winding and packing of DNA and that ultimately grant or restrict access to transcriptional machinery don?t quite qualify as epigenetic marks. The players in the field have yet to demonstrate that they are heritable said Ueli Grossnikla

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Beer review

By | January 20, 2006

Noted Harvard epidemiologist linkurl:Meir Stampfer;http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/facres/stmpfr.html has decided that he no longer wants to publicly tout the benefits of beer anymore at benefits sponsored by? surprise, Anheuser-Busch, brewer of approximately 30 beers in the U.S. alone. The researcher?s decision to affiliate himself with the company sparked outrage among some addiction experts, who accused Stampfer of unethical practice. Stampfer defended himself by arguing that he was simply prom

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Fraud: Do as I say, not as I do

By | January 20, 2006

Despite the fact that he appears to have fabricated at least half of the patients in a 2005 linkurl:Lancet study;http://www.the-scientist.com/news/display/22952/ , Norwegian researcher Jon Sudbo has an opinion on the ethics of 'rigorously conducted clinical trials' ? or at least he did in 2001. The results of such trials, he wrote in a letter to the New England Journal of Medicine ? which is now investigating his work published there ? 'make up the foundation for what we like to term 'evidence-b

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H&Q Round-up

By | January 20, 2006

A week later: I have been revitalized and am sitting comfortably in my office at Ferghana Partners in New York. I have written 50 meeting memo?s and have cultivated some very interesting new business. H&Q 2006 was an incredible success! Looking back on the conference, I think 2006 is poised to be an incredible year in the biotechnology industry: I am excited to do business and so are others. Although it is tougher for companies to go public?valuation expectations have been tough to swallow

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Why Google is Good for Science

By | January 20, 2006

Poking around on the linkurl:iSpecies blog;http://ispecies.blogspot.com/2006/01/antweb-google-earth-map.html today, I found a comment alerting readers to linkurl:an interesting little tool;http://www.practicalfishkeeping.co.uk/pfk/pages/DEVmapform.php on the online version of __Practical Fishkeeping__, "the UK's best-selling aquarium magazine." Fish Mapper is an applet that plots fish distribution data, culled from an online service called linkurl:FishBase;http://www.Fishbase.org , us

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When things go from bad to worse?then get better

By | January 19, 2006

When you come across a worst case scenario -- say someone who had a well-paying job but fell on hard times and lost everything ? do you think of that person as an outlier, or an example of what can happen to anyone? The other day, I heard about Jo A. Del Rio, a former Merck employee. She brought home an annual salary of $80,000 until January, 2004, when she was laid off during downsizing. Soon after, a series of medical problems depleted her financial reserves, and she ended up living in a shel

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There's fraud -- and then there's fraud

By | January 18, 2006

As if things weren't bleak enough for disgraced South Korean cloner Hwang Woo-suk, it emerged last night that he has been linkurl:offered public support;http://www.clonaid.com/news.php by Clonaid, the UFO cult founded by a former French sports journalist. In a posting on its website, Clonaid, which claims it has cloned several human embryos but is keeping the results secret, tries to draw a parallel between Hwang's recent difficulties and its own activities. The website asks: 'It is interesti

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