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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;, the tables seem to have turned. The latest thrust came yesterday when the Coalition for Medical Progress launched an linkurl:online petition; for those who see experiments on animals as being essential. As I write, after midnight


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; 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


Clinical diagnostics in a Starbucks package

By | April 13, 2006

The __New York Times__ linkurl:has an interesting business story; 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


Bill Clinton wants corn

By | April 12, 2006

The mood at linkurl:BIO yesterday; 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


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; 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


Is pharma putting more money into early R&D?

By | April 11, 2006

This morning at the 2006 linkurl:BIO meeting;:// 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


Research gems in Botswana

By | April 8, 2006

Gaborone, the capital of Botswana, is a small city with roughly 200,000 residents. After Windhoek in linkurl:Namibia;, where I was yesterday, it seems a little rough around the edges. I'm in town as part of a 10 day linkurl:trip to Africa; on behalf of The Scientist to talk to researchers about the linkurl:state of science; on the continent. The city ma


Is bird flu in the UK?

By | April 6, 2006

British scientists are expected to reveal today (Thursday) whether a dead swan found on the Scottish coast was infected with H5N1 avian influenza, Scottish authorities said last night. linkurl:Preliminary tests; on the swan showed that it was infected with highly pathogenic H5 avian flu, but the exact strain is not yet known. With infected birds having turned up elsewhere in Europe, the UK has been anticipating the possible arrival of th


Namibia's academic appeal

By | April 5, 2006

I arrived in Windhoek, the capital city of Namibia, this morning, as part of a 10 day linkurl:trip to Africa; on behalf of The Scientist to talk to researchers about the state of science on the continent. In no time, I was being whisked over to the linkurl:University of Namibia; by molecular biologist Kazhila Chinsembu. Chinsembu is originally from Zambia but has been at the University of Namibia for four years. As we drove t


Meeting key figure in African science

By | April 4, 2006

Today was the first day of a 10 day trip to Africa on behalf of The Scientist to talk to researchers about the linkurl:state of science; on the continent. On my inaugural stop, I visited John Mugabe, director of the science and technology council of the linkurl:New Economic Partnership for African Development; (NEPAD), whose office is in a research campus on the edge of Pretoria, South Africa. Mugabe is not a vociferous man

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