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Bloggers Abuzz


All Stimulus, All the Time

The US government's announcement of a $20 billion bolus for science funding got bloggers going. While most scientists are clamoring to get their share, Alex Palazzo at the Daily Transcript writes that this funding should be awarded with caution: "What we need is to create good stable long-term careers," he writes, "not another boom-bust cycle that will reinforce everything that is wrong with how we train our up-and-coming scientists." Meanwhile, -Juniorprof wonders whether new investigators without R01s are essentially out of luck when it comes to receiving stimulus funding, since money is targeted toward existing grantees or projects that can be accomplished in just two years.

Copyright and Conyers

Open access proponents contributed flurries of posts to the blogosphere about the Fair Copyright in Research Act, a bill supported by US House Representative John Conyers (D-Mich.) that aims to prohibit agencies such as NIH from mandating that researchers who receive federal funds make their data publicly available. Michael Eisen and Stanford law prof Larry Lessig got down to brass tacks, using the Huffington Post to call on Conyers for an explanation. Conyers did indeed respond, prompting Eisen to write on his It's Not Junk blog that nothing provides "an excuse for introducing an atrocious piece of legislation that sacrifices the public interest to those of a select group of publishing companies."

Vatican and Evolution

Over at Evolving Thoughts, John Wilkins blogs about the Vatican conference on evolution. On the bright side, he notes, "nobody questions that evolution occurs, and it is asserted that faith and science cannot conflict (which means, therefore, that faith will have to adapt to science, since science changes only in response to the evidence)." There's a lot of discussion, though, about whether evolution breeds atheism, with heavy leaning on what Wilkins says are misinterpreted passages by Richard Dawkins. "It is noteworthy that the false reading of Dawkins is being promoted by the Catholic hierarchy," Wilkins writes. "It no doubt helps them … to think that he says that evolution proves there is no God."

The Sage Challenge

Derek Lowe at In the Pipeline writes about Merck's new venture in open access. Sage, which will be headed up by former Rosetta Inpharmatics President Stephen Friend, is meant to "bring together genomic studies from all sorts of laboratories into a common format and database," Lowe writes. He says that challenges with IP and with varying data formats will be a major hurdle for the project — and is none too sure the venture will "[get] off the ground at all. ... The analogy with open-source software doesn't hold up so well with most scientific research these days, since the entry barriers (facilities, equipment, and money) are significantly higher than they are in coding."

Filed under

The Scan

Machine Learning Helps ID Molecular Mechanisms of Pancreatic Islet Beta Cell Subtypes in Type 2 Diabetes

The approach helps overcome limitations of previous studies that had investigated the molecular mechanisms of pancreatic islet beta cells, the authors write in their Nature Genetics paper.

Culture-Based Methods, Shotgun Sequencing Reveal Transmission of Bifidobacterium Strains From Mothers to Infants

In a Nature Communications study, culture-based approaches along with shotgun sequencing give a better picture of the microbial strains transmitted from mothers to infants.

Microbial Communities Can Help Trees Adapt to Changing Climates

Tree seedlings that were inoculated with microbes from dry, warm, or cold sites could better survive drought, heat, and cold stress, according to a study in Science.

A Combination of Genetics and Environment Causes Cleft Lip

In a study published in Nature Communications, researchers investigate what combination of genetic and environmental factors come into play to cause cleft lip/palate.