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Of God and Grants


Grant Funding & Stimulus

The blogger at Medical Writing, Editing & Grantsmanship notes that 18,000 applications came in for challenge grants, with 11,000 more in the error correction queue. The Science Insider blog determined that with off-the-charts application numbers and the estimated awards available, the success rate may be about 2 percent. Meantime, in a more general post about reviewing grant applications, Steven Salzberg at Genomics, Evolution, and Pseudoscience aired his grievance about NIH's password procedures, which require reviewers to log in to the NIH website, get a password for the proposal, and then enter that to view the proposal. "This is ridiculous," Salzberg writes. "Does NIH want us to read the proposals, or not?"

God, Science, and Collins

Bloggers were engaged in debate about Francis Collins' new BioLogos foundation, established with funding from the John Templeton Foundation, that aims to show people that faith and science can be compatible. Jonathan Eisen at the Tree of Life says he perused the foundation's website with "some horror," adding that "science (and medicine) should be about, well, science. And religion can be about whatever it wants to be. … But merging the two together into one hybrid such as Christian Science and Creation Science? Not for me." Over at Sandwalk, Larry Moran writes, "Many of us have difficulty understanding how a personal God can be involved in guiding evolution without violating the laws of physics and chemistry."

Phony Journals

A blog at The Scientist noted that Merck published a journal containing reprinted or review articles that reported data favorable to the drug company without disclosing its sponsorship of the publication. The journal — Australasian Journal of Bone and Joint Medicine — came from Elsevier, which received an undisclosed sum from Merck for the service. Days later, Jonathan Rochkind at Bibliographic Wilderness blogged about an analysis he did indicating that this journal was one of many such marketing materials in disguise. Elsevier's Excerpta Medica Communications label, which printed the Merck journal, ran 50 other publications, all of which Rochkind characterizes as "suspect."

We Used to Call It Swine Flu

Needless to say, the blogosphere has been fascinated by all things swine flu. Sandra Porter at Discovering Biology in a Digital World used it as an opportunity to build phylogenetic trees from different flu strains, finding that "the California swine virus is most closely related to a swine flu virus from Ohio" that occurred at a county fair in 2007. At Dechronization, Susan Perkins blogged about different ways that people were tracking the spread of the virus, including a tool called Timemap from Rod Page that traces flu outbreaks on a map. Finally, Sciencebase offered a basic Q&A to clear up some confusion over H1N1.

The Scan

Myotonic Dystrophy Repeat Detected in Family Genome Sequencing Analysis

While sequencing individuals from a multi-generation family, researchers identified a myotonic dystrophy type 2-related short tandem repeat in the European Journal of Human Genetics.

TB Resistance Insights Gleaned From Genome Sequence, Antimicrobial Response Assays

Researchers in PLOS Biology explore M. tuberculosis resistance with a combination of sequencing and assays looking at the minimum inhibitory concentrations of 13 drugs.

Mendelian Disease Genes Prioritized Using Tissue-Specific Expression Clues

Mendelian gene candidates could be flagged for further functional analyses based on tissue-specific transcriptome and proteome profiles, a new Journal of Human Genetics paper says.

Single-Cell Sequencing Points to Embryo Mosaicism

Mosaicism may affect preimplantation genetic tests for aneuploidy, a single-cell sequencing-based analysis of almost three dozen embryos in PLOS Genetics finds.