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Sowing Ag Dollars


For this fiscal year, the US Department of Agriculture was allocated some $95.4 billion, of which an estimated $19.4 billion will go toward discretionary spending, the broad umbrella under which the agency’s research grant funding lies. That’s a decrease from about $22 billion last year.

Researchers with an agricultural bent have found plenty of grant opportunities — especially for crop sequencing and pathogen genomics — for their science. We opted to look into USDA’s records to see where the money is going. Using their grant search tool, we plugged in key words such as “bioinformatics,” “RNAi,” “genome,” and “microarray” to track down the funding relevant to this field.

The list below shows the highest and most systems biology-targeted awards. It is by no means comprehensive and is meant to give you a sampling of the type of research USDA has chosen to support.

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The Scan

And For Adolescents

The US Food and Drug Administration has authorized the Pfizer-BioNTech SARS-CoV-2 vaccine for children between the ages of 12 and 15 years old.

Also of Concern to WHO

The Wall Street Journal reports that the World Health Organization has classified the SARS-CoV-2 variant B.1.617 as a "variant of concern."

Test for Them All

The New York Times reports on the development of combined tests for SARS-CoV-2 and other viruses like influenza.

PNAS Papers on Oral Microbiome Evolution, Snake Toxins, Transcription Factor Binding

In PNAS this week: evolution of oral microbiomes among hominids, comparative genomic analysis of snake toxins, and more.