By Alex Philippidis

California's budget squeeze and the ongoing economic slump have delayed two of the 12 facility projects for which the state's stem-cell agency approved a total $271 million in grants last year — at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and the Buck Institute for Age Research — though one of the projects has raised enough money to have just started pre-construction work, and the other hopes to break ground next year.

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In Nature this week: omic analysis of permafrost microbes, hookworm genome, and more.

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Rob Knight writes at Scientific American that microbiome studies are about to break out of the laboratory.

Harold Varmus, the director of the National Cancer Institute, has announced that he is stepping down after nearly five years.