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Francis Collins and the Science Bloggers

Though the nomination of Francis Collins to direct the NIH was applauded and endorsed by many, others raise criticism, particular on Collins' "very public embrace of religion", as the New York Times puts it. As described in his book, The Language of God, Collins converted to Christianity at the age of 27. That's where Collins has encounter the vitriol of some science bloggers who say that Collins' faith will affect his ability to direct good science. PZ Myers says that Collins will be able to manage the institution well enough, but adds that "we can also trust him to drape Jesus over every major announcement, use the office as a platform for promoting religiosity." Similarly Jonathan Eisen writes that Collins will do the job well though he has "mixed feelings" and Larry Moran just says that the announcement is "bad news." At the Intersection, however, Chris Mooney is "glad of the choice. It elevates to new prominence someone who merges top tier science with religion–a powerful way to show that you really can have both in your life."

The Scan

Octopus Brain Complexity Linked to MicroRNA Expansions

Investigators saw microRNA gene expansions coinciding with complex brains when they analyzed certain cephalopod transcriptomes, as they report in Science Advances.

Study Tracks Outcomes in Children Born to Zika Virus-Infected Mothers

By following pregnancy outcomes for women with RT-PCR-confirmed Zika virus infections, researchers saw in Lancet Regional Health congenital abnormalities in roughly one-third of live-born children.

Team Presents Benchmark Study of RNA Classification Tools

With more than 135 transcriptomic datasets, researchers tested two dozen coding and non-coding RNA classification tools, establishing a set of potentially misclassified transcripts, as they report in Nucleic Acids Research.

Breast Cancer Risk Related to Pathogenic BRCA1 Mutation May Be Modified by Repeats

Several variable number tandem repeats appear to impact breast cancer risk and age at diagnosis in almost 350 individuals carrying a risky Ashkenazi Jewish BRCA1 founder mutation.