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Funding 'Radical' Science

Researchers working on "radical" ideas have a new place to get funding, reports ScienceInsider's Jocelyn Kaiser. Billionaire tech entrepreneur Peter Thiel has launched a new program called Breakout Labs, offering grants to independent researchers working on ideas that are a little out there, Kaiser says. Thiel, a co-founder of PayPal, already has a foundation that supports research on aging and artificial intelligence. "Now Thiel wants to fund 'revolutionary' science by do-it-yourself scientists and those with start-up companies that aren't far enough along to attract venture capital," Kaiser reports. The application process on Breakout Labs' Web site requires that the researchers be independent of any university or institution. In addition, the grantees must agree to publish their results in open-access journals, and must also agree to support future projects, either by giving a small portion of future royalties from intellectual property back to Breakout Labs, or by assigning the foundation IP rights, Kaiser says. "The foundation hopes to make 10 to 20 awards in the first year, ranging from around $50,000 to $350,000," she adds.

The Scan

Study Points to Tuberculosis Protection by Gaucher Disease Mutation

A mutation linked to Gaucher disease in the Ashkenazi Jewish population appears to boost Mycobacterium tuberculosis resistance in a zebrafish model of the lysosomal storage condition, a new PNAS study finds.

SpliceVault Portal Provides Look at RNA Splicing Changes Linked to Genetic Variants

The portal, described in Nature Genetics, houses variant-related messenger RNA splicing insights drawn from RNA sequencing data in nearly 335,700 samples — a set known as the 300K-RNA resource.

Automated Sequencing Pipeline Appears to Allow Rapid SARS-CoV-2 Lineage Detection in Nevada Study

Researchers in the Journal of Molecular Diagnostics describe and assess a Clear Labs Dx automated workflow, sequencing, and bioinformatic analysis method for quickly identifying SARS-CoV-2 lineages.

UK Team Presents Genetic, Epigenetic Sequencing Method

Using enzymatic DNA preparation steps, researchers in Nature Biotechnology develop a strategy for sequencing DNA, along with 5-methylcytosine and 5-hydroxymethylcytosine, on existing sequencers.