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Grants and Responsibility

Cancer research faces a number of obstacles — low research grants funding rates and a looming sequester deadline, decreased accuracy in published results — but National Cancer Institute Director Harold Varmus is still optimistic, reports the Nature News Blog. Varmus says that, if the budget sequester goes into effect, there will be a limit to how many new grants could be given out. "I have already promised a lot of [the existing $5 billion budget] to current grantees," Varmus says. "If our budget were reduced 8%, and we got $4.6 billion this year, and we didn't do anything else, do the math." However, he also says that he doesn't think the sequestration cuts will occur.

Additionally, Varmus says that there is a responsibility at a number of levels — institutions, investigators, NIH, and journals — to ensure that research is held to a high standard. "I mean, science, important science, is self-correcting. And I don't want to rely on self-correction all the time. I want standards. I want mentoring," he adds.

The Scan

Genome Sequences Reveal Range Mutations in Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells

Researchers in Nature Genetics detect somatic mutation variation across iPSCs generated from blood or skin fibroblast cell sources, along with selection for BCOR gene mutations.

Researchers Reprogram Plant Roots With Synthetic Genetic Circuit Strategy

Root gene expression was altered with the help of genetic circuits built around a series of synthetic transcriptional regulators in the Nicotiana benthamiana plant in a Science paper.

Infectious Disease Tracking Study Compares Genome Sequencing Approaches

Researchers in BMC Genomics see advantages for capture-based Illumina sequencing and amplicon-based sequencing on the Nanopore instrument, depending on the situation or samples available.

LINE-1 Linked to Premature Aging Conditions

Researchers report in Science Translational Medicine that the accumulation of LINE-1 RNA contributes to premature aging conditions and that symptoms can be improved by targeting them.