Arlen Specter, a former US senator from Pennsylvania, has died, reports the Nature News blog. He was 82. Specter was a Republican until he switched parties in 2009.

The Nature News blog notes that Specter "was a big proponent of the doubling of the [US National Institutes of Health] budget over a five-year period that ended in 2003" and that he helped secure the NIH a large portion of the 2009 economic stimulus bill.

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A new report highlights the potential threats posed by advances in synthetic biology, NPR reports.

A Bloomberg reporter tried to get her genetic data deleted, but found it's not so simple to do.

Johns Hopkins University's Steven Salzberg and his colleagues have come up with a new estimate for the number of human genes, Nature News reports.

In Genome Research this week: study of intra-tumor heterogeneity, workflow resources for EPIGEN-Brazil, and more.