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From a Side Project to the Nobel

Massachusetts General Hospital's Jack Szostak tells The New York Times that his work on telomeres, which led him to win the 2009 Nobel Prize, started out as a "side project." Szostak was interested in recombination, and he became interested in telomeres because they do not recombine. And he then worked with Elizabeth Blackburn, who shared the Nobel with him. "We figured out that there was an enzyme, telomerase, that adds DNA to the ends of chromosomes to balance out the DNA that is naturally lost as cells grow," he says. "Afterward, as people in the field began to see how important it was, telomere research just took off." Now, Szostak's lab has a different research focus: he and his colleagues are trying to determine how life came about on Earth.

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.