Nature News' Erica Check Hayden this week profiles a handful of synthetic biologists who are using next-generation sequencing and other molecular techniques to "quantify transcription in real time" and infer the 3-D "shapes of small RNA molecules," she says.

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The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative is investing in Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory's BioRxiv.

A study appearing in PLOS One finds that shortened consent forms don't affect clinical trial participants' understanding of the study.

The National Security Agency monitored signal intelligence for signs of "nefarious" genetic engineering projects, Gizmodo reports.

In Nature this week: barley genome sequenced, method for genotyping and phasing short tandem repeats, and more.