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'Twas a Good Year, 2010

It's the time of year for lists and navel-gazing. Science named the first quantum machine as the breakthrough of the year. The runners-up, though, included synthetic genomes, the sequencing of the Neandertal genome, next-gen genomics, and exome sequencing, showing that the 'omics fields have a bit to offer. Indeed, one area Science says to watch is RAD tag sequencing. Dan Koboldt at MassGenomics has even dubbed 2010 " the year of the exome."

The Scientist draws on its Faculty of 1000 rankings to determine the top five biology papers and top five medical papers of this past year. The top biology spot goes to a Nature paper on Salmonella usurping energy from the immune response that is supposed to drive it away. And the honors in medicine go to a New England Journal of Medicine article that found no difference between treating carotid-artery stenosis with stents or endarterectomy.

Ed Yong at Not Exactly Rocket Science is doing a marathon round-up of the year. In part eight, he focuses on "the unexpectedly dynamic world of genes." He points to recent findings that gut bacteria found in Japanese people contain genes from the bacterium Zobellia galactanivorans, allowing seaweed to be more readily digested. In addition, Yong highlights "genome infiltrators" such as T. cruzi and human herpesvirus-6. He also lists his own experience getting his genes tested by 23andMe.

The bloggers at Genomes Unzipped also list the papers from the past year that they like best. Daniel MacArthur chose a paper from Victor Velculescu's group on a sequencing strategy to find personalized biomarkers to help manage cancer patients' treatment. Meanwhile Luke Jostins preferred a paper from an Australian group that, as he says, "tied together some key results that underlie twin studies and the calculation of heritability, measurements of familial risk, and the sort of measurements that we use to assess genetic prediction of disease."

Wired Science ranks J. Craig Venter et al.'s synthetic genome among its choices for the top 10 breakthroughs of 2010. Wired also lauds researchers' finding that the "gene coding for NDM-1 can ride in a plasmid" and the creation of three-parent embryos as well as the first HIV microbicide, among other discoveries, with best-of-the-year honors.

Finally, LiveScience rounds up what it calls "the ultimate 'well, duh' findings of 2010," which includes the findings that bullies pick on unpopular kids, kids without friends are sad, and that caffeine affects kids' sleep.

Daily Scan asks: what was your favorite finding of the year?

The Scan

Wolf Howl Responses Offer Look at Vocal Behavior-Related Selection in Dogs

In dozens of domestic dogs listening to wolf vocalizations, researchers in Communication Biology see responses varying with age, sex, reproductive status, and a breed's evolutionary distance from wolves.

Facial Imaging-Based Genetic Diagnoses Appears to Get Boost With Three-Dimensional Approach

With data for more than 1,900 individuals affected by a range of genetic conditions, researchers compared facial phenotype-based diagnoses informed by 2D or 3D images in the European Journal of Human Genetics.

Survey Suggests Multigene Cancer Panel VUS Reporting May Vary Across Genetic Counselors

Investigators surveyed dozens of genetic counselors working in clinical or laboratory settings, uncovering attitudes around VUS reporting after multigene cancer panel testing in the Journal of Genetic Counseling.

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.