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This Week in Nature: Sep 27, 2007

In news, South Africa has announced that it will create 51 new research chairs at universities across the country in order to encourage foreign scientists to come to South Africa as well as native South Africans and expats to stay. Launched by the government in December 2006, the South African Research Chairs Initiative hopes to create 210 research chairs by 2010 in a range of disciplines, have 60 percent of the appointments to come from abroad, and have 60 percent of the places filled by black researchers.

A column talks about the federal government's recent efforts to create new and expanded programs for pre-college science and math education. In August, President Bush signed into law the America Creating Opportunities to Meaningfully Promote Excellence in Technology, Education and Science Act; the turn toward supporting high school science education, the author writes, is due most immediately to the newly Democratic Congress. "The focus on education should be welcomed and cannot be taken for granted,” he writes.

The French–Italian Public Consortium for Grapevine Genome Characterization has reported the first draft sequence of the grapevine, Vitis vinifera. It's the fourth one produced for flowering plants, the second for a woody species, and the first for a fruit crop. The sequence contains contributions from three ancestral genomes, belying years of cross-breeding. "The availability of this genome sequence should speed up progress on introducing the appropriate resistance into economically important varieties of V. vinifera," says a related commentary.


The Scan

Positive Framing of Genetic Studies Can Spark Mistrust Among Underrepresented Groups

Researchers in Human Genetics and Genomics Advances report that how researchers describe genomic studies may alienate potential participants.

Small Study of Gene Editing to Treat Sickle Cell Disease

In a Novartis-sponsored study in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers found that a CRISPR-Cas9-based treatment targeting promoters of genes encoding fetal hemoglobin could reduce disease symptoms.

Gut Microbiome Changes Appear in Infants Before They Develop Eczema, Study Finds

Researchers report in mSystems that infants experienced an enrichment in Clostridium sensu stricto 1 and Finegoldia and a depletion of Bacteroides before developing eczema.

Acute Myeloid Leukemia Treatment Specificity Enhanced With Stem Cell Editing

A study in Nature suggests epitope editing in donor stem cells prior to bone marrow transplants can stave off toxicity when targeting acute myeloid leukemia with immunotherapy.