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This Week in Nature: Apr 10, 2008

At The Tree of Life, Jonathan Eisen reveals all the gory details of his anti-doping April Fool's prank, for which he gathered a bunch of fellow scientists and bloggers to create a fake press release and website for the alleged "NIH crackdown" on using performance-enhancing drugs. Ironically, it is popular among academics, as a survey that Nature conducted earlier this year reveals. According to Nature, 1 in 5 of the 1400 academics surveyed had used drugs like Provigil and Ritalin without a prescription to increase their concentration and focus. As for the timing of his prank, Eisen tells Nature, 'I think it did make it less funny because it is actually too real."

A news article looks at the effects of collaborations — and what happens when these don't end well. Conflicts arise most often over publications and data ownership, so researchers should get everything in writing from the start, the article says. "Many of these collaborations are productive, generating new friendships, data and ideas. But researchers often underestimate the effort it takes to nurture a successful collaboration, or fail to anticipate the many ways one can go sour."

An editorial comments on the genetic testing industry, and that what consumers need most is information. Instead of relying on the FDA to impose strict regulations, writes Daniel MacArthur at Genetic Future, consumers should have access to more data. Nature thinks it’d be better to create a "publicly accessible registry into which test-makers would be required to upload data about their tests and the studies that back them. This information should be updated as genetic risks are changed or refined, as inevitably they will be," the editorial says.

A consortium led by Brown's Casey Dunn have used phylogenomic approaches to better resolve the tree of life. They report using a total of 39.9 Mb of expressed sequence tags from 29 animals belonging to 21 phyla, including 11 phyla previously lacking genomic or expressed-sequence-tag data, finding that their data reinforces several previously identified clades that split deeply in the animal tree.

The Scan

Billions for Antivirals

The US is putting $3.2 billion toward a program to develop antivirals to treat COVID-19 in its early stages, the Wall Street Journal reports.

NFT of the Web

Tim Berners-Lee, who developed the World Wide Web, is auctioning its original source code as a non-fungible token, Reuters reports.

23andMe on the Nasdaq

23andMe's shares rose more than 20 percent following its merger with a special purpose acquisition company, as GenomeWeb has reported.

Science Papers Present GWAS of Brain Structure, System for Controlled Gene Transfer

In Science this week: genome-wide association study ties variants to white matter stricture in the brain, and more.