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This Week in Nature: Jan 2, 2009

With the credit crunch and declines in the stock markets, universities are struggling with losses in their endowments -- Harvard has lost 22 percent and Yale 25 percent of their respective endowments, reports Nature. The losses, says the article, are due to schools investing in hedge funds and venture capital that generally did better than the general market but were more volatile and harder to turn into cash. In response, schools are coming up with ways to save some money, including hiring freezes (Harvard), postponing construction (Stanford), and turning off the A/C on the weekends (University of Hawaii).

Two separate articles report on detecting hematopoietic stem cells. Harvard's David Scadden and his colleagues used high-resolution confocal microscopy and two-photon video imaging to view hematopoietic stem cells as they differentiated and localized in live mouse models. Linheng Li and his colleagues at Stowers developed an ex vivo system to view stem cells, taking advantage of real-time imaging technology and  hematopoietic stem cells' ability to find to the niche after being transplantated into irradiated mice.

The Scan

Pig Organ Transplants Considered

The Wall Street Journal reports that the US Food and Drug Administration may soon allow clinical trials that involve transplanting pig organs into humans.

'Poo-Bank' Proposal

Harvard Medical School researchers suggest people should bank stool samples when they are young to transplant when they later develop age-related diseases.

Spurred to Develop Again

New Scientist reports that researchers may have uncovered why about 60 percent of in vitro fertilization embryos stop developing.

Science Papers Examine Breast Milk Cell Populations, Cerebral Cortex Cellular Diversity, Micronesia Population History

In Science this week: unique cell populations found within breast milk, 100 transcriptionally distinct cell populations uncovered in the cerebral cortex, and more.