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This Week in Science: Jan 11, 2008

China is hurrying to build world-class universities but has to overcome obstacles such as a lack of funding, outdated academic models, and inbred faculty. The government is supporting this growth through monetary support and programs, though the issues  might not be solved as quickly as expected. A related story focuses on the number of engineers that these Chinese universities turn out -- 600,000 versus the 70,000 that US universities train. A pair of North Carolina researchers say that the Chinese statistics include vocational fields, like car repair, and the American ones excluded computer scientists. The duo redid the numbers: 351,000 Chinese and 137,000 American engineers graduated in 2004.

Arizona State researchers made, in one step, one hundred trillion probe tiles with pairs of 20-nucleotide long single-stranded DNA probes. After hybridization and adsorption onto mica, they can be analyzed by atomic force microscopy. "We have made little chips that are like the gene chips but instead of being lab scale they are molecular scale," lead researcher Stuart Lindsay says to Reuters.

Harvard researchers report that an siRNA screen found over 250 host factors that HIV exploits to replicate itself -- and that are novel drug targets. "Currently, the authors can only suggest possible connections," says UCSF's Warner Greene in a news story. "But what a great starting point." Robert Gallo, a co-discoverer of HIV, tells the New York Times, "This is just terrific work. I think it’s destined to be one of the top papers in this field for the decade."


The Scan

Gone, But Now Reconstructed SARS-CoV-2 Genomes

In a preprint, a researcher describes his recovery of viral sequences that had been removed from a common database.

Rare Heart Inflammation Warning

The Food and Drug Administration is adding a warning about links between a rare inflammatory heart condition and two SARS-CoV-2 vaccines, Reuters reports.

Sandwich Sampling

The New York Times sent tuna sandwiches for PCR analysis.

Nature Papers Describe Gut Viruses, New Format for Storing Quantitative Genomic Data, More

In Nature this week: catalog of DNA viruses of the human gut microbiome, new dense depth data dump format to store quantitative genomic data, and more.