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This Week in Science: Sep 19, 2008

Norman Augustine writes that three years after the National Academy issued its The Gathering Storm report that advocated doubling the federal funding of basic research, or, at the very least, protecting the health sciences from inflation, Congress tried and failed to pass the needed changes. "Where were the voices of those who understand the dire consequences of these actions?" Augustine asks.

Hearings began last week on HR 6845, the Fair Copyright in Research Works Act, introduced by Judiciary Committee Chair John Conyers (D-MI). This act would bar any federal agency from mandating transferring or licensing a work to the government that was produced in part through non-governmental funds or that has gone through a publisher's peer review process (and thus has added-value) -- effectively overturning the NIH's recent open-access policy.

Science looks into Yale's molecular biophysics and biochemistry program's track record. The program's mission is "to prepare students for careers as independent investigators in molecular and structural biology" and critics wonder if that drive, coupled with a cooler funding climate, pushes otherwise talented students out of academia.

Researchers led by Philip Avner report that Nanog, Oct3/4, and Sox2, all factors that support pluripotency, bind intron 1 of Xist, the gene responsible for X-chromosome inactivation, in undifferentiated mouse embryonic stem cells. The authors suggest that the three factors act synergistically to repress Xist.


The Scan

mRNA-Based Vaccine on the Way in China

China may soon have its own mRNA-based vaccine, according to Nature News.

Arranged Killing, Fraud Alleged by Prosecutors

The Wall Street Journal reports that prosecutors allege that the co-founder of a biotech arranged to have a business associate who threatened to expose him as a fraud killed.

Whirlwind Decade of CRISPR

The New York Times looks back at the 10 years since the University of California, Berkeley's Jennifer Doudna and her colleagues published their CRISPR paper.

PNAS Papers on Blue Cone Monochromacy Structural Variants, HIV-1 Mutant, T-ALL

In PNAS this week: structural variants linked to blue cone monochromacy, HIV-1 variants affecting the matrix protein p17, and more.