NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The stock of Quest Diagnostics this week was downgraded by Zacks Equity Research to Underperform. In a statement, the investment research and information firm noted a drop in Quest's revenues and earnings-per-share for continuing operations in the fourth quarter, as well as a "disappointing outlook" for the first quarter of 2013.

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In Nature this week: omic analysis of permafrost microbes, hookworm genome, and more.

Biologists turn to environmental DNA sampling to determine whether elusive or invasive species are shedding DNA in a given area.

Rob Knight writes at Scientific American that microbiome studies are about to break out of the laboratory.

Harold Varmus, the director of the National Cancer Institute, has announced that he is stepping down after nearly five years.