In this week's Science, an international research team use genome-wide ancient DNA data to track prehistoric human migration in Southeast Asia. The investigators obtained the data from 18 Southeast Asian individuals who lived at different times between 4,100 years and 1,700 years ago, and find that early farmers from Man Bac in Vietnam exhibit a mixture of southern Chinese agriculturalist and deeply diverged eastern Eurasian hunter-gatherer ancestry characteristic of Austroasiatic language speakers. These early farmers have a similar ancestry as far south as Indonesia providing evidence for an expansive initial spread of Austroasiatic languages, the researchers write. "By the Bronze Age, in a parallel pattern to Europe, sites in Vietnam and Myanmar show close connections to present-day majority groups, reflecting substantial additional influxes of migrants," they add. GenomeWeb has more on this study, here.
Also in Science, Weill Cornell Medicine's Harold Varmus and his colleagues discuss possible ways to address the lack of grant funding currently available to young scientists despite recent increases in the National Institutes of Health's budget. They note early signs of success of a newly implemented European Research Council grant program aimed at young scientists, and suggest ways that the NIH's New Innovator (DP2) award program could be improved. They also propose that the NIH move toward making half of its R01 research grants like its DP2 grants. If properly implemented, the proposals "could substantially increase the number of scientists under 40 years old who receive independent research support, while enhancing the originality of their research," the authors argue.