WALNUT CREEK, Calif. (GenomeWeb News) – Sometimes project ideas come in the mail. Joseph DeRisi, a professor at the University of California, San Francisco, received a letter and a picture in the mail asking him to look into a disease affecting snakes. Based on this tip, DeRisi and his team used a metagenomic-based approach to uncover novel arenaviruses infecting snakes, an effort he outlined during a presentation at the US Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute's eighth annual User Meeting.

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 Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), who chairs the Senate health committee, will be retiring at the end of his term, Stat News reports.

UCSF researchers find that having two X chromosomes may contribute to women's longer lifespans, according to Discover's D-brief blog.

The Wall Street Journal reports on the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's use of genetic approaches to study foodborne illnesses.

In PNAS this week: immune cell profiling of wild baboons by social status, metabolomics profiling of esophageal tumors, and more.