Molecular & Cell Biology


Thousand of epigenetic switches in the liver control whether genes turn on or off in response to circadian cycles. The figure illustrates daily changes, every six hours, in five different...
When it's dark, and we start to fall asleep, most of us think we're tired because our bodies need rest. Yet circadian rhythms affect our bodies not just on a global scale, but at the level of individual organs, and even genes.

Bioinformatics

The Personal Genome Project Canada (PGP-C) launches this week giving Canadians an unprecedented opportunity to participate in a groundbreaking research study about human genetics and health.

Environment


Farmers in many parts of the world, like this one in the Peruvian Amazon, routinely use fire to clear land.
Over past decades, many areas of the forested Amazon basin have become a patchwork of farms, pastures and second-growth forest as people have moved in and cleared land--but now many are moving out, in search of economic opportunities in newly booming Amazonian cities. The resulting depopulation of rural areas, along with spreading road networks and increased drought are causing more and bigger fires to ravage vast stretches, say researchers in a new study. The study, focusing on the Peruvian Amazon, is the latest to suggest that land-use changes and other factors, including possibly climate change, are driving increasingly destructive wildfires in many parts of the earth. An interdisciplinary team at Columbia University's Earth Institute will publish the paper this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Molecular & Cell Biology

DNA, like houses and cars, needs ongoing maintenance. Rays of ultraviolet sunlight, chemical pollutants and normal biochemical processes in the cell can damage it. Cells routinely repair this damage before making proteins or copying DNA for cell division. The repairs are remarkably accurate in normal cells but cancer cells make far more mistakes in fixing their DNA. Alan Tomkinson, PhD, University of New Mexico Professor of Internal Medicine and Associate Director of Basic Research at the UNM Cancer Center, wants to understand why and how these repair mechanisms go awry in cancer cells. This understanding could lead to new targets for cancer drugs. Dr. Tomkinson recently won a 4-year $1 million grant renewal to continue his 18-year research investigation on DNA ligases, the enzymes that repair DNA strands.




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