May 7, 2013 |
The history of Europe is written in its people's DNA. The Huns and the Slavs made incursions into Eastern Europe about 1,500 years ago. Migrants moved from Ireland to England in recent centuries. Populations in Italy and Spain have been comparatively stable. None of this is breaking news. But scientists were able to see it anew by examining the patterns of genes in 2,257 people now living in 40 countries on the continent. It's surprising "how much past history was still evident in the patterns we've seen," said Peter Ralph, a computational biologist at USC who reported the findings Tuesday in the journal PLOS Biology.
April 3, 2013 |
Making good on a promise first hinted at during his State of the Union speech in February, President Obama on Tuesday unveiled the broad outlines of a scientific initiative aimed at mapping the human brain. The project's ambitious goals include understanding how the brain forms memories and controls behavior; how it becomes damaged by conditions such as Parkinson's disease and autism; and how it can be repaired when afflicted by Alzheimer's disease, post-traumatic stress disorder and other illnesses.
April 2, 2013 |
President Obama's brain-mapping initiative, for which he has proposed $110 million in federal funding for 2014, will focus how on how the brain is affected by conditions such as Parkinson's disease, schizophrenia and autism; how it produces memories and programs human behavior; and what treatments could lead to cures for post-traumatic stress disorder, Alzheimer's disease and other neuropsychiatric afflictions. The Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies Initiative is modeled after the Human Genome Project of the 1990s and early 2000s.
February 14, 2013 |
About 30,000 years ago, a tiny mutation arose in a gene known as EDAR and began to spread rapidly in central China, eventually becoming common in the region. This week, scientists at Harvard University offered some explanations for why the EDAR mutation may have been so successful - by observing how it affects mice, animals long used in disease research but never before pressed into service for the study of human evolution. The small change, substituting one chemical letter of DNA for another, may have helped humans in Asia survive crippling heat and humidity by endowing them with extra sweat glands, the scientists reported Thursday in the journal Cell.
January 22, 2013 |
In the early 1980s, transit officials in Washington couldn't figure out why traffic on the Beltway would grind to a near halt every day around the exact same time. The usual explanations didn't fit. Then it was discovered that a single driver was to blame. Every day on his drive to work, this commuter would plant himself in the left lane and set his cruise control to 55 mph, the posted speed limit, forcing those behind him to merge right, and you can imagine the effects. To his credit, this driver came forward in a letter to the editor of the Washington Post.
October 12, 2012 |
In many respects, it's getting easier and easier to sequence and interpret the human genome, the full set of DNA letters that makes up a person's genetic blueprint. Technology is improving, making the process cheaper and faster . Vast data centers allow researchers to probe genetic data on vast scales, seeking out connections between specific genetic variants and human traits. Scientists are also beginning to understand better the function of...