Category Archive: Molecular biology

Sep 21 2013

What are oncogenes?


I’m trying to raise money for the The Leukemia &amp Lymphoma Society, and I promised to do a few things if we reached certain goals. I said I’d write a post explaining what oncogenes are, while wearing a pirate hat, if we raised $2500. So here you go, arrr. If you want more, go to …

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Aug 26 2013

Magic RNA editing!


One of those wacky Intelligent Design creationists (Jonathan McLatchie, an arrogant ignoramus I’ve actually met in Scotland) has a theory, which is his, to get around that obnoxious problem of pseudogenes. Pseudogenes are relics, broken copies of genes that litter the genome, and when you’ve got a gang of ideologues who are morally committed to …

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Aug 07 2013

ENCODE has its defenders!

Worst evolution diagram ever

You know I was really pissed off at the crap ENCODE was promoting, that the genome was at least 80% functional and that there was no such thing as junk DNA. And there have been a number of better qualified scientists (like W. Ford Doolittle and Dan Graur and many others) who have stood up …

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Jul 11 2013

Short, sharp summary

Larry Moran has a simple list of the 5 basics you need to understand about junk DNA. It’s short and sweet; I’d like to see a creationist, who are often weirdly antagonistic to the whole idea of junk DNA, deal with these basic facts before they start ranting against the observations and conclusions. Genetic Load …

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Jun 13 2013

The Supreme Court decision on patentable genomes

I’m shocked. Just totally surprised. And it was unanimous — the Supreme Court determined that human genes cannot be patented. This is excellent news. Why is it a good decision? Because medical DNA analysis was turning into a patchwork of competing landgrabs. Sequencing technology is coming along so nicely that more and more diagnostic tools …

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Mar 23 2013

We need a sociologist of science…or a philosopher


There’s another paper out debunking the ENCODE consortium’s absurd interpretation of their data. ENCODE, you may recall, published a rather controversial paper in which they claimed to have found that 80% of the human genome was ‘functional’ — for an extraordinarily loose definition of function — and further revealed that several of the project leaders …

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Feb 22 2013

ENCODE gets a public reaming

I rarely laugh out loud when reading science papers, but sometimes one comes along that triggers the response automatically. Although, in this case, it wasn’t so much a belly laugh as an evil chortle, and an occasional grim snicker. Dan Graur and his colleagues have written a rebuttal to the claims of the ENCODE research …

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Feb 05 2013

Give that fish a hand!

Graphic abstract.eps

I have a bit of a peeve with a common analogy for the human genome: that it is the blueprint of the body, and that we can find a mapping of genes to details of our morphological organization. It’s annoying because even respectable institutions, like the National Human Genome Research Institute, use it as a …

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Jan 28 2013

What I taught today: gene regulation and signaling

My students are also blogging here: My undergrad encounters Developmental Biology Miles’ Devo Blog Tavis Grorud’s Blog for Developmental Biology Thang’s Blog Heidi’s blog for Developmental Biology Chelsae blog Stacy’s Strange World of Developmental Biology Thoughts of Developmental Biology Biology~ Today was more context and a bit of a caution for my developmental biology course. …

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Jan 21 2013

Should we resurrect the Neandertals?

I was reading an interview with George Church, who was discussing that very same question, and somehow I had to rethink some things. There was the question of technical feasibility, and Church thinks it’s going to be entirely possible in the near future. The first thing you have to do is to sequence the Neanderthal …

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