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Editors representing 23 journals have publicly asked officials at seven Japanese institutions to investigate the integrity of 193 publications authored by anesthesiologist Yoshitaka Fujii.
As reported yesterday by Retraction Watch, questions were first raised about Fujii's work a decade ago. Tokyo-based Toho University, his most recent employer, dismissed him in February for not following ethical review procedures in producing eight of nine papers investigated by an internal committee. (Fujii agreed to retract those papers, according to a statement on the university's Web site.)
On 8 March, the journal Anaesthesia published an analysis questioning data in 168 of Fujii's papers. Now the group of editors, mostly from journals focusing on anesthesiology, is planning to retract what may be Fujii's entire English language body of work if the institutions with which he was affiliated cannot confirm that the studies took place, that the original research data have been verified, and that the studies had been properly reviewed in advance for ethical considerations.
Let’s take a look at the flow of money in the production of research. The government takes tax revenue from citizens and uses it to fund university research groups and libraries. Researchers obtain government grants and use the money to conduct experiments. They write up the results in manuscripts that are destined to become published papers. Manuscripts are submitted to journals, where they are handled by other researchers acting as unpaid volunteer editors. They co-ordinate the process of peer-review, which is done by yet other researchers, also unpaid. All these roles—author, editor, reviewer—are considered normal responsibilities of researchers, funded by grants.
At this point, researchers have worked together to produce a publication-ready, peer-reviewed manuscript. But rather than posting it on the Web, where it can contribute to the world’s knowledge, form a basis for future work, and earn prestige for the author, the finished manuscript is then donated gratis to a publisher: the author signs away copyright. The publisher then formats the manuscript and places the result behind a paywall. Then it sells subscriptions back to the universities where the work originated. Well-off universities will have some access to the paper (though even they are denied important rights such as text-mining). Less well-off universities have access to varying selections of journals, often not the ones their researchers need. And the taxpayers who funded all this? They get nothing at all. No access to the paper.
a little gadget that can sequence DNA while plugged into your laptop
the DNA does not need to be amplified
can sequence DNA strands as long as 10,000 bases continuously
the MinION would take about 6 hours to complete a human genome
Each unit is expected to cost $900 when it goes on sale later this year
Oxford Nanopore is also building a larger device, GridION, for lab use. Both GridION and MinION operate using the same technology: DNA is added to a solution containing enzymes that bind to the end of each strand. When a current is applied across the solution these enzymes and DNA are drawn to hundreds of wells in a membrane at the bottom of the solution, each just 10 micrometres in diameter.
Within each well is a modified version of the protein alpha hemolysin (AHL), which has a hollow tube just 10 nanometres wide at its core. As the DNA is drawn to the pore the enzyme attaches itself to the AHL and begins to unzip the DNA, threading one strand of the double helix through the pore. The unique electrical characteristics of each base disrupt the current flowing through each pore, enough to determine which of the four bases is passing through it. Each disruption is read by the device, like a tickertape reader.
New DNA analysis of ethnic groups living in the Altay Mountains (see map) revealed a unique genetic mutation that also occurs in modern-day northern Native Americans.
A possible link between Siberians and Native Americans is an "age-old question" that was first raised by European explorers in the New World, said study leader Theodore Schurr, an anthropologist at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.
That's because some of those early explorers had also been to Asia, and they noticed physical similarities between the two populations.
The scientists received written consent to take DNA samples from nearly 500 people, many of whom were living in remote areas and had never met Americans. As part of ongoing genetic research, the team had previously taken samples from close to 2,500 Native Americans in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico.
Depending on the location and individual preferences, the researchers collected DNA via cheek swabs, mouthwash samples, or blood samples.
In their analyses of Altay and Native American DNA, the scientists focused on two parts of the human genome: mitochondrial DNA, which is passed down through mothers, and the Y chromosome, which is passed down through fathers....
Over time, mutations accumulate in these part of the genetic code that can help scientists pinpoint when populations branched off and migrated to new places, said Schurr, who is also the North American director for the National Geographic Society's Genographic Project, which is conducted independently from the Altay DNA project. (The Society owns National Geographic News.)
In the case of the Altay people, the scientists found a mutation in one paternal lineage that arose about 18,000 years ago—a genetic marker that's also found in modern-day Native Americans.
The finding dovetails with previous studies, including some by Schurr, that found a shared mutation in the two groups' mtDNA, one that arose around the same time as the newfound Y chromosome mutation.
According to anthropologist Connie Mulligan, the new paper—to be published in the February 10 issue of the American Journal of Human Genetics—offers the most detailed genetic picture yet of ethnic Altay peoples.
Yet she thinks Shurr is "a little overly specific" in saying that Native Americans' founding DNA comes from the Altay region.
"I would broaden [that] to say [it's] that general region of central East Asia," said Mulligan, of the University of Florida in Gainesville.
That's because the mitochondrial and Y chromosome mutations that Schurr identified are also found together elsewhere in Asia, for instance, in China and Mongolia, she said.
The bottom line is that it's important to keep other Asian "populations in the running, and [it] means we should do dating studies on those populations as well," Mulligan said.
Stephen Zegura, a professor emeritus of anthropology at the University of Arizona in Tucson, thinks Schurr and colleagues have a strong case for pinpointing Altay. But he added that, ultimately, it'll be difficult to tease out exactly how the New World was peopled.
"We don't have definitive information, like remains of people from the Beringia land bridge with ancient DNA," he said.
"This is one of the problems—we have hypotheses, but we don't have strong confirmation."
Technology Review magazine says "Abbeel taught one robot how to fold laundry by giving it some general rules about how fabric behaves, and then showed it around 100 images of clothing so it could analyze how that particular clothing was likely to move as it was handled." No live human instruction. Just pictures.
In this towel-folding video, you can almost feel the robot studying the cloth, trying to figure out which two points are farthest apart and therefore the best places to grasp and fold. It's spooky.