Grant Opportunities

�The W.M. Keck Foundation makes grants to research institutions and accredited institutions of higher learning primarily in the areas of Science and Engineering, Medical Research and Liberal Arts. Eligible institutions in these fields are U.S. accredited universities, colleges, medical schools and major, independent scientific and medical research institutions.�

HHMI’s grants program

â€?The largest privately funded education initiative of its kind in the United States, HHMI’s grants program is enhancing science education for students at all levels, from the earliest grades through advanced training. Since 1988 HHMI has awarded approximately $1.5 billion in grants.
Grants awarded by HHMI fit within two general categories: research grants for individuals and science education grants for institutions. Most HHMI grants are awarded through competitions that have specific objectives and eligibility criteria; thus, HHMI does not encourage and rarely funds unsolicited grant proposals.�

New vaccines preventing cervical cancer and new controversies

I will focus here on cervical cancer, a disease that kills only women, for which a promising new vaccine is on the market. This disease kills perhaps 300, 000 women each year, mostly in developing countries. These deaths are unnecessary, and may now be reduced—if the vaccine is deployed and used by women, and that is where the ethical issues come in.

It is impossible to develop cervical cancer without first being infected by HPV. Thus, if a woman is not infected with HPV, she will not develop cervical cancer. Second, not all women who are infected with HPV will develop cervical cancer

The cervical cancer vaccine
A study in the US has shown that after four years a vaccine targeting HPV was still protecting women. The HPV vaccine has the potential to dramatically lower deaths from cervical cancer. Merck’s vaccine called Gardasil was already appoved by the FDA on June 8th and the other is GlaxoSmithKline’s vaccine called Cervarix which will be probably approved by next year.

Conservative objections
The vaccines are most effective when given before women are sexually active. There is opposition from some in the U.S. who think that the vaccines may encourage sexual activity in teens by promoting the view that premarital sex is safe. Others in the U.S.A. are concerned that abstinence programs may be attacked if this vaccine is promoted. The fact that Gardasil can be administered to preteens before they become sexually active is the cause of great controversy for Christian groups. They assume that this type of vaccine will promote a view—either implicitly or explicitly—that it is appropriate for children to engage in sexual activity before marriage.

This argument for rejecting the cervical cancer vaccine is equivalent to saying that seatbelts in cars are bad, because they will undoubtedly cause people to drive faster and have more wrecks. I wonder, then, how many vaccine opponents would be willing to support a law outlawing seatbelts as well?

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A New Model Microbe for Extreme Biology

Extremophiles are organisms that are adapted to environments inhospitable for conventional life forms, e.g. extremes of salinity and temperature, oxygen-starved conditions, or exposure to toxic heavy metals and intense radiation. It turns out that one extremophile, Halobacterium sp. NRC-1, is resistant to all of the above extremes, and has become a favorite subject for in-depth post-genomic studies. This is because of our ability to easily culture it in the laboratory, knock out any of its non-essential genes, and simultaneously assay gene expression for all 2500 genes using DNA microarrays. The organism is a member of the Archaeal branch of the evolutionary tree, an evolutionary relic that displays some characteristics of higher organisms and exhibits novel features that make it ideal for applications in biotechnology.

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Molecules, Genes and Cells

“The Wellcome Trust is an independent charity funding research to improve human and animal health. The Molecules, Genes and Cells stream supports research that aims to increase understanding of the fundamental biology and specialist functions of molecules, genes and cells; their interactions with one another; and their roles in normal function and disease processes. The stream supports basic molecular and cellular studies, as well as developmental biology, biochemistry, structural biology, genetics, bioinformatics, mathematical biology, and the interface between these areas and chemistry or physics.�

APIs from Michael Smith Genome Sciences Centre

Mapping Bioinformatics Software, Genomic Applications, Gene Expression and Bioinformatics Software APIs from Canada’s Michael Smith Genome Sciences Centre. �The Genome Sciences Centre has a primary mandate to deploy resources and technology of a high-throughput genome mapping and DNA sequencing lab to decrypt the genetic code, specifically to advance cancer research, diagnosis and treatment.�