Sunday, November 2, 2008

The DNA Network

The DNA Network

Mendel's Garden #25 [evolgen]

Posted: 02 Nov 2008 07:00 PM CST

After a few months off, here's the return of Mendel's Garden.

That's it for this month's edition of Mendel's Garden. If you'd like to host in December, or a subsequent month, shoot me an email (evolgen-at-yahoo-dot-com).

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Time magazine’s Best Inventions of 2008: The Retail DNA Test [deCODE You]

Posted: 02 Nov 2008 04:06 PM CST

Time magazine's Best Inventions of 2008: The Retail DNA Test

Time magazine's Best Inventions of 2008: The Retail DNA Test

deCODE staffers were buzzing about Time magazine’s announcement this week of its best invention of 2008: the retail DNA test. As the creators of deCODEme, the first personal genome scan on the market, deCODE staff members were not about to quibble about the date (deCODEme was actually launched on November 16, 2007).

Indeed, the value of deCODE’s capabilities and service is perhaps best demonstrated by the launch of web portals offering similar services based largely upon deCODE’s discoveries, and Time’s article underscored the potential of this new field by devoting considerable attention to the high-powered tech luminaries who have come chasing deCODEme’s tail.

But what sets deCODE apart from the pack is not that it was the first personal genome analysis service to hit the market, but that it grew out of the biggest and to date most successful effort to discover the genetic factors that increase individual risk of public health challenges like from heart attack and breast cancer. More than a dozen years of large-scale research in human genetics, with the experience of having analyzed the genomes of hundreds of thousands of people, really does count.

The competition clearly feels the weight of deCODE’s advantage, which Time highlighted last year when it named CEO Kari Stefansson to the Time 100 list for the company’s pioneering work in genetics. As Time quotes the founder of a deCODEme competitor: “We could make great discoveries if we just had more information.” Perhaps, but fortunately with deCODEme the public doesn’t have to wait for the dot-commers to bone up on their genetics.

Congratulations again to the deCODEme team!

Medicine 2.0 Microcarnival Edition [ScienceRoll]

Posted: 02 Nov 2008 02:51 PM CST

The 34th edition of Medicine 2.0 blog carnival is a bit unique because it will be a microcarnival edition for the first time in its history. You can check all the posts and news about the world of medicine 2.0 and health 2.0 out in the Friendfeed room of the carnival.

This is something like an experiment. I used to keep in touch with friends and collegues via e-mail, now I use Twitter. I used to write blog carnival editions as blogposts, now I use Friendfeed if it’s better and easier to update. You will decide…

Why to use Friendfeed as a blog carnival format?

  • You can comment on each of the submissions.
  • You can submit your best articles automatically.
  • It is being updated all the time.

Medicine 2.0 is a blog carnival about the impact of web 2.0 on medicine and healthcare.


We Love Gadgets: Electroporation Gun That Makes Flash Gordon Jealous []

Posted: 02 Nov 2008 01:10 PM CST


Hypodermic needles get the drugs under your skin. But how do you get the sequenced proteins inside the cell — quickly, easily, and at scale? Check out the animation for Ichor Medical System’s device for electroporation-mediated DNA drug delivery.

23andMe's advanced ancestry analysis tool [Genetic Future]

Posted: 02 Nov 2008 11:56 AM CST

Dienekes takes a critical look at 23andMe's new "global similarity" tool (requires a 23andMe login or a demo account to view), which allows you to visually place your own genetic data in the context of genome-wide SNP data from over 1,000 individuals from around the world. The take-home message: the feature is an improvement over previous versions of 23andMe's genetic ancestry tool, but it still needs plenty of work.


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Gene-language co-evolution in Melanesia [Yann Klimentidis' Weblog]

Posted: 02 Nov 2008 11:01 AM CST

This paper, authored by fellow UNM anthropologists, looks at the nature of the relationship between genetic and linguistic variation in Melanesia.
Kambiz and Razib have both commented on this paper.

Genetic and Linguistic Coevolution in Northern Island Melanesia

Keith Hunley, Michael Dunn, Eva Lindström, Ger Reesink, Angela Terrill, Meghan E. Healy, George Koki, Françoise R. Friedlaender, Jonathan S. Friedlaender
PLoS Genetics
Abstract: Recent studies have detailed a remarkable degree of genetic and linguistic diversity in Northern Island Melanesia. Here we utilize that diversity to examine two models of genetic and linguistic coevolution. The first model predicts that genetic and linguistic correspondences formed following population splits and isolation at the time of early range expansions into the region. The second is analogous to the genetic model of isolation by distance, and it predicts that genetic and linguistic correspondences formed through continuing genetic and linguistic exchange between neighboring populations. We tested the predictions of the two models by comparing observed and simulated patterns of genetic variation, genetic and linguistic trees, and matrices of genetic, linguistic, and geographic distances. The data consist of 751 autosomal microsatellites and 108 structural linguistic features collected from 33 Northern Island Melanesian populations. The results of the tests indicate that linguistic and genetic exchange have erased any evidence of a splitting and isolation process that might have occurred early in the settlement history of the region. The correlation patterns are also inconsistent with the predictions of the isolation by distance coevolutionary process in the larger Northern Island Melanesian region, but there is strong evidence for the process in the rugged interior of the largest island in the region (New Britain). There we found some of the strongest recorded correlations between genetic, linguistic, and geographic distances. We also found that, throughout the region, linguistic features have generally been less likely to diffuse across population boundaries than genes. The results from our study, based on exceptionally fine-grained data, show that local genetic and linguistic exchange are likely to obscure evidence of the early history of a region, and that language barriers do not particularly hinder genetic exchange. In contrast, global patterns may emphasize more ancient demographic events, including population splits associated with the early colonization of major world regions.

Second Life or Croquet? What do you think? [Discovering Biology in a Digital World]

Posted: 02 Nov 2008 10:40 AM CST

I heard some intriguing presentations this week about education in Second Life, but I happen know that there is an open-source, free (?) alternative called "Croquet."

Do any of you have experience with Croquet vs. Second Life? I'd love to hear about it in the comments.

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Conflict between religion and evolution? Not according to the Papal Conference on Evolution ... [The Tree of Life]

Posted: 31 Oct 2008 11:33 PM CDT

Not to beat a dead horse here, but some people out there still think there is a absolute conflict between religious beliefs and believing that evolution occurs.  And if you still think that, you might want to check out the schedule for the Vatican Conference on Evolution (and related topics) that is going on right now (see here for the PDF and here for an outline).  

Held at the Vatican from Oct 31 - Nov 4 and sponsored by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences is a conference on "Scientific Insights into the Evolution of the Universe and of Life."  Among the speakers: Takashi Gojobori, Werner Arber, H.Em. Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, Martin Rees, Stephen Hawking, David Baltimore, Luca Cavalli-Sforza, Christian de Duve, Francis Collins (who is the only one of the speakers with God in the title of his talk) and Maxine Singer.  Sounds like a pretty good conference and I really wish I had been invited.  But suffice it to say that (1) the Pope has strong religious beliefs and (2) that the Pope and the Vatican are enthusiastic about evolution as a science.  

Too bad one of our VP candidates seems still stuck on the notion that we need to teach "the controversy" about evolution.  Just what controversy is that?

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