Falling-MouseIn 2013, Celldance is determined to be really useful. The ASCB's video contest, now in its ninth year, wants to make cell biology perfectly clear, especially for those who teach at the introductory level and for the curious prowling the Web.

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If you were playing with an app on your phone, you would have missed it. Earlier today, the Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, Education Appropriations Subcommittee approved the FY14 Departments of Labor, Health & Human Services, and Education appropriations bill without amendment and by voice vote. The bill, which is notable for its funding for the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), includes $30.9 billion for the NIH, which is $1.6 billion more than the NIH's FY13 budget, after sequestration.

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Cholera is changing the human genome, according to research published in Science Translational Medicine on Wednesday. The investigators scanned the genomes of individuals living in the Ganges Delta of Bangladesh and West Bengal in India, where cholera is prevalent. ScienceNow and the New York Times report that the researchers found 305 regions of the genome with changes due to cholera, evidence that natural selection made its mark on the genes over the past 5,000 to 30,000 years.

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Fundamental knowledge of biology is what drives the pharmaceutical industry, James Sabry, Vice President of Partnering at Genentech and an ASCB Council member, told a Biomedical Research Caucus briefing on Capitol Hill Wednesday. And yet the kind of primary research that yields new insights into fundamental biological mechanisms is government-funded through agencies like the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Sabry said. "We can't get a grant from the NIH at Genentech. The money doesn't come to us directly. What comes to us is basic knowledge. Without that, our industry would come to a grinding halt in the United States."

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Immigration laws could be changed substantially for the first time since 1986, says CNN reporting Senate passage by a 68 to 32 vote.

For foreigners working legally in the country, the bill addresses hiring and an entry-exit system according to the Huffington Post.

The New York Times reports that this bill provides a 13-year citizenship plan for the 11 million unauthorized immigrants currently living in the US.

The bill would also double US Border Patrol on the Mexican border says the Washington Post.

For details on the bill, click here.

To read the ASCB position paper on immigration reform, click here

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Two days after touring the main Bethesda campus of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) took to the Senate floor June 19 to speak about what he'd seen at NIHand what he feared for American biomedical research as sequestration-related cuts tear through the agency's budget. The Senate Majority Leader told his colleagues about talking with a 7-year-old patient at the NIH Clinical Center. "The little girl I met there – think of the work that is not going to be done with little girls and little boys like her because, this year alone, $1.5 billion is cut from their program," Reid said.

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Yahoo News reports Supreme Court "Punts" on Affirmative Action Case Ruling sends Texas case back to lower court for rehearing. Legal reporters scramble to decipher 7-1 decision

The New York Times provides "Live Analysis of Supreme Court Decision on Affirmative Action." 

Scotus Blog is the Supreme Court blog with live updates of decisions and opinions.

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DORA or to give its full name, the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment, continues to make friends and stir up dust. In an editorial in Cell entitled "June is the Cruelest Month," Emilie Marcus, the Executive Editor of Cell Press, gave a chilly reception to the arrival of the latest edition of the "two-year JIF," the journal citation algorithm from Thomson Reuters that rates scholarly publications for "impact." Marcus said that the JIF's flaws and its widespread abuse were well known in the scientific community and was ample justification for the DORA rebellion. Alas, Cell Press could not sign DORA, Marcus continued, "Because there were specific calls to action that we did not feel we could endorse as constructive and appropriate measures." Without specifying what was unconstructive or inappropriate, Marcus did continue, "We support the goals of DORA and add our voices and actions to bringing about change in how individual scientists are assessed for hiring, promotion, and tenure."

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In a rare unanimous decision last week, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that "natural" genes cannot be patented in the closely watched case of Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics. The outcome of the Myriad case will certainly improve the accessibility of genetic testing for BRCA mutations, which have been identified as significant risk factors for breast and ovarian cancers, but the Court also ruled that cDNA is eligible for patents because it is "not naturally occurring." A quick survey of researchers saw a mixture of good news/no news reactions in the Myriad case.

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Bloomberg says Supreme Court's Myriad decision will set off a rush of new genomic medicine tests.

Science News interviews one of the happy plaintiffs in AMP v Myriad.

Harvard Law professor says that the devil may be in the cDNA details in Supreme Court ruling.

Slate: Noah Prywes, a grad student in chemistry and chemical biology at Harvard University lays out, "The Supreme Court's Sketchy Science."

Everyone claims a victory in this Voice of America report: "Supreme Court Gene Ruling Benefits Biotech, Breast Cancer Research."

American Civil Liberties Union claims a big free speech victory in the BRCA patent decision.

Here's the actual Court decision. Writing for the unanimous Supreme Court, Clarence Thomas's explanation of DNA and genes for a legal and general audience has been singled out by a number of commentators for its clarity of presentation.

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