Don’t buy the ENCODE hype

Much has been made of the claim in one of the new ENCODE papers regarding the demise of the concept of “junkDNA” and the claim that 80% of the genome is “functional.” However, even members of the ENCODE consortium seem to be backing off.  One of them, Max Libbrecht, when asked about the 80% figure, linked to this article:

ENCODE says what?

which has a great summary of the research pertaining to ‘junkDNA’ and explains how/why the claim of 80% of the genome being “functional” is at best a stretch.


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Pertinent – and timely – quote

“There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there always has been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.’” – Isaac Asimov

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Biology Major Anthony Sassi wins award for research poster presentation!

via Norwich Announcements:

Anthony Sassi, a senior biology major from Norwich University conducting research with Prof. Natalia F. Blank, was awarded Best Poster Presentation at the third-annual Northest Undergraduate Research Development Symposium (NURDS). This National Science Foundation-supported conference promotes scientific exploration through peer collaboration. It was held March 5-6, 2011, at the University of New England’s Biddeford, Maine campus.

 Sassi presented a research project entitled: “Synthesis of Chiral 1,2-diamines via Asymmetric Addition of Organolithium to 1,2-diimine. A  Mechanistic  Study.” 

The NURDS symposium featured research projects by undergraduate students from the New England region and Atlantic Canada. Nearly 170 students from 42 colleges and universities presented projects in the area of marine biology, medical biology, ecology, evolution, geology, biochemistry, chemistry, physics, environmental science and others. 

Sassi expects to graduate in May and is evaluating graduate programs.
Congratulations, Anthony!
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BI 215 Human Anatomy and Physiology I Summer Session I

There are still several spots left in my Summer Session I (May 31-July 1) BI 215 A&P I class.  The schedule looks overwhelming – M-F, 8-12, however, that is to allow for flexibility, as I typically attend a meeting or two over the summer.  That is, the class will NOT meet every day from 8-12, usually 4 days a week, 8:15-11 or so, depending on whether or not we are doing labs. 

It is a fun class in a relaxed atmosphere!

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