Daily Rounds: Creationism Creep In Biology Class; The Alcoholism Gene; Medical Imaging Apps Approved; RNAi Loses Luster

On Evolution, Biology Teachers Stray From Lesson Plan - "Teaching creationism in public schools has consistently been ruled unconstitutional in federal courts, but according to a national survey of more than 900 public high school biology teachers, it continues to flourish in the nation’s classrooms. Researchers found that only 28 percent of biology teachers consistently follow the recommendations of the National Research Council to describe straightforwardly the evidence for evolution and explain the ways in which it is a unifying theme in all of biology. At the other extreme, 13 percent explicitly advocate creationism, and spend at least an hour of class time presenting it in a positive light.
That leaves what the authors call “the cautious 60 percent,” who avoid controversy by endorsing neither evolution nor its unscientific alternatives. In various ways, they compromise."(

In Search of Alcoholism Genes - "The government-funded Collaborative Study on the Genetics of Alcoholism (COGA)...has been tracking alcoholism in families since 1989. To date, COGA researchers have interviewed more than 14,000 people and sampled the DNA of 262 families. They've found evidence for several alcohol-related genes—and are increasingly convinced that different types of alcoholics reflect many genetic variations." (Wall Street Journal)

FDA approves medical-image software for Apple mobile devices - "Add diagnosing soft-tissue injuries to online banking, e-mail, video games and thousands of other applications available for the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch. The Food and Drug Administration ushered in the era of mobile diagnostic radiology Friday, approving software for viewing images and making medical diagnoses from MRIs and CT, PET and SPECT scans on several of Apple Inc.'s popular hand-held devices." (Los Angeles Times)

Fever to Harness RNA Interference Cools - "The loss of appetite at the big companies is hurting smaller companies that specialize in RNAi. [Cambridge-based] Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, widely considered the leader among these companies, cut a quarter of its work force late last year after Novartis did not extend a partnership. And several small companies failed to fulfill promises to investors that they would forge alliances with big pharmaceutical companies in 2010." (

This program aired on February 8, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.


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