Beauty Folktales

So I’m at a concert by legendary folksinger Suzanne Vega (right) at Purchase College last week and what’s going through my head? Is it those earworm first lyrics from her “Tom’s Diner”? (You remember: “I am sitting / In the morning / At the diner / On the corner …”) Nope; it’s the notion that sometimes I sound exactly like my mother. Sporting a black blazer and skinny jeans, Vega (now 55) looked, sounded and moved like her 25-year-old self. …

11 Things We Didn’t Know Last Week

News, discoveries and … fun 1. A pair of Willie Nelson’s braids is worth $37,000. (Learn more at NY Times) 2. A thin, million-mile-long cloud of solar material is suspended above the sun. (Learn more at NASA) 3. Some of London’s iconic red phone booths are becoming solar-powered charging stations for mobile devices. (Learn more at Gizmodo) >> 10 Best U.S. Train Trips to Take This Fall 4. Paul Revere, the rock star from the 1960s and ’70s who dressed in …

Court: Nobody Can Patent Your Genes … What Does That Mean?

SC: “A naturally occurring DNA segment is a product of nature and is not patent eligible merely because it has been isolated” Woo Hoo!!! – Francis S. Collins (@NIHDirector) June 13, 2013   That tweet came from the director of the National Institutes of Health, Francis S. Collins. Why is Collins so giddy? Because the Supreme Court ruled June 13 that nobody can patent your genes. (Read full decision .pdf) Collins and others at NIH, like Eric Green, M.D., the …

Can a Company Patent Your Genes (and Make a Boatload)?

If there’s a medical test that could save your life, should one company have the power to set its cost so high that few people could afford it? And what if the thing that makes the company’s test exclusive is a government-issued patent on a part of the human body? That’s what is at stake in a case the U.S. Supreme Court heard April 15 that could determine whether some biotech companies, by patenting particular human genes, can completely control …

How Private Is Your Genetic Code? Less So Than You May Think

Anyone who’s watched more than a few episodes of Law & Order knows how easy it is to unwittingly get a sample of someone’s DNA — a discarded coffee cup, a used Kleenex, a few stray hairs and you’re good to go. In Dick Wolf’s world, such samples are used to catch the bad guys (or exonerate the good guys), but in real life, genetic code can reveal a variety of information, including what diseases may lurk in someone’s future. This type of genetic testing — known as whole genome sequencing — has many useful applications. But a report released today by the presidential bioethics commission reveals that many legal issues surrounding genetic privacy have yet to be addressed.