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Nature

Nature reporter Neil Savage spotlights Prof. Michael Strano’s work developing a new technique to use nanoparticles to alter the biology of living plants. Savage writes that the new technique can allow for "the design of nanoparticles that carry gene-editing machinery to targeted areas to rewrite the plant’s genome and imbue it with properties such as pest and disease resistance,” writes Savage.

TechCrunch

MIT startup Volta Labs is developing a new instrument that can automate the processes used to prepare genetic samples, reports Emma Betuel for TechCrunch. CEO and co-founder Udayan Umapathi ’17 is confident that with the right programming, the platform could allow “liquids to be manipulated in even more complex ways, like using magnetic fields to draw certain molecules out of samples for further analysis,” writes Betuel.

Forbes

Forbes contributor David Bressan writes that a new study by MIT researchers proposes that oxygen began accumulating in early Earth’s atmosphere due to interactions between marine microbes and minerals in ocean sediments. The researchers hypothesize that “these interactions helped prevent oxygen from being consumed, setting off a self-amplifying process where more and more oxygen was made available to accumulate in the atmosphere,” writes Bressan.

Stat

STAT reporter Megan Molteni writes that a new study by MIT researchers finds that senescent cells, which are linked to aging, may potentially be a cause of Down syndrome. “We hope it opens up new avenues for how we look at Down syndrome — that there seems to be this whole other element that plays on a different timeline that we really need to explore more.”

Reuters

Prof. Timothy Lu, Prof. Jim Collins and Philip Lee ’03 co-founded Senti Bio, a biotechnology company that uses gene circuit technology to create cell and gene therapies that can sense and respond to ailments inside the body, reports Sohini Podder for Reuters. “The way I like to think about it – just like you can program a computer with different programs or different maps, we can do the same thing with medicines,” says Lu.

The Boston Globe

Boston Globe reporter Kay Lazar spotlights how the Broad Institute “has become the region’s powerhouse for monitoring shifts in the genetic makeup of the coronavirus.”

CNN

As a research assistant at MIT, Ai Hasegawa designed a project meant to help same-sex couples have a baby that shares both parents’ DNA, writes Jacqui Palumbo for CNN. “With progressing stem cell research and technology – such as the gene-editing technique CRISPR – it is only a matter of time,” writes Palumbo.

Nature

Nature reporter Eric Bender spotlights MIT startup Kytopen, which has developed a microfluidic platform to create induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells and other forms of cell therapy. We want to do minimally invasive surgery,” says Kytopen co-founder Prof. Cullen Buie.

United Press International (UPI)

UPI reporter Brooks Hays writes that MIT researchers have developed a new technique for labeling and retrieving DNA files, “a breakthrough that could help shrink the carbon footprint of the rapidly expanding digital world.”

Smithsonian Magazine

Smithsonian reporter Theresa Machemer writes that a new study by MIT researchers shows that C. elegans are able to sense and avoid the color blue.

New York Times

A new study by MIT researchers investigates how roundworms are able to sense the color blue to avoid dangerous bacteria that secrete toxins, reports Veronique Greenwood for The New York Times. Greenwood found that “some roundworms respond clearly to that distinctive pigment, perceiving it — and fleeing from it — without the benefit of any known visual system.”

CBS News

CBS News spotlights how two MIT researchers have been named to key roles on the Biden administration’s science team. Prof. Eric Lander, president and founding director of the Broad Institute, has been nominated to lead the Office of Science and Technology Policy, and Maria Zuber, MIT’s vice president for research, will co-chair the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. Zuber said she hopes to "restore trust in science, and pursue breakthroughs that benefit all people."

Nature

Prof. Eric Lander, president and founding director of the Broad Institute, and Maria Zuber, MIT’s vice president for research, have been nominated to leading roles on the Biden administration's science team, report Nidhi Subbaraman and Alexandra Witze for Nature. “These are excellent appointments, highly qualified and experienced, and well grounded in science,” says Rita Colwell, a professor at University of Maryland at College Park and former director of the National Science Foundation

Associated Press

AP reporter Seth Borenstein writes about how President-elect Joe Biden is nominating Prof. Eric Lander of the Broad Institute to serve as his chief science officer and lead the Office of Science and Technology Policy, and has selected Maria Zuber, vice president for research at MIT, to co-chair the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. Francis Collins, director of the NIH, called Lander, “brilliant, visionary, exceptionally creative and highly effective in aspiring others. I predict he will have a profound transformational effect on American science.”

New York Times

New York Times reporter Carl Zimmer writes that Prof. Eric Lander, president and founding director of the Broad Institute, has been nominated to serve as director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy and to serve as a presidential science advisor. MIT Vice President for Research Maria Zuber will co-chair the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.