Delaying childbirth has substantially contributed to recent rises in caesarean section rates, according to a paper published this week by scientists at Cambridge University.

The findings come from an analysis of a large body of Scottish data performed by a team under Professor Gordon Smith, at the University's Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.

With the goal of developing an accurate, powerful and fast method to automate the analysis of bone strength, scientists of the ETH Zurich Departments of Mechanical and Process Engineering and Computer Science teamed up with supercomputing experts at IBM's Zurich Research Laboratory. The breakthrough method developed by the team combines density measurements with a large-scale mechanical analysis of the inner-bone microstructure.

COLD SPRING HARBOR, N.Y. (Tuesday, July 1, 2008) – To aid in the study of genetic diseases, scientists with the International Haplotype Map Project have developed a haplotype map of the human genome, a tool that displays common patterns of genetic variation. While data from the project are available for unrestricted public use from the project's website (, the new tools needed to browse the map can be difficult to master for the beginner.

COLUMBIA, Mo. –In the first study of its kind, using sophisticated methods to measure body composition, the nationally known commercial weight loss program, Weight Watchers, was compared to gym membership programs to find out which method wins in the game of good health. A University of Missouri researcher examined the real-life experiences of participants to determine which program helps people lose pounds, reduce body fat and gain health benefits. The answer is that both have pros and cons and that a combination of the two produces the best results.

Researchers at North Carolina State University have found that quantum dot nanoparticles can penetrate the skin if there is an abrasion, providing insight into potential workplace concerns for healthcare workers or individuals involved in the manufacturing of quantum dots or doing research on potential biomedical applications of the tiny nanoparticles.

Patients harboring methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) for long periods of time continue to be at increased risk of MRSA infection and death, according to a new study in the July 15 issue of Clinical Infectious Diseases, currently available online.

WALNUT CREEK, CA—In the continuing effort to tap the vast, unexplored reaches of the earth's microbial and plant domains for bioenergy and environmental applications, the DOE Joint Genome Institute (DOE JGI) has announced its latest portfolio of DNA sequencing projects that it will undertake in the coming year. The 44 projects, culled from nearly 150 proposals received through the Community Sequencing Program (CSP), represent over 60 billion nucleotides of data to be generated through this biodiversity sampling campaign—roughly the equivalent of 20 human genomes.

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- When chemists want to produce a lot of a substance -- such as a newly designed drug -- they often turn to catalysts, molecules that speed chemical reactions. Many jobs require highly specialized catalysts, and finding one in just the right shape to connect with certain molecules can be difficult. Natural catalysts, such as enzymes in the human body that help us digest food, get around this problem by shape-shifting to suit the task at hand.

Chemists have made little progress in getting synthetic molecules to mimic this shape shifting behavior -- until now.

CHAPEL HILL – Imagine a business executive who thinks: "I know that this new policy will harm the environment, but I don't care at all about that – I just want to increase profits." Is the business executive harming the environment intentionally? Faced with this question from a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill philosopher, 82 percent of people polled said yes.

COLLEGE STATION, July 2, 2008 -- Two Texas A&M University researchers have developed a computational tool that will help scientists more accurately study complex units of clustered genes, called operons, in bacteria. The tool, which allows scientists to analyze many bacterial genomes at once, is more accurate than previous methods because it starts from experimentally validated data instead of from statistical predictions, they say. The researchers hope their tool will lead to a better understanding of the complex genetic mechanisms involved in a cell's functioning.