The Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus, which causes MERS, is one of the microbes that has sparked research controversy. NIAID/CDC hide caption

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Editing DNA has never been easier. Pasieka/Science Photo Library/Corbis hide caption

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While serving in Congress, Jay Dickey sponsored legislation that effectively restricts spending for research on firearms deaths. Spencer Tirey/AP hide caption

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Chris Nickels for NPR

An image from the Allen Institute's Brain Explorer shows gene expression across the human brain. Courtesy of Allen Institute For Brain Science hide caption

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Human stem cells, in this case made from adult skin cells, can give rise to any sort of human cell. Some scientists would like to insert such cells into nonhuman, animal embryos, in hopes of one day growing human organs for transplantation. Science Source hide caption

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The Svalbard Global Seed Vault was opened on Feb. 26, 2008. Carved into the Arctic permafrost and filled with samples of the world's most important seeds, it's a Noah's Ark of food crops to be used in the event of a global catastrophe. AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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This genetically modified yeast can convert sugar into powerful opioid drugs. Scientists working with the modified yeast strains are required to register them with the Drug Enforcement Administration and keep the yeast under lock and key. Courtesy of Christina Smolke/Stanford University hide caption

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Researcher John Clements in the early 1980s, after he figured out that lungs need surfactants to breathe. David Powers/Courtesy of UCSF hide caption

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A nanosecond pulsed laser beam starts the photoacoustic imaging process. Geoff Story/Courtesy of Washington University in St. Louis hide caption

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Nephrologist Mitchell Lunn (left) and OB-GYN Juno Obedin-Maliver want to hear about the health issues on the minds of members the LGBTQ community. Susan Merrell/Courtesy of UCSF hide caption

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Researchers say that inside the head of the worm C. elegans, an antenna-like structure at the tip of the AFD neuron (highlighted in green) is the first identified sensor for Earth's magnetic field. Andrés Vidal-Gadea hide caption

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This fungus among us — baker's yeast, aka Saccharomyces cerevisiae — is useful for more than just making bread. iStockphoto hide caption

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The blood cancer in soft-shell clams poses no risk to humans, but it does kill the shellfish. Pat Wellenbach/AP hide caption

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Prion protein can be infectious, spreading from cell to cell in the brain. Here four nerve cells in a mouse illustrate how infectious prion protein moves within cells along neurites — wire-like connections the nerve cells use for communicating with adjacent cells. Science Source hide caption

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