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When we age, our genes slowly accumulate mutations — that's part of how we get cancer and other age-related defects. Researchers from the University of Lausanne have found that some trees, which can live for centuries, have very few mutations.

Why it matters: This research suggests that trees have some way of protecting their cells from mutations, which could keep them healthy for centuries, and could conceivably be exploited in breeding.

How they did it: When they compared the genetic makeup of the leaves from the bottom of a 234-year-old oak to the leaves at the top, they did not see nearly as many changes as expected, given the tree's old age. The study was posted on bioRxiv, and has not yet been peer reviewed.

Go deeper

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
3 hours ago - Health

Biden taps ex-FDA chief to lead Operation Warp Speed amid rollout of COVID plan

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden has picked former FDA chief David Kessler to lead Operation Warp Speed, a day after unveiling a nearly $2 trillion pandemic relief plan that includes $400 billion for directly combatting the virus.

Why it matters: Biden's transition team said Kessler has been advising the president-elect since the beginning of the pandemic, and hopes his involvement will help accelerate vaccination, the New York Times reports. Operation Warp Speed's current director, Moncef Slaoui, will stay on as a consultant.

The case of the missing relief money

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A chunk of stimulus payments is missing in action, thanks to a mix up that put as many as 13 million checks into invalid bank accounts.

Why it matters: The IRS (by law) was supposed to get all payments out by Friday. Now the onus could shift to Americans to claim the money on their tax refund — further delaying relief to struggling, lower-income Americans.

The post-Trump GOP, gutted

McConnell (L), McCarthy (R) and Trump. Photo: Erin Schaff-Pool/Getty Images

Republicans will emerge from the Trump era gutted financially, institutionally and structurally.

The big picture: The losses are stark and substantial.