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By | June 10, 2002

For many laboratories, monkey business is no laughing matter. The rise in bioterrorism research after the Sept. 11 tragedy puts an increased demand on the already limited supply of rhesus monkeys for research ("Monkey deficit crimps laboratories as scientists scramble for alternatives," The Wall Street Journal, May 14, 2002). The genetic similarity between humans and rhesus monkeys has helped establish the species as the preferred nonhuman primate model for medical research, making the monkeys e

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Genes and Eye Paralysis

By | June 10, 2002

In patients with progressive external ophthalmoplegia (PEO), the muscles that move the eyes gradually deteriorate until the only way patients can follow an object is by turning their heads. Last year, Christine Van Broeckhoven and colleagues at the University of Antwerp, Belgium, linked PEO in a Belgian family to a point mutation in the gene for polymerase gamma, the DNA polymerase responsible for replicating the 16.5-kilobase mitochondrial chromosome.1 Now, William Copeland's lab at the Nationa

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New NAS Members Reflect Scope of Science Today

By | June 10, 2002

The newly elected members and foreign associates of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) represent 64 scientific fields manifesting the ever-shifting boundaries of science. Stephen Berry, home secretary of the NAS, says the new class reflects the expansion of science into several new directions; computer and information sciences, biophysics, and human environmental sciences were added a year ago. "All the new and expanded areas correspond to new areas or lie within the bounds of traditional fi

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Science on the Sly

By | June 10, 2002

A scientist at the University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City, Kans., pleaded guilty in May in a case involving theft of research materials from the Cleveland Clinic Foundation in Ohio. In a plea bargain with prosecutors, Hiroaki Serizawa, an assistant professor of biochemistry at KUMC, admitted he lied to FBI agents who were investigating the theft of DNA, cell line reagents, and other genetic research materials used in Alzheimer research at the Cleveland Clinic. Officials say that the 19

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Biology Laboratories: Are They Disappearing?

By | May 27, 2002

Are colleges dropping biology laboratories? Some people say yes, while others don't see it. Both sides agree, however, that economic factors could result in the demise of labs in some college biology courses. Paleobotanist Jeffrey Osborn, of the biology department at Truman State University in Kirksville, Mo., is a member of the Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR), a Washington, DC-based consultancy that conducts external reviews for biology departments. The results of these reviews are con

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Debate Over Stem Cell Origins Continues

By | May 27, 2002

In science, things are not always as they seem. So it is for transdifferentiation, the apparent interconvertibility of certain specialized cell types and an underlying theme at a symposium on stem cell biology and applications at the recent annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) in San Francisco. "For the past three years, people have been saying that hematopoietic [blood-forming] stem cells can become just about any tissue, challenging the paradigm that there are

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Designing Science by Politics

By | May 27, 2002

When President George W. Bush signed the Elementary and Secondary Education Act into law early this year, he came close to penning his approval to a provision that many scientists say would have opened the door to antievolution lessons in America's classrooms. Congress passed the new law, which overhauls federal primary and high school education mandates including testing requirements, after a joint conference committee resolved differences between House and Senate versions of the bill. The Sen

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Eugenie C. Scott

By | May 27, 2002

The National Center for Science Education (NCSE), a clearinghouse for information about evolution and the anti-evolutionist initiatives, reported more than one state or local difficulty per week in 1999 and 2000 related to the teaching of evolution. One of the prominent figures in the ongoing evolutionist vs. creationist debate is NCSE executive director Eugenie C. Scott, a physical anthropologist by training. Scott didn't intend to become embroiled in this issue; one of her graduate school prof

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Frontlines

By | May 27, 2002

Despite some success, reproductive cloning in mammals is still a tricky feat. University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine researchers, by tracking the gene Oct4 in mice, have shown how its routine failure to reprogram after nuclear transplant commonly prevents the successful development of mammalian embryos (M. Boiani et al., "Oct4 distribution and level in mouse clones: consequences for pluripotency," Genes & Development, 6[10]:1209-19, May 15, 2002). Producing a clone requires tha

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Reining in a Killer Disease

By | May 27, 2002

For the past century, since learning that radium treatments can decimate tumors, researchers have accelerated their efforts to cure cancer. A savvy, adaptable, and resilient killer, cancer—in its approximately 200 forms—has persisted despite highly toxic regimens, massive public education programs, and armies of researchers working worldwide. "The history of cancer therapy is that the cells are much smarter than the clinicians, and [they] quickly evolve pathways that can bypass the t

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