May 2008

Volume 22 Issue 5

The Scientist May 2008 Cover

Departments

Contributors

Contributors

Brian Stauffer is a Miami-based illustrator who blends photography, paintings and found objects to explore contemporary social issues. His work regularly appears on the covers and pages of The New York Times, Time, Rolling Stone, and New Scientist, among others. In 2005, his portrait of George W. Bush for The Nation was voted one of the top 40 magazine covers of the past

Editorial

The Importance of a Plan B

Even when the source of your salary is the government, it's not a guarantee.

Mail

MAIL

Translational disconnect I enjoyed the article by Alan Walton and Frederick Frank entitled "Translational disconnect," in which they discuss ways to approach the crisis in bioscience innovation. 1 I applaud the establishment of the Committee on Bioscience Innovations, of which I knew nothing until reading this article. I

Notebook

Speciation's roots?

A normal Arabidopsis plant (center), surrounded by different hybrids formed by crossing two healthy plants. Credit: Kirsten Bomblies and Detlef Weigel, Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology, Tübingen" />A normal Arabidopsis plant (center), surrounded by different hybrids formed by crossing two healthy plants. Credit: Kirsten Bomblies and Detlef Weigel, Max Planck

The Agenda

The Agenda

WHY NOT WASHINGTON? » Any interest in running for office? If so, Scientists & Engineers for America is running a workshop May 10 to train scientists to run for office or work on an election campaign. To find out more about the "crash course" on being a political scientist, visit: http://tinyurl.com/2yc4nl. SEEING SCHNEYER » Alan Schneyer, the scientist we profile

Uncategorized

Crossing Arabidopsis strains

Crossing Arabidopsis Strains Kirsten Bomblies, a postdoc at the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology, Tübingen, Germany, conducted hundreds of intraspecies crosses of Arabidopsis thaliana. Approximately 2% of these hybrids develop varying degrees of necrosis that appears to be caused by gene interactions that produce an autoimmune-like response. (Images originally published in PLoS Biol 5(9): e236, 2007) var FO = { movie:"http://images.the-scientist

Notebook

New look at old wounds

James Bedell's cranium was cracked by a Confederate saber in 1863 and now resides in Washington, DC. Credit: Courtesy of National Museum of Health and Medicine, surgical photograph no. 8" />James Bedell's cranium was cracked by a Confederate saber in 1863 and now resides in Washington, DC. Credit: Courtesy of National Museum of Health and Medicine, surgical photograph no. 8 One of the

Brain quakes

Two decades ago, neurologist Ivan Osorio realized that he and his peers were stuck. Specifically, they were "making little progress" understanding "one of medicine's most intriguing intellectual challenges" - sudden, often debilitating surges of brain electrical activity known as epileptic seizures. So Osorio decided to look outside clinical medicine. He discovered tha

A life behind life science

Noreen O'Neill, who died of melanoma in July, 2000. Credit: Courtesy of the O'Neill family" />Noreen O'Neill, who died of melanoma in July, 2000. Credit: Courtesy of the O'Neill family Meenhard Herlyn studied melanoma for 20 years before he ever met a single patient with the disease. He has published more than 380 papers on melanoma and other cancers, in which he discovered monoclonal antibod

The media monitor

Timothy Caulfield Credit: © Creative Services, University of Alberta" />Timothy Caulfield Credit: © Creative Services, University of Alberta Timothy Caulfield has spent years listening to scientists complain that the media does a poor job of explaining science. As research director of the Health Law Institute at the University of Alberta, he has heard this so often, he says, that he started to believe it too. Finally, he decided to find o

Opinion

When Collaborations Compete

What to do when you know two scientists are competing with each other, and they don't.

Column

Hypothesis-Free? No Such Thing

Even so-called "discovery-driven research" needs a hypothesis to make any sense.

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Weaned, via Whitaker

What do you do when you know your funding will soon run out?

Losing your lab

Losing your lab In 2007, more than 4,000 NIH-funded researchers were denied grant renewals. For some,that means they have to close upshop. By Alison McCook Article Extras Web Only: Weaned, via Whitaker Other labs lost For Alan Schneyer, everything changed in June, 2006. The scientist was running a lab in the reproductive endocrinology department at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) in Boston, and had recently logged some interesting result

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Other labs lost

Other labs lost By Alison McCook Article Extras Losing your lab Web Only: Weaned, via Whitaker When Peter Cariani was a teenager, both of his parents died. So as an adult starting his career, "I had a fairly fatalistic view towards life," says the scientist, now 51. "I never expected to make much money, but I thought there would be a niche for me that was sustainable and would help me provide for my family and put my kids through college." As

Swiss Structures

Swiss Structures Justin Hession Photography /1 in September 2006, it led to a complete rethinking of ABC transporter structure - and the retraction of five earlier papers on related structures.2 (A software error had led Geoffrey Chang, the young US researcher who had published those earlier articles, to inadvertently mistake the handedness of the molecule.) Locher, a steely character with short dark hair and rimless glasses, suggests that Chang's blunder

An abattoir saves the day

An abattoir saves the day By Stephen Pincock Article Extras Swiss Structures When Timm Maier arrived at Nenad Ban's lab at ETH Zurich in early 2004, he was looking for a project that would push him to his limits. Not long before, ETH's Simon Jenni had obtained well-diffracting crystals of fungal fatty acid synthase, so Maier decided to go after its mammalian analogue. Justin Hession Photography /www.justinhession.ch Nenad Ban (left) and T

A Singular Focus

A Singular Focus © Wolfgang Kumm / Corbis A physicist looks at photosynthesis, replication, and viral entry, molecule by molecule. By Antoine van Oijen Article Extras 1 turned out to be an important one for me. It caught the attention of many researchers in the community, and was cited more than 200 times. More importantly it gave me a little bit of insight into biological systems. Even though I had limited interaction with biolog

Quantum jumping

Researchers who want to develop better solar panels drool over how efficiently chloroplast proteins convert light into energy. We froze the two rings of the photon-capturing machinery down to 1°K to keep it stable. We then watched as the energy hops between molecules of the loosely packed ring (dark orange), but when it's excited further, the energy jumps to the tightly packed ring of 18 pigments (light orange), and is smeared across them. Now the energy is everywhere at once.

Visualizing viral entry

Researchers studying viral entry have not been able to visualize exactly how a viral particle fuses with a cell. We've developed a method whereby the different stages of fusion can be detected by the release of different fluorescent tags. We inserted blue dye into the viral membrane so that at the moment fusion occurs, these dye molecules escape into an artificial membrane sheet, throwing off a bright burst of green ligh

The replication stutter

During replication, DNA polymerases are positioned on each strand of DNA. Using a microscope slide as an anchor, we tethered DNA to a bead and stretched it with a flow of solution. We tracked how the position of the bead changed as the replication machinery went to work. Every time a lagging strand loop is formed in the DNA, the length of the strand is reduced (middle panel). Upon release of this loop, the DNA length suddenly increases, visible as an abrupt motion of the

The replication stutter

The replication stutter During replication, DNA polymerases are positioned on each strand of DNA . Using a microscope slide as an anchor, we tethered DNA to a bead and stretched it with a flow of solution. We tracked how the position of the bead changed as the replication machinery went to work. Every time a lagging strand loop is formed in the DNA , the length of the strand is reduced (middle panel). Upon release of this loop, the DNA length suddenly increases, visible as an

Switched on Science

James Collins has shifted gears from medical engineering to gene switches, and won a MacArthur grant along the way.

Books etc.

Opposing Translations

Two structures of the ribosome ignite debate and discovery in structural biology.

Hot Paper

Bacteria's bare necessities

Credit: Courtesy of the J. Craig Venter Institute" /> Credit: Courtesy of the J. Craig Venter Institute The paper: J. Glass et al., "Essential genes of a minimal bacterium," Proc Natl Acad Sci, 103:425-30, 2006. (Cited in 65 papers) The finding: To identify the essential genes of Mycoplasma genitalium, the smallest free-living bacterium, John Glass an

Evading immunity

Credit: Courtesy of Dan Barouch" /> Credit: Courtesy of Dan Barouch The paper: D.M. Roberts et al., "Hexon-chimaeric adenovirus serotype 5 vectors circumvent preexisting antivector immunity," Nature, 441:239-243, 2006. (Cited in 52 papers) The finding: In 2006, Dan Barouch wanted to develop a vaccine vector that would not be suppressed by preexisting immunity. His gro

Bacteria killers

Credit: Courtesy of Dan Barouch" /> Credit: Courtesy of Dan Barouch The paper: J. Wang et al., "Platensimycin is a selective FabF inhibitor with potent antibiotic properties," Nature, 441:358-61, 2006. (Cited in 91 papers) The discovery: Sifting through South African soil samples, scientists at Merck Research Laboratories found a new compound called

Citation Classic

50 years ago in Biochemistry

Demystifying a Key Biochemical Reaction

Scientist To Watch

Howard Hang: An immunologist's chemist

Credit: © 2008 Landon Nordeman" /> Credit: © 2008 Landon Nordeman As a high school student trying to pick a college, Howard Hang was more interested in where he would be able to catch the best waves than academic programs. A native Californian, Hang looked at many of the University of California schools, finally choosing UC, Santa Cruz, which clearly had the best surf. It wasn't long before his surfboard was

Lab Tools

Sweet Attachments

Isolating and detecting glycosylated proteins

Phospho-match

Researcher: Martin Larsen, research associate professor, University of Southern Denmark, Odense Related Articles Sweet Attachments Off-the-shelf glycoprotein detection methods Sugar ID Polyclonal Needle in a haystack Classic chemistry Project: Discovery of sialic acid (SA)-containing cancer biomarkers Prob

Sugar ID

A model of erythropoietin, which exists as a mixture of glycosylated variants. This glycoform contains three N-linked oligosaccharides (purple) and one O-linked glycan (pink). Glycans contribute to a large percentage of the overall mass and surface area of glycoproteins. Credit: courtesy of Robert Woods, UGA, Athens" />A model of erythropoietin, which exists as a mixture of glycosylated varia

Polyclonal

Control (left) and polyclonal antibody staining for anti-Neu5Gc (right) in a carcinoma cell line. Credit: courtesy of Nissi Varki, UCSD" />Control (left) and polyclonal antibody staining for anti-Neu5Gc (right) in a carcinoma cell line. Credit: courtesy of Nissi Varki, UCSD Researcher: Ajit Varki, distinguished professor of medicine and of cellular and molecular medicine, and co

Uncategorized

Needle in a haystack

Illustration of glycoproteins present on the highly glycosylated cell surface. These proteins, often specific to diseases, can be shed or secreted into the blood stream and so are ideal targets for biomarker discovery. Credit: courtesy of Ralph Schiess and Reto Ossola, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology" />Illustration of glycoproteins present on the highly glycosylated cell surface. These

Lab Tools

Classic chemistry

A simple, quantitative method to identify glycans in plasma: Mass excess distribution of tryptic peptides is mapped as a function of monoisotopic mass. Red: highly populated areas; blue: unpopulated areas; black squares: mass excesses of glycans. Credit: courtesy of Michael Bereman, Taufika Williams, and David Muddiman, North Carolina State University" />A simple, quantitative method to identify glyc

Off-the-shelf glycoprotein detection methods

The biological importance of glycoproteins has only partially translated into a wealth of detection reagents and kits. Commercial products are available, says UCSD's Ajit Varki, "But in general, the availability of reagents for the world of glycobiology is not as broad as standard molecular biology." Here are some basic off-the-shelf options: Related Articles Sweet Attachments Ph

How It Works

Electron Transfer Dissociation

Collision-activated dissociation (CAD), the most widely used peptide ion fragmentation technique for peptide sequence analysis by tandem mass spectrometry, works great for small peptides but is problematic for labile posttranslational modifications (PTMs). In the last decade, researchers have developed an alternative, electron capture dissociation (ECD), which involves reacting multiply-p

BioBusiness

Dandruff Genomics

At Procter & Gamble, Thomas Dawson has led the charge to put more biology in every bottle of shampoo.

Uncategorized

Slideshow: Dandruff genomics

Slideshow: Dandruff genomics The images behind Proctor & Gamble's Thomas Dawson and his goal to put more biology in every bottle of shampoo courtesy of P&G Beauty var FO = { movie:"http://images.the-scientist.com/supplementary/flash/54595/54595.swf", width:"520", height:"600", majorversion:"8", build:"0", xi:"false"}; UFO.create(FO, "ufoDemo"); Please download the Adobe Flash Player to view this content: Related Articles: Dandruff G

The Scientist

Getting on board

How serving on a scientific advisory board can serve you well.

The Evolution of an SAB

As biotech companies grow and shift their goals, the type of advice they need evolves as well. Here's a look at how the scientific advisory board of Steve Roth's company, Neose Technologies, changed to keep pace.

Foundations

Wistar Melanoma Lines, 1977-present

Credit: courtesy of Trish Brafford" /> Credit: courtesy of Trish Brafford The human melanoma cell lines at the Wistar Institute in Philadelphia make up one of the most comprehensive collections of disease cell lines in the world. Since 1977, Meenhard Herlyn and his colleagues (click to read the related story A life behind life science) have collected samples from approximately 4,000 tumors, and esta

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