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Best Places to Work in Academia: U.S. Rankings

By | October 20, 2003

Best Places to Work in Academia: U.S. Rankings No. 1 US: Fox Chase Cancer Center Courtesy of Paul Cohen At the Fox Chase Cancer Center, which ranked first in the United States in the "Best Places" survey, research is a team sport. "We all have a common mission and a common goal," says Erica Golemis, a principal investigator in the basic science division. "This is the most cooperative, interactive place." TOP 10 US RESEARCH INSTITUTIONS 1. Fox Chase Cancer Center (Philadelphia,


How They Measure Up: Scientific Institutions

By | October 20, 2003

The recipe for job satisfaction couldn't be simpler: Give scientists colleagues with whom they can collaborate, and the tools--both physical and financial--they need to do their own work well. These ingredients are valued most by 2,210 full-time researchers who participated in The Scientist's survey, "Best Places to Work in Scientific Institutions." Whether at academic institutions or in private research centers, a majority of scientists in North America, Europe, and Israel ranked their rela


1. Build collegial relationships Scientists prize collegial relationships: More survey participants rated them as important than they rated any other feature in The Scientist's "Best Places" questionnaire. "The environment here is very collegial and supportive," says Ite A. Laird-Offringa, assistant professor at the University of Southern California. "And interdisciplinary research is stimulated in many ways ... [for example] through the mindset of the faculty, who seek each other out to work


Sizing Up Nature's Denizens

By | October 6, 2003

Illustration: Brian Bookwalter From the massive Blue whale to the tiniest plant viroids, size extremes have long fascinated mankind. This is not a trivial pursuit, for size can yield important insights into the physical constraints that govern an organism's evolution, as well as the particular mechanisms that impose a limit at either end of the scale. Some size limits apply broadly to entire classes such as mammals, while others apply more narrowly to a single species because of its particula


The State of Scientists' Salaries

By | September 22, 2003

Getty Images Tis a good time to be a life scientist. Thanks to increases in the National Institutes of Health budget, a flood of defense spending, and a gradual warming in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries, experienced investigators are in great demand. For senior US researchers, the benefits of the federal largesse appear in 2003 paychecks, according to The Scientist's latest salary survey. The average senior researcher, who holds a PhD and leads a lab, will earn $73,351(US) th


Protein Folding: Theory Meets Disease

By | September 8, 2003

Protein folding raises some of biology's greatest theoretical challenges. It also lies at the root of many diseases. For example, the fundamental question of whether a protein's final tertiary conformation, sometimes called the native state, can be predicted from its primary amino acid sequence is also of vital importance in understanding the protein's potential capacity to form disease-inducing aggregates. MISS A FOLD, PROMPT A DISEASE Here's a list of protein folding-related disease catego


Signal Blues

By | August 25, 2003

In 1992, American writer Andrew Solomon, then in his late-20s, was about to publish his first novel when he unexpectedly slid into a major depression. In a subsequent book, he wrote that the experience is "almost unimaginable" to the uninitiated. Describing it, he likened himself to an oak being strangled by a vine, "a sucking thing that had wrapped itself around me, ugly and more alive than I." He called up the image of falling into an abyss: "You hit invisible things over and over again, un


Nanoscience is Out of the Bottle

By | July 28, 2003

 SUPER GOO: Nanotech and Super Heroes? It's a natural. A nanoscale adhesive, developed by University of Manchester researchers, lets this Spiderman hang with confidence. (Reprinted with permission from Nature Materials, 2:461-63, 2003) Don't look now, but the nanotech revolution is already here. It began as a collection of curiosities: nano-enabled sunscreens, tennis racquets, fishing rods, and stain-resistant pants. And more are coming. Nanotech supporters say the technology will benef


REBUILDING Iraqi Science

By | July 14, 2003

All photos courtesy of Sam Jaffe UTTER DEVASTATION: First, looters stole everything from Rajwan Hassan Issa's lab, then burned the remains. Alternating pavement stones at the entrance to Mustansiriyah University in Baghdad bear a bas-relief image of Saddam Hussein's face, minus his eyes: somebody chipped them out of each brick. Political banners drape the iron fence that surrounds the campus, seemingly unnoticed by the crowd of buzzing students as they race to class. Some banners procla


The Neurobiology of Rehabilitation

By | June 30, 2003

Courtesy of Eric D. Laywell SPHERES OF PROMISE These neurospheres, clusters of cells in culture derived from the CNS of mice, are stained with antibodies against a neuronal protein (red), and a astrocyte protein (green). They have a nuclear counterstain (blue). The brain and spinal cord were once considered mitotic dead ends, a division of neurons dwindling with toddlerhood, with memory and learning the consequence of synaptic plasticity, not new neurons. But the discovery of neural stem


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