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Reducing Risks, Maximizing Impact with Cancer Biomarkers

By | March 15, 2004

Brad FitzpatrickBiomarkers measure drug-induced changes in a patient's blood or tissue. Such changes can confirm drug activity and thereby help select patients more likely to respond to treatment. These biochemicals are revolutionizing cancer drug development.It's a revolution sorely needed. A recent Nature Medicine story described 2003 as filled "with hype and hope for cancer drugs ... [The year] saw no shortage of cancer headlines ... But recent successes have not been unequivocal, and emphasi


Brad FitzpatrickLast month, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan presided over the launch of a report by the InterAcademy Council, Inventing a Better Future: A Strategy for Building Worldwide Capacities in Science and Technology.1 The report is a call for action to strengthen national scientific capabilities throughout the world and to foster new opportunities for cooperation among the world's scientific and technological communities.This is the first report issued by the InterAcademy Council,2 an or


Nanotech is Novel; the Ethical Issues Are Not

By | February 16, 2004

Nanoscience and nanotechnology are among today's most promising fields of research. If their full potential is to be realized, we need to attend along the way to key ethical issues. But ethics should not be grounded in exaggerations, either positive or negative; hype just obscures important issues.One type of hype comes from enthusiasts who argue that nanotech is a wonderful thing. One day, they aver, "nanoassemblers" will convert coal into diamonds, turn grass clippings into beef, and restore t


A Modest Financial Proposal

By | February 2, 2004

Figure 1The pace, direction, and application of scientific research are largely determined by the availability of money. At an individual level, grant applications consume a great deal of professional time; and gossip about funding successes and failures, along with speculation about donor intentions, fuels hope or opens the door to despair. Yet despite the importance of money, many scientists seem to be as shy about mentioning it in public as our Victorian ancestors were in talking about sex.Ov


Litigation Could Make Vaccines Extinct

By | January 19, 2004

it has the legislative model in hand


Integrity in Scientific Research

By | December 15, 2003

Integrity in Scientific Research Ned Shaw Last year, the Institute of Medicine published a major report1 that does not seem to have inspired much response. A fairly thorough search showed that only one journal, JAMA, mentions the IOM's Integrity in Scientific Research: Creating an Environment that Promotes Responsible Conduct (in a book review).2 Furthermore, the IOM's Web page, in announcing that a town meeting would be held to discuss the report, promises, but does not deliver, the w


Since The Institute for Genomic Research first decoded the complete genetic material of a free-living organism (Haemophilus influenzae) in 1995,1 we have seen an explosion in the number of completed genomes. The total completed genome count is about 150, a number that is likely to double in 2004. Next year, we will experience a greater shift in genomics, from simply obtaining the genetic code of organisms to comparing and interpreting them, eventually understanding how the four-letter (ACGT)


Natural Is Not Necessarily Better

By | November 17, 2003

Getty Images The benefits of breastfeeding are so well recognized that pointing out a flaw usually meets with considerable doubt, if not with outright hostility. Yet what holds true for other areas of physiology and medicine holds true here: What is "natural" is not necessarily flawless. Breast milk is a case in point. Maternal immunoglobulins and leukocytes transferred to the infant by colostrum or milk generally bolster the infant's poorly developed immune response.1 However, in some instan


The Art of the Scientific Metaphor

By | November 3, 2003

Ned Shaw It is not too much to say that science and the technologies that derive from it have altered the very nature of human society. It is surprising, then, if science is all that important in human culture, that people would seem indifferent about its nature. Considerably more attention is paid to how movies are made, novels are written, or great paintings are born than to how scientists make new knowledge. Given its centrality in modern life, shouldn't people be more interested in how sci


Plagiarism in Higher Education: Is There a Remedy?

By | October 20, 2003

Ned Shaw The recent incidence of plagiarism at The New York Times set off some empathetic alarm bells throughout the academic community. According to a 2002-03 survey of 3,500 graduate students in US and Canadian universities, 23%-25% of students acknowledged one or more instances of "cutting and pasting" from Internet sources and/or published documents.1 Electronic journals, E-books, Internet "paper mills," and other high-tech sources of information have put a whole new spin on academic integ


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