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Peter Reddien: Making heads or tails of it

By | June 1, 2008

Credit: © laura barisonzi photography" /> Credit: © laura barisonzi photography For his 33rd birthday last year, Massachusetts Institute of Technology geneticist Peter Reddien received a special gift from his students: a t-shirt imprinted with a picture of a six-headed flatworm. Reddien and his postdoc, Christian Petersen, had recently created the altered planarian, Schmidtea mediterranea,


Howard Hang: An immunologist's chemist

By | May 1, 2008

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


Ken-ichi Noma: For the love of yeast

By | April 1, 2008

Credit: © Jason varney |" /> Credit: © Jason varney | Ken-ichi Noma, a geneticist at The Wistar Institute in Philadelphia, stands at a bench in his lab and squirts a sample of Saccharomyces pombe onto a microscope slide. He adjusts the microscope focus knobs, and an image of green, globular cells wavers on the monitor attached to his microscope. "How are you doing?" he asks the cells.

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Zemer Gitai: Modeling life's architecture

By | March 1, 2008

Credit: Dustin Fenstermacher / Wonderful Machine" /> Credit: Dustin Fenstermacher / Wonderful Machine Zemer Gitai likes to say of his thus far short, but fruitful, science career that he is devolving. Since he studied cancer in mice as an undergraduate student at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he has been transitioning his work to increasingly simpler biologic systems. For now, he has settled on bacteria. As a PhD student at the University of California, San Fra


Eran Segal: Computing expression

By | February 1, 2008

Credit: Photo: Ahikam Seri" /> Credit: Photo: Ahikam Seri Eran Segal followed a meandering route to the field of computational biology. He began by earning a bachelor's degree in computer science from Tel-Aviv University in 1998, and went on to study in Stanford University's computer science department under Daphne Koller. He also studied genetics at Stanford, where he began to explore how probabilistic models can answer biologic questions. As a graduate student Segal focused on


Amy Wagers: Setting the record straight

By | January 1, 2008

Credit: © Leah Fasten Photography" /> Credit: © Leah Fasten Photography As a postdoc in Irving Weissman's laboratory at Stanford University, Amy Wagers earned a reputation for putting other people's findings to the test. In 2002 Wagers published evidence contrary to claims that bone marrow-derived stem cells could transdifferentiate into brain, muscle, and other tissues.1 In 2004, she found that hematopoietic stem cells could not repair damaged myocardium,2 despite other ev


Sean Crosson: Bacteria in LOV

By | December 1, 2007

Credit: © 2007 Chris Lake Photography" /> Credit: © 2007 Chris Lake Photography Earlier this year, University of Chicago assistant professor Sean Crosson donned a cowboy hat and rode a giant foam bacterium across a stage as part of a student research presentation. The audience broke into laughter. While exploring the "hidden biology" of undescribed signaling pathways in the bacteria, Caulobacter crescentus, Crosson's group manages to share quite a few laughs, and the la


Jennifer Elisseeff: Bringing cartilage to light

By | November 1, 2007

Credit: BILL CRAMER / WONDERFUL MACHINE INC." /> Credit: BILL CRAMER / WONDERFUL MACHINE INC. In Jennifer Elisseeff's small tissue-culture room at Johns Hopkins University, she points to an eraser-sized pellet of two-layered hydrogel floating in culture medium. She explains how the cells, encapsulated within juxtaposed layers of gel, exchange signals to help them grow. Knowing what those signals are could help her design a hydrogel that would regenerate diseased tissue. As a teen


Dee Denver: Shaking up mutation

By | October 1, 2007

Credit: © Lincoln Barbour PHOTOGRAPHY" /> Credit: © Lincoln Barbour PHOTOGRAPHY Though it's been decades since he was a kid turning over rocks in St. Joseph, Missouri, Dee Denver, now assistant professor in the zoology department at Oregon State University, still enjoys looking at nematodes. "It's beautiful," he says, watching through a microscope in his laboratory as a tiny worm makes sinusoidal tracks through a plate of Escherichia coli. It's no coincidence that the a


Henrik Kaessmann: Grand-scale genetics

By | September 1, 2007

Credit: © SEAN MACLEOD PHOTOGRAPHY" /> Credit: © SEAN MACLEOD PHOTOGRAPHY Henrik Kaessmann is not a trained bioinformaticist. He acquired his computational skills after his PhD, on the road to uncovering the subtleties of gene origin and function, with many of his projects operating on a grand scale. Over the short evolution of his career, however, he has become one of the world's foremost bioinformatics researchers. Kaessmann's first large-scale project was during his


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