August 1998

Volume 12 Issue 16

The Scientist August 1998 Cover



Researchers Call for Collaboration On Wild Primates, Human Diseases

Chimpanzees share almost all their gene sequences with humans, and this closeness has made them ideal animal models for many human diseases. But similarities between humans and nonhuman primates go beyond genetics. Nonhuman primates are very social animals, travel long distances to find food, sometimes live on the fringes of the wild, and often become afflicted with diseases closely resembling those of humans. PREP FOR FLIGHT: Handlers prepare chimpanzee Ham, one of the NASA "astrochimps," f

Mammalian Cloning Milestone: Mice from Mice from Mice

It was fitting, perhaps, that Cumulina the cloned mouse made her debut at a press conference in New York City on Gregor Mendel's birthday, July 22. As the father of genetics, Mendel explained genetic variability. As the first mouse cloned from an adult's cell nucleus, Cumulina represents the ultimate in genetic uniformity. So far, 50 mice have been cloned, some through three generations. Photo: ProBio America Inc. THREE GENERATIONS: Researchers at the University of Hawaii cloned these three g

Needle-Free Vaccines on the Horizon

See the detailed stories on these vaccines: Mucosal Tissues Offer Tempting Targets, Success of Edible Vaccine May Depend on Picking Right Fruit, and Transcutaneous Methods Get Under the Skin Transgenic potatoes. Nasal sprays. Transcutaneous patches. Although these three alternatives to injections don't look alike, the mechanisms by which they protect against diseases have much in common. All trigger disease resistance in systems other than the blood. And examples of all approaches use cholera



"Gee, they could have given me a call"


Needle-Free Vaccines: Success of Edible Vaccine May Depend on Picking Right Fruit

Theoretically, scientists should be able to deliver antigens against E. coli, cholera, or other diarrhea-causing pathogens in just about any fruit or vegetable. But practicality may trump technology when it comes to picking how to package an edible vaccine. BANANA BOOSTER: Boyce Thompson Institute director Charles Arntzen and colleagues have developed a transgenic banana that carries antigens against E. coli. The banana may be more palatable than a raw potato vaccine that the group developed

Transcutaneous Methods Get Under the Skin

Pediatric vaccinations make children's skin resemble pincushions. Transcutaneous immunization methods in development aim to make their skin function like sponges. Harnessing the adjuvant activity of cholera toxin (CT) could make this immunization method feasible, predicts Gregory M. Glenn, scientific director of IOMAI Inc., a biotech company in Washington, D.C. Glenn and colleagues are developing a technique that mixes the toxin with antigens to boost immune responses. In one set of experimen

Needle-Free Vaccines: Mucosal Tissues Offer Tempting Targets

The eyes may be windows to the soul, but the nose is a gateway to the mucosal immune system. Drug companies are now developing vaccines to take advantage of that gateway. Courtesy of Aviron MISTING UP: Aviron's nasal flu vaccine, which has recently completed Phase III trials, targets the mucosal system and protects against both flu and ear infection. "If you can stimulate the mucosal immune system--that's the majority of the immune system," explains Larry G. Stambaugh, president and CEO of M


At OMB: Hear No Evil, See No Evil?

In an upbeat and collegial Science magazine editorial in June (F.D. Raines, Science, 280:1671, 1998), the outgoing director of the federal Office of Management and Budget (OMB), Franklin D. Raines, addressed how the scientific community might better help to maintain the Clinton administration's commitment to R&D. Raines alluded to the "excitement and wonder of science" and called for better measures of the success of research, greater priority-setting for research fields, and ways to stren


Other Uses for Teaching Evaluations

The article by Ricki Lewis, "Teaching Evaluations: Widespread And Controversial" (The Scientist, 12[9]:12-13, April 27, 1998), hit some important points regarding the use of teaching evaluations. I suggest two other (uses of evaluations): Daily evaluations: If the purpose of teaching evaluations is to improve teaching, I recommend instituting daily evaluations of every lecture, rather than taking them when the semester or quarter is over. For the evaluations to have the greatest impact, the

Two-Career Couples

The Association for Women in Science (AWIS) applauds The Scientist for its article on dual-career couples: "Opportunities Expand for Two-Career Couples" (J. Kling, The Scientist, 12[12]:12, June 8, 1998). The rise of dual-career couples is an important and growing reality--one greatly deserving increased time and attention. Being part of a dual-career couple presents a variety of challenges to scientists, particularly women. Today, women who are preparing for science careers want both a prof


To Help Addicts, Look Beyond the Fiction of Free Will

Ordinarily we don't suppose that people are to blame for their illnesses. That is, many diseases develop independently of what the sick person does or thinks. This is why the disease model of addiction, widely espoused in the therapeutic community, is so controversial. Common sense suggests that a person's choice to start using an addictive substance is often voluntary, and often made with the knowledge, either vague or specific, of the risks of getting hooked. Of course, some people may have a


Timothy A. Springer: On A Roll with Cell Adhesion Molecules

It was no more than 20 years ago that biologists believed that cell adhesion molecules were simply the glue of life, the stuff that served to hold cells and ligaments and everything together. Since then, however, understanding of these molecules has gone through a paradigm shift. It is now known that they play roles in just about every aspect of human biology--from the embryo, where they are crucial for tissue and organ development, to the adult, where they act as traffic signals to direct the

Highly Cited Researchers of 1997

It was a year in which science made headlines--when a lamb named Dolly came on like a lion, and the Pathfinder mission bounced to a perfect Martian landing. And, as always, Science Watch was watching. Here is a roundup for 1997 of those scientists who, at year's end, had the greatest number of highly cited papers published during the preceding two years, according to the Institute for Scientific Information's Hot Papers Database. Unlike in previous years, the 1997 ranking of hot scientists pro

Hot Paper


H.K. Deng, R. Liu, W. Ellmeier, S. Choe, D. Unutmaz, M. Burkhart, P. DiMarzio, S. Marmon, R.E. Sutton, C.M. Hill, C.B. Davis, S.C. Peiper, T.J. Schall, D.R. Littman, N.R. Landau, "Identification of a major co-receptor for primary isolates of HIV-1," Nature, 381:661-6, 1996. (Cited in more than 610 papers since publication) PRESS RUN: Ned Landau of the Aaron Diamond group raced to get confirmation of CCR5 as the HIV M-tropic coreceptor into publication, including a mad dash to an overnight ma


ASSAY ACE: Aaron Diamond's Alexandra Trkola helped develop an assay that characterized the binding mechanisms of the CCR5 coreceptor, which HIV uses, along with CD4, to gain initial entry into cells. A. Trkola, T. Dragic, J. Arthos, J.M. Binley, W.C. Olson, G.P. Allaway, C. ChengMayer, J. Robinson, P.J. Maddon, J.P. Moore, "CD4-dependent, antibody- sensitive interactions between HIV-1 and its co-receptor CCR-5," Nature, 384:184-7, 1996. (Cited in more than 165 papers since publication) Commen


Young Scientists Face Demand for Broader-Based Education

What does the job market ask of young life scientists? Changes in the marketplace in recent years have complicated the answer to this seemingly simple question. As more and more young scientists react to the shrinkage of attractive job opportunities in academia by seeking industry positions and other alternatives to university-based careers, they are finding that the trend of recent decades toward increasing specialization is being accompanied by a new demand for more broad-based skills. Rapid



A story last month (B. Goodman, "Cornell Professor-Student Dispute Draws Attention to Broader Issues," The Scientist, 12[15]:1, July 20, 1998) contained incorrect information about a judgment won last year by Michigan researcher Carolyn Phinney. The case was not based on the grounds of false claims. Rather, Phinney won her case on the grounds of fraud and retaliation in violation of the state's Whistleblower Protection Act.


Researchers Uncover Sleep/Wake Gene

Recent research has shed new light on the sleep/wake cycle. In two papers featured on the cover of the July 10 issue of Cell (J.L. Price et al., Cell, 94:83-95, 1998; B. Kloss et al., Cell, 94:97-107, 1998), scientists from Rockefeller University reported the discovery of a gene in Drosophila, dubbed double-time (dbt). The dbt gene is believed to regulate the molecular cycles underlying circadian rhythms--patterns of activity that, in humans, regulate body temperature, mental alertness, pain


Bring Out The Sunglasses: Promega's Dual-Luciferase Reporter Assay System

Figure 2. Promega's DLRTM Assay System. As the sun goes down you see the recurring yet sporadic glow of fireflies around you. The flash of the common firefly (Photinus pyralis) is behavioral display at its finest. Flying males flash at intervals of about seven seconds, while nonflying females flash back with a latency of two seconds. Luciferase from the common firefly has been employed as a biological reporter for several years, and recently, Promega (Madison, Wis.) has combined firefly lucife

Get Your Sunburn on the Beach, Not at the Lab Bench

Anyone who has ever gotten irritated eyes or a mild burn from leaning over a UV transilluminator to cut out DNA bands from a gel does not have to be told that UV irradiation can be dangerous. Viewing fluorescently labeled DNA using even long-range UV irradiation can cause damage to the face and eyes of the researcher as well as the DNA samples. Now, Clare Chemical Research, a Colorado company started just 12 months ago, offers an alternative to UV transilluminators: the Dark Reader product line

Technology Profile

Round and Round, Side to Side: Environmental Shakers/Incubators

Date: August 17, 1998Environmental Incubator/Shakers That flask in your hand needs warmth and swirling, so you're about to strap it into the orbital water bath that's been a permanent fixture in your lab for at least the last decade. It's rusting, it's taped to the bench to keep it from "creeping," and from the sounds it produces when shaking you might think someone set up a hay baler in the laboratory. In this issue of The Scientist, LabConsumer looks at environmental incubator shakers (exclu

Getting The Message With RT-PCR

Date: July 20, 1998RT-PCR Kits Reverse transcription followed by the polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) has become one of the great "workhorse" techniques of today's labs. It is often used as a method for generating needed reagents, including complementary DNA (cDNA) inserts for cloning, cDNA libraries, and templates for in vitro transcription. None of the other commonly used methods for measuring the steady-state levels of individual RNAs (such as Northern or dot blotting, RNase or S1 nuclease



Rita Colwell GOOD-BYE ... ALMOST On July 10, University of Maryland bid a bittersweet "almost farewell" to Rita Colwell, who left the position of president of the university's Biotechnology Institute (UMBI) to become director of the National Science Foundation (NSF). Colwell's farewell to UMBI is only partial--she has committed herself to one day of research per week in her laboratory, where she studies, particularly, the bacteria that cause cholera. On hand July 10 to congratulate her and wi

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