November 2002

Volume 16 Issue 22

The Scientist November 2002 Cover




Frontlines Image: Erica P. Johnson But will the tooth fairy expand operations? Pamela Yelick is not an evil scientist; she is not creating rats that eat themselves alive. Rather, she and her group at Boston's Forsyth Institute have grown tooth crowns in rodents' abdomens to demonstrate the feasibility of bioengineering mammalian teeth from dissociated cells (C.S. Young et. al; "Tissue engineering of complex tooth structures on biodegradable polymer scaffolds," Journal of Dental Researc


One Lumper or Two

Those who make many species are the 'splitters,' and those who make few are the 'lumpers.' --The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin, vol. II. Extending the above analogy from taxonomy to biology, "splitters" have had the best of things recently, generating massive amounts of data on genes and their networks, proteins and their pathways, cascades and cassettes. But unifying this torrent of information into a seamless whole now requires "lumpers," integrative scientists. Two types of lumpers


Bring Back the Blackboard

Image: Anthony Canamucio The scene: the Baltimore Convention Center, Oct. 16, 2002. The laptops were aligned on the table next to the podium, their owners fidgeting in their seats just below, caffeined up, plugged in, and ready to go. A cacophony of cell phones sounded a final "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" before fading into temporary silence. Visions of stem cells graced the screen as the first speaker quickly checked his slides, and the huge room filled for this first symposium of the 52nd


Gorillas and Humans

Gorillas and Humans Your concern with gorilla conservation is appreciated.1 We do, however, have a problem with the concept of permitting human tours in the wild animals' living areas. Having spent more than 40 years studying the relationship between human and nonhuman primate infections, we now recognize that cross-infections between humans and nonhuman primates are common. We might say, to the detriment of both. To this end we could cite Marburg [virus], Ebola, monkeypox, hepatitis A, poss

Rotavirus Follow-up

Rotavirus Follow-up Despite the fact that there is not a rotavirus vaccine currently available,1 another approach in disease management such as passive protection can be used. For many gastrointestinal infections, the most important protective factor is the presence of specific antibody in the lumen of the small intestine. Passively acquired antibodies derived from cows hyperimmunized against rotavirus have been used for the prevention of rotavirus diarrhea. We have successfully developed h

Queen Bee ... Pro ... and Con

Queen Bee ... Pro ... and Con Bravo to T.V. Rajan for pointing out several notions that many female scientists have realized for years1: the fact that it is not necessary to work in the lab 24/7 to excel in science and the fact that it is primordial "to supplant one's mentor and cast out the previous generation on ice floats to make oneself the leader of the realm." Unfortunately the title of the article "The Queen Bee Syndrome" is oversimplifying the situation. Perhaps a better title would


An Odyssey in Science and Art

Artwork ©2001 Alan Campbell Studios COSTA RICA BEAUTY: Campbell's work includes images like this Costa Rican banana tree. Alan Campbell's studio in a second-story loft overlooking downtown Athens, Ga., has the unmistakable stamp of a painter. Daylight streams through large windows; brushes, paints, and tools sit in assorted cans and mugs; canvasses and prints stand on easels, lean against walls, and lie flat on tables. The University of Georgia's (UGA) north campus quad, home to th

Chaperones to the Rescue

Image by Joel Ito and P. Michael Conn The first clinical trials to test protein misfolding therapies are so new that researchers haven't yet agreed on a collective name for the compounds being administered. Variously dubbed chemical chaperones, pharmacological chaperones, and pharmacoperones, these small molecules correct the misfolding of proteins that recent research has implicated in a host of diseases, both rare and prevalent. In such "conformational" diseases, misfolded proteins may lose

UK Biobank to go on the Political Agenda

Image: Erica P. Johnson The UK Biobank aims to recruit 500,000 people for population studies of the interactions among lifestyle, genes, and disease, but some opponents question whether the massive effort is structured properly to do an adequate and ethical job. Ian Gibson (Labour, Norwich North), chair of the House of Commons Select Committee on Science and Technology, is to host a meeting in December of members of parliament and the project's funding bodies and critics. UK Biobank has yet to


Biofuels for Fuel Cells

Photo: Courtesy of Lee Petersen Researchers from Ascent Power Systems examine a large-area fuel cell component. Could the world's waste--peanut shells from Georgia, coconut shells from the Philippines, pig-farm waste from China, or even left-over gas from Japanese-beer kegs--be the answer to the next energy crisis? Probably not, but a number of companies and individuals are touting the benefits in a variety of ways. Talk abounds about fuel cells and the "hydrogen economy," spurred by rec


The Spliceosome Comes Assembled

Graphic: Courtesy of Scott Stevens  ASSEMBLY INSTRUCTIONS: In the penta-snRNP model, all five spliceosomal snRNPs interact with the substrate pre-mRNA as a single, discrete particle. Spliceosome assembly in yeast extracts also could occur by interaction of the U1 snRNP with the pre-mRNA, followed by a tetra-snRNP joining to form a functionally identical particle. (Reprinted with permission from Elsevier Science, Molecular Cell, 9:31-4, 2002.) In multicellular organisms, the earliest prod

Topical Control of HIV Transmission Possible

Image: Courtesy of Karl Malcolm SAFETY RING: This X-ray image depicts the position of the silicone intravaginal ring in vivo. When researchers learned that the spermicide nonoxynol-9 (N9) killed HIV in vitro, they were hoping that they had a cheap, ready-made, effective topical microbicide that women could use to block sexual transmission of HIV. But clinical trials showed that N9 increased vulnerability to HIV infection because it damaged mucosal cells, making the mucous membrane more p

Hot Paper

Enzyme Role Found for Aging Gene

Graphic: Courtesy of Shin-Ichiro Imai  SILENCE OF THE CHROMATIN: The Sir2 protein requires NAD for its enzymatic activity. It couples NAD breakdown to nicotinamide and ADP-ribose with the removal of acetyl groups from histone and other proteins. The acetyl moiety is transferred to ADP-ribose, which creates the chemical acetyl-ADP ribose. Deacetylated nucleosome are packed up to silenced chromatin structure and involved in silencing gene transcription. This Sir2 enzymatic activity links ene

Faculty of 1000

Drosophila and E. coli Share a Strategy for Signal Release

The Faculty of 1000 is aWeb-based literature awareness tool published by BioMed Central. For more information visit Science sometimes progresses by persistence and attention to detail. This was the case for the recent discovery that a bacterium and the fruit fly apparently share a strategy for signal release, despite one being a prokaryote and the other a eukaryote.1 The new view suggests that quorum sensing in bacteria and signal transduction in multicellular organisms

Technology Profile

Get the Basics

Photo: Courtesy of Michelle Lizott Waniewski  DROP AND GIVE ME 20! Attendees at the 2002 NEB workshops labor through basic training. If you've ever been confused by the jargon of molecular biology, you are not alone. With biotechnology in the news day by day, it is easy to forget that for many of us--even for some readers of The Scientist--the tools, techniques, and concepts that undergird much of this research are foreign. To help keep up, some scientists are queuing up to learn the bas

High-Throughput Thermocyclers

Photo: Courtesy of Applied Biosystems The Auto-Lid Dual 384-Well GeneAmp PCR System 9700 from Applied Biosystems. Used to be, researchers used thermocyclers for PCR. But times have changed. Once called PCR machines thermocyclers are now required for a wide range of common applications such as sequencing and genotyping. Murray Anderson, director of core PCR for Applied Biosystems, Foster City Calif., observes, "When we first launched the dual 384-well [thermal cycling] systems, the primar


Easing siRNA Transfection

Image: Courtesy of Ambion SILENCE! HeLa cells transfected with Cy3-labeled GAPDH or Scrambled siRNAs using Ambion's siPORT Lipid Transfection Agent were harvested 48 hours post-transfection. Red: Cy3-labeled siRNA; blue: DAPI-stained nuclei; green: GAPDH protein. Introduction of the scrambled control siRNA (left) had no effect on GAPDH protein expression, whereas transfection of an siRNA targeting GAPDH (right) resulted in drastic reduction in GAPDH protein levels. Much attention has bee

Up-to-Date Bioinformatics

Image: Courtesy of John Wiley & Sons Bioinformatics is "hot" these days, but it's a subject that can leave many life scientists cold. Now Hoboken, NJ-based John Wiley & Sons has launched Current Protocols in Bioinformatics, the latest addition to its popular Current Protocols series. "We're trying to make bioinformatics approachable to the biologist who doesn't have much training in computational methods," says senior editor Ann Boyle. The Current Protocols format offers a convenient way


Sweet Sixteen

Studying changes in cytokine expression may help scientists understand the roles of these proteins in human health and disease, and lead to advances in the diagnosis and treatment of inflammatory diseases, cancer, and AIDS. Researchers commonly quantify cytokines in biological samples with immunoassays, using matched antibody pairs for cytokine detection. Keene, NH-based Schleicher & Schuell BioScience (S&S) now offers an alternative approach with its ProVision™ Human Cytokine A


University Science Squads Ferret Out Fraud

Photo: Getty Images Scientific swindlers, beware. Universities are policing fraud and misuse of public funds better than ever before, according to federal regulators, who point to a surge in misconduct findings during the past 18 months as evidence of successful sleuthing. Each year, 30 to 40 institutions report to the Office of Research Integrity (ORI) that they have investigated claims of falsification, fabrication, or plagiarism (FF&P) in scientific research. In the past decade, about 3

Citing UK Science Quality

Illustration: Erica P. Johnson Every five or six years, the United Kingdom's academic establishment sets out to perform an experiment on itself. Called the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE), the vast endeavor involves 60 research panels, each investigating a specific discipline, from musicology to genomics. The panels, consisting of about 15 eminent researchers per panel, evaluate the research output of every participating university and institute. In the end, each institution receives a rank

Fine Tuning

Keeping Tabs on Foreigners

Photo: Courtesy of Suzanne Brumett The US government wants to crack down on immigration by checking up on the activities and whereabouts of foreign students, workers, and visitors. Shortly, the Department of Justice will implement plans to register and fingerprint certain foreign nationals. This move comes on the heels of other restrictive proposals. The government is also scrutinizing and tracking foreign graduate and postdoctorate students, requiring them to apply for student visas from the


Shunned by Commercial Markets, Biotechs can Turn to Government Funds

Image: Anne MacNamara Researchers disheartened by the slowdown in private money for genomics projects should keep an eye on the Congressional budget, under debate now. US Government agencies are stepping up their spending on the search for genomic keys to disease. "It's a great time for genomics, as far as we're concerned," says Maria Giovanni, assistant director for microbial genomics and related technology development for the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). NI

Bioscience Moves into Galleries as Bioart

Photo: Courtesy of Julia Friedman Gallery, Chicago  ART CREATING LIFE: Eduardo Kac's Genesis project enables viewers to create bacteria mutations. A stroll through an art museum can mirror a walk outdoors, as nature has inspired artists since people first used charcoal to draw on cave walls. Today, ambitious artists and accessible technologies have modernized the marriage of biology and art into bioart, coupling imagination and science to create animate, often interactive, works that put

News Profile

Anna Johnson-Winegar

Photo: Courtesy of Anna Johnson-Winegar Two days after anthrax was discovered in a letter addressed to US Sen. Tom Daschle (D-SD), Anna Johnson-Winegar was testifying on the state of the nation's readiness to counter bioterrorism before the Senate Committee on Government Affairs. Her office is the Department of Defense's (DoD) focal point for chemical and biological defense. In the hot seat before the Senate that bright October day, the Pentagon scientist wasted no time trying to convince them

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