April 2009

Volume 23 Issue 4

The Scientist April 2009 Cover

Departments

Contributors

Contributors

North Carolina-based freelance writer Kelly Rae Chi became fascinated by the controversial idea that synapses weaken overnight, resetting the brain and improving learning the next day. But the effort to synthesize all the ideas in the field—the result of which is presented in "Disappearing before Dawn"—disrupted her sleep. "At some point in the process of writing this I was screaming in

Editorial

Why sleep?

Many ask, but few answer. We present two of science's most intriguing theories.

Mail

Mail

I like iGEM Re: "Brick by brick"1, the iGEM competition is a fantastic idea, and I often hear comments from other scientists saying that they wish there were similar student competitions in other fields of science. The Slovenian team has been singled out not for its achievements but for the alleged hype associated with its project, which I think is not really a fair assessment. The g

Notebook

Stem cell rat race

Rat embryonic stem cells were used to construct a chimeric animal (inset), shown here with two of his pups. Credit: Above: Courtesy of Ping Li and Qi-Long Ying Inset: Courtesy of John Agnew" />Rat embryonic stem cells were used to construct a chimeric animal (inset), shown here with two of his pups. Credit: Above: Courtesy of Ping Li and Qi-Long Ying Inset: Courtesy of John Agnew In 1981, Martin Evans and Matthew Kaufman, wor

Septic sperm

Toxin-affected dead worm embryos and their antidote-carrying siblings. Credit: Courtesy of Hannah Seidel" />Toxin-affected dead worm embryos and their antidote-carrying siblings. Credit: Courtesy of Hannah Seidel In 2006, Hannah Seidel, a graduate student in Leonid Kruglyak's lab at Princeton University, performed an experiment that hundreds of C. elegans biologists had done before: She crossed two c

Working modeler

One day in late 2004, television art director Karen Steward visited the penthouse floor of a glass office building in Los Angeles to sit down with UCLA epidemiologist Sally Blower and the half dozen members of Blower's Disease Modeling Group and talk about television. Steward was enlisting Blower's scientific expertise for the third episode of the CBS drama NUMB3RS, in which an FBI agent's

Uncategorized

Of beetles and bacteria

Of beetles and bacteria By Margaret Guthrie Infected pine, with trails created by female beetles. The white pods are larvae deposited by females. Erich G. Vallery / USDA Forest Service—SRS-4552, US All across the United States and Canada, tiny pine bark beetles are killing trees. From the northern pine bark beetle in Canada, the mountain pine bark beetle in Colorado, Montana, and Idaho to the southern pine bark beetle in the

Will work for steak

Will work for steak By Margaret Guthrie Rogue: "Medium rare, please." Alice Whitelaw / Working Dogs for Conservation Foundation Rogue, like all of us, works for food. (He prefers his steak medium rare.) Unlike us, however, he is a five-year-old Belgian Sheepdog whose owner, Dave Vesely, is the executive director of the Oregon Wildlife Institute. Rogue's latest accomplishment: spotting an endangered plant and the precious, pin-sized eggs

Opinion

Sexual Politics and Science: Two Predicaments

A Matter of Conscience Editor's Note (March 31). The April issue of The Scientist includes an Opinion entitled "A Matter of Conscience" in which Alexander McPherson laid out his objections to sexual harassment training at the University of California at Irvine. In the meantime McPherson has participated in the training, for reasons given in the update below. The Opinion article follows the update. My conflict with the University of Califo

Column

Why Don't We Share Data?

There are so, so many reasons—and they make a lot of sense.

Uncategorized

Disappearing Before Dawn

Disappearing Before Dawn Gene expression studies are lending support to a new hypothesis for why everyone sleeps: to prune the strength or number of synapses. By Kelly Rae Chi © Kieran Scott t 10 a.m. on a frigid January, the lights automatically flicker on in a rat room at the University of Wisconsin–Madison's Research Park. Postdoc Erin Hanlon strolls in, still wearing her scarf from the trip to the lab, where she will

The Gears of the Sleep Clock

The Gears of the Sleep Clock Is replenishment of resources the key to the sleep/wake cycle? By Allan Pack Artwork by Michael Morgenstern man coming off his night shift gets into his car. He knows it's the most dangerous part of his day, a time when his body aches for sleep. He struggles to stay awake while driving home. He's tried coffee. He's tried driving with the windows open, or cranking the air conditioning up high. He's tried

Biotech's Baddies

Biotech's Baddies More than 60 individuals have been blackballed by the FDA for criminal acts against the agency. Here are some of the worst offenders. By Bob Grant ©Tim Kiusalaas o matter how bad things seem for the United States Food and Drug Administration these days, 20 years ago they were arguably worse. In the late 1980s, the agency was embroiled in a generic-drug scandal, in which FDA administrators accepted bribes fo

Fired Up

Fired Up Besides hobnobbing with musical greats as an electric guitarist, Len Kaczmarek has fine-tuned the picture of how phosphorylation can alter neurons' electrical properties. By Karen Hopkin © Jason varney | Varneyphoto.com According to a former student, Len Kaczmarek is fond of noting: "Eric Clapton and I used to play the same clubs. Then our careers diverged." And it's true. Kaczmarek opened for Eric Clapton at Eel Pie Islan

Books etc.

Cancer's culprit

Breast cancer's genetic profile calls the cancer stem cell hypothesis into question.

Hot Paper

Prompting Prions

Credit: © Russell Kightley / rkm.com.au" /> Credit: © Russell Kightley / rkm.com.au The paper: Deleault et al., "Formation of native prions from minimal components in vitro," Proc Natl Acad Sci, 104: 9741-6, 2007. (Cited in 53 papers) The finding: To test whether misfolded, disease-causing prion proteins could form from their normal counterparts without being see

Hot Paper

Communicating with chloroplasts

Credit: © hybrid medical animation / Photo Researchers, Inc." /> Credit: © hybrid medical animation / Photo Researchers, Inc. The paper: S. Koussevitzky et al., "Signals from chloroplasts converge to regulate nuclear gene expression," Science, 316:715–9, 2007. (Cited in 58 papers) The finding: Joanne Chory, a Salk Institute molecular biologist, used Arabidopsis

Targeting tumors

A team led by Yin-Yuan Mo, a tumor cell biologist at the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, measured global protein levels in mouse carcinoma tumors

Scientist To Watch

Mike Axtell: The curious gardener

Credit: Photo by Bob Skalkowski / Photography" /> Credit: Photo by Bob Skalkowski / Photography As a postdoc at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research in Cambridge, MA, Mike Axtell would often come into the lab carrying bits of plants he had clipped from bushes by the sides of the busy roads. He would dump them on his desk and begin to prepare them for microRNA sequencing, hoping to determine wh

Lab Tools

Pulling Out Proteins

Troubleshooting discovery and validation of protein biomarkers for cancer.

BioBusiness

Supersize my Pipeline

Will Exelixis's novel approach pay off in the current economic climate?

The Scientist

Finding New Money

In tough times, researchers have to look outside of government funding. Here are lesser known sources, and tips on how to get your hands on them.

Foundations

Recombinant DNA Fermenter, circa 1977

Fermenters like this one used genetically-manipulated bacteria to produce the first human insulin in 1977 and the first human growth factor in 1979. Credit: © SSPL / Science Museum" />Fermenters like this one used genetically-manipulated bacteria to produce the first human insulin in 1977 and the first human growth factor in 1979. Credit: © SSPL / Science Museum In 1972, Uni

Uncategorized

Anchor Test

The Gears of the Sleep Clock Is replenishment of resources the key to the sleep/wake cycle? By Allan Pack Artwork by Michael Morgenstern man coming off his night shift gets into his car. He knows it's the most dangerous part of his day, a time when his body aches for sleep. He struggles to stay awake while driving home. He's tried coffee. He's tried driving with the windows open, or cranking the air conditioning up high. He's tried

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