March 2012

Volume 26 Issue 3

The Scientist March 2012 Cover

Featured Articles

image: What it Takes to Develop Better Drugs for Kids

What it Takes to Develop Better Drugs for Kids

By J. Steven Leeder | March 1, 2012

Over the past 15 years, new laws and regulations in the United States and the European Union have expanded to require the inclusion of pediatric patients in clinical drug trials.  

image: Are the Kids Alright?

Are the Kids Alright?

By Bob Grant | March 1, 2012

Two key pieces of legislation, enacted to spur drugmakers into testing pharmaceutical products in children, are up for reauthorization in the US Congress this October. Have they done their jobs?

image: Child-Proofing Drugs

Child-Proofing Drugs

By Edyta Zielinska | March 1, 2012

When children need medications, getting the dosing and method of administration right is like trying to hit a moving target with an untried weapon.

image: Vitamin D on Trial

Vitamin D on Trial

By Amy Maxmen | March 1, 2012

Prevention trials for vitamins and supplements are notoriously difficult, but some researchers aren’t giving up on finding proof that vitamin D helps ward off disease.


Capsule Reviews

Capsule Reviews

The Wandering Gene and the Indian Princess, The Forever Fix, Connectome, and DNA USA



Meet some of the people featured in the March 2012 issue of The Scientist.


How Drugs Interact with a Baby’s Parts

A lot changes in a child’s body over the course of development, and not all changes occur linearly: gene expression can fluctuate, and organs can perform different functions on the way to their final purpose in the body. Here are some of the key deve

Suspected Effects of Vitamin D

Vitamin D has a variety of actions in the body. It binds to the vitamin D receptor (VDR), which then binds to the retinoid X receptor (RXR) and activates the expression of numerous genes. 

How the Pediatric Laws Work

The Pediatric Research Equity Act (PREA) of 2003 requires that companies developing new drugs that could be used to treat a condition in children perform clinical trials in kids before winning FDA approval. 


The Joint Collector

Forget stamps: one bioengineer amasses broken artificial joints to learn why they failed and how to build better ones.


A Whiff of TB

Chemical ecologist Max Suckling at the Institute for Plant and Food Research Ltd., and summer student Rachael Sagar use Pavlovian conditioning to train bees to stick out their tongues, or proboscises, at the scent of odors produced by tuberculosis-causing bacteria.

Electron Microscopy Through the Ages

Take a tour through the revolutionary menthod's past, present, and future.


Preserving Endangered Gametes

Pierre Comizzoli, a reproductive physiologist at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, chats about his efforts to rescue endangered species from extinction using in vitro fertilization as well as novel gamete preservation techniques.


Tricky Trials

Studies on safety, efficacy, or dosing of drugs in children, or on nutritional supplements, are not run-of-the-mill.

Speaking of Science

Speaking of Science

March 2012's selection of notable quotes



Two researchers are trying to train bees to sniff out tuberculosis.

Test-Tube Zoo Babies

A National Zoo researcher works to perfect gamete preservation and in vitro fertilization techniques in order to better manage endangered populations.

Snake Tales

An anthropologist and a herpetologist join forces to reveal the complex shared evolutionary and ecological history of pythons and primates.

Thought Experiment

Who Are We Really?

Manipulating the human microbiome has ethical implications.

Critic at Large

One Year On

Some thoughts about the ecological fallout from Fukushima

Modus Operandi

Delivering Silence

Using RNA viruses to silence genes could optimize tissue targeting while reducing toxicity.

The Literature

How to Make Eyeball Stew

Editor's choice in developmental biology

The Literature

Biota Babble

Editor's choice in immunology

Promoting Death

Editor's choice in biochemistry


Model Citizen

With an eye to understanding animal regeneration, Alejandro Sánchez Alvarado has turned a freshwater planarian into a model system to watch.

Scientist to Watch

David Sabatini: Demystifying mTOR

Principal Investigator, Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research. Associate Professor, Department of Biology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Age: 44

Lab Tools

Combing the Cancer Genome

A guided tour through the main online resources for analyzing cancer genomics data

Bio Business

Braving the IPO Drought

Despite nervous investors and a volatile market, a courageous few biotechnology companies are taking their chances on Wall Street.

Reading Frames

The Specter of Denialism

Conspiracy theories surrounding the global HIV/AIDS epidemic have cost thousands of lives. But science is fighting back.


The Subcellular World Revealed, 1945

The first electron microscope to peer into an intact cell ushers in the new field of cell biology.

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