Disease on the Wing

Volume 28 Issue 12 | December 2014

Cover Story

Lurking in the Shadows

By | December 1, 2014

Bats harbor diverse pathogens, including Ebola, Marburg, SARS, and MERS viruses. Understanding why could help researchers stymie deadly emerging diseases.

Featured Articles

image: A Race Against Extinction

A Race Against Extinction

By | December 1, 2014

Bat populations ravaged; hundreds of amphibian species driven to extinction; diverse groups of birds threatened. Taking risks will be necessary to control deadly wildlife pathogens.

image: Top 10 Innovations 2014

Top 10 Innovations 2014

By | December 1, 2014

The list of the year’s best new products contains both perennial winners and innovative newcomers.




Meet some of the people featured in the December 2014 issue of The Scientist.


Bad Raps

Understanding animal diseases—for their sake and for ours

Speaking of Science

Speaking of Science

December 2014's selection of notable quotes


Along Came a Spider

Researchers are turning to venom peptides to protect crops from their most devastating pests.

Homo Minutus

A miniature platform with multiple organ-on-a-chip constructs aims to speed up drug discovery—and create better transplants for patients.

Microflora for Hire

The guts of cows and termites harbor microbes that are renowned complex-carbohydrate digesters, but the human gastrointestinal tract has flora that just might measure up.

A New Breed

Genomics and advanced reproductive technologies have turned cattle breeding into a whole new animal.

Critic at Large

Loaded Words

As new technologies emerge, we must choose our words for them with care: names can negatively bias the inevitable debates over the ethics of scientific advances.

Critic at Large

Incentivizing Breakthroughs

With scientific funding on shaky ground, big-dollar competitions offer a new way for life-science innovators to bring their ideas to fruition.

Modus Operandi

Bespoke Cell Jackets

Scientists make hydrogel coats for individual cells that can be tailored to specific research questions.

The Literature

Cadherin Connection

A multitasking plasma membrane protein coordinates cell division and energy metabolism in healthy—and perhaps also cancerous—Drosophila cells.

Polymerase Pieces

Researchers discover a new subunit of a bacterial RNA polymerase—as well as hints of its potential role in defending against viruses.

Nuclear Pore QA

A known membrane-remodeling complex earns a newly identified role as a quality-assurance director during the assembly of nuclear pores.


All Systems Go

Alan Aderem earned his PhD while under house arrest for protesting apartheid in South Africa. His early political involvement has guided his scientific focus, encouraging fellow systems biologists to study immunology and infectious diseases.

Scientist to Watch

Viviana Gradinaru: Clearing the Way

Assistant Professor, Department of Biology and Biological Engineering, Caltech. Age: 33

Lab Tools

Cutting the Wire

Optical techniques for monitoring action potentials

Lab Tools

Sorting Made Simpler

A guide to affordable, compact fluorescence-activated cell sorters

Special Section

Validating Antibodies: An Urgent Need

Highlights from a webinar held by The Scientist to discuss the role of antibody validation and cataloging in improving data reproducibility

Bio Business

Cannabis Biotech

As medical marijuana businesses set up shop across the U.S., a handful of companies are taking the pharmaceutical route, guiding cannabis-derived drugs through clinical trials.

Reading Frames

The Cellular Revolution

Early life-forms started engaging in planet-altering biological innovation more than a half billion years ago.

Capsule Reviews

Capsule Reviews

Your Atomic Self, Eureka!, A Talent for Friendship, and Undeniable


A Cellar’s Cellular Treasure, 1992

A spring cleaning led to the rediscovery of Theodor Boveri’s microscope slides, presumed lost during World War II.

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