This past March, more than two dozen scientists gathered in a small conference room at Merck Sharp & Dohme Research Laboratories (MSDRL) in West Point, Pa. They were there for a half-day seminar on the signal transduction of receptors, the first in a five-part, company-sponsored lecture series on receptors. The instructor, Ben Margolis, an assistant professor in the department of pharmacology at New York University Medical Center, told his audience he wanted the talk to be informal--and it was.

"He encouraged us to interrupt if we had any questions--and we all took full advantage," says Jacqueline Gress, a chemist with MSDRL who attended the lecture. "Unlike a typical college seminar, there was a lot of give-and-take. This made some very complicated scientific concepts much more accessible, and it really shortened my learning curve. The journals are flooded with so many new studies about receptors that it's virtually impossible to keep...

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