News

Frontlines
Frontlines
Deemed the delicious taste, umami is found naturally in foods such as aged cheeses, steak, seafood, and mushrooms, and as an additive, the sodium salt monosodium glutamate. The substance that subtly makes food taste better is one of the 20 common amino acids that make up proteins. Now, researchers have shown that taste cells bearing a combination of T1R1 and T1R3 (T1R1+3) G protein-coupled receptors are broadly tuned to respond to many amino acids, including umami's monosodium glutamate. Althoug
A Case Too Soon for Genetic Testing?
A Case Too Soon for Genetic Testing?
The raison d'être behind genetic screening is that genotype predicts phenotype (disease risks). But it isn't always so. The likelihood of a specific mutation in the BRCA1 gene causing breast cancer, for example, depends on one's ethnic group. Now a study raises questions about what looked like a perfect candidate for population genetic screening: hereditary hemochromatosis (HH), a form of "iron overload" disease.1 Standard biochemical testing appears to be a better predictor than gene tests.
Dollars for Your Thoughts
Dollars for Your Thoughts
The story of how the late lawyer and entrepreneur Franklin C. Salisbury joined forces with the late Nobel laureate Albert Szent-Györgyi is legendary within the National Foundation for Cancer Research (NFCR) that they cofounded in 1973. Two years before that, Salisbury read an article about Szent-Györgyi, who had won the 1937 prize in physiology or medicine for the discovery of vitamin C. At the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Mass., the famed Hungarian scientist was working
Companies Halt First Alzheimer Vaccine Trial
Companies Halt First Alzheimer Vaccine Trial
One cutting-edge neuroscience issue is whether a vaccine can cure Alzheimer disease (AD). A much-ballyhooed clinical trial recently sought an answer. But a mistrial was soon declared, and scientific sleuths now face a fresh mystery: Why did 15 trial subjects get sick? The vaccine, developed by Elan Corp., contained Ab, the peptide widely believed to trigger AD by forming brain-clogging amyloid plaques. When Elan researchers vaccinated transgenic mice that had developed AD-like pathology, plaque
Public-Private Genome Debate Resurfaces
Public-Private Genome Debate Resurfaces
Smoldering differences between the Celera Genomics Group and the Human Genome Project erupted last month as three leaders of the international public consortium published an online article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS)1 criticizing the results published last year by Celera.2 For the first time in scientific literature, Robert Waterston of Washington University, Eric Lander of the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research's Center for Genome Research, and John Su
Data-Sharing Forum Attracts a Crowd
Data-Sharing Forum Attracts a Crowd
When Science published Celera Genomics Group's human genome paper last year, many scientists, especially bioinformaticians, were less than pleased with the unusual restrictions put on data access.1 The most odious: The data was not submitted to GenBank, and academic researchers were entitled to only one megabase of data at a time without further permission. Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research's Center for Genome Research director Eric Lander, one of the most outspoken critics of the Scie
NCI Budget Will Increase, But How Much?
NCI Budget Will Increase, But How Much?
The fiscal year 2003 budget request for the National Cancer Institute is a record $4.72 billion, a $510 million, or 12%, increase over the present appropriation. But this "president's budget," submitted to Congress in February, falls $970 million short of NCI's own "bypass budget" request, which seeks $5.69 billion, a breath-taking increase of $1.48 billion, 35%, over the present appropriation, and a whopping $1.51 billion more than President George W. Bush requested for it last year. The bypas

Commentary

Highly Cited Authors
Highly Cited Authors
The Scientist's new format represents a turning point in the long evolution of my involvement in the field of scientific communication. Although a major part of my work has been devoted to improving scientific information retrieval and dissemination, I have been identified increasingly with the emergent fields of scientometrics and research evaluation. Citation data have become a normal—though sometimes controversial—part of the evaluation of institutions and individuals. One can onl

Opinion

The Father of Us All
The Father of Us All
Contrary to the implication in some obituaries, Max Perutz, who died on Feb. 6, 2002 in Cambridge, England, just a few months before his 88th birthday, did not determine the first three-dimensional structure of a protein molecule. John Kendrew did that. Max did determine the structure of the hemoglobin molecule, but Kendrew's low-resolution myoglobin structure predated the 5.5 Ångstrom-resolution hemoglobin structure by more than a year, and when Max published his low-resolution work showi

Letter

On Earth and Travel to Mars, 1
On Earth and Travel to Mars, 1
Regarding the letter "Concentrate on Earth,"1 I have this to say: There's really no need to cut people apart to find out what's inside them either. After all, they're dead already. There's nothing you can do for them. And what are you trying to sail around the world for? You'll probably fall off the edge—even if you do make it, you'll just wind up right where you started from. What a waste. Never mind that the computers used to send and receive your letter, to generate and receive The Scie
On Earth and Travel to Mars, 2
On Earth and Travel to Mars, 2
There is a high probability that there is life "out there." If a planet or a star is a living thing, then there's plenty of it. But, would we like to meet creatures not unlike ourselves? I don't think so. We can't even live peaceably and peacefully here on Earth—what's the bet that we'd start a war, or end up embroiled in inter-global politics. Can you imagine our modern leaders—who are unable to settle such parochial issues as Northern Ireland, Palestine, etc.—being able to ac
Evolution as an Event
Evolution as an Event
Neil Greenspan's opinion1 makes many good points. However, his use of the word evolution as an umbrella term will make trouble for me and other members of NCSE (National Center for Science Education) trying to deal with a lay public constantly bombarded with fundamentalist propaganda. One has to separate the event we call evolution, a history of life that shows patterns that are causally connected, from the mechanism(s) responsible for these patterns. It is far easier to convince a thinking layp

Research

Closing In on Multiple Cancer Targets
Closing In on Multiple Cancer Targets
The mood could have been grim Feb. 15 when 155 physicians attended the inaugural meeting of the New York Lung Cancer Alliance in Manhattan's glitzy Le Parker Meridien hotel. A month earlier, The New England Journal of Medicine had reported that when 1,155 patients with advanced non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) received combination chemotherapy, half died within eight months.1 The New York meeting, however, was upbeat. Alliance cofounder Abraham Chachoua attributes the optimism to emerging trea
Strange Bedfellows in Transplant Drug Therapy
Strange Bedfellows in Transplant Drug Therapy
The Faculty of 1000 is a Web-based literature awareness tool published by BioMed Central. It provides a continuously updated insider's guide to the most important peer-reviewed papers within a range of research fields, based on the recommendations of a faculty of more than 1,400 leading researchers. Each issue, The Scientist publishes a list of top-rated papers from a specific subject area, as well as a short review of one or more of the listed papers. We also publish a selection of comments on
Notable
Notable
A. Fahmy, G. Wagner, "TreeDock: A tool for protein docking based on minimizing van der Waals energies," Journal of the American Chemical Society, 124:1241-50, Feb. 20, 2002. "Current understanding of protein-protein and protein-ligand interactions is very limited. This paper describes a new algorithm that allows exploration of the interaction surface very fast and consequently at very fine resolution. The rationale behind the program is to keep the two molecules always in contact. This program

Hot Paper

The Rise of Free, Global Gene Expression Data Sets
The Rise of Free, Global Gene Expression Data Sets
See related Techlink, "The Data Analysis Grand Prix". For this article, Jim Kling interviewed Patrick O. Brown, Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator and professor in the department of biochemistry, Stanford University Medical School in Stanford, Calif., and John N. Weinstein, senior investigator at the National Cancer Institute and head of the genomics and bioinformatics group, in Bethesda, Md. Data from the Web of Science show that Hot Papers are cited 50 to 100 times more often than t

Technology Profile

Getting Proteins Into Cells
Getting Proteins Into Cells
A postdoctoral fellow has just identified an interesting new gene. But to get published in a top-flight journal, there's a need to figure out what the gene product does in vivo. Unfortunately, to accomplish that, the postdoc needs a way to get the protein into the cell, and therein lies the problem: There are many fast and effective methods to introduce transcriptionally active DNA into cells,1 but options for delivering functional proteins into cells are limited. New research and commercially a
Beyond Film: Laboratory Imagers
Beyond Film: Laboratory Imagers
Years ago, researchers had only one data-imaging option: autoradiography. These scientists tagged samples—whether nucleic acid, protein, cell, or tissue—with radioactive labels, and captured images on film. Safety concerns, convenience, and sensitivity, spurred the development of alternative techniques, and today, researchers can choose from a range of options, including fluorescence, chemifluorescence, and chemiluminescence, in addition to autoradiography. Fluorescence occurs when

Technology

The Data Analysis Grand Prix
The Data Analysis Grand Prix
See related Hot Paper, "The Rise of Free, Global Gene Expression Data Sets". The rapid-fire advances in molecular biology, genetics, automation, and microarray analysis are a constant boon to drug discovery and basic biology, but that influx of data is also creating a serious quandary: How does one analyze it all? There is no shortage of approaches. As data piles up, computer scientists and statisticians step in to develop new methodologies. The problem is, there are too many options: "Biologis
1 Species, 3 Slides, 30,000 Genes
1 Species, 3 Slides, 30,000 Genes
Ebersberg, Germany-based MWG-Biotech AG has officially entered the human genome microarray market. The company's Pan® Human Array, scheduled for release this month, consists of three slides containing a total of 30,000 known or described human genes; MWG began offering the first slide in the set last December. Santa Clara, Calif.-based Affymetrix Inc. also recently launched a human genome microarray product, the GeneChip® Human Genome U133 set.1 However, the two products differ in thr
LabVelocity Accelerates
LabVelocity Accelerates
LabVelocity.com, an online resource offering news, product information, and protocols to the life science community, is undergoing a transformation. As of Feb. 5, users can subscribe to ResearchLink, an enhanced version of the original site, and/or to Jellyfish, LabVelocity's popular sequence analysis software package; both were previously available free of charge. The San Francisco-based company is offering a 30-day free trial subscription to new and current users; the response to the trial per
Red Fluorescent Protein Version 2.0
Red Fluorescent Protein Version 2.0
Definition of cellular structure and function is an ongoing challenge facing the research community, with the complexity multiplying each time a scientist announces the discovery of new proteins and pathways. The need for more, and better tools is met often on purpose, but sometimes by serendipity. Although Mikhail Matz and colleagues might dispute that their isolation of a red fluorescent protein from a nonbioluminescent marine animal (Discosoma sp.) was serendipitous, their hypothesis was, at

Profession

The Seeding of Third World Science
The Seeding of Third World Science
Last August a contingent of US AIDS researchers visited Malawi, where health officials believe 20% of the urban population is HIV-infected. The investigators wanted to know if government leaders would allow citizens to take part in an AIDS vaccination trial set to begin later this year. When meeting with the nation's top three health ministers, the visiting scientists were surprised to find that each were former Fogarty International Center (FIC) fellows trained at Johns Hopkins University. "The
Scientist Couples Do the Two-Job Shuffle
Scientist Couples Do the Two-Job Shuffle
Maria Sippola-Thiele journeyed from her native Finland with the goal of obtaining her doctoral degree in biochemistry at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) and then returning home. But she met Dennis Thiele, a graduate student in microbiology, and her life took a different course. "He changed my plans to go back to Finland," Sippola-Thiele says. Her husband started his postdoctorate training at the National Cancer Institute (NCI), and Sippola-Thiele soon followed him
Turning Points: Learning from Scientists on the Job
Turning Points: Learning from Scientists on the Job
When filled with angst over choosing my career more than 10 years ago, I felt relieved when I found other people whose anxieties mirrored my own. At a science communication course at Oregon State University in Corvallis, I met an engineer who wanted to become a technical writer and a botanist who planned to write about basic scientific discoveries. Drinking beers or coffee with these folks proved as helpful in my becoming a science writer as did writing courses—and we've kept in touch. Bu
Science in Small Hubs
Science in Small Hubs
While scientists in the research and development organizations of pharmaceutical companies labor to discover life-saving drugs, their managers try to make this notoriously hit-or-miss process more efficient. At GlaxoSmithKline, the world's second-largest drug company, executives are experimenting with a new formula they say combines the best of the company's massive size with the spirit of a smaller, entrepreneurial biotech firm. The Middlesex, UK-headquartered company created six research cent
Funding Opportunities in the Life Sciences
Funding Opportunities in the Life Sciences
Click to view our current database of Funding Opportunities in the Life Sciences.

News Profile

Andrew C. von Eschenbach
Andrew C. von Eschenbach
Just one month after Andrew von Eschenbach was sworn in as National Cancer Institute director, he was called to a US Senate hearing as the government's lead witness that day. The topic was one that he had grappled with before during his tenure at the American Cancer Society—and one that his predecessor and other physicians had not endured well: the pitched debate over the effectiveness of mammography screening for women in their 40s. The hearing was triggered by a systematic review1 that c