News

Frontlines
Frontlines
For some children, science is as palatable as brussels sprouts. To elevate the topic in the minds of primary and secondary students, the Franklin Institute of Philadelphia and the Science Museum of London have collaborated to publish an online science gallery entitled "Pieces of Science," www.fi.edu/pieces. The 16 featured objects, from a beginner's guide to genetic engineering to the story of the mold Sir Alexander Fleming discovered and transformed into penicillin has its own its Web page, com
Software Zeroes In on Ovarian Cancer
Software Zeroes In on Ovarian Cancer
Ben A. Hitt is living proof that you can leave biomedical research without saying goodbye forever. More than 20 years since turning out the lights in the lab for what he thought was the last time, Hitt is not only back, he's in demand. Now chief scientist for Correlogic Systems, in Bethesda, Md., his phone hasn't stopped ringing since Feb. 16, when a paper in The Lancet1 announced that Proteome Quest, the pattern-recognition software he created, had identified a pattern among five serum proteins
Once Promising Proteomics Market Sags
Once Promising Proteomics Market Sags
The once white-hot investment climate for proteomics has cooled, sending companies scrambling to recast themselves. Biotech analysts and investors say interest in proteomics companies peaked about a year ago with a rash of them competing in the technology and database sectors. In Europe, proteomics companies have also experienced a downturn, with biotech stocks falling 40% from their peak in 2000. Developing a new generation of technology and digitally mapping the proteome was, relatively speaki
Toward a Global Proteome
Toward a Global Proteome
If mapping the entire human proteome isn't challenge enough, consider this: The Human Proteome Organization, created this past year, aims to coordinate the efforts of the many public and private groups moving into the proteomic field.1 HUPO president Samir Hanash hopes an April 29 meeting at the National Institutes of Health will solidify plans and collaborations to characterize all blood serum proteins, create a library of antibodies to every human protein, and put the data collected in a user
Toxicologists Label GM Foods Safe
Toxicologists Label GM Foods Safe
A study group appointed by the 5,200-member Society of Toxicology, based in Reston, Va., recently issued a draft position paper affirming the safety of foods made from genetically modified (GM) crops. If approved by the society's full membership and council, the report should make biotech enthusiasts happy: It supports key principles governing federal regulatory policy and nixes pet arguments made by the technology's critics. The draft report was posted on a 'members only' page of the society'
Birth of a Giant Arum: Follow-Up
Birth of a Giant Arum: Follow-Up
Amorphophallus titanum—the botanical mouthful is the Latin name for Titan arum, a Sumatran cousin of the common philodendron. Unlike the diminutive houseplant, Titan lives up to its label by producing giant leaves more than 20 feet long and 50 feet around. Only one leaf appears each growing season, springing from an underground storage organ, or tuber, that can weigh more than 100 pounds. The tropical Titan doesn't do sex very often—just a few times in its 40-year life span—but
Update on Astrobiology
Update on Astrobiology
Just three weeks before E.T. flew back into movie theaters to celebrate his 20th anniversary, a group of interdisciplinary scientists, science fiction authors, teachers, and others interested in the real quest for extraterrestrial life assembled in the Silicon Valley for the 19th annual CONTACT conference (www.cabrillo.cc.ca.us/contact). This year, as part of the conference, 12 scientists from various fields coalesced around the theme "Is life rife in the Universe?" in a day-long symposium at th
The Continuing Saga of Invasive Species
The Continuing Saga of Invasive Species
The Ames, Iowa-based Council for Agricultural Science and Technology recently issued a report on the dangers posed by invasive pests to agriculture, public health, and natural ecosystems. A six-member task force co-chaired by Don Huber of Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind., and Martin Hugh-Jones of Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, documented research on the problem and recommended how to alleviate it. "If a pest can enter the United States, over time, it will find a way here, s

Commentary

Hot Papers
Hot Papers
In the April 1 issue,1 I discussed new gratis features that are now accessible from the Institute for Scientific Information: highly cited authors at www.isihighlycited.com and the editorial sections of Essential Science Indicators at www.in-cites.com, www.esi-topics.com, and www.sciencewatch.com. As I wrote then, I founded ISI in 1954, but I am no longer a shareholder, although I retain an office and the title of chairman emeritus. Essential Science Indicators and its editorial features such as

Opinion

Proteomics: An Infinite Problem with Infinite Potential
Proteomics: An Infinite Problem with Infinite Potential
Proteomics is an exciting discipline in its infancy that means different things to different people. It is also a field limited by the technologies currently available to its practitioners. Important questions arise: How can we usefully define proteomics? Which research questions offer the greatest promise for the field? What new tools will be needed to pursue those questions? Perhaps the most appropriate definition of proteomics is "any large-scale or systematic characterization of the protein

Letter

Alzheimer Vaccine
Alzheimer Vaccine
The idea of vaccinating Alzheimer Disease (AD) patients against Ab has been backwards from the start.1 AD is probably already an immune response against Ab, hence the vaccine would worsen AD, not cure it. Evidence that this is indeed the case, comes from the idea that microglia are activated by the treatment. This was, in fact, the very first evidence suggesting an immune cause of AD.2 Astrocytes may also be involved in the response. The problem is that immunologists, for the past 15 years, hav
Search for Infectious Agents
Search for Infectious Agents
I and my group heartily agree with Edward L. McNeil1 about the need to search for infectious agents in idiopathic diseases, although there is often the problem of cause and effect: Detection of an infectious agent in the diseased tissue does not necessarily mean that it is involved in the pathogenesis of the disease. However, in Alzheimer disease (AD) an infectious agent has indeed been sought—and found, and implicated directly as a cause. Using polymerase chain reaction (and taking extrem

Research

Probing Protein Interactions
Probing Protein Interactions
The challenge of proteomics is personified in the Greek god, Proteus. The keeper of all knowledge, past, present and future, Proteus would not give up any information easily; even while held down, he would struggle and assume different forms before giving anything up. Remarkably, proteomics, and proteins for that matter, were not named after Proteus, but the imagery could not be more fitting. It's still anyone's guess what the final gene count will be in the human genome, let alone the total nu
Dissecting the Nucleolus
Dissecting the Nucleolus
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 review, like the one above, that examines related papers in a single field. We also publish a selection of comments on interesting recent papers from the Faculty
Notable
Notable
K. Rein et al., "The Drosophila standard brain," Current Biology, 12[3]:227-31, Feb. 5, 2002. "The authors present an approach to create a 3D image of the fly brain. This is a very useful resource tool that will make it possible to create an atlas of gene expression patterns and will be very useful for analyzing brain structure in mutant backgrounds." —Oliver Hobert, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, US X-Ray Crystallography F.J. Lopez-Jaramillo et al., "Crystalliz

Hot Paper

Collecting Clues to the Mammalian Clock
Collecting Clues to the Mammalian Clock
For this article, Karen Young Kreeger interviewed Steven Reppert, chairman of neurobiology and Higgins Family professor of neuroscience, University of Massachusetts Medical School, and Joseph S. Takahashi, Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, and the Walter and Mary E. Glass professor, department of neurobiology and physiology at Northwestern University. Data is derived from the Science Watch/Hot Papers database and the Web of Science (ISI, Philadelphia). P.L. Lowrey et al., "Positiona

Technology Profile

Prospecting for Gold in Genome Gulch
Prospecting for Gold in Genome Gulch
The human genome is much like the American West of the 1850s: Everyone wants a piece of the pie. Similar to gold prospectors of 150 years ago, biotech and pharmaceutical companies, and even universities, are frantically searching for the nuggets of gold that will help them find the mother lode—a gene whose function is sufficiently marketable to make all of the preliminary research worthwhile. Companies that do strike gold get to introduce new classes of drugs to the market. Others hope to
Cheminformatics: Redefining the Crucible
Cheminformatics: Redefining the Crucible
A key facet of any drug discovery effort is the library-screening step in which researchers test millions of chemical compounds for a desired property. Scientists must try to determine what the resulting leads have in common, chemically speaking, and then they must scour chemical libraries for other candidate compounds containing those features. This, fundamentally, is the challenge of cheminformatics. Scott Hutton, president and CEO of San Diego-based ChemNavigator.com Inc., defines cheminforma
Pushing Proteomics
Pushing Proteomics
Genomics is slowly but surely moving off center stage, replaced by proteomics. Though proteomics is a young field that hasn't fully found its stride, two new developments provide glimpses of the future. At the end of February, attendees of the Cambridge Healthtech Institute (CHI) Genome Tri-Conference 2002 in Santa Clara, Calif., got their first glimpse of the Protein Atlas of the Human Genome™. Developed by Abingdon, UK-based Confirmant Ltd.—a joint venture of Abingdon, UK-based Ox

Technology

A New Approach to Gene Expression Analysis
A New Approach to Gene Expression Analysis
Most of the attention on gene expression analysis and discovery tools has centered on microarray technology, but alternative methods, including SAGE (serial analysis of gene expression)1 and direct cDNA sequencing, do exist. Another such technique is Hayward, Calif.-based Lynx Therapeutics' Massively Parallel Signature Sequencing (MPSS™) technology, a method for counting millions of mRNA molecules from a given sample. Like SAGE, MPSS quantifies tagged cDNA fragments; but whereas SAGE uses

Profession

Plying Proteomics Skills for Premium Jobs
Plying Proteomics Skills for Premium Jobs
A 2001 surge in proteomics investment has generated record revenues, seeding a burgeoning job market and a flowering of training courses and research resources. Proteomics revenues grew 41.9% from $963 million to $1.37 billion (US), in 2001, according to Frost & Sullivan, a San Antonio, Texas-based investment firm. Most of the revenues are from sales of laboratory instruments and supplies, now leaving these fully equipped labs needing to hire staff to use the tools. "We have all this wonderful e
Turning Points: An Opening for Life in European Patents
Turning Points: An Opening for Life in European Patents
Most scientists know about the Harvard "Oncomouse," and you can even buy one (subject to the appropriate government licenses) under the Oncomouse® trademark (www.taconic.com). In the early 1990s this transgenic creature, engineered to be susceptible to cancer, would regularly make headlines and prompt heartfelt discussions on the ethics of the patenting system. The European Patent Office (EPO) granted the Oncomouse patent to DuPont in 1992, despite opposition by animal rights groups who cha
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

Colin Blakemore
Colin Blakemore
Colin Blakemore's boundless energy—physical and intellectual—is quite fitting in a man who has run 18 marathons. His preference to be addressed as Colin (no honorifics please!) is in keeping with his quiet and unassuming manner, which is all the more impressive in a man who has created the equivalent of two parallel careers—one in neuroscience and the other in science communication. Blakemore got off to an exceptionally early and impressive start in both vocations—he comp