August 1990

News

American Type Culture Collection Seeks To Expand Research Effort
American Type Culture Collection Seeks To Expand Research Effort
Director Robert Stevenson takes its mission beyond keeper of the country's microbes to attract key researchers and funding ROCKVILLE, MD. - Like a headmaster looking after a huge dormitory of slumbering schoolboys, Robert Stevenson watches over 50,000 microbes suspended in a sleep of absolute biochemical inactivity. As director of the American Type Culture Collection, the 64-year-old bacteriologist provides scientists with clean, well characterized cultures of yeasts and fungi, monoclonal anti
On Capitol Hill: One Day In The Hard Life Of The Genome Project
On Capitol Hill: One Day In The Hard Life Of The Genome Project
A routine hearing turns explosive when a critic of the program finds himself under attack by a prominent senator WASHINGTON - On the morning of July 11, in the rear of Room 366 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building, health policy analyst Robert Cook-Degan was pacing anxiously. It was supposed to be a routine hearing, a chance for officials from the government's Human Genome Project to explain to a very sympathetic audience how well two federal agencies - the National Institutes of Health and t
Biotech Firms' Research Chiefs Balance Demands Of Science And Competition
Biotech Firms' Research Chiefs Balance Demands Of Science And Competition
Top scientists from eight companies discuss what it takes to maintain a creative and productive laboratory environment Back in 1983, scientists at Calgene Inc. in Davis, Calif., began to tinker with genetically engineered corn. Their goal at the time - to improve the vegetable's carbohydrate storage as well as its resistance to pests - seemed to make pretty good sense from both the scientific and the business points of view. Just five years later, however - after spending $5 million - Calgene
Lawsuits Threaten ACS' Nonprofit Status, Financial Health
Lawsuits Threaten ACS' Nonprofit Status, Financial Health
The American Chemical Society, whose members will gather in Washington, D.C., next week for the organization's 200th national meeting, is facing several legal attacks against its profitable Chemical Abstract Service. In June, Dialog Information Services, a California-based online information vendor, filed a $50 million suit against the society for "anticompetitive, illegal and predatory" management of CAS databases. The society is also fighting several law suits brought against it by the Columb
U.S. Firm Finds Top Soviet Talent--At Bargain Prices
U.S. Firm Finds Top Soviet Talent--At Bargain Prices
WASHINGTON -- A Boston University computer scientist and a Baltimore software company have put an unusual twist on United States firms' practice of going abroad in search of cheap labor. For Yuri Shestov and Intelligent Resources International (IRI) Inc., the underdeveloped world is the Soviet Union. "A lot of companies don't realize how much scientific talent is available in Russia," says Shestov, vice president of research and development at IRI. "And it's unbelievable what you can pay for l
Biologists Find Speed, Imaging Powers Of Supercomputers Key To Research
Biologists Find Speed, Imaging Powers Of Supercomputers Key To Research
At an NIH workshop, they discover how advanced computation can improve their vision of life processes PITTSBURGH -- Time was, all that a biologist ever wanted was a new microscope. But times change. A decade after the first supercomputers began to open up new vistas for physicists and engineers, life scientists are beginning to use these powerful machines to work on everything from high-resolution protein reconstructions to detailing how the brain functions. "Anything I can do with a supercom

Notebook

Notebook
Notebook
The 1991 Budget: So Far, So Good Stifling Environment At Livermore Fast-Foods Chain Serves Up Science Breaking Down The Lab Walls Some Discretion, Please The House, on recess until after Labor Day, has passed along to the Senate several of the appropriations bills for fiscal year 1991 covering the government agencies that fund basic research. And the news, so far, is pretty good. NSF has tentatively received a $250 million increase over current levels, divided between $170 million more for r

Opinion

An Evening With Sol Spiegelman: The Creativity Dispute
An Evening With Sol Spiegelman: The Creativity Dispute
[Editor's note: Is the work of a scientist creative by nature? Or, is the scientist's function to reflect reality by mirroring nature in a series of experiments reproducible by others? How does one measure the value of contributions made by any one scientist? By how well a particular researcher is remembered after he or she is dead? By the number of accolades and honors accrued? Or by the number of other scientists inspired by the researcher's work? These are among the questions world-renown

Letter

Letter: Killing Fields
Letter: Killing Fields
While my name is not Don Quixote, I believe I must fight like him to remain active in science at this time in history. We have created "killing fields," in killing each other's manuscripts and grants. In my environment, this happens far too often, and I am sure many readers have had similar experiences. Most probably share my failure to understand why scientists accept this behavior from each other, and why we don't succeed in reforming the system. (See "Foreign-Born Scientists Face Special Cha
Letter: Trade Unions
Letter: Trade Unions
Having been on both sides of the laboratory hierarchy, as a graduate student and now as a research scientist, I believe your articles "Trade Unions Target Laboratories As Technicians Seek Better Work Life," "Lab Workers: The Unseen Scientists," and "At Harvard, New Acceptance Of Trade Unions" (The Scientist, June 11, 1990, pages 1, 6, 7, respectively) make an important point. Their emphasis on the dignity and participation of the technician in the workplace as shown by the Harvard Medical Schoo
Letter: Educational Optimism
Letter: Educational Optimism
The recent report on computer-controlled video discs for teaching physics ("Entrepreneur-Educators Offer Physics Students High-Tech Text," The Scientist, June 11, 1990, page 10) describes a combination of innovation and marketing skills that should make us all optimistic about revitalization of education in science and engineering. We at Polytechnic University are proud that one of our former colleagues, Ephraim Rubin, is leading the charge. However, your readers should not be misled by his co

Commentary

Commentary: The Hubble Telescope's Biggest Problem: More Distortion Than Meets The Eye
Commentary: The Hubble Telescope's Biggest Problem: More Distortion Than Meets The Eye
It doesn't matter that the size of the Hubble Space Telescope's mirror defect is less than 4 percent the diameter of a human hair. For those determined to spot evidence of a debilitating general decline in U.S. scientific leadership and technological know-how, that's more than enough. Indeed, the distortion troubling the scope has been seized upon by the media, to create another kind of distortion--that of the public's perceptions and attitudes toward NASA in particular and toward Big Science

Research

Hot Papers
Hot Papers
Where do the authors of influential biological and biomedical research papers tend to get their financial support? A look at the "Hot Papers" noted by The Scientist during the past year can be revealing in this respect. In the last issue, The Scientist reported on the institutions and nations that produced the high-impact biological and biomedical articles featured in the "Hot Papers" column over the past 12 months (The Scientist, July 23, 1990, page 18). The 81 papers surveyed were selected f
Research: MOST-CITED SCIENTISTS: RESEARCHERS RANKED 301-350 FOR THE PERIODS 1965-78 AND 1973-84
Research: MOST-CITED SCIENTISTS: RESEARCHERS RANKED 301-350 FOR THE PERIODS 1965-78 AND 1973-84
Number NAME FIELD CITATIONS 1965-78 301. JOHANSSON S.G.O. Immunology 3,855 302 COCHRANE C.G. Immunology 3,848 303. KUO J.Y.H.-F.A. Pharmacology 3,846 304. NEVILLE D.M. Molecular Biology 3,821 305. CURTIS D.R. Pharmacology 3,819 306. HAMILTON W.C. Physical Chemistry 3,815 307. MITH E.L. Biochemistry 3,812 308. AUSTEN W.G. Physiology 3,792 309. MUETTERTIES E.L. Inorganic Chemistry 3,790 310. BREIDENBACH M. Physics 3,789 311. CAHILL G.F. Physiology 3,783 312. LEHMANN H. Molecular

Hot Paper

Hot Papers
Hot Papers
S. Lindquist, E.A. Craig, "The heat-shock proteins," Annual Review of Genetics, 22, 631-77, 1988. Susan L. Lindquist (University of Chicago): "Dr. [Elizabeth A.] Craig and I have been working on the heat-shock response independently since the early 1970s. In that time, we have watched it mature from an odd phenomenon observed in fruit flies to a problem of central importance in cell and molecular biology. It now appears that virtually all organisms respond to high temperatures and many other s
Hot Papers
Hot Papers
X.G. Chen, F. Wilczek, A. Zee, "Chiral spin states and superconductivity," Physical Review B, 39, 11413-23, 1 June 1989. Frank Wilczek (Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, N.J.): "This paper represents the convergence of two apparently unrelated lines of thought: the possibility of `spin liquids' and the possible occurrence of quasiparticles (anyons) intermediate between bosons and fermions. Much of the recent interest in chiral spin liquids and anyons has centered on their possible relev

Profession

What's Up, Postdoc? Little Pay, Little Freedom, High Demand
What's Up, Postdoc? Little Pay, Little Freedom, High Demand
Are they students? No, but they're not quite "real" scientists, either. They're sure in demand--just look at all the ads for them in the classifieds of scientific journals and trade publications. Yet the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health don't really know how many of them there are. And many human resources pros don't even know who they are in their own companies. These mystery lab workers are postdoctoral research associates, or "postdocs," who cling to an ill-
Salaries On The Upswing For New Ph.D.'s In Math
Salaries On The Upswing For New Ph.D.'s In Math
Starting salaries have been on the rise in recent years for newly graduated Ph.D.'s in mathematics, according to a survey conducted by the American Mathematical Society (AMS). Indeed, the society found that the median starting pay for government jobs rose 20 percent in the five years between 1984 and 1989, while starting salaries increased 35 percent for nine-month teaching stints that also included research work. Industry boosted starting pay an additional 23 percent during the same period.
Welch Foundation Works For Chemistry
Welch Foundation Works For Chemistry
One of the major private sources of funding for academic chemists in the United States is a foundation started at the bequest of Robert Alonzo Welch, a man who, ironically, didn't even finish elementary school. Despite his lack of formal education, Welch had an admiration for chemistry because of the discipline's contribution to his success (see story on page 27). Founded in 1954--two years after Welch's death--with $25 million allotted in his will, the Houston-based Welch Foundation now has as
People: Genentech Vice President For Science Moves To Stanford University As Genetics Chairman
People: Genentech Vice President For Science Moves To Stanford University As Genetics Chairman
David Botstein, a former vice president for science at Genentech Inc., a South San Francisco, Calif., biotechnology company, is the new chairman of the genetics department at Stanford University. He began in the post August 1. A native of Switzerland, Botstein is internationally recognized for his contributions to the search for the human gene blueprint. He is credited with helping to develop the technique of using restriction fragment length polymorphisms (RLFPs) as genetic markers, thus allo
People: MIT Chemistry Professor Sharpless Assumes Scripps Clinic's New W.M. Keck Chair
People: MIT Chemistry Professor Sharpless Assumes Scripps Clinic's New W.M. Keck Chair
The Scripps Clinic and Research Foundation in La Jolla, Calif. has announced the appointment of K. Barry Sharpless to the new W.M. Keck Foundation Chair in Chemistry. The position was created earlier this year with a $2.9 million award from the Los Angeles-based Keck Foundation. Sharpless, a chemist and expert in asymmetric synthesis and metal-based catalysis, is currently the Arthur C. Cope Professor of Chemistry at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He will begin in his new post at S
People: Caltech Physics Professor Is Appointed To Replace Allen As Director Of JPL
People: Caltech Physics Professor Is Appointed To Replace Allen As Director Of JPL
Edward C. Stone, a professor of physics at the California Institute of Technology, has been named the new director of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). Stone succeeds current director Lew Allen, Jr., who is retiring from the post in December. JPL, a 127-acre laboratory with an annual budget of $1 billion, is operated by Caltech for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Stone's affiliation with the lab dates to 1972, when he became the chief scientist for the Voyager project. P

Briefs

Funding Briefs
Funding Briefs
NIH Reviews Electronic Mailing Of Guide Electronic mailings will one day replace the distribution of the printed weekly Guide for Grants and Contracts. Those concerned about how this change will come about and how it will affect their institutions are invited to participate in a one-day workshop September 7 at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md. The meeting will run from 8:30 A.M. to 4:30 P.M., and will include formal presentations and on-line and simulated demonstrations. Partic
People Briefs
People Briefs
Theodore Friedmann, professor of pediatrics at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, has been appointed to the Muriel Jeannette Whitehill Chair for Biomedical Ethics at the school. Friedmann, who has been at UC-San Diego since 1969, has focused his research efforts on the genetic mechanisms underlying disease and the development of methods to correct genetic defects. In a benchmark 1972 essay in Science (175:949-55), Friedmann introduced the phrase "gene therapy" to descr

Technology

Hit With A Computer Virus? New Software May Provide The Rx
Hit With A Computer Virus? New Software May Provide The Rx
Picture an unsuspecting scientist, hot on the research trail, looking for information that's readily available on one of the many computer bulletin boards used for scientific information searches. He flips on his computer and modem, dials into a bulletin board, finds the information, and downloads it onto a floppy disk. Chances are that he's just saved hours of precious library or lab time by using the bulletin board. But the next time he accesses that disk, he may discover he has acquired an