Editorial

Time for a Research! Europe
Time for a Research! Europe
Scientists and scientific institutions in the United States have undergone a quiet revolution during the last 15 years: Whereas politics and advocacy were previously shunned, they are now embraced. Particularly in the medical research arena, but increasingly also in other areas of science, a dense interactive network of organizations, individual contacts, and campaigns exerts influence on public life. Key issues include, naturally, the levels of funding for science, but also the moral and ethica

Opinion

Nanotech Needs a Hard Sell, Plus Education
Nanotech Needs a Hard Sell, Plus Education
Startling advances are being made in the emerging field of nanotechnology. For example, Naomi Halas and Jennifer West of Rice University in Houston recently announced that their nanoshells had proven effective at eradicating tumors in lab animals1; researchers at Harvard University reported creating hybrid nanowires that could be linked to conventional silicon circuits2; and government scientists at Argonne National Laboratory in Chicago documented how they had engineered nanoparticles capable o

Letter

Give us the FACS
Give us the FACS
Thanks for your article on FACS.1 It was informative. How is the charge imparted to a specific droplet? By magic?Peter Calkins, PhDDepartment of Pathology pcalkins@bcm.tmc.eduResponse: The nozzle is actually charged, so as the droplet is formed a charge is applied to the droplet. Based on the sorting instructions, the droplet is charged either positively or negatively. The plates are always on during the sort.David MatsuyamaBecton Dickinson David_Matsuyama@bd.com
fMRI (Fake Method for Research Impartiality)
fMRI (Fake Method for Research Impartiality)
The article on fMRI and psychology1 seems to assume that all there is to behavior science is the investigation of neurological correlates of behavior and thought processes.While exploration of the neural concomitants of behavioral facts is one part of behavior science, many scientific psychological studies are carried out in which neurological processes are not the concern. For example, one may investigate the hypothesis that frustration produces aggression or that smacking children creates anti
Engaging Antibiotech Activists
Engaging Antibiotech Activists
As described in the Editorial1 I have also moved from avoiding dialog with activists (or reading their literature) to realizing that there are thoughtful protestors who are truly concerned with wider issues of biotechnology.However, my first attempt to talk to a member of an activist organization, who was also a scientist, was not a happy one. All of us who were later to participate in a round-table discussion were having lunch. This person was most reasonable at lunchtime, and since he was a sc
Seeding the Oceans with Iron
Seeding the Oceans with Iron
Many of our major scientific breakthroughs occurred when an alert scientist noticed an odd consequence while researching something else. Iron seeding may not sequester iron efficiently,1 but it may add something as important.Since plankton is the bottom of the food chain in the ocean, wherever it blooms, the rest of the food chain could rapidly bloom. A regional fishing industry could "fertilize" their part of the ocean with ferrous sulfate and then seed it with the desired food chain up to thei
The Study of Death
The Study of Death
I couldn't agree more with your Editorial on death and dying.1 However, you did fail to observe two important reasons why the process of dying is not studied more often: First, it is an infrequent event in humans, although one could claim it just as difficult to study the events during a heart attack or stroke. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, there is tremendous social pressure against animal research, and to study experimentally the process of dying would inflame those impassionate over

Notebook

Yeast: toasting the end
Yeast: toasting the end
Yeast research as we know it will end with the solving of the organism on April 1, 2007, give or take 8.37 days. So said Mark Johnston, president of the Genetics Society of America, presenting on the future of the model organism at the biannual Yeast Genetics and Molecular Biology meeting this past month in Seattle. In combing through the Yeast Proteome Database, he found that so-called known yeast genes have followed a remarkably linear upward trajectory, reaching 4,679 as of the end of July of
Go East, young biotech
Go East, young biotech
You might call it a new Silk Road. Just like Marco Polo back in the 13th century, intrepid explorers from the West are once again beating a path to the Far East in search of China's great riches. Only this time, the profits won't come from jade or exotic spices; they're in the sciences.For basic scientists in Europe and the United States, China has long represented an enormous opportunity for collaboration. But a flurry of recent news from agencies pushing stronger links with China, plus new sup
"You're fired," Canadian-style
"You're fired," Canadian-style
Andrzej KrauzeIt's always nice to know your work was appreciated, even after you're no longer working in the office. Just three weeks after being fired for insubordination (see The Scientist Daily News for July 16, 2004) a scientist from Health Canada got a gold watch, a letter, and a framed certificate signed by the Prime Minister marking his "distinguished" 35 years of service, all delivered to his home by courier, along with some running shoes he'd left behind at the office.Deputy Health Mini

Feature

The Ups and Downs of Nanobiotech
The Ups and Downs of Nanobiotech
© Kenneth Eward/BioGrafx/Photo Researchers, Inc.Ten years from now, a visit to the doctor could be quite different than it is today. How different? Imagine tiny particles that "cook" cancers from the inside out; "smart bomb" drugs that detonate only over their targets; and finely structured scaffolds that guide tissue regeneration.But it's not just imagination. In academic labs, small startups, and giant pharmaceutical companies, researchers in the blossoming field of nanotechnology have sh

Research

Bare-naked Viroids
Bare-naked Viroids
Theodor Diener's 1971 discovery of viroids was hard sell. The now-retired Diener, who was working as a plant pathologist with the Agricultural Research Service in Maryland, was trying to isolate the infectious agent responsible for potato spindle tuber disease. He presumed it was a virus. Instead, he detected a novel pathogen, which, unlike viruses, was not protected by a protein coat and appeared to comprise a single RNA molecule.1Many investigators weren't convinced that the hypothesized entit
Dedifferentiation: More Than Reversing Fate
Dedifferentiation: More Than Reversing Fate
Courtesy of Cecil Fox and the National Cancer InstituteDifferentiation, the stepwise specialization of cells, and transdifferentiation, the apparent switching of one cell type into another, capture much of the stem cell spotlight. But dedifferentiation, the developmental reversal of a cell before it reinvents itself, is an important process, too. This loss of specialization is believed to factor heavily into stem-cell culture techniques and pathological conditions such as cancer. Determining its
Stem Cell Sculpting
Stem Cell Sculpting
Stem Cell Sculpting
SHAPING A COMMITMENT:© 2004 Cell PressBrightfield images of hMSCs plated onto small 1,024 μm2 or large 10,000 μm2 fibronectin islands after 1 week in growth or mixed media. Lipids stain red, alkaline phosphatase stains blue. Scale bar = 50 μm. (From R. McBeath et al., Dev Cell, 6:483–95, 2004)Researchers have tried for years to make stem cells differentiate into specific cell types. This work usually involves bathing the cells in molecular signals that affect their fate
Viroids, Viruses, and RNA Silencing
Viroids, Viruses, and RNA Silencing
PATHOGENICITY MODEL:© National Academy of Sciences, USAViroid replication generates dsRNA intermediates, which are processed by Dicer into 21- to 25-nucleotide siRNAs. These siRNAs are then incorporated into siRNA – ribonuclease complexes (RISC). If the siRNA sequences significantly match host mRNAs, RISC may target them for degradation leading to disease symptoms. RISC can also target the viroid, forcing it to evolve and to adopt and maintain an RNA silencing-resistant structure. (Fr

Hot Paper

From Parts List to Architecture
From Parts List to Architecture
FLAP ABOUT OVERLAP:Courtesy of the University of Wisconsin, MadisonHuman embryonic stem cells, pictured here, probably share some expressed genes with neural and hematopoietic stem cells, but perhapsnot to the extent that was first anticipated, based on studies with mouse cells.Perhaps a picture is worth a thousand back Science words. Venn diagrams in back-to-papers from 2002 feature three intersecting circles representing gene-expression profiles shared among murine hematopoietic stem cells (HS

Vision

Sustainability for Nanotechnology
Sustainability for Nanotechnology
FIGURE 1:Courtesy of Vicki ColvinThe cytotoxicity of three fullerene derivatives in cell culture (human dermal fibroblasts, 48-hour exposures). As the derivatization of the fullerene surface changes from a sparingly soluble version (black) to a fully hydroxylated material (blue), the dose that kills half the cells changes over many orders of magnitude. This result highlights the importance of surface coatings and derivatizations to biological activity.When materials and devices are fabricated wi

Briefs

Children for Long Life
Children for Long Life
Women's greater longevity may partly be linked to stem cells acquired during pregnancy, according to a team from Hammersmith Hospital and Imperial College London.1 Fetal stem cells acquired during the first trimester and harbored in the bone marrow wait to migrate to sites of tissue injury or disease, says Nicholas Fisk, professor of reproductive and developmental biology at Imperial College. "The numbers [of fetal stem cells] we found were very small, [one in 70,000 to one in 450,000], but thes
Ribosomal Proteins Moonlighting
Ribosomal Proteins Moonlighting
Courtesy of David S. GoodsellRibosomal proteins, classically thought to function only as translational machinery, now appear to play a role in the HDM2-p53 pathway. Recent work by scientists at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston shows that during cell-growth inhibition, ribosomal protein L11 translocates from the nucleolus to the nucleoplasm where it binds HDM2 (human double minute 2), disrupting HDM2's contact with tumor suppressor p53.1 Without HDM2-mediated p53 ubiqu
A Cytoskeletal Defect Behind "Smooth Brain"
A Cytoskeletal Defect Behind "Smooth Brain"
The roundworm Caenorhabditis elegans is revealing the molecular glitch behind a rare brain disorder. In lissencephaly – Greek for "smooth brain" – the cerebral cortex lacks characteristic convolutions because certain neurons in the embryo fail to reach up from deep within the brain. Clinical symptoms appear gradually."There is poor feeding at birth, and then subtle developmental delay between 3 and 6 months," says William Dobyns, a professor of human genetics at the University of Chi

Tech Watch

Creating a Regulatory Network Blueprint
Creating a Regulatory Network Blueprint
© 2004 Elsevier ScienceUsing electrical circuitry blueprints for inspiration, researchers at the Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel, have developed and tested a mathematical model describing the regulatory network behind flagellar biosynthesis in Escherichia coli.1"Electrical engineers, when they want to repair a device, have a blueprint. And they immediately see which components might be malfunctioning," says lead author Uri Alon. Biologists, however, lack such a tool. "One of

Software Watch

IBM Goes for Unity
IBM Goes for Unity
Courtesy of IBMA new effort to unify the naming conventions of biological data is now underway in labs and companies throughout the world. The Life Science Identifier (LSID) Resolution Protocol Project consists of two software programs and a set of naming standards http://www.ibm.com/developerworks/oss/lsid.The first program is a server application called LSID Authority, which allows database and Web-site managers to identify their data with LSID URNs (uniform resource names, similar to URLs). T

Technology

The Democratization Of Supercomputing
The Democratization Of Supercomputing
Courtesy of Oak Ridge National LaboratoryThe genome has been read. The proteome has been opened. As a result, research problems have gotten more difficult. Fortunately, access to the tools that help investigators rise to those new challenges is quickly becoming easier.How much easier? Ask Charles Taylor, a biomechanical engineer at Stanford University. To model the flow of blood in human arteries, Taylor needs to solve as many as 10 million nonlinear partial differential equations at once, "and
Buyers' Guide to Microplate Readers
Buyers' Guide to Microplate Readers
Microplate readers have become lab benchtop standards, a boon for researchers who require the instruments to quan-a tify chemical reactions using a range of light-detection methods. Their ability to screen entire multiwell plates in seconds affords high-throughput, parallel processing of small sample volumes. But not all microplate readers are equal, and the need for more sensitive instruments has split the market between absorbance readers and those capable of multiple-detection modes, includin

Tools and Technology

Speedy Mouse Eludes Time Trap
Speedy Mouse Eludes Time Trap
COLOR MAKES THE MOUSE:Courtesy of NucleisTypical litter of potential chimeras derived from BPES cells injected into C57Bl/6 blastocysts. The "host" blastocysts encode black coat color, while the transplanted embryonic stem cells (ESCs) encode agouti. Occasional mice have black coats and are presumed failures at the blastocyst-engraftment stage. But most offspring have some agouti in their coats. Those that are completely agouti, by multiple criteria, appear to be 100% ESC derived.Instead of wait
Agilent and Waters give HPLC a Makeover
Agilent and Waters give HPLC a Makeover
WATERS' ACQUITY UPLC SYSTEMCourtesy of WatersLong the method of choice for fast, accurate protein purification, HPLC has been revamped in recent months. Two companies, Agilent Technologies in Palo Alto, Calif., and Waters in Milford, Mass., released new high-performance liquid chromatography systems designed specifically for the microscale sample requirements of mass spectrometry-based proteomics. Though they adopt different approaches, both systems have been hailed by developers and users alike

Profession

Diagnostics + Therapy = Theranostics
Diagnostics + Therapy = Theranostics
© g. Tompkinson/Photo Researchers, Inc.Drug companies and diagnostic test developers are increasingly teaming up to produce theranostics, a treatment strategy that packs a one-two punch: a diagnostic test that identifies patients most likely to be helped or harmed by a new medication, and targeted drug therapy based on the test results. Theranostic tests differ from traditional ones such as those for blood glucose, because the new tests are based on sophisticated technology involving geneti
A Change in EU Science?
A Change in EU Science?
Ask a selection of European scientists what they think about the way the European Union funds basic research and you'll get a pretty clear answer. It may be a frustrated snort or a bitter laugh, but you'll get the picture. Now, the European Commission has outlined plans for an overhaul of research funding, but scientists' hopefulness is tinged with skepticism. Many researchers say that the EU's current Framework Programme, which awards funds to researchers, is plagued by baffling mountains of pa
How To Negotiate for Academic Lab Space
How To Negotiate for Academic Lab Space
Space – as in simple square footage, not the stuff beyond the stratosphere – can be a limiting factor in your capacity to conduct research. At most academic institutions, the department chairperson has the final say in how much space each faculty member has. So how can you get a bigger slice of the departmental pie?Advice from Department ChairsHajjar: "The best way to negotiate for space is to show your department chair that program expansion is necessary to advance the field and tha

Lab Matters

Electrophoresis: The State of the Gel
Electrophoresis: The State of the Gel
For a 30-year-old experimental method, gel electrophoresis remains popular. Originally devised as a method to extract nucleic acids from solution, it has evolved into a method for the analysis of everything from protein expression to matching RNA expression to proteins. "When we opened this facility three years ago, some people told me that in three years you won't do gel electrophoresis any more, so why invest in the equipment?" says Thomas Franz, head of the proteomics core facility at the Eur

Closing Bell

Roadkill Rules
Roadkill Rules
Normal people collect stamps and coins, CDs and concert tees. Some biologists with a zoological bent, like myself, collect roadkill, originally dubbed "road fauna" in 1938 by James Simmons in his book Feathers and Fur on the Turnpike. Is there no one besides me who relishes stopping to explore a freshly splayed digestive tract, or marveled at the unique aroma of squished annelids driven from their underground lairs by rain?Roadkill finds often come unexpectedly. I move most away from traffic, so