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Contributors
Contributors
Contributors Sarkis Mazmanian started college at the University of California Los Angeles as an English major, with dreams of becoming a poet. He soon "realized that it wasn't something that I could make a living at," he says, and decided to turn to biology instead. "Trying to understand evolution and nature was really appealing to me," he recalls. He started studying pathogenic bacteria, the dominant area of interest in microbiology at the
Bailed Out by Science
Bailed Out by Science
By Richard Gallagher Bailed Out by Science The US healthcare system is hurting, but research can come to its rescue. Science won’t feature extensively in talks over the coming weeks, but it is central to effectively rehabilitate the healthcare system. It’s a daunting task, but the ailing beast that is the US healthcare system must be brought to heel. Its feverish appetite for dollars needs to be curbed while getting t
Mail
Mail
Mail Taxonomy, RIP? Re: “A fading field,” 1 about the disappearance of traditional taxonomy, about fifteen years ago, I was accepted into a master’s program in botany and plant systematics at a nearby university. The first day of class in September, I was told that the masters program in botany/plant taxonomy was canceled. I was most unhappy. I complained to a friend, a physics professor at the same university, who explai
Am I a biohazard?
Am I a biohazard?
By Daniel Grushkin Am I a biohazard? Foreign genes expressed in glowing E. coli, the result of the evening’s DIYbio experiment. Courtesy of Ellen Jorgensen Brooklyn, New York, April 21, 19:00 hours: Molecular biologist Ellen Jorgensen and I spread a plastic tarp over my cherry table and parquet floor. Then, one by one, we set vials and pipettes down, preparing a lab in my living room. We had dubbed it DNA and P
Epigenetic suicide note
Epigenetic suicide note
By Elie Dolgin Epigenetic suicide note Epigenetic patterns in this brain could reveal suicidal tendencies. Courtesy of the Douglas Mental Health University Institute. Photo by Raja Ouali, Bivouac Studio, 2008 Recently, Moshe Szyf, a McGill University epigeneticist, performed a series of experiments indicating that chemical marks on people’s brain cells can reveal suicidal tendencies long before these peop
Evolving heart
Evolving heart
By Elie Dolgin Evolving heart In 1948, 5,209 residents of a medium-sized New England town signed up for what would become the longest-running, systematic medical study in the world. The Framingham Heart Study, as it was called, was the first to show that smoking, obesity, and high cholesterol all increased people’s chances of developing heart disease. Six decades on, it’s also the first multigenerational human study to reveal that
Death, delimited
Death, delimited
By Brendan Borrell Death, delimited Black-backed jackals eating a zebra carcass. Courtesy of Steve Bellan At about noon on March 26th, Steve Bellan was working in his office at Etosha Ecological Institute in northern Namibia when he got word of a fresh zebra carcass near the Gemsbokvlakte water hole, about 20 kilometers east on a dusty park road. Over the next hour, the bushy-haired Ber
Got moose?
Got moose?
By Margaret Guthrie Got moose? Cadwell in fall Courtesy of Paul Lussier I’m sitting in the cab of a large pick-up whose roof bristles with radio antennae, on a narrow back road in the western, more wooded part of Massachusetts. On the seat between Dave Wattles and me is a radio the size of an automobile battery with knobs and dials on top. It’s emitting a low static hum punctuate
Health Care Reform: 2 Views
Health Care Reform: 2 Views
Health Care Reform: 2 Views STRIKING THE RIGHT BALANCE © Greg Betza We need to improve our healthcare system and allow the life science industries to flourish. By Sean Harper On healthcare reform it’s hard to find consensus. The one point everyone is in agreement on is that the current system is broken, and something must be done to fix it. The Obama administration and Congress are eager to enact
Timing is Everything
Timing is Everything
By Steven Wiley Timing is Everything You want to be ahead of the curve, but not so far ahead that no one can see you. It was hard to accept the thought that my research ideas were too innovative to be funded. One of the most difficult questions a scientist must resolve is which problem to investigate. An especially critical aspect of this process is getting the timing right. When you start working on a new problem, it al
The Regeneration Recipe
The Regeneration Recipe
#sidebar p { font-size: 11px; } By Megan Scudellari The Regeneration Recipe Can natural regenerators such as the newt teach scientists about the ingredients needed to grow new limbs and organs? Even in, say, mammals? Top: © Jose Manuel Gelpi Diaz Middle: Joel Sartore Bottom: © DK Limited/CORBIS he first cut is too small. With gloved hands, Nobuyasu Maki slices the cornea again, this time with more
Microbial Health Factor
Microbial Health Factor
By Sarkis Mazmanian as told to Sara McBride The Microbial Health Factor Just one molecule can make the difference in mediating a healthy immune response. Surprisingly, it comes from bacteria. © Gina and Matt / www.ginaandmatt.com rillions of commensal bacteria cover almost all environmentally exposed surfaces of our bodies at all times. But what are they doing? And why? If you want to understand the impact of c
The Future of Science Videos
The Future of Science Videos
By Jef Akst The Future of Science Videos © Richard Newstead / Getty Images The use of video in scientific research is anything but new. In fact, the very first “motion picture” was shot as part of an experiment aimed at determining if horses ever have all four feet off the ground simultaneously while galloping. On June 11, 1878, using 12 cameras placed 50 centimeters apart and trip wires to be triggered as the
Master Plans
Master Plans
By Karen Hopkin Master Plans Sean Carroll earned his celebrity by stitching together the patterning that underlies much of the animal kingdom’s various shades and shapes. © Eric Tadsen Sean Carroll’s most flamboyant finding was prompted by an innocent query before a seminar. Carroll had gone down to Duke University to give a talk about his research on the genes and molecules that direct the regular spacing of bri
The Protein Tango
The Protein Tango
By Bob Grant The Protein Tango Researchers unravel the complexities of coupled protein binding and folding and lead others towards new drug targets. pKID (orange) bound to KIX (blue) Image by Adrian Turjanski Proteins don’t typically behave tractably. The molecular interaction between two proteins is often a lot more complicated than one fully formed protein fitting into anot
Proteomic profiling
Proteomic profiling
By Jef Akst Proteomic profiling Courtesy of Gerard Drewes The paper: M. Bantscheff et al., “Quantitative chemical proteomics reveals mechanisms of action of clinical ABL kinase inhibitors,” Nat Biotech, 25:1035–44, 2007. (Cited in 69 papers) The finding: Gerard Drewes and his colleagues at Cellzome, a German biotech company, created nonspecifically binding compounds called “kinobeads” to
Shark attack
Shark attack
By Jef Akst Shark attack Diveofficer/Flickr Creative Commons The paper: R.A. Myers et al., “Cascading effects of the loss of apex predatory sharks from a coastal ocean,” Science, 315:1846–50, 2007. (Cited in 73 papers) The finding: Using over 30 years of species abundance data from 17 different fishery and scientific surveys, a team led by Charles Peterson of the University
Micro-management
Micro-management
By Jef Akst Micro-management © Prof. Ernest Giralt/IRB Barcelona The paper: L. He et al., “A microRNA component of the p53 tumour suppressor network,” Nature, 447:1130–34, 2007. (Cited in 151 papers) The finding: Comparing wild-type mouse embryonic fibroblasts to cells lacking the cell cycle regulator p53, molecular biologist Gregory Hannon of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory identified a family
Rebecca Vega Thurber: The coral doctor
Rebecca Vega Thurber: The coral doctor
By Jef Akst Rebecca Vega Thurber: The coral doctor © Daniel Portnoy It’s not every day that a biologist’s work makes it on to Comedy Central. But after giving a talk at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City about herpes-like viruses in corals, that’s what happened to Rebecca Vega Thurber, then a marine biology postdoc.1 Her findings were mentioned on Stephen Colbert’s Colbert Report, w
Screening Whole
Screening Whole
By Kelly Rae Chi Screening Whole How to reel in high-throughput results using worms and fish. In the past few years, improvements in imaging and automation techniques have made it easy for researchers to see hundreds of plates of cells partake in every activity from differentiation to apoptosis. But in living and breathing animals, we’re only just beginning to realize the potential of large-scale screens. “To take a whole animal and
Adaptive Evolution
Adaptive Evolution
By Alla Katsnelson Adaptive Evolution A once-rare type of clinical trial that violates one of the sacred tenets of trial design is taking off, but is it worth the risk? Doriano Solinas When researchers at Pfizer first began a Phase 2 trial of an acute stroke therapy in 2000, they decided to take a novel approach. The study—called the ASTIN trial—would determine the drug’s optimal dose not with three or four diffe
Scoring on Sabbaticals
Scoring on Sabbaticals
By Elie Dolgin Scoring on Sabbaticals How to make the most of the precious time away from your usual duties. © James Steinberg Seven years after landing his first faculty job, and a year after securing tenure, Andrew Hendry earned his first year-long sabbatical, a precious respite from teaching and administrative duties that only comes around a few times in one’s career. Last summer, Hendry, a McGill University evolutionary ecologi
The Golgi Stain, circa 1873
The Golgi Stain, circa 1873
By Moheb Costandi The Golgi Stain, circa 1873 Museo di Storia dell’Università di Pavia More than three decades after the German biologists Theodore Schwann and Matthias Schleiden first proposed that the cell was the basic functional unit of all living things, in 1838, many of the world’s leading histologists still disagreed about the fine structure of the nervous system. Some maintained that the brain was also made