News

D Rebounds in Federal FY2000 Budget
D Rebounds in Federal FY2000 Budget
Budgets for Top Federal R&D Agencies The U.S. House of Representatives delivered a bumper crop for science in its fiscal year (FY) 2000 budget--but the R&D harvest still has a slight chance to be delayed or threatened by cows. Congressional moos reportedly filled the House chambers after the announcement that Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) planned to delay voting on a bill that would finalize a $1.8 trillion budget. Kohl's beef had nothing to do with science, but rather, with dairy subsidies that he
What Some Federal Money Buys
What Some Federal Money Buys
Amazing investigations into the life sciences abound under the sponsorship of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in the U.S. Department of Defense. Under program director Alan Rudolph, more than 25 projects around the nation and overseas will receive a total through 2004 of about $84 million. Launched in 1998, the research efforts are divided into three broad categories: Controlled Biological Systems that deal directly with living organisms; Tissue-Based Biosensors that are b
Technology Transfer: Return on Research Investment
Technology Transfer: Return on Research Investment
Benefits and Impact Results from a survey released Dec. 2 by the Association of University Technology Managers (AUTM) indicate that federally sponsored research really does pay off, even if it takes years to do so. For the fiscal year ending June 30, 1998, the AUTM survey credits $33.5 billion of U.S. economic activity to technology transfer. That activity included support for 280,000 jobs, issuance of 3,668 new licenses and options, and granting of 3,224 new U.S. patents (see chart). AUTM def
A Billion Base Pairs, Times Two
A Billion Base Pairs, Times Two
Both the public Human Genome Project and the private Celera Genomics-sponsored effort announced within a month of each other that they have sequenced a billion base pairs--about a third of human's total genetic code. Despite those twin landmarks, it's still difficult to say which project is ahead of the other in the quest to finish a "rough draft," or 90 percent completed copy, by spring 2000. This handicappers' confusion (in a competition both teams have said is not a race1) can be attributed
Academic Health Centers Embrace Alternative Medicine
Academic Health Centers Embrace Alternative Medicine
Academic health centers are increasingly willing to embrace, rather than rebuff, complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapies. Indeed, in the last few years, "integrative" and "complementary" centers or programs have sprung up at dozens of academic health centers, and the trend will likely continue. But the frequency with which these newfound coalitions have taken place by no means implies that the melding of "conventional" and "alternative" medicines will be effortless. At a mid-Novem
Fee vs. Free in Online Research
Fee vs. Free in Online Research
Twelve scientific publishers have joined together to provide an electronic linking service that could serve as a paid alternative to PubMedCentral, proposed by Harold Varmus, National Institutes of Health director, to provide similar information for free. When Varmus floated the possibility of PubMedCentral (then known as E-Biomed), many commercial publishers balked at giving away their content.1 Some scientific societies have since relaxed their opposition and will allow their content to be ava
Discovering Relatives in the Flowering Plant Family Tree
Discovering Relatives in the Flowering Plant Family Tree
Charles Darwin's frustration with the evolutionary origin of flowering plants--he called it "an abominable mystery"--stood for more than a century, as hypotheses, like flowers, bloomed and faded. Botanists even argued over whether ancestors of the 250,000 flowering plants, or angiosperms, were tender herbs or woody, like shrubs. Now they may be writing the final chapters of Darwin's whodunit, not with the traditional phrases of fossils and plant anatomy, but with the letters and words of gene se
Scientific Mechanisms, Past and Present
Scientific Mechanisms, Past and Present
Today's scientists, it could be said, frequently explain observed phenomena by finding chemical, biological, or physical mechanisms of some form, shape, or size. In a panel session at the recent History of Science Society meeting in Pittsburgh, presenters traced the roots of this perceived tendency and provided high-profile examples of scientists' apparent captivation with mechanisms--defined broadly as entities and activities that produce regular changes from start or setup to finish or termina

Cartoon

Cartoon
Cartoon
www.ScienceCartoonsPlus.com

Commentary

Expert Witnesses: Legal Legionnaires
Expert Witnesses: Legal Legionnaires
Expert testimony is useful to courts when it is presented by impartial, court-appointed experts rather than by legal legionnaires bought and paid for by the warring parties. That is the answer to the question posed by Browne and Keeley in their July 5, 1999 article in The Scientist.1 Although neutral expertise is antithetical to the American adversarial system of Justice, several pioneering judges have used such unbiased experts in complex trials.2 The most recent example is breast implant litig

Letter

Pharmacologists and Training
Pharmacologists and Training
In the Nov. 8 issue, The Scientist highlighted the need for "classically trained" pharmacologists to work in the pharmaceutical industry.1 Such individuals work at the preclinical stage of the drug development process, characterizing the pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, and toxicology of drug candidates, often using animal models. The article was absolutely correct in its portrayal of the abundant job opportunities in these areas, which link the initial drug discovery process to introduction
Search Committees
Search Committees
The article on search committees1 is an excellent look into the process of hiring. It confirms what I already knew and "felt" about the political process. It also made me aware of issues that I had not previously considered, specifically the question of ideas for grants when I start interviewing for positions. Of course, the relevance is easy to see now that I've been nudged. I also hadn't thought about the role of affirmative action offices' bureaucracy to hiring, although I am extremely wary o
Science and Religion, Two Views
Science and Religion, Two Views
I tend to agree with Charles Darwin. Why should his theories shock the religious feelings of anyone? Why should any conflict exist between science and religion? Steve Bunk's Perspective1 states that "... [science] concerns itself with the profane realm of that which is knowable, while religion dwells on that which is unknowable." In reality, science deals with what is natural, and theology, not religion, concerns itself with the supernatural. We still use the term natural science. Theology is su
Tobacco and Research Funds
Tobacco and Research Funds
The article "Tobacco Settlement: Where's the Money?"1 brings up many important issues related to the allocation of state tobacco settlement funds. What the article did not mention, though, was that the public strongly supports spending the tobacco settlement funds on medical research. Ninety-one percent of those polled this year by Research!America, a nonprofit education and advocacy organization, favored spending a portion of the tobacco settlement funds on medical research. The same poll

Opinion

What's Right About Scientific Writing
What's Right About Scientific Writing
Illustration: A. Canamucio In recent commentaries in Nature,1 the New York Times Magazine,2 and the American Scholar,3 the scientific article has come under attack because it has allegedly degenerated into a thick "molasses of jargon and academic code."2 Furthermore, according to scientist Peter Medawar in a 1964 Saturday Review essay,4 because the structure of the scientific article seriously misrepresents the way science happens, authors of scientific articles are also mendacious, perpetrators

Research

Methylation: Gene Expression at the Right Place and Right Time
Methylation: Gene Expression at the Right Place and Right Time
Courtesy of Richard Roberts, New England BiolabsModel methylation reaction: Cytosine nucleotide (red) is flipped out of the DNA double helix by a methyltransferase (white), so it can be methylated. The end product after the methyl group has been transferred to the DNA is pictured in green. A tenuous link between DNA methylation and development has existed for several years. Now findings substantiate the connection. Researchers have found the first human diseases caused by defects in the DNA meth

Hot Paper

HIV
HIV
J.K. Wong, M. Hezareh, H.F. Gunthard, D.V. Havlir, C.C. Ignacio, C.A. Spina, D.D. Richman, "Recovery of replication-competent HIV despite prolonged suppression of plasma viremia," Science, 278:1291-5, 1997. (Cited in more than 215 papers since publication) Comments by Douglas D. Richman, professor of pathology and medicine, University of California, San Diego, and San Diego VA Healthcare System D. Finzi, M. Hermankova, T. Pierson, L.M. Carruth, C. Buck, R.E. Chaisson, T.C. Quinn, K. Chadwick, J.

Technology

Pure Genius
Pure Genius
Ever since Antoni van Leeuwenhoek (1670) resolved what he described as "animalicules" with his crude single-lens microscope, the knowledge of these tiny organisms has been menacing. 
Divine Spark
Divine Spark
The ability of cells to take up foreign DNA is one of the most relied-upon properties in molecular biology. Electroporation uses electrical field pulses to create pores in the cell membrane through which foreign material can be introduced. One of the newest and most innovative instruments for electroporation is the Cloning Gun from Tritech Research. Tritech's Cloning Gun The Cloning Gun is a cordless, rechargeable, handheld device weighing less than 1 lb. The user simply pipettes cells into th

Bench Buys

Bench Buys
Bench Buys
Turn the Tide on Antibody Screening with Surf-Blot Idea Scientific's Surf-Blot The Surf-Blot Antibody Screening System eliminates the need to cut blots into strips in order to probe with multiple antibodies. A blot is produced as usual and then clamped into the Surf-Blot. The apparatus forms channels on the surface of the blot in which to carry out antibody incubations. After rinsing, the blot is removed from the Surf-Blot, and signal visualization can be performed on the intact blot without lin

Technology Profile

Clean Your Plate!
Clean Your Plate!
Microplate Washers Part 1 Microplate Washers Part 2 Just like the family dishwasher, microtiter plate washers have taken the drudgery out of doing the dishes. Far removed from showering a microplate with a squirt bottle, microplate washers combine buffer dispensing and aspiration cycles to remove reagents from sample wells, preparing 96-, 384-, and 1,536-well plates for the next step in an assay or procedure. Plate washer manufacturers build manual and automated washer systems. Both types h
Getting to Megabase
Getting to Megabase
Large Fragment Cloning Products and Services Gone are the days when all you had to do to get out of grad school was identify and clone a new gene. Besides, with the information rapidly gathered through the Human Genome Project, there will soon no longer be a "new gene." Enormous projects such as sequencing entire genomes have created a need to play with bigger pieces of the puzzle, and a new universe of technologies adapted to large DNA fragments has appeared. Assignment of a new gene to a par

Profession

Science Salaries: Who Makes What Where
Science Salaries: Who Makes What Where
1998 Salaries Interested in what your colleagues are making at the private liberal arts college across town, at biotech and pharmaceutical firms in your region, or at agencies inside the Beltway? Or are you getting ready to hire a new employee or apply for a position in the life sciences? If so, openly discussing salaries with colleagues or at the beginning stages of a job search can be prickly. So how do you get a handle on how much you're worth? The information is out there in many forms. Pr

Notebook

Notebook
Notebook
Contents Pivotal pump Leptin limbo Clue to obesity Biotech Web site Helping hand Mapping malaria Notebook Pictured above are pigmented bacterial colonies of Deinococcus radiodurans, the most radiation-resistant organism currently known. DEINO-MITE CLEANUP In 1956, investigators discovered a potentially invaluable cleanup tool in an unlikely place. A hardy bacterium called Deinococcus radiodurans unexpectedly thrived in samples of canned meat thought to be sterilized by gamma radiation. The b