News

Neurotoxin Concerns, Controversy Escalate
Neurotoxin Concerns, Controversy Escalate
Scientists are realizing that substances in the environment can have devastating effects on the human nervous system For decades, neuropathologist John Olney waged a one-man crusade to have "excitotoxins," chemicals in the brain that cause nerve cells to self-destruct, removed from foods. One of the worst, he argued, was glutamate, consumed by millions as the food flavoring monosodium glutamate. But nobody really paid much mind to Olney's concerns. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) did no
NIH Rebuffed, Rethinks New Ethics Regulations
NIH Rebuffed, Rethinks New Ethics Regulations
Following a storm of criticism, HHS chief Sullivan asks for another plan to stem conflicts of interest. WASHINGTON--As soon as he read them, James Wyngaarden knew that there would be problems. The former National Institutes of Health director expected the agency to propose guidelines to eliminate potential conflicts of interest by government-funded university scientists who are carrying out clinical trials. But instead of directing a surgical strike against questionable financial relationships
French Vaccine Maker Poised To Dominate Market
French Vaccine Maker Poised To Dominate Market
Deals with the Pasteur Institute and Connaught Biosciences establish Institut Merieux as a global front-runner PARIS--At 8:20 A.M. on December 13, Jacques Francois Martin, general manager of the Institut Merieux, received a transatlantic call in his Lyons office from Alan Nymark, vice president of Investment Canada, a unit of the Canadian Ministry of Industry, Science, and Technology. Nymark was calling to tell Martin that Merieux could proceed with its proposed takeover of Connaught Bioscienc
Accelerator Planners Worry That SSC May Be A Hard Act To Follow
Accelerator Planners Worry That SSC May Be A Hard Act To Follow
The next big project in high-energy particle physics is likely to use electrons and be cheaper to build Not an inch of tunnel for the 53-mile Superconducting Supercollider has been laid, but already the massive accelerator is casting a long shadow on the future of high-energy physics facilities. As Congress and the nation struggle with the estimated $7 billion cost of the huge machine, many scientists are coming to the conclusion that the SSC may signify the end of the line - a dinosaur as big
Marine Lab Directors Join Forces For More Coordination, Respect
Marine Lab Directors Join Forces For More Coordination, Respect
Together, the nation's marine lab directors hope to shape their futures and keep their institutes and coastal sciences thriving WASHINGTON--The directors of the nation's marine labs are banding together to keep their institutions afloat. Next month, as soon as the trustee ballots are in, Harlyn Halvorson will begin his tenure as the first president of the National Association of Marine Laboratories (NAML). This loosely knit network of directors and administrators intends to prove that, when it
Official, Scientist In AID Malaria Program Face Trial
Official, Scientist In AID Malaria Program Face Trial
WASHINGTON--For entomologist James Erickson, the former director of the U.S. Agency for International Development's troubled malarial vaccine program (The Scientist, July 10, 1989, page 1, and Dec. 11, 1989, page 1), 1989 was not a good year. And this week he'll find out whether things are going to get any better in 1990. Erickson goes before U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Va., to defend himself against charges that he defrauded the government program of more than $140,000. He was indicted
Publisher Continues Its Fight Against Price Surveys
Publisher Continues Its Fight Against Price Surveys
The New York-based scientific publisher Gordon and Breach has suffered a setback in the first round of its legal battle waged in European courts against the American Institute of Physics. The publishing firm had brought suits against AIP last year, claiming that an article in the July 1988 issue of the institute's monthly, Physics Today, reporting on a survey of journal prices (The Scientist, Sept. 4, 1989, page 4), was damaging to Gordon and Breach. The article, written by retired physicist He
Demand For Limnologists Rises As Water Quality Plummets
Demand For Limnologists Rises As Water Quality Plummets
The scientists who study surface water, and what's needed to keep it clean, now find themselves in positions of public authority. When Michael Principe landed his first job as a limnologist nine years ago, he considered himself lucky. The economy was mired in a recession, and the outlook for increased government spending on the environment looked dim. Few federal or state agencies were seeking scientists in Principe's research realm, the scientific study of fresh water systems - an area increa
Clarification
Clarification
A news brief on page 6 of The Scientist's Jan. 8, 1990, issue reporting on a survey conducted by the Public Agenda Foundation that will compare the views of scientists and the public misstated the source of the names of the scientists who participated. The scientists were chosen at random from American Men and Women in Science (17th ed., New York, R.R. Bowker, 1989). Also on page 6 of the Jan. 8, 1990, issue, captions were transposed on photographs of FIDIA Pharmaceutical Corp. president Albert

Briefs

Briefs: It's Dog Eat Dog Out There
Briefs: It's Dog Eat Dog Out There
The lines between those who support and those who oppose the use of animals in research have always been rather sharply drawn, with last month's break-in and theft of files from a University of Pennsylvania's anatomy professor's lab only the latest example. But now it will be ever easier for members of Congress to choose sides in the acrimonious debate. Last fall, Rep. Tom Lantos (D-Calif.) and Rep. Bob Smith (R-N.H.) formed the Congressional Friends of Animals to provide a forum for those who
Government Briefs
Government Briefs
The already low profile of the House science, research, and technology subcommittee is likely to sink further in the next session of Congress with the expected transfer of the gavel from chairman Rep. Doug Walgren (D-Pa.) to Rep. Tim Valentine (D-N.C.). Walgren, who has led the panel since 1983, has done his best to showcase such issues as science education, university-industry consortia, and the health of academic research. But his earnest, soft-spoken style doesn't attract much attention, and
Who Needs People, Anyway?
Who Needs People, Anyway?
Scientists at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory work too hard. So officials have decided to cope with a 3% cut in the lab's 1990 budget by telling everybody to stay home as much as possible. This is how it works: Director John Nuckolls has asked the lab's 8,000 employees to use up all of the vacation time they earn this year, as well as one fourth of the time they have accrued during their tenure at the lab. The money to pay vacation time comes out of a different pot from the money for reg
The High Cost of Bringing Up Baby
The High Cost of Bringing Up Baby
The SSC Laboratory in Dallas, the Department of Energy's newest national laboratory, says that its 54-mile proton accelerator will cost about 25% more than what the department had estimated. The price of the facility was pegged at $4.4 billion by DOE when it announced Texas as the site of the mammoth supercollider project in December 1988; DOE officials later increased that figure to $5.9 billion to account for the cost of inflation over its eight-year construction cycle. The new estimate, whic
Entrepreneur Briefs
Entrepreneur Briefs
Artificial intelligence continues to make inroads into the airline industry, helping carriers like Iberia deal with flight rescheduling problems and maintenance schedules. Now AI's combative little brother, neural networks, has made its first contribution to making the friendly skies more profitable. NationAir, a Montreal carrier, has installed a "yield management" system designed by BehavHeuristics Inc., to forecast passenger demand for flights at various fare levels. The system, which learns
Entrepreneur Briefs
Entrepreneur Briefs
Maryland Governor William Schaefer hopes to encourage more high-tech entrepreneurship in his state with a $15 million seed-capital fund he proposed to his state's General Assembly last month. The plan calls for a pool of money - mostly from public pension funds - that would be invested in venture capital firms; these firms would match the state investment and provide capital for high-tech startups. J. Randall Evans, secretary of the Maryland Department of Economic Development, says there could
Association Briefs
Association Briefs
The Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology is considering measures to boost its membership and promote biomedical research, as well as redefine its financial structure. FASEB president William L. Dewey, associate provost for research and graduate affairs at Virginia Commonwealth University, says that the Bethesda, Md.-based organization wants to become more attractive to both its current seven societies and potential new members by making FASEB membership less expensive and h
Association Briefs
Association Briefs
When Jing Jie Yu, an associate professor at the Peking Union Medical College in Beijing, China, attempted to organize scientists and doctors to educate the public about the harmful effects of smoking, she was met by a less-than-enthusiastic Chinese government. Today, three years later, she is a visiting scientist on the Smoking, Tobacco, and Cancer Program at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Md., and, she says, smoking has become an even more serious health threat in her country, espe
Association Briefs
Association Briefs
A look at the top stories in physics this past year according to Physics News in 1989 reveals one conspicuous absence - cold fusion. Why was one of science's most fiercely debated issues of the year not included? Phillip Schewe, editor of the American Institute of Physics' annual review, says there simply was not enough confirming evidence. Last spring, when the cold fusion issue was contested by physicists attending the American Physical Society meeting in Baltimore, there was a pervasive feel
Industry Briefs
Industry Briefs
A 12-member group of chemical companies that produces chlorofluorocarbons is stepping up efforts to investigate the environmental impact of their alternative: hydrochloro- fluorocarbons and hydrofluorocarbons. They are hoping that this research will confirm their initial findings, presented at the United Nations Environment Programme in Nairobi last year, that these alternatives have little significant environmental impact, unlike chlorofluorocarbons, which have been implicated in the destructi
Industry Briefs
Industry Briefs
A small tortoise-shell cat stars in a new General Electric television commercial, getting most of the credit for founding GE's thermoplastic business. The year is 1953. In the ad, the cat crawls through an open laboratory window, slinks across a lab table occupied by test tubes and pipettes and then, in a reckless leap, knocks a beaker onto the floor. The following morning Dan Fox, a young researcher, finds that the liquid in the beaker has turned into a hard, transparent block. The voice-over
Funding Briefs
Funding Briefs
The National Academy of Sciences has a program for researchers in search of colleagues in Eastern Europe or the Soviet Union. Beginning in April, the academy will sponsor two-week project development visits by U.S. scientists to the USSR, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Hungary, Poland, Romania, or Yugoslavia. This new effort is meant to pave the way for long-term cooperative research. Scientists can visit one or more institutions in Eastern Europe in any discipline supported by NSF. Vi
People Briefs
People Briefs
Marian Diamond, professor of integrative biology at the University of California, Berkeley, has been appointed acting director of U.C.-Berkeley's Lawrence Hall of Science, the campus' public science center. The facility, which serves as a research center for science curriculum development and teacher education, also features science exhibits and public programs. Diamond's research focuses on brain anatomy and environmental effects on the brain. She recently served as scientific adviser for the

Opinion

Scientists And Public Officials Must Pursue Collaboration To Set Research Priorities
Scientists And Public Officials Must Pursue Collaboration To Set Research Priorities
Should scientists assume responsibility for proposing a national agenda for science? It is not easy to take a stand against priority-setting and the kind of rational, systematic analysis the notion implies. But recent proposals that call on the scientific community to "get its act together" and unite behind a single set of research priorities raise serious doubts about its wisdom. At the same time, with scientists and policymakers increasingly concerned about how to find funds for the growing
Science Community Needs Its Conduct Rules To Be Explicit
Science Community Needs Its Conduct Rules To Be Explicit
Every day our personal interests come in conflict with the goals, missions, or rules of the institutions and groups to which we belong or are responsible. Most often we resolve these conflicts quickly and, if we fail in our responsibility, the repercussions are minor. As researchers, for example, we have all, at one time or another, chosen work over family (or vice versa). We balance these interests well or endure the consequences. Increasingly, however, scientists and social scientists are exp

Letter

Letter: Clutter Unclogs NSF
Letter: Clutter Unclogs NSF
Kudos to Mary Clutter and advisers who are responsible for NSF's new policy on grant proposal format ("NSF Stresses Publication Quality, Education With New Grant Format," The Scientist, Dec. 11, 1989, page 2). By limiting biographical sketches to 10 publications, NSF joins Harvard Medical School in spotlighting quality rather than quantity as the principal determinant of an investi-gator's performance. By requiring investigators to include statements about the educational and training value of
Letter: Who Pays?
Letter: Who Pays?
In the article "Congress Readies Proposal To Cap NIH Grantees' Salaries" (The Scientist, Nov. 27, 1989, page 3), I am quoted as saying, "it is foolish to think that universities have extra money to spend on the salaries of their research faculties." I am not disputing the quote, but rather the context, especially in light of the debate about universities' "responsibility" for research (as elaborated by Martin Frank of the American Physiological Society). It is in fact a central mission of unive
Letter: Dental Awareness
Letter: Dental Awareness
The December 11 announcement of Bristol-Meyers Squibb Company's prestigious award to Ronald Dubner ("Ex-Dentist Cited For Pain Research," The Scientist, Dec. 11, 1989, page 22) was certainly good news. The bad news is the blatant prejudice implied by the title of your article. Like it or not, Dubner is a dentist. If the editor wished to convey that Dubner is a nonpracticing dentist, that is one thing. I have never seen the term "nonpracticing physician" applied to my many colleagues who are phy

Commentary

Exaggerated Global Warming Scenarios Impede Urgent Climatology Research
Exaggerated Global Warming Scenarios Impede Urgent Climatology Research
While it is commendable for researchers to strive in their work toward the benefit of their fellow human beings, those investigators who nowadays promote certain exaggerated scenarios related to global warming and the so-called greenhouse effect are doing a disservice to both their science and their society. At a recent event, the annual Climate Diagnostic Workshop in La Jolla, Calif., a group of experts gathered: more than 150 practicing climatologists from all over the world. From the papers

Research

Articles Alert
Articles Alert
The Scientist has asked a group of experts to comment periodically upon recent articles that they have found noteworthy. Their selections, presented herein every issue, are neither endorsements of content nor the result of systematic searching. Rather, the list represents personal choices of articles the columnists believe the scientific community as a whole may also find interesting. Reprints of any articles cited here may be ordered through The Genuine Article, 3501 Market St., Philadelphia,
Biotechnology Fosters New Era In Agricultural Investigation
Biotechnology Fosters New Era In Agricultural Investigation
Demographers from the World Bank, the United Nations, and the Global Committee of Parliamentarians on Population Development all predict that between now and the year 2000 the world's population will soar by at least 20% to more than 6 billion, with 90% of this growth occurring in developing countries. With this growth, of course, will come an increased strain on already burdened food supplies, especially in the developing world, where hunger is a major problem. A decade from now, the current a
'Commander' Spurs Researchers In Development Of FK-506
'Commander' Spurs Researchers In Development Of FK-506
Transplant surgeon Satoru Todo is sitting in his tiny University of Pittsburgh office, wearing blue scrubs and singing the praises of Thomas E. Starzl, the neurologist and surgeon who leads the team that has developed FK-506, a drug that has been hailed as a breakthrough in preventing the rejection of transplanted organs. "He is like a commander," Todo says cheerfully. "Or a dictator." While such epithets might seem inappropriate in describing the inspirational force behind a harmoniously fun

Hot Paper

Hot Papers
Hot Papers
The Particle Data Group: G.P. Yost, et al., "Review of particle properties," Physics Letters B, 204, 1-486, 14 April 1988. Thomas G. Trippe (Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, University of California, Berkeley): "This review is an international effort of 32 authors and 75 consultants to provide high-energy physicists with the most useful review possible. It provides high-energy physicists with much of the information needed for designing and analyzing experiments and developing theories. It is also
Hot Papers
Hot Papers
J. Gautier, C. Norbury, M. Lohka, P. Nurse, J. Maller, "Purified maturation- promoting factor contains the product of a Xenopus homolog of the fission yeast cell cycle control gene cdc2+," Cell, 54, 433-9, 29 July 1988. Jean Gautier (University of California, San Francisco): "The reason this article is cited often is that our findings unified for the first time a large number of apparently unrelated genetic and biochemical approaches using a wide variety of organisms. "MPF [maturation-promoting

Profession

For Older Scientists, Retirement Need Not Mean Stagnation
For Older Scientists, Retirement Need Not Mean Stagnation
In 1971, 65-year-old computer scientist Grace Hopper was retired by the Univac Division of the Sperry-Rand Corp., now known as Unisys Corp., after 22 years with the company. With her guidance and expertise, the Philadelphia-based com- puter manufacturer had built the first large-scale electronic computer. Fifteen years later, in August 1986, Hopper was retired again, this time by the United States Navy's Naval Data Automation Command, in which she had held the rank of admiral as well as the di
Whitaker Foundation Supports Growing Multidisciplinary Biomedical Research
Whitaker Foundation Supports Growing Multidisciplinary Biomedical Research
A quick walk through any hospital or biomedical research center clearly shows how interconnected medicine and engineering have become in the last couple of decades. Drug delivery systems (such as implantable, self-regulating insulin pumps), artificial implants (composed of new-age alloys and plastics), and imaging systems (for mapping blood flow and monitoring cell growth) all rely on the marriage of biomedicine and engineering. But the marriage of these two broad fields isn't always blissful.
People: Columbia Professor To Receive ACS Organic Chemistry Award
People: Columbia Professor To Receive ACS Organic Chemistry Award
Koji Nakanishi, Centennial Professor of Chemistry at Columbia University, has been selected to receive the American Chemical Society's 1990 Arthur C. Cope Award for outstanding achievement in organic chemistry. Nakanishi, 64, will be presented with a gold medal and $15,000 at the ACS national meeting, to be held in August in Washington, D.C. The award will also provide Columbia with a $30,000 research grant. Nakanishi, who has been at Columbia for 21 years, has gained international recognition
People: SUNY President Heads State Science Policy Committee
People: SUNY President Heads State Science Policy Committee
New York Gov. Mario M. Cuomo, disturbed about a perceived decline in the level of science and engineering education in the United States, and determined to do something about it - in his state, at least - has appointed a science and engineering policy committee. The committee, charged with developing a strategic plan for ensuring excellence in the state's science and engineering education programs, is the first of its kind in New York. As the chairman of this committee, Cuomo appointed Steven
People: HHS Secretary Appoints New Deputy Director At NIH Institute
People: HHS Secretary Appoints New Deputy Director At NIH Institute
Marvin Cassman has been appointed deputy director, National Institute of General Medical Sciences, by Health and Human Services Secretary Louis W. Sullivan. Cassman, 53, formerly directed NIGMS' Biophysics and Physiological Sciences Program. NIGMS, a component of the National Institutes of Health, funds research and training in the basic biomedical sciences. Its programs encompass the cellular and molecular basis of disease, genetics, pharmacology, biorelated chemistry, biophysics, physiologic

Technology

Local Area Networks Can Help Connect Busy Researchers
Local Area Networks Can Help Connect Busy Researchers
Last year, when biomedical researcher Henry Hsiao wanted to share data or test results with another scientist or engineer in his lab, he used to store the information on multiple floppy disks, then hand-deliver the disks to colleagues at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Similarly, when Hsiao, an associate professor of biomedical engineering, needed to have raw data processed by a large, number-crunching computer, he was required to physically take his data to one of the university