Commentary

Back for a Second Look
Back for a Second Look
Scientists don't put much stock in the popular press. They think reporters do a miserable job covering science, either inflating a story beyond reality or just getting it wrong. Who can forget the now infamous cancer cure story on page one of the Sunday New York Times four years ago. The news that, in James Watson's reported words, "Judah [Folkman] is going to cure cancer in two years," sent desperate patients running to their oncologists and argumentative science writers logging into chat rooms

News

Frontlines
Frontlines
The proper diet for longevity may not be what is eaten, but what is not. University of California, Los Angeles, researchers have reported that the withdrawal of coenzyme Q (Q) from the diet of Caenorhabditis elegans extends the adult life span by almost 60% (P.L. Larsen, C.F. Clarke, "Extension of life-span in Caenorhabditis elegans by a diet lacking coenzyme Q," Science, 295:120-3, Jan. 4, 2002.) Q is found in the respiratory chains of mitochondria and can be obtained from eating anything that
Sorting out the Science of Stickiness
Sorting out the Science of Stickiness
For many animals, to stick is to survive. Nature's varied adhesive structures and substances enable animals to stick to inert substrates, to each other, and even to parts of themselves. An octopus uses its suckers to grab food, a gecko coordinates its highly specialized feet to ascend a wall, and a mussel emits strings of proteinaceous goo to hold fast to a rock in times of turbulence. Insects coordinate their jumping motions by choreographing contact of leg parts. Some species can even multitas
HIV Meets Its Maker
HIV Meets Its Maker
The killer will be turned against itself, if a human trial of gene therapy for AIDS goes forward in a few months, using a vector derived from HIV-1. Biotech startup VIRxSYS Corp. of Gaithersburg, Md., is complying with requests for more information concerning its clinical protocol that were made in October by the National Institutes of Health Recombinant DNA Advisory Committee and the Food and Drug Administration. The candidate drug's inventor, Boro Dropulic, says VIRxSYS has received about $18
Aiming a World of Computers at Anthrax
Aiming a World of Computers at Anthrax
A multiple-sponsor distributed computing project launched Jan. 22 aims to derail anthrax's ability to enter human cells and eliminate the toxin as a terrorists' weapon. The ambitious project has the backing of computer giants Intel and Microsoft, distributed computing specialist United Devices, the chemistry department at the University of Oxford, UK, and the National Foundation for Cancer Research (NFCR). The anthrax project comes on the heels of a successful similar effort in cancer research t
Fire Hits UC-Santa Cruz Labs
Fire Hits UC-Santa Cruz Labs
A three-alarm fire ravaged two labs at University of California, Santa Cruz, knocking out power and shutting down multiple buildings during the early hours of Jan. 11. The Sinsheimer building where the fire occurred remains closed, displacing approximately 150 researchers who are now scrambling to assess the damage, find new lab space, and salvage whatever is possible. "The upper floor, where the real devastation occurred, is not likely to be back to normal use for six to eight months," says Eli
Happy Birthday, Uncle Charlie
Happy Birthday, Uncle Charlie
Besides music, Jack Daniels, and the color orange, Tennessee also signifies opposition to evolution in the minds of many people, especially biologists. By banning the teaching of evolution in its schools, the state set the stage for the famous Scopes monkey trial in 1925, which pitted two giants of American history, William Jennings Bryan and Clarence Darrow, in a battle immortalized in books and film. The public controversy over evolution continues to this day, to the consternation of the vast
Deoxygenating Ballast Water: A Win-Win Solution
Deoxygenating Ballast Water: A Win-Win Solution
A team of marine scientists report that a novel method for combating ship ballast corrosion may also be a cost-effective way to stem the tide of invasive species that are wreaking havoc on local marine ecosystems around the world.1 The process involves pumping bubbling nitrogen gas into ballast water to remove oxygen, which, in turn, prevents oxidation and rust in the tanks. The depletion of oxygen transforms the ballast water environment into one that is toxic to most aquatic organisms, which a
NSF Reaches Out to Young Investigators
NSF Reaches Out to Young Investigators
The National Science Foundation gave young investigators interested in plant genomics a New Year's present: money, in the form of a research grant competition just for them. In a statement released on Dec. 28, 2001, Mary Clutter, assistant director of NSF's Biological Sciences Directorate, said the program, called YIA-PGR, "seeks to increase participation of young scientists in [NSF's] plant genome research, especially those at institutions that have not participated in its plant genome research

Letter

Alzheimer Mainstream
Alzheimer Mainstream
Two things amazed me when I read the article by Christine Bahls on Alzheimer research.1 Certainly the huge amount of funding [was one]. Also the fact that, as far as I could see, no research appears to be directed toward identifying whether any infective processes are involved. I am not the only one who believes that many of the diseases we have termed idiopathic, meaning the cause of the disease had not been elucidated, are indeed of infective origin. In the last few years many diseases branded
The Six Degrees of Medline
The Six Degrees of Medline
Many view the incessant reliance on Medline and other virtual databases in scientific study as a less scholarly approach toward science. Libraries have been transformed into repositories of digital data rather than the printed word, ready for keystroke experiments. Manuscripts published prior to 1966, the limit of the Medline database, are "virtually" (pun intended) ignored. In many cases, research performed by keywords without cogent scientific rationale leads to tenuous threads holding a manus
What to Do?
What to Do?
Regarding the recent cloning news,1 what are people like me to do to sustain life? I have cardiomyopathy with an ejection fraction of 17%. At 55 years old, I don't think I will be put on top of an organ transplant list. I would volunteer in a minute for any research that will clone organs for humans. Maybe President George W. Bush would change his tune if his wife or child needed help. Larry J. McCoy 152 Ora Court Marina, CA 93933 larmc@ix.netcom.com 1. A.J. Klotzko, "A cloning emergency in Brit
Academia to Industry
Academia to Industry
Like Judith Britz,1 I left the academic career path 15 years ago, for economic reasons. I left academics, it did not leave me: the papers I wrote 15 years ago are still being cited. I loved the science, but after five years living on $5,000 a year, the grim economic prospects and high career risk associated with academic science disqualified it from serious consideration. Risk is supposed to be associated with reward, but that's another subject. Do something with me: Take out a dollar bill and l

Cartoon

Cartoon
Cartoon
Sidney Harriswww.ScienceCartoonsPlus.com

Research

Test Tubes With Tails
Test Tubes With Tails
The relationship between man and mouse has had, at times, a strained history: They were vilified in the Book of Leviticus; their most feared enemy, the cat, was deified in ancient Egypt; and their English name evolved from the derogatory Sanskrit mush, meaning "to steal."1 Over the centuries, a more amicable rapport grew between Asian and European breeders and their furry pets, prized for their exotic color and behavior. Yet only a few scientists prior to 1900 took advantage of the creatures' ub
Mouse Timeline
Mouse Timeline
RESEARCH Mouse Timeline Supplemental Materials  E-mailarticle Leza Berardone Leza Berardone  © Copyright 2002, The Scientist, Inc. All rights reserved. We welcome your opinion. If you would like to comment on this article, please write us at editorial@the-scientist.com News | Opinions & Letters | Research | Hot PapersLabConsumer | Profession | About The Scientist | JobsClassified | Web Registration | Print Subscriptions | Advertiser Informati
X and Y Chromosomes Concern More Than Reproduction
X and Y Chromosomes Concern More Than Reproduction
Editor's Note: This is the third article in a series on sex-based differences in the biology of males and females. Future articles in the series will cover sex-based differences in autoimmunity, drug metabolism, and life expectancy. While responses to "What's the difference between men and women?" might evoke answers about reproductive plumbing and hormones, researchers are unearthing some subtle, genomic reasons for the differences. So far, the linchpins to finding these genomic variations seem
Watching How the Brain Grows
Watching How the Brain Grows
Brain size is a lot like shoe size. It doesn't correlate with height, weight or even IQ, though boys tend to have larger brains (and feet) than girls. This lack of proportional comparison coupled with the fact that, like fingerprints, brains are unique, has created barriers to the better understanding of brain development. But recent imaging technology advances that factor out individual differences, as well as tools that automate data collection and quantitation, are allowing researchers to con
Gaining Headway in Brain Growth
Gaining Headway in Brain Growth
The Faculty of 1000 is a Web-based literature awareness tool published by BioMed Central. It provides a continuously updated insider's guide to the most important peer-reviewed papers within a range of research fields, based on the recommendations of a faculty of more than 1,400 leading researchers. Each issue, The Scientist will publish a list of the 10 top-rated papers from a specific subject area, as well as a short review of one or more of the listed papers. We will also publish a selection
Notable
Notable
T.J. Macke et al., "RNAMotif, an RNA secondary structure definition and search algorithm," Nucleic Acids Research, 29:4724-35, Nov. 15, 2001. F1000 Recommendation: Recommended "This paper describes a new computer program that allows searching of genomic sequence databases for complex RNA structural elements. RNAMotif represents a major technical advance over previously available tools in that it allows the user to specify multiple parameters, including non-canonical base-pairings and variabilit

Hot Paper

The Human Genome -- One Year Later
The Human Genome -- One Year Later
For this article, Brendan A. Maher interviewed Eric S. Lander, director, Whitehead Institute Center for Genome Research, Cambridge, Mass., and J. Craig Venter, then president and chief scientific officer, Celera Genomics Group, Rockville, Md. Data from the Web of Science (ISI, Philadelphia) show that Hot Papers are cited 50 to 100 times more often than the average paper of the same type and age. J.C. Venter et al., "The sequence of the human genome, Science, 291:1304-51, Feb.16, 2001. (Cited in

Technology Profile

Keeping Time with Drosophila
Keeping Time with Drosophila
Circadian clocks—the biological timekeepers that operate on a daily cycle—keep virtually every living creature in tune with its environment. These internal clocks regulate a wide range of fundamental biological processes, including movement, smell, sleep, mating, and feeding. A true circadian clock is endogenous; that is, it keeps time even in the absence of external cues. The clock can, however, be reset, or entrained, by daylight, allowing the synchronization of circadian rhythms t
Automated Liquid Handlers Advance
Automated Liquid Handlers Advance
Automated liquid handling continues to play a central role in laboratory automation. These robots rapidly, tirelessly, and accurately perform a range of tedious liquid-handling tasks, such as assay setup, plate filling, plate washing, and hit picking. They carry out these functions on liquid vessels that range from standard test tubes to 1536-well plates, and they benefit researchers in such diverse fields as drug discovery, genomics, proteomics, and clinical research.1 Automated liquid handlin

Technology

Lipids + Genomics = Lipomics
Lipids + Genomics = Lipomics
Expression genomics and proteomics approaches have provided important insights into the roles of specific genes and proteins. Now, researchers monitoring other components of living organisms are finding ways to adapt the "big picture" outlook characteristic of these disciplines to their own work. For example, Lipomics Technologies Inc. of West Sacramento, Calif., is developing methods and tools to simultaneously quantify lipid metabolites on a large scale. As with other types of comprehensive an
Iatia Widens Your Scope
Iatia Widens Your Scope
Victoria, Australia-based IATIA Ltd., in conjunction with the University of Melbourne, has commercialized a versatile and highly cost-effective way to dramatically enhance the capabilities of conventional light microscopes. Quantitative Phase Microscopy (QPm) enables a standard bright field microscope to perform tasks usually handled by several different, specialized instruments. QPm is the brainchild of University of Melbourne physics professor Keith Nugent, whose proprietary algorithm based on
Leica Automates Tissue Processing
Leica Automates Tissue Processing
Leica Microsystems of Bannockburn, Ill., has introduced the ASP 300 Tissue Processor for histopathological sample processing. Unlike its predecessor, the TP 1050, the ASP 300 processor is a fully enclosed, fully automated, stand-alone system capable of processing up to 300 cassettes. The system features SMART operating software and an easy-to-use color touch screen. Users can create customized programs that are automatically launched with the touch of a button using the system's Smart-Start func

Profession

When Professors Take to the Private Market
When Professors Take to the Private Market
To a life scientist who has emerged from a struggle to master a recalcitrant compound, an elusive ion flux, or an important gene sequence, launching a company might seem not just simple, but also natural. Think up a catchy name, take the CEO title, and shepherd a discovery from the laboratory to the market where profits lie. After all, don't thousands of folks—even those who think mass spectrometry may be a technical point in football—run companies and make millions from other people
Whitaker Uses Endowment to Advance Healing
Whitaker Uses Endowment to Advance Healing
Professor Evangelia Micheli-Tzanakou developed an experimental operation at Rutgers University that uses magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and electrodes placed in the brain to reduce Parkinson's disease symptoms. Following surgery, patients walk and move without the usual unsteadiness that accompanies the disease. "The work is the most rewarding science I have done in my entire career," Micheli-Tzanakou says. The researcher also created the first computer-to-brain interface by combining computat
Fine Tuning: Scrutinizing International Researchers
Fine Tuning: Scrutinizing International Researchers
"In strengthening the security of our borders, we must also safeguard the unobstructed entry of more than 31 million persons who enter the United States legally each year as visitors, students and temporary workers and over 500 million that cross the Canadian and Mexican ... and other borders to conduct daily business or visit close family members." — Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) Nov. 5 press conference. The Sept. 11 terrorist attacks have disrupted the relationship between the United Stat
Funding Opportunites in the Life Sciences
Funding Opportunites in the Life Sciences
Click to view our current database of Funding Opportunities in the Life Sciences.

Opinion

Finish the Space Station, Head for Mars
Finish the Space Station, Head for Mars
There has never been an international civil engineering fiasco quite like the International Space Station (ISS). Its estimated total cost of $95 billion is almost 10 times what it would take to build the Panama Canal today, yet its end is nowhere in sight. The ISS was scheduled to be completed by 2000, but its projected completion has slipped to 2006 and may slip further. NASA friends and foes alike are asking: What will it take to finish the project? The scientists who can make the best use of