News

Bioterrorism Preparedness
Bioterrorism Preparedness
Although the world has yet to witness a major bioterrorist attack, the field of bioterrorism continues to capture the attention of scientists, policy makers, and public health professionals. Symposia and reports are commonplace, and relevant legislation recently made it through Congress. Two upcoming government reports reaffirm a bioterrorism preparedness problem and recommend remedies. One comes from the Department of Defense (DOD) Threat Reduction Advisory Committee (TRAC), the other fr
Arabidopsis Genome
Arabidopsis Genome
Courtesy National Science Foundation Headlines on the morning of December 14, 2000, trumpeted the end of a presidential election that promised to go on forever. But if California Institute of Technology molecular biologist Elliot Meyerowitz had his way, the front page would have read differently: "Plant Genome Sequenced" at the top, then, lower down, "Election Decided - See Page 2." In a tour de force that capped a year of genome blockbusters, European, Japanese, and American scientists complet
Wanted: Applicants for NIGMS Grants
Wanted: Applicants for NIGMS Grants
James Cassatt What if biologists gave grant awards to mathematicians and computer wizards to study complex human systems--and no one showed up? The National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) is tackling this exact problem. For the last three years, the institute has created new grant initiatives to support a widening area of interest involving medical science and biocomplexity--specifically, the interactions, couplings, modeling, and computational analysis of multifaceted cell and or
Neuroscientists Benefit from Database Initiatives
Neuroscientists Benefit from Database Initiatives
Courtesy of Gabrielle LeBlanc, NINDSPurkinje cells in the mouse cerebellum expressing the calbindin gene Researchers maintain and constantly add to numerous gene databases as science progresses in its effort to map the human body. The recent announcement of a major new database initiative, however, may, as one researcher noted, "change the culture of neuroscience." Thanks to financial support from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, explained Gabrielle LeBlanc of NINDS d
News Notes
News Notes
In honor of last year's 40th anniversary of the American Society of Cell biology, the society supported the creation of a book called Landmark Papers in Cell Biology, a collection of 42 papers from the last 40 years. According to Joseph G. Gall, a member of the embryology department at Washington, D.C.'s Carnegie Institution and one of the book's editors, Landmark is not meant to be completely comprehensive nor definitive. Based on the recommendations from the editorial board of the ASCB journal

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Commentary

Scientist, Speak Up
Scientist, Speak Up
Like other trade publications, The Scientist gave substantial coverage to this year's Lasker Award winners, highlighting an important aspect of scientific research: recognition for outstanding work. Unfortunately, the broader media allocated comparatively little attention to these awards. It comes as no surprise, then, that a recent Harris Poll revealed astonishingly low public recognition of awards for scientific research, underscoring the need for more public outreach by scientists on behalf o

Letter

Research Evaluation
Research Evaluation
In a recent opinion in The Scientist,1 Thomas J. Phelan discusses methods to objectively assess the quality of academic research and concludes that citation analysis might be very relevant to evaluating accomplishments at research universities. It is against this utopian backdrop that I share my real world experience. As a previous leader of the faculty in our medical school, I have performed studies of various programs in our university and have also asked administrators to consider cita

Research

TIGR Tackles East Coast Fever
TIGR Tackles East Coast Fever
Kenya changed Claire Fraser. The president of The Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR), based in Rockville, Md., has had her name linked to an impressive number of the genomes sequenced to date, but her current work on a parasite that is causing devastation in Africa is especially meaningful to her. The target of her research is a comparatively unfamiliar organism--a tick-borne parasite related to the malaria pathogen called Theileria parva that causes a swiftly fatal leukemia-like illness in c
Research Notes
Research Notes
Same Enzyme Repairs DNA, Repels Pathogens An enzyme involved in genome defense has been shown to attack invading pathogens (W-M. Chu et al., "DNA-PKcs is required for activation of innate immunity by immunostimulatory DNA," Cell, 103:909-18, Dec. 8, 2000). Researchers already knew that DNA-dependent protein kinase (DNA-PK) in the nucleus repairs DNA double-stranded breaks created by radiation, but the role of DNA-PK in the cytoplasm was unknown. Testing DNA immunostimulatory (ISS) sequences in

Hot Paper

Nagging Questions Take Toll on Researchers: Differing Perspectives on Toll-like Receptors
Nagging Questions Take Toll on Researchers: Differing Perspectives on Toll-like Receptors
Although the research featured in high-impact papers often resonates for years after the papers appear, these papers have actually remained at the center of debate, according to the authors and others in the field. The papers describe the toll-like receptor family of signaling proteins and their role in recognizing harmful bacterial cell wall components in mammals. Says Bruce Beutler, senior author on the first of these Hot Papers: "In the fullness of time, it has become obvious to all workers i
Nagging Questions Take Toll on Researchers (2)- TLRs essential for immune response against pathogens
Nagging Questions Take Toll on Researchers (2)- TLRs essential for immune response against pathogens
For this article Karen Young Kreeger interviewed Holger Wesche, scientist at Tularik Inc. in South San Francisco, Calif. Data from the Web of Science (ISI, Philadelphia) show that this paper has been cited significantly more often than the average paper of the same type and age. C.J. Kirschning, H. Wesche, T.M. Ayres, M. Rothe, "Human toll-like receptor 2 confers responsiveness to bacterial lipopolysaccharide," Journal of Experimental Medicine, 188:2091-7, 1998. (Cited in 173 papers) For deca
Nagging Questions Take Toll on Researchers (1)- Mouse mutants pinpoint Gram-negative sepsis co-receptor
Nagging Questions Take Toll on Researchers (1)- Mouse mutants pinpoint Gram-negative sepsis co-receptor
For this article Karen Young Kreeger interviewed Bruce Beutler, professor of immunology at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, Calif. Data from the Web of Science (ISI, Philadelphia) show that this paper has been cited significantly more often than the average paper of the same type and age. A. Poltorak, X. He, I. Smirnova, M-Y. Liu, C. Van Huffel, X. Du, D. Birdwell, E. Alejos, M. Silva, C. Galanos, M. Freudenberg, P. Castagnoli, B. Layton, B. Beutler, "Defective LPS signaling in C3H/H

Technology

RACE to the 5' End
RACE to the 5' End
Invitrogen's Gene Racer Kit Expressed sequence tags are powerful tools for gene expression studies, but when there is simply no substitute for a full-length cDNA, researchers turn to protocols for the Rapid Amplification of cDNA Ends (RACE). RACE techniques couple cDNA synthesis with a method that attaches a "known" sequence to the end of the gene to enable PCR amplification. Knowing the 5' end of a transcript can aid promoter, gene mapping, and alternate exon usage analyses. Unfortunately, 5' R
PURE and EZ 'Nucleisolation'
PURE and EZ 'Nucleisolation'
Purifed nuclei Transcription run-off experiments and nuclear component studies require nuclei that are functionally intact. The isolation of such nuclei has traditionally been achieved through detergent-based cell lysis followed by fractionation via differential centrifugation. Sigma-Aldrich of St. Louis now offers two products--the Nuclei EZ Prep and Nuclei PURE Prep nuclei isolation kits--for the isolation of functionally active nuclear components. According to senior R&D scientist Ned Watson,
SuperNOVA
SuperNOVA
The NOVOstar BMG LabTechnologies Inc. of Durham, N.C., has developed NOVOstar™, a compact, multi-mode microplate reader with a wealth of detection and automation options normally found only in high-end instruments. NOVOstar has an integrated, programmable pipetting system that enables aspiration, dispersing, and mixing of fluids within a microplate well. Three reagent stations can be accessed for maximal flexibility in assay design (e.g., to combine substrates, inhibitors, and antagonists)

Technology Profile

The Science of Mind Reading
The Science of Mind Reading
Suppliers of Microdialysis Equipment World Precision Instrument's UltraMicroPump II microsyringe pump. Microdialysis enables researchers to probe the mind's molecular architecture to determine how complex behaviors and memories are produced and how bodily functions are regulated.1 As a method to monitor chemicals in the body's extracellular fluids, microdialysis has been most widely used in the neurosciences, and thanks to advances in technol-ogy, is getting easier. Applications include studie
Cell-free Transcription and Translation
Cell-free Transcription and Translation
In Vitro Translation Systems Researchers synthesize recombinant proteins in cell-free extracts to verify the identity of cloned genes, to study protein-protein, protein-nucleic acid, and protein-drug interactions, and to carry out mutagenesis studies. In vitro protein translation studies rely on the efficient and selective transcription of cloned genes in vitro, which is now not only possible, but also routine, thanks to the identification of bacteriophage (phage) DNA-dependent RNA polymerases a

Profession

Career Guides for the Perplexed
Career Guides for the Perplexed
A life scientist's decision to forsake lab work in academia for another career often comes after much soul-searching and with many misgivings. "The hardest thing is to escape science when you're enjoying it," says Guy R. Burkitt, a former Rockefeller University postdoc who is now a software engineer at a biotech company. "And when you get results that mean something, you really do enjoy it." Besides, he adds, "you invest so much time and effort in one thing that you really want to continue." &#
Prospecting the Neurosciences Job Market
Prospecting the Neurosciences Job Market
Almost a year after the "Decade of the Brain," neuroscience remains one of the fastest growing disciplines in all biology, researchwise and jobwise. The health of this job market relates to the overall expansion that continues in the neurosciences, says Richard Nakamura, acting deputy director at the National Institute of Mental Health. He notes that some especially promising areas include human genomes and genomics, and particularly, understanding the behavioral consequences and epidemiology of
Profession Notes
Profession Notes
NIH Lauches Global AIDS Initiative On World Aids Day last December 1, President Bill Clinton announced a new global initiative whereby the National Institutes of Health will spend more than $100 million in FY 2001 research funding with international partners. Jack Whitescarver, acting directing of the NIH Office of AIDS Research formally announced the "Global AIDS Research Initiative and Strategic Plan" at a lecture later that day. Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allerg
Bridging the Digital Divide
Bridging the Digital Divide
The National Cancer Institute recently allocated about $1 million to its public information outlet, the Cancer Information Service, to increase awareness of and improve access to Internet-based cancer information in minority communities. Four of 14 regional CIS centers will make use of the funds: CIS of New York (based at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center), CIS of the North Central Region (University of Wisconsin Comprehensive Cancer Center), CIS of the Mid-West Region (Karmanos Cancer Cent
Funding Opportunities in the Life Sciences
Funding Opportunities in the Life Sciences
Organizations are welcome to submit information for consideration for future listings by contacting kdevine@the-scientist.com Click to view the PDF file: Funding Opportunities in the Life Sciences

Opinion

Sic Transit Gloria
Sic Transit Gloria
Illustration: A. Canamucio I came to this country in 1969, trying to be a pathology resident. After finishing my residency, I decided to try my hand at research. Deep down I suspect that I used it as a ruse to prolong my already long apprenticeship and delay having to make an honest living as a practicing pathologist. A particularly influential event that convinced me to enroll in the immunology program rather than any other was a journal club presentation by Frank Lilly, who was then chairman o