News

The Return of Thalidomide
The Return of Thalidomide
Credit: Celgene CorporationThe drug thalidomide, sold as Thalomid (shown above) by the Celgene Corp. As the legendary phoenix rose from the ashes, so the drug thalidomide, responsible for severe birth defects across Europe in the early 1960s, is rising again and finding new uses. At the 42nd annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology held in San Francisco on December 4, 2000, researchers reported promising results with thalidomide in patients with multiple myeloma or myelodysplasias, a
What Price Salmon?
What Price Salmon?
Credit: OAR/National Undersea Research Program (NURP) With the year-end release of a final decision on how to proceed toward saving wild Northwest salmon from extinction, the Clinton Administration left implementation of its long-awaited plan to the incoming Republicans. For years, researchers have struggled under a glare of media exposure to resolve a central issue: should four hydroelectric dams in Washington be removed to help save the fish? The conclusion is no, not yet, but a scientific div
NIH Budget Maintains Doubling Momentum
NIH Budget Maintains Doubling Momentum
The drive to double spending by the National Institutes of Health between 1998 and 2003 reached its halfway point Dec. 15, when Congress approved a new NIH budget that represented a 50 percent increase from just three years ago. A 14 percent boost of $2.5 billion propels NIH spending to $20.3 billion for fiscal year 2001. The support expressed by President-elect George W. Bush during the presidential campaign to double NIH spending signals that the agency remains on track to double its budget in
Circadian Rhythm Science Lesson
Circadian Rhythm Science Lesson
Credit: Howard Hughes Medical InstituteThe above graphs show data from teenagers and adults who participated in an 11-day activity study. Each person's Horne-Ostberg score was plotted on the x-axis and his average waking time on the y-axis. The Horne-Ostberg survey identifies a person as an "evening" or "morning" type. As part of its annual educational outreach lecture series, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute recently had high school students participate in a large-scale circadian rhythm sci
Clot Busters to Do Laundry?
Clot Busters to Do Laundry?
The lead editorial in the December 23 British Medical Journal is appropriately entitled, "A pile of strangeness." The collection of articles, worthy of a stateside April Fool's issue, explores such compelling topics as physicians as serial killers, how to make an ophthalmoscope, whether animals bite more during a full moon, clues to alleviating back pain by studying the sleeping positions of apes, the history of constipation, and how not to give a presentation. Buried within the strangene
News Notes
News Notes
Plasmodium on the Move Watching movies starring microorganisms can be a pretty good way to go about parasitology research. New York University parasitologists were quite intrigued recently when they reviewed decade-old time-lapse microscopy observations on video that chronicled the pre-infection movement of Plasmodium, the parasite that causes malaria. It seemed as though the parasite might actually be moving in and out of target cells within seconds rather than settling down to produce a pleth

Commentary

Resolutions for a More Livable Planet
Resolutions for a More Livable Planet
If the nation could make New Year's resolutions, what would they be? Many possibilities come to mind, but one of the most pressing challenges the United States--and indeed, the world--will face in the next few decades is how to alleviate the growing stress that human activities are placing on the environment. The consequences are just too great to ignore. Wildlife habitats are being degraded or are disappearing altogether as new developments take up more land. Plant and animal species are becomi

Letter

In Defense of Ecology
In Defense of Ecology
Raymond J. O'Connor1 attributes what he calls the "faltering progress of ecological research" to lack of creativity on the part of ecologists and a failure to follow the examples of more "successful" sciences (e.g., molecular genetics and physics). We agree that ecology would benefit from a greater emphasis on generality and conceptual unification. However, we take issue with both the contention that ecological science has failed to progress and that the approaches of other disciplines can be ap

Research

Virus Budding Linked to Ubiquitin System
Virus Budding Linked to Ubiquitin System
Ronald Harty While some viruses burst out of a host cell after shredding it open, others depart in a more genteel fashion. They assemble at the plasma membrane and, form lollipop-shaped protuberances. Then each virus pinches off a piece of membrane that will clothe it as it seeks a new cell to infect. Unlike lysis, this process, known as budding, doesn't kill the host cell. Instead, many viruses that bud--the list includes HIV, Rous sarcoma virus (RSV), rabies virus, and Ebola virus--wreak havoc
New Workhorses of Stem Cell Technology
New Workhorses of Stem Cell Technology
Most media reports on stem cell biology trace the field's origin to two key papers published in 1981.1,2 But Leroy Stevens at the Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor, Maine, laid the groundwork in mice from the 1950s through the 1970s, manipulating bizarre growths called embryoid bodies,3 to see what these cells would become. Embryoid bodies formed when cancer cells were transplanted into mouse abdomens. At first they appeared to be a ring of cells enclosing blood, debris, and a few unspecialized c
Research Notes
Research Notes
Monkey Knockout In an early step toward developing a potentially invaluable animal model, scientists, for the first time, have genetically modified a nonhuman primate (A.W. Chan et al., "Transgenic monkeys produced by retroviral gene transfer into mature oocytes," Science, 291:309-12, Jan. 12, 2001). Researchers at the Oregon Regional Primate Research Center at the Oregon Health Sciences University in Portland used a replication-incompetent retrovirus as a vector to deliver the gene for green f

Hot Paper

Gene Explorers
Gene Explorers
For this article, Steve Bunk interviewed David Botstein, chairman, department of genetics, Stanford University School of Medicine, and Michael B. Eisen, scientist, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and assistant adjunct professor of genetics and development, University of California, Berkeley. 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. M.B. Eisen, P.T. Spellman, P.O. Brown, D. B

Technology

Bio-comparison Shopping
Bio-comparison Shopping
Comparison shopping for laboratory equipment and materials can be a real drag. Scanning catalogs and searching company Web sites are time-consuming procedures, and costly decisions are often made based only on information provided by the vendor. Biocompare.com of Burlingame, Calif., brings some relief to frustrated scientific shoppers by combining unbiased comparison product information with reviews from scientists who have used the products in their own research. Paul Gatti, president and CEO
A New Way to Seize the Day
A New Way to Seize the Day
Pierce Chemical's Seize X Kit Researchers who need to easily and accurately isolate a protein target from a crude sample frequently do so using immunoprecipitation (IP). The new Seize™ X Immunoprecipitation kits introduced by Pierce Chemical of Rockford, Ill., now offer improvements to this classic technique that enhance protein recovery and make SDS-PAGE analysis less confusing. These enhancements result in an IP method that offers better protein recovery without antibody contamination a

Bench Buys

Bench Buys
Bench Buys
QIAGEN's HiSpeed Plasmid Midi Kit includes QIAfilter cartridges and QIAprecipitator modules. The Need for Speed QIAGEN of Valencia, Calif., introduces the HiSpeed™ Plasmid Midi Kit, a rapid method for purification of up to 200 µg of plasmid or cosmid DNA. The kit includes QIAfilter™ cartridges and QIAprecipitator™ modules that eliminate the need to centrifuge bacterial lysates and isopropanol precipitates. The purification procedure takes only 45 minutes to complete. Q

Technology Profile

Plasmid DNA the High-Throughput Way
Plasmid DNA the High-Throughput Way
Table 1: High-Throughput Plasmid Prep Kits (96-well format) Table 2: Automated Plasmid Prep Devices Millipore's Montage Plasmid Miniprep 96 kit; "Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!" The Red Queen's words in Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glass (London, Macmillan, 1872) describe the feelings of lab managers faced with the scale at which data must be generated th
Atomic Force Microscopy
Atomic Force Microscopy
Digital Instrument's BioScope Anyone who has ever taken the time to critically examine a walnut knows that a two-dimensional photograph fails in many respects to truly convey the unique features--the nicks, crannies, valleys, and grooves--of the walnut shell. Researchers use atomic force microscopy (AFM) to literally map the surface of inert and biological samples to obtain three-dimensional images. Whereas technological developments in microscopy1,2 have facilitated the detailed characterizatio

Profession

Academia or Industry?
Academia or Industry?
Ray Gosine Striving solely for a tenure-track position at a university is not a foregone career path for many graduate students and postdocs these days. The stigma of "selling out" really does not apply anymore for scientists choosing a career in the private sector. Nevertheless, there are distinct differences and yet some similarities regarding working in either setting. One difference is in salaries, with industry positions usually commanding more pay than academic jobs.1,2 A less tangible a
The Plight of Postdocs
The Plight of Postdocs
Michael Cowan Many consider postdoctoral fellows the sinew of American science; they enable forward motion and new discoveries as science flexes its muscle. "Since the 1960s, the performance of research in the United States has relied more and more on graduate scientists and engineers who have recently earned a Ph.D. and are pursuing further education and training," asserts a recently published report on postdocs by the Committee on Science Engineering and Public Policy (COSEPUP) of the National
A Converging Market for Biotech
A Converging Market for Biotech
Intersecting with industries that not too long ago would have seemed quite disparate, the biotechnology industry has positioned itself as an increasingly strong, diverse, and sustainable force in the new century. This is according to Ernst & Young's recent 14th annual report on the state of the biotechnology industry, Convergence: E&Y's Biotechnology Industry Report, Millennium Edition (www.ey.com/industry/health). The report focuses on the influence of convergence of various industries
Reader Survey: The Postdoc Experience
Reader Survey: The Postdoc Experience
Complete Survey Results Graphics: Cathleen Heard The Scientist conducted a survey on the postdoc experiences of selected subscribers via E-mail and the Web from December 20, 2000 through January 3, 2001. Of the 156 readers who completed the questionnaire, respondents ranged from those currently holding postdoc positions to those who completed their postdocs 15 or more years ago. Readers reported holding an average of about 1.5 postdoc positions and the readers' average number of years in postdoc
Profession Notes
Profession Notes
Tobacco Money Slated for Research The state of Michigan will award life science research grants from part of its 1998 tobacco settlement money anticipated to total more than $8.5 billion over 25 years. As one of 46 states awarded in the settlement (N.S. Halim, "Tobacco Settlement," The Scientist, 13[22]:1, Nov. 8, 1999), Michigan plans to apportion $50 million annually for 20 years to universities, research institutions, and companies for health and aging research, as well as economic developm
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

The Durban Declaration
The Durban Declaration
Illustration: A. Canamucio The 13th International AIDS Conference opened with a rousing call to "Break the Silence." Individuals, communities, and governments were implored to engage openly in dialogues on HIV and AIDS. Looming in the background was a hastily crafted Durban Declaration [DD] asserting, without proof, that HIV is the sole cause of AIDS.1 This factually is incorrect.2 Scientists, including an "AIDS-industrial complex," now are challenged to break all silence, end all blaming, and e