Commentary

The Scientist Expands its Horizons
The Scientist Expands its Horizons
A new year often brings about change. If you are reading this from the print version, you already see a smaller, more convenient, size. With this first issue in a new design and format, we are happy to welcome 25,000 new subscribers in Europe and Canada. We hope you will find The Scientist as enlightening, valuable, and entertaining as the 50,000 US life scientist subscribers have. The start of a new year also prompts people to reflect on what they can do to improve their lives and the lives of

News

Frontlines
Frontlines
The National Science Foundation recently provided California State University, Los Angeles, a three-year, $300,000 grant to boost adolescents' interest in science. "Science Technology Engineering Program (STEP) Up for Youth" uses fees earned from companies that import foreign specialists to engage students in year-round science, math, and technological activities. "We hope this will motivate students to pursue careers in these fields," says Sylvia James, director of the NSF elementary, secondary
SNPs as Windows on Evolution
SNPs as Windows on Evolution
Single nucleotide polymorphisms--variants in DNA sequences better known as SNPs and pronounced snips--provide a shortcut to comparing genes and genomes within and among species. The need to study SNPs has spawned a number of companies aimed at matching SNP patterns to disease risks. A few other organizations, however, are taking a broader view: mining SNPs for clues to human diversity and evolution. Association studies that correlate SNP patterns to disease risks are straightforward. Clues to
Human Genetics Society Ponders New Age
Human Genetics Society Ponders New Age
The presentations and posters at the recent American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG) annual meeting offered up reams of data that pointed to a commanding future of discoveries. But, as the geneticists and students checked in and got their badges, the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks cast an ominous shadow that could not be ignored. ASHG president Huntington F. Willard addressed it head-on: "Let the clearest and loudest message of this week be that at a time when others would take away freedom of thou
Texas Urologist Will Head National Cancer Institute
Texas Urologist Will Head National Cancer Institute
Cancer leaders embraced President George W. Bush's appointment Dec. 6 of Texas urologist Andrew von Eschenbach to head the National Cancer Institute (NCI). In no uncertain terms, they praised von Eschenbach's political know-how, consensus-building skills, and openness to promoting all facets of a nationwide cancer agenda. Trish Strangmeyer PhotographyAndrew von Eschenbach A urologic surgeon, von Eschenbach directed the Genitourinary Cancer Center and Prostate Cancer Research Center at the Univer
Heyday for Prevention?
Heyday for Prevention?
Pop quiz: in one sentence, describe public health. Never mind, it's a loaded question. "We've joked among the deans that we'll give a magnum of champagne to whomever can come up with a one-sentence description," says Susan C. Scrimshaw, dean of the University of Illinois at Chicago's school of public health. "No one has claimed it yet." The obstacle is the field's immense breadth. Scrimshaw notes wryly that public health can involve toxic spills, smoking, or leaving out the potato salad out of
Determining Embryonic Stem Cell Potential
Determining Embryonic Stem Cell Potential
Two reports in the December issue of Nature Biotechnology show that the potential of human embryonic stem cells is being realized.1,2 One group led by S.C. Zheung at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and another led by B.E. Reubinoff from Hadassah University, Jerusalem, have isolated highly purified populations of neuronal progenitor cells from human embryonic stem cell (ESC) cultures. These papers demonstrate that human ESC cultures can be enriched for a single and specific progenitor cell
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In his most recent paper,1 Pasko Rakic, chairman of the neurobiology department at Yale University, has rekindled a debate over whether neurogenesis occurs in the neocortex of the normal adult primate. This 'he-said, she-said' battle began in 1985, when Rakic published a study of rhesus monkeys2 and stated unambiguously that neurons were not born in any animal's brain after infancy. Contradicting Rakic's findings in 1998 was neuroscientist Elizabeth Gould, Princeton University, who used a new la
Cloning Controversy Re-emerges in US
Cloning Controversy Re-emerges in US
See also, "Cloning Emergency in Britain?" The politically and ethically contentious issue of cloning, relegated to a back burner following the Sept. 11 terror attacks, re-emerged Thanksgiving weekend following publication of research results at Advanced Cell Technology Inc. ACT scientists claimed that they had for the first time successfully created human embryos through somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) and parthenogenesis.1 The U.S. Senate is gearing up for a showdown vote within the n
Of Scientists, by Scientists, for the People
Of Scientists, by Scientists, for the People
As the pace of scientific discovery continues at breakneck speed, the gap widens between the public's and scientists' understanding of science. And, with research revealing that barely half of U.S. high school seniors meet even basic science requirements,1 the prospects for the situation improving in the near future appear bleak. The myriad scientific findings in the last decade have stimulated and increased media coverage, but the lament among scientists about the media, says Nobel laureate Sir

Opinion

A Cloning Emergency in Britain?
A Cloning Emergency in Britain?
Since the beginning of 2001--Jan. 22 to be exact--it seemed that one country, the United Kingdom, had unambiguously--and literally--gotten its act together on cloning. On that day the House of Lords passed regulations, adopted by the House of Commons one month before, that not only allowed embryonic stem cell research to develop therapies for devastating and intractable diseases, but also situated cloning squarely within the framework of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act of 1990. Or so
A Piece of the Action
A Piece of the Action
We lost another one last week. A bright young assistant professor in his first few years as an independent faculty member at a university E-mailed me to say that he was leaving academic science. He wasn't leaving because he wanted a bigger salary, or because he hated his job--quite the contrary; this is a man who loved what he was doing passionately. He was leaving because he had been unable to get funding for his research. This happens, of course, to people with bad ideas, or no ideas, but I do

Cartoon

Cartoon
Cartoon
Anthony Canamucio

Letter

Disregard Syndrome
Disregard Syndrome
I enjoyed the Opinion article on the Disregard Syndrome,1 and I can offer one additional reason why some researchers may disregard earlier literature. In the US and European patent systems, if one is aware of literature documenting research findings similar to those on which a patent application is based, the applicant seeking patent protection for a discovery is obliged to inform the patent office of the literature and its relevance. There is, however, no duty to search the literature. Thus, an
Outlook Response
Outlook Response
I enjoyed "Outlook 2002: Jobs abundant despite recession,"1 because it provided an interesting historical perspective to the current biotech job market. However, I believe that it is dangerous to start making the job market look so hot that just about anyone can fall into a good, high-paying job right out of a grad program or postdoc. I don't think that this helps anyone who is job seeking--it only creates frustration and a feeling of abandonment. Many articles in the non-science media have pr
Clinical Researchers
Clinical Researchers
The recent article "Not enough researchers in the clinic?"1 is right on the mark. However, it fails to mention that not all clinicians are physicians. There is a critical need for scientist-clinicians in disciplines other than medicine such as clinical psychology, clinical nutrition, speech and language pathology, occupational therapy, and physical therapy. Within each of these health disciplines, clinician scientists are testing the effectiveness of their treatment interventions. As health ca

Research

Yes, Biologically Speaking, Sex Does Matter
Yes, Biologically Speaking, Sex Does Matter
Editor's Note: This is the first article in a series on sex-based differences in the biology of males and females, a topic that has gained momentum over the last decade. Subsequent articles will cover sex-based differences in brain structure and strokes, genetics, autoimmunity, and drug metabolism. Lisa Damiani When I was a kid, I always wanted to know why there were two sexes," recalls Florence Haseltine, director of the Center for Population Research at the National Institute of Child Health
Embryonic Research: It's More Than Just Cloning
Embryonic Research: It's More Than Just Cloning
As some researchers pursue cloning and stem cell work, attracting media attention along the way, others concentrate on embryonic research that will help produce healthier babies. From esoteric work on genetic control mechanisms to studies of fetal nutrition, human genetics, and the effects of toxic substances on the fetus, scientists are trying to formulate a fuller picture of what occurs in utero. For example, scientists like Dennis Thiele and colleagues in the biological chemistry department a
Networking for Plant Survival
Networking for Plant Survival
The Faculty of 1000 is an innovative Web-based literature awareness tool published by BioMed Central. This new research service provides scientists with a continuously updated insider's guide to biology's most important papers, based on the recommendations of a faculty of more than 1,400 selected leading researchers. Each month these scientists review two to four of the most noteworthy papers they have read, which may or may not be authored by F1000 members, and post evaluations and comments o
Notable
Notable
J.A. Camarero et al., "Peptide chemical ligation inside living cells: In vivo generation of a circular protein domain," Bioorganic and Medicinal Chemistry, 9[9]:2479-84, September 2001. F1000 Rating: Recommended "To investigate whether chemo-selective peptide ligations work in vivo, the authors demonstrate the in vivo head-to-tail cyclization of a bioactive SH3 domain using native chemical ligation. The protein precursor was constructed using a clever combination of an intein-fusion protein an

Hot Paper

Researchers Profile Cancer Cells Through Gene Expression
Researchers Profile Cancer Cells Through Gene Expression
For this article, Jim Kling interviewed Louis M. Staudt, senior investigator, Center for Cancer Research, National Cancer Institute; and Michael Bittner, a researcher with the National Human Genome Research Institute. 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. A.A. Alizadeh et al., "Distinct types of diffuse large B-cell lymphoma identified by gene expression profiling," Nature, 403:

Technology Profile

Managing References the Easy Way
Managing References the Easy Way
Years ago, researchers organized their references on index cards, and citation management described the organization of these cards--and by extension, the references that they referred to--so that scientists could find specific papers as needed. Unfortunately, this system suffered from a number of drawbacks. Searching the "database" was a manual chore, and finding a reference without knowing the author or the indexing keyword was nearly impossible, as was finding every paper with a given word in
Unraveling Chromatin's Secrets
Unraveling Chromatin's Secrets
Chromatin fibers are made up of eukaryotic DNA found in the nucleus. Once considered a dull, static entity, a passive scaffold that supports many interesting cellular processes, chromatin structure is now known to be dynamic. It changes in an orchestrated way, responding to the interchange and modification of proteins that associate with and comprise it. At the heart of chromatin's design is the nucleosome, a complex of DNA wound around an octamer containing two molecules each of histone protein
Roll-Your-Own Microarrays
Roll-Your-Own Microarrays
CDNA microarrays hold great promise for characterizing disease and performing genetic studies, but they're not exactly an out-of-the-box technology just yet. Often the scientists must prepare their own chips. Yet, this process is limited by the amount of space on the array itself—forcing researchers to make choices about which genes to include in their sample. Clinical microarray applications are further limited by the availability of sufficient cell numbers for testing purposes. Illumina

Technology

Downsizing DNA Assays
Downsizing DNA Assays
Detection of the DNA sequences responsible for genetically transmitted diseases can open doors to a potential cure, but the research can be expensive and tedious. Princeton, N.J. -based PharmaSeq's light-powered, reusable transponders could provide an inexpensive alternative for performing DNA assays. A nanotransponder measuring just 250 x 250 x 100 µm (less than 1/1000th the size of a grain of rice) is the newest DNA microchip in PharmaSeq's family of microtransponders. Competitive devic
Advancing Proteomics
Advancing Proteomics
The human genome contains perhaps some 75,000 genes, but owing to post-translational modification and fragmentation of the encoded proteins, the human proteome likely contains many times that number of proteins. Protein microarrays would help scientists parse out the intricate relationships between so many targets, but these tools have heretofore been difficult to produce. Whereas DNA is a robust molecule, easy to amplify and spot onto slides, proteins are difficult to manufacture in quantity, a
Linking Genes and Proteins
Linking Genes and Proteins
Madison, Wis.-based Promega Corp. has combined a human adult brain cDNA library with the company's TnT® Quick Coupled Transcription/Translation System to help researchers directly correlate proteins with the genes that encode them—without troubling with protein purification and sequencing. All that the researcher needs is an assay for protein activity and Promega's Proteolink™ In Vitro Expression Cloning System. Promega provides 10 96-well master plates containing plasmid-based c

Profession

Scientists in the Spotlight
Scientists in the Spotlight
When Abigail Salyers, professor of microbiology at the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, arrived at a scheduled talk, she found the building locked. Behind it, police cars flashed their lights. Workers in biohazard jumpsuits and respirators inspected the building's interior as the audience she had expected to address looked on. But Salyers hadn't happened onto a cleanup from a biohazard spill at a university laboratory. The biohazard team was evaluating a suspicious powder at a customari
Michigan Moves from Motors to Molecules
Michigan Moves from Motors to Molecules
Michigan can call to mind images of the Great Lakes or of canoe trips through freshwater marshes. The city of Detroit may evoke the clanging of a car-part conveyor belt or the odor from smokestacks. But now Michigan officials and entrepreneurs also want investors around the world to envision hubs of high-tech collaborations that will transform the state into a biotechnology hotspot within the decade. Surprising to many, Michigan already has built a vigorous life science community. The state boas
Fine Tuning: Secure Your Lab Secrets
Fine Tuning: Secure Your Lab Secrets
Who was Elisha Grey? If you don't know, or aren't sure, you are not alone. Although he may have been the true inventor of the telephone, Mr. Grey has, unfortunately, been lost in anonymity at the cruel hands of fate and the patent system. Properly documenting the creative effort, securing confidential information, and acting quickly can often determine whether a scientist is heralded as a pioneer or relegated to the realm of obscure trivia, as history has done to Grey. The commercial value, viab
Seeking Scientific Riddle Solvers
Seeking Scientific Riddle Solvers
Herman Sintim, a graduate student at Oxford University in England, tried his hand at a simple molecular-synthesis project. When he solved it, he not only won $2,000 (US), but also became one of the first scientists to participate in a unique incentive program sponsored by an offshoot of Eli Lilly and Co. This past summer, the pharmaceutical giant launched InnoCentive.com, a Web site where scientists from Big Pharma and start-up biotechs post problems for outside researchers to solve. Companies s
Funding Opportunities in the Life Sciences
Funding Opportunities in the Life Sciences
Click to view our current database of Funding Opportunities in the Life Sciences.