Commentary

Demand Citation Vigilance
Demand Citation Vigilance
In 1992, I discussed "bibliographic negligence," and a decade earlier I discussed "citation amnesia."

News

Frontlines
Frontlines
As blood-letting, the aspirin of medieval medicine, fell out of favor, so too did its boon companion, the leech. In the past two decades, however, the slimy, segmented worms squirmed back into hospitals as a treatment for the venous congestion that can occur after reconstructive surgery. Recently, a University of Wisconsin team created a mechanical replacement designed to work as well or better at clearing dead, clotted blood from reattached tissues. The prototype leech sucks blood from a 3-mm w
Alzheimer Research Joins the Mainstream
Alzheimer Research Joins the Mainstream
In 1977, Alzheimer Disease researcher Peter Davies spoke with some neurologists about his work, which he began a year earlier. "One [neurologist] said, 'This is lovely..., but why don't you work on something that is more common?'" he remembers. Davies says the comment epitomized scientists' then-dismissive attitude about Alzheimer Disease (AD). When Alois Alzheimer first identified this memory-destroying disorder in 1907, his patient was a 50-year-old woman; a very early age, as researchers now
Phenotype Offers New Perception on Cocaine
Phenotype Offers New Perception on Cocaine
In cocaine research, dopamine and glutamate make a brilliant star and supporting player, respectively. One takes center stage, the anointed crowd-pleaser; the other, though a leading actor in other productions, is so overshadowed that admiration of its performance is relegated to an acquired taste. A quick PubMed search recently disclosed their perceived importance: 3,628 abstracts on cocaine and dopamine, 178 for cocaine and glutamate. Courtesy of François ConquetFrançois Conquet Now
Researchers, Institutions, and Patents
Researchers, Institutions, and Patents
Like a marriage descending into divorce, the relationship between researcher and institution can turn to enmity when patent and licensing disagreements become intractable. Fortunately, truly serious battles are relatively infrequent. More commonly, the reaction is anger and dissatisfaction over how a university or research hospital handles the commercialization of a scientist's discovery. But in serious battles against well-funded employers, the odds are clearly against the individual. When push
Security Fears Put Scientists Under Scrutiny
Security Fears Put Scientists Under Scrutiny
Michael Goldberg expected to hear from the FBI because he knew the agency wanted "The List." So the phone call from federal investigators to the American Society of Microbiology in Washington, DC, requesting the names and addresses of 43,000 members came as no surprise. Goldberg, the society's executive director, received a letter citing the names of two agents who would come to the ASM office. The letter says it "reaffirms ... that all membership information disclosed by ASM will be used for of
Governing the 'Dark Side of Science'
Governing the 'Dark Side of Science'
Recent bioterrorist attacks may not only influence the content of future research studies, but the way those studies are reviewed, monitored, and published. On Dec. 6, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases announced several new initiatives intended to encourage basic research in bioterrorism-related areas. The initiatives, which expand on old programs and introduce new ones, will not be funded by "new" money, but rather via a reallocation of the $81.6 million in NIAID bioterr
Payday for US Plant Scientists
Payday for US Plant Scientists
A Dec. 10 ruling from the US Supreme Court that validates patents on genetically engineered plants re-ignited the debate over the politics of property rights in the life sciences. In a case involving the leading seed-corn producer, Pioneer Hi-Bred International Inc. of Des Moines, Iowa, the Court endorsed the US Patent and Trademark Office's 1985 decision to issue broad utility patents on plants.1 The patent office based its decision on earlier rulings that "anything under the sun made by man" i

Letter

More on the Disregard Syndrome
More on the Disregard Syndrome
Editor's Note: All of these letters relate to the Opinion article, "The Disregard Syndrome: A Menace to Honest Science?" by Isaac Ginsburg, published in the Dec. 10, 2001 issue of The Scientist. See also, "Demand Citation Vigilance," a commentary by Eugene Garfield. Two common variants of the disregard syndrome deserve explicit identification. The "but see" variant typically involves a citation sequence such as "Much work supports this idea (Alpha 1991, Beta 1992, Gamma 1993—but see Delta

Research

Testing Potential Alzheimer Vaccines
Testing Potential Alzheimer Vaccines
In 1999, scientists at Elan Corp.'s South San Francisco, Calif. facility stunned the Alzheimer Disease (AD) research community: vaccination, they announced, reduces AD-like pathology in transgenic mice.1 Since then, dozens of labs have been working on vaccines to prevent, retard, or reverse AD's devastating symptoms. One clinical trial is finished, a second is under way, and others appear imminent. In animal studies, researchers are testing different types of vaccines and examining how the immun
Attacking b-Amyloid at its Source
Attacking b-Amyloid at its Source
The all-out assault to impede production of b-amyloid (Ab), the plaque-forming peptide believed by many to cause neurodegenerative Alzheimer's disease (AD), entails a war on two fronts. For those aiming to prevent plaques at their cellular source, the two clear targets are b-secretase and g-secretase, which sequentially cleave amyloid precursor protein (APP) to generate Ab. Some victories are emerging: Small molecules designed to inhibit g-secretase activity are being clinically tested, and the
Learning How Flies Fly
Learning How Flies Fly
Insects rule, says Michael Dickinson, professor of integrative biology at the University of California, Berkeley, and one of this year's MacArthur fellowship genius award winners. Insects, he contends, have reigned for half a billion years and are likely to do so for a billion more, considering their biomass, the sheer number of species, and their ecological impact. What really moves Dickinson is the insects' flying proficiency. The first organisms to evolve flight, insects still represent the m
Deciphering How the Sexes Think
Deciphering How the Sexes Think
Editor's Note: This is the second 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 genetics, autoimmunity, and drug metabolism. Stereotypes aside, women and men do process information in singular ways. In the past, tests that tried to pinpoint those variations were fraught with inconsistencies and irregularities. But now, by studying the brain itself, researchers are learning that the sexes use dif
Hope for Huntington's Disease
Hope for Huntington's Disease
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 papers within a range of research fields, based on the recommendations of a faculty of over 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 of comments on inte
Notable
Notable
T. Sicheritz-Pontén, S.G. Andersson, "A phylogenomic approach to microbial evolution," Nucleic Acids Research, 29[2]:545-52, Jan. 15, 2001. F1000 Rating: Must Read "The paper describes methods and computer programs for automated phylogenetic analysis of complete genome datasets, as well as useful visualization tools for the results. The tools should be useful to those looking for genes that may have unusual evolutionary histories relative to other genes in the same genome." —Jonath

Hot Paper

Elucidating the DNA Damage Pathway
Elucidating the DNA Damage Pathway
For this article, Jennifer Fisher Wilson interviewed Thanos Halazonetis, molecular biologist at the Wistar Institute in Philadelphia; Tak Mak, departments of medical biophysics and immunology at University of Toronto; and Carol Prives, department of biological sciences at Columbia University in New York City. 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. N.H. Chehab et al., "Chk2/hCds1 f

Technology Profile

Untangling Neuronal Calcium Signaling
Untangling Neuronal Calcium Signaling
From the very moment of conception, calcium plays a pivotal role in fetal development. It rushes in as a wave around the egg to herald the sperm's arrival, binding to proteins that help kick off the whole developmental process. From this first influx, calcium continues to play a critical role in how the body's cells respond to outside signals. Calcium tells muscles to contract and nerves to release neurotransmitters, and is at least part of the signal that helps people form and retain memories.
Protein Purification I: Liquid Chromatography
Protein Purification I: Liquid Chromatography
From individual academic laboratories to Big Pharma manufacturing plants, small- and large-scale protein purification usually requires some type of liquid chromatography. Most purification techniques have been in use for decades, but the development of new resins has improved the time-tested methods that exploit proteins' physical and chemical properties to effect separations. This profile examines four techniques—gel filtration (GF), ion exchange (IEX), hydroxyapatite (HAP), and hydrophob
Bolstering Functional Genomics
Bolstering Functional Genomics
Sometimes it pays to listen to your adviser. Hui Ge, a graduate student in Marc Vidal's lab at Harvard Medical School did, pursuing one of her adviser's pet projects, and was published in Nature Genetics for her trouble.1 Ge and second author Zhihua Liu were partners in genetics professor George Church's annual course, Genomics and Computational Biology. As part of that course, students must pick an individual project and run with it, says Church. "If the projects are good enough, then I continu

Technology

New Tools Aid RNA Interference Studies
New Tools Aid RNA Interference Studies
RNA transfection for direct functional analysis of RNA species is becoming increasingly popular. This is due, in part, to exploding interest in RNA interference (RNAi), a gene-silencing technique used in studying fruit flies, nematodes, and mammalian cells that relies on the introduction of short RNA duplexes into the cell.1 Like antisense RNA, scientists use RNAi to determine gene function by blocking the expression of a specific mRNA. Researchers can transfect other types of RNA molecules as w

Bench Buys

Bench Buys
Bench Buys
Piscataway, NJ-based Amersham Biosciences introduces PlusOne Clean-Up kits and reagents for IEF, SDS-PAGE, and 2-D electrophoresis sample preparation. The PlusOne kits use a protein precipitation method that overcomes problems associated with traditional techniques, such as incomplete precipitation, inaccurate quantitation, and incomplete protein recovery. Researchers can prepare samples in 90 minutes with these reagents. Amersham Biosciences (800) 526-3593 www.amershambiosciences.com Courtes

Profession

When Big Pharma Courts Academia
When Big Pharma Courts Academia
Norman Greenberg tests AstraZeneca compounds on mice he genetically engineered to develop prostate cancer. He supplies the animals and the system for verifying the effectiveness of chemotherapy treatments while the company provides the compounds and testing costs, and gives Greenberg ample opportunity to prove just how well his system works. Together, the scientist from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston and his corporate partner warily straddle the barrier between academia and industry, and
Bad Brakes Send Scientist to Biotechnology
Bad Brakes Send Scientist to Biotechnology
Judith Britz decided to leave academic science for industry during her morning commute one day in 1986. She had exited Interstate 95 on the way to work as a postdoctorate fellow at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. But when she pulled onto the off ramp and hit the brakes, she didn't slow down. "The brakes failed and scared the hell out of me," says Britz. "I was able to stop the car with my hand brake. I was so frightened and at the same time angry because we had replaced the brakes before a
Turning Points
Turning Points
I grew up in the 1960s and 70s near Stony Creek, a small brook in southeastern Pennsylvania. The water brimmed with fish and minnows, which I brought home in paper cups as specimens to pore over. Maybe it was the splashing around in the creek or the creepy-crawly treasures I found under the rocks, but this and other outdoor experiences fostered an interest in animals, mostly of the aquatic variety, which stayed with me until I chose a major in college. A love of science can come from any experie
When the FBI Asks, Should Scientists Tell?
When the FBI Asks, Should Scientists Tell?
Working with dangerous pathogens soon may become a hazard to intellectual autonomy with new laws that widen federal scrutiny of university labs and other research centers, according to scientists and policymakers. Already the FBI has queried academic scientists about their use of anthrax and other biological materials. The U.S. Attorney General's office is also using criminal, immigration, and national security databases to determine whether people possessing, using or transferring such agents a
Funding Opportunites in the Life Sciences
Funding Opportunites in the Life Sciences
Click to view our current database of Funding Opportunites in the Life Sciences.

Opinion

A Smallpox Shot in the Dark
A Smallpox Shot in the Dark
Sixty percent of Americans would opt for smallpox immunization if the vaccine were available, according to a recent poll, and U.S. health officials have just negotiated the purchase of enough vaccine for everyone in the United States. Those two facts may be a prescription for bad medicine. Medically and epidemiologically, smallpox is the most feared and potentially devastating of all infectious agents. It spreads from person to person, primarily via droplets coughed up by infected persons, via d