News

Turning Trash into Treasure
Turning Trash into Treasure
In theory, using cellulosic biomass makes a lot of sense. Take what would otherwise be waste or animal feed--agricultural and forestry residues, recycled paper, and other organic waste--treat them with acid and the right enzymes, and create relatively clean-burning ethanol and other byproducts. In doing so, there would be less landfill, pollution, and a reduced national dependence on oil, more than 55 percent of which comes from overseas. In reality, while the apparent energy crisis has made so
Biosphere 2 Redux
Biosphere 2 Redux
A paneless window offers a view from an overhead walkway onto the artificial ocean of the Biosphere 2 Center, or B2C. It's a strange and fascinating sight, here under the Santa Catalina Mountains near dry little Oracle, Ariz., about 30 miles north of Tucson. Except for the walls and ceiling of glass triangles that enclose this million-gallon simulation of a Caribbean-type sea, the only obvious, unnatural object is a vacuum pump that provides a tidal pulse at the 25-foot deep end. Near the shallo
A New Season of West Nile Virus
A New Season of West Nile Virus
Two years do not a trend make, but it does seem that with each passing summer, the number of human West Nile virus cases tends to decline. That said, there is no reason to relax. No one can predict reliably from year to year whether this, or any other mosquito-borne viral illness, might come back to infect humans, says Jim Miller, West Nile coordinator for New York City. "West Nile has been well documented since it was introduced here two years ago. It's a totally new virus in this part of the w
Developing the Ideal Breast Cancer Screening Test
Developing the Ideal Breast Cancer Screening Test
Thirty-five years after mammography screening demonstrated a 30 percent mortality reduction,1 researchers are still searching for an ideal breast cancer screening tool. At the recent American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) meeting in San Francisco, members of an Institute of Medicine panel described their recommendations to spur development of such a test. Earlier this year, the panel issued a report titled Mammography and Beyond: Developing New Technologies for the Early Detection of Breas
Watching Plants Grow
Watching Plants Grow
Mae West once said, "Anything worth doing is worth doing slowly." Slow is certainly the word when it comes to plant sex, but that didn't stop a lot of people from taking a peek at a flowering Titan arum in the University of Wisconsin's botany greenhouse recently. When the department's prize arum decided to do its thing, the university on the shores of Lake Mendota in Madison let the whole world play voyeur every 30 seconds via a video camera connected to the Internet. Why the fuss? The Titan ar
News Notes
News Notes
President George W. Bush announced his intention to nominate physicist John H. Marburger director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, following concerns from members of the scientific community that the president had diluted the power of the position by waiting so long to fill it (M. Anderson, B. Maher, "White House help wanted list worries scientists," The Scientist, [15]13:34, June 25, 2001). Marburger directed the Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL) since 1

Profession

Biotech Train Heads for Gains
Biotech Train Heads for Gains
The biotechnology business has ridden a roller coaster in the financial markets for the past 18 months. The gyrations have been enough to make even the most stalwart investor swallow hard. Enthusiastic over the potential of human genome sequencing and depressed about the downturn in the dot-com markets, investors drove up values in biotech stocks by 300 percent and more. But by spring, the high-tech stocks' Titanic pitches had finally helped tow biotech stocks down by 50 percent. Now, with analy
Synergy in St. Louis
Synergy in St. Louis
Backers of a new cluster of business incubators in St. Louis hope to make America's heartland a hotbed of new life sciences companies. Five venture capital funds are now operating in an area where risk capital was once a rarity. Three have raised more than $60 million to invest in technology and life sciences firms; two more plan to raise another $300 million. "It's astounding when you think about it-five funds trying to raise money at the same time, when our kind of money is very scarce in th
FDA Actions, Economy Affect Biotech Industry
FDA Actions, Economy Affect Biotech Industry
Increased scrutiny by federal drug regulators and continued mergers and acquisitions activity could curb expansion in biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries, according to analysts and economists. A capacity constraint caused by a shortage of manufacturing facilities also could chill the overheated biotech market and job growth as companies exhaust their three-year funding cycles in the next few years, cautions Robert Toth, portfolio manager of the medical technology fund of EGM Capital in S
Profession Notes
Profession Notes
For the first time ever, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) wants to support M.D.s who aim to bridge basic science and clinical research. HHMI has opened a national competition to recruit up to 10 investigators who hold M.D.s or M.D.s plus Ph.D.s for patient-oriented research. Nomination invitations were sent to 119 institutions, including medical schools, research institutes, schools of public health, and selected independent hospitals. A committee of distinguished scientists will choos

Letter

One Is Not Enough
One Is Not Enough
Why is it that after sequencing one genome, many people keep stating we now know "the location and sequence of every gene in the genome"?1 I do not wish to take away anything from the gargantuan efforts and brilliant achievements of the many researchers around the world, but one genome is not exactly telling us all we need to know. We have made a great stride forward, but we cannot exactly sit back and enjoy the fruits of our labors. There is such a thing as genetic variability and that has not
The What Syndrome?
The What Syndrome?
The article on "The scholarly presentation " by T. V. Rajan1 was excellent and entertaining. Rajan's maxim, "they select the wimpiest people to chair sessions," reminded me of a story. As a young and inexperienced scientist in the early 1980s, I was asked to chair a scientific session at a meeting in Sydney, Australia. My session was 2:00-5:30 p.m. on a Saturday. A prominent, tall, and self-confident organic chemist from South Africa was fourth on the program, with three speakers scheduled afte
Free Web Access
Free Web Access
T.J. Walker's Opinion article on free access to journal articles via the internet1 was thought-provoking and timely. I agree that in an ideal world, journals would provide unfettered access to articles appearing in print for wider impact. I would like to add two points. One, although it will lead to less overall impact, many scientists are taking it upon themselves to create Web links to papers on their own Web pages. Such efforts provide more and easier circulation of information. This effort

Commentary

Studying Differences Between the Sexes May Spur Improvements in Medicine
Studying Differences Between the Sexes May Spur Improvements in Medicine
It's hard to believe that only a little over two decades ago, the U.S. government issued guidelines recommending that pharmaceutical companies exclude women of childbearing age from participating in clinical trials. Now the National Institutes of Health has an office devoted to women's health research, and more women are being included in critical medical research. That is progress, to be sure. But it has become increasingly clear that to improve medicine for both men and women, more also needs

Cartoon

Cartoon
Cartoon
The Scientist 15[14]:6, Jul. 9, 2001 CARTOON Cartoon By Sidney Harris www.ScienceCartoonsPlus.com

Research

The Quest for Perfect Timing
The Quest for Perfect Timing
Chronobiologists, those who investigate circadian rhythms, or daily clocks, are finally making concrete links between sleep patterns in humans and a menagerie of well-studied animal models. 
Research Notes
Research Notes
An international group of researchers recently provided a glimpse of how disease shapes evolution in its work on G6PD (glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase) deficiency, an X-linked, hemopathologic trait that confers resistance to malaria (www.sciencemag.org/cgi/expresspdf/1061573v1.pdf). The study, involving genetics, evolution, anthropology, and more, offers insight into nature's response to malaria, which kills 2 million annually. As with sickle cell, G6PD deficiency correlates to a reduced risk

Hot Paper

Lateral Thinking
Lateral Thinking
For this article, Steve Bunk interviewed Claire M. Fraser, president, the Institute for Genomic Research, 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. K.E. Nelson, R.A. Clayton, S.R. Gill, M.L. Gwinn, R.J. Dodson, D.H. Haft, E.K. Hickey, J.D. Peterson, W.C. Nelson, K.A. Ketchum, L. McDonald, T.R. Utterback, J.A. Malek, K.D. Linher, M.M. Garrett, A.M. Stewart, M.D. Cotton
Change of Expression
Change of Expression
For this article, Steve Bunk interviewed Rudolf Aebersold, cofounder, Institute for Systems Biology, Seattle. 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. S.P. Gygi, Y. Rochon, B.R. Franza, R. Aebersold, "Correlation between protein and mRNA abundance in yeast," Molecular and Cellular Biology, 19:1720-30, March, 1999. (Cited in 114 papers) At virtually all levels of life sciences, fro

Technology

The Essential Software Toolbox
The Essential Software Toolbox
Let's face it: Life scientists need computers. They need word processors to write grants and manuscripts; spreadsheets and statistical software to crunch numbers; image manipulation software to put the data into publication-ready formats; and sequence analysis software to, well, analyze sequence information. The Scientist recently conducted a survey in which readers were asked what software is used in their laboratories, and to what tasks they think the software manufacturers need to pay greater

Bench Buys

Bench Buys
Bench Buys
Pierce Chemical Co. of Rockford, Ill., has introduced the UnBlot™ Chemiluminescent In-Gel Detection Kits for detection and visualization of specific proteins. Unlike Western blotting, the technology permits detection of protein directly in the gel, eliminating transfer and blocking steps. The UnBlot kits reduce post-electrophoresis detection time to as little as four hours. Additionally, the technology is compatible with stripping and reprobing protocols, allowing users to reprobe and reop

Technology Profile

Northern Exposure
Northern Exposure
Premade Northern Blots Researchers interested in gene expression have at their disposal a whole host of RNA profiling tools, including Northern blotting, microarray analysis, and RNase protection assays (RPA). Each of these techniques has advantages and disadvantages, and scientists must decide which approach will best suit their particular need. A Northern blotting experiment involves the electrophoretic resolution of RNA samples on a formaldehyde-agarose gel, transfer of the RNA onto a solid
Suppliers of Premade Northern Blots
Suppliers of Premade Northern Blots
The Scientist 15[14]:20, Jul. 9, 2001 PROFILE Premade Northern Blots Company Product Name RNA Source Tissues Price Ambion (800) 888-8804 www.ambion.com FirstChoice Northern Blots mRNA Adult Human Brain, placenta, skeletal muscle, heart, kidney, pancreas, liver, lung, spleen, thymus $595/$795 FirstChoice Northern Blots mRNA Adult Human Brain, liver, pancreas, small intestine, colon, thymus, spleen, prosta
Number Crunching
Number Crunching
Click to view the PDF file: Suppliers of Statistical Analysis Software Courtesy of Stata Corp.New users of Stata Corp.'s Stata software can obtain training via NetCourses. "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics," or so said Benjamin Disraeli. Fortunately, the field of statistics has come a long way in the last 150 years. With careful scrutiny, lies (and even damned lies) can often be recognized as the inappropriate use of statistics. Researchers must use statistical

Opinion

FDA Clones Misguided Regulatory Policy
FDA Clones Misguided Regulatory Policy
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has just launched two salvos in federal agencies' war against biotechnology by attacking various manifestations of the biological process called cloning, in which a mature cell--from the skin, for example--from the animal (or human) to be copied is inserted into an egg whose nucleus has been removed. The resulting embryo is then implanted into a surrogate mother that carries the fetus to term. In response to public claims by two groups that they are attem