Editorial

Iraqi Science: Who Cares?
Iraqi Science: Who Cares?
As my intrepid colleague Sam Jaffe reports in this issue (Rebuilding Iraqi Science), Iraqi science is on its knees. Following two-and-a-half decades of a brutal dictatorship, it's been pummeled by sanctions, halted in its tracks by war, and ransacked in the postwar chaos. We probably can add to this list a deep malaise, which appears to be affecting the entire country as it awaits reconstruction. While reading his report, several questions struck me: Just how worthwhile would it be to reconst

Opinion

Autotherapeutics: Mind Over Matter
Autotherapeutics: Mind Over Matter
Ned Shaw If the 20th century will be remembered for outer space exploration and the human genome, the 21st century, I believe, will be known as the "Brain Century." Although voluminous literature has appeared about the brain and its attribute, the infinite mind, our knowledge is still infinitesimal. From the knowledge to date and forthcoming, I foresee that we will, within this century, begin to learn how our frontal cortex, through focused thought, can treat physiological disorders. This woul

Letter

Mixing Science and Politics
Mixing Science and Politics
Mixing Science and Politics This article1 seemed to be a well-researched and written update on the action by some European scientists. I understand that the purpose of the article was not to air the motives of those people, but the question begs itself, and intended or not, the message it sends is that the boycotters have high moral ground, that the conflict and bloodshed and suffering in the area are all Israel's doing. Paragraph after paragraph, those activities are examined as perhaps h
Dumbocracy
Dumbocracy
Dumbocracy Examples of public "demagoguery" that you quote in your editorial1 are quite conspicuous. Unfortunately, your appeal to "our most eminent researchers" to "lead the debates on the scientific merits of stem cells" in existing situations will only make things worse; that is, decisions less rational and public confidence more abused. The problem is that "our most eminent researchers" are mostly a thoroughly corrupt crowd, who put their personal financial interests, including gains in
Arbitrarily Meaningful
Arbitrarily Meaningful
Arbitrarily Meaningful No need to feel guilty about dropping the ball on "Xerox."1 The term is indeed arbitrary and meaningless in the only meaningful way possible; that is, legally with respect to trademarks. Xerox is not a term commonly used, either now (but for Xerox's use of it) or in classical times. While "xerography" may technically mean "dry writing," Xerox is no less fanciful than whatever would be the term for thin film, as derived by combining words that never have been used in t

Snapshot

Who's in the Kitchen? Scientists!
Who's in the Kitchen? Scientists!
Click for larger version (20K) A remarkable 88% of the 361 readers of The Scientist who responded to our survey prepare a meal at home once every week or more. More than half, 57%, bustle about in the kitchen nearly every day. And these scientists are not just boiling an egg or opening a bag of lettuce; 79% declare that those who eat their meals consider them good, excellent, or outstanding chefs. As would be expected from an international group of scientists, readers enjoy cooking in more

Frontlines

Standing Guard--Inside the Zoo
Standing Guard--Inside the Zoo
Frontlines | Standing Guard--Inside the Zoo Erica P. Johnson With monkeypox a reality in the United States and SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) perhaps only several sneezes away, it makes sense to use zoo animals, which are checked regularly for health problems, as sentinels to monitor public health threats from zoonotic (animal to human) organisms. After birds were found dead from West Nile virus (WNV) in New York zoos in 1999, the Zoo Network was established to monitor zoo animal
Cluck, Cluck, Chomp, Chomp
Cluck, Cluck, Chomp, Chomp
Frontlines | Cluck, Cluck, Chomp, Chomp Image by Erica P. Johnson; original photo ©2001 Eric L. Carlson An Anglo-French research team has created a chicken with teeth, shedding new light on the signaling mechanisms that underlie cell differentiation in organ development. Chicken embryos were implanted with murine cells that constitute teeth and parts of the head, which resulted in the development of tooth-like structures not found in any bird. According to Paul Sharpe, professor of cr

Foundations

The Holy Grail of Immunology
The Holy Grail of Immunology
Foundations | The Holy Grail of Immunology Click for larger version (27K) In 1983, Tak Mak's lab cloned the beta chain of the T-cell receptor, helping to accomplish what the immunology community had been anticipating for 20-plus years. But the T-cell receptor's structure was believed to be heterodimeric, and no one had deciphered what the other piece looked like. In 1984, Mak sketched his thoughts on its shape for a student, Pamela Ohashi, who then made antibodies to peptides, using the a

First Person

Tom Cech
Tom Cech
First Person | Tom Cech Courtesy of Paul Fetters, HHMI Tom Cech, 55, president of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, understands that luck has graced his life. He skipped the "What-should-I-do-with-my-life" angst, knowing since grade school that he wanted to be a scientist. And when he mixed ammonia and bleach in his own little lab in his parents' basement, no life or property was lost. He met his lifelong partner, Carol, in an organic chemistry class at Grinnell College in Iowa. After

So They Say

So They Say
So They Say
So They Say "Passion, falling in love, and standing up for justice are all perfectly compatible with Asperger syndrome. What most people with AS find difficult is casual chatting--they can't do small talk." --Cambridge University researcher Simon Baron Cohen discussing his theory that Albert Einstein had AS, a form of autism. From New Scientist "It's almost as if someone drew a sharp line between old-world primates--including people--and other animals, saying, 'I'll let you clone cattle,

Science Seen

Aboriginal Anatomy
Aboriginal Anatomy
Science Seen | Aboriginal Anatomy Image: Corbis  Medical students have used anatomy textbooks to cram for exams for hundreds of years. No, make that thousands. Archaeologists believe that this aboriginal rock painting in Australia is more than 8,000 years old. It's a near-complete diagram of the human circulatory and skeletal networks. function sendData() { document.frm.pathName.value = location.pathname; result = false if (document.frm.score[0].checked) result = true; if (docu

5-Prime

Whisper Down the Vine: Plant Communication
Whisper Down the Vine: Plant Communication
5-Prime | Whisper Down the Vine: Plant Communication What is chemical communication in plants? Plants rely on chemical signals to communicate with each other and themselves. Some of these chemicals are volatile (known as volatile organic compounds--VOCs) and can be released from leaves, fruits, and flowers. VOCs play various roles in plant development, survival, and gene expression. What sends and receives these signals? Three main types of plant-to-plant signaling are known: interspecifi

Feature

REBUILDING Iraqi Science
REBUILDING Iraqi Science
All photos courtesy of Sam Jaffe UTTER DEVASTATION: First, looters stole everything from Rajwan Hassan Issa's lab, then burned the remains. Alternating pavement stones at the entrance to Mustansiriyah University in Baghdad bear a bas-relief image of Saddam Hussein's face, minus his eyes: somebody chipped them out of each brick. Political banners drape the iron fence that surrounds the campus, seemingly unnoticed by the crowd of buzzing students as they race to class. Some banners procla

Research

A Green Gene Revolution
A Green Gene Revolution
Click for larger version (136K) function sendData() { document.frm.pathName.value = location.pathname; result = false if (document.frm.score[0].checked) result = true; if (document.frm.score[1].checked) result = true; if (document.frm.score[2].checked) result = true; if (document.frm.score[3].checked) result = true; if (document.frm.score[4].checked) result = true; if (!result) alert("Please select") return result; } .myradio{background-color : #94bee5} Please
Inflammation's infamy
Inflammation's infamy
Courtesy of Keith Crutcher IMMUNITY IN MIND: Cultured microglial (N9) cells (red) on a tissue section containing an Alzheimer plaque (green). There is continuing controversy about whether these types of inflammatory cells are responding to plaques or causing them. A finger catches the sharp edge of an envelope; a noseful of tree pollen is accidentally inhaled; the latest virus finds host after human host. In all cases the assaulted body reacts through inflammation, a well known, but not
The COX Continuum
The COX Continuum
Adapted from T.D. Warner et al., Proc Natl Acad Sci, 99:13371-3, 2002. SLIDING SCALE: Two distinct genes for COX-1 and -2 may give rise to a number of constitutive and inducible COX proteins with overlapping functions. The discovery of cyclooxygenase (COX) isoforms, COX-1 and COX-2, in the early 1990s helped explain how non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) work and led to specific agents with fewer gastrointestinal side effects. Last year, Brigham Young University researchers c
A Finger on the Pulse of Transcriptional Control
A Finger on the Pulse of Transcriptional Control
"I lost concentration and began to think of our scholarly daughter working at Yale on a project called Zinc Fingers scanning a protein with pseudopods each with a trace of zinc that latch on to our DNA and help determine what we become." --From Zinc Fingers, Peter Meinke  "GREEN" FINGERS: Zinc finger- based artificial transcription factors (background) have been applied in plants such as Arabidopsis thaliana (foreground). Reprinted with permission, Curr Opin Plant Biol, 6:163-8, Apri

Hot Paper

Photosystems I and II in 3-D
Photosystems I and II in 3-D
Data derived from the Science Watch/Hot Papers database and 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. P. Jordan et al., "Three-dimensional structure of cyanobacterial photosystem I at 2.5 angstrom resolution," Nature, 411:909-17, 2001. (cited in 176 papers) A. Zouni et al., "Crystal structure of photosystem II from Synechococcus elongatus at 3.8 angstrom resolution," Nature, 409:739-43, 2001.

Technology Front Page

RNA Interference without the Interferon; Simplifying Dialysis and Electroelution; Microarray Analysis, TIGR-Style
RNA Interference without the Interferon; Simplifying Dialysis and Electroelution; Microarray Analysis, TIGR-Style
PATENT WATCH | RNA Interference without the Interferon The red-hot field of RNA interference (RNAi) could benefit from patents issued jointly to Queensland, Australia-based Benitec, and the State of Queensland (US patent 6,573,099, issued June 3, 2003, and UK patent 2353282, granted May 3, 2003). The patents describe a method Benitec calls "DNA-directed RNA interference" (ddRNAi) to differentiate it from typical double-stranded small interfering RNA (siRNA). Using this method, a DNA constru

Technology Profile

Protein Microarrays at the Cusp
Protein Microarrays at the Cusp
Courtesy of Ciphergen Biosystems Wildlife biologist Marissa Irwin had no idea that cells in her body had gone haywire. In response to scrambled protein signaling pathways, certain cells turned cancerous and grew into tumors that took over the 37-year-old woman's ovaries. Though her doctors settled on a diagnosis of ovarian cancer, they could not determine what kind of neoplasia was causing the tumor growth--an important factor in determining the proper treatment. Daniel Chan is one of a growi
Revving up the Green Express
Revving up the Green Express
Courtesy of Large Scale Biology Agricultural researchers have designed a wide variety of genetically modified plants with traits deemed beneficial to those who grow, market, and consume them. But plants have another role in biotech: Members of the green kingdom also can be used--quite literally-- as manufacturing plants for large-scale, recombinant protein production.1-4 Think GM crops, with a twist. Such proteins have potential industrial, research, and clinical applications. Plant expressi

Technology

A Grand Opening for ORFs
A Grand Opening for ORFs
Courtesy of Invitrogen Scientists studying a protein's function frequently start with the gene that encodes it. "You want to know what a protein does at the biochemical, cellular, physiological, and organismal levels," says Marc Vidal, assistant professor of genetics at Harvard University and research associate at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. "To do that, you need to express this protein under many different conditions using the region of the gene that encodes it, and that's the open read
Nano-LC for Proteomics
Nano-LC for Proteomics
One of the challenges of proteomics is sample size. Researchers need to fractionate complex protein mixtures into their component parts for subsequent analysis, but the miniscule quantities and volumes involved preclude standard large-scale chromatography. Three years ago Agilent Technologies, headquartered in Palo Alto, Calif., introduced its 1100 series capillary LC system, featuring tiny tubes that could pump nanoliter volumes through columns with high accuracy. Now the company is following
Music to Microscale Ears
Music to Microscale Ears
Courtesy of Gyros Uppsala, Sweden-based Gyros will expand its line of Gyrolab™ microlaboratories on compact disc to include two new products, one to detect phosphorylated proteins and one for protein quantification. The Gyrolab MALDI (matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization) IMAC™ (immobilized metal ion affinity chromatography) captures phosphorylated peptides and prepares samples prior to MALDI mass spectrometry. Gyrolab Bioaffy™ is designed for protein quantification an

Profession Front Page

Traveling on a Light Budget; Learn to Map the Genome; Clique of the Titans
Traveling on a Light Budget; Learn to Map the Genome; Clique of the Titans
TIP TROVE | Traveling on a Light Budget Courtesy of NIH Traveling on a budget isn't much different for researchers than when they were students. For trips of a relatively short duration, going by train instead of plane offers benefits such as less time required to check in, and more room for paperwork while en route. Sharing a hotel room with a peer can result in significant savings. Although many now use the Web for travel arrangements, consider soliciting recommendations from a travel age

Profession

Christof Koch's Ascent
Christof Koch's Ascent
Courtesy of Christof Koch Scaling what climbers call "big wall," Yosemite's Half Dome appears impossible at the start: A rock face nearly 500 times taller than a person offers only shard-like holds and fingernail-thin cracks for support. But with talent, experience, and enormous focus and discipline, the big wall becomes a series of small, concentrated moves. The climber keeps focused, while the gawkers below admire his courage and question his sanity. California Institute of Technology profes
The Fruits of University Research
The Fruits of University Research
When universities license discoveries made by scientists to companies for commercialization, the whims of the marketplace determine the results. As with anything else in business, the odds of scoring a major financial hit are slight, but the payoff can be exceedingly large. This is especially true for the life sciences, where discoveries and patents in medicine and biology continue to produce the lion's share of revenues for universities and research institutions. Life science patents also co
Heal Thyself or Die Trying
Heal Thyself or Die Trying
The rigor scared Stephen Hoffman. He had felt irritable and feverish all morning in his hotel room. Then, in the midst of a presentation at a meeting of the American Society for Clinical Investigation, he began to shake uncontrollably. Ironically, the subject of that presentation was whether the antibodies elicited by the vaccine he had helped develop would prevent malaria. To prove it would work, he and six of his coworkers took the vaccine and then exposed themselves to the bites of malaria
The Ch'i of Lab Layout
The Ch'i of Lab Layout
Each time Susan Fahrbach walks into her dank, windowless lab, she returns to the past. "We have dingy, cinderblock walls that give a 1960s feel to our work environment, which is probably the last time they've been painted," explains the professor of entomology at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. A working environment like Fahrbach's can be a huge disadvantage for recruiting. "I had a visitor from Europe ask me why my building looked like a prison," says Fahrbach. "This isn't the

Science Rules

The Skinny on Mouse Collaborations
The Skinny on Mouse Collaborations
Courtesy of Moffa Photography Researchers have until August 1st to make their views known on a proposed policy for sharing genetically modified mice and mutant strains bred for research. The policy applies to both knockout and transgenic mice, inbred and mutant strains, as well as associated data and tools, such as DNA vectors and embryonic stem cells. Early reviews of the National Institutes of Health's draft statement from professional organizations were positive, perhaps because the agency

Fine Tuning

Building a Management Team
Building a Management Team
Courtesy of James Sherifi To secure funding and succeed, a business enterprise requires a novel, patented technology that appeals to a broad market, a sound and professional business plan, and a strong scientific and commercial management team. Each of these elements is vital, related to the others, and mutually supportive. Yet businesses often place greater emphasis on the technology and its development than on the quality of the core management, particularly the CEO. Scientists and business

How I Got This Job

Prepare Your Mind; Analyze Your Assumptions
Prepare Your Mind; Analyze Your Assumptions
Courtesy of Beckman Institute, University of Illinois Early Indications: As an undergraduate, I had the opportunity to work in James L. McGaugh's lab at the University of Oregon under the sponsorship of a National Science Foundation undergraduate research program. Once I realized that universities would actually pay people to do this, my course was set. How I Got Here: I did graduate work at the University of California, Los Angeles, which, in 1964, was a Mecca for interdisciplinary neurosc

Closing Bell

Control the Media? No, Educate Them
Control the Media? No, Educate Them
Ignorance and commercial interest make a combustible mixture, with enlightenment often a victim of the fumes. Views tend to polarize and become unduly influenced by those best able to manipulate the media, irrespective of the argument's merits. The result can be an alarming disparity between public opinion and the true state of the science. No doubt, this syndrome has adversely affected debate over big issues such as genetic modification of plants and global warming. The question is, what's