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Contributors
Contributors
Contributors Susan Gasser was slow to find her calling in science; her first real focus in university was classical philosophy. "It was really reading things like Darwin that were very conceptual that made me interested in science," she says. She earned her Ph.D. working on mitochondrial protein trafficking with Gottfried Schatz at the University of Basel, which led to a postdoc studying chromosomes. "The organization of chromatin in the nucleus is
Fairness for Fraudsters
Fairness for Fraudsters
By Richard Gallagher Fairness for Fraudsters The punishment for researchers guilty of misconduct is excessively punitive, and needs reform. At the end of the exclusion period, researchers should be able to participate again as full members of the scientific community. But they can't. The Office of Research Integrity (ORI), part of the US Public Health Service (PHS), serves an indispensible function: the identification and punishment
Mail
Mail
Mail Activating Debate Re: "Now Showing: RNA Activation,"1 I am surprised that the RNAi community is resistant to new mechanisms of RNA such as RNA activation, as it wasn't that long ago that scientists were not believing in RNA interference. Most discoveries in science have been found by mistake and not by hypothesis testing in a lab. With all the "revelations" that have been found in genetics over the last 15 years, this is just another facet of
The number two-ome
The number two-ome
By Elie Dolgin The number two-ome The first two weeks of samples from Lawrence David (L) and Eric Alm (E). Eric Alm bursts into the Massachusetts Institute of Technology lab and grabs a small, maroon-colored sports duffel bag. "Give me seven and a half minutes," he says with a sense of urgency. "I'm taking a sample and I know exactly how long that takes me." Into the duffel bag he stuffs a disposable plastic commode about the
Like life
Like life
By Daniel Grushkin Like life To get to know the Biomimicry Guild is to learn its biology-inspired lingo: Its members aren't a group—they're a "meme." They don't reject ideas—they have an "immune response." And when they inaugurate a conference, like they did this winter at the San Diego Wild Animal Park, they don't clap. They caw, hoot, tweet and gobble. Picture 50 architects, designers, and scientists from companies like I
Hard Bargains
Hard Bargains
By Elie Dolgin Hard bargains Gary Brouhard and his new camera. Five months after placing the orders, the cameras finally arrive. Biophysicist Gary Brouhard tears open the cardboard boxes, tosses the packaging aside, and gently places the two $47,000 cameras onto the cluttered lab bench, inconspicuously nestled between sheets of pink bubble wrap, unopened equipment boxes, and the week's growing heap of recycl
Sample, don't trample
Sample, don't trample
By Bob Grant Sample, don't trample Raman spectroscopy could help curators—like Christina Bisulca— more thoroughly explore ancient artifacts, such as this mammoth skull at the Arizona State Museum Conservation Lab. Courtesy of Gina Watkinson Historical, archaeological, and paleontological artifacts are precious. And often preciously small: a 500-millimeter fossil fragment, 2 milligrams of charcoal from a prehi
Pride vs tribe
Pride vs tribe
By Cheryl Lyn Dybas Pride vs. tribe A Maasai watching livestock. courtesy of Craig Packer A male lion saunters toward one of a safari of Land Rovers bumping its way along the floor of Ngorongoro Crater, a Tanzania National Park within the country's greater Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA). Inches from an open Land Rover window, the lion stops and glances at the vehicle's occupants. Without another look, he nonchalantly s
Don't Format Manuscripts
Don't Format Manuscripts
By François Brischoux and Pierre Legagneux Don't Format Manuscripts Journals should use a generic submission format until papers are accepted. "Dear Dr. Scaramouche, your manuscript has now been reviewed. Based on the comments made by the referees, I decided to reject your paper for publication in our journal. Although I realize you will be disappointed by this decision, I nonetheless hope that the comments made by the referees will be helpf
Quitters Somtimes Win
Quitters Somtimes Win
By Steven Wiley Quitters Sometimes Win Not everybody who likes independent research is suited for it. The best students see connections between everything; a prodigious memory does little good if you cannot spot these relationships. Scientists are a persistent group. We all have the experience of doing experiments that refuse to work as planned, or favoring a hypothesis that seems contradicted by the latest data. If we accepte
Life After Fraud
Life After Fraud
Life After Fraud
You put your name into Google, and the first entry is about a transgression from 20 years ago, the penalty for which only lasted three years. Now you can't get a job.
The Shape of Heredity
The Shape of Heredity
By Susan M. Gasser The Shape of Heredity Tracking the dance of DNA and structural proteins within the nucleus shows that placement makes the difference between gene activity and silence. What's true of the best architecture is also true of cellular structures: form follows function. We biologists often take this mantra to an extreme, searching for the function of a molecule or gene without much consideration of its structure, its phys
The Great Haddock Revival
The Great Haddock Revival
By Kirsten Weir The Great Haddock Revival In the near-empty seas, one species has surged back to life. Can the others follow? Photography by Alexandra Daley-Clark filmy, pink dawn has just slipped above the horizon as the F/V Stormy Weather arrives at the fishing grounds. After a two-hour cruise from port in Hampton Beach, NH, the vessel has reached the southwest corner of Jeffrey's Ledge, a winding offshore glacial
Prokaryotic Pioneer
Prokaryotic Pioneer
By Karen Hopkin Prokaryotic Pioneer Always a trailblazer, Susan Gottesman laid the foundation for two new fields in bacterial gene regulation. © Jason Varney | varneyphoto.com As an undergraduate at Radcliffe College—Harvard's allgirl sister institution—in the 1960s, Susan Gottesman earned pocket money working as a technician in Jim Watson's Harvard lab. "I would hear stories of people going to mixers at
Gut Churning
Gut Churning
By Alla Katsnelson Gut Churning The discovery of an intestinal stem cell marker fuels an ongoing debate over the cells' location and properties. GFP-labeled Lgr5-positive cells in the crypt base of the mouse intestine Courtesy of Nick Barker and Hugo Snippert Mammalian intestinal epithelium is one of the most swiftly self-renewing tissues in the body, turning over completely every 3 to 5 days. Because of the absence
Getting Defensive
Getting Defensive
By Bob Grant Getting defensive The paper: D. Chinchilla et al., "A flagellin-induced complex of the receptor FLS2 and BAK1 initiates plant defence," Nature, 448:497– 501, 2007. (Cited in 66 papers) The finding: A team of European researchers led by Thomas Boller of the University of Basel, Switzerland, challenged Arabidopsis thaliana plants with bacterial peptides, and found that mutants that lacked the gene for the co-rec
Caught between a ROCK
Caught between a ROCK
By Elie Dolgin Caught between a ROCK Courtesy of Xiangyunli The paper: K. Watanabe et al., "A ROCK inhibitor permits survival of dissociated human embryonic stem cells," Nat Biotech, 25:681–86, 2007. (Cited in 59 papers) The finding: To address the problem of human embryonic stem (ES) cells undergoing programmed cell death when dissociated into single cells, a team led by Yoshiki Sasai of the RIKEN Kobe Institute i
Stately STAT
Stately STAT
By Jef Akst Stately STAT © Stem Jems / Photo Researchers, Inc. The paper: X. O. Yang et al., "STAT3 regulates cytokine-mediated generation of inflammatory helper T cells," J Biol Chem, 282:9358–63, 2007. (Cited in 118 papers) The finding: Chen Dong and his colleagues at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas, modulated the expression levels of a transcription factor called STAT3 in undifferentiat
Konrad Hochedlinger
Konrad Hochedlinger
By Elie Dolgin Konrad Hochedlinger: A reprogramming revolutionary © 2009 Leah Fasten In 1999, Konrad Hochedlinger squeezed into a packed lecture at the Institute of Molecular Pathology in Vienna to hear stem cell researcher Rudolf Jaenisch talk about nuclear transfer cloning techniques. Hochedlinger, a biology masters student, knew little about cloning, but he'd been intrigued by the technique ever since scientists clon
Green at the Bench
Green at the Bench
By Amy Coombs Green at the Bench Replacing your lab's chemical "worst offenders" with less toxic alternatives. Going green in the lab often involves large-scale, institutional changes that the average researcher alone cannot bring about. If an institution's bureaucracy selects against better waste-processing systems, there isn't much a single scientist can do. But there's a lot that can be done on a bench-by-bench basis to reduce toxic exposure
Success with iPSCs
Success with iPSCs
By Elie Dolgin Success with iPSCs The nascent science still has many stumbling blocks to step over before companies can reap the rewards of reprogramming. iPS cells Courtesy of California Institute for Regenerative Medicine A decade ago, the United States granted a series of patents that some say changed the embryonic stem cell (ESC) field forever. The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) received three broad patent
What Vacation?
What Vacation?
By Bob Grant What Vacation? Johanna Joyce (W); Alison Spencer (T); Gary Bassell (A); Dan Pong (C); Will Bringgold (T); Karen Kirner (I); Barbara Kirkpatrick (N). Bassell, Pong, and Bringgold images courtesy of the bassell lab / www.basselllab.com Ah summer! It's a time for easy living, a relaxed teaching schedule, perhaps a leisurely sabbatical, some tall cold drinks, and... undergraduate interns. The National Science Fou
First human brain chemicals, 1865-1871
First human brain chemicals, 1865-1871
By Elie Dolgin First Human Brain Chemicals, 1865–1871 © Science Museum /SSPL In 1864, the German pharmacologist Oscar Liebrich presented a paper at a meeting in Giessen arguing that brain tissue was composed of a single giant molecule called "protagon." Any simpler lipids that chemists were isolating, Liebrich argued, were simply breakdown products of this primary, high-molecular-weight compound. The protagon theo