March 1990

News

Tokyo Funds Marine Biotechnology Plan
Tokyo Funds Marine Biotechnology Plan
An initiative by Japanese firms and government agencies outpaces U.S. efforts, despite America's head start in the field WASHINGTON -- Try to imagine Motorola, Corning Glass Works, Bethlehem Steel, Merck, and Revlon sitting down at the table with Citibank, Chase Manhattan, Bank of Boston, and a few insurance companies and agreeing to invest more than $90 million in a new research project. Then throw in the federal government, with a matching contribution of $90 million. Such a scenario, impla
Misconduct Office Vows To Keep Actions Secret
Misconduct Office Vows To Keep Actions Secret
The new HHS unit resists pressure to reveal the names of the biomedical scientists it has found guilty of wrongdoing NEW ORLEANS -- The year-old Office of Scientific Integrity Review - responsible for resulting the cases of federally funded biomedical researchers accused of scientific misconduct - has meted out punishment to more than a dozen such researchers so far. But the head of that office said last month that he has no intention of making information pertaining to these cases available t
New Biotech Lab To Give BASF U.S. Presence
New Biotech Lab To Give BASF U.S. Presence
The chemical giant, looking for a better research climate, joins other German firms in the Western Hemisphere Eluding pressure from environmentalists and biotechnology regulators at home while looking for new markets to conquer abroad, the West German chemical giant BASF Corp. is establishing a foothold in the United States, with a $100 million research facility at the Massachusetts Biotechnology Park in Worcester. BASF's decision in 1988 to set up shop in the U.S. is the latest example of an
Monterey Bay Institute Pioneers Use of Remote Deep-Sea Probes
Monterey Bay Institute Pioneers Use of Remote Deep-Sea Probes
With Packard Foundation support, the 3-year-old MBARI is establishing its credibility in oceanographic research. MONTEREY, CALIF. -- A unique marine science institute is growing on the shore of Monterey Bay in central California, one that bonds scientists and engineers in a single unit through the use of the latest computer technology and unmanned submersible equipment. The three-year-old Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) is well-positioned to make a splash within the national
NASA Network Faulted For Security Gaps
NASA Network Faulted For Security Gaps
WASHINGTON -- Hackers have been breaking into an unclassified worldwide computer network that contains data on research in the space and earth sciences. So far the 100,000 scientists who are linked to the Space Physics Analysis Network (SPAN) are lucky: The unauthorized access hasn't been malicious, and no files have been altered. But a recent government report to Congress chides NASA for not doing enough to protect the integrity of the system. It takes the agency to task for its failure to co
NSF Makes It Easier To Appeal As It Opens Up Review Process
NSF Makes It Easier To Appeal As It Opens Up Review Process
WASHINGTON -- The National Science Foundation, in the midst of declining funding rates and a growing debate about the nature of peer review, has decided to make it easier for scientists to appeal the bad news they receive. Procedural changes disclosed last month at a meeting of the National Science Board also are designed to help NSF identify the worthiest grant proposals and to provide applicants with more information about the factors that led to funding decisions. "We want to open up the pr
Panel Urges Closer Scrutiny Of New Medical Technology
Panel Urges Closer Scrutiny Of New Medical Technology
When the superficial attraction of the latest equipment outpaces our knowledge of its value, the results can be costly The United States government, concerned about increasing health care costs and unsure about the claims made about some recent technologies, is weighing a proposal that would ask federally funded researchers to prove that new machines are indeed better than their precursors before they become widely used. "The fact is, as technologies emerge, they are driven by those who intro
Activists Press For Open Meetings To Review Research Using Animals
Activists Press For Open Meetings To Review Research Using Animals
Animal welfare activists are trying to open up the hearings of university animal care and use committees at state universities as part of their campaign to restrict or halt the use of animals in research. So far, however, they've had mixed success: State sunshine laws (which mandate open meetings of public bodies), public meetings, and the federal Freedom of Information Act have helped the activists obtain more data on research proposals, but acquiring the protocols for specific projects has re
Academy Panel Urges Companies To Help Train Young Bioscientists
Academy Panel Urges Companies To Help Train Young Bioscientists
Report says biotech firms must pick up the slack to supplement federal funding of the next generation of scientists WASHINGTON -- Biotechnology companies are running out of scientists, and it may be up to industry itself to educate the next generation of biochemists, according to a new report from the National Research Council. The report, funded by the National Institutes of Health at the behest of Congress, recommends that federally supported traineeships and fellowships for biomedical grad
Lasker Foundation Announces Suspension Of Awards
Lasker Foundation Announces Suspension Of Awards
Board cites need to reassess program's direction; moratorium surprises many in scientific community Mary Lasker, the octogenarian president of the Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation, has notified jurors that the foundation's Medical Research Awards - considered by many to serve as a "predictor" of the Nobel Prize - will not be presented in 1990. The decision, which was made by Lasker along with other foundation board members and was not announced officially to the press, has surprised and disap
Special Report From New Orleans: A Look At All That Jazz From The AAAS Meeting
Special Report From New Orleans: A Look At All That Jazz From The AAAS Meeting
[Editor's note: The interdisciplinary nature of the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, held last month in New Orleans, offers a perspective on the status of science in the United States that is not available at the typical scientific meeting, where most discussions are centered on a single discipline or specialty. For the benefit of those who were not in New Orleans - as well as those who were present but otherwise occupied - here's a sampling of some of
People: UC-San Diego Physicist Named To Chair In Honor Of Superconductivity Pioneer
People: UC-San Diego Physicist Named To Chair In Honor Of Superconductivity Pioneer
Physicist M. Brian Maple has only one regret about being named to the University of California, San Diego's, first Bernd T. Matthias Chair in Physics: that the late scientist for whom the chair is named, who was also Maple's teacher and mentor, is not able to share the honor with him, as well as witness the latest discoveries in the field of high-temperature superconductivity. Maple, 50, says his appointment to the chair named for his former thesis adviser means as much sentimentally as it doe

Briefs

AAAS Briefs
AAAS Briefs
Crosscurrents In Environmentalism The environmental movement is now divided into three parts, Sierra Club Chairman Michael McCloskey told participants at a symposium on "two decades of environmentalism." And science may be, in part, to blame for the split. Once a fairly coherent campaign, with different groups adopting similar strategies, environmentalists have gone their separate ways as the movement gains steam. In one camp are such mainstream groups as the Sierra Club, the Audubon Society, a
Entrepreneur Briefs
Entrepreneur Briefs
Wraparound Video The Small Business Innovations Research program is funding a project that could revolutionize the way people watch video images: the Alternate Reality Vision System (ARVIS), developed by an engineering firm in Conway, Wash. According to Bob Dyer, an electronics engineer at Concept Vision System, ARVIS is a stereoscopic image projection device that occupies the viewer's entire field of vision. Conceived by company president John Webster, a registered-nurse- turned-inventor who i
Industry Briefs
Industry Briefs
Beautiful Science We may not know art, but we know what we like - in this case a 100,000 French franc (about $16,000) prize offered by Mo=89t-Hennessy-Louis Vuitton, the French luxury products firm, for a "study, or innovative technical process, related to the application of materials on surfaces, to achieve aesthetic effects." One of last year's winners of the "Science Pour L'Art" competition was physicist Jerzy A. Dobrowolsky, of the National Research Council of Canada. Dobrowolsky's work has
Association Briefs
Association Briefs
Biotech And The President's Budget Despite President Bush's fiscal 1991 budget request of $3.6 billion for biotechnology research and development, a 6% increase over 1990, the Industrial Biotechnology Association is displeased by at least one aspect of the plan. The thorn in the side of the IBA is the budget's inclusion of a U.S. Food and Drug Administration user fee, which would be assessed to any company applying for a product review. The budget calls for these fees to provide the FDA with $
Funding Briefs
Funding Briefs
A Novel Way To Support Your Work Need money for research? Got some time on your hands? Try writing as many as 100,000 words on how to save the planet. It's not a research paper, but rather fiction set in the not-too- distant future. Turner Broadcasting System Inc. and Turner Publishing Inc. have established the Turner Tomorrow Award, which plans to give $500,000 for the best novel with "themes ensuring the survival and prosperity of all life on our planet," according to the program announcement
PEOPLE BRIEFS
PEOPLE BRIEFS
Volume 4, #6The Scientist March 19, 1990 PEOPLE BRIEFS Date: March 19, 1990 James S. Langer has been appointed director of the Institute for Theoretical Physics at the University of California, Santa Barbara. A specialist in condensed matter theory and statistical physics, Langer is a professor of physics at UC-Santa Barbara and has been a member of the school's staff since 1982. Langer has advanced scientific understanding of how melting and freezing processes produce intricate

Clarification

Clarification
Clarification
In the March 5, 1990, issue of The Scientist, the caption on a photograph of North Carolina State University biochemistry professor Paul Agris (page 6) was transposed, owing to a production error, with the caption on a photo of NCSU student Mike Yablonski (page 1).

Opinion

Emilio Segre: Pioneer And Nobel Laureate In Nuclear Physics
Emilio Segre: Pioneer And Nobel Laureate In Nuclear Physics
[Editor's note: While Emilio G. Segre, who died last year, is perhaps best known for artificially creating the first antiproton - an achievement for which he shared the 1959 Nobel Prize in Physics with Owen Chamberlain - the Italian nuclear physicist played a pivotal role in many other scientific firsts, most notably the 1943 discovery of plutonium and the subsequent confirmation that the element was fissionable. Both of these events led to his participation in the Manhattan Project, which in 1

Letter

Letter: Labor Of Love
Letter: Labor Of Love
In "Scientists Should Spend More Time Communicating With The Public" (The Scientist, Jan. 8, 1990, page 15), John Wilkes offers some good reasons why scientists should spend more time communicating with the public, but does not mention one major reason why they do not: There is little financial reward for doing so. This is not a forceful reason for abandoning regular small tasks in communication, but it severly discourages any major project. In my own case, a successful book aimed at explainin
Letter: Compassionate Goals
Letter: Compassionate Goals
As Jeffrey Mervis reports in "U.S. Officials Defend Animal Research" (The Scientist, Jan. 8, 1990, page 1), the number of people joining the animal protection movement has indeed increased. This explosive growth can be attributed to the fact that the movement embraces goals that are shared by compassionate citizens who abhor cruelty to animals as well as people. The increasing number of scientists, physicians, and scholars who are speaking out against the many questionable activities that come

Commentary

A Major National Program Is Needed To Solve The Mysteries Of Aging
A Major National Program Is Needed To Solve The Mysteries Of Aging
This century's march of increasing life expectancy has almost reached an end, at least in the developed countries. Better nutrition, medical care, public health facilities, and accident prevention have helped boost life expectancy at birth from 47.9 years in 1900 to 69.2 years in the mid-1950s and then, more slowly, to 74.9 years in 1989. But conventional billion-dollar disease research to further decrease premature deaths is becoming progressively more futile, thanks to limits imposed not by d

Research

Cold Spring Harbor Tops Among Independent Labs
Cold Spring Harbor Tops Among Independent Labs
Harvard, Hopkins, Stanford -- these are names that immediately spring to mind when one thinks of top-flight biological and biomedical research institutions in the United States. But it is important to remember that smaller institutions also contribute significantly to scientific knowledge. In fact, according to data from the Institute for Scientific Information's Science Citation Index (SCI), a few small independent research institutes in the U.S. carry just as much clout (or more) as do the "m
Articles Alert
Articles Alert
Author: PETER D. MOORE Department of Biology King's College London, U.K. Analyses of lake sediments in Panama have provided evidence of the earliest recorded human impact on the forest environment of Central America. In layers dating to 11,000 years ago, there is a sudden appearance of carbon, together with phytoliths of weed species, such as Heliconia. These features indicate the onset of disturbed conditions that may well have been caused by human management of the contemporaneous low biomas

Hot Paper

Hot Papers
Hot Papers
M.A. Frohman, M.K. Dush, G.R. Martin, "Rapid production of full-length cDNAs from rare transcripts: amplification using a single gene-specific oligonucleotide primer," Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 85, 8998-9002, December 1988. Mike Frohman (University of California, San Francisco): "While perusing any of the major journals these days, one is seduced by colorful cartoon advertisements that insist that cDNA cloning is now extraordinarily easy and that production of very `high
Hot Papers
Hot Papers
J.M. Tranquada, S.M. Heald, A.R. Moodenbaugh, G. Liang, M. Croft, "Nature of the charge carriers in electron-doped copper oxide superconductors," Nature, 337, 720-1, 23 February 1989. John M. Tranquada (Brookhaven National Laboratories, Upton, N.Y.): "The discovery of an electron-doped copper oxide superconductor by Takagi, Uchida, and Tokura (Physical Review Letters, 62:1197-1200, 1989) created a great deal of excitement, because all previously known cuprate superconductors were hole-doped (e
Hot Papers
Hot Papers
J.L. Kennedy, L.A. Giuffra, H.W. Moises, L.L. Cavalli-Sforza, A.J. Pakstis, J.R. Kidd, C.M. Castiglione, B. Sjogren, L. Wetterberg, K.K. Kidd, "Evidence against linkage of schizophrenia to markers on chromosome 5 in a northern Swedish pedigree," Nature, 336, 167-70, 10 November 1988. Ken Kidd (Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Conn.): "Whenever papers reaching opposite conclusions are published back to back as was ours and that of Sherrington et al. (Nature, 336:164-7, 1988), the

Profession

Following in Merck's Footsteps: Classic Scientific Books
Following in Merck's Footsteps: Classic Scientific Books
Last December, the Merck Index celebrated its 100th birthday. The 2,350 pages of the latest edition, the 11th - with 10,000 entries, 8,000 structures, 62,000 synonyms, and 129 pages of charts and tables - seem a far cry from the original 170 pages published in 1889. The first edition, named for the German company (originally a pharmacy) founded in 1668, was written for the physician, chemist, and pharmacist, listing "whatever chemical products are to-day adjudged as being useful in either medi
Fellowship Aims To Boost Study In Broad Discipline
Fellowship Aims To Boost Study In Broad Discipline
A West German chemical com-pany's United States subsidiary intends to make its presence known in North America over the next five years by offering a bonanza to grad students at U.S. universities. The Henkel Corp., which opened its U.S. research facility in Ambler, Pa., last fall, will award at least four two-year fellowships of $20,000 per year to third- and fourth-year doctoral candidates in colloid and surface chemistry. The discipline, which focuses on the interaction between particles and
People: AMERICAN DIABETES ASSOCIATION FOUNDER DIES
People: AMERICAN DIABETES ASSOCIATION FOUNDER DIES
Herbert Pollack, 84, an emeritus professor at the George Washington University Medical School and an authority on diabetes and nutrition, died January 2 at the G.W. University Hospital. Pollack, a resident of Washington, D.C., was the founder of the American Diabetes Association and a former chairman of its food and nutrition committee. In addition, he was a former chairman of the nutrition committee of the American Heart Association and a consultant to the State Department and other agencies.
People: Oregon Biophysicist Becomes State's First Howard Hughes Medical Investigator
People: Oregon Biophysicist Becomes State's First Howard Hughes Medical Investigator
Brian Matthews, professor of physics at the University of Oregon and director of the university's Institute of Molecular Physics, has been appointed to a seven-year term as a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator. Originally from Australia, Matthews, 52, becomes Oregon's first HHMII and will continue to hold his positions at UO. In addition, he is also adjunct professor of biochemistry at the Oregon Health Sciences University in Portland. Matthews is best known for his contributions to t
People: Biochemist Wins ACS' Spencer Award For His Studies Of Nitrogen Fixation
People: Biochemist Wins ACS' Spencer Award For His Studies Of Nitrogen Fixation
For biochemist Robert H. Burris, winning an award is practically a routine occurrence. The pioneering scientist, who has won more than 15 national and international awards, recently added the Kenneth A. Spencer Award, given by the American Chemical Society's Kansas City section for outstanding achievement in agricultural chemistry, to his list of honors. "It's nice to get an award of this type," says the emeritus professor of biochemistry at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. But he is quick

Technology

Compact Synthesizers Let Small Labs Make Their Own Genes
Compact Synthesizers Let Small Labs Make Their Own Genes
Molecular biologists and geneticists depend on the ability of DNA synthesizers to produce man-made oligonucleotides (oligos) of defined sequence for a variety of genetic studies, from the isolation of genes not clonable by other techniques to the diagnosis of mutations responsible for human genetic diseases. Research facilities specializing in recombinant DNA techniques typically own or have access to high-throughput DNA synthesizers, which are capable of simultaneously manufacturing up to 15 m