March 1998

News

Creativity, Confusion For Genes
Creativity, Confusion For Genes
Mouse has a kinky-waltzer. Drosophila has a bride of sevenless. Yeast has a Wee-1. Gene and protein names often are based on the flamboyant, the descriptive, and the intentionally obscure. For many researchers, naming their discovery may be a rare opportunity to imbue their science with creativity. (See list on page 6 for origins of these names.) NOMEN-CLUTTER: Multiple names for genes and gene products causes confusion, says University of Alberta's Lawrence Puente. But creativity plus
Public Expectations, Fears Reflect Biotech's Diversity
Public Expectations, Fears Reflect Biotech's Diversity
Consumers distrust some of the field's developments and put too much hope in other, well-publicized studies. CALLING ALL SCIENTISTS: The best source of information on biotech, says Carl Feldbaum of the Biotechnology Industry Organization, is the scientist, who can really help educate the press and the public. The public's fears when modern biotechnology began two decades ago have both diminished and evolved. Surveys indicate that today, many people accept that biotechnology will increasingly
Decisions, Decisions: NIH's Disease-By-Disease Allocations Draw New Fire
Decisions, Decisions: NIH's Disease-By-Disease Allocations Draw New Fire
'BODY-COUNT BUDGETING'? Rep. Ernest Istook (R-Okla.) is concerned that diseases that cost taxpayers the most money may not be getting a proportionate amount of NIH funds. For the third year in a row, the National Institutes of Health came under fire this month for slighting some diseases and favoring more politically correct ills when it parcels out its research-funding billions. "What this whole thing boils down to," NIH director Harold Varmus recently told a special Institute of Medicine (I
Programs Prepare Scientists For Business World
Programs Prepare Scientists For Business World
Although newly degreed life scientists may be ready for employment in an academic setting, they often come to the business world unprepared for the fast-paced, team-based, results-oriented environment of today's life science industry, a variety of observers from industry and academia assert. Some university and business leaders are helping to rectify such problems by teaming up to create educational programs focused on the business side of science. OFFERING AN ALTERNATIVE: Henry Riggs, preside

Clarification

CLARIFICATION
CLARIFICATION
Volume 12, #7The Scientist March 30, 1998 CLARIFICATION Date: March 30, 1998 In the article "DNA Vaccines Generate Excitement As Human Trials Begin" (R. Finn, The Scientist, 12[6]:9, March 16, 1998), an incorrect URL was given for the American Academy of Microbiology's colloquium report, "The Scientific Future of DNA for Immunizations." The correct URL is http://www.asmusa.org/acasrc/aca1.htm.

Opinion

Concord And Conflicts Blur Science And Invention
Concord And Conflicts Blur Science And Invention
The United States patent system, as envisioned by Benjamin Franklin and provided for in the Constitution, has a mandate to stimulate innovation and commerce to benefit society. To accomplish this, inventors obtain patents to protect intellectual-property rights by creating temporary monopolies to market inventions without competition. A major tenet that "Basic research is the source of fundamental knowledge that eventually leads to innovation, technology development, and economic growth" (Rep.

Commentary

Examining Employment Data Is Useful In Assessing Biomedical Ph.D. Training
Examining Employment Data Is Useful In Assessing Biomedical Ph.D. Training
Are we overproducing Ph.D.'s in biomedical sciences? If so, should we regulate future Ph.D. production? To address these questions, we need to examine the data. Biomedical Ph.D. production has increased dramatically. In 1995, United States institutions awarded 5,878 new Ph.D.'s in biomedical sciences, a 55 percent increase over the 3,791 degrees in 1985 (Washington, D.C., National Research Council, Survey of Earned Doctorates, unpublished survey). What forces drove this increase? The number

Letter

Committee Service
Committee Service
The article on committee service that appeared in the Jan. 5, 1998, issue of The Scientist (R. Finn, 12[1]:13) was most interesting. I agree with Professor Earl D. Mitchell's comment in the article that one of the most helpful things is to serve on a review panel. From personal experience, I have found not only that service on national panels is intellectually stimulating, but also that interactions with colleagues from other institutions help one keep a proper global perspective. In addition,
Program For Postdocs
Program For Postdocs
I was pleased to see your article "Postdocs Organize For Changes" by Steve Bunk, which appeared in the Jan. 5, 1998, issue of The Scientist (12[1]:1). The article described the plight of the postdoctoral researcher and advocated change. It also publicized the symposium "Postdocs: Defining Our Role" held at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science on February 17 in Philadelphia, a symposium that was long overdue. Bunk's article, although informative, focused

Research

In Estrogen Research, Challenge Is To Cull Good From Bad
In Estrogen Research, Challenge Is To Cull Good From Bad
What to make of estrogen? Does the female sex hormone's potential to protect women, and even men, against an array of illnesses foreshadow a research bonanza? Or will its use, in natural and synthetic forms, always be compromised by serious side effects, including an increased risk of cancer? A steady flow of academic articles and announcements from university research centers indicates widespread interest in such questions, but the asking seems much easier than the answering. "Estrogen" is a

Hot Paper

Cell Biology
Cell Biology
M.L. Fero, M. Rivkin, M. Tasch, P. Porter, C.E. Carow, E. Firpo, K. Polyak, L.-H. Tsai, V. Broudy, R.M. Perlmutter, K. Kaushansky, J.M. Roberts, "A syndrome of multiorgan hyperplasia with features of gigantism, tumorigenesis, and female sterility in p27Kip1-deficient mice," Cell, 85:733-44, 1996. (Cited in more than 100 publications to date) Comments by Matthew L. Fero, division of basic sciences, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle GIGANTIC MICE: Matthew Fero of the Fred Hutchin
Virology
Virology
HOT RECEPTION: From left, NIAID investigators Edward Berger, Paul Kennedy, Christopher Broder, and Yu Feng helped to break open the field of HIV coreceptor research with their discovery of fusin. Comments by Edward A. Berger, Laboratory of Viral Diseases, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Within three years after the discovery of HIV as the causative agent of AIDS, scientists identified the CD4 molecule as the primary cellular receptor for HIV. They believed the virus ent

Profession

Dealing With Controversy? Take The High Road
Dealing With Controversy? Take The High Road
Controversies have always been a part of science, but scientists who have found themselves embroiled in hot debates often find them distasteful. Researchers say that at worst, scientific arguments can result in acrimony, with allegations of dishonorable behavior among combatants. Despite the potential for ill will, others insist that disputes can be conducted with mutual respect. Some scientists say controversies can invigorate and enhance interest--and result in important advances--in the cont

Technology

Taking The Burden Out of Gel Loading: SequaStrip(TM) Tips from Embi Tec
Taking The Burden Out of Gel Loading: SequaStrip(TM) Tips from Embi Tec
SequaStrip™ Tips from Embi Tec Mention multipipette tips for sequencing gels to DNA sequencers and see their eyes light up. Embi Tec, a San Diego-based company, is introducing to the sequencing community a handy device for loading sequencing gels that can save time and significantly reduce the effort required. SequaStrip™ Tips are the first and only eight-strip tips specially designed for sequencing gels. The strips make light work of gel loading; with them, you can load 64 wells
Measure Up To 12 Different mRNAs In A Single Sample With Riboquant(R) Multi-Probe Ribonuclease Protection Assay System Offered by PharMingen
Measure Up To 12 Different mRNAs In A Single Sample With Riboquant(R) Multi-Probe Ribonuclease Protection Assay System Offered by PharMingen
Ribonuclease Protection Assay System Offered by PharMingen Human Apoptosis Multi-Probe Template Set. Autoradiograms of protection assays using human APO-2 template set and various cell lines. Quantitating expression levels, especially of rare mRNA species, has never been an easy task. Only a few options exist for doing this, and each has difficulties. The ribonuclease (RNase) protection assay, a sensitive and specific method for quantitating expression levels, has been around for close to 15 y
The Complete Package: Elchrom's SEA 2000 Submerged Gel Electrophoresis System from AMRESCO
The Complete Package: Elchrom's SEA 2000 Submerged Gel Electrophoresis System from AMRESCO
Piecing together components for gel electrophoresis and documentation can be a time-consuming and expensive venture. The components may not be compatible or their performance might not be optimal. With this in mind, Elchrom Scientific AG (Switzerland) has designed the SEA 2000 Submerged Gel Electrophoresis System. The system is distributed in the United States by AMRESCO Inc. (Solon, Ohio). The SEA 2000 Submarine Electrophoresis Unit The SEA 2000 is as unique system that allows you to control

Technology Profile

Telomere Without End, Amen: Looking Into Longevity with Telomere Detection Kits
Telomere Without End, Amen: Looking Into Longevity with Telomere Detection Kits
Date: March 30, 1998 Author: Laura DeFrancesco T he excitement over telomerase continues to mount as evidence accumulates that makes the connection between telomere length and cell lifespan likely to be more than a coincidence. The most recent findings show that the age span of cultured cells, normally limited to around 50 cell doublings--the so-called Hayflick limit, named for the scientist who first observed that the lifespan of cultured cells was finite--can be more than doubled by transfec
Oligos To Go! : Purveyors of Custom Oligos
Oligos To Go! : Purveyors of Custom Oligos
Date: March 30, 1998 Author: Jim Kling Table of Vendors So--the boss calls you into her office and tells you it's time to find another supplier of oligonucleotides. The custom house you've been using just went out of business, or maybe your team is preparing to delve into a new research project that calls for oligos. You scan the ads in several journals and do a quick internet search. Before you know it you've got a 'short' list of 50-100 suppliers. Wading through a sea of suppliers to find th
Bringing Living Cells Into Focus: A View of Inverted Microscopes
Bringing Living Cells Into Focus: A View of Inverted Microscopes
Date: March 30, 1998 Author: Jim Kling Tables of Vendors What's really going on here? That question used to puzzle bleary-eyed microscopists as they stared at slides of immobilized cells--dead cells, of course. Then along came the inverted microscope. Its unique design placed the light source above the sample and the magnifying objective below it, allowing these new microscopes to peer into live cells bathed in media. Suddenly, scientists had a new view of the neighborhoods and boroughs occupied

Notebook

Notebook
Notebook
Contents Moral Might Self-Validation More Alzheimer's Progress Broader Role For Mobile DNA Preferential Hearing Special Delivery Perfect Pitch Genes Imaging Dsylexia Date: March 30, 1998 A GUIDE TO ETHICS: Eric Meslin took over leadership of the National Bioethics Advisory Commission last month. MORAL MIGHT Eric M. Meslin, 36, has taken over leadership of the National Bioethics Advisory Commission (NBAC) in Rockville, Md. Harold T. Shapiro, NBAC's chairman and president of Princeton Univers