March 1999

News

Bioterrorism Concerns Heightened
Bioterrorism Concerns Heightened
Be prepared. That was essentially the take-home message of a mid-February conference on bioterrorism held in Crystal City, Va., and sponsored by the Johns Hopkins Center for Civilian Biodefense, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Infectious Diseases Society of America, and the American Society for Microbiology. Conference speakers addressed the following: Could a bioterrorist attack occur in the United States? The answer: absolutely--in fact, the chances are pretty good, given
Epstein-Barr Virus: Implicated in Cancer Etiology in China, Impetus for a Vaccine
Epstein-Barr Virus: Implicated in Cancer Etiology in China, Impetus for a Vaccine
Virologist Hans Wolf of the University of Regensburg in Germany has been working on the etiology of nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) in areas of China since 1979. Researchers from the U.S. National Cancer Institute (NCI), too, have been working with their Chinese colleagues on cancer epidemiology and etiology. The reasons for this cooperative research vary, but as Federico Welsch, associate director for international affairs at NCI, points out, "They have some cancers that are rare in the develop
'Heart in a Box': Global Effort Works to Put the Pieces Together
'Heart in a Box': Global Effort Works to Put the Pieces Together
Graphic: Marlene J. Viola Some say it takes a village to raise a child. Michael V. Sefton proposes that it will take a world to build a heart. Sefton, a University of Toronto chemical engineering professor, leads an international effort called the Living Implants from Engineering (L.I.F.E.) Initiative, whose goal is to create a bioengineered heart in 10 years. To meet that mark, participants must grapple with a host of scientific concerns and more mundane matters. Research questions that must b
Genetics Society Offers Thoughts for Future
Genetics Society Offers Thoughts for Future
Eugenics comes in many guises, from the fetal hatcheries of Aldous Huxley's 1931 vision of a brave new world, to films such as Gattaca, where parents pick and choose their future offspring's inherited traits. In the real world, eugenics is associated with the horrors of Nazi Germany, and more subtly with certain medical tests widely used in many nations today. The blurring of the lines between eugenics and genetic research has prompted the American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG) to release a
Chestnut Poised for Revival, Thanks to Transgenic Work
Chestnut Poised for Revival, Thanks to Transgenic Work
The American chestnut, decimated by a fungus that scientists have tried in vain to quell throughout this century, finally may be on its way back to health, thanks largely to genetics. Once a dominant tree throughout the Northeast, prized for the timber from its long, unbranched trunks, the American variety (Castanea dentata) stopped providing those famed chestnuts roasting on an open fire long before Bing Crosby's time. The tree bore sweet nuts, but they were small, and the quest for a meatier n
Scientists Plan Virtual World of Biodiversity
Scientists Plan Virtual World of Biodiversity
Particle physicists use massive accelerators to push the theoretical envelope; astronomers use increasingly high-powered telescopes to inch farther into the universe. But scientists specializing in biodiversity have decided that to better understand the planet's known organisms, as well as their habitats and ecosystems, they don't need a mammoth physical structure. Instead, many advocate a vast virtual facility that would compile and catalog detailed data sets on the billions of living things s

Commentary

Cooperation: The International Role of Scientists
Cooperation: The International Role of Scientists
The crucial roles science and scientists can play during war are known and documented. After all, weapons are a key to victory in any war, and generally it is scientists who develop them. In World War II, for example, the atomic bomb and radar directly resulted from scientific research and development. Scientists also developed techniques and tools for code breaking and made contributions in a variety of other areas. Less obvious, but equally important, many scientists advise governments during

Letter

Evolution: Pro ...
Evolution: Pro ...
I enjoyed reading the article by Barry Palevitz and Ricki Lewis entitled "Short Shrift to Evolution?"1 The functional link between animal and plant proteins is fascinating and refreshing. It also points out the incredible predictive power of evolutionary theory (a trait that is conspicuously absent from creationist "scientific" theories such as the young earth theory and the theory of intelligent design). Regarding the authors' question as to whether the message is getting through or whether p
... and Con
... and Con
As one thoroughly trained in evolution at the Johns Hopkins University, New York Medical College, and the University of Michigan Medical Center, I read your article critical of the mainstream press for not relaying the strength of evolution as a scientific principle.1 Actually, the article itself confirmed the press's position by clearly demonstrating that evolution is not a science but a religion. The presence of numerous sauropod eggshells in Patagonia is certainly evidence that sauropods ex

Opinion

The Threat of Biological Weapons Must Be Addressed
The Threat of Biological Weapons Must Be Addressed
Editor's Note: Joshua Lederberg, chairman of The Scientist's Editorial Advisory Board, edited the book Biological Weapons: Limiting the Threat, to be published this spring (May 1999) by The MIT Press. The following article, adapted from the book's epilogue, is printed with permission of The MIT Press. As the works for Biological Weapons: Limiting the Threat were being assembled, our policy perspectives were informed by new happenings and governmental reactions. Saddam Hussein renewed his h

Hot Paper

Genomics
Genomics
Edited by: Steve Bunk A. Goffeau, B.G. Barrell, H. Bussey, R.W. Davis, B. Dujon, H. Feldmann, F. Galibert, J.D. Hoheisel, C. Jacq, M. Johnston, E.J. Louis, H.W. Mewes, Y. Murakami, P. Philippsen, H. Tettelin, S.G. Oliver, "Life with 6000 genes," Science, 274:546-67, 1996. (Cited in more than 250 papers since publication) Comments by Steve Oliver , professor, Department of Biomolecular Sciences, University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology, United Kingdom, and Andre Goffeau ,
Biochemistry
Biochemistry
Edited by: Steve Bunk Richard D. Palmiter Jay C. Erickson, Kathy E. Clegg, Richard D. Palmiter, "Sensitivity to leptin and susceptibility to seizures of mice lacking neuropeptide Y," Nature, 381:415-8, 1996. (Cited in more than 205 papers since publication) Comments by Richard D. Palmiter , Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator and University of Washington biochemistry professor Ah, for an ideal scientific world. In it, researchers demonstrate that injection of a specific neuropept

Profession

Biotech Blooms at the University of Georgia
Biotech Blooms at the University of Georgia
Clifton A. Baile The two-decades-old biotech industry remains largely concentrated in a few epicenters. Now Georgia is about to stake its claim on the biotech map, thanks to an unusual synergy of state government, industry, and academia. Since 1990, the Georgia Research Alliance (GRA) has purchased equipment, erected new facilities, and supported eminent scholars, building on existing infrastructure and scientific talent at its six major research universities. A series of losses in the 1980s

Clarification

Clarification
Clarification
In the article "The whole EST catalog: computational analysis of complexity in gene expression arrays" (B. Klevecz, The Scientist, 13[2] 22-4, Jan. 18, 1999), the definition of functional genomics quoted on page 22 was incorrectly attributed. The correct attribution is: P. Hieter, M. Boguski, "Functional genomics: it's all how you read it," Science, 278:601-2, 1997. In the article "Automated laboratories: liquid handlers have the starring role in high-throughput robotics" (M.D. Brush, The Scie

Technology

Load 'Em Up the Easy Way
Load 'Em Up the Easy Way
Fluorescence microscopy of calcein-labeled cells. The Influx™ cell-loading reagent was used to load RBL cells with calcein. The image was acquired using a fluorescence microscope equipped with a cooled CCD camera and a bandpass filter set appropriately for fluorescein. The micrograph was reprinted with permission from Molecular Probes, Inc. Do you need to "light up" your cells with a colorful tracer or study the effects of loading cells with a given macromolecule? Representatives at Mol
Microscopic Image Recognition
Microscopic Image Recognition
At some fundamental level, every science is reduced to counting spots. Whether it be counting the number of stars in a particular quadrant or even the number of peas in a pod, at some point you must face the dots. It is inescapable. Unlike astronomers and particle physicists who have developed sophisticated software for tabulating dots, however, biologists had yet to develop an effective time-saving system that is comparable to what their colleagues have achieved in the physical sciences--until
Touch and Go: Techne's new Touchgene thermal cycler
Touch and Go: Techne's new Touchgene thermal cycler
Americans, in general, are notoriously impatient. We have fast food, overnight mail, instant coffee, and even drive-through pharmacies. American science, in its own way, has been affected by this unrelenting dash for the finish line. However, this was not always so. When science was in its infancy, a scientist could lead what was considered to be a respected and productive career whether or not he had contributed to the latest journals, secured an exclusive patent, or won a prestigious prize. T

Technology Profile

How the Western Was Won: A Profile of Tools and Kits Available for Western Blotting
How the Western Was Won: A Profile of Tools and Kits Available for Western Blotting
Date: March 15, 1999Western Detection Kit Table Are you a pipette-totin,' membrane-slingin' Western blotter? Or are you a shotgun cloner who's venturing out West for the first time? Either way, you might want to join us as we take a trip to the frontier to check out pioneering products available to make your life easier and your blots better. In this profile, LabConsumer looks at the latest tools and kits that are available to enhance Western blotting--from blotting equipment that ensures even
The Ties That Bind: Peptide Display Technology
The Ties That Bind: Peptide Display Technology
Date: March 15, 1999 Phage Display Systems and Vectors Structure of the T7 phage particle. The negative-stained pattern from polyheads showing capsid hexamer and pentamer units has been fitted onto the surface of the icosahedral particle. A single monomer of the capsid protein is shaded in red. Figure provided by Novagen. Back in the early '50s, at a time when Elvis Presley was beginning his undisputed reign as the king of rock 'n' roll, bacteriophage were rearing their ugly heads (so to spe

Notebook

Notebook
Notebook
SEEING THE RETINA Borrowing a technique that clarifies images from spy satellites, researchers from the University of Rochester have imaged the distribution of cone cells in the human retina (A. Roorda, D.R. Williams, Nature, 397:520-2, Feb. 11, 1999). The three types of cone cells have photopigments that absorb predominantly short (S), middle (M), or long (L) wavelengths, corresponding to blue/violet, green, and red. Color vision works much like a color television--the brain integrates the i