News

Strategic Alliances
Strategic Alliances
Graphic: Cathleen Heard Although a smaller percentage of African American women are diagnosed with breast cancer than white women, African Americans are more likely to die from breast cancer than women from other ethnic groups. Vietnamese American women have the highest cervical cancer rates of any ethnic group. And poor Americans of all races have higher rates of cancer incidence and mortality than do people from other socioeconomic groups. The Institute of Medicine's (IOM) report The Une
Putting 'Errors' In Perspective
Putting 'Errors' In Perspective
Early cartographers, without the luxury of an aerial view of their surroundings, did their best to map expanses of land based on expeditions and, of course, on previous maps. Although quite helpful, they and their maps were often less than perfect. Cartographers sketching the layout of the American colonies, for example, might map a lake or a mountain that simply didn't exist. Subsequent maps might then incorporate the make-believe landmark, sometimes even "moving" it several miles from its pre
Instruments Here Today Can Be Gone Tomorrow
Instruments Here Today Can Be Gone Tomorrow
Unplanned obsolescence is the fallout of risky biotech businesses, especially in glycobiology, a small niche marketplace. A specialty manufacturer can spend millions in R&D to bring a new piece of equipment to market, only to find that customer demand never catches up with cost. As a result, high-profile customers can be left high and dry with brand-new instruments and little or no guarantees for parts, reagents, or support. Also, manufacturers sell off product lines and offer limited period
New MRIs on the Horizon
New MRIs on the Horizon
Courtesy of National Heart, Lung, and Blood InstituteMRI scans of the heart: upper left, torso with heart; upper right, cross section at aortic valve; lower left, lateral view of heart, pulmonic valve, and descending aorta; lower right, four-chamber view In the not too distant future, emergency rooms may well take on the aura of Star Trek's hospital bay. New, state-of-the-art magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machines offer fast, efficient, and highly detailed data, allowing physicians to make im
Soybeans Hit Main Street
Soybeans Hit Main Street
Once a favorite of Chinese emperors, tofu is now big time. From supermarkets to health food boutiques, diet-conscious Americans are buying soybeans, not just as tofu but in infant formula, soy milk, and soy burgers. Soy even has the Food and Drug Administration's seal of approval. Last October the FDA responded to a petition by Protein Technologies International, a St. Louis-based DuPont company specializing in soy products, by authorizing claims that soy protein is good for the heart. Acc
NIH Developing Health Disparities Plan
NIH Developing Health Disparities Plan
Although the Institute of Medicine report1 on health disparities between ethnic and socioeconomic groups in the United States has focused government agencies on improving health of minorities and the poor, National Institutes of Health leaders say their institutes began dealing with these issues before the report was released. And their forthcoming plan will be major. At the Intercultural Cancer Council's Biennial Symposium held in Washington, D.C., in early February with a focus on health
Receptor Boosts HIV Infection
Receptor Boosts HIV Infection
In the human tragedy of HIV infection, dendritic cells play a vicious double role analogous to an international cocaine trafficker who morphs into a street-level crack peddler. These antigen-presenting immune-system cells transport HIV from the mucosal membranes near which it enters the body to secondary lymphoid organs. There, the cells pass the virus over to the T lymphocytes that it will ultimately destroy. Exactly how dendritic cells serve these functions is unknown, but two new studie
A Data Access Conundrum
A Data Access Conundrum
Officials at the National Institutes of Health are anticipating that problems will arise with implementation of the Shelby amendment. Passed by Congress last year, the amendment mandates that scientists make data from federally funded projects publicly available under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). "FOIA is too crude an instrument for this; it was never designed for scientific data sharing," commented Wendy Baldwin, NIH deputy director for extramural research, at a session of the America
PTO Explains Proposed Guidelines
PTO Explains Proposed Guidelines
When inventors apply for a patent, they must set forth the utility of their invention and describe it. Which utilities and description meet the grade, and which don't? The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) recently proposed new guidelines for its examiners. These guidelines were discussed in an article titled "Biotech Faces Evolving Patent System" in the last issue of The Scientist.1 PTO had not at that time published specific examples of how the guidelines would be interpreted. The office
News Notes
News Notes
Music's Role in ... Life Are there universal principles of musical sounds and musical construction that apply to human music and that of other species? Yes, according to Roger Payne, the renowned humpback whale expert and founder-president of the Whale Conservation Institute. More than that, he contends, music just may have been central to the creation of life. Payne, who is perhaps best known for his codiscovery with Scott McVay that the long and complex vocalizations of humpback whales are in

Letter

Bypassing Peer Review
Bypassing Peer Review
Eugene Russo addresses the increasing problem of researchers bypassing the peer review process for publication in the popular media.1 There are many reasons for this, and they stem from the incompatibility of present-day peer review practices with the information age. This letter addresses peer review pros and cons (mainly for R&D) and presents an approach to overcome some of the more egregious roadblocks. There are many reasons for performing peer review. Probably the main peer review
Antibiotics vs. Antiviral Agents
Antibiotics vs. Antiviral Agents
At the expense of sounding a bit academic, I must object to the use of the word antibiotic by Donald R. Forsdyke in his commentary1 on the chemotherapy of AIDS. Forsdyke complains that other workers avoid using antibiotic when discussing HIV treatment. Perhaps they know something he doesn't know. An antibiotic is formally defined as a microbial product that kills or inhibits other microbes. AZT and most of the other agents used to treat HIV infections are synthetic molecules. They should rightly

Commentary

Why Is the Engineer So Different from the Scientist?
Why Is the Engineer So Different from the Scientist?
Eugene Garfield In 1963, I was recruited by Saul Gorn and Morris Rubinoff to teach a course in information retrieval at the University of Pennsylvania Moore School of Electrical Engineering. I found it useful to characterize information retrieval (IR) by a simple dichotomy: information recovery and information discovery. The inspiration for the term recovery comes from the French term retrouver--to find again. I had, at that time, already been publishing Current Contents for more than five

Research

Unraveling Complex Carbohydrates
Unraveling Complex Carbohydrates
Image courtesy of Stefan Eberhard, CCRLPhotomicrograph of glucose Carbohydrates are the forgotten cousin of biopolymers. Peruse a standard cell biology text, and they are typically relegated to a few pages in contrast to the nucleic acids and proteins that often make up the bulk of a chapter, or enjoy chapters of their own. The reason for the paucity of carbo coverage in texts is simply that we know less about them than about the other types of macromolecules, says Alan Darvill, director of the
Research Notes
Research Notes
Dexterity through Dextrose For osteoarthritis sufferers, injections of a sugar solution could be much more than placebo, a new study suggests (K.D. Reeves et al., "Randomized prospective double-blind prolotherapy for knee osteoarthritis with or without ACL laxity," Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, 6:68-80, March 2000). Prolotherapy, the injection of growth factors or their stimulators, is aimed at inducing an inflammatory response, to effect tissue repair or growth. A dextrose solut

Hot Paper

Explaining Membrane Fusion
Explaining Membrane Fusion
For this article, James Kling interviewed Thomas Weber, assistant professor in the department of gene therapy and molecular medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine. Data from the Web of Science (ISI, Philadelphia) show that this paper has been cited significantly more often than the average paper of the same type and age. T. Weber, B.V. Zemelman, J.A. McNew, B. Westermann, M. Gmachl, F. Parlati, T.H. Söllner, J.E. Rothman, "SNAREpins: minimal machinery for membrane fusion," Cell, 92:759
A Role for Reverse Pharmacology
A Role for Reverse Pharmacology
For this article, James Kling interviewed Masashi Yanagisawa, professor of molecular genetics at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and University of Texas Southwest Medical Center in Dallas. Data from the Web of Science (ISI, Philadelphia) show that this paper has been cited significantly more often than the average paper of the same type and age. T. Sakurai, A. Amemiya, M. Ishii, I. Matsuzaki, R.M. Chemelli, H. Tanaka, S.C. Williams, J.A. Richardson, G.P. Kozlowski, S. Wilson, J.R.S. Arch, R

Technology

Sphere of Influence
Sphere of Influence
Luminex's unique microsphere addressing system In the past, a researcher bragging about running 100 different assays per minute in a single test tube might be counseled to get some sleep and stop breathing hazardous fumes. LabMAP (Laboratory Multiple Analyte Profiling) technology developed by Luminex Corp. of Austin, Texas, now makes such claims possible and miraculously expands analytical assay development. Luminex uses a proprietary dyeing process to label polystyrene microspheres with p
Bench Buys
Bench Buys
Erase RNase To help researchers working with RNA fight the war against RNase contamination, Ambion now offers its RNaseZap® solution in an easy-to-use towel format. RNaseZap Wipes remove RNase contamination from glass and plastic surfaces immediately on contact. The towels leave no residues that inhibit subsequent enzymatic reactions. RNaseZap Wipes are available in 100-sheet pop-up dispensers for $37.00. Ambion, (800) 888-8804, www.ambion.com Well Done Owl's Multiload Comb Loading each i
Discy Business
Discy Business
Preparation of high-quality RNA was once an art mastered by only the most fastidious pairs of RNase-free hands. Trevigen Inc., of Gaithersburg, Md., has put a new spin on mRNA purification with its INSTANT mRNA Capture Disc system. Designed around hole-punch-size membrane discs treated with a proprietary coating that binds polyadenylated RNA, the INSTANT mRNA system purifies high-quality mRNA from cells and tissues in less than one hour. The system's procedure is simple and quick. Lysate f

Technology Profile

A Cut Above
A Cut Above
Tools for limited proteolysis studies X-ray crystallography and two-dimensional nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) remain the methods of choice for determining the high-resolution three-dimensional structure of globular proteins. However, not every laboratory has the equipment and expertise required for these physicochemical methods. Before a protein can be examined by X-ray crystallography, it must first be crystallized. Some proteins form crystals more readily than others, and discovering the p
Proteolysis - Extended Reference List
Proteolysis - Extended Reference List
Expanded References   1. J.C. Kendrew et al., "A three-dimensional model of the myoglobin molecule obtained by x-ray analysis," Nature, 181:662-6, 1958; J.C. Kendrew et al., "Structure of myoglobin," Nature, 185:422-42, 1960. 2. C. Branden, J. Tooze, "Motifs of Protein Structure," Introduction to Protein Structure, Garland Publishing, Inc., New York, pp. 11-30, 1991; J.S. Richardson, "Describing patterns of protein tertiary structure," Methods in Enzymology, 115:341-8, 1985; J.S. Richardson
Let It Shine
Let It Shine
Fluorescence Detection Products Courtesy of BD PharMingenMulticolor immunofluorescent cell staining showing cell surface FITC (green) staining and intracellular PE (orange) and APC (red) staining. Is radioactive detection of biomolecules destined to the same fate as the Berlin Wall? The multitude of nonisotopic detection methods now available suggests that the 21st century may come to be billed as the "nonisotopic research century." The broadest common denominator of this up and coming cast of

Profession

Know Your Legal Rights
Know Your Legal Rights
Seth Nehrbass When someone mentions scientists and lawyers in the same breath, one of the first images that comes to mind could be expert witnesses poring over complex graphs of DNA evidence, as in the O.J. Simpson trial. But the legal matters that concern most researchers are much more mundane--intellectual property law, employment agreements, and the like, not the stuff of sensationalistic headlines. In general, scientists have no clue about the law and how it affects their work, say attorneys
Profession Notes
Profession Notes
Publishing E-Books Making its books available on the Internet for free has helped to increase hard-copy sales for the National Academies Press, according to NAP director Barbara Kline Pope. Speaking Feb. 21 at a session called "How Can Scientists Thrive with Paperless Publishing?" at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Pope said, "We publish all of our books in paper format and electronic format simultaneously. The text is up online for free for anyone

Opinion

Court-Appointed Expert Witnesses: Gambit for Control
Court-Appointed Expert Witnesses: Gambit for Control
Illustration: A. Canamucio Some elements of the legal community suggest that the cure for biased and greedy expert witnesses is the court appointment of experts as in Europe. Under the plan, litigants can apparently still hire as many lawyers as circumstances dictate and pay them freely, but only the court can appoint experts and pay them on a standard, and presumably lesser, scale. Courts would certify experts, and lawyers would then consult the database for legitimate experts. Lawyers wo