News

Frontlines
Frontlines
Efforts to keep Russian scientists fully employed, thus away from countries seeking their expertise in making weapons of mass destruction, seem to be bearing fruit, according to Victor Alessi, president and CEO of the Arlington, Va.-based US Industry Coalition (USIC). Of 120 scientific projects in development, 27 are biology related. One such effort is the development of a high-speed needleless injector. The US Food and Drug Administration has approved the Russian design, and the injector should
Going Strong at 75
Going Strong at 75
Roger Kornberg, one of Arthur's boys, has a Sydney Brenner story. We all do, but his is more telling than most.
Pufferfish Genomes Probe Human Genes
Pufferfish Genomes Probe Human Genes
It may be humbling to think that humans have much in common with pufferfish, but at the genome level, the two are practically kissing cousins. "In terms of gene complement, we are at least 90% similar—probably higher. There are big differences in gene expression levels and alternate transcripts, but if you're talking about diversity, number and types of proteins, then it's pretty difficult to tell us apart," says Greg Elgar, group leader of the Fugu genome project at the Medical Research C
Big Genes Are Back
Big Genes Are Back
One more genomewide linkage map, this for a fish called the three-spined stickleback, was announced late last year to not much fanfare.1 But rather than just another stride in the march of genomics, the accomplishment heralded a new way to approach a question that has stumped evolutionary biologists for decades: What is the architecture of genetic change? The model organisms for which linkage maps have been created are often bred in the laboratory to express certain phenotypes, and they can reve
Bioterrorism Projects Boost US Research Budget
Bioterrorism Projects Boost US Research Budget
For the US government's fiscal year 2003, which begins Oct. 1 this year, President George W. Bush has requested a budget of $27.3 billion for the National Institutes of Health, a 15.7% increase of $3.7 billion, the largest single-year boost in history. With a supportive Congress, this will complete the goal of doubling the NIH budget over the five-year period beginning in 1998. About $1.5 billion, or 40%, of next year's increase is focused on bioterrorism-related research and infrastructure, bri
Linking Up with LinkOut
Linking Up with LinkOut
The US National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), the repository for protein and gene sequences at the National Library of Medicine, now offers links to Internet sites for users interested in more than just nucleotides, amino acids, and protein structure. The system, called LinkOut, expands the biological relevance of NCBI's molecular information by allowing scientists to tap into ancillary subjects such as taxonomy, medicinal applications, and crop cultivation. It also pulls in off-s
Prion-Disease Trials on the Horizon?
Prion-Disease Trials on the Horizon?
The discoverer of prions, the pathogens implicated in the fatal, brain-wasting mad cow disease (bovine spongiform encephalopathy, BSE) and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD), announced recently that a therapy against them would likely be available within the next five to 10 years, but he added that scientists are still mystified by exactly what circumstances cause the pathogens to produce infections in animals and humans. "We thought that the number of cases of the disease would increase two to th
Closing In on the Malaria Genome
Closing In on the Malaria Genome
Researchers have practically finished sequencing the most deadly form of the malaria parasite, Plasmodium falciparum. The project, started in 1996, will publish on its current standing late this summer, says Malcolm Gardner, associate investigator, parasite genomics group, at The Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR) in Rockville, Md. "I would say we have over 99% of the genome in the database," says Gardner. He made his comments at the annual meeting in February of the American Association for

Commentary

The Personal Side of Science
The Personal Side of Science
When we ask what you would like to see more of in The Scientist, one of the suggestions we always get is "more personal stories of science." We're taking steps in that direction. We introduced a new feature Feb. 18 called Profile, which we are publishing as a closing element on the last editorial page of each issue. Appropriately enough, that first one was about John Marburger, the science adviser to US President George W. Bush. We followed that March 4 with a "look-ahead" type of article about

Opinion

Life Sentences: Ontology Recapitulates Philology
Life Sentences: Ontology Recapitulates Philology
A few years ago, at a meeting at Dana Point in Southern California, I mistook the number of the room in which our breakfast was to be served and found myself in a room full of strangers. 
The Aha! Factor
The Aha! Factor
In one of my pathology lab courses for second-year medical students, we were reviewing the gross and microscopic findings from the autopsy of a patient who had died following acute pulmonary embolism. As I was going through the features that help one distinguish an ante-mortem thrombus vs. a postmortem clot, one of my more outspoken students said sardonically, "This will help me take better care of my patients!" That comment raised, at least in my mind, a question that I've been wrestling with

Letter

Toward a Complete Record
Toward a Complete Record
In light of the recent discussion of the disregard syndrome,1 I would like to add something to your Jan. 7 cover story on SNPs.2 The fact that most nucleotide substitutions are synonymous, and the idea that the ratio of nonsynonymous to synonymous substitutions can indicate adaptive change, was described at length by Motoo Kimura in the1970s.3,4 The neutral theory of molecular evolution fundamentally affected subsequent evolutionary thought, even though it met some resistance at first. Technolog
Canadian Research Funding
Canadian Research Funding
Regarding the funding of research in Canada,1 new money has been injected in a big way, by Canadian standards, with the creation of Canadian Institutes of Health Research. It started in 2000 with a budget inherited from its predecessor organization (the Medical Research Council) of $275 million. CIHR's research budget as of April 1, 2002 will be double that amount—$562 million. Today, CIHR is funding 32% more operating grants (with an average increase in value of 26%), 33% more training aw

Research

The Inequality of Drug Metabolism
The Inequality of Drug Metabolism
Editor's Note: This is the fifth article in a series on sex-based differences in the biology of males and females. The final article in the series will cover sex-based differences in life expectancy. Lisa Damiani More than 30 years ago, researchers noted for the first time the pharmacokinetic differences between men and women. They found that women pass antipyrine, a drug used to study liver metabolism, more quickly than men; this occurred around ovulation and during the luteal phase of their m
The Goal: Control Blood Vessel Development
The Goal: Control Blood Vessel Development
Managing blood vessel development by preventing its growth from tumors in cancer patients or stimulating its development in cardiac disease patients is apparently an idea whose time has come. William Li, president and medical director of the non-profit Angiogenesis Foundation in Boston, notes that using such control as a way to fight disease interpenetrates highly varied fields of medicine. "Angiogenesis is a common denominator in many of society's most significant medical conditions," says Li.
Learning from Angiogenesis Trial Failures
Learning from Angiogenesis Trial Failures
Although targeting angiogenesis is a promising anticancer approach, the recent spate of Phase III trial failures has bashed some scientists' hopes for success. According to industry insiders, however, the 12 recent failures involving five trials are symptoms of a young field, of clinical trial design that requires unconventional endpoints, and of improper delivery systems, rather than a condemnation of the general approach. Moreover, because drug development takes such a long time, researchers h
Murine Gene Therapy Corrects Symptoms of Sickle Cell Disease
Murine Gene Therapy Corrects Symptoms of Sickle Cell Disease
The Faculty of 1000 is a Web-based literature awareness tool published by BioMed Central. It provides a continuously updated insider's guide to the most important peer-reviewed papers within a range of research fields, based on the recommendations of a faculty of more than 1,400 leading researchers. Each issue, The Scientist publishes a list of the 10 top-rated papers from a specific subject area, as well as a short review of one or more of the listed papers. We also publish a selection of comm
Notable
Notable
M. Gray, S.M. Honigberg, "Effect of chromosomal locus, GC content and length of homology on PCR-mediated targeted gene replacement in Saccharomyces," Nucleic Acids Research, 29:5156-62, Dec. 15, 2001. F1000 Rating: Recommended "While gene knockouts or replacements are easily and commonly done in yeast, the targeting efficiency is quite variable. The authors have systematically evaluated key parameters and found that a GC content of at least 40% in the regions of homology improves targeting ef

Hot Paper

The Rise of Biological Databases
The Rise of Biological Databases
For this article, Jennifer Fisher Wilson interviewed Richard J. Roberts, chief U.S. editor of Nucleic Acids Research; Alex Bateman, group leader of Pfam at the Sanger Institute in Cambridge; and Peer Bork, head of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory's SMART team in Heidelberg, Germany, for SMART. Data from the Web of Science (ISI, Philadelphia) show that Hot Papers are cited 50 to 100 times more often than the average paper of the same type and age. All four Hot Papers were published Jan

Technology Profile

Bridging the Gap with Bioelectronics
Bridging the Gap with Bioelectronics
Science has entered a new era in which molecules are being used as building blocks, moving parts, and even as electronic components. Biomolecules offer great potential as component parts because nature has already done much of the work; their very shapes and chemical makeup encode a variety of exploitable functions, including binding, catalysis, pumping, and self-assembly.2 A case in point: Science magazine hailed the first molecular-scale circuits as 2001's "Breakthrough of the Year."1 Researc
The Core of DNA Sequencing
The Core of DNA Sequencing
Before waxing nostalgic about the "good old days," remember: They weren't always good. Take, for example, the task of DNA sequencing. Years ago, sequencing was a laborious day-long affair of performing reactions, pouring and running gels, and scrutinizing autoradiograms. But the process has evolved into one in which scientists simply ship off a few micrograms of sample to the local core facility and wait for the data to roll in. This outsourcing of labor is possible thanks to the emergence and

Technology

Bacteria Have mRNA Too
Bacteria Have mRNA Too
Until recently, scientists were largely limited in their choice of mRNA sources. For decades it was possible to isolate mRNA from eukaryotic samples, such as animal and plant cells, but it was virtually impossible to isolate bacterial mRNA. That's because bacterial transcripts lack the poly-(A) tails found on eukaryotic messages, upon which oligo-(dT) selection, the traditional eukaryotic purification technique, is based. But now researchers studying bacterial RNA have a new option. Austin, Tex
Looking for Patterns in Drug Screening
Looking for Patterns in Drug Screening
Founded in July 2001, Adaptive Screening Ltd. (ASL) of Cambridge, UK, is developing several miniaturized drug-profiling platforms. "Advances in high-throughput technologies coupled with the 'genomics explosion' have transferred the bottlenecks in drug discovery from compound synthesis and target identification to hit-to-lead profiling and target validation," comments Tony Cass, professor of chemical biology at the Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine in London, and one of ASL's c

Bench Buys

Bench Buys
Bench Buys
Most reagents used for reducing disulfide bonds in peptides and proteins have unpleasant odors. To combat this problem, Pierce Chemical Co. of Rockford, Ill., has covalently attached the odorless reducing agent TCEP to an agarose support. Pierce's Immobilized TCEP Disulfide Reducing Gel allows reductions to be performed on the bench-top without the need for a fume hood and avoids the need for dialysis or gel filtration to remove the reducing reagent. Pierce Chemical Co. +1 (800) 874-3723 www.p

Profession

Training Wheels: Postdoc Grants
Training Wheels: Postdoc Grants
Editor's Note: This is the first article in a 3-part series on research funding. "Training Wheels" ©2002 Shari Weschler Rubeck www.artinmind.orgPrivate and government funding can help trainees pursue their own dreams When Chris Hurst moved to Boston to take a postdoctoral research training position at Boston University, he looked at it as his first real job. After four years in graduate school getting his PhD in toxicology, Hurst yearned to do his own research on the sensitivity of liver c
Wessely's War
Wessely's War
Of all the job titles Simon Wessely thought he might hold in his life, researcher ranked among the least likely. He wanted to be a physician. "I certainly didn't see myself in a laboratory," Wessely says. So the Sheffield, England native collected the necessary degrees, but wasn't in practice long before he realized he found general medicine unchallenging. Wessely moved on to psychiatry and in time found his true niche. In one of life's delicious little twists, Wessely is today considered one o
Fine Tuning: Stanching the British Brain Drain
Fine Tuning: Stanching the British Brain Drain
One-quarter of the 200-plus UK science organizations surveyed in a recent Science Recruitment Group (SRG) study agreed that a skills shortage affects most science disciplines. UK researchers have been leaving the country for better-paid climes abroad for a number of years, although the events of Sep. 11 may prompt some to reconsider their plans. The lure of greater monetary rewards and better information technology has also resulted in the loss of science graduates. In the SRG survey, pharmaceu
Funding Flows for Stem Cell Research
Funding Flows for Stem Cell Research
The American Red Cross, the first organization to receive a human embryonic stem cell (HESC) research grant in from the US government, surprised the scientific community by rejecting the money, fanning the international policy debate over the use of these cells. Citing a change in research policy, the organization, which manages most of the US blood supply, turned down a $50,000 (US) grant to expand its research of mouse umbilical cells into the controversial HESCs. Nevertheless, the National I
Funding Opportunities in the Life Sciences
Funding Opportunities in the Life Sciences
Click to view our current database of Funding Opportunities in the Life Sciences.

News Profile

Matthew Meselson
Matthew Meselson
Matthew S. Meselson waited quietly in the car while female associates handled the delicate work of questioning families of people who had died of anthrax. The scientist had charmed, wrangled, and nagged politicians on two continents from 1979 to 1992 for permission to probe a strange outbreak of the disease in the Soviet city of Sverdlovsk 1979. But just days before Meselson boarded a plane for Moscow to conduct the interviews, former President Boris Yeltsin, a Sverdlovsk official during the out