May 1988

News

Internal Strains Block Joint Biotech Research
Internal Strains Block Joint Biotech Research
WASHINGTON--Don’t add biomedical companies to the short list of U.S. industries that have agreed to form national research consortia to compete in world markets. The strain of mixing scientific cooperation with financial competition ap- pears to be too great. Although drug companies have yet to form a consortium to do basic research in biotechnology, their scientists can watch how one variant of the concept is playing in Peoria. Seven companies with interests in agricultural biote
FASEB Offers Four Themes at Annual Meeting
FASEB Offers Four Themes at Annual Meeting
The Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) is holding its 72nd annual meeting this week in Las Vegas. The meeting, one of the world’s largest scientific gatherings, features more than 9,000 scientific papers and nearly 1,000 scientific, technical and educational exhibits. FASEB officials expect more than 20,000 individuals, including 16,000 scientists, to attend the meeting. In addition to sitting in on conventional scientific sessions, attendees have the opp
Some LEAP at Chance to Forge Teams
Some LEAP at Chance to Forge Teams
SANTA FE, N.M--Jumping from a 165-foot cliff wasn’t in their job descriptions. So there was some grumbling when Hewlett-Packard lab director Frank Carrubba asked 20 of his scientists to attend an “adventure-learning” program in the wilds of New Mexico. One year later, the Palo Alto, Calif., researchers talk fondly about their four days at LEAP (Leaders Experiential Adventure Program). The experience brought people from different areas together "in a bonding way,"Carrubba sa
Low Profile for SDI Work on Campus
Low Profile for SDI Work on Campus
WASHINGTON--For J.R. Shealy, an electrical engineer at Cornell University, the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) isn’t about shooting down missiles. Instead, it’s a way to fund his pioneering research on growing semiconductor crystals. WASHINGTON--James A. Ionson’s four-year tenure as director of SDI’s Innovative Science and Technology (IST) program was punctuated by controversy over the idea of a strategic defense and the role of the academic community in SDI resea
Genetic Engineers Call for Regulation
Genetic Engineers Call for Regulation
CARDIFF, WALES--Scientists at the First International Conference on the Release of Genetically Engineered Microorganisms here have called for international guidelines on dissemination of new organisms. But they stopped short of formal recommendations on international regulation of genetic engineering. Deciding against a final communique, they deputized a member of the UK government’s watchdog committee over recombinant DNA, John Beringer, to carry their concerns to the Organization for
Lower Ratings Shake Morale at NIH
Lower Ratings Shake Morale at NIH
WASHINGTON--One day last fall NIH lost one-half of its "outstanding" scientist administrators. Nobody left, and there was no immediate drop in the amount or quality of work being performed on the Bethesda campus. The change was strictly on paper, a result of a 1986 decision by the Reagan administration to reduce the number of “outstanding” performance ratings given to senior executives throughout the government. But NIH Director James Wyngaarden and others feel the policy delivers
NASA Centers, Firms Plan To Use Proposed Space Facility
NASA Centers, Firms Plan To Use Proposed Space Facility
PASADENA. CALIF.--Materials scientists from several NASA-supported centers and commercial firms have developed plans to conduct research aboard the proposed industrial space facility. In February President Reagan endorsed the concept of an orbiting facility, built with private funds, that could be launched years earlier than the space station. The space lab would offer opportunities for continuous processing and testing, with experiments tended every four to six months by astronauts arriving
Embryo Research Ban Asked
Embryo Research Ban Asked
WEST BERLIN--The West German government has proposed a ban on the creation of human embryos for research and measures to determine the sex of fetuses developed by artificial insemination. Scientific organizations see the legislation as a threat to all research in the field. Justice Minister Hans Englehard and Health Minister Rita Süssmuth and Minister of Research and Technology Heinz Riesenhuber have been asked to prepare a draft of what is being called an embryo protection bill. It fol
Glaxo to Build New Facility in Japan
Glaxo to Build New Facility in Japan
LONDON--Glaxo, the British pharmaceutical giant, plans to build a new research and development laboratory in Japan that would employ up to 300 scientists and support staff. The center, to be completed by the early 1990s on the outskirts of Tokyo, will assume responsibility for drug trials in that country. The company’s investment in research rose by 51 percent in the second half of 1987, according to chairman Sir Paul Girolami.
Canada Urged to Hike Spending
Canada Urged to Hike Spending
Toronto--Canada faces a bleak future without a large increase in federal spending on science, according to a new report prepared for Prime Minister Brian Mulroney. The National Advisory Board on Science and Technology, composed of academic, labor and industry leaders, found that Canada ranked last among eight industrial countries in several aspects of scientific achievement. Those areas included overall and industrial R&D spending as a percentage of gross domestic product, international pate
ASM Meeting Draws 12,000 To Miami Beach
ASM Meeting Draws 12,000 To Miami Beach
WASHINGTON--Between 12,000 and 14,000 scientists are expected to attend the 88th annual meeting of the American Society for Microbiology (ASM) in Miami Beach next week. The six-day meeting, which begins Sunday, May 8, will feature 315 sessions (including poster sessions), exhibits by more than 300 companies, a placement service and a special student science day. Also, ASM’s Committee on Continuing Education of the Board of Education and Training is sponsponsoring 24 advance workshops for
Who Owns What Biotech Staffs Know?
Who Owns What Biotech Staffs Know?
Switching jobs is a wrenching experience for anyone. But biotech scientists who move to a competitor face the added strain of a possible suit if they can take their knowledge with them. The problem is highlighted in a case brought by Genentech, the San Francisco biotechnology company. The suit, filed February 8, accuses five former employees of misappropriating trade secrets relating to TPA, the company’s blockbuster, new drug to dissolve blood clots, and other recombinant proteins after
A Botanist In Newspaperland
A Botanist In Newspaperland
Ask a scientist about the media and you will get an opinion. But what do they actually know about it? They see the products, newspapers, TV programs, radio broadcasts, and may even have had their own work featured at some time, more or less accurately. But their conception of how these things actually come into being usually is extremely hazy, and the media itself does little to dispel the veil over this creative process. The British Association for the Advancement of Science coordinates a pr
The Rehabilitation of N.I. Bukharin
The Rehabilitation of N.I. Bukharin
Science in the Soviet Union, which inherited the Academy of Sciences founded by Peter the Great, is a difficult subject of study. Many war memorials in the Soviet Union carry the proud words, "Nobody forgets; nobody is forgotten." That is, nobody forgets those-who died in defense of the ideals of communism and the territory of the U.S.S.R. But, in light of others who perished, it might be added "Nobody remembers; those who do remember do not say."A number of major, but inconvenient, figures ha
Baruch Blumberg: Science on TV
Baruch Blumberg: Science on TV
For cancer researcher and medical historian Baruch S. Blumberg, communication is central element in the scientific enterprise This month, many Americans will see him in that role when public television station across the country broadcast "Plagues." A host of the one-hour program, Blumberg traces the origins of several deadly epidemics: malaria, which may have contributed to as many as half of all human deaths to date the 1849 outbreak of cholera in London; the 1918 Spanish flu; and Legionnair
Our Nuclear Future: Paris or Hiroshima?
Our Nuclear Future: Paris or Hiroshima?
Nuclear energy has always engendered both hope and fear in people. Depending on one’s viewpoint, the power of the atom is the key to either Utopia or Armageddon. In Nuclear Fear: A History of Images (Harvard University Press, 1988) physicist-historian Spencer Weart examines the images that have influenced discussion of nuclear energy since the latter part of the 19th century. In this excerpt from the book, Weart offers his views on the next steps in the debate over nuclear power plants a
D Jobs Threatened
D Jobs Threatened
LONDON--A plan to have British industry pick up the cost of "near-market" research may jeopardize the jobs of thousands of agriculture and food researchers at state-funded institutes. Officials at the British Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food are reviewing the department’s $200 million annual budget to find which portions should be transferred to industry over the next two years. That approach parallels a recently announced policy that the Thatcher government would support R
Math Society Votes Down Funding by SDI, Military
Math Society Votes Down Funding by SDI, Military
BOSTON--By significant margins, and in surprising numbers, members of the American Mathematical Society (AMS) have voted to oppose the administration’s SDI program and military funding of their discipline. About 7,000 members nearly twice the number that normally vote each year for the society’s officers, cast ballots on one or more of the five resolutions. The first resolution, passed by 57 percent of those who voted, expressed the society’s refusal to lend “a spuriou
Itching to Study Lice and Mites
Itching to Study Lice and Mites
In 1939, when World War II broke out, I held the Royal Society's Sorby Research Fellowship and was working on problems of insect physiology at Sheffield University. As my name was on the Central Register of Reserved Occupations, I was debarred from military service so as to be available for scientific work of national importance. Unfortunately, the authorities had no suggestions for any such work. I felt I should temporarily abandon insect physiology and devote my talents to some problem more c
Use the Media for Your Message
Use the Media for Your Message
You and Your Friendly Science Journalist Have a Lot in Common. You have to take pity on journalists. Only politicians and lawyers are more universally despised. Scientists in particular have long avoided the press, for reasons that have ranged from an admirable reluctance to toot their own horns, to a less-admirable fondness for stereotyping. "Reporters always get things wrong,"scientists mutter."They take information out of context, they sensationalize our results, and they make us look like f
An Astrophysicist's Pursuit of Science
An Astrophysicist's Pursuit of Science
Aesthetics and Motivation in Science. S. Chandrasekhar. The University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1987. 170 pp. $23.95. In this small, attractive volume, the well-known astrophysicist Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar presents seven lectures on the motivation of scientists, the meaning of beauty in science, and contrasting patterns of creativity in science and the arts. Presented on various occasions during a 40-year period, the lectures are printed without alteration. Thus, as Chandrasekhar notes,
'The Crime of the Century' and the Man Behind It'
'The Crime of the Century' and the Man Behind It'
Atom Spy. Robert Chadwell Williams. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA. 1987. 267 pp. $25. KLAUS FUCHS The Man Who Stole the Atom Bomb. Norman Moss. St. Martin’s Press, New York, 1987. 216 pp. $16.95. Any thorough account of the role of physicists in World War II requires evaluation of the activities of Klaus Fuchs, the notorious German refugee physicist who, through the 1940s, leaked top atomic secrets to the Soviet Union while actively contributing to American and British atomic
Polar Politics of The Ice: Two New Volumes
Polar Politics of The Ice: Two New Volumes
NEXT DECADE Report of a Study Group Chaired by Sir Anthony Parsons. Cambridge University Press, New York, 1987. 164 pp. $44.50. THE ANTARCTIC TREATY REGIME Law, Environment and Resources. Gillian D. Tnggs, ed. Cambridge University Press, New York, 1987. 239 pp. $54.50. The Antarctic Treaty, a pioneering political milestone, successfully resolved international territorial disputes to guarantee a free environment for scientific research: Negotiated nearly 30 years ago, the treaty has achieved

Letter

Letters
Letters
Too Many Journals? Wheat from Chaff? Einstein's Office Regarding Eugene Garfield’s stalwart defense of the proliferation of scientific journals (March 7, 1988, p. 11): It would make as much sense for Garfield to argue otherwise as it would for the Pentagon to insist that its budget is overfed. Journals are meat and potatoes to scientific commerce, just as advertisements are to retail business and TV spots to politics. Quality control has nothing to do with it. William R. Hoffm

Commentary

Recognizing the Role of Chance
Recognizing the Role of Chance
Las Vegas is perhaps not the first city that comes to mind when one thinks of a meeting place for scientists. Yet that is where the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) is holding its annual convention this week. Upon reflection, however, it seemed more appropriate than I had first thought for scientists to gather in a city that epitomizes chance and the good fortune it sometimes brings. The vision I held of gaming tables, roulette wheels and one-armed bandits put

Opinion

Better Living Through Organic Chemistry
Better Living Through Organic Chemistry
This ink was compounded with the assistance of organic chemistry. The paper on which it is printed is another expression of that science. So, too, are the trees whence that paper came and the receptors in your eyes by which you see. Lift up your eyes. Except for glass (inorganic chemistry), it is unlikely that you can see anything that is uninfluenced by organic chemistry. Even the metal and concrete you see probably have been painted and waterproofed. Chemistry, especially the organic vari

So They Say

So They Say
So They Say
History Policies dominated by overreaction threaten to build walls around sick people and victimize them, and even the most robust democracy may not be strong enough to withstand such divisive forces. But knowledge brings with it the power to escape from the crippling stance of past generations, who were condemned to cower in ignorance be- fore the Black Plague or the invisible menace of yellow fever. The challenge is not merely to learn from history, but especially to cull the pertinent messa

Happenings

Happenings
Happenings
David W Kingsbury of the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., will become senior scientific officer of the How- ard Hughes Medical Institute, Bethesda, Md., in July. Kingsbury’s research has focused on the virology of paramyxoviruses. He joined the hospital’s division of virology and molecular biology in 1963. Alan W Steiss, associate provost for research and director of sponsored programs at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Bl

Profession

Biologists in Demand
Biologists in Demand
Demand for biologists in disciplines represented by member societies of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB), especially at the postdoctoral training/research associate level, shows strong indications of exceeding the supply significantly. A combination of increasing numbers of positions and decreasing output from universities appears to be at work here; growth in size and number of biotechnology companies and decline in numbers of appropriate age groups which