May 1999

News

Is Integrative Medicine the Future? Relman-Weil debate focuses on scientific evidence issues
Is Integrative Medicine the Future? Relman-Weil debate focuses on scientific evidence issues
Edited by: Steve Bunk Arnold S. RelmanAndrew Weil Integrative medicine, the combining of alternative and conventional medical methods, was the subject of a debate held recently at the University of Arizona (UA) College of Medicine. The opponents were Arnold S. Relman, editor-in-chief emeritus of the New England Journal of Medicine and professor emeritus of medicine and social medicine at Harvard Medical School, and Andrew Weil, director of the UA program in integrative medicine and best-selli
Medical Marijuana: Will IOM report encourage clinical trials?
Medical Marijuana: Will IOM report encourage clinical trials?
As an issue on the cusp of science and social policy, the value of marijuana in medicine refuses to go away. For several years, researchers wishing to undertake clinical trials of marijuana's medical effects on humans have claimed that the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are stonewalling by insisting that the protocols are unacceptable. Those organizations complain that several pr
Prions' Changeability: Nuclear magnetic resonance shows more pieces of the puzzle
Prions' Changeability: Nuclear magnetic resonance shows more pieces of the puzzle
Prions have been a tough sell. Against a backdrop of the "DNA to RNA to protein" credo, the idea that the same amino acid sequence could exist in multiple forms, both normal and deranged, seemed like heresy. But since Stanley Prusiner, a professor of neurology, virology, and biochemistry at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), named the agent that causes the transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs) "proteinaceous infectious particles" in 1982,1 evidence has been steadily
Biological Informatics: The Virtual Cell: Modeling Cellular Processes
Biological Informatics: The Virtual Cell: Modeling Cellular Processes
Biochemist John Carson uses The Virtual Cell to compare experimental and simulation results. Biologists are generating a vast amount of data on the molecular events that occur in the cell. Since a computer might the best tool for researchers to integrate all the information and sort out the complexities of a typical biological process, the next logical step would be to develop appropriate software for the job. A team at the University of Connecticut (UConn) Health Center in Farmington is attemp
Researchers, Officials Dealing with VA Problems in L.A.
Researchers, Officials Dealing with VA Problems in L.A.
Studies are slowly restarting at the Veterans Administration Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System (VAGLAHS) after an unprecedented suspension of research last March 26.1 Investigators, meanwhile, are dealing with the fallout, and many are waiting to learn the fates of their protocols. They're also struggling still to understand why such drastic action was taken because of administrative failures. "We're all ... amazed this could happen, and I think all of us feel we're being blamed for what is

Letter

Open Up Ph.D. Training
Open Up Ph.D. Training
Your article on broader training for Ph.D. scientists1 failed to fully examine the problem that faces many graduate students today. I myself am currently a fourth-year graduate student at Emory University in the chemistry department and can definitely feel the pressure to go into academia. The department here rarely sponsors any outside speakers that come from industry, and the idea of taking time off to do an internship in a company is unheard of. These are just two of many experiences that I
Irony in Animal Models
Irony in Animal Models
Seeing your "Market emerges for use of human drugs on pets"1 makes my pet and me wonder, "Are humans indeed a good animal model for animals?" Leonard X. FinegoldPhysics DepartmentDrexel UniversityPhiladelphia, PA 19104 S. Bunk, "Market emerges for use of human drugs on pets," The Scientist, 13[8]:1, April 12, 1999.

Commentary

The EPA's War on Plants
The EPA's War on Plants
The home gardening season is beginning in Northern California, and with it, a public-service campaign that asks, "Have you oversprayed your garden?" The runoff of agricultural chemicals--especially fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides--directly into San Francisco Bay poses a perennial problem. What is not so obvious is that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is obstructing an innovative and environmentally friendly solution. The EPA's decision to introduce Draconian regulation of an e

Opinion

The NIH Postdoc Experience
The NIH Postdoc Experience
Mention the National Institutes of Health to any science graduate student and the name conjures up images of top-notch researchers in white lab coats, doing cutting-edge science with lots of money to spend but very little space. Moreover, the NIH always seemed to me to be "Science Central" for the United States, because NIH grants support research nationwide, and because every prominent faculty member of my graduate school program ran off to attend study sections. The rhetorical question that s

Research

Consciousness Studies: Birth of an Empirical Discipline?
Consciousness Studies: Birth of an Empirical Discipline?
The Penrose-Hameroff Orch OR model places the essential aspect of consciousness at the level of quantum computation in microtubules within the brain's neurons. "Tubulin" proteins comprising microtubules can switch between states ("bits") and also be in quantum superposition of both states simultaneously ("protein qubits"). In the last several years, books, papers, and conferences have, with varying degrees of success, attempted to link the once-strange bedfellows of science and conscio
Consciousness Studies: Birth of an Empirical Discipline?
Consciousness Studies: Birth of an Empirical Discipline?
The Penrose-Hameroff Orch OR model places the essential aspect of consciousness at the level of quantum computation in microtubules within the brain's neurons. "Tubulin" proteins comprising microtubules can switch between states ("bits") and also be in quantum superposition of both states simultaneously ("protein qubits"). In the last several years, books, papers, and conferences have, with varying degrees of success, attempted to link the once-strange bedfellows of science and consciou

Hot Paper

Crystal Structure
Crystal Structure
Edited by: Jennifer Fisher Wilson Courtesy of John Kuriyan W.Q. Xu, S.C. Harrison, M.J. Eck, "Three-dimensional structure of the tyrosine kinase c-Src," Nature, 385:595-602, Feb. 13, 1997. (Cited in more than 185 papers since publication) Comments by Michael J. Eck, assistant professor of biological chemistry and molecular pharmacology, Harvard Medical School, and department of cancer biology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute F. Sicheri, I. Moarefi, J. Kuriyan, "Crystal structure of the Src fam

Profession

Opportunities Abound in Pharmacogenomics
Opportunities Abound in Pharmacogenomics
if (n == null) The Scientist - Opportunities Abound in Pharmacogenomics The Scientist 13[10]:16, May. 10, 1999 Profession Opportunities Abound in Pharmacogenomics By James Kling Graphic: Leza Berardone "Have it your way!" proclaim the restaurant chain's ads. What is arguably true for patrons of the fast-food industry is likely inevitable for patients seeking therapy for their illnesses. Pharmacogenomics--the application of genotyping to patient

Technology

Bench Buys
Bench Buys
Packard BioScience Company has just lowered the price on its already competitively priced Cyclone™ Storage Phosphor System. The Cyclone was the star product of Packard's business in 1998 and generated enough sales volume that the company has been able to reduce the price from $18,000 to $15,000. The Cyclone was created for smaller labs that are forced to use X-ray film or must share imaging facilities with other departments. However, product manager Brian Ayling insists that the Cyclone
High-Protein Diet: Genomic Solutions' ProGest Digestion Station
High-Protein Diet: Genomic Solutions' ProGest Digestion Station
Genomic Solutions' ProGest Digestion Station Proteomics is just beginning to reach its potential as a major research tool. Although genomics has dominated the front pages of scientific journals and mainstream media outlets, researchers are quietly discussing the limitations of DNA and molecular biology in describing the behavior of proteins. Keith Ashman, senior research scientist at EMBL in Germany, believes that DNA-based research tools are going to naturally evolve into proteomics. "Genomic
Phage Display Alternative: Invitrogen's Yeast Display Vectors
Phage Display Alternative: Invitrogen's Yeast Display Vectors
Aga2-fusion protein binding to yeast cell by Aga1. Image provided by Invitrogen. Phage display systems, reviewed in a recent issue of The Scientist,1 have proven enormously useful for the detection of protein-ligand interactions, as well as for the selection of variants with altered binding characteristics. However, limiting the utility of phage display systems are so-called expression biases against certain eukaryotic proteins, as well as the distinctly different protein processing mechanisms

Clarification

Clarification
Clarification
In the article "Gene analyses--sunny side up! Chemiluminescent detection systems for reporter gene assays" (D. Wilkinson, The Scientist, 13[7]:18-20, March 29,1999), the explanation for how CoA transforms light production by firefly luciferase from a flash to a continuous glow-type pattern is incorrect. CoA is thought to work by binding to firefly luciferase and causing stimulatory conformational changes that speed up the enzyme's ability to release the product oxyluciferin.1 S.R. Ford, L.M.

Technology Profile

Light Minded: Instruments for chemiluminescence and fluorescence measurements
Light Minded: Instruments for chemiluminescence and fluorescence measurements
Date: May 10, 1999Table of Fluorometers and Luminometers In the decades since luminescence techniques were first introduced as a common analytical tool, advances in electronics, computing, and optics have spurred a rapid proliferation of new methods and applications. In the past few years, chemiluminescence assays have begun to diverge from the mainstream of fluorescence techniques, and specialized instrumentation fills the needs of laboratories using chemiluminescence applications. Differences
Tyr'd and True: Immunochemical reagents and kits for studying tyrosine phosphorylation
Tyr'd and True: Immunochemical reagents and kits for studying tyrosine phosphorylation
Tyrosine Phosphorylantion State-Sensitive Antibodies Protein tyrosine kinases (PTKs) are a diverse lot, including both transmembrane and soluble cytoplasmic enzymes. Roughly 10 percent of a cell's proteins are subject to covalent modification via phosphorylation, but tyrosine (Tyr) residues are modified in only about one out of every 100 protein phosphorylation events. When Tyr-phosphorylation occurs, cells pay heed. PTKs play vital roles in a wide variety of cellular processes, including gro

Notebook

Notebook
Notebook
INTRAFLAGELLAR TRANSPORT Researchers at the University of California, Davis, have for the first time seen a motor protein moving cargo during intracellular transport in a living organism. "This provides a potentially very exciting assay for studying motor proteins generally in vivo," says Jonathan M. Scholey, senior author of the study published recently in Nature (J.T. Orozco et al., "Movement of motor and cargo along cilia," Nature, 398:674, April 22, 1999). Using fluorescence microscopy, Sch