News

Frontlines
Frontlines
CuresNow, a coalition of scientists, patient groups, and entertainment executives recently launched an ad campaign to rally opposition to the Brownback-Landrieu bill that would criminalize all forms of research cloning ("Popular ad couple Harry and Louise are back, opposing Bush cloning ban," Wall Street Journal, April 24, 2002). The characters were featured in commercials that helped sink Bill Clinton's health care reform plan. In the current effort, the fictitious Louise refers to a bill that
The Molecular Face of Aging
The Molecular Face of Aging
Consider a human baby, so young she cannot distinguish herself from the world. Her parents, beset by the fears and longings of adulthood, gaze anxiously upon their daughter's knitted brow. Her serious expression, at once reminiscent of her mother and comical on an infant's face, causes the parents to fret: When will the crease become a wrinkle? When will the physical assault of being alive begin? Their concern might seem absurdly premature, but the fleeting nature of life has long prompted peopl
Aging, in Theory: A Personal Pursuit
Aging, in Theory: A Personal Pursuit
Every human being has asked at least once, "Why do we have to age and die?" Leonid Gavrilov and Natalia Tuchnina (now Gavrilova), decide to really pursue the answer. They first met at a conference in 1975 when they were both fourth-year chemistry students at Moscow State University. Then, seven days after their first date, a smitten Gavrilov proposed, promising he would discover how to stop aging if she would marry him. The couple went on a quest to find a general theory that could explain what
Fighting the 10/90 Gap
Fighting the 10/90 Gap
While wealthy nations pursue drugs to treat baldness and obesity, depression in dogs, and erectile dysfunction, elsewhere millions are sick or dying from preventable or treatable infectious and parasitic diseases.1 It's called the 10/90 gap. "Less than 10% of the worldwide expenditure on health research and development is devoted to the major health problems of 90% of the population," explains Els Torreele, co-chair of a working group that provided background recently for an initiative announced
African Sleeping Sickness: A Recurring Epidemic
African Sleeping Sickness: A Recurring Epidemic
African trypanosomiasis is making an unwelcome comeback. But unlike other returning diseases, this one has a drug treatment—eflornithine—that disappeared from the market when it failed to cure cancer. Yet like Viagra's origin from a curious side effect in a clinical trial, so too was eflornithine reborn. "When it was discovered that it removes mustaches in women, it suddenly had a market: western women with mustaches," says Morten Rostrup, president of the international council for M
Lawmakers Plan Curbs to Patent Power
Lawmakers Plan Curbs to Patent Power
Continuing public concern over gene patenting and its impact on medical research and discovery has prompted several US and European initiatives challenging the power of patents. None pose an immediate threat to the biotechnology industry, but lawyers and industry advocates say a groundswell of political support for limits on patent protections, as has occurred in Europe, could eventually undermine biotech companies. "The mere discussion of this type of legislation—whether it goes anywher
Cloning at the Capitol
Cloning at the Capitol
The US Senate will likely vote on human cloning before Congress breaks for recess in late May. Supporters have rallied around the bill by Sens. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) and Mary Landrieu (D-La.) that would ban human cloning for reproductive purposes and therapeutic cloning from embryonic stem cell lines. Legislators hold the power to make a day in the lab a felony, and most people hope that these senators at least know what they are talking about. "I don't expect Congress to understand everything,

Commentary

Forensics and Critical Thinking
Forensics and Critical Thinking
An article in a recent issue of the Wall Street Journal questioned whether forensics courses belong in the elementary and high school curricula.1 Teachers and forensics professionals are promoting the subject because it exemplifies the kind of evidence-based, objective investigation that permeates science. It also captures the attention of students weaned on TV crime stories. Burlington, NC-based Carolina Biological Supply Co. is helping out with several forensics packages, including kits on DNA

Opinion

Rising Tides and Targeted Science Funding: The Gain for Basic Research
Rising Tides and Targeted Science Funding: The Gain for Basic Research
A key point of Harvey Black's Feb. 18 article in The Scientist on targeted research initiatives and earmarking of funds1—that, by sidestepping peer review, this practice may subvert scientific inquiry and, more specifically, reduce funds for basic research—is a valid concern. However, criticism of targeted research programs on this tenet alone amounts to throwing the baby out with the bathwater. After all, these initiatives are often created to fill specific needs otherwise unmet or
Elementary Zenetics: do or dai
Elementary Zenetics: do or dai
DNA sequences have been depicted in many ways. 

Letter

On Migrating Minds
On Migrating Minds
Regarding your cover story on "Migrating Minds,"1 it is true; very often, the pre- and postdocs would buy only a one-way ticket to the United States. Why is it so? My personal opinion is that the European laws and immigration regulations imposed on universities are very restrictive, in a sense. This is not the question of money only to attract outside-EU scientists—it is a question of prospects and social stability that are offered not only to the candidate for a specific job, but also to
Money and Research
Money and Research
Regarding your FrontLines item, "The money-making academy,"1 at first I wondered if it was an April fool's joke, then I realized it was serious. This is an unsupported perpetuation of a myth promulgated by the research university establishment. What evidence is there that the commercial activities of universities have benefited society as a whole? Falling tuition costs? Cheaper drug prices? Reduced university budgets supported by fewer taxpayer dollars? I would argue that, in fact, all of the e

Research

Sex-Based Longevity
Sex-Based Longevity
Editor's Note: This is the final installment in the series on sex-based differences in the biology of males and females. Past articles are: "The Inequality of Drug Metabolism","Sex-based Differences Continue to Mount"," "X and Y Chromosomes Concern More Than Reproduction", "Deciphering How the Sexes Think", and "Yes, Biologically Speaking, Sex Does Matter". Lisa Damiani For as long as demographic records have existed in the United States, women have outlived men. When flappers were big, a woman
Ancient Viruses Offer Future Promises
Ancient Viruses Offer Future Promises
Imbedded in the genomes of creatures as varied as mouse and man are retroviral remnants. These artifacts of ancient infections result from RNA viruses inserting DNA copies of themselves into their hosts' genomes. Sometimes they hit the jackpot and make their way into the germ line. Sorted and shuffled over the eons, some of these ancient endogenous viruses have serendipitously developed the ability to shield cells against new viruses. Research on retroviruses and resistance to them in mice and o
How Flies Fight Bugs
How Flies Fight Bugs
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 review of some related papers highlighted by the Faculty of 1000, plus comments on new and notable research. For more information visit www.facultyof1000.com.
Notable
Notable
J.O. Korbel et al., "SHOT: A Web server for the construction of genome phylogenies," Trends in Genetics, 18[3]:158-62, March 1, 2002. "This paper reports the results of phylogenetic analysis using whole genome comparisons and introduces a new Web server (named "SHOT") for further analysis by gene-content and gene-order methods. Among the results, the gene-content method showed Homo sapiens to be more closely related to Drosophila melanogaster than Caenorhabditis elegans, and both methods showed

Hot Paper

A Tale of Two-Hybrid
A Tale of Two-Hybrid
Data derived from the Science Watch/Hot Papers database and 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. Courtesy of Peter UetzPeter Uetz As a graduate student, Peter Uetz investigated embryonic development in mice and chickens, working to explain how deformity relates to the protein formin. Uetz, then working at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Heidelberg, Germany, found few answers

Technology Profile

Laser Microdissection Systems
Laser Microdissection Systems
Years ago, tissue samples mounted on glass slides were consigned to a future of histological or immunohistological examination, and then, to the trash bin. Postmicroscopic polymerase chain reaction (PCR) analyses of interesting cellular colonies were impossible, because there was no way to get those cells off the slides, or to isolate those few cells from the vast majority of uninteresting ones. But thanks to laser microdissection (LMD), that is no longer the case. LMD allows researchers to targ
Picking Systems You Can Count On
Picking Systems You Can Count On
Colony counting and colony picking are widely recognized as boring, repetitive tasks. In 1963 Joshua Lederberg noted, "The most tedious operation in bacterial genetics is counting-colonies."1 So it is not surprising that researchers have a strong desire to automate the process. The first commercially available automated colony-counting system was produced in the 1970's, according to Michael Zervoudis, sales and marketing manager at Gainesville, Va.-based BioLogics. Artek Systems, BioLogics' pred
Speed-Reading the Genome
Speed-Reading the Genome
Reading genomes is a messy business. Even the terminology—like "shotgun"—evokes images of inelegant science. But Woburn, Mass.-based US Genomics plans to change that. Inventor Eugene Chan based the GeneEngine™ on the same mechanisms cells use to read DNA. He designed a system in which DNA is first linearized and then threaded through a nanofluidic chip at high speeds. Before the analysis, the DNA sample is treated with a set of fluorescently labeled tetramers that cover the thr

Technology

Double TOF
Double TOF
Foster City, Calif.-based Applied Biosystems (ABI) officially launched its entry into the proteomics market, the 4700 Proteomics Analyzer, in January. Based on the first commercially available, tandem time-of-flight (TOF/TOF™) mass spectrometer (MS) and offering a number of productivity-enhancing features, the 4700 is designed specifically to excel at proteomics applications, according to David Hicks, ABI's director of marketing for proteomics applications. The 4700 includes the matrix-a
Mass Spec-tacular
Mass Spec-tacular
Mass spectrometry (MS) is largely responsible for propelling the ongoing proteomics revolution,1 and the boom in MS applications has not gone unnoticed by instrument manufacturers. For the past few months Micromass, Thermo Finnigan, and Applied Biosystems have rolled out new instruments or offered new technologies to enhance existing hardware. The Scientist reviews three of these developments below. When researchers perform peptide mass fingerprinting on gel slices, they typically use matrix-as
Negative News
Negative News
Manchester, UK-based Micromass has added negative-ion detection capabilities to its M@LDI™ family of mass spectrometers. The company unveiled this new feature in New Orleans at Pittcon 2002, an annual trade fair where more than 30,000 conferees and exhibitors in virtually every laboratory discipline launch new products. To perform matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight (MALDI-TOF) mass spectrometry (MS), researchers combine the sample with a molar excess of matrix̵
Out-of-the-Box Proteomics Analysis
Out-of-the-Box Proteomics Analysis
Proteomics may be the hot buzzword in biology, but proteomics researchers still lack the integrated, "off-the-shelf" tools that have come to characterize genomic research. Now, however, San Jose, Calif.-based Thermo Finnigan offers these scientists an all-in-one package with its recently released ProteomeX™ Workstation, a complete proteomics system. The ProteomeX Workstation is a multidimensional liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry (LC/MS) package that combines three successful Thermo

Profession

A Scrap over Sequences, Take Two
A Scrap over Sequences, Take Two
Science magazine's controversial decision to publish the Syngenta draft rice genome sequence without requiring the company to deposit its data in a public database is getting less than rave reviews from scientists who need to use the genome map in their work. Over the objections of leading scientists who warn that scientific publishing principles have been sacrificed to commercial gain, Science allowed the agrochemical giant based in Basel, Switzerland, to maintain control of its data when it un
Minorities Move Ahead by Inches
Minorities Move Ahead by Inches
Darlene Gabeau, the daughter of Haitian immigrants, grew up in New York City's Amsterdam Housing Projects. Her father completed the equivalent of a high school education, and her mother's schooling ended with the seventh grade. Gabeau's prospects would appear dim; nonetheless, she is now completing her seventh year in the elite Yale University MD-PhD program, where she studies cell structure of olfactory neurons. The Journal of Behavioral Neuroscience published her college paper on sex differenc
Fine Tuning: Beyond Stereotypes
Fine Tuning: Beyond Stereotypes
Men brag. They are dismissive and don't listen. They don't analyze their own actions. They talk only of their own research. They criticize others rudely, with no regard for feelings. Always trying to one-up each other, they are too competitive. Women qualify everything they say. They appear hesitant. They don't speak up, especially at meetings. They try to empathize with everyone. They can't take a joke. They aren't critical enough. They are indirect in giving opinions or giving orders. They do
Toward an Equitable Europe
Toward an Equitable Europe
Female researchers in the United States lead an international movement to improve the status of women in science careers, according to scientists and sociologists in the United States and Europe. Recent reports on the pay and working conditions of female professors in four Massachusetts Institute of Technology departments—inspired by an earlier report in that institution's School of Science—show that women receive lower pay than do men in comparable positions and miss out on importan
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

Rudolf Raff
Rudolf Raff
If a visitor to Earth were to try to assess life's diversity by touring terrestrial biology laboratories, he, she, or it might conclude that the planet is overrun with fruit flies, mice, small plants, tiny transparent worms, and a few types of single-celled inhabitants. That skewed view might be why it's taken more than a century for the field called evo-devo today to have taken off. It's also why Indiana University distinguished professor Rudolf (Rudy) Raff collects sea urchins from the Austral