Frontlines

A League of Their Own
A League of Their Own
Frontlines | A League of Their Own ©2002 The University of Newcastle It was a soccer match that truly belonged in its own league: eight small dog-shaped robots, four to a side, kicked, caught, and scored, as their human programmers watched from the sidelines. Earlier this month, Carnegie Mellon University hosted the first International RoboCup Federation's American Open, gathering more than 150 researchers from North and South America to Pittsburgh, Pa., to witness the games. Carnegi
EU Power and Stem Cells
EU Power and Stem Cells
Frontlines | EU Power and Stem Cells Courtesy of Dennis Steindler A bit of a tussle is happening in the European Union over which official body can ban, or not ban, human embryonic stem cell research. The familiar ethical controversies are mixed with considerable legal confusion. A report released this month by the European Commission, which directs EU-funded research, says regulation of the research is in the hands of member states. However, the European Parliament voted to ban some forms
Pipeline Anxiety: Scientists Pumped into New Roles
Pipeline Anxiety: Scientists Pumped into New Roles
Images courtesy of Merck & Co. For the pharmaceutical industry, the numbers do not add up. Investment in drug development has tripled in the past 10 years to more than $30 billion (US), but the industry has fewer new drugs to show for it. After peaking at 131 in 1996, the number of new drug applications filed with the US Food and Drug Administration dropped to 78 in 2002. In response, pharmaceutical companies are scrambling to realign and reinvent research and development operations. Mass mer

Snapshot

Scientists and Their Religions
Scientists and Their Religions
Snapshot | Scientists and Their Religions  Click for larger version (58K) We asked our readers about the religious traditions in which they were raised and the ones to which they are now affiliated. The number of responses--nearly 500, out of 3,000 invitees--and the many strongly stated comments show how seriously our readers take this subject. "Religion is basically dangerous," says one; "Religion is important in my life," says another. The majority, 87%, were reared in a religious t
Protein Snapshots
Protein Snapshots
Courtesy of Sidec Technologies Researchers looking for a three-dimensional view of interesting molecules typically turn to high-resolution structural determination methods such as nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) or X-ray crystallography. But not all applications require the level of resolution obtainable through these methods. Stockholm-based Sidec Technologies has developed a novel imaging method for such applications; the company's SET technology combines a proprietary optimization algorit

Foundations

'Unlimited in its Implications...'
'Unlimited in its Implications...'
Foundations | 'Unlimited in its Implications...'  Click for larger version (30K) One cold night in 1945, a Columbia University medical school student named Joshua Lederberg read Oswald Avery's 1944 landmark paper that identified deoxyribonucleic acid as the chemical that carries genetic information. Lederberg wrote his immediate reactions in a diary entry the next day: "I had the evening all to myself, and particularly the excruciating pleasure of reading Avery ... Terrific and unlimi

First Person

Sean B. Carroll
Sean B. Carroll
First Person | Sean B. Carroll Courtesy of Howard Hughes Medical Institute Sean B. Carroll, developmental biologist, rock 'n' roll lover, a man who will stand in five feet of water all day dredging for shark teeth, is dreading his advancing years. He's all of 42. A self-described jeans-and-sneaker-wearing regular guy, Carroll says his age is "very hard to get used to. I don't know, it seems I've been doing this too long." Earning his PhD in immunology at the age of 22--which he attributes

Science Seen

A Mortal Coil
A Mortal Coil
Science Seen | A Mortal Coil Courtesy of Greg Matera  A MORTAL COIL: Sandra Wolin of Yale University and Gregory Matera of Case Western Reserve University identified a new type of suborganelle, which they termed the perinucleolar compartment (green dots). Similar to coiled bodies (pink dots), the researchers hypothesize that the new suborganelle may be involved in ribonucleoprotein biogenesis. function sendData() { document.frm.pathName.value = location.pathname; result = false

So They Say

So They Say
So They Say
So They Say "I was a dentist for years, but I never even thought about baby teeth until I looked at my daughter's carefully." --Sontao Shi, National Institutes of Health, on discovering a new stem cell source--baby teeth. From UPI "People who don't even know how to spell RNA are able to use this successfully in diverse biological systems!" --Thomas Cech, head of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, on new genomics technology. From BioIT World Magazine "We had all these follow-on 'omic

5-Prime

Drug Development: Clinical Trials
Drug Development: Clinical Trials
5-Prime | Drug Development: Clinical Trials Who gets tested in Phase I Trials? As many as 80 healthy or sick human beings. Phase I trials occur after animal tissue and whole-animal studies have determined that the agent appears safe and effective for its intended use. This stage discerns mainly whether the agent is safe for humans and provides data to determine the pharmacological effects. Phase I studies, which last from two to six months, are observed closely so that the entire trial can

Editorial

VA--Vague and Aberrant--Funding Decisions
VA--Vague and Aberrant--Funding Decisions
"Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power." --Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) This applies equally to women and men. On April 2, 18 basic science grants from the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) were "defunded."1 Months previously, the successful applicants were informed by telephone that funding had been approved (the peer review process took place in November 2002), and they had budgeted on that basis. But on the day after the grants

Opinion

D and the Public Good
D and the Public Good
Ned Shaw Columnist George Will has observed that when the Titanic steamed into that iceberg, the disaster was not democratic: 56% of women sailing in third class died, while only four of 143 women in first class perished. You don't need to ask which class was traveling near or below the waterline. When it comes to healthcare research, development and delivery--or, to be more precise, the lack thereof--those closest to the "waterline" are less-developed countries. Health-related R&D has b

Letter

RNAi in Plants
RNAi in Plants
RNAi in Plants I take exception with your claim in The Scientist1 that RNAi was first discovered in Caenorhabditis elegans. While the term "RNAi" was first coined by Fire and colleagues,2 several years of research on post-transcriptional gene silencing (PTGS) in different plant systems preceded any investigations on the matter by researchers working in animal systems. The first reports were, in fact, the findings of Napoli et al. (1990, Plant Cell, 2:279) and van der Krol et al. (1990, Plan
I Can't Bear It,
I Can't Bear It,
I Can't Bear It Your article featured on the front page of the Research section1 seems to have a picture of the grizzly bear and not the black bear. I have shooed enough black bears off my front porch to know the difference. New York has a sizable black bear population, and now and again one or two wander into town. Grizzly bears are more common west of the Mississippi. There is a hump at the shoulder to define them. [The bear in] your picture has a hump. Recently, if you check the New Yo
No Excuse for Expensing
No Excuse for Expensing
No Excuse for Expensing To quote your article: "But such services cannot be expensed with institutional funds or grant money ..."1 Aghhhhh!!!! I expense. You expense. He, she, or it expenses. But isn't it: I expend. You expend. He, she, or it expends? And thus, shouldn't it then be "expended," not "expensed," and then it doesn't fit as the correct verb in the context of the sentence? Wouldn't either "paid for," or "funded," or perhaps "financed" have been a better choice, particularly i
The Misery
The Misery
The Misery I'm a retired lawyer who worked in contract administration at a large aerospace firm from 1950 to 1963. I had a staff position [that] put me in contact with much of the top brass, as well as engineers and scientists involved in such programs as the Atlas and Minuteman ICBMs and the Apollo moon mission. During those years, the engineers and scientists I was in contact with had it pretty good, what with so many contractors bidding for their services. But I was able to see even the
Keeping Time
Keeping Time
Keeping Time Thank you for the calendar inside the magazine; it's a nice touch. It's cut out, framed, and hanging in my work area. Mike Owen, MD Manhattan Beach, Calif. omicron@cnmnetwork.com function sendData() { document.frm.pathName.value = location.pathname; result = false if (document.frm.score[0].checked) result = true; if (document.frm.score[1].checked) result = true; if (document.frm.score[2].checked) result = true; if (document.frm.score[3].checked) result = true; i
A Necessary Survey?
A Necessary Survey?
A Necessary Survey? I was interested to see that the CDC now runs an analysis of chemicals in the human body which were not there 75 years ago,1 but disturbed that it was limited only to synthetic chemicals claiming some association with cancer. From present work it seems that about one-half of natural and synthetic chemicals are carcinogenic in high dose. Surely our diet has changed substantially in the last 75 years to place natural chemicals as likewise warranting investigation. Apart f

Feature

Targeting Estrogen Receptor-B: A Case Study in Drug Discovery
Targeting Estrogen Receptor-B: A Case Study in Drug Discovery
 Models of estradiol (left) and genistein. For decades, researchers believed that a single estrogen receptor mediated the effects of estrogens in the body. So imagine their surprise when Jan-Åke Gustafsson of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm announced at a 1996 Keystone symposium the discovery of a second estrogen receptor in the rat prostate. The revelation added unexpected complexity to scientists' understanding of estrogen's biological action. Many attendees scurried back to

Research Front Page

One Link Found, Many to Go; The Rat's Now in the Ring; Red River for a Red Planet
One Link Found, Many to Go; The Rat's Now in the Ring; Red River for a Red Planet
One Link Found, Many To Go Researchers at the UK's Cambridge Institute of Medical Research (CIMR) and Merck & Co. reported a link between cytotoxic T lymphocyte-associated protein 4 (CTLA-4) and autoimmunity (H. Ueda et al., "Association of the T-cell regulatory gene CTLA4 with susceptibility to autoimmune disease," Nature, e-pub ahead of print, doi:10.1038/nature01621, April 30, 2003). The researchers used positional cloning to search a 330 kb region surrounding the CTLA4 gene for polymorp

Research

Then and Now: Smallpox Vaccinations
Then and Now: Smallpox Vaccinations
Images: left courtesy of CDC; right courtesy of Dana Johnson/Vanderbilt University Medical Center In the mid-1950s, AIDS did not exist, chemotherapy was in its infancy, and people with genetic immune deficiencies died. At that time, smallpox was a genuine health threat and vaccinations were required, for some people once every three years. Everyone carried a World Health Organization (WHO)-approved vaccination card with their passports. Parents needed them when their children changed schools.
The Quest for Protectors of Genomic Stability
The Quest for Protectors of Genomic Stability
Courtesy of Linda B. Schultz CHECK POINT: The 53Bp1-dependent checkpoint pathway. DNA double-strand breaks are caused by irradiation and other geotoxic events. The ATM [ataxia-telangiectasia mutated] molecule phosphorylates H2AX at or near the break, an event required for 53Bp1 phosphorylation and localization into nuclear foci. Nearly 15 years ago, Saccharomyces cerevisiae researchers at the University of Washington discovered the function of Rad9, the first DNA damage-checkpoint protei
The Dark Side of the Genome
The Dark Side of the Genome
Erica P. Johnson The dark side of the moon is a misnomer. Light reaches la luna's entire surface, but one half is unviewable from Earth. The human genome, the now essentially decoded1 map of life, likewise has a light side--the genes encoding mRNA and protein--and a dark side, which is coming into view for the first time. The dark side encompasses more than its opposite: The majority of the genome comprises intronic regions, stretches of repeat sequence, and other assorted gibberish that has a

Hot Paper

Huntington Disease Pathology Unfolds
Huntington Disease Pathology Unfolds
Courtesy: Larry Marsh and Judit Pallos  IN A FLY'S EYE: The regular repeating structure of the Drosophila melanogaster compound eye is disrupted when polyglutamine (polyQ 108) is expressed, making the fly eye an excellent model for huntingtin-derived pathology. Dissecting the mechanism of neuronal demise in Huntington disease (HD) has had its share of twists and turns. It took a decade to go from marker1 to gene,2 and now, after another decade, the details are beginning to come together.

Technology Front Page

Smaller, Better, Faster Transfection Assays; Really Ready Redivue; Visualizing RNA with RnaViz 2
Smaller, Better, Faster Transfection Assays; Really Ready Redivue; Visualizing RNA with RnaViz 2
PATENT WATCH | Smaller, Better, Faster Transfection Assays Courtesy of Akceli Cambridge, Mass.-based Akceli has been awarded a US patent for a reverse-transfection assay method (US patent 6,544,790, issued April 8, 2003). Akceli says the method condenses more than 6,000 data points on a single microtiter plate, which can be imaged in about 20 minutes. "Our technology allows us to do very rapid compound profiling and target ID and validation," says David Chao, president and cofounder of Akc

Technology Profile

Combinatorial Libraries: Life's Tinker Toys
Combinatorial Libraries: Life's Tinker Toys
Courtesy of UC Davis Medical Center  COMBI-KING: Kit Lam brings his expertise in combinatorial chemistry, an innovative technique for creating millions of new chemical compounds in just days, to the UC Davis Cancer Center. It's the new mix and match. In the computer industry, programmers refer to modularity--the ability to shuffle different sections of computer code to create new software. In the life sciences, the modules are peptides or molecular fragments that can be combined to yield

Technology

Electrical Microarrays: Going for the Gold
Electrical Microarrays: Going for the Gold
Courtesy of FRIZ Biochem A microarray substrate and reader for EDDA technology A small German biotechnology company is literally going for the gold in the burgeoning market for DNA microarray systems. FRIZ Biochem of Munich is developing two new electrochemical DNA microarray readout products that will use gold-coated chips for analyzing batches of genes. Simpler to use and less expensive than state-of-the-art fluorescent technology, the systems could be a boon for small to medium-sized
Protometrix Readies Whole-Proteome Array
Protometrix Readies Whole-Proteome Array
Courtesy of Protometrix The first proteome microarray is nearing release, but the Branford, Conn., company, Protometrix, is keeping the details on under wraps. Targeted for release at the end of the year, the yeast ProtoArray™, says company president and CEO Hollis Kleinert, will change the face of the genomic marketplace, taking the ability to get more specific information on drug efficacy and profiling "to an entirely new level." Protometrix's yeast ProtoArray, its first, is based on

Profession Front Page

The Yeast Congress; Gaffes Can Scuttle Grants; Feeding the Celtic Tiger
The Yeast Congress; Gaffes Can Scuttle Grants; Feeding the Celtic Tiger
TRAINING @ | The Yeast Congress Courtesy of Wadsworth Center, New York State Department of Health WHAT: XXI International Conference on Yeast Genetics and Molecular Biology WHERE: Göteborg, Sweden WHEN: July 7-12, 2003 WHY: Yeast are model systems for genome evolution, biotechnology, cell and molecular biology. ADVANTAGES: Workshops, run by international yeast researchers, provide free exchange and access to information and research tools. DEADLINE: First come COST: (I

Profession

Of Cuffs and Custodians
Of Cuffs and Custodians
Anne MacNamara The sight of Texas researcher Thomas Butler led away in handcuffs, an image broadcast across America earlier this year, shows that US regulators are serious about stricter laboratory security.1 Colleagues describe Butler, chief of the infectious disease division in the Texas Tech University Department of Internal Medicine, as a talented scientist long devoted to defeating plague. But the September 2001 terrorist attacks transformed plague from a scourge of the Third World into
NIAID's Pother Over Procurement
NIAID's Pother Over Procurement
Brian Behnke, Illustration Works The US Congress refused to authorize $250 million (US) intended to fund development of a second-generation anthrax vaccine this year because of a misunderstanding over the meaning of a single word, "procurement," according to Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). But the administration did not reduce the agency's responsibilities for developing that vaccine or for boosting bioterrorism research, Fauci say
The Trouble with Taq
The Trouble with Taq
Photodisc Both sides claim partial victory in the latest phase of a long-running patent fight over a widely used DNA-replicating enzyme. The case presents fascinating legal issues, but the ultimate question is, what does it have to do with the price of Thermus aquaticus DNA polymerase, known as Taq?1 On March 31, the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit Court overturned a lower court ruling that effectively invalidated Roche's patent on Taq for PCR.2 By a 2-to-1 vote, the appellate co
A Biotech By Any Other Name
A Biotech By Any Other Name
Erica P. Johnson Genentech, Generex, GenVec, GenVac, Genzyme. Each of these companies may have its own corporate identity, but with more than 50 licensed biotechs whose names begin with "gen," they quickly start to sound the same. While imitation may be the highest form of flattery, it's not always a business savvy move. A company's name is arguably its most important marketing tool, often responsible for creating a positive first impression and increasing a company's visibility. With so much

Fine Tuning

Nano-Naming No-Nos
Nano-Naming No-Nos
Courtesy of Bryan Sugar Nanotechnology has the intellectual property community buzzing about all the potential patentable technology coming out of nanotechnology spin-offs. But many intellectual property practitioners are sitting by idly as they watch this new emerging industry make the same trademark blunders as the last emerging technology, the Internet. The Internet industry, in naming companies, products, and services, placed the prefix "e" before descriptive or generic terms to inform th

Closing Bell

Bring Back OTA--Congress' Own Think Tank
Bring Back OTA--Congress' Own Think Tank
Scientists cheered in 1972 when Congress created the Office of Technology Assessment, a PhD-laden think tank that was dedicated to providing policy analyses and technical evaluations for the House and Senate. They wept in 1995, when, in a burst of political pique and boastful penny-pinching, Newt Gingrich and his Republican Revolution abolished OTA. Resuscitation efforts started then, and continue--in futility. Thus, in the current Congress, Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ), one of the few scientists i