November 1990

News

Ecologists Hope Planned NAS Evaluation Will Lead To New Environment Institute
Ecologists Hope Planned NAS Evaluation Will Lead To New Environment Institute
But advocates wonder if the kind of research body they have in mind can survive turf skirmishes in the Washington ecosystem WASHINGTON--Ecologists scored a victory last month when Congress earmarked $400,000 for the Environmental Protection Agency to sponsor an independent evaluation of the nation's environmental research. Scientists view this study, which EPA initially opposed as unnecessary, as a first step toward creating a national environmental research institute. As envisioned, this new
Olfaction Scientists: Sniffing Out Some New Applications
Olfaction Scientists: Sniffing Out Some New Applications
A wide range of scientific challenges spawns a surge in basic research for this once unacclaimed discipline Most researchers long believed that the sense of smell was genetically determined and, therefore, unchangeable. But at least one scientist--Charles Wysocki of the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia--doubted this theory. Wysocki, a psychobiologist who investigates the genetics of olfaction in the 45 percent of the adult population who can't detect androstenone, a component in s
Congress And Administration Closer To Regulating U.S. Biotech Industry
Congress And Administration Closer To Regulating U.S. Biotech Industry
While a workable policy for modified organisms stays unresolved, scientists laud recent developments WASHINGTON--Congress and the Bush administration are moving along parallel tracks in search of a more efficient and comprehensive system to regulate the testing and mass production of genetically modified organisms. Most industrial scientists, academics, and environ- mentalists hail this movement as a sign of progress toward resolving this major obstacle for the biotechnology industry. At the s
Pentagon To Increase Its Role In Environmental Research
Pentagon To Increase Its Role In Environmental Research
But while access to DOD data could be a boon to global change scientists, some of them worry about ties with the military WASHINGTON--The Department of Defense is planning a dramatic increase in its support of environmental research that could provide scientists with valuable data and resources in their study of global change. The Office of Naval Research (ONR) has proposed DOD's first-ever direct contribution next year to the government's interagency global research program, and last month C
Scientists Examine How Networks Are Affecting Their Work
Scientists Examine How Networks Are Affecting Their Work
Everyone is using them, and a new study will try to learn how computer networks have changed the practice of science MADISON, Wisc.--The mail, as usual, is waiting for University of Wisconsin mathematician and psychologist Dennis Fryback when he arrives at his office. But it's not exactly "stacked up"; it's more "loaded in." This morning's batch--data from an off-campus collaborator about their research on cancer treatment cost effectiveness, a citation Fryback had requested from an editor in
DECIPHERING THE DYNAMICS OF SMELLING
DECIPHERING THE DYNAMICS OF SMELLING
DECIPHERING THE DYNAMICS OF SMELLING Two articles in Nature and Science that address fine points of signal transduction in olfactory neurons--the cellular pathways that get turned on in response to an odor--have far-reaching implications in the field of olfaction. The Nature piece (347:184-7, Sept. 13, 1990) moves researchers closer to isolating the elusive odor receptor. The article in Science (249:1166-8, Sept. 7, 1990) helps quell a controversy about whether olfaction transdu
Lab Allergies Force Some Scientists To Take Cover Or Change Careers
Lab Allergies Force Some Scientists To Take Cover Or Change Careers
Doctors warn researchers not to ignore adverse reactions to animals and other menacing specimens SAN DIEGO--Who would have thought that a rabbit could send a scientist to the emergency room? Or that butterfly scales would force an entomologist to wonder about his future as a scientist? Or that a Nobel laureate could be seized by a sneezing fit brought on by the subject of her award-winning work? The truth is, it's actually quite common for scientists to suffer allergic reactions to their own
North American Scientists Sweep This Year's Nobel Prizes
North American Scientists Sweep This Year's Nobel Prizes
Advances in transplant science, synthetic organic chemistry, and the study of quarks have allowed six North American scientists to sweep this year's three Nobel science prizes. E. Donnall Thomas, 70, and Joseph E. Murray, 71, shared the Nobel Prize in medicine or physiology for their work in transplant medicine. Thomas, director emeritus of the Seattle-based Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center's Division of Clinical Research, was cited for his pivotal work on bone marrow transplantation--a
Endothelin: A Whole-Body Approach
Endothelin: A Whole-Body Approach
ENDOTHELIN: A WHOLE-BODY APPROACH John Burnett's team has been on a winning streak in the past few months as the Mayo group of clinicians had two more endothelin studies accepted for publication: one appeared in the August issue of the American Journal of Physiology (P.G. Cavaro, et al., "Endothelin in experimental congestive heart failure in the anesthetized dog," 259:F312-17, August 1990), and one is to be published in the January 1991 issue of Circulation. The team also presen
Seven Garner Gairdner Science Awards; One Subsequently Wins Nobel Prize
Seven Garner Gairdner Science Awards; One Subsequently Wins Nobel Prize
Since its establishment in 1957, the Gairdner Foundation International Award, which recognizes outstanding contributions in medical science, has earned a reputation as a "Nobel predictor" prize. The award, given each year by the Gairdner Foundation of Ontario, Canada, has lived up to its reputation again this year. Within the same week in October, E. Donnall Thomas, director emeritus of the division of clinical research at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, received both the

Notebook

Notebook
Notebook
Cast-Off Creationist Talks Back AIDS Funding Spurs Competition Huband In At ASEE No Hard Feelings, NSF Tells MIT A recent contributor to the popular "Amateur Scientist" column in Scientific American has taken to the nation's airwaves to complain that the magazine refuses to run any more of his columns because of his belief in creationism. Forrest Mims, III, a prolific science journalist from Seguin, Texas, has appeared on several talk shows and alleged that editor Jonathan Piel reneged

Opinion

Human Genome Project: Is `Big Science' Bad For Biology?
Human Genome Project: Is `Big Science' Bad For Biology?
In the physical sciences, there seems to be little if any disagreement over what constitutes big science. Few physicists, for example, would disagree that the Superconducting Supercollider and the space station Freedom are both big science projects--that is, they both involve many scientists clustered at a single facility as opposed to individual researchers or small groups working independently in labs around the country. In the life sciences, however, consensus on this issue is rare. Biomedi
Yes: It Bureaucratizes, Politicizes Research
Yes: It Bureaucratizes, Politicizes Research
When techniques for sequencing segments of DNA became available, it seemed self-evident that the most valuable material to analyze was the regions that could be associated with a function or a disease. More than 95 percent of the human genome did not seem interesting to explore in detail because it does not code for the kinds of functions that we can recognize, and so it is temporarily called "junk." A few years ago, however, it was proposed that systematic sequencing of the entire human genome
No: And Anyway, The HGP Isn't `Big Science'
No: And Anyway, The HGP Isn't `Big Science'
Molecular biology is sophisticated conceptually, but the routine tasks are repetitive, manual labor. The human genome project is developing many automated techniques for molecular biology, including those for mapping and sequencing. In addition, thanks to the project, critical new computation-al tools for biology are being invented and the most sophisticated approaches in mo- dern computer science are being applied to biology. The technology imperatives of the HGP require interdisciplinary eff

Letter

Animal Rights Debate
Animal Rights Debate
The recent animal rights debate in "Animal Advocates Crusade For The Day When Animals Are Freed From Lab Cages," by Christine Jackson, and "The Animal Rights Movement Threatens To Make Scientists An Endangered Species," by Leland C. Clark, Jr. (The Scientist, Sept. 3, 1990, page 11), signaled the need for a new response by the research community. In the past, animal rights spokespersons parroted the same general collection of lies, distortions, and half-truths, and the research community would

Commentary

Assessing The Benefits Of Science In Terms Of Dollars And Sense
Assessing The Benefits Of Science In Terms Of Dollars And Sense
The United States Congress has a lot to worry about these days, such as massive budget deficits and signs of an impending economic recession. One thing Congress apparently is not very worried about is sustaining an adequate level of support for scientific research. But it should worry, because of the economic impact of R&D on the U.S. economy. Nobelist Leon Lederman, president-elect of AAAS, recently discussed the science funding crisis in an address before the Science Policy Association at t

Research

Flow Of Scientific Progress Creates Wave Of New Journals
Flow Of Scientific Progress Creates Wave Of New Journals
The world of scientific publishing never ceases to change. Each year, while some journals go out of business, new ones appear, their publishers intent on filling a void in a particular subject's literature or augmenting the existing publications in that field. In addition, journal titles may change or publications may merge to create new journals with completely different titles. In 1989, the Philadelphia-based Institute for Scientific Information (ISI) added more than 100 titles to its existi
Mayo Team Of MD's Advances Field Of Vascular Biology
Mayo Team Of MD's Advances Field Of Vascular Biology
In the medical research arena, the M.D.'s have generally stuck with their stethoscopes, leaving the work of discovering to the Ph.D.'s. But at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., a research group led by cardiologist John C. Burnett, Jr., and composed entirely of medical doctors is charging ahead to decipher the physiologic role of endothelin, a peptide that causes narrowing of the blood vessels. For the most part, endothelin has been the focus of investigations by molecular biologists and bio
Articles Alert
Articles Alert
Department of Chemistry University of Texas Austin Suitably arranged molecular components can be used to probe fundamental photochemical principles and to discover new functions and applications of photochemistry. A paper, presented at the 13th IUPAC Symposium on Organic Photochemistry in Coventry, England, in July, considers systems made of covalently linked components, ion pairs, host-guest interactions, and caged complexes. V. Balzani, L. De Cola, L. Prodi, F. Scandola, "Photochemistry of
Articles Alert
Articles Alert
Department of Microbiology & Immunology University of Illinois Chicago The gene defective in cystic fibrosis patients was identified and sequenced last year. Now that the quite different research skills of physiology and molecular genetics groups have been put together, the wild-type normal gene has been transfected into cultured defective cells and shown to work. There still is a long, long way to go before the disease can be cured by gene therapy. Already the cloned gene will be useful in d
Articles Alert
Articles Alert
IBM Research Division Thomas J. Watson Research Center Yorktown Heights, N.Y. It's easy to see solitons in macroscopic systems such as streams, but they proved to be very slippery in microscopic systems. A recent paper reports direct observations of soliton-antisoliton collision processes in a discrete Josephson transmission line. K. Nakajima, H. Mizusawa, Y. Sawada, "Experimental observation of spatiotemporal wave forms of all possible types of soliton-antisoliton interactions in Josephson
Articles Alert
Articles Alert
Department of Earth Sciences Open University Milton Keynes, U.K. The great mystery of the 1985 Mexican earthquake is that, whereas 371 modern high-rise buildings collapsed, thousands of colonial masonry structures (many with tall steeples) in the same area remained standing. This puzzle may be solved. Theoretical calculations suggest that ultrashort surface waves (gravity waves) may have liquified the area's sediments to a shallow depth that would have included the foundations of modern buil
Articles Alert
Articles Alert
Department of Biology King's College London, U.K. Because of the scarcity of accurate written records, it has rarely proved possible to trace the impact of the European colonists on North American woodlands in anything but general terms. The Allegheny Plateau, however, was colonized very late, and large stands of white pine and hemlock survived to the end of the last century. Written records and surveys in this area make it possible to follow woodland destruction and the spread of disturbance

Hot Paper

Immunology
Immunology
(The Scientist, Vol:4, #22, pg. 20, November 12, 1990) (Copyright, The Scientist, Inc.) -------- R.C. Desrosiers, M.S. Wyand, T. Kodama, D.J. Ringler, et al., "Vaccine protection against simian immunodeficiency virus infection," Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 86, 6353-57, August 1989. Ronald Desrosiers (New England Regional Primate Research Center, Harvard Medical School, Southborough, Mass.): "A vaccine would likely be of greatest public health benefit in stemming the increa
Cell Biology
Cell Biology
(The Scientist, Vol:4, #22, pg. 20, November 12, 1990) (Copyright, The Scientist, Inc.) -------- S. Shenoy, J.-K. Choi, S. Bagrodia, T.D. Copeland, J.L. Maller, D. Shalloway, "Purified maturation promoting factor phosphorylates pp60c-src at the sites phosphorylated during fibroblast mitosis," Cell, 57, 763-74, 2 June 1989. Suresh Shenoy (Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y.): "A lot of credit for this work belongs to Jung-Kap Choi (Chonnam National University, Korea), who mapped the sites of mitos
Molecular Biology
Molecular Biology
(The Scientist, Vol:4, #22, pg. 20, November 12, 1990) (Copyright, The Scientist, Inc.) -------- M.P. Scott, J.W. Tamkun, G.W. Hartzell III, "The structure and function of the homeodomain," Biochimica et Biophysica Acta, 989, 25-48, 28 July 1989. Matthew P. Scott (Stanford University School of Medicine, Calif.): "The review is really a celebration of an exciting time in the study of the DNA-binding protein fragment called a homeodomain. People in dozens of labs are contributing to the fun, fin

Profession

How To Get Your Research Published: Editors' Thoughts
How To Get Your Research Published: Editors' Thoughts
With so many investigators vying to have their papers appear in the scientific community's most prestigious journals, it's no wonder some scientists in pursuit of publication confuse cutting-edge research with work that simply cuts loose. According to Nature associate editor David Lindley, some recently submitted articles that have not graced his journal's pages border on the ridiculous. "There's a lot of perpetual motion machines, refutations of Einstein," he says. "And I've had people write
Scientist-Recipients Treasure Freedom As MacArthur Fellowships' Biggest Asset
Scientist-Recipients Treasure Freedom As MacArthur Fellowships' Biggest Asset
When the Chicago-based John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation announced the names of the 36 new MacArthur Fellows this past summer, there were eight scientists included on the list. But according to Kenneth Hope, director of the MacArthur Fellows Program, it makes no difference to foundation officials whether this year's recipients are physicists, painters, or poets. "We never make distinctions by field," Hope says. Rather, "individuals who show creativity and promise and who have the po
Physical Sciences Faculty Pay Rises At State And Land Grant Schools
Physical Sciences Faculty Pay Rises At State And Land Grant Schools
[Editor's note: This is the second installment in a two-part series. The first installment, which appeared in the Oct. 15, 1990, issue of The Scientist, focused on the salaries of state university and land grant college faculty in the life sciences. This article discusses the salaries of faculty in the physical sciences at these institutions.] Date: November 12, 1990 A recent survey of institutions belonging to the National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges found tha

Briefs

Funding Briefs
Funding Briefs
Westinghouse Searches For Science Talent The Westinghouse Science Talent Search is boosting its awards total this year from $140,000 to $205,000. High school seniors can apply for these scholarships to fund individual research projects in science, mathematics, and engineering at the college or university of their choice. Forty finalists will receive scholarships ranging from $1,000 (30 recipients) to $40,000 (one recipient). Westinghouse will also pick up the tab for a five-day trip to Washing

Technology

Special Report: CD-ROM Makes Database Searching Easier
Special Report: CD-ROM Makes Database Searching Easier
Materials scientist Mike Viola used to spend countless hours thumbing through volumes of The Official Gazette of the United States Patent and Trademark Office. As manager of product technology for Hyperion Catalysis International Inc., a startup chemical company in Lexington, Mass., Viola is responsible for keeping current with technical developments in Hyperion's line of business, commercializing graphitic microfi-bers such as those used in batteries and adhesive plastics. So each week, when a