Research

Understanding PTSD Takes On Urgency
Understanding PTSD Takes On Urgency
Thousands of cases of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) will likely emerge from the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Many cases will last a few months, but severely traumatized witnesses could suffer for the rest of their lives. How can a single horrific experience with nasty aftershocks sear the psyche for decades? Answers to this question appear increasingly urgent in an atmosphere of war, anthrax scares, and continual television replays of the World Trade Center collapse. Researchers have lin
The Dark Side of RNA
The Dark Side of RNA
Strange as it seems, a new class of diseases is emerging that appears to be caused by mutations in untranslated regions of RNA. The protein-coding sequence of the relevant gene is uninterrupted and yet features of the disease flourish. Exactly how this happens is the subject of keen investigation that now promises to further intensify, following the publication in August of an important discovery. Researchers at the University of Minnesota showed that myotonic dystrophy, known formally as dyst
Research Notes
Research Notes
By selectively activating and inactivating a potent transcription factor in a rat's Nucleus Accumbens (NAc), a main pleasure center in the brain, scientists at the McLean Hospital in Belmont, Mass., might have found a link between cAMP response element-binding protein (CREB) and depression (A.M. Pliakas et al., "Altered responsiveness to cocaine and increased immobility in the forced swim test associated with elevated cAMP response element-binding protein expression in nucleus accumbens," Journa

News

Biosecurity Gets Needed Attention
Biosecurity Gets Needed Attention
In the wake of terrorist attacks, funding is increasing for life science companies engaged in virtually any area of biosecurity. Organizations that produce vaccines and antibiotics, as well as those developing therapeutics, detection systems, and diagnostics, are receiving much-needed attention from government and private sectors. Individual companies and labs, from big pharma to small start-ups, are likely to benefit from this focus on bioterrorism countermeasures, at least into the foreseeable
Biological Terrorism
Biological Terrorism
One warning came in black-and-white in 1993: A U.S. Congressional Office of Technology Assessment report projected that releasing 100 kilograms of aerosolized anthrax spores upwind of the U.S. capital could kill between 130,000 and 3 million people-a lethality at least matching that of a hydrogen bomb. Last year, a U.S. Justice Department exercise revealed that discharging pneumonic plague in Denver could create 3,700 or more cases, with an estimated 950 or more deaths within a week.1 Then, acco
NIH Budget Tracks Doubling Goal
NIH Budget Tracks Doubling Goal
No one expects the events of Sept. 11-and the subsequent drains on the U.S. Treasury's surplus-to keep Congress from keeping its promise made in 1998 to double the National Institutes of Health budget by 2003. The proposed $22 billion-plus appropriation for Fiscal Year 2002 is close to the ensuing year's expected amount of about $26 billion. Congressional committee changes to President George W. Bush's NIH request prior to Sept. 11 have remained untouched. But the monies that Congress wants to
Reflections from Nobel Conference XXXVII
Reflections from Nobel Conference XXXVII
"The problems of the future are, I believe, very serious-and I'm not as optimistic as I used to be. You see, I am a child of the sixties who had the great fortune to grow up so optimistic." As he spoke those words, Nobel laureate Sir Harold W. Kroto stood before a crowd of some 5,000 people gathered at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minn., for the 37th annual Nobel Conference. This year's meeting was a special one, celebrating of the 100th anniversary of the Nobel Prizes. The college
News Notes
News Notes
To avoid a sloppy scientific scramble to put particular organismal genomes into bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC) libraries, the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) has instituted a nomination process that will queue organisms according to priority. First submissions are due Nov. 15. Written requests will be ranked by a peer review committee based on such criteria as the importance of the organism, uses of the BAC library other than for genomic sequencing, the size of the resear
Speeding up Possible Anti-terrorism Patents
Speeding up Possible Anti-terrorism Patents
Researchers in a hurry to get their ideas off the drawing board and into the new defense race may take advantage of a special provision in U.S. patent law that allows rush treatment for anti-terrorism inventions. Scientists working in the areas of AIDS and cancer may already know about the rush rule; it has long allowed inventions in those areas to jump to the front of the line of applications awaiting review from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. After the crash of T.W.A. Flight 800 in 19
Chance, Mischance, and Persistence
Chance, Mischance, and Persistence
As an intramural science showcase, the National Institutes of Health Research Festival on the Bethesda campus is dominated each year by reports on cutting edge biomedical research. But at one mini-symposium during the 15th festival last month, several NIH researchers described innovations that have already reached the marketplace, and the challenges surmounted along the way. The session was conceived as "sort of a greatest hits package," says Steven Ferguson, deputy director of the NIH divisi

Commentary

The Good Old Days
The Good Old Days
After attending the last meeting of the American Society of Parasitologists in New Mexico, I don't understand why it took me 32 years as a U.S. resident to visit what must surely be the most surpassingly lovely corner of this bountiful country. I don't know whether there has ever been a landscape that has so captivated me. There is something almost eerie about the crystalline clarity of the light falling on the burnished landscapes with their spectacular earth tones, a surreal, Buñel-esqu

Cartoon

Cartoon
Cartoon
Sidney Harriswww.ScienceCartoonsPlus.com

Hot Paper

The Ribosomal Function Comes into View
The Ribosomal Function Comes into View
For this article, Eugene Russo interviewed Harry Noller, professor of molecular biology, University of California, Santa Cruz; Venki Ramakrishnan, group leader, Structural Studies Division, Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology, UK; and Thomas Steitz, a professor of molecular biophysics, biochemistry, and chemistry, Yale University. Data from 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

Technology

Counting Endothelial Cell Invasion
Counting Endothelial Cell Invasion
BD Biosciences-Discovery Labware's BD BioCoat™ Angiogenesis System for Endothelial Cell Invasion puts an end to the repetitious plate washing, manual cell scraping, and tedious cell counting associated with traditional in vitro cell culture insert methods. Designed to be automation friendly, the patented system allows for nondestructive, real-time evaluation and quantitation of endothelial cell invasion. The BD BioCoat Angiogenesis System combines the properties of two of the Bedford, Ma
Building Oligos Graphically
Building Oligos Graphically
For many researchers, the process of acquiring custom oligonucleotides has never been more challenging. There are simply too many choices. For example, the increasing variety of specialty oligos, used in tasks ranging from diagnostics to sequencing, can make ordering a grueling and time-consuming task. And with a pool of more than 200 suppliers worldwide, choosing the right company for the job can be equally daunting. To help scientists obtain the best oligo for the task at hand, Seattle-based D

Bench Buys

Bench Buys
Bench Buys
VistaLabTechnologies Inc. of Pleasantville, N.Y., has developed an ergonomic pipette designed to reduce the arm, wrist, and neck pain associated with repeated use of manual liquid-handling devices. The Ovation BioNatural™ pipette is shaped to conform to the user's palm and to minimize stress to the shoulder and wrist. The instrument's design won a Gold Award in the 2001 Design Competition of the Industrial Designers of America. VistaLab Technologies (888) 652-6520 www.vistalab.com Afford

Technology Profile

Buying Used Lab Equipment
Buying Used Lab Equipment
Few scientists have money to burn, especially when it comes to purchasing lab equipment. Lab instruments arguably represent the biggest slice of a lab's funding pie. Fortunately, scientists aren't restricted to buying new instruments at standard retail prices. They can purchase equipment second-hand, saving up to 70 percent on anything from a test tube to a production-scale fermenter. Buying used lab equipment is not limited to those who run poorly funded high school labs.
Purely RNA
Purely RNA
Fundamental laboratory techniques such as Northern blot analysis, RNA protection assays, in situ hybridization, and reverse transcriptase-PCR (RT-PCR) require high-quality, highly purified RNA samples. Preparing such samples is often laborious at best, because RNAses-both stable and omnipresent-can easily degrade the samples. In the past, RNA work was often left to dedicated labs, with dedicated work areas, equipment, and some very meticulous workers. Fortunately, the technology continues to evo

Profession

University Bargains with Students' Rights
University Bargains with Students' Rights
Three years ago, the University of California, Berkeley, plant and microbial biology (PMB) department negotiated an exclusive research relationship with Novartis Agricultural Research Institute that allowed the company to review graduate student and postdoc work before publication. But the university didn't consult the students before trading away their intellectual property rights, provoking lasting anger and confusion, according to a sociologist's report commissioned by the university. Many
Selling the Story of a Discovery
Selling the Story of a Discovery
Magnus Höök, a professor at Texas A&M, worked for more than 20 years perfecting an antibody that attacks protein adhesins on bacterial surfaces. But when Höök and his colleagues sought to move their trademark proteins into the market, he says his "lack of knowledge" surprised him. "You start out thinking this is a cool idea, and it would be useful," Höök relates. Höök is a director at Inhibitex Inc., an Alpharetta, Ga.-based company that is now testin
Profession Notes
Profession Notes
A unique MD-PhD program designed to produce physicians who can use engineering know-how to solve medical problems enrolled its first student at Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) in Cleveland this fall. The program is expected to eventually accept 70 to 80 students a year who will have training to become physician/ engineers. About 10 students a year are initially expected to be admitted to the program, which will take seven years to complete, according to university officials. Patrick Crago
Funding Opportunities in the Life Sciences
Funding Opportunities in the Life Sciences
Click to view our current database of Funding Opportunites in the Life Sciences.

Opinion

Attack of the Anthrax 'Virus'
Attack of the Anthrax 'Virus'
Americans are getting a crash course in microbiology. The delivery of anthrax spores with the daily mail took the U.S. populace completely by surprise. But anyone who has read Ken Alibek's Biohazard, an account of bioweaponry in the former Soviet Union,1 or Richard Preston's fictional The Cobra Event,2 or followed periodic updates on bioterrorism here in The Scientist or in other journals, could have predicted an attempt to subvert biology into weaponry in the wake of Sept. 11. The government k