Frontlines

Frontlines
Frontlines
Frontlines Image: Erica P. Johnson Artificial cell signaling Cells rely on chemical signals triggered by external change to keep them informed. Christopher Hunter, Nick Williams, and colleagues at Sheffield University, England, tested the cells' abilities against a chemical system that transmits information signals into an artificial cell without a single molecule passing through the membrane (P. Barton et al., "Transmembrane signaling," Angewandte Chemie International Edition, 41:3878-81,

Commentary

Our Own Technological Illiteracy
Our Own Technological Illiteracy
Serious concerns about the general public's lack of technological know-how were highlighted by a National Academy of Engineering report earlier this year.1 It began: "Although the United States is increasingly defined by and dependent on technology and is adopting new technologies at a breathtaking pace, its citizens are not equipped to make well-considered decisions or to think critically about technology. As a society, we are not even fully aware of or conversant with the technologies we use

Opinion

Beyond Serendipity
Beyond Serendipity
We are entering the era of systems biology, where to truly understand a disease we must understand its causes from the molecular level to the organism level. The sheer number of biological molecules, and the complex nature of their interactions, has engendered a new method of biological experimentation, termed by Leroy Hood as "discovery science." Discovery science is technology-driven, and contrasted with hypothesis-driven science because it relies on making large-scale observations that are

Letter

Mouthwash vs. Whole Blood
Mouthwash vs. Whole Blood
Mouthwash vs. Whole Blood In your article on DNA extraction from mouthwash,1 you stated that this is a new procedure and it can be used as an alternative for DNA extractions from whole blood. We have been using this procedure for a few years now, so it's not really that new. And it cannot be used as an alternative for DNA extractions from whole blood all the time; only in special cases. The quality and quantity of DNA extracted from a mouthwash sample is much smaller and less than that from
On Cell Culture Follies
On Cell Culture Follies
On Cell Culture Follies As a postdoc at the University of California, San Diego, I appreciate your article about cell culture bad habits.1 I completely agree that tissue culturing is often considered "boring" stuff that must be done as quickly as possible. I would like to bring to your attention another very bad habit of tissue culture work: the absolute lack of monitoring of mycoplasma contamination. We had to deal several times with this issue because our cells have been infected by cells
The NAS and Science: Three Views
The NAS and Science: Three Views
The NAS and Science: Three Views Henry Miller raises a serious question about recommendations made in two recent National Research Council reports on plants produced with recombinant DNA techniques.1 Unfortunately, Fred Gould and Jennifer Kuzma do not supply a satisfactory response.2 Gould and Kuzma argue that, "taken to its simplest logical conclusion," prior National Research Council findings that "the 'product, not process' is the major concern" would leave only two options: "regulate all

News

Activists Broaden Efforts
Activists Broaden Efforts
Animal welfare activists, smarting from a defeat in Congress, plan to campaign across the United States to convince state legislators that laboratory rats, mice, and birds used in biomedical research require greater protection than afforded by federal law. Most major US research organizations, however, maintain that the 15 to 20 million animals used in labs--about 95% in biomedical research--are adequately protected under existing public and private regulations. More federal oversight, they sa
Out of Africa: A Database of 7,000 Useful Plants
Out of Africa: A Database of 7,000 Useful Plants
Photo: Courtesy of G.J.H. Grubben GENETIC DIVERSITY: Fruits of the Scarlett eggplant (Solanum aethiopicum), of which the immature fruits and leaves are used as vegetables. European and African scientists have launched an ambitious project to review the current literature about useful plants of tropical Africa. From 2003 to 2013, researchers will examine and update all written documentation about approximately 7,000 commodity plants in 47 African countries and islands from the Tropic of C
Flower of a Find
Flower of a Find
Photo: Courtesy of Missouri Botanical Garden AN ENTREATING FIND: Flowers of the Hooglandia tree, a newly discovered plant genus from New Caledonia When Peter Lowry and Gordon McPherson explored the rich flora of New Caledonia last May, the last thing they expected to find was a new genus. Discovering new species isn't unusual, but a new genus? "It's a once-in-a-lifetime experience," admits Lowry, a head curator for the Missouri Botanical Garden. Lowry is based at the Natural History Muse

Research

The Hopes and Realities of the Plasmodium falciparum Genome
The Hopes and Realities of the Plasmodium falciparum Genome
Photo: Courtesy of the World Health Organization, P. Virot THE REALITY OF ETHIOPIA: Trying to survive malaria in Ethiopia, on Africa's east coast. In 1998, Ethiopia's infant mortality rate was 116 per 1,000 live births (WHO) compared to 7.2 per 1000 in the US (CDC). Sequencing a 23-megabase genome hardly sounds like a triumph--that's just twice the size of an average yeast genome and one-hundredth of the human genome. Yet, there was cause for celebration after a high-profile team of coll
Scientists Want to Create a New Kind of Mosquito
Scientists Want to Create a New Kind of Mosquito
Photo: Courtesy of Luciano Moreira, Anil Ghosh, Marcelo Jacobs-Lorena NEW LARVAE ON THE BLOCK: Transgenic and nontransgenic Anopheles stephensi larvae. The latter is recognizable by its green-glowing eyes, thanks to green fluorescent protein. Despite decades of control and treatment efforts, from DDT to antimalarial drugs, more than one million people die from malaria every year and hundreds of millions more become infected. It seems that as soon as a new tool emerges, a new form of resi
West Nile Mimics Polio
West Nile Mimics Polio
Image: Erica P. Johnson MORE MOSQUITO MAYHEM: The list of symptoms now associated with West Nile virus includes a condition reminiscent of paralytic poliomyelitis. The background is an electron micrograph of the poliovirus. When the West Nile virus arrived in the United States in 1999, its route of infection was the bite of an infected mosquito. Since then, WNV has proven its versatility: During the 2002 season, delivery came courtesy of transplants, transfusions, and breast milk. Now, t

Hot Paper

A Star is Born
A Star is Born
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. M. Adams et al., "The genome sequence of Drosophila melanogaster," Science, 287:2185-95, March 24, 2000. (Cited in 711 papers) G.M. Rubin et al., "Comparative genomics of the eurkaryotes," Science, 287:2204-15. (Cited in 333 papers)  In 1999, Celera Genomics Group wanted to complete

Wed, 01 Jan 1000 00:00:00 GMT

At What Point Do Genes Influence Development?
At What Point Do Genes Influence Development?
The Faculty of 1000 is aWeb-based literature awareness tool published by BioMed Central. For more information visit www.facultyof1000.com. Embryonic development doesn't occur by magic; it occurs by predetermined genetic steps leading to production of transcriptional molecules. This process is addressed by two Faculty of 1000-featured papers that deal with unrelated species and cover different manners of viewing gene roles in developmental processes. Nonetheless, the work is related. Kevin Whit

Technology Profile

Coding with Life's Code
Coding with Life's Code
Image: Courtesy of John Reif  NEXT GENERATION PC? An AB* array lattice formed from two varieties of DNA tiles, including one (B*) containing an extra loop of DNA projecting out of the lattice plane, faciliting atomic force microscope imaging of the lattice. A multidisciplinary group of researchers is trying to change the way people think about computers. Why rely solely on silicon-based hardware, they say, when there is so much promise in what Grzegorz Rozenberg of the University of Leid
Riding the Microfluidic Wave
Riding the Microfluidic Wave
Photo: Courtesy of Eksigent Technologies Eksigent Technologies' electrokinetic high-flow-rate EKPump These days, miniaturization is king. In the emerging field of microfluidics, routine laboratory analyses are shrinking to the microliter, nanoliter, or even picoliter level. The result: a vast reduction in sample and reagent consumption, decreased waste generation, dramatically faster operation, and an incredible potential for the automation and massive, parallel processing of laboratory

Technology

SGI Advances High-Performance Computing, Collaborative Research
SGI Advances High-Performance Computing, Collaborative Research
Image: Courtesy of the Sci Institute, NLM, and Theoretical Biophysics Group of the Beckman Institute at UIUC THE MIND'S EYE: A researcher maps the human brain using a large-scale visualization theater. Imagine standing in a room, with a three-dimensional HIV-1 protease floating before your eyes. As big as a boulder, the enzyme's craggy surface seems so close you can almost touch it. But put out your hands, and you'll touch naught but air. Welcome to the Delaware Biotechnology Institute'
Proteome Impressions
Proteome Impressions
Antibody arrays hold great promise, but the difficulty and expense of making antibodies against large numbers of different proteins effectively limits their use to smaller-scale applications. "To make an antibody array, typically you have to start out with purified proteins that you want to capture," explains Michael A. Nemzek, executive vice president for business development at South San Francisco-based Aspira Biosystems. "That's fine if you only want to capture a small number of proteins. B

Profession

Back to Africa
Back to Africa
Photo: Courtesy of Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases SCIENTIST IN ISOLATION: African researchers, like this technician at the University of Khartoum, struggle to collaborate with other scientists. The release of the decoded genome for Plasmodium falciparum (the most deadly malaria parasite) in October represented a momentous step forward for the people of Africa. Around the same time, Abdoulaye Djimde, the head of the epidemiology and immunology department a
Science in Scarcity
Science in Scarcity
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Groundwork for Genetic Studies
Groundwork for Genetic Studies
Graphic: © Benjamin Fry, MIT  MAPPING DIVERSITY: This haplotype map shows SNP taken from 500 people, clustered in sets of SNPs. The history of genetic studies offers multiple examples of poor planning, insensitivity to subjects, and illegible consent forms. Many times, it is scientifically necessary to name the populations studied to verify data and provide context. At those times, insensitivity can take on a political tone, and the politics can halt the research. "There's an increa
Scientists Brace for Animal Activism
Scientists Brace for Animal Activism
Scientists Brace for Animal Activism Legal and illegal animal rights actions continue Animal rights activists will not go away, and researchers must prepare to be targeted, according to three scientists whose organizations have developed guidelines for responding to this movement. Animal rights campaigners are taking a long-term view in their crusade to end all human use of animals and scientists need to be aware of their own vulnerability, the scientists say. Lobbyists are already pursuing
Tempted by Temp Work
Tempted by Temp Work
Temporary employment. It may sound like the desperately optimistic way of saying "mostly unemployed," but that isn't true at all. Temporary employment can provide an efficient route to a full-time job. In these uncertain economic times, temp jobs are often more than an opportunity to hone your word-processing skills: For the companies who hire temps, and the people who hold those jobs, temporary assignments can become a way of life. Thanks to the agency I found a month after graduating from co
Funding the Search for Origins
Funding the Search for Origins
When asked to explain the need to study cellular evolution, W. Ford Doolittle, professor of biochemistry at Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, offered the following scenario: "If martians were to visit us and ask where we came from and how we got here, and we were to say we didn't think it was worth pursuing, I'd be embarrassed." The origins and evolution of life are still a mystery, and opportunities abound for those with the temerity to broach this primordial problem. For example,

Turning Points

Courses Steer Postdocs to Grants
Courses Steer Postdocs to Grants
File Photo For Ericka M. Boone, a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Emory University in Atlanta, grant writing seemed a "daunting chore." She looked on it as a "huge mountain" to overcome, but knew she had to climb it one rock at a time. Few graduate students have an opportunity to write grants before starting a postdoc. They spend more time writing fellowship applications. But organizations and universities offer many opportunities to learn how to

News Profile

David Karp
David Karp
Photo: Hal Cohen Upon meeting David Karp, fruit detective, his mild-mannered appearance initially brings to mind the image of an accountant, not a private eye; then he reveals the weapon he's been concealing. Fortunately, the fruit knife that ubiquitously occupies his holster is there to provide a readily available means to carve up fruit, not innocent streetwalkers. As Karp starts to slice up a few recently purchased seckles, he laments how the pears' dwarfish appearance has hindered their p