News

GM Crops Face Heat Of Debate
GM Crops Face Heat Of Debate
For a successful technologyReality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled. --Richard Feynman Nobel physicist Richard Feynman was talking about the role NASA and its industrial partners played in the 1986 Challenger disaster, but his words could easily apply to the debate over genetically modified (GM) crops. When grain processor Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) of Decatur, Ill., asked suppliers on Sept. 2 to segregate GM corn from traditional varieties, some U.S. b
Changing The Way The World Does Research
Changing The Way The World Does Research
Graphic: Cathleen Heard Researchers are used to stepping out of their labs to collaborate with colleagues across the hall. But with the advent of Internet technology, researchers are crisscrossing states--even oceans--to collaborate without leaving their labs.1 Nicolas Bazan, director of the Louisiana State University Neuroscience Center, New Orleans, started such an endeavor with Julio Alvarez-Builla, professor of organic chemistry at the Universidad de Alcala in Spain, six years ago. Bazan de
A Look Back At NBAC
A Look Back At NBAC
Despite the presence of Hurricane Floyd and the resulting absence of more than half of the members, the National Bioethics Advisory Commission (NBAC) convened its 34th meeting Sept. 16-17 in Arlington, Va. The location of the meeting--a modest, drab hotel conference room--belied the serious subject matter of the day: "international bioethics," a preliminary consideration of bioethical regulations for research that runs between borders and cultures. It's the latest of an array of tough topics t
Reaping Pharmacological Benefits from the Oceans
Reaping Pharmacological Benefits from the Oceans
Second of two articles Editor's Note: In the Sept. 27 issue of The Scientist, the author discussed some of the possibilities scientists have for generating medicinal products from organisms that live in the oceans.1 In this issue is a discussion of some of the problems and complexities involved in pursuing such possibilities. Despite the allure and promise the oceans hold for providing new medicines, virtually every aspect of pharmacological research from oceanic sources is more difficult and
Researchers Feel Threatened by Disease Gene Patents
Researchers Feel Threatened by Disease Gene Patents
Do patents on genetic information hinder research? That long-festering debate arose again recently, following a report in the Guardian newspaper that Great Britain and the United States are negotiating an intergovernmental agreement aimed at preventing entrepreneurs from profiting on such patents.1 Although the accuracy of the report, which drew on documents received under the Freedom of Information Act, was denied by a spokesperson for the Office of Science and Technology Policy's director, Ne
Fears or Facts? A Viewpoint on GM Crops
Fears or Facts? A Viewpoint on GM Crops
In 1977, Steven Lindow, a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, discovered that a mutant strain of the bacterium Pseudomonas syringae altered ice nucleation on leaves in a way that enabled plants to resist frost. He continued the work at the University of California, Berkeley, and a decade later, with the blessing of the appropriate federal agencies and the townfolk of Tulelake, Calif., Lindow planted 3,000 potato seedlings coated with "ice-minus" bacteria. By the next mor
Research Slowly Resuming at L.A. VA Center
Research Slowly Resuming at L.A. VA Center
The $45-million research program at the Veterans Administration Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System (VAGLAHS) is slowly recovering after being abruptly shut down in March in an unprecedented sanction over regulations safeguarding patients in studies.1 "This might be the thing that wakes everybody up."--Stephen Pandol All 322 laboratory and animal studies, and more than 300 of the original 352 human clinical studies have been authorized to resume, leaving about 50 human studies in various s

Letter

Not Right, Not Left, But Backward
Not Right, Not Left, But Backward
As I read the recent article in The Scientist entitled "Neuroscience: A Personal Perspective,"1 I was struck by the textural effects in the accompanying graphic. However, there was something disquieting about the image, as well. As I pondered it further, I realized that the radiograph of the skull and the drawing of the brain that it contained did not quite fit; they were facing in opposite directions. Neuroscientists, at times, need to be able to change their thinking 180 degrees to see soluti
Genes and Microgravity
Genes and Microgravity
I was the commander of the STS-90 Neurolab Space Shuttle mission.1 Even with a background as an engineer, test pilot, and pilot astronaut and not in the life sciences, I continue to be astounded by the incredible potential of the Neurolab results to benefit people on earth. Your article highlights yet another stellar experiment aboard the last and most scientifically productive of the 25 Spacelab missions NASA flew. As we transition to science operations aboard the International Space Station i

Commentary

A DNA Summit: Let's Do It Right
A DNA Summit: Let's Do It Right
A few months ago, I wrote of my concern about the lack of public debate and discussion on the social and ethical implications of biotechnology.1 More recently, I posed the argument for a revisitation to the National Academy of Sciences "Asilomar" conference in 1975, which, as its predecessor, would help outline the myths and realities of recombinant DNA research and truly establish a proactive debate on science policy. Unlike its predecessor, however, the new conference I am proposing would inc

Hot Paper

Telomerase
Telomerase
Edited by: Paul Smaglik Thomas R. Cech T.M. Nakamura, G.B. Morin, K.B. Chapman, S.L. Weinrich, W.H. Andrews, J. Lingner, C.B. Harley, T.R. Cech, "Telomerase catalytic subunit homologs from fission yeast and human," Science, 277:955-9, Aug. 15, 1997. (Cited in more than 220 papers since publication) Comments by Thomas R. Cech, professor of biochemistry, biophysics, and genetics at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Boulder This paper is "a derivative," laughs Thomas Cech. The

Technology

Bench Buys
Bench Buys
Whatman's Puradisc filters From now until December 31, 1999, buy six packs of Whatman 25 mm GD/X or Puradisc syringe filters from VWR Scientific and receive a free Panasonic DVD player. GD/X and Puradisc filters come in both nylon and PTFE with pore sizes of 0.2 µm or 0.45 µm. Prices range from $313.25 to $367.25 for a pack of 150 filters. VWR Scientific, (800) 932-5000, www.vwrsp.com Hanna Instruments' colorful stirrers Hanna Instruments' Speedsafe™ Round Stirrers bring a
Forces of Nature: Stretching Cells with ICCT Technologies' Bio-Stretch System
Forces of Nature: Stretching Cells with ICCT Technologies' Bio-Stretch System
To study the effects of physical forces on cell growth and differentiation, researchers must stretch, strain, compress, shear, pull, or apply pressure to tissue culture cells. Numerous procedures have been created to apply force to cells in vitro. Designed to simulate forces encountered in vivo, such methods include cell wounding by cutting a monolayer and the application of tension or compression by means of hydraulic pressure. Now, with the development of the Bio-Stretch System from ICCT Tec
RNeasier: Automated RNA Isolation With the QIAGEN BioRobot 9604
RNeasier: Automated RNA Isolation With the QIAGEN BioRobot 9604
QIAGEN's BioRobot 9604 A tremendous amount of gene sequence data is now available due to the efforts of many independent labs and the Human Genome Project. Armed with this information, scientists are now focusing on gene function and expression studies. In particular, examination of the effects of various experimental conditions on levels of gene expression has become an important discipline for academic and pharmaceutical labs working in molecular diagnostic, drug screening, and lead optimiz

Technology Profile

Still Spinning After All These Years: A Profile of the Ultracentrifuge
Still Spinning After All These Years: A Profile of the Ultracentrifuge
Date: October 11, 1999Ultracentrifuges Contacts for Ultracentrifuges Products Beckman Coulter's Optima MAX High-Capacity Personal Ultracentrifuge It boggles the mind when you think about it--a few pounds of well-balanced titanium or aluminum spinning steadily along at 1,667 revolutions per second, creating forces that approach one million times the pull of gravity. The ability to generate such speeds and forces through ultracentrifugation has contributed much to our understanding of biological
Warming Trends: CO2 Incubators for Cell Culture
Warming Trends: CO2 Incubators for Cell Culture
Date: October 11, 1999Table of CO2 Incubators VWRbrand large-capacity CO2 incubator, model 1927 There would the new "golden age of biology" be without the millions of cells that are used to unlock the mysteries of life? Maintaining cell culture stocks is essential and cannot be accomplished without the proper environmental controls. Once the cells are fed and properly seeded to the correct density, they require precise heat, humidity, and gas levels to thrive. Investigators sleep at night ent
Cultural Revolution: Mycoplasma Testing Kits and Services
Cultural Revolution: Mycoplasma Testing Kits and Services
Date: October 11, 1999Mycoplasma Detection Kits Mycoplasma Testing Services Most scientists who engage in cell culture find it such a chore to split cells on a regular basis that conscientious habits like routine testing for mycoplasma remain an unrealized ideal. Although mycoplasma contamination can potentially foil the most crucial of experiments, one may argue that mycoplasma testing is expensive, time consuming, or complicated. Fortunately, times are changing. Several companies have develop

Profession

Funding Mechanisms Affect Research Culture
Funding Mechanisms Affect Research Culture
Photo: Paul Smaglik Research equipment spills into the hallway of NIH's Clinical Research Center (Building 10). While an addition to that building is scheduled for completion in 2002, some NIH campus scientists wonder whether construction alone can contain the burgeoning intramural research program. Freezers, centrifuges, and tanks crowd the corridors of the National Institutes of Health's Clinical Research Center (Building 10). In one of that building's shared lab rooms, benches li

Notebook

Notebook
Notebook
Reprinted with permission from Nature CKI produces complete secondary dorsal axes. Synthetic mRNA encoding CKI, mutant CKI (K > R), or Xwnt-8 was injected at the eight-cell stage into one ventral vegetal blastomere. Embryos injected with CKI or Xwnt-8, but not inactive CKI (K > R), developed complete secondary dorsal axes. CANCER CLUE The rush of discoveries over the past two years concerning the Wnt signaling pathway--known to be crucial to normal development and altered in human melano