News

H-1B Visas Up, Quotas Down
H-1B Visas Up, Quotas Down
On October 17, the "American Competitiveness in the Twenty-First Century Act of 2000" became law.1 President Bill Clinton signed the bill on the last day he could do so, during his flight back from the Middle East summit.2 The law's most publicized provision directs the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) to issue 70 percent more H-1B visas, which permit foreigners to work in the United States. But the law includes a host of more obscure changes that should help life scientists struggli
Making an Impact
Making an Impact
Aerial shot of the HHMI's Maryland headquarters. On a pristine 23-acre campus in Maryland located just a few miles from the National Institutes of Health, a handful of scientists decides how America's richest privately held biomedical research organization should distribute more than $500 million in funding annually. But the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, perhaps America's most prestigious patron of biomedical research, has undergone a changing of the guard at its Chevy Chase headquarters in t
New Light on Fetal Origins of Adult Disease
New Light on Fetal Origins of Adult Disease
Human prenatal development can be viewed as a program of genetic switches that turn on, in a highly regulated manner, at specific places and times. But a body of evidence is emerging that paints a less hardwired picture, one of responses to environmental challenges fostering changes early on that reverberate decades later, in the guise of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. A symposium at the American Society of Human Genetics annual meeting, held in Philadelphia Oct. 3-7, addressed the fetal o
Posting Progress
Posting Progress
In the beginning, there were no posters. Now, many scientific meetings have thousands of them. At the 50th meeting of the American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG) in Philadelphia, Oct. 4-7, scientists signed up for 2,147 posters, compared to 287 slide presentations. Douglas Marchuk, associate professor in the department of genetics at Duke University, and this year's head of the ASHG program committee, describes the poster evolution this way: "In l977 and l978 they were all slide sessions. In
GM Food Debate Gets Spicy
GM Food Debate Gets Spicy
Whether sitting down to a relaxing dinner or grabbing fast food, people don't think about the origin of every ingredient in the food they eat. But as biotechnology applications in commercial agriculture increase, controversy over the risks versus the benefits also continues to rise. In mid-September, public citizen groups, including Genetically Engineered Food Alert and the Union of Concerned Scientists, requested a recall of taco shells that allegedly contained genetically engineered corn. Inde
T Awareness
T Awareness
The presidential campaign has focused heavily on topics such as taxes, health care, and the elderly. Yet there are other issues on which the presidential administration will have a significant impact as well. A recent Gallup survey shows that science and technology issues may influence Americans' presidential choice.1 The survey reveals that more than two-thirds of those polled support recent budget proposals to significantly increase federal spending for scientific research and development. Sev
From Freedom Ride to Gender-based Biology
From Freedom Ride to Gender-based Biology
Barbara Mikulski If there is more "bullwhip and buzz saw" than "serenade by starlight" in the persona of U.S. Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.), it's because she isn't afraid to batter feelings in fighting for what she believes in. Certainly, not everyone likes the outspoken way she cuts through business-as-usual in pursuit of her goals. "Barbara, you just don't have a therapeutic personality," is how one of her teachers once put it, and Mikulski proudly declares that Ronald Reagan, George Bush,
News Notes
News Notes
Defining Genetics On Oct. 3, in a prelude to the 50th meeting of the American Society of Human Genetics in Philadelphia, several hundred geneticists attended a one-day international conference on the genetics of complex diseases. Organized by the National Disease Research Interchange, a Philadelphia-based nonprofit coordinating organization, the agenda included sessions on the genetics of thyroid disease, type I diabetes, and autism. The first session, "Defining the Genetics of Complex Disease

Letter

Koch's Postulates Revisited
Koch's Postulates Revisited
In his criticism of scientists who find Koch's postulates obsolete,1 Todd Miller overlooks one important point. Recruiting volunteers to apply Koch's postulates to diseases such as Ebola fever and AIDS has been somewhat difficult of late. There was a time when prisoners would do, but we've outgrown that practice. Koch's postulates may or may not be obsolete, but they are not universal. David Carlberg, Ph.D. Professor Department of Biological Sciences California State University Long Beach,
The Global Agenda
The Global Agenda
In his commentary on science and the global agenda,1 Bruce Alberts pointed out the distressing disregard for science prevalent in many parts of the world in relation to evolution, genetically altered foods, and AIDS. He emphasized that to counter these anti-scientific attitudes and contribute to solutions for the serious problems associated with rapid growth of the world population, scientific societies "must take a more active role in helping political leaders and the public make informed decis

Commentary

Are reviewers biased against unconventional therapies?
Are reviewers biased against unconventional therapies?
The peer-review process can be seen as a method of quality assessment, so my colleagues and I tested the hypothesis that this method is prone to bias.1 Specifically, our hypothesis was that journal reviewers would be more critical toward a manuscript relating to a study of an unconventional therapy as compared to a study of conventional treatment. Two versions were produced (A and B) of a 'short report' that related to treatments of obesity, identical except for the nature of the interven

Cartoon

Cartoon
Cartoon
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Research

Genetic Responses to Drought
Genetic Responses to Drought
A consensus grass comparative map shows how grass genomes line up. When the well's dry, we know the worth of water," wrote Benjamin Franklin under his Poor Richard alias. Not much has changed in 250 years as the United States, suffering one of the most devastating droughts in 90 years, painfully learns water's worth. The situation is gravest in the Southwest, which is enduring its fourth year of drought in five years. The U.S. Department of Agriculture continues to add more counties to its list
Research Notes
Research Notes
The Jury is Still Out on Soy In the search for a breast cancer preventive, soy has been considered a promising candidate. But a review of research on soy's phytoestrogen genistein (K.B. Bouker, L. Hilakivi-Clarke, "Genistein: Does it prevent or promote breast cancer," Environmental Health Perspectives, 108:70-8, August 2000) is lukewarm on the compound's preventative capabilities. "There is no strong evidence that genistein would actually prevent breast cancer, but there is no strong evidence

Hot Paper

The Biological Basis for Atherosclerosis
The Biological Basis for Atherosclerosis
For this article, Jennifer Fisher Wilson interviewed Ronald M. Evans, Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator and director of the Gene Expression Laboratory at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, Calif., and Peter Tontonoz, now assistant HHMI investigator and assistant professor in the pathology and laboratory medicine department at University of California, Los Angeles. Data from the Web of Science (ISI, Philadelphia) show that Hot Papers are cited 50 to 100 times more o

Technology

Web of Information
Web of Information
LabVelocity's Home Page In the fast-paced world of biotechnology and drug discovery, efficiency is key; as a time-saving resource, the Internet has been a widely used tool for expediting the collection of information needed to drive the research process. According to a recent survey, researchers spend an average of 66 minutes a day using the Internet at work.1 Much of this time is spent either looking for product and technical information or making online purchases of research supplies.
Stand and Be Counted
Stand and Be Counted
Until recently, researchers interested in analyzing their arrays or gels had to rely on complex software packages or manual analysis subject to human error. NonLinear Dynamics Ltd. of Newcastle upon Tyne, U.K., known to the research community for its Phoretix software, now offers TotalLab image analysis software, which combines the analyzing power of pre-existing Phoretix products with a user-friendly interface. Instead of requiring users to invest a considerable amount of time to learn the soft
A Quantum Leap in mRNA Quantitation
A Quantum Leap in mRNA Quantitation
Cytokines, unique growth factors that are secreted by various cells of the body, include interleukins (ILs), interferons (IFNs), and tumor necrosis factors (TNFs). These proteins bind to target cell surface receptors and activate cell proliferation and/or differentiation. Until recently, research that quantifies levels of cytokine-specific mRNA using traditional methods such as the northern blot, slot blot, quantitative RT-PCR, and ribonuclease protection assay (RPA) has been labor-intensive and

Technology Profile

Array of Assays
Array of Assays
Protein Assay Manufacturers and Products From the decades-old biuret reaction to the use of complicated fluorescent molecules, the search for an easy, reliable, and stable method for the quantitation of total protein in solution has gone on for more than 80 years. Although several famous, innovative, and useful techniques were developed over that time, the search continues. Bob Vigna, marketing manager for industry leader Pierce Chemical Co. of Rockford, Ill., confirms this observation. "The u
Taking It Higher
Taking It Higher
Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) spectroscopy has become an extremely familiar analytical tool in chemistry and biochemistry laboratories. Even researchers with little exposure to the technique recognize that NMR can provide a great deal of information about everything from the acetone content of a poorly prepared undergraduate chemistry lab sample to the structure and dynamics of complex biomolecules. In recent years the analytical potential of NMR has expanded, offering researchers a growing a

Profession

Winning, Managing, and Renewing Grants
Winning, Managing, and Renewing Grants
They say it's a publish-or-perish world in science, but how can you stay alive if you don't have any support? With grant proposal return rates at all-time highs for many granting bodies, how can you make your proposals pass muster, let alone sing? "It's the very simple things that can cause an application to fail," says Jackie Roberts, manager of career resources at the Federation of American Societies of Experimental Biology. "Read the instructions. Read the instructions. Read the instructions.
Funding Opportunities in the Life Sciences
Funding Opportunities in the Life Sciences
With this issue, The Scientist introduces a new regular feature. "Funding Opportunities in the Life Sciences" will list a selection of sources who are offering funding for life science research. Organizations are welcome to submit information for future listings by contacting kdevine@the-scientist.com Click to view the PDF file: Funding Opportunities in the Life Sciences
Profession Notes
Profession Notes
Stamp of Approval Thirty-two researchers at institutions located in 15 states plus Australia and Israel have received grants that were funded through the sale of postage stamps. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) recently awarded the grants under the Insight Awards to Stamp Out Breast Cancer program. A 1997 law set up the program, which allows for contributions to breast cancer research funding to come from the sale of a first-class stamp for 40 cents. The funding is divided between the Nation

Opinion

Research Assessment and Citation Analysis
Research Assessment and Citation Analysis
Research Assessment Exercises (RAE) were conducted in the United Kingdom in 1992 and 1996. The grades obtained by university departments determined the ratios with which public funds were to be distributed to universities to support research infrastructure, within a centralized and publicly funded university system. Other geopolitical regions would have comparable exercises, although with different approaches to research evaluation, and initial information about specific criteria and procedures