Frontlines

Frontlines
Frontlines
Frontlines Image: Anna Powers Social thinking Planning a future, knowing your limitations, following moral rules--these and other uniquely human capacities will be the focus of a research project at California Institute of Technology funded by a million dollar grant from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. Associate Professor of philosophy Steven Quartz will lead an interdisciplinary team of social scientists and neurobiologists who will use functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMR

Commentary

The Creative Power of Naming
The Creative Power of Naming
The ability to name is surely one of the great intellectual leaps of humankind. This is vividly illustrated in an extract of the uplifting poetry of the Kato Indians, an account of genesis: "Woodpeckers were not they say. Then wrens were not they say. Then hummingbirds were not they say. Then otters were not they say. Then jackrabbits, grey squirrels were not they say ... Then clouds were not they say. Fog was not they say. It didn't appear they say. Stars were not they say. It was very dark."

Opinion

Nescience, not Science, from the Academy
Nescience, not Science, from the Academy
Image: Anthony Canamucio The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self- perpetuating society of distinguished scientists and engineers "dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare," and committed to "advis[ing] the federal government on scientific and technical matters." The Academy regularly conducts studies for a variety of sponsors, most often the federal government. The public, as well as those who are knowledgeable abo

Letter

Mitchell and Proticity
Mitchell and Proticity
Mitchell and Proticity Regarding your recent story,1 most of the work of Peter Mitchell did not come from "Mitchell's imagination." Mitchell's hypothesis was in the literature and letters to him before he published any discussion of proticity. I wrote the history of the ideas in bio-energetics in a 1993 paper.2 Another major contributor was R.E. Davies in 1952. The work of both of us was never acknowledged by Mitchell despite the fact that he knew both of us well and had asked for help from

News

Two Weeks in the Pit as Indiana Jones
Two Weeks in the Pit as Indiana Jones
Photo: Courtesy of the Mammoth Site A DIG OF MAMMOTH PROPORTIONS: Earthwatch volunteers excavate mammoth fossils displayed in situ at the Mammoth Site in Hot Springs, SD. This past summer, I found myself standing in an air-conditioned pit, trowel in hand, digging for mammoth bones, while tourists watched me work from behind a fence. I was helping Larry Agenbroad, whose Mammoth Site project in Hot Springs, SD, is one of the oldest affiliated with the Earthwatch Institute, an organization
Conservation Takes the Forefront
Conservation Takes the Forefront
Top and left: courtesy of Craig Sholley; Right: Courtesy of AWF/IGCP  IN THEIR WORLD: A gorilla rests with her infant as another gorilla plays in the trees. At right are Annette Lanjouw and Mbake Sivha in Goma, standing on lava after the Nyiragongo volcano eruption of Jan. 21 this year. Next to chimpanzees, gorillas are the closest living human relatives. Yet, humans have loved, sold, killed, even eaten gorillas. Dian Fossey's popularization of her field work with mountain gori
The Key to Translation ...
The Key to Translation ...
Funding for translational research flows from government agencies and through foundations and associations. At meetings around the world, the pleas go out for more researchers to join the field. Yet if you ask 10 researchers to define "translational re-search," you're likely to get 10 different definitions, ranging from "translating a laboratory discovery into a clinical application up to, but not including Phase III clinical trials" to "all research involving human beings." A middle-of-the-ro
COX-2 Inhibitors Tackle Cancer
COX-2 Inhibitors Tackle Cancer
Image: Courtesy of Hibiki Kawamata, Smith College A drug developer's dream, rationally designed to quell inflammation, COX-2 inhibitors are also prime candidates for preventing cancer or its recurrence. Gary J. Kelloff, chief of the chemoprevention branch at the National Cancer Institute (NCI), lists the requirements for a molecular target such as the COX-2 enzyme: It must be highly expressed in precancer or cancer cells and not in others; blocking it isn't toxic and doesn't disrupt normal func
Lasker Foundation Honors Five
Lasker Foundation Honors Five
Photos: Courtesy of the Lasker Foundation LASKER AWARDEES: Clockwise from top left; Belding H. Scribner, James E.Darnell, James E. Rothman, Willem J. Kolff, Randy W. Shekman Few things are as rewarding as the academic lifestyle, says James E. Darnell Jr., a Rockefeller University researcher whose discoveries span an era of molecular biology. "The only thing I'd rather do is be first baseman for the Yankees, but seriously, I don't know any pursuit that gives you the joy that basic science
Today's World: Research vs. Security
Today's World: Research vs. Security
Nearly three years ago, the federal government gave Nancy Connell the green light to investigate how people respond to infection by Bacillus anthracis, the bacterial agent that causes anthrax. With $3 million (US) from the Department of Defense, Connell hoped to learn how to detect the bacteria within hours of infection. But thanks to the hurdles put in her path, it took until this past July for Connell to get her hands on the bacterial strain for her study. Today, her team at the Center for B

Research

In Style, but...Out of Reach
In Style, but...Out of Reach
Image: Erica P. Johnson Treating people who have seizure disorders is a little like playing roulette. Place a bet on a drug from column A and hope for a hit. If that drug doesn't work, try one from column B. This process can drag on for months or years, and for many people with epilepsy--between 25% and 30%--relief from seizures never comes. With 40 to 50 million people experiencing seizures worldwide, this means that huge numbers of people receive no benefit from treatment. One might think t
In Style, but... Out of Reach, Pt. 2
In Style, but... Out of Reach, Pt. 2
Image: Erica P. Johnson Pharmacogenomics holds the promise of delivering safer, better designer drugs--and profits--to pharmaceutical manufacturers. But the technology also poses a challenge to the industry's current, highly successful business model that relies on one-size-fits-all blockbuster drugs. For small biotech companies and large drug manufacturers alike, pharmacogenomics remains only one component of genome-based research and consumes only a small part of the $30 billion (US) in ann
The E-Nose: Scientists Compete with Nature's Prolific Sniffers
The E-Nose: Scientists Compete with Nature's Prolific Sniffers
Illustration: Ned Shaw Volatile odorants spewing forth from every living thing reveal a hidden trove of factors like diet, health, and genetic composition. With astonishing acuteness, most animals can read these olfactory messages and model their behaviors accordingly. "Odors are their windows on the world," one researcher says of mice. Others have noted that some honeybees recognize illness in hives and avoid them.1 Dogs have alerted their owners to such maladies as melanoma2 and epileptic se

Hot Paper

The Bubble Bursts
The Bubble Bursts
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. Cavazzana-Calvo et al., "Gene therapy of human severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID)-X1 disease," Science, 288:669-72, April 28, 2000. (Cited in 300 papers) Reaching positive milestones in gene therapy has been difficult since a highly publicized death in 1999,1 but some have succeede

Wed, 01 Jan 1000 00:00:00 GMT

Microbiologists Make Discoveries in the Sea, in the Neighborhood
Microbiologists Make Discoveries in the Sea, in the Neighborhood
The Faculty of 1000 is aWeb-based literature awareness tool published by BioMed Central. For more information visit www.facultyof1000.com. Microbiology has come a long way since the days of Anton van Leeuwenhoek and his "very little living animalcules, very prettily a-moving." The animalcules were, of course, bacteria, and Leeuwenhoek's 17th century observations were among the first written records of microbial life. Now, as exemplified by two recent Faculty of 1000 papers, microbiologists are

Technology Profile

Making Medicine Personal
Making Medicine Personal
Image: Erica P. Johnson "Never share your prescription." That's good advice: People may react differently to drugs, whether because of weight, gender, or metabolic differences. When a physician writes a prescription, one would think that it is custom-made for the patient. But, more often than not, it's "Take two and call me in the morning." Advocates of pharmacogenomics say a better approach would be to custom-design medications to fit each patient's needs; some scientists argue, however, that
A Peak at HPLC
A Peak at HPLC
In 1906, Mikhail Tswett separated plant pigments on a chalk column. Alluding to the separated colors, he termed his technique chromatography.1 Nearly a century later, chromatography hasn't changed all that much; it still relies on the differential affinities of analyte components for the mobile and stationary phases of the separation. Yet in high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC), the technique assumes a decidedly high-tech air, with gleaming stainless steel components, computer control
Weighing Up Macromolecules
Weighing Up Macromolecules
Image: Courtesy of R.E. Synovec ©2002 American Chemical Society MEASUREMENT of a refractive index gradient by deflection of a diode laser beam on a position- sensitive detector. (Reprinted with permission from Analytical Chemistry, 74:4558-65, 2002). Determining the molecular mass of polymers, including natural biopolymers such as proteins and nucleic acids, or synthetic plastics, is critical to quality control and to understanding the effects of processing technology on these produ

Technology

Microscopy Goes Virtual--and Global
Microscopy Goes Virtual--and Global
Image: Courtesy of Aperio Technologies VIRTUAL SLIDE comprising 38,000 x 43,500 pixels, scanned at 108,000 pixels/ inch. Selected views show a thumbnail (top), an intermediate-resolution image (middle), and a small region of the full-resolution virtual slide (bottom). Robert Cardiff has thought a lot about virtual microscopy. As chair of the pathology committee for the National Cancer Institute's Mouse Models of Human Cancer Consortium, Cardiff is charged with creating an image archive o
Detecting Protein Phosphorylation
Detecting Protein Phosphorylation
Protein phosphorylation is a key regulatory signaling event that can activate or deactivate protein function and regulate critical biochemical pathways. Phosphospecific antibodies represent research windows into those pathways: They allow researchers to determine where and when a protein is phosphorylated and how these modifications affect protein function and interactions. Typically, a researcher probes a Western blot with phosphospecific antibodies to obtain a profile of protein phosphoryla
Real-Time Gel Documentation
Real-Time Gel Documentation
Rochester, NY-based Eastman Kodak recently introduced the newest addition to its family of electrophoresis gel-imaging products. The Gel Logic 100 Imaging System combines a 1.4-megapixel digital CCD (charge-coupled device) camera with IEEE 1394 (Firewire) communication technology, a peripheral connectivity standard that allows high-speed data transfer between the computer and camera. "The communication speed with the camera delivers real-time imaging similar to what you would see in a video sy

Profession

Life Scientists Keep Georgia on Their Minds
Life Scientists Keep Georgia on Their Minds
Image: Courtesy of Georgia Department of Industry, Trade and Tourism NO SMALL PEANUTS: The state houses 500 bioscience companies that employ 13,000 workers. Anne Whalen, a molecular biologist, had no job when she and her husband relocated to Georgia three years ago from Jackson Hole, Wyo., so he could take a position at an Atlanta-area biotechnology company. She figured it would take her a while to land a life science job as well, but the market surprised her. "I didn't expect to find as
Green Gene Advocates Await Climate Change
Green Gene Advocates Await Climate Change
Graphic: Erica P. Johnson German plant biotechnology companies, frustrated by a European moratorium and lacking political and public support in their home country, struggle to sustain their re-search. Many still hope that genetically modified (GM) plant products will eventually find their way to the market. Some officials even believe that green gene technology, as plant genetics are sometimes called, could become a cornerstone in the recovery of the eastern German economy. Basic academic res
Biotechs Bank for Survival
Biotechs Bank for Survival
Image: Anne MacNamara Like prudent squirrels bracing for a harsh winter, biotech managers are scrambling to conserve money in an effort to keep their companies alive during the current financing downturn. Biotechs have not gone under in droves, despite the funding turn back. Most have survived using strategies such as licensing and partnership deals, innovative financing, and simple cost cutting, including layoffs. "We haven't seen the kind of consolidation you would expect. It is a little sur
Funds for Pharmacogenomics
Funds for Pharmacogenomics
In the postgenomics era, many scientists have shifted focus from determining DNA sequence to unraveling gene function. With the possibility of tailoring drugs to individuals, pharmacogenomics holds the promise of turning the prescription of drugs into a more exact science. By analyzing patients' genetic profiles and their reactions to medication, the guesswork of trial-and-error prescriptions can be eliminated, providing for greater efficacy and safety. "Using molecular guidance and genetic m
The Skills Gap
The Skills Gap
Image: Erica P. Johnson Advances in gadgetry make a scientist's job easy. Finding the scientists who can wield the new instruments and assays poses a challenge. Companies now demand that scientists be veritable Swiss army knives of capability, posessing lab skills, scientific knowledge, and computer savvy. But employers and candidates sometimes end up building bridges from opposite shores, only to find they don't connect in the middle. "Hiring managers are often ludicrous about what they want

Fine Tuning

Quality Time with Your Mentor
Quality Time with Your Mentor
Photo: Courtesy of Phillip S. Clifford Individual development plans provide a formal planning process to help individuals identify long-term career goals and areas where further development is needed. While postdoctoral fellows must acknowledge responsibility for their own careers, the creation of an IDP requires full participation and open communication between a postdoctoral fellow and mentor. The first step in constructing an IDP is the most critical, and often the most difficult: You must

News Profile

Judith Vaitukaitis
Judith Vaitukaitis
Photo: Courtesy of Judith Vaitukaitis Were it not for the National Institutes of Health's former policy that did not allow NIH researchers to patent their discoveries, "Vaitukaitis" would have been a household name, like Pasteur or Steinway. That's because reproductive endocrinologist Judith Vaitukaitis, now director of NIH's National Center for Research Resources (NCRR), discovered what became the first simple pregnancy test--the immunoassay for the presence of human chorionic gonadotrophin (