Editorial

Save the Lab from Patriotic Correctness
Save the Lab from Patriotic Correctness
As exemplified by the well-publicized cases of Thomas Butler, David Kelly, and Steven J. Hatfill, the fallout from the War on Terror has been particularly hazardous for scientists. Donald A. Henderson, who was inaugural director of the US Office of Public Health Preparedness, which coordinates the national response to public health emergencies, has accused the FBI of losing "all perspective" and of being "out of control" in the Butler and Hatfill investigations.1 The dangers are summed up by

Opinion

The National Health Museum: Exhibiting Influence on Tomorrow's Life Scientists
The National Health Museum: Exhibiting Influence on Tomorrow's Life Scientists
©John Horner According to results released last month of a widely administered ACT college entrance exam, only 26% of the graduating US high school seniors who took the test this year are adequately prepared for college biology. In other words, about one in four young adults are likely to muster a grade of C or higher in their freshman biology courses. It is further evidence that the United States is failing at a critical task. No easy explanation or quick remedy exists for this reality

Letter

Of Databases and Copyright
Of Databases and Copyright
Of Databases and Copyright Regarding your article "Tracking and Archiving PDF's",1 this software may work fine for an individual scientist building a database of articles to which he subscribes and for which he has permission to obtain copies, but the process may raise copyright violation issues if he is file-sharing these articles with others. Eileen M. McVey Aquaculture Information Specialist NOAA Central Library Silver Spring, Md. Eileen.McVey@noaa.gov Editor's Note: In the article
Graphics Guru
Graphics Guru
Graphics Guru As a magazine editor and professor in an earlier life, I much appreciated your recent piece.1 While it was way too short (those damn editors!), the world of graphics--so often done so avoidably poorly--needs all the help it can get. I was amazed to see no mention (did I miss it?) of the guru in this field, Edward R. Tufte, and his unmatched, brilliantly graphed, texts as examples.2 Tom Foote Policy Consultant FooteWorks Plantation, FL tom@footeworks.us References 1. S. Ja
Reviewing Reviews
Reviewing Reviews
Reviewing Reviews I'm writing this letter to share my views on the article regarding the writing of reviews.1 I have very good personal experience in dealing with the journals that publish review articles through their Web sites. I have received encouraging responses from their editorial staff. I think it is very important for faculty to write a review article to be recognized in a particular field. Most of the time, review writing does help to overcome the barriers in one's own research. It
Iraq's Promise
Iraq's Promise
Iraq's Promise I was delighted to read your thoughtful comments1 on Iraqi science. I agree with you wholeheartedly. Also, I have been saying similar things here at the National Academy of Sciences and the United States State Department, in addition to similar organizations in the Arab world. In the meantime, the real work has to be initiated and performed by the scientific community at large. For this reason, I believe that the call by The Scientist is most appropriate and very timely. Fa
Galileo's Pancakes
Galileo's Pancakes
Galileo's Pancakes I read with great interest Walter Brown's article1 regarding mankind's uneasiness with change. Dr. Brown compared the skepticism upon arrival of certain modern technologies (e.g. vaccinations, cell phones, E-mail, genetically modified foods) with the advent of the new blueberry pancake in Helen Baxter's kitchen in 1897. Even though I understand the point that Dr. Brown is trying to convey in his essay, it is a poor comparison. It would have been of interest to mention past

Snapshot

The Sporting Scientist
The Sporting Scientist
Snapshot | The Sporting Scientist Outside of the lab, everything's game Scientists crave that endorphin rush: 85% of the 312 respondents to our recent survey say they actively participate in sports or athletic activities more than once per month -- 53% get into a sweat more than once per week. Nearly 30% participate in team sports, with soccer the most popular pick; 29% participate in competitive sports, with tennis the game of choice; and a hearty 82% participate noncompetitively in athlet

Frontlines

Plant Police Go Online
Plant Police Go Online
Frontlines | Plant Police Go Online Courtesy of Mic H. Julien, Invasive.org Defending the United States against invaders of the vegetative variety is a job that airport agriculture inspectors can't handle alone anymore. Internet plant vendors have proliferated like kudzu, creating a problem requiring a Web-based solution. "You've got folks shipping things among states and from outside the US through the mail; it represented just a whole new pathway for invasive species," says entomologist
The Sounds of Science
The Sounds of Science
Frontlines | The Sounds of Science Courtesy of Nina Seiler What's the sound of two molecules touching? Ask James La Clair and Michael Burkart, two University of California, San Diego, scientists, who recently developed a biosensor on the surface of an ordinary compact disc. Data from a CD is nothing more than a stream of 1s and 0s, the digital representation of how laser light reflects off the disc's aluminum platter. Any dust or scratch on the CD's surface produces errors in the playback;

Foundations

Biology's Renaissance Man
Biology's Renaissance Man
Foundations | Biology's Renaissance Man Courtesy of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia I don't cite papers that are more than one hundred years old, but Joseph Leidy's (1823-1891) name keeps coming up. Although he published more than 400 papers, he's not known today. That's mainly because he never made the sweeping generalizations that tend to make scientists famous. He was a paleontologist, botanist, zoologist, medical doctor, and anatomist. For us, though, his most important contr

First Person

Robert G. Roeder
Robert G. Roeder
First Person | Robert G. Roeder Courtesy of The Rockefeller University Robert G. Roeder, raised on a Booneville, Indiana farm, is grateful that his parents were religious. Laboring before and after school and every Saturday, he appreciated the requisite day of rest. Lifting 100-pound feedbags gave Roeder (pronounced RAY-dur) the build to play high-school football and the work ethic to graduate valedictorian. Indeed, hard work and long hours drove his career as a biochemist, teasing apart t

Science Seen

Cabbage Patch Doll
Cabbage Patch Doll
Science Seen | Cabbage Patch Doll Courtesy of Rick Amasino  The University of Wisconsin's Rick Amasino found a graphic way to explain the effect of vernalization (the promotion of flowering by winter) to his students. He had his five-year-old daughter pose with these two, five-year-old cabbages. The one she's holding endured the Wisconsin winters. The other, greenhouse-kept, never flowered and grew out of control. function sendData() { document.frm.pathName.value = location.pathnam

5-Prime

Diming Out Dimerization
Diming Out Dimerization
5-Prime | Diming Out Dimerization What is dimerization? It is a process where two molecules of similar chemical composition come together to form a single polymer known as a dimer. Where does dimerization occur? It happens throughout the cell. For example, dimers form in the cell membrane, where tyrosine-kinase receptors reside, and in the cytosol that contains microtubules composed of tubulin. In the nucleus, hormone receptors, acting as transcription factors, form dimers to increase st

So They Say

So They Say
So They Say
So They Say "I remember thinking, 'Should I put in the word "emergency"?" --World Health Organization spokesperson Dick Thompson, recalling the first press release he wrote on a new illness in Asia, which he named SARS. From the National Association of Science Writers newsletter. "There are some samples I won't give." --J. Craig Venter, who gave the sample DNA for the human genome sequence, quashing rumors that he provided the human waste samples for a human gut genomics study. From The

Calendar

October Calendar
October Calendar
October Calendar Click to view enlarged October calendar (358K) --Compiled by Christine Bahls(cbahls@the-scientist.com) function sendData() { document.frm.pathName.value = location.pathname; result = false if (document.frm.score[0].checked) result = true; if (document.frm.score[1].checked) result = true; if (document.frm.score[2].checked) result = true; if (document.frm.score[3].checked) result = true; if (document.frm.score[4].checked) result = true; if (!result) alert("Please s

Feature

The State of Scientists' Salaries
The State of Scientists' Salaries
Getty Images Tis a good time to be a life scientist. Thanks to increases in the National Institutes of Health budget, a flood of defense spending, and a gradual warming in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries, experienced investigators are in great demand. For senior US researchers, the benefits of the federal largesse appear in 2003 paychecks, according to The Scientist's latest salary survey. The average senior researcher, who holds a PhD and leads a lab, will earn $73,351(US) th

Research

A Virus moves West
A Virus moves West
Click to view a PDF of the virus' spread across the U.S. (244K) Humans, birds, and mosquitoes propelled the spread of West Nile Virus in the US from coast to coast in less than four years. Various secondary cycles played a part as well. (see West Nile: The Virus that Came to Stay) Map adapted from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data; other information compiled by Janet Ginsburg (jgstories@yahoo.com). function sendData() { document.frm.pathName.value = location.pathname; re
West Nile: The Virus that Came to Stay
West Nile: The Virus that Came to Stay
Last April, about a week after the snow finally melted in central Minnesota, Casey, a five-year-old mare near the small town of Brainerd, became a statistic - the first horse to die of West Nile virus in 2003. "That worried us since it was so early in the season," says David Neitzel, epidemiologist with the state's health department. Seven horses died in the area the previous year, but it was not considered a hot spot. "This virus can pick up where it left off," notes Neitzel. In 2003, West
Anatomy Goes Digital
Anatomy Goes Digital
Ned Shaw Several dozen biologists and computer scientists are gathering this week in Bar Harbor, Maine, to discuss ontology--not the hoary philosophical concept, but the bioinformatics buzzword referring to a computer-based representation of the facts established by a scientific field. One group of conferees, the five-year-old Gene Ontology Consortium, will likely focus on programming issues and new viewing, browsing, and editing tools, says Monte Westerfield, the University of Oregon biology
Adapting to Climate Change
Adapting to Climate Change
Photo: Denis Crawford of Graphic Science  CAN'T TAKE THE HEAT: Drosophila birchii, the Australian rainforest vinegar fly, was unable to evolve adaptations for a hot, dry environment in laboratory tests. Average global temperatures are expected to rise by 5°C or more over the next century. That's a lot of heat to handle for thousands of plant and wildlife species that already have been affected by a seemingly paltry 0.60°C temperature change over the past century. Eggs hatch and

Hot Paper

A New Paradigm in Immune Surveillance
A New Paradigm in Immune Surveillance
Courtesy of Adelheid Cerwenka and Lewis Lanier © 2003 Blackwell Publishing  DIFFERENT MAMMALS, SAME ESCAPE ACT: Human and murine cytomegalovirus have developed strategies to escape from NK-cell attack. HMCV (a) produces UL16, which can sequester some, but not all, NKG2D-ligands inside the infected cell. MCMV (b) produces the protein gp40, capable of sequestering RAE-1 molecules, but not H60. In mice, NKG2D exists in two alternatively spliced isoforms capable of binding different adapt

Research Briefs

Hydrocephalus and the Accidental Transgene; Redox RNA; To Be a Bee, but He or She?
Hydrocephalus and the Accidental Transgene; Redox RNA; To Be a Bee, but He or She?
Briefs Hydrocephalus and the Accidental Transgene; Redox RNA; To Be a Bee, but He or She? Hydrocephalus and the Accidental Transgene Courtesy of Perry Blackshear, NIEHS A chat in an elevator at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences led to the discovery of a protein possibly linked to early brain development. Darryl C. Zeldin mentioned to an NIEHS colleague that a line of transgenic mice created by researchers studying the role of the CYP2J2 enzyme in heart function had de

Technology Front Page

One-Stop Genome Shop; A Safer Squeeze Bottle; Watching -- and Manipulating -- Stem Cell Growth
One-Stop Genome Shop; A Safer Squeeze Bottle; Watching -- and Manipulating -- Stem Cell Growth
Front Page One-Stop Genome Shop; A Safer Squeeze Bottle; Watching -- and Manipulating -- Stem Cell Growth SOFTWARE WATCH | One-Stop Genome Shop Sequenced genomes are no longer a rarity. Scientists have sequenced more than a hundred organisms and released the results on public databases. Many of those databases speak in different languages, however, making cross-referencing and comparative genomics difficult. Christos Ouzounis and his colleagues at the European Bioinformatics Institute in

Technology Profile

Assays Galore
Assays Galore
Courtesy of BD Biosciences Pharmingen  COLOR CODING: Multiplexed bead-based assays, like BD Biosciences' Cytometric Bead Array (shown), test for multiple analytes in a single vial. The key is in the colors: one hue indicates the bead ID, and the intensity of the second, how much protein has been captured. In today's fast-paced research environment, technologies for speedy, cost-efficient analyses reign supreme. As part of this general trend, techniques for multiplexing, that is, simultan
Checking the Alignment
Checking the Alignment
Courtesy of European Bioinformatics Institute  KNOWLEDGE GAPS? Sequence alignments offer clues to both the function and evolution of novel genes. But a bewildering array of algorithms and parameters leaves many researchers unable to use these programs to their fullest potential. In the beginning, there was Needleman-Wunsch, which begat Smith-Waterman, which begat FASTA, which begat BLAST, and so on. Peel away the information technology jargon surrounding these alignment algorithms, and a

Technology

Quantum Leap for Quantum Dots
Quantum Leap for Quantum Dots
Courtesy of Evident Technologies High-resolution fluorescence micro-scopy has revolutionized cell biology, most agree. But the revolution has not come without sacrifice. The enabling equipment--excitation sources, optics, and photodetection hardware--is expensive, and the necessary fluorescent dyes and proteins are relatively photo-unstable. Moreover, because of overlapping absorption and emission profiles, traditional fluorescent markers support only limited multiplexing; that is, researcher
Protein Removal Machine
Protein Removal Machine
Courtesy of Agilent Technologies Researchers working to identify rare proteins in blood are often stymied by highly abundant proteins, such as albumin and immunoglobulin, which obscure less plentiful molecules. A new immunoaffinity column, marketed by Agilent Technologies of Palo Alto, Calif., may solve this problem. Agilent's Multiple Affinity Removal System comprises a combination of antibodies to the six most abundant proteins found in human blood. By merely running a sample over the matr
All in the Family
All in the Family
Courtesy of Beckman Coulter Following on the heels of its ProteomeLab initiative, which aims to streamline automated proteomics-based research, Beckman Coulter of Fullerton, Calif., has announced a new GenomeLab™ initiative to cover the entire genomic analysis pipeline. Beckman Coulter has identified a series of basic steps to genomics research--identification, isolation, preparation, analysis, evaluation, and validation. The company plans to design its existing lines (flow cytometers,

Profession Front Page

Staying Happy in Your Job; Instrumental Learning; Shortage of Biodefense Scientists Called Critical
Staying Happy in Your Job; Instrumental Learning; Shortage of Biodefense Scientists Called Critical
TIP TROVE | Staying Happy in Your Job Courtesy of Arlene Hirsch To stay motivated in your current job, you need to focus on professional development and appreciate the accomplishments and progress you are making in developing an expanded and/or deeper knowledge base, working on different kinds of projects and grants, and becoming a better scientist. If you feel that you are learning and growing, this should help sustain you while you search out new opportunities. To stay motivated in the j

Profession

Caught in Political Crosshairs
Caught in Political Crosshairs
AP Photo/Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, Jim Watkins  Thomas Butler It's open season on life scientists. The Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) is doggedly determined to prove that Thomas Butler, a researcher and international plague authority at Texas Tech University, is a biocriminal. Ebola investigator Steven J. Hatfill, formerly with the United States Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Disease (USAMRIID), may never recover from the suspicion cast by the FBI's constant surv
Changing the Faces of Science
Changing the Faces of Science
The Supreme Court's narrow ruling on the University of Michigan's admissions policy signaled a fragile affirmative action victory, and Shirley Malcom wasted no time stating her position on its relationship to her own career. "Being black and female got me in the room," says Malcom, seated in the sunny and spacious lounge of the American Association for the Advancement of Science office suite she considers her inner sanctum. "But that is of less importance than what I do in the room." She ent
Don't Blame Me, I'm the Scientist
Don't Blame Me, I'm the Scientist
Ned Shaw The public distrusts their science and even colleagues can question their motives, but researchers in controversial fields say they're making the world a better place. "I can't think of more important work that I could be doing [for public health]," says Jim Swauger, a toxicologist at R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company. Tobacco companies? A great place to contribute to public health? It's no joke to Tony Albino, whose long track record in cancer research and stint as director of the Amer
Governments recruit US scientists for academic research
Governments recruit US scientists for academic research
The science circulatory system that sends so many European researchers to the United States flows in two directions, as most European governments run programs to attract US researchers as well. As science has become truly international, and projects exceedingly expensive, cross-border flow of scientists has become vital to research progress. While European leaders of science are anxious to build one Europe by sponsoring partnerships with former Soviet Union satellites, they also encourage col

How I Got This Job

Building a Strong Foundation
Building a Strong Foundation
Courtesy of Genentech Early Indications: My first and continued interest was human health and disease that subsequently evolved to the scientific mechanisms that underlie normal and aberrant immune function. Mentors of Merit: I've had the luxury of multiple outstanding scientific mentors. The first was John Atkinson at Washington University in St. Louis, with whom I performed my thesis work. John is one who always meshed and identified the critical scientific questions that ultimately alway

Science Rules

An Expert Career
An Expert Career
File Photo Paul D. Ellner was nearing retirement from his professorship in microbiology at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons when he stumbled on his second career "quite by accident." A colleague who had enlisted as an expert witness in a legal case was overwhelmed with work and passed the job on to Ellner. "I found it very challenging, very interesting," says Ellner, who has been hired as an expert witness in more than 70 cases since his retirement from Columbia almost 1

Postdoc Talk

Do Your Field Work for Interviews
Do Your Field Work for Interviews
Courtesy of Asma Asyyed Interviews can be hard work, but they do have their rewards, even if you don't get the job. I've based these tips on feedback I received--sometimes painfully--after my interviews. Be honest--I learned this the hard way when a friend of mine won a position that I was applying for, because she was more honest than I was. I answered what I thought the interviewers wanted to hear. It did not occur to me until later that this was a test of my common sense and honesty. Be

Turning Points

Midcareer Leaps
Midcareer Leaps
File Photo Letters have been streaming in from readers with career questions, no doubt similar to some of yours. I've picked two: A seasoned research scientist wonders what to do if his company downsizes and he loses his job. Are there positions for which the researcher's skills would be relevant, or would he need retraining? "Not everyone in the world of biotech has state-of-the-art molecular biology skills," says recruiter and career counselor David Jensen, Search Masters, Sedona, Ariz.

Closing Bell

Sins of Omission
Sins of Omission
Medical writers and editors for the general press don't intend to inflict cruelty on suffering people. But that's what they often deliver in the rote-journalism pursuit of informing the public of new developments in medical research, no matter how distant they may be from therapeutic application. News of direct health value to the public deserves the prompt coverage that it regularly receives. But not so the mere research fragments that raise unrealistic hopes, leaving distressed people empt