Notebook (old)
Stem cell rat race
Elie Dolgin | Apr 1, 2009
Rat embryonic stem cells were used to construct a chimeric animal (inset), shown here with two of his pups. Credit: Above: Courtesy of Ping Li and Qi-Long Ying Inset: Courtesy of John Agnew" />Rat embryonic stem cells were used to construct a chimeric animal (inset), shown here with two of his pups. Credit: Above: Courtesy of Ping Li and Qi-Long Ying Inset: Courtesy of John Agnew In 1981, Martin Evans and Matthew Kaufman, wor
Septic sperm
Elie Dolgin | Apr 1, 2009
Toxin-affected dead worm embryos and their antidote-carrying siblings. Credit: Courtesy of Hannah Seidel" />Toxin-affected dead worm embryos and their antidote-carrying siblings. Credit: Courtesy of Hannah Seidel In 2006, Hannah Seidel, a graduate student in Leonid Kruglyak's lab at Princeton University, performed an experiment that hundreds of C. elegans biologists had done before: She crossed two c
Working modeler
Virginia Hughes | Apr 1, 2009
One day in late 2004, television art director Karen Steward visited the penthouse floor of a glass office building in Los Angeles to sit down with UCLA epidemiologist Sally Blower and the half dozen members of Blower's Disease Modeling Group and talk about television. Steward was enlisting Blower's scientific expertise for the third episode of the CBS drama NUMB3RS, in which an FBI agent's
Tooth ferrying
Kerry Grens | Mar 1, 2009
"These are from Justin," says Ruth McCarrick-Walmsley, as she slides a dish of cells under a microscope. The view through the eyepiece includes an array of silvery cells, fanned out in curved lines, looking like a school of fish. These bone progenitor cells, derived from an eight-year-old's baby teeth, represent a major advance in finding a cure for a rare, devastating disease that has stymied resea
A matter of chow
Andrea Gawrylewski | Mar 1, 2009
Kozul holding standard chow (left) and purified chow (right). Credit: Photo by Jon Gilbert Fox" />Kozul holding standard chow (left) and purified chow (right). Credit: Photo by Jon Gilbert Fox Three hours after a particular poster session began at the 2007 Society for Toxicology meeting, the line to see Courtney Kozul's poster still wrapped around the room, and she had collected 90 business cards. Cl
Antifungal fight
Elie Dolgin | Feb 1, 2009
Kishor Wasan, a pharmacologist at the University of British Columbia, needed a negative control. It was 2000, and he was investigating a new way to deliver anti-fungal drugs in pill form, generally cheaper and easier to administer than intravenous injections. "I said, 'Let's take a drug I know doesn't work'," Wasan recalls. He turned to amphotericin B, an antifungal membrane disruptor that Wasan
Energy from E. coli
Brendan Borrell | Feb 1, 2009
From left: Jay Keasling with Francesco Pingitore and Chris Petzold. Credit: Courtesy of Lawrence Berkeley Nat'l Lab - Roy Kaltschmidt, photographer" />From left: Jay Keasling with Francesco Pingitore and Chris Petzold. Credit: Courtesy of Lawrence Berkeley Nat'l Lab - Roy Kaltschmidt, photographer Jay Keasling watches as 700 billion Escherichia coli swish around inside a benchtop bioreactor in the brand-spanking new
Catching crabs
Megan Scudellari | Feb 1, 2009
Blue Crab Credit: Wpopp / Wikimedia" />Blue Crab Credit: Wpopp / Wikimedia It was late last September when 73-year-old farmer Archie Page pulled a six-inch blue crab out of his pond in Swansboro, NC. After catching it, Page spent the day parading around in his pick-up with the crab in the back. "I couldn't believe it," he says with a soft Southern twang. Two months later, standing on a rickety dock a
Smells funny?
Brendan Borrell | Jan 1, 2009
Scanning electron micrograph of the head of a female Anopheles gambiae mosquito, indicating the olfactory appendages (antennae, maxillary palps and proboscis) Credit: Courtesy of LJ Zwiebel, colorization by Dominic Doyle / Vanderbilt University" />Scanning electron micrograph of the head of a female Anopheles gambiae mosquito, indicating the olfactory appendages (antennae, maxillary p
Lost in space
Joshua Tompkins | Jan 1, 2009
Few people possess a perfect sense of direction. Some need a GPS just to find their wits. Then there's Patient 1. Patient 1, as Giuseppe Iaria and his colleagues refer to her in an online article in Neuropsychologia(doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2008.08.021), doesn't even try to drive because she gets turned around in her own neighborhood. Family and friends accompany her almost every
Bio-Microsoft
Brendan Borrell | Jan 1, 2009
Drew Purves Credit: Courtesy of Microsoft Research" />Drew Purves Credit: Courtesy of Microsoft Research Drew Purves had been a postdoc at Princeton University for almost five years when he saw a weird job advertisement in August 2006. He and his companions in Stephen Pacala's lab were the techies of the ecology world, building mathematical models of forest ecosystems. Weaned on a Commodore-64 computer and the BASIC
Icy treasure
Icy treasure
Elise Kleeman | Jan 1, 2009
The giant volcano sponge Anoxycalyx joubini can grow large enough for a diver to swim inside. Kim can now study these deep sponges using the SCINI. Credit: Courtesy of Stacy Kim" />The giant volcano sponge Anoxycalyx joubini can grow large enough for a diver to swim inside. Kim can now study these deep sponges using the SCINI. Credit: Courtesy of Stacy Kim Four decades ago, Paul Dayto
Baghdad hack
Brendan Borrell | Dec 1, 2008
A dust cloud in Iraq." />A dust cloud in Iraq. It was over 50°C (130°F) outside when Mark Lyles slipped on his flak jacket, helmet and goggles, grabbed his N95 dust mask, and climbed aboard a Blackhawk helicopter at the US Central Command Zone in Iraq four years ago. The prop blades kicked up a fine grit that would hang in the air for days. Lyles knew that these particles, finer than talcum
The isotope diet
Daniel Grushkin | Dec 1, 2008
Seventeen years ago, a pair of climbers in the Italian Alps stumbled on a leathery corpse hunched in a pool of melting ice. At first they thought the body was fresh, but the copper ax, wooden bow and quiver of 14 arrows spoke of a man from another time. The iceman, affectionately dubbed Ötzi, was the oldest frozen body (5,300 years) ever found. It would take almost
Better late than never
Andrea Gawrylewski | Dec 1, 2008
Alfred Russel Wallace" />Alfred Russel Wallace One hundred and fifty years ago, British naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace wrote an essay describing some of his ideas on the origin of new species and survival of the fittest species in an environment. Knowing that Charles Darwin had been kicking around some similar ideas, Wallace sent him a copy so the two might compare notes. Darwin, who indeed had for
The crabby entrepreneur
Bob Grant | Dec 1, 2008
John King in a diving dry suit preparing to plunge from the deck of the Viking Rover into the Unga Strait (circa 1976). Credit: Courtesy of John King" />John King in a diving dry suit preparing to plunge from the deck of the Viking Rover into the Unga Strait (circa 1976). Credit: Courtesy of John King The Bering Sea was angry that day. The Viking Rover, an Alaskan fishing boat, was pitching and yawing in violent swells. John King, an
A frog's foe
Lucie Guo | Nov 1, 2008
A strawberry poison frog at La Selva. Credit: Courtesy of Pete Carmichael" />A strawberry poison frog at La Selva. Credit: Courtesy of Pete Carmichael On a humid summer afternoon, Steven Whitfield, a wildlife researcher at Florida International University, leaves the extensive trail system at La Selva Biological Station in Costa Rica and wades deeper into the rainforest. "I'll watch out for snakes for you," he says.
Immunize thyself
Bob Grant | Nov 1, 2008
Do these school kids hold the secret to a malaria vaccine? Credit: Courtesy of Arlene Dent" />Do these school kids hold the secret to a malaria vaccine? Credit: Courtesy of Arlene Dent Mud-brick, thatch-roofed school houses in small villages that cling to rugged mountainsides in Papua New Guinea - this was the topic of conversation between two malaria researchers at a Philadelphia restaurant during a
Drug wars
Megan Scudellari | Nov 1, 2008
Temperatures outside Nomura bank in London climbed into the high summertime registers as six biotech executives in dark suits filed into windowless rooms. The men were immediately segregated into two groups and told they had two days to turn a university spin-out into a billion dollar public company. Oh, and the two groups were competing against each other in a biotech "wargame," and wo
Reuse, or recycle?
Amy Coombs | Nov 1, 2008
Credit: Courtesy of Sorenson BioScience" /> Credit: Courtesy of Sorenson BioScience In labs across the world, heaping piles of pipette tip boxes spill out of trashcans and onto the floor. A single lab can burn through hundreds of pipette tips in an hour, creating enormous waste. In an attempt to minimize the waste, Jonathan Trent's protein chemistry lab at NASA AMES reuses all of its micropipette tip boxes.