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Phone :(215)243-2205 // Fax: (215)387-1266 ================= THE SCIENTIST VOLUME 8, No:10 MAY 16, 1994 (Copyright, The Scientist, Inc.) =============================================================== Articles published in THE SCIENTIST reflect the views of their authors and not the official views of the publication, its editorial staff, or its ownership. =============================================================== *** THE NEXT ISSUE OF THE SCIENTIST WILL APPEAR ON *** *** MAY 30, 1994 *** *** *** ******************************************************* Subscription rates for the printed edition are: In the United States: one year $58, two years $ 94 Canada : one year $82, two years $142 All other foreign : one year/air cargo $ 79 one year/ airmail $133 THE SCIENTIST (Page numbers correspond to printed edition of THE SCIENTIST) FOR SEARCHING PURPOSES: AU = author TI = title of article TY = type PG = page NEXT = next article ------------------------------------------------------------ TI : CONTENTS PG : 3 ============================================================ NEWS HIGHEST-LEVEL SCIENCE COUNCIL: The National Science and Technology Council, a Cabinet-level panel chaired by President Clinton, has been busy, although not particularly visible. Its activities overshadowed by the president's political troubles, NSTC has so far this year convened two major forums to set national science priorities and environmental R&D policy; currently, it is conducting a comprehensive review of the federal science budget PG : 1 NEW ENVIRONMENTAL AGENCY: A grass-roots effort to convince Congress to form a National Institute for the Environment is picking up steam. As envisioned, the institute would fill the gap between research funded by the National Science Foundation and that supported by the Environmental Protection Agency PG : 1 ELECTRONIC ANSWERS: In the second part of a two-part series, The Scientist examines how the global Internet will--through an ever-greater diversity of networked sources--allow scientists to approach new and currently unanswerable questions PG : 1 MENTORING REQUIRED: Depending on the final disposition of a federal suit complicated by a recent Supreme Court ruling, denial of mentoring in a research setting may constitute sex discrimination PG : 3 SUPPORTING THE ET SEARCH: Despite being cut out of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration budget, the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) through the use of radio telescopes and antennas continues. Renamed Project Phoenix, the effort is now being supported by private and corporate sources PG : 4 OPINION DIALOGUE BETWEEN SCIENCE AND RELIGION: University of Wisconsin bioethicist Van Rensselaer Potter argues that the long-term survival of our planet depends on the efficacy of communication between scientists--who are concerned with human health and survival here on Earth--and the religious traditionalists,whose motivation stems from an ideal of life in some otherworldly realm PG : 12 COMMENTARY: The rapid rate of worldwide socioeconomic forces is threatening the environment and the quality of life in the next century, says Sigma Xi Center director Thomas F. Malone; and it is up to the scientific community to lead the way in harnessing human knowledge and information necessary to relieve these pressures PG : 13 RESEARCH TOOTHSOME RESEARCH: National Institute for Dental Research- supported studies have broad implications for other areas of human health, branching out into investigations of AIDS, diabetes, and osteoporosis--and, increasingly, examining disease on a molecular level PG : 14 HOT PAPERS: Plant pathologist Pierre J.G.M. De Witt discusses his lab's characterization of a fungal avirulence gene; biochemist Richard A. Kahn comments on his article on the identification of a functional domain of ADP- ribosylation factor PG : 16 TOOLS & TECHNOLOGY RADIOIMMUNOASSAY STILL VIABLE: Radioimmunoassay, a lab workhorse for 35 years, uses radioactive isotopes to measure and detect minute quantities of biological substances. Though its dominance has been challenged in recent years by new detection techniques, many researchers still prefer its sensitivity and specificity PG : 17 PROFESSION SCIENCE APPRENTICESHIP: High school students, and their teachers, can get a first-hand view of research as summer interns at the Coriell Institute for Medical Research in Camden, N.J. The program has placed a special emphasis on reaching out to minorities who populate the institute's inner-city surroundings PG : 21 GANG TIAN, a professor of mathematics at the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences of New York University, has received the 1994 Alan T. Waterman Award PG : 23 ' SHORT TAKES NOTEBOOK PG : 4 LETTERS PG : 13 RADIOIMMUNOASSAY PRODUCTS DIRECTORY PG : 19 NEW PRODUCTS PG : 20 OBITUARY PG : 23 CROSSWORD PG : 23 ---------- WE WELCOME YOUR OPINION. IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO COMMENT ON THIS STORY, PLEASE WRITE TO US AT EITHER ONE OF THE FOLLOWING ADDRESSES: The Scientist, 3600 Market Street, Suite 450, Philadelphia, PA 19104 U.S.A. (The Scientist, Vol:8, #10, May 16, 1994 (Copyright, The Scientist, Inc.) ================================ NEXT: ------------------------------------------------------------ TI : Supporters Of National Environment Institute Say Proposed Agency Could Become Reality Within Year Proponents believe that legislation establishing new science funding unit may be introduced in the U.S. Senate this summer AU : KAREN YOUNG KREEGER TY : NEWS PG : 1 Buoyed by a groundswell of grass-roots and official support, advocates for the creation of a new governmental agency--the National Institute for the Environment (NIE)--are optimistic that legislation establishing the proposed entity could be passed within a year. The agency, first suggested in 1989 and organizationally modeled on the National Institutes of Health, would, according to its proponents, function largely as a funding and information clearinghouse to support environmental research. Its primary mission, NIE supporters say, would be to fund studies bridging the gap between investigations financed by the National Science Foundation and those essential to the management and regulation activities of governmental bodies such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). "It's really starting to take off," says Peter D. Saundry, a physicist and executive director of the Committee for NIE (CNIE)--a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit coalition of more than 7,000 scientists, educators, students, business leaders, environmentalists, and other con- cerned citizens pushing for NIE's establishment. "There's an awful lot of excitement about what an NIE can do. We're really starting to build up momentum." Legislation involving the proposed new agency, introduced in the House of Representatives last August and still in committee discussions, is expected to be raised for debate on the House floor in the near future. The Clinton administration, moreover, is likely to reveal its position on NIE this summer, according to Saundry. "We are also having discussions with a number of key senators," he says, in hopes that one of them will introduce a companion Senate bill this summer. Scope Of Responsibility Those who have promoted the NIE concept, which was first articulated in 1989, contend that the best way such an institute can function is as an independent agency with four areas of responsibility: research, assessment of current knowledge, education, and information sharing. Its proposed purpose, they say, is not to replace existing environmental agencies, but to complement their missions by concentrating on problems (such as ozone depletion and deforestation) that are too comprehensive or time-consuming to be sufficiently studied by these agencies. Because its focus is to be interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary, the proposed agency's leaders would include representatives of academia, government, and industry. To date, 70 bipartisan cosponsors, led by Reps. George Brown, Jr. (D-Calif.) and James Saxton (R-N.J.) have endorsed the bill to found NIE. In addition to this political support, 24 environmental advocacy groups, 29 universities, more than 70 scientific professional organizations (see list on page 6), and prominent minority group and business leaders have voiced their support of the NIE idea. NIE advocates argue that the proposed institute could have a significantly positive impact on the way in which United States environmental science is conducted in terms of its funding, education, research collaboration, and information sharing. After a meeting with Saxton last October, Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt said in a statement, "I can support the concept. It's much needed. We've evolved over the last 25 years an extraordinary set of environmental laws, but our attention to underlying science and technology has not kept pace." Original Support The NIE concept started with Stephen P. Hubbell, a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at Princeton University and chairman of CNIE, and Henry F. Howe, an ecologist at the University of Illinois in Chicago. Hubbell and Howe, along with 50 other supporters, first convened in 1989 (E. Pennisi, The Scientist, Nov. 12, 1990, page 1) to discuss the idea. "We have grown about three orders of magnitude since then in terms of supporters," says Hubbell. Today, CNIE is run by a staff of about 20 and funded by private foundations such as the Pew Charitable Trust in Philadelphia. Unlike existing agencies, Saundry explains, NIE would involve representatives from academia; nongovernmental organiza- tions; and local, state, and federal agencies in its mission. "This is more than simply an academic initiative driven by research scientists, although they are an absolutely key constituency," he says. "It's not just the generators of science, but the users of science who are going to be an integral part of this." Adding prestige to CNIE's stature is its early March appointment of Hon. Richard Benedick as the first president of CNIE. Benedick, a career diplomat and special adviser to the United Nations secretary-general at the 1992 "Earth Summit" conference in Rio de Janeiro, sees his role as helping to guide the strategic planning of NIE and providing a "high visibility that is called for at this phase when the project is really gaining momentum." "From my own experience as an international negotiator," says Benedick, referring to his work as chief mediator for the 1987 Montreal Project, an international agreement to protect the ozone layer, "I felt that the NIE was very definitely an idea whose time had come." Inadequate Funding Environmental scientists and CNIE officials agree that two of the most pressing arguments for NIE are inadequate funding for and coordination of environmental research in the United States. According to Larry Gilbert, chairman of the department of zoology at the University of Texas, Austin, "Most public funds for research applied to issues of the environment flow through agencies such as EPA and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, where the scientific questions or goals designated for funding programs are developed more often by bureaucrats than scientific investigators. Funds go to laboratories willing to work on a particular defined project rather than to the best scientific proposals. "Unfortunately for scientists who study environmental biology, there is no counterpart to NIH to complement the limited support available through NSF," Gilbert says. Regarding research coordination, Thomas Eisner, a chemical ecologist at Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., says, "An NIE would give a focus to environmental research problems." According to CNIE, there are currently 20 federal agencies and departments with a role in environmental research. Basic Message Hubbell says that the basic message CNIE is taking to politicians is that NIE needs to be an agency that focuses on interdisciplinary, problem-oriented en- vironmental research with its own protected budget. He says that, conceptually, it is generally agreed that there is a need for the functions that NIE would perform. He explains, however, there is opposition from some people who have expressed concerns about what it will cost and whether the "reinventing of government cannot already do what we are proposing." Hubbell says that detractors argue that "in a time of fiscal austerity, government can't afford a new agency." For example, according to the CNIE spring 1994 newsletter, some university administrators are wary of whether NIE functions would mesh with those of the Department of the Interior's National Biological Survey (NBS), although Babbitt endorsed the concept. These administrators have also voiced apprehensions that a new, large agency would compete for the already comparatively small amount of federal dollars for environmental research. Saundry explains how CNIE proposes NIE should be funded: "The federal government currently spends about $76 billion on research and development. That's split about 55 percent for defense, 45 percent for civilian. This administration has committed itself to rebalancing that." He says that CNIE feels that a "good chunk" of the 5 percent shift to even up the split should be allocated to environmental research and creating NIE. The total 1992 budget for environmental research, according to CNIE documents, was $3.1 billion. To control costs, NIE supporters suggest that the proposed agency not have its own facilities, but fund extramural research through competitive grants to academic institutions, federal laboratories, nonprofit organizations, and private companies. Benedick also observes: "The administration is still wary because some people see [NIE] as a threat, although Babbitt has been a supporter." He says that the existing agencies feel somewhat unjustifiably threatened during a time of budget constraints. Unjustifiable, Benedick says, because "the NIE along with the private sector and the academic community would raise the profile for environmental research and would mean more money for all environmental research programs." Regarding NIE's proposed status as a quasi-independent agency, Benedick says, "another principal advantage [to forming NIE] is that because NIE will be independent and linked to environmental stakeholders, it would not only have credibility but a durability that can never be achieved inside the federal system. So, setting up an NIE will hopefully insulate [environmental research] from the inevitable vagaries from administration to administration." According to Gilbert, "Another problem of the current funding programs is that they discourage, rather than encourage, interdisciplinary approaches to problems. Economic, social, and legal issues must be part of an overall solution." Under an NIE setup, Gilbert foresees interactive teams of environmental biologists and socio- economic experts working together. He expects that individuals will still work "on their own thing," but that there might be more funding for the person who can put his or her research interests into a "larger package that means something," in terms of solving major environmental problems. Education And Information NIE's proposed educational function would help sustain a future for the growing number of students interested in environmental studies, its supporters maintain. Carole Crumley, a professor of anthropology at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, sees an urgent need for funding and coordination of undergraduate and graduate programs in environmental sciences. She says there are many examples of North American universities developing interdisciplinary curricula in environmental studies, but that there's also "a huge demand out there washing at the doors." Crumley says that, employment-wise, her students are interested in managing collaborative efforts--"being the people that make the interdisciplinary connections among the many disciplines of environmental research." She also mentions that she is in the midst of "kicking off" a national university campaign to get support among undergraduate and graduate students for the efforts of CNIE. Regarding NIE's proposed information-sharing function, Saundry explains that NIE would link databases like the ones proposed by NBS with other environmental databases such as those used by NASA, EPA, and NIH. "We're not going to establish new information sources, but what we'll do is provide a telecommunications network linking all of these databases to a single channel of access and provide support for people to navigate through the system," he says. Cornell's Eisner predicts that NIE has the potential to be a "giant intellectual clearinghouse where ideas could be compared and given relative priority." Although CNIE has already gained much ground toward making NIE a reality, Saundry says, "We are very open to input from bench scientists. The NIE is well developed, but we are still evolving. This is the beginning of a partnership. We're not saying, `Here's a product--buy this.'" ---------- WE WELCOME YOUR OPINION. IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO COMMENT ON THIS STORY, PLEASE WRITE TO US AT EITHER ONE OF THE FOLLOWING ADDRESSES: The Scientist, 3600 Market Street, Suite 450, Philadelphia, PA 19104 U.S.A. (The Scientist, Vol:8, #10, May 16, 1994 (Copyright, The Scientist, Inc.) ================================ NEXT: ------------------------------------------------------------ TI : SCIENTIFIC SOCIETIES AND INSTITUTIONS SUPPORTING NIE TY : NEWS PG : 6 Academy of Natural Sciences (Philadelphia) Air and Waste Management Association American Academy of Veterinary and Comparative Toxicology American Agricultural Economics Association American Anthropological Association American Association for the Advancement of Science (Biological Science Section) American Association of Zoological Parks and Aquariums American Fisheries Society American Geographical Society American Institute of Biological Sciences American Malacological Society American Ornithologists' Union American Phytopathological Society American Society of Agricultural Engineers American Society of Agronomy American Society for Horticultural Science American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists American Society of Mammalogists American Society of Naturalists American Society for Neurochemistry American Society of Parasitologists American Society of Pharmacognosy American Society of Plant Taxonomists American Society of Zoologists American Sociological Association (Environment & Technology Section) American Solar Energy Society Animal Behavior Society Association of American Geographers Association of Engineering Firms Practicing in the Geosciences Association of Environmental Engineering Professors Association of Field Ornithologists Association of Southeastern Biologists Botanical Society of America California Academy of Sciences The Carnegie Institution of Washington Center for Conservation Biology (Stanford University) Crop Science Society Council of Scientific Society Presidents Council of Systematic Malacologists Desert Fishes Council Ecological Society of America Estuarine Research Federation Foundation for Microbiology Herpetologists' League Institute for Marine and Coastal Sciences (Rutgers University) International Association for Hydrogen Energy International Association for Impact Assessment International Oceanographic Foundation Mississippi State University Research Center Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute Mycological Society of America National Association of Environmental Professionals National Association of Professional Forestry Schools and Colleges National Association of University Fisheries and Wildlife Programs New Jersey Marine Science Consortium New York Botanical Garden New York Zoological Society Organization for Flora Neotropica Rural Sociological Society Society for Conservation Biology Society for Economic Botany Society for Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry Society for Industrial Microbiology Society for Ecological Restoration Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles Society for the Study of Evolution Soil Science Society Soil and Water Conservation Society Special Libraries Association University of Maryland SeaGrant Program U.S. Federation of Culture Collections For information, contact: Committee for the National Institute for the Environment, 730 11th St., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20001-4521; (202) 628-4303. Fax: (202) 628-4311. E-mail: ---------- WE WELCOME YOUR OPINION. IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO COMMENT ON THIS STORY, PLEASE WRITE TO US AT EITHER ONE OF THE FOLLOWING ADDRESSES: The Scientist, 3600 Market Street, Suite 450, Philadelphia, PA 19104 U.S.A. (The Scientist, Vol:8, #10, May 16, 1994 (Copyright, The Scientist, Inc.) ================================ NEXT: ------------------------------------------------------------ TI : Presidential Science Council Has Low Profile But Lofty Objectives Some observers laud body's work to date; others await evidence of true progress AU : BARTON REPPERT TY : NEWS PG : 1 Despite President Bill Clinton's headline-grabbing political hassles and the furor surrounding the White House's campaign to enact health-care reform, his comparatively low-profile National Science and Technology Council--a Cabinet-level policy body he formed late last year--is functioning undaunted. So far this year, the 16-member panel, composed of the administration's highest officials and created to provide oversight and interagency coordination of United States research programs, has convened two major science policy forums in Washington, D.C., attended by hundreds of prominent scientists. One of the forums focused on determining strategies for maintaining America's leadership in basic science, mathematics, and engineering; the other centered on environmental and natural resources R&D. Over the summer, NSTC will be using information gathered at these forums in an ongoing, comprehensive review of the federal R&D budget--a process that ultimately will affect, among other things, future federal science funding and, therefore, the careers and concerns of bench scientists across the nation. Besides Clinton, the council includes Vice President Al Gore, presidential science adviser John H. Gibbons, several Cabinet secretaries, administrators, chiefs of the major independent science agencies, and high-level advisers (see accompanying list). Because NSTC is composed of officials who have the authority to carry out its recommendations, the panel's formation has won the support of many science policy observers. "We're very pleased to see such an organization develop," says Martin A. Apple, executive director of the Washington, D.C.-based Council of Scientific Society Presidents (CSSP). "We're very optimistic about what [NSTC] can do for the nation's future and for the integration of science into the appropriate levels of policy decision-making." At the same time, some veteran policy watchers have voiced concerns about how well NSTC, with numerous committees and its component staff structure, will function, especially as compared with the Federal Coordinating Council for Science, Engineering, and Technology (FCCSET), which NSTC supercedes. FCCSET had drawn criticism for being ineffective. Erich Bloch, former director of the National Science Foundation and now a distinguished fellow at the Council on Competitiveness, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank, says that bureaucratic bloat may hamper the Clinton panel. "First of all," says Bloch, "you have nine committees. Each one has two or three cochairs, and each committee will have umpteen subcommittees. That, to me, is absolutely uncalled for--and a complexity that will really be a handicap rather than a help. I think it's too complicated. It will encompass a thousand people before everything is said and done." Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Va.), chairman of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee's science subcommittee, disagrees. He predicts that NSTC "is going to function much more effectively than FCCSET--in part because there is real enthusiasm on the part of this president... to have it play an active role." Setting Up In announcing the council's formation last November, Clinton said that "the principal purposes of NSTC will be to establish clear national goals for federal science and technology investments and to ensure that science, space, and technology policies and programs are developed and implemented to effectively contribute to those national goals." Clinton added that "one of the most critical tasks I expect the NSTC to undertake is an across-the-board review of federal spending on research and development. The council will prepare coordinated R&D budget recommendations for accomplishing national objectives in areas ranging from information technologies to health research, from improving transportation to strengthening fundamental research and international science and technology programs." At the operating level, most of the council's functions are being carried out by its nine committees, addressing issues of fundamental science; health, safety, and food R&D; information and communications R&D; environment and natural resources research; national security R&D; civilian industrial technology R&D; education and training R&D; transportation R&D; and international science, engineering, and technology R&D. At a February hearing before Boucher's subcommittee, Gibbons testified that during the start-up phase of NSTC, "top priority has been given to reviewing various federal R&D agency budgets with the intention of providing detailed advice to the Office of Management and Budget. "In the course of developing budget requests, the committees will assist the NSTC in establishing priorities of research, in generating criteria for evaluating progress toward national goals for science and technology, and in refining those goals as science and technology evolve." Setting Priorities As its maiden voyage on the science-policy seas, NSTC convened a "Forum on Science in the National Interest" early this year at the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) headquarters in Washington, bringing together more than 280 scientists, research administrators, and science policy experts. In addition to plenary sessions featuring top-level speakers, the program included meetings focusing on areas such as involvement of industry in fundamental science and engineering; the civilian/military balance in R&D; internationalization of research programs; support of major research institutions; the role of federal laboratories; and education and training programs for science and engineering. Speakers included Gore, Gibbons, NAS president Bruce Alberts, biochemist Thomas R. Cech of the University of Colorado, Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), and Rep. George E. Brown, Jr. (D- Calif.). (A long-awaited "white paper" stemming from the conference had not yet been released at press time.) On The Environment The second forum, held in late-March and sponsored by NSTC's Committee on Environment and Natural Resources R&D, addressed a broad array of environment issues, such as global change, biodiversity and ecosystems, resource use and management, water resources and coastal and marine environments, air quality, toxic substances and hazardous and solid waste, natural disasters, and risk assessment. Speakers at the meeting included Gore; Gibbons; Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt; Peter Raven, director of the Missouri Botanical Garden and NAS home secretary; and F. Sherwood Rowland, a professor of chemistry at the University of California, Irvine, and former president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Robert T. Watson, Office of Science and Technology Policy associate director for environment, says the most important outcome of the forum was general agreement on the need to develop strategies based on a partnership among government, academia, industry, and various nongovernmental organizations. "We did put some provisional, draft [policy] documents on the table," he says. "And I think in large measure, the general directions we laid out--more emphasis on ecological systems; more emphasis on social sciences; more emphasis on economic sciences; more emphasis on developing the tools for science policy, such as integrated assessments; more use of risk assessments--most of those things were largely endorsed by the group there." Educated Guesses Some science policy specialists say it is too early to tell whether NSTC will prove to be a significant improvement over FCCSET. OSTP's Watson says: "I think that elevating [NSTC] to a presidential council will put much more teeth into it. I think you will have much more buy-in from all levels of the agencies-- from the Cabinet members themselves and the heads of the agencies all the way down to the program managers. I believe that to get anything to work, you need it to be both top-down and bottom-up simultaneously." However, Bruce L.R. Smith, a science policy analyst at the Brookings Institution in Washington, is more cautious in his assessment. "The question is--is this really anything different?" he says. "They've got it renamed. Does this constitute new energy, vigor, or what-not?" He adds that "I haven't really come to a judgment on it.... It's hard to sort out the P.R. from the operating reality." D. Allan Bromley, former President George Bush's science adviser and now a physics professor at Yale University, says that NSTC's effectiveness may revolve around Clinton's commitment to it: "If in fact the NSTC is chaired by the president, and if in fact he finds the time to participate to any significant extent, that is all to the good. It raises the visibility of science and technology in the whole federal government." Barton Reppert is a freelance science writer based in Gaithersburg, Md. ---------- WE WELCOME YOUR OPINION. IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO COMMENT ON THIS STORY, PLEASE WRITE TO US AT EITHER ONE OF THE FOLLOWING ADDRESSES: The Scientist, 3600 Market Street, Suite 450, Philadelphia, PA 19104 U.S.A. (The Scientist, Vol:8, #10, May 16, 1994 (Copyright, The Scientist, Inc.) ================================ NEXT: ------------------------------------------------------------ TI : NSTC MEMBERSHIP AU : BARTON REPPERT TY : NEWS PG : 7 The 16 members of the National Science and Technology Council are: * President Bill Clinton * Vice President Al Gore * Presidential science and technology adviser John H. Gibbons * Secretary of Commerce Ronald H. Brown * Secretary of Defense William J. Perry * Secretary of Energy Hazel R. O'Leary * Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna E. Shalala * Secretary of State Warren M. Christopher * Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt * Neal Lane, director of the National Science Foundation * Daniel Goldin, administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration * Carol M. Browner, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency * Leon E. Panetta, director of the Office of Management and Budget * Anthony Lake, national security adviser * Robert E. Rubin, assistant to the president for economic policy * Carol Rasco, assistant to the president for domestic policy ---------- WE WELCOME YOUR OPINION. IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO COMMENT ON THIS STORY, PLEASE WRITE TO US AT EITHER ONE OF THE FOLLOWING ADDRESSES: The Scientist, 3600 Market Street, Suite 450, Philadelphia, PA 19104 U.S.A. (The Scientist, Vol:8, #10, May 16, 1994 (Copyright, The Scientist, Inc.) ================================ NEXT: ------------------------------------------------------------ TI : New Internet Capabilities Fueling Innovative Science AU : FRANKLIN HOKE TY : NEWS PG : 1 Editor's Note: This second part of a two-part series looks at the Internet's growing capabilities for scientists. For more and more researchers, the network is making crucial information resources available online. In addition, several ongoing demonstration projects in remote instrument control and in networked laboratories suggest a much-changed future for science as a result of the Internet. The first part of this series, which explored the increasing importance to scientists of E-mail and other electronic communication, appeared in the May 2 issue. The global Internet, with millions of individuals and thousands of computer networks, is changing fundamental aspects of the way scientists work. But the present, researchers agree, should be seen as prelude to a future in which an ever greater diversity of networked resources will allow scientists to approach new and currently unanswerable questions. Today, electronic mail and an array of other data exchanges move collaborative investigations forward that might otherwise be difficult or, perhaps, impossible, researchers say. Also, sophisticated online information resources are giving scientists ready access to needed journal and other databases. Tomorrow, researchers foresee, the Internet will offer still more to the growing number of disciplines dependent on the extensive network. It will support online, multimedia collaborations among scientists at different laboratories, for example, and sophisticated information retrieval from federated databases. The Internet of the future will also provide remote control of expensive or unique scientific instruments through what has been called "tele- experimentation." Distant instruments, in time zones around the world, will become increasingly accessible. "I can't think of any reason why people should go to [physically remote] telescopes, for example," says William Wulf, AT&T Professor of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville. "Since most optical telescopes use [digital images] now rather than photographic film, there's just no reason to stay up late at night and look through eyepieces." Since serving as assistant director of the National Science Foundation in the late 1980s, Wulf has worked to promote the concept of the networked "collaboratory," a kind of common work space that makes the tools scientists use communally available through the Internet. "What's in this collaboratory?" Wulf asks. "I don't know, but there is a theme. Almost certainly, there is a common set of characteristics in terms of database support and collaboration technology to support interaction between people." As the Internet's capabilities grow during the 1990s, it will begin to provide simultaneous access to more and more databases of different types. As a result, scientists say, a kind of informational synergy will develop to put the answers to ever more complex queries within reach. This is especially true in the life sciences, some scientists assert. "The Internet is one of the absolutely crucial tools for modern biology," says Chris Fields, director of informatics at The Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR) in Gaithersburg, Md. "Biological research will become increasingly dominated by the exchange of large amounts of information and by cooperative work on large amounts of information. And the only way to support that is through networks." The degree of planning possible as this process goes forward is limited, researchers say, largely because of the decentralized nature of the Internet. While this fact may result in growing pains, they say, it is also one of the strengths of the network, ensuring flexibility and depth of expertise. "It is a grand sociological experiment," Wulf says. "And it's going to happen." Information And The Internet Databases accessible through the Internet are now central to many investigations in genetics, protein biochemistry, and related molecular biological sciences. Allied software tools to perform efficient searches of these databases are also available. Increasingly, these information resources are able to link different types of data together into broadly searchable federated databases. Sequencing data for a particular gene can be coupled with related literature references, for example, in a single search. The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) in the National Library of Medicine at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md., is the home of some of the most widely used of these biomedical informatics tools, including GenBank, MEDLINE, BLAST, and Entrez. In both the amount of information available and in the number of users, NCBI's information resources are growing at astounding rates, reflecting enormous biological research activity. GenBank, for example, is a database of all known nucleotide and protein sequences that includes supporting bibliographic and other information. According to James M. Ostell, chief of NCBI's information engineering branch, GenBank usage has increased tenfold since NCBI took over the database in October 1992 from an NIH contractor. In addition, more than half of the sequences currently in the database have been added since then. NCBI works to structure its information resources so that they are able to interact with each other as seamlessly as possible, Ostell says. This requires a great deal of initial interpretive work at NCBI as information from different sources is integrated into the system, but the result is a kind of unified "information space." "From the user's point of view, this is a very large integrated space with many different kinds of information all linked together and available all at once," Ostell says. "In reality, it's many different databases running in the background. The service knows how to get from one to another in a smooth way." Ostell adds: "There are a couple of buzzwords floating around. Collaboratory is one, and there's another one called the federated database approach. They're all groping after the same thing, this idea that you can have different groups of people working in overlapping projects and have some way, through computers, to get a view that includes all their different projects together." Although NCBI is responsible for putting several important information resources for biologists on the Internet, there are other groups--and individuals--contributing, too. One key to the Internet's growth and success with scientific users overall has been its distributed, nonhierarchical nature. Put another way, the tools and information available to the biological research community are also produced and maintained by that same group. Researchers at TIGR, headed by J. Craig Venter, are developing a pair of powerful databases that they expect to make network-accessible by early summer. TIGR is an independent, nonprofit research laboratory using Venter's expressed-sequence-tag method--based on automated partial sequencing of cDNA--to hunt for new genes in humans and other organisms. According to Chris Fields, TIGR's informatics chief, the databases will reflect ongoing investigations at the lab. The Expressed Gene Anatomy Database (EGAD) will include gene expression and function data; and the Sequences, Sources, and Taxa (SST) database will incorporate phylogenetic, specimen, and collection data. TIGR's databases will contribute to the Internet's capacity to help researchers find answers to increasingly complicated questions, Fields says. The Internet is the only reasonable way to approach such a goal, he says, with distributed, federated information resources being "curated" by the research community at large. With a museum collection of specimens, Fields says, the curator must constantly add new information about the specimens and relate them to each other and to specimens in other collections. "The same is true of data," Fields says. "But you can't expect one place to have anything like the expertise required to do the curation. These resources will be produced by whole communities with entirely different sets of expertise. And they need to be curated continuously by those communities." Fields adds: "With good federated database technology, all of that can happen." The Coming `Collaboratory' Many scientific instruments are now controlled by computers, and their output is digitally acquired and processed data. Usually, the computers are an integral part of the instrument physically or, at least, in the same laboratory facility. In the process of developing a million-dollar, one-of-a-kind 400 kV transmission electron microscope for neuroscience applications, however, researchers at the Microscopy and Imaging Resource of the University of California, San Diego, realized that there was no necessity for this. Computer control of the unique microscope also meant that it could become an early entrant into what they call the "distributed laboratory." It could be made available, over the Internet, to neuroscientists elsewhere. A crucial second element in putting the microscope online, according to Mark Ellisman, a professor of neuroscience at UC-San Diego who heads the project, is being able to process the imaging data within the time span of a reasonable work session. The three-dimensional data sets generated by the microscope are huge and require considerable image processing and computation before viewing--seven to 10 hours on a powerful workstation. For this reason, his group linked the microscope to the San Diego Supercomputer Center across campus, where images can be returned in about 20 minutes. "There are a lot of researchers who would like to collaborate with us," Ellisman says, "but might not always be able to fly out here. We make it possible for them to send a specimen, for us to map it, and then, with software we provide that allows them to look at the mapped specimen, for them to drive the micro-scope remotely." For one study involving an animal model of the neural degeneration associated with Parkinson's disease, collaborating investigators are located in Memphis, Tenn., and Edinburgh, Scotland. Interest in the microscope, currently a demonstration project funded by NSF and NIH, has been growing, according to Ellisman. "I wasn't sure that the community would be that interested in [the project]," Ellisman says. "I am now." At the Pacific National Laboratory (PNL) in Richland, Wash., nuclear physicist Richard Kouzes is working to establish a collaboratory on the model put forth by William Wulf. The capacity for "tele-experimentation"--remote control of experiments through the Internet--is one goal of the collaboratory, Kouzes says. He organized a workshop held at PNL in March to explore how the Environmental and Molecular Sciences Laboratory, a $230 million effort scheduled for completion in 1997, might best incorporate sophisticated networking. Kouzes hopes, through the Internet, to be able to link researchers in an interactive group by better integrating a number of existing software tools, some specifically de- signed to enable online collaboration. The graphical user interface for the Internet called Mosaic, developed and distributed free of charge by the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, is one such collaborative tool, he says. Another is called MBONE, available--again, at no charge--from the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, Berkeley, Calif. MBONE, which stands for multicast backbone, allows sophisticated audiovisual teleconferencing among researchers at different sites over the Internet. One feature of MBONE is a "whiteboard" area on the screen where a researcher can display pictures, graphics, or text for simultaneous viewing by all conference participants. "It's a common work space, if you like," Kouzes says. Another software tool that is likely to be useful in the collaboratory, Kouzes says, is the multimedia Virtual Notebook System (VNS), available from the ForeFront Group Inc. of Houston. VNS allows geographically separated researchers to contribute information to a shared "notebook" through the Internet. Researchers at Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., have developed a similar tool called The Scientist's Workbench, Kouzes says. "The whole concept of the collaboratory is that it doesn't have a geographical location," Kouzes says. "It is, rather, everywhere." ---------- WE WELCOME YOUR OPINION. IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO COMMENT ON THIS STORY, PLEASE WRITE TO US AT EITHER ONE OF THE FOLLOWING ADDRESSES: The Scientist, 3600 Market Street, Suite 450, Philadelphia, PA 19104 U.S.A. (The Scientist, Vol:8, #10, May 16, 1994 (Copyright, The Scientist, Inc.) ================================ NEXT: ------------------------------------------------------------ TI : Sex Discrimination Case Hinges On Concept Of Mentoring AU : FRANKLIN HOKE TY : NEWS PG : 3 Denial of mentoring in a research setting can constitute a form of sex discrimination, according to a recent jury verdict in federal court. But as a result of a subsequent Supreme Court ruling, the case will go back to the presiding judge for determination. If the judge agrees with the jury, the case could set an important legal precedent, according to the female researcher who brought charges, her lawyers, and others. For now, however, the significance of the jury's April 1 decision for junior women scientists and other professional women remains unclear. One reason, cited by opposition lawyers, is that the jury awarded only $1 in compensatory damages to the plaintiff, the minimum possible in the case. Also important, however, is that, based on an April 26 Supreme Court ruling concerning the relevant law, the case should not have been decided by a jury, and the compensatory damages, minimal as they were, cannot be awarded. Now, the case will go back to the judge for a decision. Among other options, the judge may yet make an award in the form of what is called equitable relief. In the near term, observers say, the jury's verdict is serving to focus new attention on the influence of mentoring in scientific careers, particularly for women. In her suit, filed in United States District Court in Baltimore in 1990, psychiatrist Margaret Jensvold claimed that she was the victim of discrimination during her 1987-89 research fellowship at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). Jensvold charged that career-enhancing opportunities and support made available to male researchers in the laboratory of David Rubinow, clinical director of the NIMH intramural research program and chief of the behavioral endocrinology section, were withheld from her. "I was treated in stark contrast to how the male physicians were treated," says Jensvold, who is now director of the Institute for Research on Women's Health in Washington, D.C. "I was shut out of a lot of the professional opportunities that they had: treating patients on long-term treatment trials, working with the drug companies, and working on the more valued biological studies, for example. And, generally, there was not the respectful, supportive mentoring that the male physicians had." Jensvold also says she was refused an additional year to her fellowship that was offered to the male fellows. The extra year of support is customarily used to write up the results from studies performed in the first two years, Jensvold says. Lacking this support, she says, she has yet to publish the material. Rubinow says, however, that Jensvold's clinical and research performance did not justify an extension of her fellowship. He calls Jensvold's claims of being denied mentoring "ridiculous" and cites, for example, having given her a data set to analyze, carefully supervising her work on the data, and helping her prepare presentations based on the data that she then gave at several professional meetings. He also notes that he has supervised more than 20 women physicians in the last decade, all of whom have had positive experiences with him. He adds that he recently won a National Institutes of Health distinguished teaching award, having been nominated for the award by a number of women fellows, among others. "Given the fact that her view of me is very different from that of all the other women whom I have supervised," Rubinow says, "I would say that her view reflects far more on her than it does on me." On April 1, the federal jury agreed with Jensvold that she had been discriminated against in the denial of mentoring, resulting in "damage to [her] professional reputation." In addition, the jury found that, after Jensvold had left the lab and filed a complaint with NIH's Office of Equal Opportunity, Rubinow retaliated against her by delaying certain blood sample analyses that were needed to complete a study she had been working on. The jury did not, however, find that Jensvold was discriminated against in being denied further fellowship support beyond the two years originally granted. The jury then awarded her $1 for the damage to her reputation, although they could have given her up to $300,000 under the provisions of 1991 amendments to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. On April 26, the Supreme Court ruled that the 1991 amendments--including the right to a jury trial and the right to seek compensatory damages--cannot be applied retroactively. Presiding District Court Judge Deborah Chasanow will now decide the pre-1991 case, and any relief will have to be determined on an equitable basis. The purpose of equitable relief, available under the pre- 1991 law, is to restore a victim of discrimination to the position he or she would have been in but for the discrimination. For Jensvold, this could take various forms, her lawyers say, including assignment to a position at NIMH in which she could receive the mentoring, award of a grant from NIMH that would allow her to be mentored at another institution, or, perhaps, award of the monetary equivalent of the mentoring. Michael Subit, a member of the legal team from the Washington, D.C., firm of Bernabei and Katz, which represented Jensvold, says the importance of the jury decision remains undiminished, despite the meagerness of the jury's award. "It's a decision of major significance for women scientists and other professional women," Subit says. "In such professions, how one progresses in one's career depends to a large extent on mentoring. Someone with an established reputation can give you entre to all sorts of opportunities." Subit adds: "As it stands, a lot of senior persons are men-- overwhelmingly so. We have many talented and brilliant women at the junior levels. The question is, in terms of the next generation, are they going to be treated the same way as the men? Or is the old boys' network going to close itself off and put into positions of power only men?" Lawyers for the government, representing Rubinow, say that the wider significance of the case has yet to be determined, especially in light of the Supreme Court's recent ruling. While they had contended that mentoring is not actionable under the law--an argument they ultimately lost--they point to the minimal monetary award as an equally significant aspect of the verdict. "The jury obviously didn't think her claim was worth much," says Kathleen McDermott, a lawyer in the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Maryland and cocounsel for the government in the case. "The truth is they heard all the evidence and gave her a buck, and they could have given her up to $300,000. They were sending a message--maybe to both sides." Legislating Mentoring? Whatever the long-term legal ramifications of the case may be, one of its early effects has been to reemphasize the role played by mentoring in the early stages of a scientific career. "Everybody needs mentoring," says Stephanie J. Bird, special assistant to the associate provost at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge. Bird was also project director of a recent three-year women's mentoring program organized by the Washington, D.C.-based Association for Women in Science with $400,000 from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation in New York. "The things that one needs to learn in order to be a professional in science go well beyond scientific principles and laboratory techniques," Bird says. According to Bird, one of the difficulties with mentoring relationships is that, despite their professional importance, they are essentially personal relationships. This means that there are no clear rules for what constitutes appropriate men-toring. "The whole system is pretty arcane and esoteric," Bird says. "You just struggle along and try to pick things up as you go along." For this reason, Bird says, it is not clear that the court system is the best avenue to promote the mentoring of women in science. "It is problematic when mentoring becomes something that we're going to set in stone, in terms of the specific kinds of opportunities that have to be offered," Bird says. "It is discomforting to have that put into law. "On the other hand, the law can be a very effective tool for getting people to look at and be reflective about what it is that they're doing--even unintentionally--that might be unfair." For Margaret Jensvold, who hopes to be able to reestablish the research career she says was derailed in Rubinow's lab, the impact of the verdict in her favor is more clear. "The [verdict] is very important to me," Jensvold says. "The adverse effects of the discrimination and the retaliation upon my career as a researcher have been severe. With a unanimous jury saying there was discrimination and there was retaliation, hopefully, it will undo some of the damage done. Prospective employers will probably view me somewhat differently, having had a jury determine that there was discrimination and retaliation." ---------- WE WELCOME YOUR OPINION. IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO COMMENT ON THIS STORY, PLEASE WRITE TO US AT EITHER ONE OF THE FOLLOWING ADDRESSES: The Scientist, 3600 Market Street, Suite 450, Philadelphia, PA 19104 U.S.A. (The Scientist, Vol:8, #10, May 16, 1994 (Copyright, The Scientist, Inc.) ================================ NEXT: ----------------------------------------------------------- TI : Private Money Keeps Hunt For E.T.'s Alive AU : NEERAJA SANKARAN TY : NEWS PG : 4 Renamed Project Phoenix, for the mythical creature that rises anew from its own ashes, the world's largest, most comprehensive atempt to search for signs of intelligent life forms in other parts of the universe continues to function, despite being cut out of the federal budget last year. The effort--formerly under the aegis of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and called "Project SETI" (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence)--will now be funded by a number of private sources, rather than through the money originally designated by NASA. Even the principal faces on the project remain familiar, particularly that of John Billingham, who has joined the SETI Institute in Mountain View, Calif., as a distinguished senior scientist. The British-born physician--who in the early 1960s invented the liquid cooling garment that made moon walking possible--was the chief of SETI operations at NASA. He retired on April 22 and has signed on with the institute to help with fund-raising efforts for Project Phoenix. Operating from the SETI Institute, a 10-year-old nonprofit institution that houses and funds research and educational projects relating to the search for extraterrestrial life, Phoenix employs a staff of seven scientists and five engineers and software specialists who are currently working on upgrading the equipment needed for collecting and analyzing data from radio telescopes (see story on page 8). The raw data received will be in the form of radio signals picked up by telescopes trained on specific target stars or solar systems. When Congress instructed NASA to pull all funding from its Project SETI last October, the scientists at NASA Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., and the nearby SETI Institute began to look for alternative sources of funding. Their efforts seem to have borne fruit: Six months after the announcement was made, $4.5 million of the initial goal of $7.3 million--estimated as the amount necessary to carry the effort through mid-1995--is in hand. Much of the funding for the project goes toward equipment upgrade and deployment costs, as well as observations of outer space. "We only barely broke stride," says Thomas Pierson, executive director of the SETI Institute, referring to the disruptions to the work in progress caused by the withdrawal of NASA support. "Of course, we were all depressed over the cutback news, and there were delays with getting some of the equipment, but overall there was only a slight bump in the road." But Bernard M. Oliver, a retired vice president of research and development for the Hewlett-Packard Co. in Palo Alto, Calif., and now the senior technical expert and science adviser for the SETI Institute, is apprehensive that the elation over the funding may yet be premature. "We still desperately need more money," he warns, noting that the project will need about $3 million annually (after the initial $7.3 million) if it is to continue with the extraterrestrial search as originally planned. Staff members of the SETI Institute and Project Phoenix are continuing their efforts to raise money from the private sector for both their immediate and long-term needs. The bulk of the funding obtained so far has come from high- tech entrepreneurs. Supporters include the founders of the multinational Hewlett-Packard Co. (both David Packard and William Hewlett have made substantial private donations); Gordon Moore, a cofounder and the chairman of the board of Santa Clara, Calif.-based Intel Corp.; Paul Allen, a cofounder of Microsoft Corp. in Redmond, Wash., and chief executive officer of the Seattle-based Asymetrix Corp.; and Mitchell Kapor, founder of Cambridge, Mass.-based Lotus Development Corp. and chairman of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, headquartered in Washington, D.C. A sixth person, who has chosen to remain anonymous, and Oliver have also made significant contributions, say SETI Institute officials. Indeed, Oliver has played a key role in ensuring the relatively smooth ride Project Phoenix has enjoyed in its transition from NASA to the private sector. Says Thomas McDonough, an astrophysicist who heads a smaller-scale SETI effort for the Planetary Society, based in Pasadena, Calif., "The reason for their [Project Phoenix's] spectacular success in getting the money and raising the public interest is Dr. Oliver." "We had to act fast," says Oliver, who--having lived and worked in California's Silicon Valley for several years--was able to personally approach some of the major donors. "It was either that or die." "It would have been a crime to shut [Project SETI] down at a time when the technology was in place and all the equipment designed and built," says Intel's Moore, referring to the availability of radio telescopes at various locations and the development of the signal-processing equipment designed by SETI scientists. "This is one of the most interesting questions humans ask themselves." Jill Tarter, formerly the project scientist of NASA's SETI effort and now the manager of Project Phoenix, points out the program's use of the scientific process, rather than arcane religious or philosophical speculation, to address the question of whether there is intelligent life originating outside Earth. "The implications of somebody being out there are most profound," she says, "and throughout history the question has been in the realm of priests and philosophers. Now that we have the technology, [scientists] are in a position to change that." "It is extremely important that as many of us that can, get into the effort of searching, so that the chances of finding a signal are increased," says McDonough. "We [the Planetary Society] were extremely disturbed when Congress ordered NASA to shut down their effort." Though it took up a very small percentage of NASA's annual budget, SETI has been a constant target of attack by various congressional leaders (S. Veggeberg, The Scientist, July 6, 1992, page 5). According to Pierson, the final axe came as a result of political maneuvering rather than any solid scientific objections. "I think all scientists are alarmed at what is happening to science and research funding," he says. And should SETI efforts yield something that is truly a sign from the heavens (scientists predict that radio signals from an intelligent source will be decodable through the application of mathematical or physical principles), what will the next step be? The answer to that $60 million--the sum spent by NASA on Project SETI--question, says Frank Drake, SETI Institute president, is to "let the whole world know." Adds Tarter, "The signals are not being sent just to California or America, but to the whole world. They are everyone's property." ---------- WE WELCOME YOUR OPINION. IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO COMMENT ON THIS STORY, PLEASE WRITE TO US AT EITHER ONE OF THE FOLLOWING ADDRESSES: The Scientist, 3600 Market Street, Suite 450, Philadelphia, PA 19104 U.S.A. (The Scientist, Vol:8, #10, May 16, 1994 (Copyright, The Scientist, Inc.) ================================ NEXT: ------------------------------------------------------------ TI : EAVESDROPPING ON OUTER SPACE AU : NIRAJA SANKARAN TY : NEWS PG : 4 Project SETI, as originally conceived by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), had two components: a targeted search effort of some 1,000 sun-like stars closest to Earth; and a second, broader all-sky scan (S. Veggeberg, The Scientist, July 6, 1992, page 5), in an attempt to pick up very strong radio signals and investigate their possible origins. The search was designed on the rationale that intelligence can be equated with the development of technology. Radio waves are the chosen technological manifestation of intelligence, since they travel through space with the least distortion. Project Phoenix--as the new, privately funded effort is called--will continue with the targeted search only. According to Thomas Pierson, executive director of SETI Institute in Mountain View, Calif., the all-sky scan--which required 34-meter deep-space antennas--was "completely dependent on NASA infrastructure and hence terminated" when federal funding was cut off. The signal-processing equipment that NASA developed for the targeted search will remain on a semi-permanent loan to the institute. The first phase of the targeted search scanned nearby stars for radio waves in the microwave frequency range using the 1,000-foot-diameter radio telescope at Arecibo, Puerto Rico. Jill Tarter, manager of Project Phoenix, uses the analogy of a whisper in a quiet room to explain why the microwave region is used: "Nature is quietest in this part of the electromagnetic spectrum and thus signals from other sources would be most easily detectable in this range." The observational phase, begun in October 1992, lasted for four months, but scientists did not pick up any signals that could be traced to extraterrestrial sources. "We learned some important lessons about how to recognize and cope with radio frequency interference [RFI]," says Tarter, who was formerly the project scientist for the NASA effort. RFI consists of radio signals from transmitters on Earth and on man-made satellites that obscure the microwave frequency bands where the interstellar signals are believed most likely to operate. Currently, scientists are in the process of upgrading the digital equipment that supports radio telescopes to be used in the project. The upgrade will improve the efficiency of the processors that digitize and analyze signals picked up by the telescopes. It will also involve building modifications to work more efficiently around RFI, which are unavoidable. "The best way to avoid wasting time on [RFI] is to use two widely separated--by several hundred kilometers--telescopes that are pointing at the same distant star or planet," explains Tarter. "RFI from nearby sources would not be picked up by both telescopes, and we would concentrate on only those signals that are matched on both telescopes." This approach will be used for the second round of targeted searches to be conducted on stars visible from the Southern Hemisphere. The two radio telescopes to be used are a 210- foot instrument located at the Parkes Observatory in New South Wales, Australia, and a second, smaller one at the Australian National Telescope Facility in Mopra. The upgrade includes expanding the signal-processing equipment to service both telescopes and establishing communications between them. "We expect to conclude the upgrade by September, and field test the machinery at the site [in Mountain View]," says Pierson. "After that we will be shipping it out to Australia, where the observations should start some time in January 1995." During this observational phase--scheduled to last 16 weeks--says Tarter, the telescopes will be trained on 200 target stars. Further observations have been scheduled with the Arecibo telescope (currently tied up in upgrades of its own) for mid-1995. For more information, contact: SETI Institute, 2035 Landings Dr., Mountain View, Calif. 94043; (415) 961-6633. E-mail: --N.S. ---------- WE WELCOME YOUR OPINION. IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO COMMENT ON THIS STORY, PLEASE WRITE TO US AT EITHER ONE OF THE FOLLOWING ADDRESSES: The Scientist, 3600 Market Street, Suite 450, Philadelphia, PA 19104 U.S.A. (The Scientist, Vol:8, #10, May 16, 1994 (Copyright, The Scientist, Inc.) ================================ NEXT: NOTEBOOK ------------------------------------------------------------ TI : Adam And Eve Online TY : NEWS (NOTEBOOK) PG : 4 After 2 1/2 years of looking, the Visible Human Project at the National Library of Medicine (NLM) in Bethesda, Md., settled recently on the cadavers of a 38-year-old man and a 59-year-old woman to represent the online human body. Using digitized photography, computerized tomography, and magnetic resonance imaging in 1 mm sections of the cadavers, the project will build a 42-gigabyte, three-dimensional image database of the two for distribution over the Internet. Project planners hope to combine the imaging data with other types of information--journal articles, for example--using interlinked information structures. According to project officer Michael J. Ackerman at NLM, investigators had some difficulty finding the "average" man and woman between the ages of 20 and 60 that they needed: two individuals who were healthy but had died suddenly without physical trauma. It seems that far more men than women die in this way, usually from drug overdoses, he says. The pair, who will, in a sense, represent the first human beings in cyberspace, are called "Adam" and "Eve" by project workers. (The Scientist, Vol:8, #10, May 16, 1994 (Copyright, The Scientist, Inc.) ================================ NEXT: ------------------------------------------------------------ TI : Wanted: Words TY : NEWS (NOTEBOOK) PG : 4 Oxford University Press is soliciting contributions from scientists for a comprehensive revision of its massive Oxford English Dictionary, scheduled to be published in 2005. According to the publisher, such information may include the coinages of particular scientific words, factual errors in existing definitions, scientific words and meanings not in the dictionary, and earlier referenced examples of words and meanings already treated in the dictionary (as well as later examples of those described as obsolete). To contribute, contact the Chief Science Editor, Oxford English Dictionary, Walton Street, Oxford OX2 6DP, U.K. E-mail: (The Scientist, Vol:8, #10, May 16, 1994 (Copyright, The Scientist, Inc.) ================================ NEXT: ------------------------------------------------------------ TI : Buoying Water Research TY : NEWS (NOTEBOOK) PG : 4 The fourth Stockholm Water Symposium will take place August 9-13. The event is a series of water policy meetings that seeks to address key environmental topics and provide viable scientific solutions to current and future water-supply problems. The 1994 symposium is centered on the theme of "integrated land and water management," and will feature an international cast of speakers as well as workshop sessions on such topics as the "greening of industry" and hazardous waste cleanups. The symposium is part of the Stockholm Water Festival. Profits from the festival support the $150,000 Stockholm Water Prize, given to an individual or organization that has played a role in protecting the world's water resources. For information, contact the Stockholm Water Festival, Amiralitetshuset, Skeppsholmen, S-III 49 Stockholm, Sweden; (46)-8-614-3400. Fax: (46)-8-679-6465. (The Scientist, Vol:8, #10, May 16, 1994 (Copyright, The Scientist, Inc.) ================================ NEXT: ------------------------------------------------------------ TI : Chemistry On Camera TY : NEWS (NOTEBOOK) PG : 4 The American Chemical Society (ACS) has a new 15-minute videotape describing the importance of chemistry in everyday life. The video, "People Who Took Chemistry, That's Who," intended for middle and high school audiences, features male and female chemists from different ethnic backgrounds talking about their work. It also showcases the chemistry involved in recycling plastics, analyzing pollution, and producing high-technology products. A 52-page user's guide accompanies the video. For information, call ACS at (202) 452-2113. (The Scientist, Vol:8, #10, May 16, 1994 (Copyright, The Scientist, Inc.) ================================ NEXT: ------------------------------------------------------------ TI : Bargains In Bone TY : NEWS (NOTEBOOK) PG : 4 "Own a Piece of the Rex" is a University of California, Berkeley, Museum of Paleontology drive to raise money for preparing, shipping, and erecting a life-size cast of Tyrannosaurus rex. Piecemeal prices for donations range from $20 each for chevrons-- part of the tail--to $5,000 for the skull and jaws. (Teeth are not included in the skull-and-jaws pricetag; they're $25 each.) The 40-foot-long dinosaur will be housed in a three-story atrium in Berkeley's newly renovated Valley Life Sciences Building. According to museum officials, assembled skeletons can cost as much as $75,000. Casts of the T. rex bones for this exhibit were prepared by the Museum of the Rockies at Montana State University in Bozeman from a 1991 dig in the state's Hell Creek Formation. For more information, call Mark Goodwin, a vertebrate paleontologist at Berkeley, at (510) 643-9745. (The Scientist, Vol:8, #10, May 16, 1994 (Copyright, The Scientist, Inc.) ================================ NEXT: ------------------------------------------------------------ TI : Prized Dermatology TY : NEWS (NOTEBOOK) PG : 4 The Dermatology Foundation is accepting nominations for its 1994- 95 Clark W. Finnerud Award and 1994-95 Practitioner of the Year Award. The Finnerud honor is awarded to an individual "who has devoted extraordinary time and talent as a part-time teacher and clinician" in dermatology, according to the foundation. The practitioner award is given for "exemplary service as a practitioner of dermatology." Letters of nomination should include background information on the nominee. A curriculum vitae is also requested. The deadline for nominations and supporting letters is July 15. Nominations should be submitted to Finnerud/Practitioner Award, Dermatology Foundation, 1560 Sherman Ave., Evanston, Ill. 60201. (The Scientist, Vol:8, #10, May 16, 1994 (Copyright, The Scientist, Inc.) ================================ NEXT: ------------------------------------------------------------ TI : Natural Education TY : NEWS (NOTEBOOK) PG : 4 The National Consortium for Environmental Education and Training (NCEET), based at the University of Michigan School of Natural Resources and Environment, has produced a 132-page, illustrated guide to help K-12 teachers of all subjects incorporate environmental themes into their lessons. Getting Started includes 35 examples of teachers--many of whom have had little or no environmental education--who have initiated successful ecology and conservation projects in their classes and schools. For example, seventh-grade students in Polson, Mont., are mapping bald eagle sightings in their area and analyzing data to determine migration patterns and habitat preferences as part of learning about ratios, percentages, and other math concepts. The guide also contains a sampling of environmental education resources, funding opportunities, and listings of state and regional environmental organizations. For information on obtaining the guide, call (313) 998-6726. (The Scientist, Vol:8, #10, May 16, 1994 (Copyright, The Scientist, Inc.) ================================ NEXT: ------------------------------------------------------------ TI : Damage Control TY : NEWS (NOTEBOOK) PG : 4 A Los Alamos National Laboratory physicist says the risks to life on Earth from asteroids, meteorites, and comets is substantial but that deflecting these Near Earth Objects (NEOs) is both feasible and affordable. "Asteroid impacts have the potential of wiping out life on Earth," says Greg Canavan. Astronomers say that small, rocky asteroids strike the Earth once every 100 years or so, and an encounter with a mile-wide asteroid might take place once every million years. Canavan says that such an object, known as the K-T Impactor, which struck near the Yucatan peninsula 65 million years ago, may have caused global climate shocks that wiped out the last dinosaurs. He suggests going through with Spaceguard, a $50 million system of sensors and telescopes discussed in a recent National Aeronautics and Space Administration study, which might pinpoint most of the larger NEOs threatening Earth. ================================ WE WELCOME YOUR OPINION. IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO COMMENT ON THIS STORY, PLEASE WRITE TO US AT EITHER ONE OF THE FOLLOWING ADDRESSES: The Scientist, 3600 Market Street, Suite 450, Philadelphia, PA 19104 U.S.A. (The Scientist, Vol:8, #10, May 16, 1994 (Copyright, The Scientist, Inc.) ================================ NEXT: OPINION ------------------------------------------------------------ TI : Science, Religion Must Share Quest For Global Survival AU : VAN RENSSELAER POTTER TY : OPINION PG : 12 The continued degradation of the global environment and the international population explosion that contributes to it are matters that must concern every scientist. Each of us is capable of participating in efforts in the interest of the biosphere and human survival; each of us has something to contribute to the solution of the seemingly intractable problems confronting us. No longer can we relax in the assumption that, years from now, "when things get bad enough," science will step in to provide the answers. The time to step in and prove our ethical as well as technical competence is now; things are already "bad enough." And central to our efforts must be the promotion of dialogue between science and religion concerning human and biosphere survival. For centuries, the subject of human values has been regarded as beyond the realm of science, the exclusive property of theologians and secular philosophers. Now we must assert not only that scientists have transcendent values, too, but also that the values embedded in the scientific ethos need to be integrated with those of religion and philosophy in order to facilitate political processes beneficial to the global environment's health. `A Civil Society' Many books and articles have focused on environmental problems and human health, but relatively few have dealt with the issue of whether the human species can survive in the long term in what may be called "a civil society." Two such books are The Technological Conscience: Survival and Dignity in an Age of Expertise by sociologist Manfred Stanley (University of Chicago Press, 1981) and The Imperative of Responsibility: In Search of an Ethic for the Technological Age by the late German philosopher Hans Jonas (University of Chicago Press, 1993). Neither, however, deals with ways in which secular views can or should be integrated with traditional religious views. On the other hand, a beginning attempt along these lines is presented in Global Responsibility: In Search of a New World Ethic by Hans Kung (New York, Continuum Publishing Co., 1993). Kung, director of the Ecumenical Institute at the University of Tubingen (Germany), is a Swiss theologian who, although originally trained as a Roman Catholic priest, has, since 1964, departed from dogma in a series of provocative books and articles. In Kung's thought and writings, concern for the future of the human race has been a high priority. It was he who drafted the 5,000- word "Declaration of a Global Ethic" at a meeting of the Parliament of the World Religions held in Chicago last September on the 100th anniversary of the organization's original assembly. Thousands attended the week-long event, and Kung's declaration was signed by 250 religious leaders. Key Issue In his works, Kung has taken a strong position in examining the issues separating the diverse religions of the world and deploring their record of killing each other in large numbers right up to the present. At the same time, he has proclaimed that--at the core--the world's religions all are grounded in ethical insights that deserve one's attention and can justify one's hope. Unfortunately the core religious morality he depicts does not incorporate--and therefore cannot respond to--scientifically devolved demographics that project a doubling of the world's population within the next century. Indeed, people embracing several of the world's largest religions--Roman Catholicism and Islam, in particular--are among the major contributors to the current, frightening rate of increase. Only science has the techniques for assessing population changes and their impact. But at least, in formulating a global ethic, Kung has hit upon human survival as the key issue confronting the world's people-- an idea that no other theologian has even dared to mention. While other religious leaders have proclaimed that life is sacred and have championed human rights, only Kung has put survival as such on the agenda. In contrast, scientists have long embraced human welfare and, implicitly, survival as the very heart of their endeavors. They are thus well-suited for entry into the campaign for human and biosphere survival. Coalition Needed To the more devout, the notion that scientists could step into such a matter and take charge is bound to seem ominously "antireligious," since, in general, religion's ultimate goal rests not in long-term survival of Earth's fauna and flora, but in the survival of individual souls, or whatever, in some form of "life after death." Kung, on the other hand, made it clear that a global ethic taking us beyond the 21st century was already in his mind when he wrote Theology for the Third Millennium: An Ecumenical View (New York, Doubleday, 1988). Not only theologians, but also secular philosophers (other than the likes of Stanley and Jonas) have failed to think of human and biosphere survival as an ethical issue. Rather, the examination of ethics has been confined to matters involving interpersonal or social relationships among humans and thus excluding questions of behavior relating to the vast population and ecological problems facing Earth's inhabitants. In his recent book, however, Kung (while avoiding certain specific and important matters) takes a step forward: In addition to declaring that there can be "no survival without a world ethic," "no world peace without peace between the religions," and "no peace between the religions without dialogue between the religious," he goes still further when he says that a "coalition of believers and non-believers [atheists, agnostics, and so forth] in mutual respect may also be necessary for a common world ethic." Scientists should applaud the efforts of Hans Kung in urging reconciliation between "believers" and those who are not essentially characterized as religious; included among these, I believe, are the great majority of scientists. And we need to join forces with his drive toward global responsibility for survival and his call for the "mutual respect" necessary for "a common world ethic." Certainly the involvement of biological scientists is required; more than others, it is likely, these scientists are aware that world population is increasing too rapidly. And although major religions have a stake in the issue, it is the duty of the biological scientists to point out--while respectful of the various religious tenets--that ultimate survival of the human race is contingent upon limiting the world population to what is compatible with a healthy biosphere. While it is up to the various religions to enter into dialogue and defend their positions, it is up to scientists to proclaim the severity of the overpopulation problem and insist, for example, that it cannot be solved while major religions oppose any attempt to limit fertility. And yet, while dialogue on the matter is bound to be frustrating, bioethicists must recognize that science alone will not prevail-- that there can be no survival without religions' agreement on population ethics. The key question, of course, is whether dialogue can achieve consensus and political acceptance by national governments. Can the pursuit of a world ethic shared by religion and science be laid out in concrete principles for action? Basic Agreement In my opinion, the burden of addressing global problems through what German philosopher Jurgen Habermas termed "communicative rationality" rests upon scientists. It is they who are capable of reviving the idea of a civil society and conveying the transcendent motivation of long-term human survival. But the role of science in this dialogue is not by itself sufficient--since the role of religion as a motivating force is paramount. Kung insists that, if it is to be effective, the dialogue must indeed begin by agreement on basic assumptions before proceeding to the details of survival. Indeed, he writes that "whatever the basis for the unconditional character of the ethical demands in the various religions . . . one thing is certain: religions can present their ethical demands with a quite different authority from a merely human one." Thus, one may consider Kung's global ethic as actually a global theology for survival that de- emphasizes God-images but steadfastly utilizes universal religious-given precepts. Kung, however, has avoided mentioning such important population-problem specifics as abortion, contraception, and reproductive freedom for women. Therefore, these key issues on which human survival may depend are excluded from his demand for global responsibility. But we do indeed need rational discourse to guide political decisions on such matters-- and it is necessary for every scientist to stand up and be counted. Is there hope for reasonable dialogue between science and religion that would yield progress toward the desired global ethic? To what extent, really, are the religions concerned about the fate of the biosphere? Unfortunately, although a high percentage of denominations in the United States support the general concept of stewardship for the Earth and many have put forth official statements on population or family planning, no surveys are available to reveal the attitude of religious leaders on the concept of global survival. To Do What Is Right Today, many conscientious scientists have already embraced stewardship as a worthy pursuit whose goal is the survival of the human species and of a viable biosphere. In my opinion, the world's religions--if they, too, are to embrace stewardship--need science to tell them what paths they should follow. With religion then generating the universal motivation for stewardship, a forceful coalition of believers and nonbelievers will, I hope, materialize to preserve the biosphere and ensure human survival-- to do, in short, what is right. As individual scientists, we can do much to proceed according to an evolving bioethic conditioned by a combination of personal humility and proud display of professional competence. In addition to our individual disciplinary associations, we should be aware of the many organizations that deal with environment problems, human rights, and local politics. We can join such groups--the Union of Concerned Scientists, for example--and express our opinions through them on issues of human survival. We can do this without sacrificing our technical productivity. Of course, to move effectively toward forging the matrix for productive dialogue between secular science and organized religion--traditionally separated by a vast gulf of mutual misunderstanding and mistrust--we face a daunting task. Is the situation hopeless? I am compelled to think it is not. And I suggest that science must make the first move. As far as the United States is concerned, the National Academy of Sciences may be a linchpin for such an operation; and if it succeeds, the effort could serve as a model for national academies elsewhere. Van Rensselaer Potter is Hilldale Professor of Oncology, Emeritus, at the University of Wisconsin, Madison 53706; E-mail: He is the author of numerous articles and books on global bioethics, most recently Global Bioethics: Building on the Leopold Legacy (Michigan State University Press, 1993). ---------- WE WELCOME YOUR OPINION. IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO COMMENT ON THIS STORY, PLEASE WRITE TO US AT EITHER ONE OF THE FOLLOWING ADDRESSES: The Scientist, 3600 Market Street, Suite 450, Philadelphia, PA 19104 U.S.A. (The Scientist, Vol:8, #10, May 16, 1994 (Copyright, The Scientist, Inc.) ================================ NEXT: COMMENTARY ------------------------------------------------------------ TI : Global Change: A Challenge And Opportunity For Basic Research AU : THOMAS F. MALONE TY : OPINION (COMMENTARY) PG : 13 For hundreds of millions of years, the changes in global environment that nourish human life have had their natural roots in the interaction of physical, chemical, and biological systems driven by solar energy. Within the last century, however, socioeconomic forces--manifestations of the expanding power of human activity on planet Earth--have emerged as a perturbing influence in that environment, strong enough to seriously deplete stratospheric ozone, to foster ominous changes in climate, and to threaten biodiversity. At present, with the rate at which these socioeconomic forces-- along with structural changes under way within them--are growing, global society is following a trajectory that will lead, by the middle of the next century, to an unsustainable, inequitable, and unstable world. For example: * If regional population growth between now and 2050 were to proceed at the rates of the 1990s, world population would grow threefold (from 5 billion to 15 billion). * For every person added to the population in the 46 industrial nations, 12 would be added in the 62 poorest and least-developed countries. * In 2050, 11 percent of the world's population (in industrial nations) would be generating and consuming 41 percent of the world's economic output, while 50 percent of the people (in the poorest countries) would have to share only 11 percent. The resulting stress on the environment from soaring economic development in some parts of the world would combine with severe stresses from exploding population growth in other parts, thereby jeopardizing the environment's capacity to nourish and sustain human life. The socioeconomic result would clearly be inequitable. It would almost certainly be unstable. In August 1993, several dozen natural scientists, engineers, social scientists, and others gathered at a conference sponsored by Sigma Xi in Research Triangle Park, N.C., to explore ways in which future demographic and economic growth might be modified to change the societal trajectory. The endpoint of the desired trajectory would be a society in which all of the basic needs and an equitable share of human aspirations could be met by successive generations, while maintaining in perpetuity a healthy, physically attractive, and biologically productive environment. The conclusion was reached at the conference that achievement of this goal during the 21st century would require an unprecedented international effort to (1) deepen an understanding of how physical, chemical, biological, and social systems interact to regulate the global environment; (2) stabilize world population; (3) transform an energy- and technology-driven economy into one that is environmentally benign; (4) reduce poverty everywhere; and (5) re-examine societal goals and human behavior in order to give greater emphasis to the quality of life in both industrial and developing countries. The keystone of this effort would be a program aimed at fully utilizing the constant torrent--the "cascade"--of knowledge that drives human progress. In this effort, scientists would be called upon to play a major role. For this cascade largely rushes forth from a process involving discovery (basic research), integration (interdisciplinary collaborations), and dissemination (through formal and informal education) of knowledge concerning the nature and the interaction of matter, energy, living organisms, information, and human behavior. The fountainhead of this cascade--discovery--is the primary mission of basic research and the major concern of the individual investigator. Thus, given its vital role in human progress, a strong case for its support can be made, even in the current period of fiscal austerity. New patterns of interdisciplinary collaborations among physical, biological, and social scientists, engineers, and scholars in the humanities will be imperative to develop the cascade's integrative stream. Revolutionary changes are needed in the educational system to strengthen dissemination. And new modes of communication and cooperation will be necessary among business and industry, governments, and academia to facilitate application of new knowledge. Already, dramatic advances in computer and communications technologies are enabling the fluent exchange of information across the globe--and developments to come are likely to open still more avenues for worldwide cooperation among individuals and institutions. For example, a four-tiered "Global Array of Nested Networks" (GANN) proposed during the Sigma Xi workshop is an innovation that would link individuals, educational institutions, researchers, and policymakers in an interactive communications system geared to both stimulate and apply the flow of new knowledge worldwide. For now, the challenge for the scientific community includes the exercise of leadership in inaugurating an era in which the cascade of knowledge is channeled to change the potentially tragic trajectory that society currently is following. Thomas F. Malone is Distinguished University Scholar at North Carolina State University and director of the Sigma Xi Center in Research Triangle Park, N.C. A summary report of last August's meeting--"International Networks for Addressing Issues of Global Change"--may be obtained by writing: Sigma Xi Center, Box 13975, Research Triangle Park, N.C. 27709. ---------- WE WELCOME YOUR OPINION. IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO COMMENT ON THIS STORY, PLEASE WRITE TO US AT EITHER ONE OF THE FOLLOWING ADDRESSES: The Scientist, 3600 Market Street, Suite 450, Philadelphia, PA 19104 U.S.A. (The Scientist, Vol:8, #10, May 16, 1994 (Copyright, The Scientist, Inc.) ================================ NEXT: LETTERS ------------------------------------------------------------ TI : Crediting A Leader AU : THE VERY REV. JAMES PARKS MORTON TY : OPINION (LETTERS) PG : 13 In your Dec. 13, 1993, article "Scientists Join Forces With Clergy in Addressing Environmental Issues" [E.R. Silverman, page 1], you describe the effort as "being led" by Henry Kendall. Kendall has indeed very recently become active in the work of the National Religious Partnership for the Environment. But he, as well as the numerous religious leaders and other scientists enlisted in this effort, would surely want your readers to know that it was Carl Sagan who, in 1990, authored the "Open Letter to the Religious Community" from eminent scientists, which catalyzed our undertaking, and it is he who has continued to be a leader in this unique collaboration. He and I served as the cochairmen of the Joint Appeal by Religion and Science for the Environment from 1990 until 1993, when we announced the formation of the National Religious Partnership for the Environment, on whose board both Sagan and Kendall now serve. THE VERY REV. JAMES PARKS MORTON National Religious Partnership for the Environment 1047 Amsterdam Ave. New York, N.Y. 10025 ---------- WE WELCOME YOUR OPINION. IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO COMMENT ON THIS STORY, PLEASE WRITE TO US AT EITHER ONE OF THE FOLLOWING ADDRESSES: The Scientist, 3600 Market Street, Suite 450, Philadelphia, PA 19104 U.S.A. (The Scientist, Vol:8, #10, May 16, 1994 (Copyright, The Scientist, Inc.) ================================ NEXT: ------------------------------------------------------------ TI : Women In Science AU : JUDITH S. WEIS TY : OPINION (LETTERS) PG : 13 The commentary by Neal Lane, director of the National Science Foundation, regarding the need for more women in science [The Scientist, Jan. 24, 1994, page 12] was very welcome. Lane would do well to examine his own agency's programs to encourage more women to enter science. I investigated NSF's educational programs for women and minorities several years ago (Journal of College Science Teaching, 21:11-13, September-October 1991) and found that the Career Access program, the major educational one for "underrepresented groups," involved major programs for minorities (multimillion-dollar "centers"), while the only programs that could focus on women and girls were small "Model Projects." In 1989, $5.7 million supported the Comprehensive Centers for minorities, while only $0.3 million supported Model Projects, of which $0.15 million supported projects focused on women. That year, only six model projects were funded out of about 150 applications, a success rate of under 5 percent. Of these six, two focused on women. In 1990, the success rate and funding was not significantly greater. I do not have more recent data but would be surprised to find that the situation has changed considerably. Since the rationale for these programs is to get more members of underrepresented groups into scientific careers, it is hard to understand why NSF has paid only lip service to the largest pool of underrepresented individuals, females, who constitute more than half the United States population. JUDITH S. WEIS Professor of Biology Rutgers University Newark, N.J. 07102 ---------- WE WELCOME YOUR OPINION. IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO COMMENT ON THIS STORY, PLEASE WRITE TO US AT EITHER ONE OF THE FOLLOWING ADDRESSES: The Scientist, 3600 Market Street, Suite 450, Philadelphia, PA 19104 U.S.A. (The Scientist, Vol:8, #10, May 16, 1994 (Copyright, The Scientist, Inc.) ================================ NEXT: WHERE TO WRITE: Letters to the Editor The Scientist 3501 Market Street Philadelphia, PA 19104 Fax:(215)387-7542 E-mail: Bitnet: ===================================== RESEARCH ------------------------------------------------------------ TI : NIDR Supports New Research Pathways AU : KAREN YOUNG KREEGER TY : RESEARCH PG : 14 Arthritis, AIDS, and signal transduction may not be areas of investigation that immediately come to mind when one thinks of dental research. But the National Institute of Dental Research's (NIDR) range of interests and achievement has in recent years broadened well beyond the institute's original 1948 mandate to improve the oral health of the American people. Noting NIDR's advances in preventing and understanding the cause of tooth decay and some periodontal diseases over the last 40 years, NIDR director Harald Loe says, "We are [also] moving research in the preventive frontiers into other diseases," such as craniofacial disorders as well as "an array of systemic diseases," including AIDS and diabetes. Other current research areas under NIDR's broad umbrella include osteoporosis, cancers of the mouth, chronic pain disorders, and alternatives to traditional silver amalgams. Lois Cohen, director of the NIDR grants program, describes the current "portfolio" of grantees as covering "disciplines at the very basic molecular-biological level all the way to the applied areas of health promotion and disease prevention" (see accompanying story). Dental researchers say that some in the medical community remain unaware of the extensive implications dental research has for other areas of human health, as well as its intimate connection with molecular biology--for example, the use of common molecular techniques such as cloning as a means of studying the microbes of the mouth. Walter Cohen, chancellor of the Medical College of Pennsylvania and former dean of the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine, both located in Philadelphia, cites the current curriculum of medical schools as one possible reason for dental research's low profile. "The average physician is given very little information about the oral tissue" in his or her training, Cohen says. According to Harold Slavkin, the George and Mary Lou Boone Professor of Craniofacial Molecular Biology at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, the situation is changing. Still, he says, "for some people it's counterintuitive to think of dental research being done by molecular biologists. I think they perceive teeth as being dead. There is also a perception that dental research means tooth decay and gum diseases rather than [including] the nuances of taste perception, and craniofacial disorders such as cleft lips and palates." Battle With The Bugs Despite advances in understanding the causes of tooth decay and some periodontal diseases, examining these conditions on a molecular level is a fairly recent development in dental research. About 300 species of bacteria interact in their own ecosystem in the human mouth. To cause disease, these bacteria colonize the surface of teeth and gums, forming networks of interacting species, NIDR scientists explain. Paula Fives-Taylor, a molecular microbiologist at the University of Vermont, Burlington, who is funded through NIDR, has been studying the molecular mechanisms of attachment and invasion by oral microbes--or "bugs," as she calls them--for the last 15 years. To understand the ecological succession of oral bacteria--what species attach first and how they influence the living conditions for later colonizers--Fives-Taylor uses molecular techniques such as cloning and making genome libraries to isolate the gene for hairlike structures called fimbriae that allow bacteria to attach to teeth. Specifically, she is interested in the fimbriae of the bacterium Streptococcus sanguis. One of the areas she is currently studying is "how the fimbria gene is regulated and expressed, with the hopes of eventually understanding how to interfere with colonization" of bacteria. In addition, for the past three years, Fives-Taylor has been looking into the attachment mechanisms of bacteria thought to cause periodontal disease, whose mechanisms are not as clear-cut as those in tooth decay. Her lab has recently cloned genes from a candidate bacterium that attaches to surface, or epithelial, cells of the gums, which "at least confer upon E. coli the ability to attach to oral tissue." Although not the first group to show bacterial invasion of epithelial cells--this has already been shown in the gut by others--her lab is the first to do so for the mouth. The importance of this finding for general medical science, she says, is that invading organisms that get inside cells are immune to host defenses and antibiotics. It is known that, in the gut, epithelium-invading bacteria "fool" the cell into "thinking" that it is a molecule in the signal- transduction pathway of gastrointestinal-tract epithelial cells, thereby gaining entry, she says. "So we're very interested to see if our bug also goes through this. We have some early evidence to suggest that it might." These oral bugs do not stop at wreaking havoc with cellular signal transduction. Sharon Wahl, chief of the cell immunology section at NIDR, explains that many of these oral disease-causing bacteria release "a whole host of antigens, toxins, and cell-wall fragments, which engage the immune system." But the effects of microbes are not limited to oral systems. She notes that her research area extends to inflammation and wound healing, and, more specifically, understanding the regulation of connective tissue metabolism by growth factors and cytokines--hormone-like substances--released by inflammatory cells during an immune response. Using rodents, Wahl studies "what cells are activated in the immune system, what they produce or don't produce, or how these functions might be regulated by growth factors or cytokines." Bacterial cell walls are not digested by the rats, Wahl says, so their persistent presence produces an overactivation of the immune system, "leading to an overproduction of substances such as nitric oxide, or certain cytokines." These, in turn, can eventually cause tissue destruction, damaged DNA, or bone resorption. With nitric oxide-inhibiting chemicals, Wahl's group has shown that they can block the pathology of too much nitric oxide-- inflammation of the joints, liver, and spleen--in rats. Relating these findings to humans, she explains that her group did find increased nitric oxide production in inflamed periodontal tissues. She suggests that if nitric oxide can be blocked, it might be an important future therapy for periodontal disease, as well as for chronic inflammatory diseases like arthritis. Saliva Science Although outside the walls of NIDR the research theme of the Clinical Investigations and Patient Care Branch is not often a subject mentioned in polite conversation, it is an area that many of its intramural researchers drool over. The focus of the branch, according to its chief, Bruce Baum, is salivary gland biology and pathology. Over the last several decades, research at NIDR and elsewhere has revealed the myriad functions saliva has for human health. "It's the main protective [medium] in the mouth," says Baum, referring to saliva's antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, and wound-repair capabilities. In preliminary studies, NIDR researchers have even found that salivary glands secrete a substance that blocks HIV from infecting cells. Two sections of the branch study the physiological mechanisms of ion transport and neurotransmitter signal transduction of the salivary gland. The scientists are trying to understand the molecular chain of events involved in salivation and how this applies to oral and systemic diseases. Knowing the details of these events has allowed the researchers to apply their knowledge of a correctly working system to understanding one that's gone awry. For example, Sjogren's syndrome, an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks the body's exocrine glands--such as the salivary gland-- results in decreased or absent production of saliva, tears, and vaginal secretions. Destruction of exocrine glands, resulting in low to no water flow, is also caused by radiation treatment to the head and neck for cancer. "In autoimmune diseases, everyone would like to know what is the switch that suddenly means a tissue is going to be recognized as foreign by our bodies. It's a real tough problem, but what we can deal with is a damage mechanism," Baum says, referring to NIDR work on "a whole host of potential therapeutic implications." Baum, who is also head of the branch's relatively new Gene Transfer Unit, says that the unit's researchers use gene therapy to repair damaged salivary glands. Referring to the biochemical pathway that leads to normal salivation, he says, "we have cloned a gene for a water channel; so, using recombinant adenovirus vectors, we can insert a water-permeability pathway into a water- impermeable cell," such as those damaged by radiation or found in Sjogren's syndrome. AIDS Research According to NIDR, "the variety and severity of oral diseases associated with HIV infection were recognized early by all components of the dental community," thus leading to their increased involvement in AIDS research in the mid- to late 1980s. NIDR-related AIDS research covers basic studies in epidemiology, virology, immunology, and molecular biology. Charles Barr, director of dental medicine at Beth Israel Medical Center, New York, began working on NIDR-sponsored studies of the effect of HIV on saliva and oral tissues about seven years ago. The results of one of his lab's earliest studies--at a time when there was still public concern over transmission of AIDS via saliva--conclusively established that, compared with blood, saliva contained practically no live HIV. In fact, only 1 percent of the homosexual and bisexual male subjects Barr and colleagues studied carried live HIV in their saliva, although 38 percent of them had HIV in their blood. Other aspects of this work dealt more closely with opportunistic oral infections associated with AIDS, such as candidiasis, a fungal infection. In this study, he set out to show that, although not an unequivocal test, "the health of the oral cavity can function as a surrogate marker for relative immunostatus." For example, Barr explains, "if patients have candida in their mouth, their T cells are probably below a certain level, according to our data, and other aspects of their immune-system capabilities may warrant a closer look." Under a grant from NIDR, Barr and colleagues are now extending their HIV-in-saliva-vs.-blood work to the intravenous-drug-using population--a study group that contains 35 percent women. Preliminary data from this study indicate that the same 1 percent as in the homosexual male group studied earlier have live HIV in their saliva. "This is not surprising, because between now and the time that we started the initial study, there have been several reports by NIDR and others that show saliva does have an inhibitory effect on the proliferation of HIV," says Barr. "Identifying this factor is of interest to the scientific community now. It has been published in the AIDS literature, but what's surprising to me is that it hasn't seemed to elicit too much interest on the part of people in other areas." Currently, he explains, "all we know in general is that the factor has an inhibitory effect." However, a preliminary collaborative effort of investigators at Beth Israel and colleagues at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia showed that epithelial cells shed into the saliva contain pro-viral HIV DNA in their nucleus. They hypothesize that if the epithelium does take up HIV and it replicates there, it might do the same in other mucosal tissues, thereby becoming another possible repository for HIV. For information on research grants offered by NIDR, contact Norman Braveman, chief of the Program Development Branch, NIDR, Westwood Building, Room 503, 5333 Westbard Ave., Bethesda, Md., 20892; (301) 594-7648. Fax: (301) 594-9720. E-mail: ---------- WE WELCOME YOUR OPINION. IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO COMMENT ON THIS STORY, PLEASE WRITE TO US AT EITHER ONE OF THE FOLLOWING ADDRESSES: The Scientist, 3600 Market Street, Suite 450, Philadelphia, PA 19104 U.S.A. (The Scientist, Vol:8, #10, May 16, 1994 (Copyright, The Scientist, Inc.) ================================ NEXT: ------------------------------------------------------------ TI : NIDR AT FORTYSOMETHING AU : KAREN YOUNG KREEGER TY : RESEARCH PG : 14 In 1948, a congressional mandate set up the National Institute of Dental Research (NIDR), the third-oldest of the National Institutes of Health, to "address the then deplorable state of oral health in the United States," according to the institute. NIDR, which today covers 19 areas of research--including such diverse investigations as craniofacial disorders and salivary gland physiology, as well as the traditional areas of periodontal disease and tooth decay--funds both intramural and extramural projects. Some current NIDR statistics: * NIDR's budget for fiscal year 1994 is $169.5 million, 75 percent of which goes to extramural research. * The extramural program supports more than 700 grants and contracts to the scientific community for research and training. * Intramural laboratory and clinical research takes place at eight laboratories, a dental clinic, and a pain research unit at NIH headquarters in Bethesda, Md. * NIDR employs a staff of about 400 scientists, technicians, trainees, and support personnel. The two main dental research professional societies, headquartered at the same location, are: American Association for Dental Research (AADR) International Association for Dental Research (IADR) 1111 14th St., N.W. Suite 1000 Washington, D.C. 20005 Phone: (202) 898-1050 Fax: (202) 789-1033 John Rugh, president, AADR Barry Sessle, president, IADR John Clarkson, executive director, AADR and IADR E-mail: ---------- WE WELCOME YOUR OPINION. IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO COMMENT ON THIS STORY, PLEASE WRITE TO US AT EITHER ONE OF THE FOLLOWING ADDRESSES: The Scientist, 3600 Market Street, Suite 450, Philadelphia, PA 19104 U.S.A. (The Scientist, Vol:8, #10, May 16, 1994 (Copyright, The Scientist, Inc.) ================================ NEXT: RESEARCH ------------------------------------------------------------ TI : PLANT BIOLOGY TY : RESEARCH (HOT PAPERS) PG : 16 G.F.J.M Van Den Ackerveken, J.A.L. Van Kan, P.J.G.M. De Wit, "Molecular analysis of the avirulence gene avr9 of the fungal tomato pathogen Cladosporium fluvum fully supports the gene-for- gene hypothesis," Plant Journal, 2:359-66, 1992. Pierre J.G.M. De Wit (Department of Phytopathology, Wageningen Agricultural University, Wageningen, the Netherlands): "Many plant pathologists interested in communication between plants and their pathogens were puzzled for many years about the molecular basis of the so-called gene-for-gene hypothesis, put forward by H.H. Flor more than 50 years ago (Phytopathology, 32:653-69, 1942). This hypothesis states that resistance of a plant against a fungal pathogen is based on interaction between a resistance gene of the plant and an avirulence gene of the invading pathogen. Such an interaction generally leads to a hypersensitive response, an active process in plants whereby a few host cells die rapidly around the site of penetration. This local death of plant cells at the same time inhibits further growth of the pathogen. "In our laboratory we had already discovered and characterized a peptide from Cladosporium fulvum that induced the hypersensitive response in a tomato cultivar containing the Cf9 resistance gene. In this paper we have proved that this peptide is the product of a true fungal avirulence gene according to the definition of Flor. "The described peptide is the product of avirulence gene avr9, which interacts with the resistance gene Cf9. When strains of the tomato pathogen, which could infect tomato plants containing resistance gene Cf9, were transformed with the avirulence gene avr9, those transformed strains could no longer infect Cf9-containing tomato plants again (R. Marmeisse, et al., Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions, 6:412-7, 1993). "Avirulence gene avr9 is the first fungal avirulence gene ever cloned. The excitement over the cloning of the avirulence gene avr9 occurs because its product (the AVR9 elicitor) facilitates the cloning of its receptor in tomato plants, the putative product of the Cf9 resistance gene. "At the same time, the AVR9 elicitor is a molecule amenable to the study of signal transduction pathways in Cf9-containing tomato plants, which eventually lead to resistance. "Since the cloning of the aviru-lence gene avr9, a second avirulence gene, avr4, was cloned by our research group (M.N.A.J. Joosten, et al., Nature, 367:384-6, 1994). The success of cloning the two avirulence genes has speeded up efforts by many molecular plant pathologists to clone avirulence genes from other plant pathogenic fungi, such as Magnaporthe grisea (a rice pathogen) and Rhynchosporium secalis (a barley pathogen)." ---------- WE WELCOME YOUR OPINION. IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO COMMENT ON THIS STORY, PLEASE WRITE TO US AT EITHER ONE OF THE FOLLOWING ADDRESSES: The Scientist, 3600 Market Street, Suite 450, Philadelphia, PA 19104 U.S.A. (The Scientist, Vol:8, #10, May 16, 1994 (Copyright, The Scientist, Inc.) ================================ NEXT: ------------------------------------------------------------ TI : NEUROSCIENCE TY : RESEARCH (HOT PAPERS) PG : 16 K.W. Culver, Z. Ram, S. Wallbridge, H. Ishii, E.H. Oldfield, R.M. Blaese, "In vivo gene transfer with retroviral vector producer cells for treatment of experimental brain tumors," Science, 256:1550-2, 1992. Kenneth W. Culver (Human Gene Therapy Research Institute, Iowa Methodist Medical Center, Des Moines, Iowa): "The first observation in our study was that murine retroviral vectors (MRV) could efficiently transfer genes into tumor cells in vivo. MRV appeared to selectively deliver genes into tumor cells, since MRV require proliferating target cells. Our subsequent studies have confirmed this selectivity in the central nervous system (Z. Ram, et al., Cancer Research, 53:83-8, 1993; Z. Ram, et al., Journal of Neurosurgery, 79:400-7, 1993). This high-efficiency, selective gene transfer method holds promise for gene therapies of a variety of solid tumors, since most normal tissues are not rapidly dividing. "We also identified a `bystander tumor killing effect.' Current evidence suggests that the transfer of the herpes simplex-thymidine kinase (HS-tk) gene followed by administration of the anti-herpes drug ganciclovir results in death of the HS-tk (+) cells and neighboring HS-tk (-) cells. The mechanism is thought to relate to the transfer of toxic phosphorylated derivatives of ganciclovir by gap junctions into adjacent tumor cells. (W.L. Bi, et al., Human Gene Therapy, 4:725-32, 1993). Since no gene transfer system is 100 percent efficient, the bystander killing effect may allow the possibility for complete tumor eradication with as few as 10 percent of the cells containing the HS-tk gene. "Preliminary data are available on the first eight patients treated with this technique at the National Institutes of Health. These studies have demonstrated no apparent toxicity related to the intra-tumoral injection of xenogeneic murine vector producer cells. Second, treatment with ganciclovir has resulted in changes in the size and radiological appearance of the tumor in five patients. The potential clinical usefulness of the system will depend upon the efficiency of gene delivery throughout the tumor mass. "As a result of these early encouraging phase I findings, Genetic Therapy Inc. of Gaithersburg, Md., will sponsor three additional clinical trials to attempt to further optimize gene delivery into recurrent brain tumors in children and adults. This will include a trial to combine surgical resection of the tumor with the direct injection of vector producer cells into the surrounding, unresectable, infiltrating tumor (K.W. Culver, et al., Human Gene Therapy, 5:343-77, 1993). It is hoped that these applications will determine if this gene therapy approach will have the potential to improve the grave prognosis for these recurrent tumors." ---------- WE WELCOME YOUR OPINION. IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO COMMENT ON THIS STORY, PLEASE WRITE TO US AT EITHER ONE OF THE FOLLOWING ADDRESSES: The Scientist, 3600 Market Street, Suite 450, Philadelphia, PA 19104 U.S.A. (The Scientist, Vol:8, #10, May 16, 1994 (Copyright, The Scientist, Inc.) ================================ NEXT: ------------------------------------------------------------ TI : BIOCHEMISTRY TY : RESEARCH (HOT PAPERS) PG : 16 R.A. Kahn, P. Randazzo, T. Serafini, O. Weiss, C. Rulka, J. Clark, M. Amherdt, P. Roller, L. Orci, J.E. Rothman, "The amino terminus of ADP-ribosylation factor (ARF) is a critical determinant of ARF activities and is a potent and specific inhibitor of protein transport," Journal of Biological Chemistry, 267:13039-46, 1992. Richard A. Kahn (Laboratory of Biological Chemistry, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, Md.): "Identified in 1980 as a factor required for the efficient ADP-ribosylation of the stimulatory, regulatory component of adenylate cyclase, Gs, ADP-ribosylation factor (ARF) remained a curiosity. By the late 1980s evidence accumulated that ARF proteins were involved in the regulation of protein traffic, though details were lacking. The lack of a neutralizing antibody and difficulty in obtaining subcellular fractions devoid of ARF made it difficult to define specific role(s) for ARF proteins using biochemical assays. "Our study led to the identification of a critical functional domain of ARF1, which in turn allowed the synthesis of a specific inhibitor of ARF action. This peptide inhibitor, derived from the amino terminus, has proved to have a number of remarkable properties that have provided insight into the structure and function of the family of ARF proteins. (There are currently six mammalian ARF proteins and even more structurally related ARF-like [ARL] proteins in the ARF family.) In this and the accompanying two papers (J.M. Lenhard, et al., J. Biol. Chem., 267:13047-52, 1992; W.E. Balch, et al., J. Biol. Chem., 267:13053-61, 1992) it was shown that ARF proteins are involved in one or more specific steps in both the exocytic and endocytic pathways. These studies also demonstrated the importance of the amino terminus (and the attached myristic acid) in regulating both the activity and structure of the protein and its interaction with phospholipids. This last aspect has proved to be particularly important as ARF has recently been identified as an activator of phospholipase D (A. Brown, et al., Cell, 75:1137-44, 1993). The intimate association of ARF proteins with specific phospholipids and the ability of ARF to alter the phospholipid content of membranes through activation of lipases or simple seques- tration is leading to a new awareness of the dynamic interplay between lipids and proteins as they work together to coordinate membrane traffic and intracellular signaling." ---------- WE WELCOME YOUR OPINION. IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO COMMENT ON THIS STORY, PLEASE WRITE TO US AT EITHER ONE OF THE FOLLOWING ADDRESSES: The Scientist, 3600 Market Street, Suite 450, Philadelphia, PA 19104 U.S.A. (The Scientist, Vol:8, #10, May 16, 1994 (Copyright, The Scientist, Inc.) ================================ NEXT: TOOLS & TECHNOLOGY ------------------------------------------------------------ TI : Radioimmunoassay: A Proven Performer In The Bio Lab AU : REBECCA KRUMM TY : TOOLS & TECHNOLOGY PG : 17 Radioimmunoassay, which har-nesses the specificity of the immune system to allow the measurement of minute quantities of substances, is a 35-year-old technology that has been key to important advances in many biological disciplines. Endocrinology, immunology, and toxicology all owe much of their rapid development over the last few decades to this workhorse of the lab. But many who produce alternative immunoassays seem to feel that the radioimmunoassay (RIA) technique has outlived its usefulness, eclipsed by newer detection techniques that use chromogenic, fluorescent, or luminescent tags. "It's horse-and-buggy technology," says one developer of ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay) immunoassay kits for environmental detection. ELISA has emerged in recent years as an alternative technology to RIA. But is RIA really ready to be retired? Others emphatically disagree. RIA is "still the cheapest, and in many, many cases, the best," says Marilyn Senior, technical manager of the endocrinology lab at the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center in Philadelphia. "Don't fight it. It's a good technology." The technology was initially developed in the 1950s by Rosalyn S. Yalow and her colleague Solomon A. Berson. They first published their technique, developed for the detection of insulin, in 1959. In 1977, Yalow won the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine for "the development of radioimmunoassays of peptide hormones." In a typical RIA, the substance to be measured--the unlabeled sample antigen--competes with radiolabeled antigen for a limited number of antibody binding sites. Although several different isotopic tags can be used, a radioactive isotope of iodine (125I), which emits gamma radiation as it decays, is the most common. The antibody-antigen complex is precipitated out of solution, separated from the unbound reagents, and measured in a gamma counter. Because the labeled and unlabeled antigen have equal affinity for the binding sites, they bind in direct proportion to the amounts of each that are present. A small amount of sample antigen allows a greater amount of labeled antigen to bind. Thus, the higher the number of counts on the gamma counter, the lower the amount of sample antigen that is present. To quantify the concentration of the unknown sample, its radioactivity is compared with a standard curve created by measuring the radioactivity in a number of samples in which the proportion of labeled to unlabeled antibody is known. RIA is most widely used in clinical labs, to measure such substances as pregnancy and growth hormones; drugs ingested therapeutically or illegally, such as antibiotics, cocaine, and steroids; antigens that are characteristic of autoimmune thyroid disease and other autoimmune disorders; and antigens that indicate infection by various bacteria, parasites (such as schistosoma), and viruses. In research settings, the technique is used to identify and quantify an even broader range of substances, such as the tiny opioid peptides that com- municate neurological information, or a desired protein expressed by a spliced gene in gene therapy experiments. Reagents and supplies for RIA are available from many sources, among the larger of which are Sigma Chemical Co. in St. Louis and ICN Biomedicals Inc. of Costa Mesa, Calif. Supplies usually come in the form of kits, which generally include the labeled antigen, the antibody for it to bind to, and a precipitant, often a second antibody, to bring the bound complex out of solution. Some kits supply the antibody in solid phase, covalently bound to the surface of test tubes. Researchers can also purchase reagents " la carte" for designing their own protocols. Some scientists purchase unlabeled antigen and radiolabel it themselves. Working With Radioactivity For various reasons,125I is the most commonly used isotope for tagging proteins. Jimmy Wong, manager of clinical and technical affairs at Nichols Institute Diagnostics in San Juan Capistrano, Calif., explains that 125I attaches easily to most antibodies or antigens, binding to a tyrosine residue on the protein. Another reason 125I is preferred by scientists is that counting gamma radiation is relatively quick and easy, and most labs have access to a gamma counter. The relatively short half-life of 125I--60 days--also eases the problem of disposal, although the cost of radioactive waste disposal continues to rise in most localities as environmental concerns and regulations increase. The low half-life also means a short shelf life, however. At the Penn Medical Center's endocrinology lab, says Senior, iodinated stock must be purchased every month or so. Other isotopes used to tag proteins and peptides include tritium (3H) and 57Co. Tritium is generally troublesome to use, and scientists tend to avoid it when possible, according to Senior. A beta emitter, it requires a liquid scintillation cocktail and a beta counter to measure its emissions. "It's a mess," Senior says. Furthermore, because of its long (12.5 years) half-life, it must be disposed of as low-level radioactive waste, which is expensive and time-consuming. RIA is particularly handy for measuring very small amounts of very small molecules, and can attain sensitivities in the picogram, or parts-per-trillion (10-12), range. Ann Tempel, director of the laboratory of molecular pharmacology at the Long Island Jewish Medical Center in Glen Oaks, New York, uses RIA to study the effects of maternal drug addiction in newborn rats. She points out that because she is measuring neuropeptides in various portions of the infant rats' brains, she has a minuscule quantity of material to work with, and exquisite sensitivity is required. Using RIA kits marketed by IncStar Corp. of Stillwater, Minn., Tempel can measure the neuropeptide methionine enkephalin at the picogram level of sensitivity. Yemiliya Berman, a postdoctoral fellow in the Millhauser Laboratories of the New York University Medical Center, has taken RIA sensitivity even a step further. In her work with neuroscience researchers in the lab, she has been able to detect neuropeptides in the femtomolar (10-15) range. Berman, who came to the United States from the former Soviet Union a year and a half ago, does not use kits. Rather, she purchases the antibodies she needs and iodinates them herself. She has been able to attain such sensitivities by adjusting a myriad of assay conditions. "I have some tricks," she explains. "It's just like a kitchen." Researchers, using kits or by other means, often tweak a variety of conditions, such as pH, temperature, sample size, and incubation time, to make the assay work for their unique project. The gamma counters most commonly used in RIA are also available from a number of manufacturers. Two of the larger suppliers are Wallac Inc. in Gaithersburg, Md., and Packard Instruments of Meriden, Conn. ICN Biomedicals also markets a line of gamma counters and liquid scintillation counters. Variations On A Theme A variation on the RIA technique is immunoradiometric assay (IRMA), also known as a "sandwich" assay. A sandwich assay uses at least two antibodies: a capture antibody in a solid phase, often covalently bound to a test tube, which binds the analyte and immobilizes it; and a second signal antibody, which is tagged, and binds to the analyte at a different site. The unbound reagents are washed off, and the sample is measured. This time, the signal is directly proportional to the amount of analyte: The unknown sample antigen has essentially been tagged by the signal antibody. A sandwich assay, says Senior, can be more accurate at low concentrations of an analyte, because it is a direct measurement of the sample antigen. In comparison, in the competitive assay, the quantity of unlabeled, sample antigen is calculated by subtracting the number of gamma counts that a sample emits (indicating the quantity of labeled antigen) from the maximum number for a sample that is 100 percent labeled antigen. If the sample antigen is at a low concentration, both of these numbers will be very high, introducing a source of error into the assay. When you are measuring 50 of something, Senior points out, you can do it more accurately by actually counting 50 than by subtracting 999,950 from 1,000,000. However, a major limitation of sandwich assays is that they do not work with the very small peptides, says Senior. An antigen being quantified by this method must have at least two binding sites, one for each antibody, and many peptides are too small to offer two such sites. For these substances, competitive assays remain the method of choice. Because of the problems of working with radioactivity--health hazards and the costs of complying with the handling and disposal regulations intended to reduce those hazards--nonisotopic immunoassays have been developed for many substances. Instead of a radioisotope, reagents are tagged with molecules with chromogenic, fluorescent, or luminescent properties. But although these nonisotopic techniques offer an attractive alternative for assaying many substances, they are far from elbowing RIAs out of the research market. Many researchers find, for example, that the nonisotopic techniques aren't yet able to achieve comparably high sensitivity and specificity, particularly for the small molecules that must be measured by competitive assays. Senior explains that in order to get a high degree of specificity in a competitive immunoassay, the labeled antigen must "look" as much like the unlabeled antigen as possible, so that they bind to the antibody with equal affinity. The tagging molecules in nonisotopic systems can be large compared with the tiny peptides being assayed, which can throw off the specificity of the system. This can lead to interference by other substances, reducing the accuracy of the assay. Dorothy Herlyn, an associate professor at the Wistar Institute in Philadelphia, uses nonisotopic methods whenever possible "because nobody likes to be exposed to radiation," but she also finds that enzyme immunoassay techniques such as ELISA don't work as well in competitive assays, possibly, she believes, as a result of the number of washings necessary in ELISA. Because of reduced sensitivity, her lab has gone back to RIA for competitive immunoassays. For many researchers, nonisotopic assays are just not available for the substances that they wish to measure. If an assay has a clinical use, it is much more likely to be developed in a nonisotopic form, because the number of assays run is so much higher in the clinical laboratory. As IncStar's director of marketing, John Roesler, points out, "You need to have a much bigger market in order to justify the cost of development for enzymatic or luminescent systems." Because radioim- munoassays are more well known and more cost-geffective to develop than their nonisotopic counterparts, he says, assays for peptides such as methionine enkephalin, important to neuroscientists but with no clinical purpose, will continue to be available as RIAs. Some clinical assays are performed so infrequently that they too will remain RIAs indefinitely. For example, says Senior, 11- deoxycor-tisol is a hormone that she rarely needs to test for-- two or three times a month. "I would doubt sincerely if they would ever turn that assay into a nonisotopic one," she says. "It's just not commercially useful." Finally, many researchers have been using RIA for a long time, and are loath to change methods when their current technique is performing to their satisfaction. "If the technique is working well in my lab, I have no intentions of changing it in the middle of a study," says neuroscientist Ann Tempel. "We've been using radioimmunoassay [in a current study], so I'm not about to switch at this point to another technique." However, in future projects, she says, she would certainly consider nonisotopic techniques, if any are developed for the neuropeptides that she is measuring in her laboratory. For now, although radioimmunoassays are being replaced in many applications, they are still central to others. Observes Nichols Institute's Jimmy Wong: "I think they will always be around, just like there will always be Volkswagen Beetles." Rebecca Krumm is a freelance science writer based in Audubon, Pa. ---------- WE WELCOME YOUR OPINION. IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO COMMENT ON THIS STORY, PLEASE WRITE TO US AT EITHER ONE OF THE FOLLOWING ADDRESSES: The Scientist, 3600 Market Street, Suite 450, Philadelphia, PA 19104 U.S.A. (The Scientist, Vol:8, #10, May 16, 1994 (Copyright, The Scientist, Inc.) ================================ NEXT: ------------------------------------------------------------ TI : SUPPLIERS OF RADIOIMMUNOASSAY KITS, REAGENTS, AND SUPPLIES TY : TOOLS & TECHNOLOGY PG : 19 The following companies offer radioimmunoassay supplies and equipment. Please contact the companies directly for more information concerning specific products. Advanced Chemtech 5609 Fern Valley Rd. Louisville, Ky. 40228 (502) 969-0000 Fax: (502) 968-1000 AMAC Inc. 160B Larrabee Rd. Westbrook, Maine 04092 (207) 854-0426 Fax: (207) 854-0116 Amersham Corp. 2636 S. Clearbrook Dr. Arlington Heights, Ill. 60005 (708) 593-6300 Fax: (708) 437-1640 Becton Dickinson Microbiology 250 Shilling Circle Cockeysville, Md. 21030 (410) 771-0100 Fax: (410) 584-7517 Bel-Art Products 6 Industrial Blvd. Pequannock, N.J. 07440 (201) 694-0500 Fax: (201) 694-7199 Bio-Rad Laboratories 237 Putnam Ave. Cambridge, Mass. 02139 (617) 868-4330 Fax: (617) 499-4519 Bioscan Inc. 4590 McArthur Blvd., N.W. Washington, D.C. 20007 (800) 255-7226 Fax: (206) 775-8000 Biotecx Laboratories Inc. 6023 South Loop East Houston, Texas 77033 (713) 643-0606 Fax: (713) 643-3143 Brendan Scientific 15000 Kercheval Gross Pointe Park, Mich. 48230 (800) 824-8842 Fax: (313) 824-1918 Calbiochem-Novabiochem Corp. 10394 Pacific Center Court San Diego, Calif. 92121 (619) 450-5578 Fax: (619) 453-3552 Cambridge Research Biochemical Gadbrook Park, Northwich Cheshire, U.K. CW9 7RA Phone: 44606-41100 Fax: 44606-49366 Capintec Instruments 6 Arrow Rd. Ramsey, N.J. 07446 (201) 825-9500 Fax: (201) 825-1336 Cavro Scientific Instruments 242 Humboldt Court Sunnyvale, Calif. 94089 (408) 745-7400 Fax: (408) 745-0309 Ciba-Corning Diagnostics 115 Norwood Park South Norwood, Mass. 02052 (508) 660-4745 Fax: (508) 359-3599 Crescent Chemical 1324 Motor Pkwy. Hauppauge, N.Y. 11788 (516) 348-0333 Fax: (516) 348-0913 Diagnostic Systems Laboratories Inc. 445 Medical Center Blvd. Webster, Texas 77598 (800) 231-7970 Fax: (713) 338-1895 Du Pont Biotechnology Systems Barley Mill Plaza, P22-2278 Wilmington, Del. 19898 (302) 992-4785 Fax: (302) 992-4442 Dynal Inc. 5 Delaware Dr. Lake Success, N.Y. 11042 (516) 326-3270 Fax: (516) 326-3298 Hybritech Inc. P.O. Box 269006 San Diego, Calif. 92129 (619) 455-6700 Fax: (619) 453-4124 ICN Biomedicals Inc. 3300 Hyland Ave. Costa Mesa, Calif. 92626 (714) 545-0113 Fax: (714) 641-7216 Immuno Diagnostics Center Inc. 9978 Monroe Dr., Suite 303 Dallas, Texas 75220 (214) 351-1231 Fax: (214) 351-1231 INAMCO Chemicals & Lab Equipment 78-44 Parsons Blvd. Flushing, N.Y. 11366 (718) 969-0926 Fax: (718) 591-4453 INCSTAR Corp. P.O. Box 285 Stillwater, Minn. 55082 (612) 439-9710 Fax: (612) 779-7847 Kallestad Diagnostics 2000 Lake Hazeltine Dr. Chaska, Minn. 55318 (612) 448-4848 Kronus Inc. 1000 Calle Amanecer San Clemente, Calif. 92673 (714) 366-9100 Fax: (714) 366-9300 Nichols Institute Diagnostics 33608 Ortega Highway San Juan Capistrano, Calif. 92690 (714) 728-4000 Fax: (714) 728-4972 Nuclin Diagnostics 3322 Commercial Ave. Northbrook, Ill. 60062 (708) 498-5210 Fax: (312) 564-1830 Organon/Teknika 100 Akzo Ave. Durham, N.C. 27704 (919) 620-2152 Fax: (800) 432-96822 OT/Biotechnology Research Institute Drawer 2517 Capistrano Beach, Calif. 92624 (800) 554-6655 Fax: (714) 361-0138 Pacific Biotech Inc. 9050 Camino Santa Fe San Diego, Calif. 92121 (619) 695-2688 Fax: (619) 621-7007 Packard Instruments Co. 800 Research Pkwy. Meriden, Conn. 06450 (203) 238-2351 Fax: (203) 639-2172 Peninsula Laboratories Inc. 611 Taylor Way Belmont, Calif. 94002 (415) 592-5392 Fax: (415) 595-4071 PerSeptive Diagnostics 735 Concord Ave. Cambridge, Mass. 02138 (617) 499-1433 Fax: (617) 497-6927 Pharmacia Biotech Inc. 800 Centennial Ave. Piscataway, N.J. 08855-1327 (800) 526-3593 Fax: (908) 457-0557 Ramco Laboratories Inc. 4507 Mount Vernon Houston, Texas 77006 (713) 526-9677 Fax: (713) 526-1528 Research & Diagnostic Antibodies P.O. Box 8300 Berkeley, Calif. 94707 (510) 262-9000 Fax: (510) 262-9127 Rosys Inc. 1309 Veale Rd. Wilmington, Del. 19810 (302) 479-5227 Fax: (302) 479-5223 Sigma Chemical Co. 3050 Spruce St. St. Louis, Mo. 63103 (800) 521-8956 Fax: (314) 652-8141 Spectrum Chemical 755 Jersey Ave. New Brunswick, N.J. 08901 (908) 214-1300 Fax: (908) 220-6553 USA Scientific Plastics P.O. Box 3565 Ocala, Fla. 34478 (904) 237-6288 Fax: (904) 351-2057 Wallac Inc. 9238 Gaither Rd. Gaithersburg, Md. (301) 963-3200 Fax: (301) 963-7780 Whatman LabSales Inc. 5285 N.E. Elam Pkwy. Suite A-400 Hillboro, Ore. 97124-6462 (503) 648-0762 Fax: (503) 648-8118 Wien Laboratories Inc. P.O. Box 227 Succasunna, N.J. 07876 (201) 584-7019 Fax: (201) 584-0210 ---------- WE WELCOME YOUR OPINION. IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO COMMENT ON THIS STORY, PLEASE WRITE TO US AT EITHER ONE OF THE FOLLOWING ADDRESSES: The Scientist, 3600 Market Street, Suite 450, Philadelphia, PA 19104 U.S.A. (The Scientist, Vol:8, #10, May 16, 1994 (Copyright, The Scientist, Inc.) ================================ NEXT: NEW PRODUCTS ------------------------------------------------------------ TI : Epoxy-Modified Particles From Bangs Labs TY : TOOLS & TECHNOLOGY PG : 20 Bangs Laboratories of Indianapolis has announced the availability of a new class of particles featuring what the company calls "kinder, gentler" surface chemistries. With surface epoxy groups, these particles permit covalent coupling of antigens, antibodies, haptens, or DNA to their surfaces. Any ligand with primary amino (and other similarly reactive) groups can be bound to these particles quickly and easily. With sizes from approximately 30 nm to more than 6 mm, these new particles are available as methylmethacrylate/epoxy or styrene/epoxy copolymers. They complement Bangs Laboratories' other "easy-to-bind-to" particles with chloromethyl and aldehyde surface groups. Bangs Laboratories also offers particles in lots of greater than 1,000 (including magnetics) with other sizes, colors, and surface chemistries. (The Scientist, Vol:8, #10, May 16, 1994 (Copyright, The Scientist, Inc.) ================================ NEXT: ------------------------------------------------------------ TI : New Micro-Plate Cultures From Diagnostic Hybrids TY : TOOLS & TECHNOLOGY PG : 20 Diagnostic Hybrids Inc. of Athens, Ohio, has introduced a new line of micro-plate cultures designed to be a rapid and sensitive alternative to using shell vials in cell-culture detection of chlamydiae, CMV, and HSV. According to the company, FreshCells Multi-Well plate cultures offer cost-effective, rapid detection of chlamydiae, CMV, and HSV in large-volume screening. When used with fluorescent antibody reagents, the Multi-Well plate format is said to provide early, sensitive detection while eliminating labor associated with coverslips. FreshCells micro-plate cultures are prepared twice per week in 24-, 48-, and 96-well plates; which, the company says, guarantees freshness and sensitivity. Batch processing of specimens in plates, as opposed to unit processing in shell vials, eliminates vial labeling, simplifies specimen inoculation and centrifugation as well as fluorescent antibody staining/washing, reduces reagent consumption by up to 56 percent, and aids evaluation by microscopy. FreshCells Multi-Well plate cultures are designed to be compatible with a number of commercial fluorescent antibody kits and, with minor microscopy modifications, to enhance detection of fluorescent signal through the plastic support plate. FreshCells cell lines are available in MRC-5, McCoy, AGMK, and BGMK. (The Scientist, Vol:8, #10, May 16, 1994 (Copyright, The Scientist, Inc.) ================================ NEXT: ------------------------------------------------------------ TI : World Precision Instruments' Iso-NO Nitric Oxide Sensor TY : TOOLS & TECHNOLOGY PG : 20 Iso-NO, a nitric oxide sensor from World Precision Instruments of Sarasota, Fla., provides readings in fluid volumes as small as 1 microliter. Iso-NO's sensitivity ranges from 1 nanomolar to 20 micromolars (or from 0.03 parts per billion to 600 parts per million) in aqueous solutions, or from 1 to 20,000 parts per million in gaseous mixtures. According to the company, nitric oxide consumption by the electrode is negligible. A newly developed "dry" electrolyte eliminates refilling during use. The instrument can connect to a chart recorder or data- acquisition system. A simple T-adapter allows the probe to perform continuous flow-through monitoring at rates as low as 1.55 microliters per minute. (The Scientist, Vol:8, #10, May 16, 1994 (Copyright, The Scientist, Inc.) ================================ NEXT: ------------------------------------------------------------ TI : PowerSearch Conformational Searching Software TY : TOOLS & TECHNOLOGY PG : 20 Tripos Associates Inc. of St. Louis announces the availability of its new PowerSearch software, enabling scientists using personal computers running under Windows to perform conformational searching on compounds. Developed for Windows under a collaborative agreement with Tripos and CheMicro Research & Development of Hungary, PowerSearch provides a means for finding low-energy conformations either with Systematic or with Monte Carlo searches. PowerSearch uses the traditional Windows menus and dialogue boxes to set up searches. According to the company, the program calculations are compute-intensive, allowing the user to run the search in the "background" while continuing to work with other programs on his or her computer. The software can be used as a companion product to Tripos' ALCHEMY III and ChemPrint software for desktop computers. (The Scientist, Vol:8, #10, May 16, 1994 (Copyright, The Scientist, Inc.) ================================ NEXT: ------------------------------------------------------------ TI : Molecular Dynamics Offers PhosphorImager SI Filmless Autoradiography Instrument TY : TOOLS & TECHNOLOGY PG : 20 Molecular Dynamics of Sunnyvale, Calif., has released the PhosphorImager SI system, a new filmless autoradiography instrument for use in life-sciences research laboratories. The PhosphorImager SI conforms to the Small Computer Standard Interface (SCSI) protocol and works with both Macintosh and IBM- compatible computer systems. The PhosphorImager SI system is recognized by both the Macintosh and PC operating systems as a standard SCSI device, much like an external hard disk or CD-ROM drive, so system set-up and operation are intuitive, according to the manufacturer. The system is said to offer the high resolution of autoradiography and the dynamic range of direct counting in less than one-tenth the time of a typical film exposure. The PhosphorImager system technology is applied to gels, blots, TLC plates, and tissue sections. Analysis and reporting software for either Macintosh or IBM-compatible personal computers is included with the system. (The Scientist, Vol:8, #10, May 16, 1994 (Copyright, The Scientist, Inc.) ================================ NEXT: PROFESSION ------------------------------------------------------------ TI : Students Experience `Real' Research At Coriell Institute AU : REBECCA KRUMM TY : PROFESSION PG : 21 A fundamental experience of the research scientist is that of discovery--of finding something new, or trying something new without knowing what the outcome will be. But most high school science students' experiences are a far cry from this ideal. Rather, cookbook experiments are the norm, with the goal of achieving the "correct" outcome. Some research institutions, however, are broadening students' horizons by offering summer internships that allow youngsters to work side by side with researchers. One such program is offered by the Coriell Institute for Medical Research in Camden, N.J., which brings about a dozen local high school and college students into the research labs each summer, and sends them home again with a new perspective on science, research, and career possibilities. It is enormously satisfying, says David Beck, president of the institute, to introduce a young person to the world of science. "When you catch someone's excitement, and they really become interested in science, that's a tremendously pleasing prospect," Beck says. Camden is a city with a large minority population, and the Coriell Institute is making a special effort to reach out to minority students. To multiply the effort, the institute has offered internships to local high school teachers, as well, so that the teachers can bring the experience back to their students. "When you're a student, even a college student in a lab course, things are really pretty well planned," says Beck. "You never quite see the excitement and intensity of not knowing how an experiment will turn out." David Rader, a junior at Northwestern University in Chicago who interned for two summers at Coriell, found the experience to be an eye-opening one. "I had always sort of pictured that scientists really knew what they were doing," Rader says. "They knew what it was supposed to be, but they needed to get it exactly, or they were confirming a theory, or something. But [the research at Coriell] was really very experimental, in just trying things and seeing what worked." By exposing students to the excitement of real research, Beck hopes to open them up to careers in science. "When I was coming up, in the days after Sputnik in the 1960s," says Beck, "there was a tremendous glow to doing research and getting into science in general, whether it was biomedical, physics, or whatever. That [glow is] gone, but the need to do science, the need for the next generation, is still there. "The need for new people, and especially the need to involve minorities in science, is stronger than ever." The Coriell Institute is known for its extensive cell culture collection. The Coriell Cell Repositories currently house three National Institutes of Health collections, as well as a cell bank for diabetes research. The institute was founded in 1953 by Lewis Coriell, a pioneer in tissue-culture techniques. In addition to the cell-culture facilities, the Coriell Institute includes basic research laboratories investigating cancer, AIDS, other aspects of the human immune system, and genetic disorders. Interns work in both areas of the institute, learning basic techniques in molecular biology, cell culture, and biomedical research. An Institutional Tradition Student internships have been part of life at the institute from the very beginning, says its founder. The program started informally, with students occasionally asking to volunteer for the summer. Over the years it became more structured, and by the late 1960s, the institute was working closely with science teachers at several local high schools to recruit students for the program. The program suffered a setback in the 1970s, says Coriell, when restrictions in federal grants on which the institute depended specified that no children under the age of 18 be permitted to work in the labs, for fear of contamination from viruses and other organisms under investigation. After a hiatus of several years, however, the rules were relaxed and, gradually, the program began to grow again. In addition, Coriell points out, the very nature of the institute's work--maintaining extensive cell cultures free of contamination--requires an emphasis on laboratory hygiene. In fact, many safety practices now standard in biological research labs were pioneered by the institute, where the laminar flow hood was first developed. Scientists at Coriell agree that, although they must invest a significant amount of time training the interns, it is well worth it in terms of the satisfaction they get out of initiating the students to the joys of science. "Any time you are in an environment where you can be a guiding light for young people, where you can help them get interested in science, that's the benefit," says Marie Hoover, an associate professor at the institute. "What I like about having the interns in my lab is to have good communication with the young, budding researcher," says Subal Bishayee, also an associate professor. "When they come, they don't have much idea of what happens in the lab. I provide them with an opening." Making A Commitment An internship at Coriell involves a significant commitment on the part of the student as well as the researcher. Interns actively participate in the research taking place in the laboratory to which they are assigned, and, like "real scientists," must sometimes work more than an eight-hour day in order to see an experiment through to its conclusion. Tasks interns perform include western blots, cell cultures, protein assays and purifi- cation, and DNA extractions. Interns are often given a project that is their responsibility. Some interns have been authors on papers reporting on the research in which they participated. Student interns earn about $2,000 for their summer's work. Toward the end of the summer, the institute sponsors a symposium at which the interns present their work. All of the institute scientists, as well as the interns, are asked to attend. Throughout the summer, students are expected to attend research seminars and workshops, journal clubs, and other such events, although, as Beck notes, "they have a fairly intense amount of work, so they have to carve out time." Bishayee finds that after an intensive first week of training, interns become valued workers. "Once you allow someone to work in your lab, for the first few days you have to be constantly with them, so that they pick up the right techniques, and they don't unintentionally break any of the equipment," he says. "If you train them properly the first week, then the remaining seven weeks is a plus point." Gary Butler, an assistant professor at Coriell, notes that researchers must be willing to work with the interns to make the experience rewarding. "If you're going to take the responsibility of having a student in the laboratory," he advises, "you have to realize that you have to put out something for that student to make his or her stay beneficial to them. Otherwise, you're not doing much for them." Rader, who did his first stint at the institute just after graduating from high school, had been thinking about studying physics prior to his internship. But his work with Gary Butler, investigating the anti-cancer potential of a certain protein, changed his mind. "I had a lot of fun in the lab, just trying things and experimenting, so that really turned my attention toward biology," Rader says. Rader is currently a biology major with plans to go on to graduate school to study molecular biology or microbiology. Although none will be spending their summer vacation at Coriell this year, Beck is seeking funding to support high school teacher interns next year. Teachers, who have received a stipend of about $5,000 for the summer, he points out, are more expensive than students, and must be supported through outside grants. Teachers who have interned in previous years, however, are significantly broadening the institute's impact. "When you can reach a student, you can reach a student, and that's very good," says Beck. "But when you reach a teacher, you are reaching 40 or 60 students, and that's even better." Martin Weiss, who interned at Coriell in 1988, is a teacher at Woodrow Wilson High School, a Camden school with a predominantly minority student population. At the time of his internship, Weiss was developing a class called "Introduction to Research" for seniors. He says that the program was invaluable in teaching him what was involved in original research, so that he could pass that experience on to his class. His students spend the year working on original research projects, and some enter their projects in local and regional science fairs. "It [the internship] helped a lot," Weiss says, "because now they win all the time." Each year, students from Woodrow Wilson bring home two or three prizes from the Thomas Edison Science Fair, which includes students from southern New Jersey. The winners go on to compete in the Delaware Valley Science Fair, which covers Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware. Last year, boasts Weiss, his students came back from the Delaware Valley Science Fair with five prizes- -the most in the history of the high school. For Weiss, the important thing in the Coriell lab where he interned was not all the molecular-biology techniques he learned- -and, he says, he learned plenty--it was more the methods of science. The scientific method is "something that is in every science book you ever wanted to see," he points out. But, he says, the students "do a chapter on it in the beginning and then they promptly forget it." By contrast, Weiss's students do use the scientific method--again and again, as they design their experiments, analyze their results, and design more experiments. The lack of role models in the sciences is broadly acknowledged as a serious barrier to bringing more minority students into science and research. The minority students who interview for the Coriell internships generally reflect this. "They have absolutely no role model," says Beck, "They've never seen anything like this [the Coriell labs] before." Beck adds, "In my view, that's why the teachers are so important, and why I'm going to work so hard this year to get money for the teachers in the minority schools to come and see this, because we can reach so many more students." Chantell Parks, a Camden High School senior who interned at Coriell last summer, found a role model in Marie Hoover, the Coriell scientist in whose lab she worked. Parks, an African American, was recently awarded a full, four-year scholarship to Villanova University in suburban Philadelphia. She plans to become a dentist, and is now considering pursuing research, as well, so she can "do the things that Dr. Hoover did." Parks believes that programs such as Coriell's are vitally important to increasing the numbers of minorities in science. "Sometimes minorities believe that they are not even cut out for the things researchers do," she says. "But when they're introduced to the things that I've been introduced to, it makes them think, `Oh, wow! I could do this, too! It's not that hard, and it's fun.'" For more information on the Coriell Institute's summer internship program, contact David Beck at: Coriell Institute for Medical Research, 401 Haddon Ave., Camden, N.J. 08103; (609) 966-7377. Rebecca Krumm is a freelance science writer based in Audubon, Pa. ---------- WE WELCOME YOUR OPINION. IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO COMMENT ON THIS STORY, PLEASE WRITE TO US AT EITHER ONE OF THE FOLLOWING ADDRESSES: The Scientist, 3600 Market Street, Suite 450, Philadelphia, PA 19104 U.S.A. (The Scientist, Vol:8, #10, May 16, 1994 (Copyright, The Scientist, Inc.) ================================ NEXT: PEOPLE ------------------------------------------------------------ TI : NSF Presents $500,000 Waterman Award To Courant Institute Mathematician AU : CRAIG MONTESANO TY : PROFESSION (PEOPLE) PG : 23 Gang Tian, a professor of mathematics at the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences of New York University (NYU), is the recipient of the 1994 Alan T. Waterman Award, presented by the National Science Foundation and the National Science Board (NSB) to an outstanding researcher, 35 years of age or younger, in any field of science or engineering supported by NSF. The prize consists of a citation, a bronze medal, and a grant of $500,000 over a three-year period for scientific research or advanced study at the institution of the recipient's choice. Award ceremonies were held at the State Department in Washington, D.C., on May 4. Widely regarded as one of the world's leading young experts in differential geometry, Tian, 35, is known for his mastery of nonlinear partial differential equations as well as complex and algebraic geometry. His major research accomplishments include the solution of the problem of the existence of Kahler-Einstein metrics on complex surfaces, proof that moduli space for Kahler- Einstein metrics with zero first-class Chern class is nonsingular, and proof of the stability of algebraic manifolds by using Kahler-Einstein metrics. Tian says he will apply the award money toward continued research at the Courant Institute. In addition, he says, he hopes to pursue other mathematical vistas. "I will not confine myself to complex differential geometry," he says. "I would like to study the relation of geometry to physics." Tian has served on the faculty of the Courant Institute since 1992. Previously, he was an associate professor of mathematics at the State University of New York, Stony Brook, from 1990 to 1991, and an assistant professor of mathematics at Princeton University from 1988 to 1990. A citizen of the People's Republic of China, Tian received a B.S. from Nanking University in 1982, an M.S. from Beijing University in 1984, and a Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1988. He received an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship in 1987 and was an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellow from 1991 to 1993. The Waterman Award was established by Congress in 1975 to mark the 25th anniversary of NSF and to honor Alan T. Waterman, the agency's first director, whose tenure spanned the administrations of Presidents Truman, Eisenhower, and Kennedy. --Craig Montesano ---------- WE WELCOME YOUR OPINION. IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO COMMENT ON THIS STORY, PLEASE WRITE TO US AT EITHER ONE OF THE FOLLOWING ADDRESSES: The Scientist, 3600 Market Street, Suite 450, Philadelphia, PA 19104 U.S.A. (The Scientist, Vol:8, #10, May 16, 1994 (Copyright, The Scientist, Inc.) ================================ NEXT: ------------------------------------------------------------ TI : British Oceanographer Nets Woods Hole's Stommel Medal AU : CRAIG MONTESANO TY : PROFESSION (PEOPLE) PG : 23 John C. Swallow, British oceanographer and inventor of the neutrally buoyant float for use in tracking elements of the ocean's general circulation, has been selected as the first recipient of the Henry Stommel Medal in Oceanography from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI). Established in January 1993 in honor of longtime WHOI oceanographer Henry Melson Stommel, the award recognizes "fundamental and enduring contributions to observing and understanding ocean processes." Stommel, who died in 1991 at the age of 71, conducted physical oceanography research that led to the development of modern concepts in ocean circulation. Swallow, 70, was a member of the Institute of Oceanographic Sciences (formerly the National Institute of Oceanography) at Deacon Laboratory, Wormley, U.K., from 1954 until his retirement in 1983. At Cambridge University in the 1940s, Swallow began work on techniques for seismic prospecting at sea, applying them in a round-the-world voyage from 1950 to 1952 aboard HMS Challenger. He received a Ph.D. with first-class honors in physics in 1954. Swallow made numerous research voyages with various ships, many in collaboration with Henry Stommel. Among the more productive of their cooperative efforts was the MEDOC experiment in 1969, an investigation into winter convective processes in the northwest Mediterranean Sea. Stommel and Swallow also shared an interest in the western boundary and equatorial currents of the Indian Ocean. His first use of the neutrally buoyant float--known as the Swallow float--was in 1955, in an experiment to measure subsurface currents originally predicted by Stommel. During a subsequent North Atlantic voyage in 1962, Swallow, along with Stommel and WHOI researcher Valentine Worthington, used the floats to prove the existence of the Deep Western Boundary Current, circulating on the Continental Rise south of Cape Cod. The discovery of this current, named the mid-ocean mesoscale eddy field, launched a decade of international research. Commenting in his award lecture on both his invention and Stommel's influence, Swallow said, "Henry was such a dominant figure, such a continuous source of new ideas. I was just lucky enough to come up with one when Henry needed it." --Craig Montesano ---------- WE WELCOME YOUR OPINION. IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO COMMENT ON THIS STORY, PLEASE WRITE TO US AT EITHER ONE OF THE FOLLOWING ADDRESSES: The Scientist, 3600 Market Street, Suite 450, Philadelphia, PA 19104 U.S.A. (The Scientist, Vol:8, #10, May 16, 1994 (Copyright, The Scientist, Inc.) ================================ NEXT: OBITUARY ----------------------------------------------------------------- TI : PAUL K. FEYERABEND TY : PROFESSION (OBITUARY) PG : 23 Paul K. Feyerabend, 70, a professor, emeritus, of philosophy at both the University of California, Berkeley, and the Polytechnic Institute of Zurich, died of a brain tumor on February 11 in Geneva. He had completed the last chapter of his autobiography only days before. Known around the world for his misanthropic observations on scientists and scientific knowledge, Feyerabend argued that scientists have no special claims on truth and often create meaning based on their own context and needs. "Scientists have more money, more authority, [and] more sex appeal than they deserve," he said in a 1979 Science profile ("Science and the anarchist," 206:534). Feyerabend's books included Against Method (New York, Routledge & Kegan Paul Inc., 1975), Science in a Free Society (Routledge, 1978), and Farewell to Reason (Routledge, 1987). Feyerabend received his Ph.D. from the University of Vienna in 1951. He achieved a measure of acclaim early in his career for contributions to the problems of empiricism and the philosophical foundations of quantum physics. Before joining the Berkeley faculty in 1959, Feyerabend was a protege of philosopher Karl Popper at the London School of Economics. He later became Popper's chief critic in the field of scientific rationalism. ---------- WE WELCOME YOUR OPINION. IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO COMMENT ON THIS STORY, PLEASE WRITE TO US AT EITHER ONE OF THE FOLLOWING ADDRESSES: The Scientist, 3600 Market Street, Suite 450, Philadelphia, PA 19104 U.S.A. (The Scientist, Vol:8, #10, May 16, 1994 (Copyright, The Scientist, Inc.) ================================


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