Round Trip from Stockholm to ASCB

Schmidt Schekman and Rothman 2010With Stockholm still in the future, Randy Schekman (third from left)
with fellow 2013 Nobel winner, Jim Rothman (far right), shared the ASCB's
highest scientific honor, the E. B. Wilson Medal, with Stuart Kornfeld
(first on left) from ASCB former president Sandy Schmid at the 2010
ASCB Annual Meeting in Philadelphia. ASCB photo.
This week I attended an insightful seminar by the newly announced Nobel Laureate and former ASCB President Randy Schekman. Months ago, Schekman had agreed to speak at this routine NIH seminar to be held in an obscure conference room in a nondescript government building. However, after the invitation went out, something happened in Stockholm, which transformed the Schekman talk into a major event. Well over a thousand excited scientists turned out.


The Gift of Being Crystal Clear

Do we understand crystal clear thinking? Perhaps, when someone is expressing clear thoughts we understand the concept, but in reality, we really do not understand what happens inside the brain when one is thinking clearly. But now in a Nature paper, scientists at Stanford University have unveiled CLARITY, which is an acronym for a technique to render a post-mortem brain completely clear, that is, optically transparent and permeable to macromolecules. One day CLARITY may help us understand clear thinking and much more. Importantly, it could give us a handle to better understand the extremely complex neuronal circuitry in the brain, with its 1014-1015 synapses. It could help us better understand the abnormal circuit wiring that occurs in humans affected by developmental pathologies, such as many psychiatric disorders. What an exciting moment for us to be witnessing this discovery!


Happy Gastrulation Day, Everyone!

The Italian poet, Giovanni Pascoli, once said that inside all adults, there is a child, il fanciullino, who is responsible for putting each of us in contact with the world through imagination and sensitivity. My fanciullino was on steroids when I recently met at a school with second graders to talk about biology! There is nothing so satisfying as explaining biology to children. They have that uncanny curiosity that can light a fire under any adult's lukewarm curiosity.


Renato Dulbecco: A Gentle Superman Recalled

David Baltimore, who shared the Nobel Prize with Renato Dulbecco and Howard Temin in 1975, said it best in his memorial tribute at the time of Dulbecco's death:[1] "A gentle superman," Baltimore wrote. Renato was truly a superman, although when I first met him, in his late seventies, stylish, sharp-as-a-razor scientist, he reminded me more of James Bond than of a comic book character. But indeed, superhero he was.

Subscribe to this RSS feed