John Fleischman

John Fleischman

John is ASCB Senior Science Writer and the author among other things of two nonfiction books for older children, "Phineas Gage: A Gruesome But True Story About Brain Science" and "Black & White Airmen," both from Houghton-Mifflin-Harcourt, Boston.

When the fledgling ASCB held its big meeting in a down-at-the-heels hotel on the Chicago lakefront in 1961, it was something of a carnival of animals, lab animals. Peter Satir, who is now at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, NY, was present in Chicago. Fifty three years later when asked about the first scientific program, Satir couldn't help pointing out how many different organisms or parts thereof were being studied.

ASCB's Public Information Committee (PIC), the longtime producer of Celldance, is now a microscopic motion picture producer. For Celldance 2014, PIC will commission three "Tell Your Own Cell Story" videos at $1,000 each to be shot on location in the labs of ASCB members. "In a very modest way, we are looking to underwrite cell biology films that balance an accessible narrative, rock-solid science, and awesome imagery," says PIC Chair Simon Atkinson.

Jerrold Schwaber, an immunologist and cell biologist who pioneered the concept and technique for monoclonal antibodies (hybridomas) died at home in Haddonfield, New Jersey, on June 6. He was 67. Schwaber was a longtime member of the ASCB, joining in 1980 and moving to emeritus status in 2002.

Roll-aboard suitcase in tow, the passenger in the red chinoiserie jacket was coming up the ramp to Terminal C in Dulles International Airport at a determined rate when her eye was caught by a blaze of color on the wall. She stopped to study the image glowing on the wall-mounted light box. Then she read the label. It was an enormous blow-up of mouse cancer cells with actin labeled in green to show the cell-cell adhesion points. And it was strangely beautiful. The passenger continued slowly up the ramp, examining each of the 46 giant images displayed on the light boxes, from Ebola virus to gecko lizard toe hairs to mitotic chromosomes. This airline passenger was one of the 1.25 million expected to pass through the Gateway Gallery at Dulles over the next six months where Life: Magnified, a collaborative project of the ASCB and the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) opened with some fanfare yesterday. Life:Magnified was made possible by the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority with funding support from the Carl Zeiss Company.

Arriving today, an exotic world, both foreign and as close as their own skin, will greet travelers moving through Washington Dulles International Airport, as “Life: Magnified,” an exhibit of 46 eye-popping color images of life on the cellular level, opens in the airport’s Gateway Gallery in Concourse C. “Life: Magnified” is a collaborative project of the American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB), the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (Airports Authority) with support from ZEISS.

Yale professor, Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, and ASCB member, Joan Argetsinger Steitz has been elected a foreign member of the Royal Society in the UK. Steitz was an early pioneer in RNA biology, discovering much of the machinery and key players in RNA splicing. She went onto elucidate the role of small nucleic ribonucleoparticles (snRNPs or "snurps") in modifying non-coding introns and continues her work on microRNAs in gene regulation. The Royal Society membership joins a long list of Steitz's honors and awards including the Gairdner International Award in 2006 and the ASCB's highest scientific honor, the E.B. Wilson Medal, in 2005.

ASCB President-Elect Peter Walter, professor of biochemistry and biophysics at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), is the co-winner of the 2014 Shaw Prize in Life Sciences and Medicine. Walter, who is also a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, will share the $1 million Shaw Prize with Kazutoshi Mori of Kyoto University for their work on the unfolded protein response (UPR), the cell's quality control response to an accumulation of defectively folded proteins.

David L. Spector of the Cold Springs Harbor Lab (CSHL), a scientist long known for his pioneering work in live cell imaging of the nucleus and its surprisingly fluid geography and population, has been named to a pair of prestigious memberships, one in the American Academy of Arts & Sciences and the other in EMBO, the European Molecular Biology Organization. Spector, who is both a professor and Director of Research at CSHL, has been an ASCB member since 1980. He chaired the ASCB Annual Meeting program committee in 2008 and served on ASCB's governing Council from 2010 to 2012.

Once you could pity the lamins. As intermediate filaments, the lamins were often slighted as awkward siblings in between actin and microtubules. Found right under the inner nuclear membrane, lamins were regarded as little more than building materials for the nuclear lamina consisting of additional nuclear proteins. No more. Lamins have come up in the cell world, tied in recent years to transcriptional regulation and linked directly to a rare human developmental disorder of rapid aging called Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome. But their fundamental place in eukaryotic cell biology remained unclear. Lamins are ubiquitously conserved across metazoans but are they essential to cell life?

The Big Day dawns at last. As the sun heaves itself out of the Atlantic Ocean this morning and Boston stirs to life, the Dicty World Race will roar into action in the Massachusetts General Hospital lab of Dan Irimia. Twenty teams have sent in their finely tuned racing organisms to settle the question of which will be faster in a race against the clock through a microfluidic maze, the Dictyostelium discoideum a.k.a. Dicty, the slime mold with a vast reputation (and literature), or a human neutrophil-like cell line called HL-60. You can follow the action live here.

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