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.

Sue Biggins of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and current ASCB Council member will receive the National Academy of Sciences 2013 Award in Molecular Biology, which comes with a $25,000 prize, courtesy of Pfizer Inc. It recognizes a recent notable discovery by a young scientist.

The year 1953 is generally considered the year zero for molecular cell biology with the publication of Watson and Crick's celebrated Nature paper on the structure of DNA. But there was another big paper in 1953 by Yves Clermont and Charles Leblond of McGill University that appeared in the American Journal of Anatomy.

ASCB Urges All Researchers to Sign the DORA Pledge

An ad hoc coalition of unlikely insurgents—scientists, journal editors and publishers, scholarly societies, and research funders across many scientific disciplines—today posted an international declaration calling on the world scientific community to eliminate the role of the journal impact factor (JIF) in evaluating research for funding, hiring, promotion, or institutional effectiveness.

A standing-room-only crowd at a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee May 15 heard the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) top brass bemoan the stagnation in the last decade of federal funding for biomedical research and plead to be spared further cuts in the fiscal year 2014 (FY14) budget.

The "journal impact factor" rebellion is spreading. In the two weeks since it first went online, DORA—the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment  hat calls on scientists and scientific organizations around the world to minimize use of the journal impact factor (JIF) in evaluating research and  researchers—has seen the number of individual signers jump from 155 to 6,083 while the number of scientific organizations signing on has gone from 78 to 231.

The last time Elias Zerhouni appeared before an official ASCB gathering in 2007, he was still National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director. Zerhouni had already made a big splash at the ASCB Annual Meeting in San Diego the year before when he volunteered as a judge for CellSlam, the ASCB's wildly popular stand-up science slam. By all accounts, "Dr. Z" rocked the house. Zerhouni repeated as an unflappable and untoppable CellSlam judge at the ASCB's 2007 Annual Meeting in Washington. He ended his six-year tenure as NIH Director in 2008.

Thursday, 15 September 2011 20:00

Repeating Yourself—the DNA Danger

Every cell in the body starts off with essentially the same genome, but sometimes the DNA sequence in a cell gets changed. Some of these changes are due to normal physiology (e.g. DNA is rearranged in immune cells to generate diversity in the adaptive immune system), but others are actual errors that occur when the DNA is copied during cell base. Some mistakes involve the introduction of long sequences in which short DNA "words" are repeated many times. Like a skipping CD (or an old school vinyl record), small areas of the genome are repeated over and over again and once it's copied in the DNA, all subsequent cellular offspring, have the repeated mistake.

Proteins have to be transported through the complex internal environment of a cell to reach their site of function. Nowhere is this more evident than in brain cells, or neurons, which communicate with each other over long distances at specialized sites of contact, called synapses. Through a poorly understood process, the neuron must sort through thousands of protein to identify a small set of proteins that must travel to the synapse.

Protein aggregates—abnormal clumps of misfolded proteins—are common feature in diseases such as Parkinson's, Huntington's, and Creutzfeldt-Jakob (CJD, the infamous "mad cow" disease). However, it's still a mystery as to whether these aggregates cause the disease or are simply an effect. If aggregates are the cause, how do they work?

A foundation created by a Slovakian-born microbiologist who helped shape a monoclonal antibody into a clinically effective tumor necrosis factor (TNF) blocker will once again award three $35,000 no-strings cash prizes to young immigrant scientists who demonstrate "exceptional" records of early career achievement in the life sciences.

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