Christina is a science writer for the American Society for Cell Biology. She earned her Ph.D. in Cell Biology and Molecular Physiology at the University of Pittsburgh.
Two longtime ASCB members, Randy Schekman of the University of California, Berkeley, and James Rothman of Yale University, have won the 2013 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their discoveries of how molecules move through the cell in vesicles and fuse to target membranes in a process known as "trafficking."
In a city where bikes outnumber cars and even people, more than 900 scientists dodged bicycles as they picked their way to the conference center for the 2013 EMBO meeting in Amsterdam. Kai Simons, Director Emeritus and Research Group Leader of the Max Planck Institute-CBG in Dresden, opened the meeting last Saturday, October 21. His talk that extended his pioneering research on lipid rafts in eukaryotic cell membranes toward bacteria with a new class of proteins called hopanoids that stand in for sterols on bacterial "liquid-ordered" membranes.
Got a piece of venerable (if supposedly functional) equipment taking up bench space? Turn it into an ASCB #ThrowbackThursday winner! The ASCB Post is ramping up its weekly Twitter hashtags with a cell biology twist. #ThrowbackThursday, which features blasts from the ASCB past like old photos of ASCB members (with the opportunity to guess the identity) or a landmark paper published back in the day, is adding a new category for historic/obsolete lab equipment.
Big discoveries can turn up in unexpected places, such as neurons of the Pacific electric ray, Torpedo californica. That was the start of Richard H. Scheller's path to the 2013 Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award, which he received last week. Along with Thomas C. Südhof of Stanford University, Scheller won for their independent investigations into the regulatory mechanisms of neurotransmitter release.
In the grand march of human history, first there was the cave wall and charcoal. Then came the inked poster. Now comes the ePoster, the dynamic multimedia form of the venerable 3'8" (1.1m) X 6' (1.828 m) paper poster. For the first time, the 2013 ASCB Annual Meeting will feature this new presentation format (see Jessica Polka's example below).
Later this fall, a few, a precious few, ASCB members will be booking flights to Stockholm. For the rest of us, take a seat with your laptop tonight to watch live as another batch of Nobelists—the Ig Nobelists—step into the bright lights. This is one show you will be glad to miss as an honoree.
Three-person in-vitro fertilization sounds like something out of science fiction—or pulp fiction—but until recently it was the only known technique to prevent women who have damaging mitochondrial DNA mutations from passing on life-threatening disorders to their babies. And it is illegal in the U.S (clinical trials required by the FDA have not been completed). Now researchers at the University of Miami have demonstrated a new strategy that could one day treat these disorders both in adult carriers and in their already born children.
David Odde may be the first scientist whose lab meetings include a dance company. Four years ago Odde, professor of biomedical engineering at the University of Minnesota and ASCB member, started collaborating with Black Label Movement (BLM); a Twin Cities-based dance theater. Together they use dance to simulate molecular processes.
Our bodies and our cells need specialized fats. Our cells eat through a process called endocytosis, which is critical for cells to take up nutrients from their environment. Embedded in the cell membrane, phosphoinositides are specialized lipids crucial during endocytosis and subsequent steps. They can be modified by protein kinases and phosphatases that alter their phosphorylation pattern in one of five places, indicated by the number(s) in the name. Thus was born the PIP family. PIP2, for example, is PtdIns(4,5)P2 phosphorylated in positions 4 and 5.
Ali Khademhosseini is a scientist in a hurry. Khademhosseini, now an associate professor at Harvard Medical School, earned his PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in just three years and eight months. He published 12 first-author papers during his graduate studies, working on engineering cellular microenvironments in Robert Langer's lab. Khademohesseini recommends making a plan of action before starting experiments. He told me, "I often wrote an outline of my project including the innovation and expected analysis methods to have a plan of what the paper would look like at the end. I then went about testing various hypotheses. It is important to design experiments in which even a failure results in new knowledge."