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.
The first line of Franklin Carrero-Martínez's CV is a showstopper—"Scientist, Diplomat and Educator with a Ph.D. in Neurobiology." But he comes by all of it honestly. As of this writing, Carrero- Martínez, who is in his second year as a AAAS Science & Technology (S&T) Policy Fellow, is in Mexico City. He has been officially posted for two months to the U.S. Embassy there by the U.S. State Department to advise on Environment, Science, Technology and Health (ESTH) issues, including working on a Mexican version of our Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) technology transfer program. It's a policy level program to encourage Mexican researchers to bring new ideas out of their academic laboratories and into real world applications. U.S. President Barack Obama and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto agreed on sharing this and other technology ideas in talks last May. As a Senior Science Policy Advisor in the Office of the Science and Technology Advisor to the Secretary (STAS for those keeping acronym score), Carrero- Martínez is in Mexico City to make it happen.
Before that, Carrero-Martínez held the Pakistan S&T portfolio at both the U.S State Department and the U.S. National Academies of Science. That was during his first year in Washington as a Roger Revelle Fellow in Global Stewardship, a special AAAS policy fellowship program for early career faculty. As a Revelle Fellow, Carrero-Martínez was free to find his own placements. He ended up with two and with two offices—one at the State Department and one at the U.S. National Academy of Science (NAS). In both places, Carrero-Martínez picked up the Pakistan S&T portfolio, which was an orphan. "I guess no one wanted Pakistan because it was so hard. But I found it not to be too difficult. I guess I enjoy the higher adrenalin of dealing with complex issues and walking that line."
If cells were cars, then the three pioneering cell biologists just named winners of the 2014 E.B. Wilson Medal, the highest scientific honor of the American Society for Cell Biology, helped write the essential parts list. William "Bill" Brinkley of the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, John Heuser of the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, and Peter Satir of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx identified crucial pieces of the cytoskeleton, the cell's shape-shifting framework, and showed how these elements drive life at the cellular level.