Mother Nature made an unexpected appearance this afternoon at the Lasker Awards luncheon in New York City when Peter Walter of the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and ASCB President Elect for 2016, described her as a mix of biological referee, evolutionary trickster, and puzzle mistress. "In biology, Mother Nature presents the playing field, and it is our task to decipher how it works," Walter declared. "Disconcertingly, Nature deploys the strategy of random walk, of mutation and selection, leading to the evolution of the world that surrounds us. She then presents us with the most fascinating puzzles to decipher: the inherently unpredictable Rube Goldberg machines that make up a living cell."
It will be a triple feature, short but powerful, says Duane Compton. The three "Tell Your Own Cell Story" videos just commissioned by ASCB's Celldance Studios will feature eye-popping live cell imaging and scientific storytelling, according to Compton, who chaired the Celldance selection panel. The panel today announced the names of the ASCB members from whom videos have been commissioned and the cell stories they plan to tell.
The UPR has unfolded into the 2014 Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award for ASCB President-Elect for 2016 Peter Walter. A Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator and Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), Walter was named co-winner winner today along with Kazutoshi Mori of Kyoto University for their independent but closely related work on untangling the unfolded protein response or UPR, a signaling pathway that protects cells by flagging misfolded proteins in the cytoplasm and switching on a protective response.
It was the one of the very few moments in his life when he was truly speechless, says Malcolm Campbell. He was at the 2013 ASCB spring Council meeting in Washington, DC, seated next to fellow ASCB councilor David Botstein who had just won one of the new $3 million Breakthrough Awards in Life Sciences. Waiting for the meeting to come to order, Campbell, a professor at Davidson College in North Carolina and a leading proponent of research-driven reform in undergraduate biology education, congratulated Botstein on the award. Campbell recalls, "David said, 'I want to give some money to MIT, Cold Spring Harbor, UCSF, and to you.
Back from the undead, the 2014 "Zombie Cellslam," the Public Information Committee's stand-up science slam, is slouching toward Philadelphia where it will take the stage again at an Annual Meeting of the ASCB for the first time in five remarkably peaceful years. No more. The 2014 Zombie Cellslam, so named because it will not die, is set for Monday evening, December 10, at the joint ASCB/IFCB meeting in the Pennsylvania Convention Center. It will offer a variety of wit, music, and outrageously amusing competition plus free popcorn and a cash bar.
In Hollywood and in 3D molecular printing, you start with a script. But the scripts that Darrell Hurt offers bioscience researchers help them to make molecular discoveries more easily. Hurt is the section head at the Computational Biology Bioinformatics and Computational Biosciences Branch at the NIH, where he recently launched the NIH 3D Print Exchange. http://3dprint.nih.gov/ The Exchange offers open-access to ready-to-use scripts, the instructions that drive 3D printers, so scientists can turn their .pdb and other data files into print-it-yourself plastic models.
It's rare to find a young scientist in a big office, yet Gregory Alushin, age 29, has generous space, a U-shaped desk, and a floor-to-ceiling window with a view of the NIH campus. He is semi-apologetic about the arrangement, insisting that it's only temporary. "We're going to have to leave this place in a few months," Alushin hastily explains. "Another institute had just moved out of this space so we got to be the temporary sole occupants." His lab was founded only seven months ago, says Alushin, and he doesn't want to get too comfortable.
Making sausage and making legislation are not spectator sports but someone has to keep an eye on what's going into the mix. A case in point is the release by the Senate Appropriations Committee last Friday of its version of the bill that will fund the departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education for FY15. At first glance, the bill looks like typical Capitol Hill sausage. But look closer. Tucked deep inside the bill are changes that, if they become law, will help NIH scientists attend scientific meetings and reverse a case of unintended consequences. What you are looking at is a big victory for science, for researchers, and for ASCB. Humanity may also benefit.
Microscopic movie moguls have two more weeks to submit their "Tell Your Own Cell Story" proposal to ASCB's Public Information Committee (PIC), which will commission three live cell imaging videos at $1,000 each to be shot on location in the labs of ASCB members. The new deadline is August 15.
Call it "JIF Day," an event both anticipated and dreaded in scientific publishing when Journal Citation Reports, a commercial service of Thomson Reuters "Web of Science," issues its yearly "journal impact factor" (JIF) ratings that purport to rank journals by their research impact. This year Thomson Reuters postponed JIF Day from mid-June to late-July. With the 2014 JIF ranking finally expected this week, the anti-JIF coalition of scientists, journal editors, and scholarly publishers who issued the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA) are greeting the delayed JIFs with examples of JIF-less "good practices" for scientific assessment.