Making pluripotent stem cells, cells with the ability to turn into almost any cell type, is easier than ever, according to new papers published this week in Nature. Just add stress.
By creating laboratory systems that can accurately model all kinds of normal and diseased human cells, tissues, and even organs, advances in stem cell culturing techniques could open the way for a "new era of human cell biology," Lawrence Goldstein, chair of the ASCB Stem Cell Task Force, told the National Institute for General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) Advisory Council meeting on the NIH campus in Bethesda, MD, Friday. "There are tremendous opportunities using stem cell technologies... to advance our understanding of basic biological principles," Goldstein of the University of California, San Diego, told the NIGMS council when presenting the task force's recommendations. "There are some programmatic goals we think will help us get there," he said.
Just when it seemed that the pool of research funding was down to puddles, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) announced Wednesday a national open competition for 20-25 new HHMI investigators who will be awarded $150 million in new funds over the next five years. All applications are self-nominations and endorsement letters are only required if the candidate becomes a semifinalist.
In the pantheon of Great Biologists, there are major discoveries and powerful insights but great humor is more or less limited to GBS Haldane's wisecrack about evolution revealing the Creator's "inordinate fondness for beetles." But if you're looking for funny in cell biology, try the pantheon's very small humour annex in Chicago where Stan Cohn teaches at DePaul University and studies diatoms, the vast group of unicellular algae that anchors the oceanic food, acts as water pollution markers, and continues to intrigue cell biologists because of their silica cell walls and exquisite photo sensitivity.
Time-lapse movies of a cellular "heaven and hell," a dividing crane fly sperm cell undergoing, and the early development of muscle cells were recognized with the top three awards in the American Society for Cell Biology's Celldance "Really Useful" Cell Biology Video Contest for 2013. The special Public Outreach Award went to a group of cell biologists at the Dartmouth College, Geisel School of Medicine who danced their favorite cellular processes as The Cell Dance.
Insurrection, intellectual rebellion, or learned remonstrance, call it what you will, the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment, or DORA, began one year ago this week in a windowless meeting room in the depths of the Moscone Convention Center when a group of scientists, journal editors, and publishers decided they had a common problem that needed addressing—the journal impact factor, or JIF.
Is there life after graduate school? For doctoral students and postdocs who've been wondering what their future lab life could be like outside academia, say in the biotech industry, here's a chance to get a taste and some intensive training in a free-to-the-student 12-day MBA-style, case-based course. ASCB and the Keck Graduate Institute (KGI), with generous funding from EMD Millipore, have teamed up to offer "Managing Science in the Biotech Industry: An Intensive Course for Students and Postdocs" to 40 postdocs and graduate ASCB members this June in Claremont, CA.
Elaine Fuchs grew up surrounded by scientists. Her father and aunt were scientists at Argonne National Laboratories, and later her older sister became a neuroscientist. So Fuchs has followed in the family footsteps. Today she is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, a professor at the Rockefeller University, and a widely recognized pioneer in adult stem cell research. She is also a former ASCB President. As an ASCB stalwart and a stem cell pathfinder, Fuchs was drafted to serve on the ASCB Stem Cell Task Force last spring and helped write the preliminary report, which was presented for public comment last month.
It is the Talk of Talks. Win the Nobel Prize in Medicine or Physiology and you get an hour in the brand new 1,000-seat Aula Medica of the Karolinska Institutet in which to explain the science that earned your airfare to Stockholm. In your Nobel lecture, you can thank your mentors, colleagues, and former labbies plus include a wave hello to family. You can also point out the philosophical implications of your work or issue a dire warning.
Two longtime ASCB members, Randy Schekman of the University of California, Berkeley, and James Rothman of Yale University, along with co-winner Thomas Südhof, will give their 2013 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine lectures tonight at 7:00 pm EST (1:00 pm in Stockholm). To watch live tonight, tune into the live YouTube stream broadcast below.