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ASCB Newsletter - October 1998

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The Johns Hopkins University Program on Protein and Lipid Traffic and Dynamics in Epithelial Cells: Postdoctoral fellowships are available in four laboratories that collaborate in the study of molecular traffic in polarized epithelial cells. Members of the program and their areas of interest are:

  • Micheal Edidin, Department of Biology - Distribution, traffic and mobility of lipid-anchored membrane proteins, glycolipids and cholesterol studied using biochemistry, biophysics and advanced imaging techniques.
  • Ann Hubbard, Department of Cell Biology - Basolateral-to-apical transcytosis; the nuclear-Golgi-apical plasma membrane axis in polarized epithelial cells, studied using biochemical and morphological and imaging assays.
  • Carolyn Machamer, Department of Cell Biology - Sphingolipid trafficking; lipids of the Golgi complex of polarized epithelial cells. Previous experience with lipid biochemistry is preferred.
  • Trina Schroer, Department of Biology - Microtubule nucleation and organization in polarized epithelial cells; cytoskeletal basis of sorting between endocytic and transcytotic pathways, studied using live cell imaging, cell microinjection and organelle isolation.

For more information send e-mail Michael Edidin, Department of Biology, The Johns Hopkins University, 3400 N. Charles Street, Baltimore MD 21218. The Johns Hopkins University is an equal opportunity employer.

Assistant Professor Cellular/Developmental Biology
The Johns Hopkins University

The Department of Biology invites applicants for a tenure track faculty appointment in the fields of cellular and/or developmental biology. Regardless of particular experience (plant vs. animal, etc.), we are most interested in applicants of the highest caliber who have outstanding research records. The successful candidate is expected to establish a vigorous research program and to participate in graduate and undergraduate teaching. Women and minority candidates are especially encouraged to apply. Note that this position is in addition to a biochemistry/biophysics assistant professorship advertised earlier.

Information about the research interests of the faculty, teaching program, and Departmental resources may be obtained at the Department's web site.

Applicants should submit a curriculum vitae together with a statement of current and planned research, and arrange to have three letters of recommendation sent to:

Search Committee in Cellular/Developmental Biology
Department of Biology
The Johns Hopkins University
3400 N. Charles Street
Baltimore, MD 21218

Deadline for receipt of applications is November 30, 1998.

The Johns Hopkins University is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.

FASEB 1999 Visiting Scientist Program
The Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology invites academic institutions whose enrollments are predominantly drawn from ethnic minorities to participate in the Visiting Scientist Program in the life sciences. More than 400 FASEB members are available to spend 2-5 days at your institutions to participate in activities to motivate students towards careers in scientific research and to establish channels of communication with the host institutions. Applications are now being accepted for Spring, Summer, and Fall 1999 visits.

Varying levels of support, including student stipends and faculty salary, can also be provided to enable advanced undergraduate and Master's degree candidates and/or their faculty research advisors to make reciprocal visits to the laboratory of a scientist who visited their campus in the last two years under the Program. These reciprocal visits may last from 1 week to 3 months.

For more information contact Ana August (301) 530-7020.


Howard Hughes Medical Institute Announces 1998 Awards to Undergraduate Institutions

The Howard Hughes Medical Institute has awarded $91.1 million in four-year grants to help 58 research and doctoral universities strengthen their undergraduate education programs in the biological sciences. The universities will use the grants to expand research opportunities for undergraduates, update science courses and curricula, attract new faculty in emerging fields of science, and modernize laboratories through new scientific equipment and technology.

A list of the institutions and additional information about the awards and HHMI undergraduate programs is available online.


ASCB Placement Service Forms Now Available

Placement service forms are in PDF format and require Adobe Acrobat Reader to access. Alternatively, forms may be received by returning this request to the ASCB, 9650 Rockville Pike, Bethesda MD 20814.


Forms requested:

  • Candidate, number of copies _____
  • Employer, number of copies


Darnell, Penman to Receive E.B. Wilson Medals

James Darnell of the Rockefeller University and Sheldon Penman of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology will each receive the E.B. Wilson Medal for 1998. The Medal is the Society's highest honor for lifetime contributions to cell biology.

Both awardees have made extra-ordinary contributions to the understanding of the cell biology of the nucleus, providing pioneering insights into eukaryotic RNA synthesis, maturation, function and metabolism, and setting the groundwork for subsequent discovery of introns and RNA splicing. Darnell then turned his attention to transcriptional regulation and went on to discover the JAK/Stat pathway of signal transduction. Penman concentrated on the architectural organization of the cytoplasm and nucleus matrix and went on to discover their roles in transcriptional regulation.

The E.B. Wilson Addresses will be presented at the 38th ASCB Annual Meeting on Sunday evening, December 13, in the Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco.

Clinton Selects Langford for National Science Board
On October 24, President Clinton announced his nominations for the National Science Board. Five scientists were selected, including ASCB Secretary George Langford of Dartmouth Medical School.


WICB Awards to Guthrie, Preuss
Christine Guthrie of the University of California, San Francisco and Daphne Preuss of the University of Chicago will receive the Senior and Junior Awards of the ASCB Women in Cell Biology Committee for 1998.

Guthrie will receive the Senior Award. She is being recognized for her pioneering contributions to the understanding of the structure and function of yeast small nuclear RNAs, as well as for her sustained guidance of students and junior colleagues.

Preuss, who will receive the Junior Award, is cited for her promise to the field of cell biology, in particular for developing immunoelectron microscopy of yeast cells and for defining the plant centromere.

The awardees will be honored at the WICB & Education Committees Career Discussion Lunch on Monday, December 14, in San Francisco.


Symposium & Minisymposium Speakers & Schedule

ASCB 38th Annual Meeting - Dec. 12-16, 1998, San Francisco, CA

Symposium & Minisymposium Speakers & Schedule
Symposia Sunday through Wednesday are scheduled from 8:00 AM - 9:30 AM and from 10:30 AM - 12:00 noon. Six Minisymposia run concurrently each of the same days from 3:30 PM - 5:45 PM. All sessions will be held in the Moscone Convention Center. See the Annual Meeting Program and this website (www.ascb.org/ascb) for information about additional programs and activities.

Saturday, December 12
Keynote Symposium 6:00 - 7:30 p.m.
Understanding Disease at the Cellular and Molecular Level
(Esplanade Ballroom)
Richard Klausner, The National Cancer Institute, The National Institutes of Health (Chair)
Richard Lifton, Yale University
Susan Lindquist, University of Chicago

Special Biotech Panel 8:00 - 9:00 p.m.
Insights into the Biotech World
(Room 134)
Joan Brugge, Harvard Medical School (Moderator)
Geoffrey Duyk, Exelixis Pharmaceuticals
Michael Gilman, ARIAD Pharmaceuticals
David Goeddel, Tularik, Inc.

Sunday, December 13
Mitosis and Meiosis: Integrating Parts with the Whole
(Esplanade Ballroom)
R. Bruce Nicklas, Duke University (Chair)
Anthony Hyman, The European Molecular Biology Laboratory
Shirleen Roeder, Yale University

Emerging Technologies at the Interface Between Chemistry and Cell Biology (Esplanade Ballroom)
Gerald Crabtree, Stanford University (Chair)
Patrick Brown, Stanford University
Roger Tsien, University of California, San Diego

Checkpoints Controlling Cell Cycle Progression
(Room 103)
G. Gorbsky, A. Murray (Co-Chairs)

Endocytosis and Cell Signaling (Room 134)
L. Hicke, A. Sorkin (Co-Chairs)

Fertilization (Room 130)
L. Jaffe, P. Primakoff (Co-Chairs)

Microtubule Motors, the Cytoskeleton and Membrane Traffic (Room 135)
G. Bloom, E. Holzbaur (Co-Chairs)

Proteases and Tissue Remodeling (Room 102)
D. Rifkin, W. Stetler-Stevenson (Co-Chairs)

RNA Trafficking and Localization (Room 132)
A. Ephrussi, C. Guthrie (Co-Chairs)

Monday, December 14
Temporal and Spatial Control of Membrane Traffic at the Cell Surface
(Esplanade Ballroom)
Peter Novick, Yale University (Chair)
Thomas Martin, University of Wisconsin, Madison
Sandra Schmid, The Scripps Research Institute

Complexity within Cell Signaling Pathways (Esplanade Ballroom)
Richard Assoian, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine (Chair)
Roger Brent, Molecular Sciences Institute
Martin Schwartz, The Scripps Research Institute

Cell Adhesion and Signaling in Development and Disease
(Room 130)
M. Hemler, L. Parise (Co-Chairs)

Centrosomes, Cilia, Flagella: Assembly and Function (Room 134)
T. Stearns, G. Witman (Co-Chairs)

Mechanisms of Membrane Fusion and Resealing (Room 132)
P. McNeil, J. Zimmerberg (Co-Chairs)

Nuclear Trafficking: the Ins and Outs of the Nucleus (Room 102)
M. Dasso, M. Rout (Co-Chairs)

Roles of Adaptors/Coats in Protein Traffic (Room 103)
J. Keen, T. Kreis (posthumously) (Co-Chairs)

Small GTPases and Control of the Cytoskeleton (Room 135)
J. Donaldson, A. Ridley (Co-Chairs)

Tuesday, December 15
Signal Transduction to Cell Death
(Esplanade Ballroom)
Herman Steller, The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Chair)
Xiaodong Wang, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
Junying Yuan, Harvard Medical School

Sensory and Mechanotransduction (Esplanade Ballroom)
Donald Ingber, Harvard University (Chair)
David Julius, University of California, San Francisco
Erkki Ruoslahti, The Burnham Institute

Chromatin, Telomeres and Growth Control
(Room 132)
J. Berman, C. Greider (Co-Chairs)

Cytoskeletal Assembly and Organization (Room 103)
B. Borisy, L. Machesky (Co-Chairs)

Development Gradients and Specificity of Cell Fate (Room 130)
K. Basler, E. Ferguson (Co-Chairs)

Extracellular Matrix/Growth Factors (Room 135)
C. Damsky, J. Schwartzbauer (Co-Chairs)

Membrane Sorting and Polarity (Room 134)
K. Mostov, A. Wandinger-Ness (Co-Chairs)

Quality Control in the Early Secretory Pathway (Room 102)
R. Kopito, D. Williams (Co-Chairs)

Wednesday, December 16
Signal Cascades in Organogenesis
(Esplanade Ballroom)
Philip Beachy, The Johns Hopkins University (Chair)
Daphne Preuss, University of Chicago
Paul Sternberg, The California Institute of Technology

Chromosomal Basis of Gene Control (Esplanade Ballroom)
Alan Wolffe, National Institute of Child Health & Human Development, National Institutes of Health (Chair)
Rudolph Jaenisch, The Whitehead Institute, MIT
Mitzi Kuroda, Baylor College of Medicine

Minisymposis Altering Genomes (Room 130)
T. Baker, T. Kunkel (Co-Chairs)

Apoptosis and Growth Control (Room 103)
G. Evan, C. Thompson (Co-Chairs)

Cell Migration and Invasion (Room 135)
A.F. Horwitz, K. Jacobson (Co-Chairs)

Cytoskeleton in Polarity and Development (Room 134)
L. Cooley, D. Drubin (Co-Chairs)

Host-Pathogen Interactions (Room 132)
B. Finlay, K. Joiner (Co-Chairs)

Structural Studies of Cytoskeletal Proteins (Room 102)
E-M. Mandelkow, R. Milligan (Co-Chairs)


Special Interest Subgroup Meetings

ASCB 38th Annual Meeting - Dec. 12-16, 1998, San Francisco, CA

Special Interest Subgroup Meetings Saturday, December 12, 1:00 - 5:00 p.m.
The Moscone Convention Center

The following member-organized sessions are open to all Annual Meeting participants. No separate registration is required.

Organizers: Mary Dasso, National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Child Health &
Human Development, National Institutes of Health, and Shelley Sazer, Baylor College of Medicine
Room 212

Genetic and biochemical studies in a variety of experimental systems have shown that multiple biological processes depend upon the Ran GTPase system. These include nuclear protein import and export, RNA export, cell cycle progression, DNA replication, the growth and integrity of the nuclear envelope, and the condensation and decondensation of chromatin. One of the major unanswered questions in this field is whether the requirement for Ran in each of these processes reflects a necessity for ongoing nuclear transport or whether Ran has direct targets beyond its demonstrated role in nucleo-cytoplasmic trafficking. Recent studies have made a re-examination of this question timely: New Ran-binding proteins have been described within a single cell, possessing different localizations and functions. Speakers at this workshop will discuss recent investigations of Ran-interacting proteins and strategies for identifying downstream targets of this GTPase system in yeast, frog, fly and mammalian cells. (Sponsored by Deltavision by Applied Precision, Inc.)

Topics and speakers include:

  • The Role of Ran and Interacting Proteins in the Coordination of the Cell Cycle. Paul Clarke, Ninewells Hospital & Medical School, Dundee, Scotland, United Kingdom
  • Mitotic roles of Ran. Petr Kalab, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Bethesda
  • Altered expression and localization of RanBP1 yields mitotic and nuclear abnormalities. Patrizia Lavia, CNR National Research Council, Rome
  • Segregation Distortion: A Defect in Nuclear Transport? Cindi Merrill, University of Wisconsin, Madison
  • Does Ran regulate the cell cycle through the centrosome? Takeharu Nishimoto, Graduate School of Medical Science, Kyushu, Japan
  • Ran T42A is Defective in Nuclear Protein Import but Can Rescue a Nuclear Reconstitution Defect in Xenopus Egg Extracts. Mark G. Rush, New York University Medical Center
  • The Ran GTPase System is Required at the Mitosis to Interphase Transition in Fission Yeast. Shelley Sazer, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston
  • Further insights into Ran-dependent nuclear protein import. Katherine A. Welch, University of Virginia, Charlottesville

Organizers: Jeffrey A. Nickerson, University of Massachusetts Medical Center at Worcester, and Michael A. Mancini, Baylor College of Medicine
Room 274

The dramatic and rapid metamorphosis of the nucleus at mitosis gives us a unique opportunity to study the principals of nuclear construction. Despite their related interests, scientists studying nuclear structure and those studying mitotic architecture and control have inadequate opportunities for interaction. This symposium will bring them together to discuss nuclear architecture, the rearrangement of the nucleus into mitotic structures, the aliquoting of nuclear contents, and nuclear reconstruction. The session will consist of short talks and subsequent discussion periods. Each speaker will briefly identify important research directions and the discussion will focus on these opportunities and strategies for exploiting them.

Topics and speakers include:

  • Kinetochore choreography and spindle architecture. Bill Brinkley, Baylor College of Medicine Nuclear Structure, Cell Proliferation, and Tissue Morphogenesis. Mina J. Bissell, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley
  • Nuclear architecture. Jeffrey Nickerson, University of Massachusetts Medical School
  • Mitotic rearrangement of transcriptional machinery. Michael A. Mancini, Baylor College of Medicine
  • Mitotic structures and genomic organization. Donald Ingber, Harvard Medical School

Organizers: Eric Beyer, University of Chicago and Paul Lampe,
Fred Hutchison Cancer Research Center
Room 224

Widespread interest in gap junctions has developed because connexin mutations leading to altered intercellular communication have been associated with a variety of disease states including hereditary deafness, neuropathy, and cataracts. This session will address the following areas: channel regulation and properties, developmental studies in gap junction protein (connexin) knockout mice, connexin protein trafficking /gap junction assembly, and regulation of gap junction channel activity via pp60src, MAP kinase, and other signaling pathways.

Topics and speakers include:

  • Trafficking, assembly and function of a Connexin43-green fluorescent protein chimera in live mammalian cells. Karen Jordan, University of Western Ontario
  • Dissection of the molecular basis of pp60v-src induced gating of connexin43 gap junctions. Lan Zhou, SUNY, Buffalo
  • Effects of two noncoding CMTX mutations on the expression of a reporter construct in transgenic mice. Alice Hudder, University of Miami School of Medicine
  • Arrested postnatal folliculogenesis in Cx43 knockout mice. Gerald Kidder, University of Western Ontario
  • Expression pattern and possible functional significance of connexin expression during trophoblast development. Elke Winterhager, University of Essen
  • The roles of MAPK and phosphorylation of Cx43 in the disruption of gap junctional communication by platelet derived growth factor. Mohammad Hossain, Northwest Hospital
  • A structural polymorphism in the connexin 37 gene as a prognostic marker in the development of atherosclerosis. Ian Cotsgreave, Karolinska Institute, Sweden

Organizer: Thoru Pederson, University of Massachusetts Medical School
Room 256

The have been many inquiries into the possible existence of a non-chromatin internal structure within the cell nucleus. Some investigators believe that such a structure has been revealed, others see no theoretical requirement for it (and/or disbelieve the available evidence), and others are simply unsure. One of the imitations in this field has been a general reliance on the use of cells that have been extracted or fixed - sometimes both. This Special Interest Subgroup meeting will offer new results obtained by innovators of nuclear structure and function, featuring living cells.

Topics and speakers include:

  • Overview. Thoru Pederson, University of Massachusetts Medical School
  • What the amphibian oocyte germinal vesicle tells us about nuclear structure. Joseph Gall, Carnegie Institution of Washington
  • Dynamics of splicing factor movements in the nucleoplasm. David Spector, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
  • Moving chromosomes: The dynamics of interphase chromatin. John Sedat, University of California, San Francisco
  • Three- and four-dimensional in situ analysis of human genome architecture. Christoph Cremer, University of Munich
  • Probing nuclear structure in living mammalian cells. Joan Politz, University of Massachusetts Medical School
  • Dynamics of intranuclear lamins. Robert Goldman, Northwestern University
  • Interphase chromosme dynamics in vivo. Andrew Belmont, University of Illinois
  • Wrap-up. nn Beyer, University of Virginia School of Medicine

Organizers: Alan J. Smith, Stanford University and Paul Matsudaira, The Whitehead Institute
Room 130

Rapid progress in sequencing a variety of genomes has presented scientists with some intriguing challenges. How do we effectively use all of this rapidly accumulating data and how do we generate the great deal more data that comparative studies will require? Current DNA sequencing technologies have limitations in delivering the data in a time and cost efficient manner. One alternative is to miniaturize the separation process and still make it user friendly and readily accessible. Are microelectrophoresis chips one answer? The massive amount of DNA sequence data that is already in the public databases has made the process of protein identity a great deal easier. Currently, two thirds of all "unknown" proteins or their homologs are to be found in these databases. It is possible to run a 1-D or 2-D gel and use the stained bands or spots as the starting point for identity searches. Functional multiprotein complexes can be dissected with relative ease. The behavior of these complexes under a variety of biological stimuli can now be addressed. The behavior of a given protein in a multiprotein complex may be reflective of it's state of postranslational modification. We are becoming increasingly aware of the large number of proteins that are capable of undergoing such modifications. However, these of "non gene coded" modifications can pose an intimidating prospect to those wishing to use the power of protein identity in functional analysis. Several experts in these fields will present practical perspectives on how these various challenges can be met in the context of functional cell biology. (Sponsored by the Association of Biotechnology Resource Facilities (ABRF)).

Topics and speakers include:

  • Ultrafast DNA sequencing and genotyping. P. Matsudaira, the Whitehead Institute, MIT
  • The "molecular scanner": A highly automated method for protein identification and proteome database annotation. J.-.C. Sanchez, Geneva University Hospital
  • Western blot of the 21st century: Mass spectrometric analysis of multiprotein complexes. P.Tempst, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
  • Most eukaryotic proteins are glycosylated: A formidable challenge to proteomics! G.Hart, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

Organizer: J. Milburn Jessup, University of Pittsburgh
Room 250

Recently, questions have been asked about the utility of performing cellular and molecular biological research in space. Since the International Space Station (ISS) is an extraordinarily expensive and complex engineering task, is it appropriate to do research in the microgravity environment and if so, what types of research should be supported? Are there any particular applications in which the microgravity organisms, cells, or molecules that make the use of microgravity worthwhile or even necessary? This session will directly answer these questions. Furthermore, it will suggest that as humans undergo long duration voyages in microgravity, it is essential that research be performed in the areas of growth factor communication as well as in the processes that govern macromolecular crystal growth structure. The focus will be on experiments that have been performed in actual as well as simulated microgravity.

Topics and speakers include:

  • Microgravity tissue engineering. Gordana Vunjak, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Cell proliferation and apoptosis in microgravity. J. Milburn Jessup, University of Pittsburgh
  • Gravity and lymphocyte locomotion. Neal R. Pellis, Biotechnology Program, NASA/Johnson Space Center
  • Protein crystal growth successes in microgravity. Lawrence DeLucas, University of Alabama at Birmingham
  • Microgravity influence on crystal growth. Alex McPherson, University of California, Irvine
  • Is there a genetic gravity sensor: Flight and ground based studies. Timothy G. Hammond, Tulane University
  • 3-D tissue constructs - orbiting or ground-based? Elliot M. Levine, The Wistar Institute
  • Cell signaling, gene activation and differentiation in simulated and actual microgravity. Peter I. Lelkes, University of Wisconsin
  • Bacterial Mechanosensitive Channels. Sergei Sukharev, University of Maryland

Organizer: Kathryn Vogel, University of New Mexico
Room 132

Proteoglycans are a category of molecules found in cytoplasmic organelles, at the cell membrane, and in the extracellular matrix of tissues. The molecules can be daunting to investigators because both protein and carbohydrate (glycosaminoglycan) components are highly varied and functionally important. This subgroup is designed to demystify proteoglycans, encouraging further studies on this class of molecule. The meeting will focus on research showing that cell surface proteoglycans can affect integrin-mediated signaling. One talk will describe how the cytoplasmic domains of syndecans, a family of transmembrane heparan sulfate proteoglycans, modify integrin-based adhesion and matrix assembly. Both processes may involve protein kinase C since syndecan-4 activates this enzyme and syndecan-2 is a substrate. Another talk will describe how integrin function in metastatic tumor cells can be modulated by cell surface chondroitin sulfate proteoglycans. This modulation is becoming understood as involving the proteoglycans through direct binding to extracellular matrix proteins, through binding of the glycosaminoglycan chain to integrins, and through effects on intracellular signaling pathways. There will be ample time for questions and discussion. (Support from Seikagaku America, Inc.)

Speakers include:

  • Anne Woods, University of Alabama
  • Jim McCarthy, University of Minnesota

Organizers: Shoichiro Ono, Emory University; Amy M. McGough, Baylor College of Medicine, and James R. Bamburg, Colorado State University
Room 220

The ADF/cofilin family of actin regulatory proteins has become a major focus for many groups studying development, cell division, cell motility, neuronal pathfinding and membrane dynamics. The ADF/cofilins regulate both actin polymerization and depolymerization and change actin filament structure. Genetics studies have shown that the ADF/cofilins are essential for viability and responsible for actin filament turnover in vivo. In some organisms these proteins are regulated by pH, phosphoinositide binding and via phosphorylation/ dephosphorylation at a single serine. The LIM kinase responsible for this regulation in vertebrates is specific to the ADF/cofilins. Defects in this kinase appear to be responsible for abnormal pathfinding by neurons in the CNS, making the ADF/cofilins a likely target for signal transduction pathways activated by neuronal guidance cues. The vertebrate ADF/cofilins contain a nuclear localization signal that can transport these proteins into the nucleus. Under conditions of stress, ADF/cofilins and actin can form rods, which are the hallmark of several neurodegenerative diseases. While much is known about the structure and biochemistry of these proteins, several controversies exist concerning the mechanism by which they increase actin filament dynamics, both in vitro and in vivo. Structural motif common to all the ADF/cofilins has recently been identified with other families of actin binding proteins. Recent work has identified the structural motif common to all the ADF/cofilins also exists within other families of actin binding proteins. The purpose of this session will be to bring together several of the leading groups to exchange information, discuss nomenclature and attempt to resolve differences on the mechanism of action of the ADF/cofilins. (Sponsored by Cytoskeleton and Universal Imaging Corporation.)

Topics and speakers include:

  • Structure and biochemistry of ADF/cofilins. S. C. Almo, Albert Einstein College of Medicine; A.G. Weeds, MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, U.K.; D.G. Drubin, University of California, Berkeley; A.M. McGough, Baylor College of Medicine; M.-F. Carlier, CNRS, France; J.S. Condeelis, Albert Einstein College of Medicine; L. Blanchoin and T.D. Pollard, The Salk Institute.
  • Does ADF/cofilin sever actin filaments? Open discussion headed by S.K. Maciver, University of Edinburgh, U.K.
  • In vivo function and regulation of ADF/cofilin. J.R. Bamburg, Colorado State University; K. Mizuno, Kyushu University, Japan; P. Lappalainen, University of Helsinki, Finland; H. Aizawa, Tokyo Metropolitan Institute of Medical Sciences, Japan; B.W. Bernstein, Colorado State University; S. Ono, Emory University; K. Gunsalus, Rutgers University; P.J. Hussey, University of London, U.K.; T. Obinata, Chiba University, Japan; K. Okada and H. Abe, Chiba University, Japan

Organizer: Gloria Lee, University of Iowa College of Medicine
Room 102

Microtubule-associated protein tau is the primary known component of the neurofibrillary tangles in Alzheimer's disease, the most common neurodegenerative disease affecting the elderly. While the mechanisms underlying the formation of these abnormal filaments remain unknown, recently it has become clear that mutations in the tau gene are associated with a group of autosomal dominant neurodegenerative diseases named frontotemporal dementias with Parkinsonism linked to chromosome 17 (FTDP-17). The mutations result in either missense or apparent altered alternative splicing of tau. Topics will include 1) mutations in the tau gene linked with FTDP-17; 2) the formation of tau filaments in vitro and in vivo; 3) the structure of abnormal tau filaments isolated from diseased brain, and 4) the phosphorylation of tau and the basic functions of tau. The subgroup meeting will serve as a forum for discussing 1) the relations hips between normal tau, abnormal tau in Alzheimer's disease, and abnormal tau in FTDP-17; 2) how mutations in tau can be linked with an autosomal dominant disease characterized by severe neuronal loss, and 3) how current knowledge of tau function relates to tau's neuropathological role.

Organizer: Patricia G. Wilson, University of Wisconsin
Room 262

Tubulin is a new member of the tubulin superfamily that is essential for organization of asters of microtubules in vitro and mitotic spindles in vivo. Tubulin function is important for centrosome assembly and cell cycle progression as well as for the cell biology of development. Our understanding of tubulin function impacts our view of microtubule dynamics and spindle assembly in the presence and absence of canonical centrosomes. However, the molecular mechanism of tubulin function has not yet been established and many questions remain unanswered. A Special Interest Subgroup will assemble to present, discuss and integrate studies of tubulin function that have been obtained from diverse species and with diverse techniques. The goals of the meeting are to identify unanswered questions that block further advance and consider methods to address them. Interested participants should contact the organizer.

Speakers include:

  • J. Richard McIntosh, University of Colorado
  • Berl R. Oakley, Ohio State University
  • Patricia G. Wilson, University of Wisconsin, Madison

Organizer: Albert J. Banes, University of North Carolina
Room 131

The response of cells to mechanical deformation is now an accepted phenomenon in cell biology as well as biomechanics. In response to applied mechanical load, cells signal using Ca2+, 1P3, cAMP, ATP and other purines as well as activate components of kinase pathways such as MAPK, JAK/STAT and JNK pathways. Multiple transcription factors can be activated driving specific gene expression dependent on the CRLs in a given promoter. One of the important early/intermediate events in response to strain is a reaction of the existing cytoskeleton to polymerize actin and rearrange cell shape. The focus of this subgroup meeting will be on signaling events and cytoskeletal changes that occur in response to mechanical load. Emphasis will be placed on cell responses to tension, compression and shear stress-induced cytoskeletal changes, blocking experiments to KO components of the cytoskeleton or signaling pathways and over expression strategies that upregulate proteins involved in a response. Talks will include diverse approaches of load application, cell types and methods to measure changes in cell expression. (Sponsored by Flexcell Corp.)


WWW.Cell Biology Education

The ASCB Education Committee calls attention each month to several Websites of educational interest to the cell biology community. The Committee does not endorse nor guarantee the accuracy of the information at any of the listed sites. If you wish to comment on the selections or suggest future inclusions, please send a message to Robert Blystone

  1. Sea Urchin Embryology
    This URL is very interesting for it demonstrates how a web site can be constructed with high educational content with a teaching orientation. To quote from the introductory screen of the home page: "The drama of fertilization and development are explored by laboratory modules using sea urchin eggs and a web site developed by teachers and Stanford University researchers. ... Over 150 'web' pages intended for high school biology teachers. Also appropriate for junior college and lower division college labs." To these ends the site delivers.

    Inspired by the late Daniel Mazia, Chris Patton of the Hopkins Marine Station is the driving force for this NSF-supported site with assistance from David Epel, Henrick Kibak, and Pam Miller. A Core Lab experience is the central focus of the site that provides up to a week's worth of lab experiences. Extensive support materials are included including pretest, microscope use, and sizing with a microscope. There is an excellent background information section and the means to produce overheads. Animations demonstrating sperm motility, fertilization, and development are also included. Some highly innovative experiments with sea urchin sperm are there for consideration. There are references to sea urchin sources, urchin research labs, and additional support information. If you have ever considered the sea urchin fertilization lab for your course, your future students could really benefit from this site. All the information is also available on an inexpensive stand-alone CD. The amount of thought and care that has gone into this wonderful site is impressive.

  2. ScienceNet
    ScienceNet is managed by Broadcasting Support Service, a British educational charity. Support for its activities come from everywhere, from the BBC, Kew Gardens, Royal Greenwich Observatory, to the Wellcome Trust, the Royal Society, and the National Lotteries Charities Board. ScienceNet's range of services beyond the web site is extensive and includes an ask-the-expert service. All areas of science are covered with a strong focus on biology and medicine. A question and answer database includes all manner of topics. A section including popular articles with titles such as "Genetics of Human Facial Features" is highly interesting. The topics and coverage are inspiring, especially for science-minded children.
  3. Teacher/Pathfinder Educational Village
    Funded by the U.S. Department of Education Funds for Innovation in Education, this web site is a list of lists. It organizes links to various educational resources along the following metaphorical lines: community center, support offices, schoolhouse, parent building, and professional development. The site literally has something for everyone: parent, teacher, student, and administrator. Focusing here only on the "Schoolhouse: Science" path, excellent links can be identified to a wide range of topics. A representative sample would include: biology microscopy sites, biological tools including a nucleic to amino acid conversion utility, diving into the gene pool, Cornell's earthworm tutorial, an online biology book, virtual frog dissection kit, and visualization of viruses. Links to topics ranging from immersive curriculum and how to deal with gangs to biology lesson plans and the phylum index are all nicely organized at this site. If you are interested in education in the broadest or narrowest sense, there is something here for you. You might want to look this site over before the next PTA meeting.

These sites were checked October 16, 1998. Previous ASCB columns reviewing Educational Web sites with links to the sites may be found on the ASCB website or at trinity.edu

—Robert Blystone for the ASCB Education Committee


Wellcome Visiting Professorships in the Basic Medical Sciences 1999-2000

The Federation of American Societies for Experimental

Biology invites nominations from U.S. medical schools, universities and other nonprofit scientific research institutions for Wellcome Visiting Professorship In The Basic Medical Sciences.

Sponsored by the Burroughs Wellcome Fund

For application procedures and information, contact:

Rose P. Grimm, Executive Office,
Federation of American Societites for Experimental Biology,
9650 Rockville Pike,
Bethesda, MD 20814-3998.
Phone: (301) 530-7090
Fax: (301) 530-7049

Deadline for Institutions to Apply: March 1, 1999


Career Panel

Tuesday, December 15, 1998

1:30 – 3:30 p.m.

Moscone Convention Center, Room 270

Frank Solomon, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Dan Curtis, Exelixis Pharmaceuticals
Ray Deshaies, California Institute of Technology
Carol Francis, Bozicevic and Reed
Sharon Hayes, Office of Congressman Vernon Ehlers
Linda Silveira, University of Redlands
David Speiser, McKinsey & Company

Each of the panelists recently began an independent career after training in cell biology.

Remarks and audience discussion will include:

  • How they found their current job
  • How they would suggest preparing for a job search
  • What about their training turned out to be relevant
  • What their job is like on a daily basis

Organized by the ASCB Education and Local Arrangements Committees


Letters To The Editor

The following letter responds to an editorial based on the ASCB Career Survey. 1

Dear Ms. Marincola,

In the sciences and engineering in the top U.S. research universities, non-faculty professional research positions at the doctoral level number roughly between 15-20% of the total faculty, and a higher percentage of the science and engineering faculty. This has been true since I wrote my dissertation on the topic nearly 30 years ago 2.

The presence and possibility of these positions (numerous different job titles, including postdocs) has provided a kind of pressure valve for academic research since the post WWII years, giving it a flexibility to handle shifting availability of funds as well as shifting lines of research. This system has enabled the universities to adapt to both increases as well as decreases in demand for trained doctoral research personnel.

In several relatively new fields, including materials research, biotechnology and, of course, computers and computer engineering, there has been an explosion of industrial employment of PhD researchers. Having faculty PhD advisers limit their production to self-replacement would not be helpful to the growth of these industries. In older industrially relevant fields such as chemistry, geology and even economics, only a relatively small minority of PhDs is found in tenured academic jobs. It is likely that biotechnology is also moving in this direction.

Yours sincerely,
Carlos Kruytbosch3

Dear Dr. Kruytbosch,

You suggest that we are advocating that the number of trainees be limited to self-replacement. This is not the case — in fact, our main point is consistent with the findings of your dissertation: that those biomedical scientists who are not replacing their mentors be meaningfully, professionally and equitably absorbed into the workplace in ways that they are not now. We fear that the current situation in biology in fact does not effectively provide the ‘pressure valve’ that you describe, and that fact will result in scaring off “the best and the brightest” from entering biomedical science careers in the first place. It is interesting to know that you found that that margin should be about 15-20% in all fields; we have not yet quantified what it might be in the biomedical sciences.

Sincerely yours,
Elizabeth Marincola & Frank Solomon


I just wanted to tell you how very much I enjoy the newsletter that arrives with my Molecular Biology of the Cell every month. Reading the profiles of other scientists and such articles as “Designing Productive Lab Meetings”4 in [the August] issue are always useful and often inspirational for my own science and career.

To whoever puts all this together and the contributors — a very big thank you.

Rosemary Gibson
University of Manchester, UK

1E. Marincola and F. Solomon, “Training for Today’s Marketplace”, Science 281:645, 1998. The survey results are available online.

2C.Kruytbosch, “Research Organization in the University: The Case of Non-Faculty Professional Research Personnel.” U.C.Berkeley: Sociology, 1970. See also, C. Kruytbosch and S. Messinger, "Unequal Peers: The Situation of Researchers at Berkeley", American Behavioral Scientist, May-June 1968, Vol XI, No.5, pp.33-42.

3Carlos Kruytbosch is recently retired as Director of the National Science Foundation Science & Engineering Personnel Group.

4B. Burnside, “Designing Productive Lab Meetings,” WICB Column, ASCB Newsletter, Vol. 21 No. 7.


California Education

October 4, 1998

The California State Board of Education
Department of Education
721 Capitol Mall, Room 166
Sacramento, CA 95814

Dear Messrs and Mesdames:

We write on behalf of the American Society for Cell Biology, a non-profit scientific society of basic biomedical research scientists, regarding the proposed California Science Content Standards. We are deeply concerned that adopting the proposed Standards is likely to compromise the quality of science education in California, and perhaps the country.

We recognize that the proposed California standards represent a well-intentioned attempt to reintroduce rigor into the science curriculum. What has emerged may instead result in superficially improved short-term performance at the expense of a deeper understanding of the natural world and appreciation for scientific inquiry. It will force teachers to forego the opportunity to instill students with a sense of the beauty of science because they will be pressured to ensure that their students have memorized extensive facts in preparation for exams — facts which experience has shown will not be retained. And it will make science education for many students in California a chore, not an awakening.

Sadly, the press has depicted this debate as an effort by those who question the proposed California standards to “dumb down” the science curriculum in California. Nothing could be further from the truth. As scientists, we know that our scientific curiosity was aroused and reinforced by early experiences which allowed for observation, experimental design and implementation: elaborate facts are most effectively embraced later, when a real need for them ensures their appreciation and retention.

The National Science Education Standards were developed by outstanding scientists and educators to ensure that students taught to those standards would graduate from high school with an appreciation for the scientific method and an ordered and accurate picture of the life, physical and earth sciences. We strongly urge that you who are responsible for the education of the next generation of Californians carefully reconsider this approach.

The National Academy of Sciences and other leading research organizations and scientific leaders have proposed a strategy to revise the California Science Standards. We support this proposal and urge you to take whatever action is necessary to ensure that California’s students receive a science education that is both rigorous and that maximizes our precious opportunity to convey the full depth and interest of the natural world.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely yours,

Paul Berg, Ph.D.
Cahill Professor of Cancer Research & Biochemistry
Director of Beckman Center
Stanford University School of Medicine
Nobel Laureate in Chemistry, 1980
Chair, Public Policy Committee
The American Society for Cell Biology

Elizabeth Blackburn, Ph.D.
Professor and Chair,
Department of Microbiology & Immunology
Professor, Department of Biochemistry & Biophysics
University of California, San Francisco
The American Society for Cell Biology

Frank Solomon, Ph.D.
Professor of Biology
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Chair, Education Committee
The American Society for Cell Biology

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