ScienceScope

Science  17 Sep 1999:
Vol. 285, Issue 5435, pp. 1829
  1. The Compleat Fly

    It's a bit early to break out the champagne for scientists sequencing the DNA of the fruit fly, whose 143-million-base genome is the largest ever attempted. But optimistic press notices are already fizzing away. Celera Genomics Inc. of Rockville, Maryland, announced on 9 September that it had “finished the sequencing phase,” after producing 1.8 billion units of DNA data.

    With the jigsaw pieces strewn randomly on the table, the “challenging process” of assembling the Drosophila melanogaster genome into a comprehensive picture has just begun. J. Craig Venter, Celera's president, claims the finished product “will validate the effectiveness” of his company's controversial whole-genome shotgun approach (Science, 18 June, p. 1906).

    Most gene jockeys won't be able to judge that claim until finished sequence data are released to the public. That process will begin in late October and continue through December. Until then, Celera will share its data only with corporate clients.

  2. Finer-Toothed Comb

    Security at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, already the subject of scathing probes by Congress and the Department of Energy (DOE) in the wake of Chinese spying allegations, is about to be put under the microscope yet again. University of California (UC) President Richard C. Atkinson last week said that his 20-member advisory council will “review the management situation surrounding” the flawed investigation of former Los Alamos physicist—and alleged spy—Wen Ho Lee and report back later this year. The UC manages Los Alamos and two other labs under contract to DOE.

    The move accompanied Atkinson's 10 September announcement that he was disciplining two former lab security officials for lapses—but would not punish the lab's former director, metallurgist Sigfried Hecker, as requested by Energy Secretary Bill Richardson last month (Science, 20 August, p. 1193).

    The sentences—which include pay freezes and an employment ban—were not to Richardson's liking. DOE press secretary Brooke Anderson says, “Secretary Richardson would have preferred that the disciplinary actions be stronger.” But, she adds, “it's time to move on.”

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