NetWatch

Science  06 Oct 2000:
Vol. 290, Issue 5489, pp. 7
  1. NET NEWS: DNA Donation Site Draws a Crowd

    You can already use the Internet to shop and make airline reservations; now you can donate your DNA, too. A commercial Web site (http://www.dna.com/) is soliciting volunteers to submit blood for genetic disease research.

    You won't receive any obvious benefit, such as your genetic profile in the mail, if you send your DNA to the company, DNA Sciences of Mountain View, California. But its Gene Trust project promises the “excitement and satisfaction” of knowing that “you played a part in medical history.” The company plans to make money by developing diagnostic tests and by licensing its discoveries to drug companies.

    To participate, you simply answer a few questions—age, ethnicity, whether you or members of your immediate family have one of 21 diseases—and click a button agreeing to a consent form. DNA Sciences may then contact you to ask more questions and arrange for you to give blood.

    The strategy is working: Last month, just 6 weeks after the site opened, the company announced that it had attracted 4500 volunteers, enough to start studies of colon cancer, breast cancer, and asthma. (Over 400 have actually given blood.) Its ultimate goal is 100,000 samples. Scientific director Ray White, formerly at the University of Utah, says he's especially excited about the Internet's potential for building “ongoing relationships” that follow a subject's health over many years.

    To Stanford University law professor Henry Greely, the voluntary project is better in some ways than, say, Iceland's controversial national DNA data banks (Science, 30 October 1998, p. 859). But he questions whether informed consent obtained via the Web is adequate and whether people realize that their DNA could hypothetically be used for any purpose, such as studying genes for sexual orientation.

  2. RESOURCES: Arctic Attic

    Need to know the history of arctic sea ice, whether mercury pollution is harming polar bears, or perhaps the current temperature at the North Pole? These are just a few tidbits to be found at the, Arctic Theme Page a new collection of links and articles from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

    The site is aimed at a wide audience, from teachers to college students to researchers. A section for scientists leads to maps and data at NOAA and other agencies—from satellite images to maps of protected marine areas—as well as dozens of research institutions. Among educational offerings are 10 essays by scientists on topics such as the Arctic Oscillation (an ocean-linked climate pattern) and the effects of pollutants on arctic people and wildlife. Other links cover everything from northern lights and Alaska archaeology to arctic foxes and hares. A photo page includes a 1921 photo of explorers poling through the Beaufort Sea and a snowy shot of the top of the world taken by scientists last April.

  3. ELECTRONIC PUBLISHING: New Kid on E-Journals Block

    Another Internet venture that aims to shake up traditional scientific publishing made its debut last week. The Scientific World promises a slew of online resources for researchers, including an articles database, chat rooms, lab-supply shopping, and its own peer-reviewed paper publishing arm.

    There is no charge to search the site's database of over 11 million article titles drawn from the British Library, or to sign up for e-mail alerts to new papers. But full-text articles cost $12 and up. The 20,000 journals are said to span physics, chemistry, life sciences, and environmental science, although there's no list of titles. The site also intends to publish papers in all disciplines for free, making money by charging for full-text downloads. Publishing chief Graham Lees says he's sent e-mails to over 200 potential editors and the response has been “very positive.”

    The Scientific World has $8 million in financing and a slate of prominent scientists as advisers. But it's got competition—such as BioMed Central, another e-publishing site—and it's not yet clear whether many scientists will send their manuscripts to unknown, electronic-only journals.

  4. Science Online

    Along with the opening of markets in China has come a rise in scientific exchanges with the West. This week, Science's Next Wave explores this intermingling with essays from visionary leaders in China and elsewhere. We also offer firsthand reports from U.S., European, and Chinese scientists who have worked in each other's countries, and information about organizations that fund these exchanges.

    nextwave.sciencemag.org

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