EDUCATION: Modern Biology's Classics

Science  25 May 2001:
Vol. 292, Issue 5521, pp. 1455c
DOI: 10.1126/science.292.5521.1455c

Watson and Crick's 1953 report on the structure of DNA lit the fire, but it then took decades of research to unravel the inner workings of cells and lay the foundation of cell and molecular biology. At Ergito, an online textbook site being developed by a team headed by Benjamin Lewin, former editor of Cell, a stellar cast of biologists describes their classic experiments in a series that will eventually include 100 essays.

Among papers up so far, you can read Arnold Levine on his discovery of the p53 tumor-suppressor gene, Thomas Cech on RNA catalysis, and Phillip Sharp on RNA splicing and introns —stretches of DNA within genes that don't code for protein. Written at a “medium to advanced undergraduate” level, Lewin says, the essays even explain figures from the original papers [above, Sharp's micrograph showing matched mRNA and DNA (yellow) and loops of intron].

Ergito also holds an online version of Genes, Lewin's widely used textbook; genetics and cell biology modules are coming soon. Although next year the site will begin charging for these sections, the 100 experiments will remain free.


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