Scorecard 2004

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Science  23 Dec 2005:
Vol. 310, Issue 5756, pp. 1880
DOI: 10.1126/science.310.5756.1880b

Slam-dunks and near-fizzles gave our editors a mixed record for prophecy this year.

Recycling pays.

New results confirmed that autophagy is much more than just a way for nutrient-starved cells to recycle membrane components and cytoplasmic molecules. Studies indicated that autophagy helps the immune response to bacteria and viruses and that some microbes have developed ways to counter or even exploit the cellular process. Researchers also began to detail how autophagy is connected to both neurodegeneration and cancer.


See Web links on autophagy

Obesity drugs.

No new drugs for obesity were approved in 2005, but rimonabant continues to show promise in clinical trials, and Sanofi-Aventis may receive U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval for it in 2006.


See Web links on obesity drugs

HapMapping along.

The International HapMap Project delivered on schedule, publishing its first version this past October. (A finer resolution copy will come out in 2006.) A California company, Perlegen Sciences, published its own map last February. The $138 million map also helped lead scientists to a macular degeneration gene and a gene for skin color; how much it will help next year, and how widely it will be used, remain open questions.


See Web links on HapMap

Cassini-Huygens at Saturn.

So far the joint U.S., European, and Italian mission to the ringed planet has been a blazing success. Amid the smallest of glitches, the Huygens lander drifted down to Titan's surface, revealing an icy landscape carved by rains of liquid methane. Elsewhere in the system, Enceladus proved energetic for such a little moon, spewing ice and water from its south pole to form the nebulous E ring. The bizarre F ring sported a spiral-necklace companion ring. And another 55 orbits of Saturn are still on Cassini's agenda.


See Web links on Cassini-Huygens

Paper tigers.

North Korea says it will give up its nuclear weapons program, but the devil is in the details, none of which have been worked out. Meanwhile, Iran's new hard-line government insists that uranium enrichment is an inalienable right, leaving little hope that negotiations will prevent Iran from acquiring the means and know-how to develop a nuclear arsenal.


See Web links on nuclear proliferation

European Research Council.

The ERC, an agency that would fund top basic research across Europe, has morphed in just a few years from a scrappy grassroots movement to the darling of politicians. In April, the European Commission made the ERC the centerpiece of its bid to double the E.U.'s research funding. And in July the commission appointed 22 high-profile scientists to the ERC's scientific council, which will divvy up the first grants. But political wrangling over the E.U.'s overall budget has left the ERC in limbo. By December, the proposed doubling for research was off the table, and scientists feared that the ERC could be left with only token funding—and disappointed applicants.


See Web links on the ERC

Regulating nano.

Governments worldwide are working hard to develop standards for nanomaterials, come up with programs to test their safety, and regulate their use.


See Web links on nanotech regulation

Online Extras on Last Year's Picks


M. Ogawa et al., “Escape of Intracellular Shigella from Autophagy,” Science 307, 727 (2005); published online 2 December 2004 [DOI: 10.1126/science.1106036]

C. Paludan et al., “Endogenous MHC Class II Processing of a Viral Nuclear Antigen After Autophagy,” Science 307, 593 (2005); published online 9 December 2004 [DOI: 10.1126/science.1104904]

Y. Liu et al., “Autophagy Regulates Programmed Cell Death during the Plant Innate Immune Response,” Cell 121, 567 (2005)

W. T. Jackson et al., “Subversion of Cellular Autophagosomal Machinery by RNA Viruses,” PLOS Biology, e156 (2005)

B. Ravikumar et al., “Dynein mutations impair autophagic clearance of aggregate-prone protein,” Nature Genetics 37, 771 (2005)

J. J. Lum et al., “Growth Factor Regulation of Autophagy and Cell Survival in the Absence of Apoptosis,” Cell 120, 237 (2005)

S. Pattingre et al., “Bcl-2 Antiapoptotic Proteins Inhibit Beclin 1-Dependent Autophagy,” Cell 122, 927 (2005)

Z. Feng et al., “The coordinate regulation of the p53 and mTOR pathways in cells,” PNAS 102, 8204 (2005)


New online journal on autophagy.

Obesity Drugs

J.-P. Després et al., “Effects of Rimonabant on Metabolic Risk Factors in Overweight Patients with Dyslipidemia,” New England Journal of Medicine 353, 2121 (2005)

J. Couzin, “A Heavyweight Battle Over CDC's Obesity Forecasts,” Science 308, 770 (2005)

C. C. Mann, “Provocative Study Says Obesity May Reduce U.S. Life Expectancy,” Science 307, 1716 (2005)

Acomplia Report

Independent news site on rimonabant (the brand name of which is Accomplia). Site is neither affiliated with nor endorsed by Sanofi Aventis.


The International HapMap Consortium, “A Haplotype Map of the Human Genome,” Nature 437, 1299 (2005)

D. Hinds et al., “Whole Genome Patterns of Common DNA Variation in Three Human Populations,” Science 307, 1072 (2005)

D. Goldstein and G. Cavalleri, “Understanding Human Diversity,” Nature 437, 1241 (2005)

J. Couzin, “New Haplotype Map May Overhaul Gene Hunting,” Science 310, 601 (2005)

J. Couzin, “To What Extent Are Genetic Variation and Personal Health Linked?,” Science 309, 81 (2005)

International HapMap Project

Home site of the project


R. A. Kerr, “Titan, Once a World Apart, Becomes Eerily Familiar,” Science 307, 330 (2005)

R. A. Kerr, “Icy Volcanism Has Rejuvenated Titan,” Science 308, 193 (2005)

R. A. Kerr, “At Last, a Supportive Parent for Saturn's Youngest Ring,” Science 309, 1660 (2005)

Cassini Reveals Titan

Science special issue on the probe.

NASA Cassini-Huygens Mission Web Site

Nuclear Proliferation

Institute for Science and International Security

Informative web site for recent developments on the Iran and North Korea nuclear programs.

European Research Council

G. Vogel, “ERC Moves Forward Despite Budget Impasse,” Science 310, 1599 (2005)

G. Vogel, “European Research: A Framework for Change?,” Science 308, 342 (2005)

Cordis Ideas & ERC Information Page

European Basic Research Policy Website

Nanotech Regulation

R. F. Service, “Calls Rise for More Research on Toxicology of Nanomaterials,” Science 310, 1609 (2005)

R. F. Service, “EPA Ponders Voluntary Nanotechnology Regulations,” Science 309, 36 (2005)

U.S. EPA National Center for Environmental Research Nanotechnology Home

ICON — International Council on Nanotechnology

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health: Nanotechnology Topic Page

Nanotechnology Service of the European Commission

Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies

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