Science  23 Mar 2007:
Vol. 315, Issue 5819, pp. 1645

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  1. Pioneers

    IDLING. Vijay Pande doesn't want to stop children from playing video games. In fact, the Stanford University chemist thinks they can help him understand what triggers Alzheimer's disease.


    Last week, Pande and Sony Computer Entertainment America announced that by the end of this month, Sony PlayStation 3 (PS3) computer entertainment systems will be able to connect to Pande's Folding@Home (F@H) program. The program is a distributed computing project on protein folding and misfolding, which can lead to Alzheimer's disease, among others. If PS3 users activate the connection, their machines—when idle—will automatically synch up with Pande's network and crunch numbers in protein-folding simulations. The faster processor chips in the PS3 will extend the work done on F@H by nearly 2 million desktop computers since October 2000.

    Pande is hoping the project might even steer some students toward careers in science by giving them the chance to watch the protein-folding simulation in real time and manipulate proteins on screen. “It's a unique way to educate people about science on a molecular scale,” he says.


    FOR CHILDREN. Two women have won the March of Dimes Prize in Development Biology, which honors scientific research aimed at improving the health of babies. Janet Rossant, a stem cell researcher at the University of Toronto in Canada, receives the award for work that helped identify the genes responsible for the growth and specialization of embryonic stem cells. And Anne McLaren, a research associate at the University of Cambridge, U.K., wins the honor for her contributions to the field of reproductive technology, including the first successful attempt at growing a mouse embryo in a test tube and then implanting it for natural birth. The two winners share $250,000.


    GOING HOME. Irish biologist Frank Gannon, 59, has been appointed director general of the Science Foundation of Ireland (SFI), a funding agency with a €175 million annual budget. He had announced his retirement as director of the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) in Heidelberg, Germany, in December (Science, 15 December 2006, p. 1665).

    Gannon, who also headed a group studying gene control by the estrogen receptor at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory, succeeds William Harris, who left SFI last year to become head of the Science Foundation Arizona. EMBO is still looking for a successor.


    BACK TO PHYSICS. Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC) Director Jonathan Dorfan will step down this fall after 8 years as head of the facility, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and managed by Stanford University. The contract to run the $300 million lab is expected to be put up for bid soon. Stanford plans to compete, but Dorfan wants the university to find a new leader. “I'm thinking of SLAC's future,” he says.


    Dorfan has been at Stanford for 30 years and says he's looking forward to returning to the bench to explore the “very significant mysteries” in dark matter and cosmology. Dorfan also plans to help with efforts to bring the International Linear Collider to the United States, which he says would sustain U.S. high-energy physics for a generation.

  5. THREE Q'S


    Antidoping researcher Donald Catlin is stepping down as director of the Olympic Analytical Laboratory, which he founded 25 years ago at the University of California, Los Angeles. Catlin, 68, is credited with uncovering many sports doping schemes. He will devote his time to research at the Anti-Doping Research Institute, a nonprofit he set up last year.

    Q: Looking back, are there any discoveries or drug busts you're especially proud of?

    You know, it's hard to be proud of a bust. I think norbolethone is one of the most important ones we ever did. That was a forerunner of designer steroids. When I figured that one out, I knew that there were people scheming and developing designer steroids that we couldn't see or find.

    Q: Has your work changed how you feel about sports?

    Yeah, in a way. I really love the Olympic model, where 200 countries can all get out their best athletes and compete, and the best men and women win. It's beautiful and exciting, and it should be very pure. But nowadays sometimes your hopes are dashed when you read that so-and-so is dirty.

    Q: Do you think we'll ever be able to put an end to this?

    If your objective is to get all drugs out of all sports forever, you're going to die very unhappy. But you should be able to get control enough so that the really high-end sports, where the big names are competing, are clean.