Science  10 Jul 1998:
Vol. 281, Issue 5374, pp. 151

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  1. Cow Done Dolly-Style?

    Japanese scientists say they have replicated in cattle the technique used to produce Dolly, the sheep that was the first mammal cloned from adult somatic cells. Twin calves were born on 5 July; their mother reportedly died unexpectedly the next day. The research group won't release further details until it completes a DNA analysis to confirm the calves' origin.

    A team at the Ishikawa Prefectural Livestock Research Center and the Kinki University School of Agriculture in Nara put cells from a cow's uterine tube into eggs stripped of their nuclei and implanted the resulting embryos into surrogate mothers. Team leader Yukio Tsunoda says a second birth is expected in the next few weeks. The news was released prematurely, he says, in accord with new government guidelines requiring prompt disclosure of cloning research.

    It was the second report of Dolly-style cloning in 2 weeks. On 26 June, Ryuzo Yanagimachi of the University of Hawaii, Manoa, claimed his group had cloned mice using adult somatic cells.

  2. Baikal Jam Session

    Hoping to save the world's largest freshwater lake from the depredations of industrial pollution, tourists, and exotic species, U.S. and Russian researchers and policy experts plan to meet next month in Irkutsk, Russia, to plot joint studies and to draft legislative initiatives geared toward protecting Lake Baikal.

    Sponsored by the nonprofit Tahoe Baikal Institute, the forum aims to learn from alterations wrought by 40 years of development around California's Lake Tahoe, including a dimming of its stunning water clarity. “Baikal is now at the stage that Tahoe was in the 1950s, just before development really got under way,” says UC Davis limnologist Charles Goldman, a forum participant.

    Goldman and Valentin Brovchak, chair of the Baikal Commission, hope the forum will lead to the establishment of a government agency to defend Baikal's interests, along the lines of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency. Future forums will be hosted at UC Davis's planned Lake Tahoe Center for Environmental Research, slated to open by summer 2000.

  3. No Escape From Red Tape

    Stanford biologist Paul Berg's idea for cutting through onerous legal paperwork in the lab has taken off somewhat like a lead balloon. His proposal—to abolish material transfer agreements (MTAs) signed when research tools are shared between nonprofit labs—has won plenty of verbal support but only one formal endorsement.

    This spring Berg and Stanford's licensing chief Kathy Ku proposed eliminating as many as 50% of MTAs—routine agreements designed to protect an inventor's rights. Berg says that when he phoned scientific leaders at a half-dozen other institutions, they responded enthusiastically. But only one actually signed up—the Carnegie Institution of Washington, D.C. “It's a fine idea, but it cannot bring back the good old days” before universities became enmeshed in a commercial environment, says Karen Hersey, intellectual property counsel for MIT.

    Berg, meanwhile, says he is dropping his scheme and hoping for a measure of relief as a result of guidelines on legal aspects of scientific collaborations now being drafted by the National Institutes of Health (Science, 12 June, p. 1687).

  4. New Era at RIKEN

    Physicist Shun-ichi Kobayashi will be stepping into some pretty big shoes next month as president of Japan's Institute of Physical and Chemical Research (RIKEN), Japan's leading research center, outside Tokyo. He succeeds physicist Akito Arima, widely regarded as the most powerful scientific figure in Japan. A veteran dispenser of science advice to the government, Arima resigned in May to run for the Diet (Science, 22 May, p. 1181).

    Kobayashi, little known outside the University of Tokyo where he is vice president, is by comparison “an unknown quantity,” according to one RIKEN staffer. Kobayashi admits “I've got some studying to do,” joking that he took the job because Arima, a former mentor, “ordered me to.” His immediate challenge will be looking out for RIKEN's interests in the coming merger of its funding body, the Science and Technology Agency, with Monbusho, the Ministry of Education, Science, Sports, and Culture.

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