News Archive

 

Biography of a tumor

June 2, 2004

It starts out just like every other cell. There's nothing strange about it, no mutations, no odd behaviors—nothing that would distinguish it in any way from the countless cells with which it cohabits inside human tissue. Like all its neighbors, this cell multiplies only when it receives strict orders from its host tissue.

Hook, line and model: Scientists use fruit flies and worms to fish for biological treasure

May 26, 2004

Hamlet provided one of the zippiest summations of the connections among life forms: “A man may fish with the worm that hath eat of a king, and eat of the fish that hath fed of that worm.” Of course, fishing with flies hath also been popular. The flies and worms in this story differ from those preferred by fisherfolk.

Amyloid fibers exposed to Hsp104

Researchers discover protein that dissolves amyloid fibers

May 20, 2004

Amyloid fibers, those clumps of plaque-like proteins that clog up the brains of Alzheimer’s patients, have perplexed scientists with their robust structures. In laboratory experiments, they are able to withstand extreme heat and cold and powerful detergents that cripple most other proteins.

New study examines microRNA’s in plants and animals

May 19, 2004

As genes and proteins continue to take center stage in molecular biology, molecules called microRNAs are starting to make inroads. These microRNAs, which are unusually small when compared to other RNAs in the cell, have captured the attention of biologists with their capacity to regulate genes, an ability that one day may have therapeutic value.

Model behavior

May 5, 2004

Last month, 152 high school students ceded much of their cherished week-long school vacation, putting their X-Boxes and PlayStations, trips to the mall, and skateboard activities on hold, in order to spend some quality time with Whitehead scientists during the Spring Lecture Series for High School Students.

Study examines link between science literacy and public opinion

April 28, 2004

Many scientists claim public opposition to biotechnology is primarily a product of ignorance. But a report published by researchers at the University of Trento in Italy may contradict that belief. The researchers found that access to scientific information does not necessarily promote postive attitudes about biotechnology.

Study confirms Rett syndrome begins in neurons

April 21, 2004

Scientists have known for some time that mutations in a gene named MeCP2 lead to Rett syndrome, a major cause of mental retardation in girls. Now, a Whitehead Institute research team has provided evidence for the long accepted, but previously unproven theory that Rett syndrome is caused by loss of MeCP2 exclusively in neurons.

Communications Office wins award for science writing

April 21, 2004

The Office of Communications and Public Affairs has received a Gold Medal for Excellence in Science News Writing for a package of articles about Whitehead research on prions, microRNAs, the Y chromosome and efforts to create a biological library of molecules with drug-development potential.

Branching out

April 14, 2004

Whitehead biologist Steve Rozen has explored the family tree of the male-determing Y chromosome, looking for information about a genetic mutation that raises interesting questions about the evolution of the Y.

Tools of the trade

April 7, 2004

In the film “It’s a Wonderful Life,” an angel shows a suicidal George Bailey how his small town would have fared had he never been born. For years, scientists have conducted countless George Bailey experiments on genes, identifying their function by knocking them out with specially designed complex molecules, then observing what happens to the cell.

Developmental science

March 31, 2004

When Kathleen Collins joined the lab of Whitehead Institute Member Paul Matsudaira as a graduate student in the late 1980s, she felt anything was possible. “The enthusiasm there was contagious,” says Collins, now an associate professor at the University of California at Berkeley. “You were always aware of a driving motivation to do good science. And life’s too short not to do good science.”

Fungi have systems to sense and respond to plant signals, study suggests

March 24, 2004

Yeast and other fungi normally live on the outside of a plant, a nutrient-poor environment. Microorganisms can utilize wounds as opportunity for infection, thereby gaining access to the nutrient rich environment inside of the plant. Just how fungi identifies a wound on a plant, though, is a mystery.

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