Biologists present work to ASCB

"In the last 30 months the United States has spent more money on military research than has been spent on biomedical research since the turn of the century." These words startled biomedical researchers from Emory and across the nation, who had gathered in San Francisco last month for the 34th annual meeting of the American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB). Iowa Senator Tom Harkin, recipient of the society's first public service award, addressed the meeting of scientists, encouraging them to take a proactive role to ensure continued congressional support of biomedical research in the United States.

The ASCB meeting, which traditionally has focused most of its attention on breaking scientific research, placed increased emphasis this year on the responsibility of the scientific community to communicate and educate the general public, political figures and students. Emory scientists actively participated in both aspects of the meeting. Robert DeHaan (cell biology) presented Emory's new Elementary Science Education Partner program. Emory graduate students also hosted high school students from the San Francisco area, walking them through scientific poster presentations so that the high school students could gain some perspective on what is involved in biological research.

Emory researchers made a particularly strong showing at the meeting, with 20 participants attending including seven faculty, 11 graduate students, and two postdoctoral fellows. Several Emory scientists presented research directed toward understanding the organization and dynamics of the cell cytoskeleton, the structure that gives cells distinct shape and form, allows them to move, and rearranges itself to aid in important processes such as cell division. Lynn Coluccio (biochemistry) described work on purification of proteins called "mini-myosins" from rat liver. These molecules are essential for movement in most cells, and students in Coluccio's lab are interested in what types of signals from the cell allow these molecules to be active. Harish Joshi (cell biology) described work on gamma tubulin, a molecule believed to be necessary for the organization of the cytoskeleton. Joshi's students also described work on the centrosome, the part of the chromosome that interacts with the cytoskeleton so that the correct number of chromosomes are put into each daughter cell after division. Win Sale (cell biology) studies very large proteins known as molecular motors, and his students in his lab are researching how these motors are turned "on" and "off."

Also presenting work at the meeting were Lynne Quarmby (cell biology) and Steve L'Hernault (biology).

-- Michele Arduengo