Cancer Research - Interview with Dr. Francis Barany

August 14th, 2008 Posted by David Lemberg

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Dr. Francis Barany is Professor in the Department of Microbiology and Program of Biochemistry and Structural Biology at Cornell/Sloan Kettering Institute in New York City. Dr. Barany is also Director of Mutation Research at the Strang Cancer Prevention Center. He is program director of two multi-center NCI and NIAID grants to develop new methods of cancer and infectious disease detection.

Dr. Barany is best known for developing the ligase chain reaction and ligase detection reaction, and Universal DNA arrays for detection of genetic diseases and cancer-associated mutations. He was named to the “SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN 50″ in 2004.

In our in-depth 7-12-07 interview, Dr. Barany discusses

  • How to detect cancer while it’s hidden in the genome
  • Comprehensive molecular profiling of colon tumors
  • The universal array genomic chip which is used for the rapid and accurate detection of cancers and other diseases, especially breast and colon cancer
  • How the ligase chain reaction detects single-base mutations
  • Grand challenges in cancer therapy

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Lives Per Gallon - Interview with Terry Tamminen

August 13th, 2008 Posted by David Lemberg

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In the summer of 2003, Terry Tamminen helped Arnold Schwarzenegger win the historic recall election and become Governor of California. He became Secretary of the California Environmental Protection Agency in November 2003 and was promoted to Cabinet Secretary, Chief Policy Advisor to the Governor, in December 2004.

During his tenure with Governor Schwarzenegger, Mr. Tamminen helped launch some of the most progressive, successful, and laudable sustainable energy initiatives in the country. The environmental changes he implemented have left California a cleaner, healthier state with a cutting-edge reputation for policies that work for the good of the land and its citizens.

In August 2006, Mr. Tamminen left the Schwarzenegger administration to focus on Lives Per Gallon. Lives Per Gallon is an unblinking assessment of the true price of petroleum and a prescription for change. Will we continue paying with our health or kick our addiction and evolve beyond an oil-dependent economy?

In our wide-ranging interview, Mr. Tamminen discusses

  • Health, environmental, and national security costs hidden in every barrel of oil
  • How to hold oil and auto companies accountable and force industry reform
  • A blueprint for developing alternative energy sources based on California’s real-world experiences
  • California initiatives to reduce greenhouse gases - landmark global warming law that made California the first U.S. state to mandate a cut in greenhouse gas emissions, equal to 25% by 2020

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Interview with Dr. Lisa Randall

August 12th, 2008 Posted by David Lemberg

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Dr. Lisa Randall is Professor of Theoretical Physics at Harvard University and author of Warped Passages: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Universe’s Hidden Dimension (2005). Warped Passages was one of The New York Times’ 100 Notable Books of 2005.

Professor Randall was recently named winner of the 2007 Julius Lilienfeld Prize of the American Physical Society for her seminal work in particle physics and cosmology, and her “tireless efforts to engage both specialists and non-specialists” regarding advances in these fields.

In our terrific SCIENCE AND SOCIETY interview on 4-5-06, Professor Randall discusses

  • How is gravity connected to the geometry of space-time
  • The overall concept of warped geometry
  • Evaluation of the hierarchy problem - an unsolved element of the Standard Model
  • Kaluza Klein particles
  • The concept of “time evolution”
  • The concept of locally localized gravity
  • Why is it necessary, ultimately, to resolve quantum mechanics and general relativity at small distances

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Interview with Dr. Charis Eng

August 11th, 2008 Posted by David Lemberg

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Dr. Charis Eng is Chair and Founding Director of the Genomic Medicine Institute at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, and Professor and Vice Chairman, Department of Genetics, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine.

Dr. Eng’s research interests may be broadly characterized as clinical cancer genetics translational research. Her work on RET testing in multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2 and the characterization of the widening clinical spectra of PTEN gene mutations have been acknowledged as the paradigm for the practice of clinical cancer genetics.

Dr. Eng has published over 230 peer-reviewed original papers in such journals as the New England Journal of Medicine, JAMA, Lancet, Nature Genetics, Nature.

In our wide-ranging SCIENCE AND SOCIETY interview, done on 8-9-07, Dr. Eng discusses

  • What is genomic medicine?
  • Personalized genetic risk assessment
  • Genetic counseling
  • Genetic testing and genetic screening

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Interview with Nobel Laureate Dr. Andrew Fire

August 10th, 2008 Posted by David Lemberg

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Dr. Andrew Fire is the co-discoverer of RNA interference. He is the 2006 Nobel Laureate in Physiology or Medicine, and Professor, Departments of Pathology and Genetics, Stanford University School of Medicine.

Dr. Fire’s lab studies the mechanisms by which cells and organisms respond to genetic change.

The genetic landscape faced by a living cell is constantly changing. Developmental transitions, environmental shifts, and pathogenic invasions lend a dynamic character to both the genome and its activity pattern. The Fire Lab studies a variety of natural mechanisms that are utilized by cells adapting to genetic change.

These include mechanisms activated during normal development and systems for detecting and responding to foreign or unwanted genetic activity. At the root of these studies are questions of how a cell can distinguish “self” versus “nonself” and “wanted” versus “unwanted” gene expression.

The Fire Lab primarily makes use of the nematode C. elegans in experimental studies. C. elegans is small, easily cultured, and can readily be made to accept foreign DNA or RNA. The results of such experiments have outlined a number of concerted responses that recognize (and in most cases work to silence) the foreign nucleic acid. One such mechanism (RNAi) responds to double-stranded character in RNA: either as introduced experimentally into the organism or as produced from foreign DNA that has not undergone selection to avoid a dsRNA response.

Much of the current effort in the lab is directed toward a molecular understanding of the RNAi machinery and its roles in the cell. RNAi is not the only cellular defense against unwanted nucleic acid, and substantial current effort in the lab is also directed at identification of other triggers and mechanisms used in recognition and response to foreign information.

In our wide-ranging SCIENCE AND SOCIETY interview, done on 1-10-07, Dr. Fire discusses

  • Process of discovery of RNA interference
  • How can cellular machinery recognize certain informational molecules as ‘unwanted’
  • How can the cell use this recognition to effectively silence malicious genetic activity
  • RNA interference vs. “traditional” immunity
  • Physiological factors modulating RNA interference to allow maximal response to pathogen RNAs
  • Mechanisms by which cells and organisms respond to genetic change
  • New frontiers in RNAi and its potential medical applications
  • Potential future implications for RNA interference
  • What advances from the field as a whole in the last couple of years are likely to revolutionize biology and medicine

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