NSF in the News
FINDING THE CELL DOORS
NSF-funded research, conducted by biochemist
Phillip Klebba and his colleagues at the University of Oklahoma at Norman,
has revealed that living cells are even more proactive than many scientists
previously believed. "The question of how nutrients and vitamins enter
living cells has been answered by these experiments," states Marcia Steinberg,
NSF's Director of Biomolecular Structure.
Up to this point, scientists inferred that the protein in living membranes
formed pores, which allowed nutrients into the cells. The new research
indicates that, rather than passively allowing entry, membrane proteins
actually behave like gatekeepers, opening cell "doors" to allow entry
of those vitamins and nutrients that the cell needs, and denying it to
those it does not.
Once the cell has acquired what it needs to grow, the entrance portals
shut, opening again when another vital substance is identified. These
portals also prevent the entry of unnecessary or harmful compounds.
In addition, Klebba's research has resulted in a new methodology, identified
as "electron spin resonance spectroscopy," which gives researchers the
ability to observe these transport events while they are happening.
THANK YOU FOR YOUR RESPONSES! FRONTIERS READERSHIP SURVEY YIELDS COMPLIMENTS AND INSIGHTS
Frontiers is on the right track but has some room for improvement.
This was the overall conclusion of the newsletter's first readership survey,
which was distributed as an insert in the February 1997 issue.
Most of the respondents (79 percent), rated the newsletter's writing
as good or excellent. Objectivity and timeliness also received high marks
with two-thirds of the respondents ranking them 4 or 5 on a scale of 1
to 5, where 1 means "poor" and 5 means "excellent." In addition, overall
performance, topics covered and quality of photos were rated highly by
at least half of the respondents.
Only two characteristics, depth of information in articles and usefulness
as a reference, were not rated highly by more than half of the respondents.
Two respondents suggested including a "for more information" section that
lists Web site addresses and periodical references. We appreciate this
The survey also revealed that most respondents read Frontiers either "to
keep up-to-date on the latest research and education advances," or because "the
topics covered are interesting." Other reasons listed included:
- To learn more about science and engineering,
- To find out about grant opportunities, and
- To find out what is going on in NSF.
The overall response rate for the survey was 2 percent. While this rate
is typical for surveys distributed in this manner, it is too small to
be used for statistical analysis. However, the staff of Frontiers appreciates
feedback and values the insights this survey provided.
Please keep your eyes open and pencils ready for the next survey. We
look forward to hearing from you.
Stacy L. Springer