January 7, 2002
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story tips, please contact the public information
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Editor: Josh Chamot
Contents of this News Tip:
May Lead to Cellular Drug Delivery System
A team of researchers at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg
has uncovered a new function of the Golgi apparatus,
a subcellular structure that prepares proteins for
export from the cell. The discovery may have implications
for medication delivery and pharmaceutical development.
Researchers were surprised to learn that the Golgi
is constantly being assembled and disassembled. The
disassembled Golgi proteins are then reused within
This fundamental discovery could open possibilities
for attaching drugs to Golgi proteins and using the
disassembly process to deliver precise amounts of
medications to specific locations within a cell. Another
possible outcome is that the Golgi apparatus could
be used to develop cell secretions used by the pharmaceutical
"These recycled proteins are portals to the inside
of a cell. These portals could be very useful," according
to biochemist Brian Storrie, who made this discovery
along with chemical engineer Kimberly Forsten Williams
and biochemists Suzanne Miles and Heather McManus.
The findings were reported in the November 12, 2001
issue of the Journal of Cell Biology.
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41,000 Received Doctoral Degrees in 2000
For the seventh year in a row, more than 41,000 people
received Ph.D.s at the nation's universities, according
to Doctorate Recipients from United States Universities:
Summary Report 2000, a report based on data from
the annual Survey of Earned Doctorates, sponsored
by NSF, NIH, ED, NEH, USDA, and NASA.
The newest report showed continued growth in the percentage
of doctorates going to women and minorities, although
the groups were not evenly represented in all fields.
Of 41,368 Ph.D.'s awarded, 18,121 (nearly 44 percent)
went to women. In 1990, 36 percent of all Ph.Ds went
to women. Women represented the majority of doctoral
degrees conferred in the life sciences but were underrepresented
in fields such as physics and engineering. Sixteen
percent of all year 2000 doctorates to U.S. citizens
were awarded to Hispanics, Asians, African Americans,
or American Indians, compared with 10 percent in 1990.
About 11,600 doctorates - nearly 30 percent of the
total - went to non-U.S. citizens. The largest number
of non-U.S. citizens to receive Ph.Ds in 2000 were
from the People's Republic of China (2,594), followed
by Korea (1,048), India (985), Taiwan (936), and Canada
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NSF Center Wins Student Science Contest
Two New York high school seniors took team honors in
the prestigious Siemens-Westinghouse Science and Technology
Competition with a materials science project. Sponsored
by the NSF, Shira Billet and Dora Sosnowik of the
Stella K. Abraham High School for Girls in Hewlett
Bay Park, N.Y. won the award for designing an instrument
to determine the viscosity, or fluidity, of nanometer
sized films, a problem of great importance to materials
researchers. The students will share $100,000 in college
scholarship money for their work.
Ultra-thin films are used in all microelectronics -
as lubricants for products such as computer disks
or bone implants - and in the emerging field of nanomachines.
The new instrument relies on combining the thin film
with an incompatible liquid. Just like oil and water,
the two substances begin to separate in patches, or
holes, that grow over time. By measuring the size
of the microscopic holes as they grow, the students
developed a measure of the film's viscosity.
The students performed their research at the NSF Materials
Research Center for Polymers at Engineered Interfaces
at the State University of New York at Stony Brook,
under the tutelage of center director Miriam Rafailovich.
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On-Line Industry R&D Information Retrieval System
Forty-five years of NSF historical data on industrial
research and development is now available on-line.
The expansive new Industrial Research and Development
System (IRIS) provides statistics on industrial R&D
performance across a broad range of criteria in more
than 2,500 statistical tables, and links to an on-line
historical data interface. The data "can be used to
assess trends in U.S. R&D performance from a variety
of perspectives," says a recent Data Brief from NSF's
Division of Science Resources Statistics.
The IRIS system also provides a glossary of terms,
help files and links to related NSF publications in
Access to IRIS is gained through a welcome screen that
allows observers to browse tables by survey year or
topic, or through a "search for data tables" option.
For IRIS on-line, see: http://www.nsf.gov/sbe/srs/iris/start.htm