Historical Context: Annual Review of Biochemistry Volume 86

Browse the Annual Review of Biochemistry Volume 86 table of contents.

This volume of the Annual Review of Biochemistry opens with an autobiography by Christopher Walsh, titled “At the Intersection of Chemistry, Biology, and Medicine.” I especially enjoyed his memories of his early days in research and how these early projects shaped his long-term research:

“Two epiphanies turned my attention away from medical school, which had
been my default expectation, to biomedical research as a career option. The
first came from research on fire ant trail substance pheromone. I was involved
in a joint project between Professor Law and Professor E.O. Wilson in the
Biology Department. Wilson has been the world’s expert in ant biology and the
lessons learned from their interdependent society for the past 60-plus years.
My efforts at partial purification resulted in my initial research paper,
published in Nature no less. Although it would be another 30 years before I
published in Nature again, in my callow enthusiasm I thought from this
encounter that the research enterprise would be exciting.”

I also liked the description of his first research group:

“Starting a research group is like diving into the deep end of a pool to find out if you can swim, with no prior instructions on what keeps people afloat. At the outset, aged 28, I was at most 5 years older than the students in my group. The sales and instrument people who would drop by would ask me all the time if Professor Walsh was in. I usually replied that unfortunately he was otherwise occupied.”

Nielsen’s article “Systems Biology of Metabolism” is a wide-ranging article that gave me a better understanding of metabolism—a subject I’m interested in but find very complicated. I especially enjoyed the history of the subject in the Introduction to the article, including the “golden age of metabolism studies.” These bits of history are very useful context.
bi-ribosomal rnaI discovered another historical section in Matzov’s article, “A Bright Future for

“This article addresses a major problem in modern medicine: resistance of pathogens to antibiotics. It focuses on how antibiotics paralyze ribosomes, the universal multicomponent cellular particles that translate the genetic code into proteins. It highlights conventional and nonconventional suggestions that may relieve, to some extent, the current problematic medical situation and shows how we may benefit from the vast amount of available structural information. Notably, understanding the mechanisms of resistance to antibiotics could not even be dreamt about when a project aimed at the determination of the atomic structure of ribosomes was started during the last two weeks of November 1979.”

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