Seven Annual Reviews Authors Win Breakthrough Prizes

The 2016 Special Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics was awarded to Kip S. Thorne, of the California Institute of Technology (CalTech), and Rainer Weiss, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. They lead the LIGO Project with CalTech’s Ronald W.P. Drever, also a recipient of the prize, and they share this honor with the other 1012 who were part of this research. Together they were the first to detect the gravitational waves predicted by Albert Einstein.

Find Dr. Thorne’s article in the 1972 Annual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics:

Find Dr. Weiss’ article in the 1980 Annual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics:

Five Breakthrough Prizes in Life Sciences were awarded in 2017, to the following laureates:

Stephen Elledge, of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Harvard Medical School, and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, “for elucidating how eukaryotic cells sense and respond to damage in their DNA and providing insights into the development and treatment of cancer.”

Dr. Elledge is scheduled to write an article for the 2017 Annual Review of Cancer Biology.

Harry F. Noller, of the University of California, Santa Cruz, “for discovering the centrality of RNA in forming the active centers of the ribosome, the fundamental machinery of protein synthesis in all cells, thereby connecting modern biology to the origin of life and also explaining how many natural antibiotics disrupt protein synthesis.”

Find Dr. Noller’s articles in the Annual Review of Biochemistry:

Roeland Nusse, of Stanford University and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, “for pioneering research on the Wnt pathway, one of the crucial intercellular signaling systems in development, cancer and stem cell biology.”

Find Dr. Nusse’s articles in the Annual Review of Cell and Developmental Biology:

• Yoshinori Ohsumi, of the Tokyo Institute of Technology, “for elucidating autophagy, the recycling system that cells use to generate nutrients from their own inessential or damaged components.” This comes two months after Dr. Ohsumi won the 2016 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.

Find Dr. Ohsumi’s articles in the Annual Review of Cell and Developmental Biology:

Huda Y. Zoghbi, of the Baylor College of Medicine, Texas Children’s Hospital, and Howard Hughes Medical Institute, “for discoveries of the genetic causes and biochemical mechanisms of spinocerebellar ataxia and Rett syndrome, findings that have provided insight into the pathogenesis of neurodegenerative and neurological diseases.”

Find Dr. Zoghby’s articles in the Annual Review of Neuroscience, the Annual Review of Physiology, and the Annual Review of Genomics and Human Genetics:

How Social Science Can Help Shape Election Law

In this video, Richard Holden, Professor of Economics at UNSW Australia Business School, and author of this comprehensive review, sheds light on the democratic process and the surprising factors that influence how people vote.

The review presents existing social-science research that helps us think through the voting process, including how electoral boundaries are drawn, the redistricting process, what might explain the high incumbent reelection rate in the United States, and how geography influences voting. All this has particular relevance in today’s context of highly polarized and partisan politics that encourages nefarious practices like gerrymandering to win votes. Professor Holden’s review suggests that social science can be a powerful tool to inform election law and support a healthy and transparent democratic process in an increasingly complex political climate.

Learn more with this article, which we’ve made freely available:

Free Trade and the U.S. Election

2908273630_bd93cee6f3_zAs we approach the end of the 2016 presidential campaign in the United States, we explore one of the most heatedly discussed issues: international trade and the various trade deals the country has entered.

Hillary Clinton, the Democratic Party’s nominee, has been criticized by Donald Trump, the Republican Party’s nominee, for her support of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), signed in 1994 between the U.S., Canada, and Mexico by her husband, then-U.S. President Bill Clinton. During her tenure as Secretary of State under President Barack Obama, she spoke in favor of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a proposed deal between 12 countries of the Pacific Rim that has become a priority for the current administration.

Secretary Clinton now says NAFTA didn’t live up to its potential and will need to be renegotiated—a promise made by the Obama campaign in 2008, which his administration didn’t keep. She also says that the latest version of the TPP, which would cover 40% of the global economy with approximately 800 million consumers, doesn’t meet her “high bar” for “creat[ing] American jobs, rais[ing] wages and advanc[ing] our national security.”

Another proposed deal in the early stages of the negotiating process is the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), between the European Union and the United States, covering a third of global trade.

Mr. Trump, on the other hand, has built his platform on a blanket rejection of free trade.

As the political tide seems to have turned toward protectionism, World Trade Organization Director General Roberto Azevedo has expressed concern about the anti-trade rhetoric on both sides of this campaign. With election day looming, what can we learn about trade deals, regional and global, and their long-term effects on participating economies, specifically on poverty, the environment, and public health? Do they result in net gains or net losses?

Learn more with these five articles, which we’ve made freely available:

Photo credit.

Fighting the Tobacco Epidemic

On November 1, France launched “Moi(s) sans tabac” (“month/me without tobacco”), the very first national campaign of its kind, which will use all existing social media and digital tools to encourage smokers to quit. Inspired by the UK’s “Stoptober” campaign, which started in 2012, it sets the goal of stopping for the entire month of November, 30 days without smoking, which multiply the chances of quitting by five.

9786177825_73ed90e5fb_zUsers can sign up online to join the community and get personalized advice; call a phone number where they can talk to smoking cessation specialists; or download an application that can track their progress, cheer them on, and calculate their savings. On November 1, over 130,000 smokers had signed up.

It is estimated that tobacco is as addictive as heroin, with approximately 60% of those who try it becoming addicted. Of regular smokers, experts calculate that about half will die of smoke-related consequences. In France, there are around 73,000 smoke-related deaths each year. In 2003, a government report found that France’s male population had the highest level of cancer-related deaths, more than any country in the European Union, caused directly by cigarette use.

How did this tobacco epidemic begin? What are some environmental factors that play into tobacco addiction? What are some intervention that have been effective in helping smokers quit?

Read more about tobacco and health here:

Photo credit.

In Conversation with Barry M. Staw, of Berkeley-Haas

Barry M. Staw, Professor Emeritus at the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley, talks to Frederick P. Morgeson, Professor at the Eli Broad College of Management at Michigan State University and Editor of the Annual Review of Organizational Psychology and Organizational Behavior.

In this conversation, Dr. Staw discusses the inspiration behind his work on escalation of commitment, a construct he formulated based in part on his family history and, later, studying the nature of the U.S.’ engagement in the Vietnam war. He also gives advice to younger researchers, from where to find inspiration for research and staying grounded in reality to preserving a unique voice in research articles.

Watch the video series here.

Bernard L. Feringa, Laureate of the 2016 Nobel Prize in Chemistry

pc600407-f9Congratulations to Bernard “Ben” L. Feringa, of the University of Groningen in The Netherlands, who shared the 2016 Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Jean-Pierre Sauvage, of the University of Strasbourg in France, and Sir J. Fraser Stoddart, of Northwestern University in the U.S. They were rewarded “for the design and synthesis of molecular machines.”

Dr. Sauvage was the first, in 1983, to create a catenane, a chain of mechanically interlocked molecular rings. Eight years later,  Dr. Stoddart built upon this by creating a rotaxane, a molecular ring threaded through a molecular axle.

Using these techniques, in 1999, Dr. Feringa was able to create the first molecular motor. This will allow for the development of new materials and sensors, and more. Read about possible applications of molecular motors in the 2011 Annual Review of Bioengineering.

Read Dr. Feringa’s article about molecular motors and light switching of surfaces in the 2009 Annual Review of Physical Chemistry.

Yoshinori Ohsumi, Laureate of the 2016 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

Congratulations to Yoshinori Ohsumi, of the Tokyo Institute of Technology, who won the 2016 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his work on autophagy, the process by which a cell “recycles its content,” and his identification of genes responsible for this process.

cellbio270107-f1Dr. Ohsumi’s research has shown how “self-eating” in cells provides them with the energy and components necessary to renew themselves, helping organisms resist starvation, among other types of stress. Autophagy also helps cells to fight infections and prevent the negative consequences of aging.

Parkinson’s, cancer, and type 2 diabetes were later linked to disruptions in autophagy, leading scientists to target this process in order to develop treatments for these diseases.

Learn more.

Read Dr. Ohsumi’s articles on autophagy for the Annual Review of Cell and Developmental Biology and the Annual Review of Biochemistry.

MacArthur Fellows, Class of 2016

Our warmest congratulations to the 23 people honored this year by the MacArthur Foundation for “breaking new ground in areas of public concern, in the arts, and in the sciences, often in unexpected ways.”

Among them is Dianne K. Newman, a Microbiologist at the California Institute of Technology and of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. She is also an Editorial Committee Member of the Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences.

Dianne Newman
Dianne Newman, 2016 MacArthur Fellow, Caltech, Pasadena, CA, 09.08.2016.

Dr. Newman’s research in microbiology spans across disciplines, from geobiology to biomedicine: she and her group study bacteria that thrive in low-oxygen environments, such as bacteria that “breathe” arsenic or iron, as was the case in Earth’s early atmosphere. This work has taken them to study the metabolism of Pseudonoma aeruginosa, an opportunistic bacterium that thrives in mucus-filled lungs where oxygen is limited, such as those of cystic fibrosis patients. This could open the door to more effective treatment of these infections. Browse the articles she wrote for Annual Reviews here.

Another 2016 MacArthur Fellow is Bioengineer Rebecca Richards-Kortum, of Rice University.

Rebecca Richards-Kortum
Rebecca Richards-Kortum, 2016 MacArthur Fellow, BioScience Research Collaborative at Rice University, Houston, August 31, 2016.

Dr. Richards-Kortum and her students create cheap and effective solutions that seek to redress imbalances in access to health care across the world. Their products have helped overcome challenges in the diagnosis of various types of cancers, but also for the care of premature newborns or babies with jaundice. Read her article for the Annual Review of Physical Chemistry here.

Photo credit: John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

2016 Lasker Awards

Congratulations to the winners of the 2016 Lasker awards.

1. Basic Medical Research Award:

William G. Kaelin, of Dana Farber-Harvard Cancer Center.

Gregg L. Semenza, of Johns Hopkins University.

They helped identify how all animals react to variations in oxygen. They share the award with Peter J. Ratcliffe, of Oxford University. Click on their names to read the articles they wrote for various Annual Reviews journals.

2. Lasker-DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award:

Charles M. Rice, of Rockefeller University.

He shares the award with Ralf  F. W. Bartenschlager, of the University of Heidelberg, and Michael J. Sofia, of Arbutus Biopharma. Drs. Rice and Bartenschlager were able to find a way to make the Hepatitis C virus replicate in laboratory conditions, which allowed research to proceed. Dr. Sofia then developed a drug that made it possible to treat the disease.  Click on Dr. Rice’s name to browse the articles he wrote for various Annual Reviews journals.

3. Lasker-Koshland Award for Special Achievement in Medical Science:

Bruce M. Alberts, of the University of California, San Francisco.

He was recognized for his work in molecular biology and his efforts toward science education. Click on his name to browse the articles he wrote for the Annual Review of Biochemistry.

Our Microbial Partners

Congratulations to Ed Yong on his new book, I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life, in which he explores the microbes that live and multiply all over humans and other animals, helping us thrive and shaping our behavior.

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While our view of microbes is still heavily skewed by the germ theory of disease, which paints them solely as pathogens, recent research has shown that an estimated 50% of the cells we carry around are microbial in nature, and only a fraction of these actually make us ill.

In fact, each animal is an ecosystem and our individual microbiomes play an essential role in keeping us healthy. They help us evolve, break down nutrients from the food we eat so we can better assimilate them, teach our immune system how to defend us from disease, and favor brain development, among other things. Scientists even found that germ-free mice exhibited autism-like behavior, and that probiotic therapies can have positive effects on depression and anxiety.

Yong cited seven of our articles in his book, all of which you can access for free for the next 30 days

The Influence of Milk Oligosaccharides on Microbiota of Infants: Opportunities for FormulasAnnual Review of Food Science and Technology
Biofilms and Marine Invertebrate Larvae: What Bacteria Produce That Larvae Use to Choose Settlement SitesAnnual Review of Marine Science
The Microbiome in Infectious Disease and InflammationAnnual Review of Immunology
Ecological Physiology of Diet and Digestive SystemsAnnual Review of Physiology
Vaginal Microbiome: Rethinking Health and DiseaseAnnual Review of Microbiology
Human Milk Glycans Protect Infants Against Enteric PathogensAnnual Review of Nutrition
The Human Gut Microbiome: Ecology and Recent Evolutionary ChangeAnnual Review of Microbiology

For more, listen to Yong discussing his book with Fresh Air‘s Terry Gross on August 18, 2016.