2018 Kavli Prize in Neuroscience Goes to Annual Reviews Authors Hudspeth, Fettiplace, Petit

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Photo: kavliprize.org.

Congratulations to A. James Hudspeth, of Rockefeller University; Robert Fettiplace, of the University of Wisconsin–Madison; and Christine Petit, of the Institut Pasteur, who shared the 2018 Kavli Prize in Neuroscience “for their pioneering work on the molecular and neural mechanisms of hearing.”

Click on their names to find the articles they wrote for the Annual Review of Biophysics, the Annual Review of Cell and Developmental Biology, the Annual Review of Neuroscience, the Annual Review of Genomics and Human Genetics, and the Annual Review of Physiology.

Annual Review of Physiology, Volume 79

View the full table of contents for the Annual Review of Physiology, Volume 79.

The first article to catch my attention inthis volume, “A Critical and Comparative Review of Fluorescent Tools for Live-Cell Imaging” by Elizabeth A. Specht et al., conjured  for me images of white-coated researchers anxiously holding fluorescent light tubes over microscopes. This amusing vision was, of course, very fleeting, and the last remnants were swept away when I started reading the article and realized biological researchers use the phrase “fluorescent tool” in reference to the fluorescent markers, dyes, and sensors in biological samples. These tools are much more complicated and diverse than I realized and I was very interested in learning about how they work:

This review provides a broad overview of well-established fluorescent tools, with an eye toward recent developments and emerging technologies, and it refers the reader to more comprehensive and detailed reviews on individual techniques and applications. We begin with a discussion of general classes of fluorophores and their advantages and disadvantages for various applications. We then discuss methods for labeling a molecule of interest with a fluorescent moiety—including fluorescent protein fusions, incorporation of fluorescent moieties through nonnatural amino acid substitution, chemical labeling, and antibody labeling—emphasizing applications in live cells. We briefly review applications for monitoring proteins, which are already well established, and then focus on the extension of these techniques to high-throughput proteomics and screening.

Next on my personal reading list is the article by Johannes Overgaard & Heath A. Macmillan titled “The Integrative Physiology of Insect Chill Tolerance.”  This article reminded me of when my little brother found a beetle frozen in a pool of ice when we were children. After marveling at it for days he decided to melt the ice so he could examine the beetle more closely and use it as part of an ongoing school science project.  We were both quite shocked when the defrosted beetle turned out to be very much alive and not in favor of being used for science projects. (By “shocked” I mean we jumped and screamed when it started moving.)

This article looks at how insects survive ice and cold and the adaptations that make it possible:

The cold tolerance of insects has historically been classified by their ability to tolerate ice formation in the extracellular fluid (freeze-tolerant species) or to avoid freezing by lowering the freezing point of their extracellular fluid [freeze-avoiding species that survive low temperatures above their supercooling point (SCP)]. Studies of freeze tolerance and avoidance have revealed a range of fascinating physiological adaptations that involve accumulation of cryoprotectants, removal of ice nucleators, synthesis of antifreeze proteins, or use of severe dehydration, all of which allow insects to either tolerate or avoid freezing. Nevertheless, the classification of insect species as freeze avoiding and freeze tolerant has received some criticism because it fails to take into account that insect species from warm regions experience loss of homeostasis, cold-induced injury, and death at temperatures above those causing extracellular freezing.

ph79-tongueFinally, I discovered the article by Charlotte M. Mistretta & Archana Kumari, “Tongue and Taste Organ Biology and Function: Homeostasis Maintained by Hedgehog Signaling.”  I’ve given some thought to how taste works but because it seems such a basic part of life I forget how complex it actually is. This article certainly reminded me and also included bonus discussion of the hedgehog pathway, one of my favorite names in all of science. As the authors write in the abstract:

The tongue is an elaborate complex of heterogeneous tissues with taste organs of diverse embryonic origins. The lingual taste organs are papillae, composed of an epithelium that includes specialized taste buds, the basal lamina, and a lamina propria core with matrix molecules, fibroblasts, nerves, and vessels. Because taste organs are dynamic in cell biology and sensory function, homeostasis requires tight regulation in specific compartments or niches.

If you found an article in this volume that interests you, please let me know in the comments!

Suzanne K. Moses is Annual Reviews’ Senior Electronic Content Coordinator. For 15+ years, she has played a central role in the publication of Annual Reviews’ online articles. Not a single page is posted online without first being proofed and quality checked by Suzanne.

Research partners: Happy Valentine’s Day from Annual Reviews

I have a soft spot for the Annual Review autobiographies. I open each volume’s table of contents and eagerly search for them. I’m always interested in how our authors discovered their passion for their field and the interplay between their lives and their science. Among these articles there are a few that are written by husband and wife teams—and they are an extraordinary glimpse into shared lives.


I first encountered Leonard and Leonore Herzenberg in their article “Genetics, FACS, Immunology, and Redox: A Tale of Two Lives Intertwined,” published in the Annual Review of Immunology in 2004.  I was quite taken with the way they handed the narrative back and forth, as well as the humor with which they told their story. I was delighted to find them writing for us again in 2014 for the Annual Review of Physiology, and even more delighted to find they had done a video interview!  These two articles remain among my favorites, and I was sad to learn that Dr. Leonard Herzenberg had passed away soon after the video was made.

Here is a snippet from Dr. Leonore Herzenberg about their time in Paris at the Pasteur Institute from the 2004 volume of the Annual Review of Immunology:

…because Len loved hands-on experimentation, I took over much of the data recording, computation, and display (plotting) that was needed. The work was tedious (slide rules were the closest thing to computers at the time). However, it gave me the opportunity to do a preliminary analysis of the data and try novel approaches to analyzing LacZ induction kinetics. Len left this to me. He was more interested in developing methods and experiment designs that would enable clear conclusions without a lot of mathematical interference. This division of labor, which reflects Len’s innate preference for concreteness and my innate love for theory, remains with us even today.

bb-richardsonsDrs. Jane and David Richardson wrote “Doing Molecular Biophysics: Finding, Naming, and Picturing Signal Within Complexity” for the Annual Review of Biophysics in 2013. While the article focuses mainly on their research, it is full of stories about their shared experiences, such as this one:

We spent a large fraction of our lives from the early 1970s to the early 1990s in Fred Brooks’ computer graphics lab at the University of North Carolina (UNC). There we accomplished much of our own research in protein structure, acted as guinea pigs for in-depth testing of their software and hardware, and played happily with the science fiction–level gadgets that explored far-out new possibilities such as virtual reality displays, volume rendering, force feedback, fitting models into electron density, or tugging on atoms to move local structure with (more or less) physical realism. Some things worked splendidly and soon became widespread; some failed by being surprisingly unhelpful, making you sick, or whacking you in the chest (their gadgets never just fell apart)…


In 1989, George and Eva Klein wrote “How One Thing Has Led to Another” for the Annual Review of Immunology.  Their story begins with a whirlwind romance and an intrigue-filled move into Sweden just as the Iron Curtain was falling on Dr. Klein’s Hungarian homeland.  From the epilogue of their article:

As each of us is moving towards the approaching darkness, the sun is never setting over the vast oceans of science. It has been a rare privilege to live and work through the times when the genetic material turned from protein to DNA, when adaptive changes in cell populations-including antibody production-were unmasked as Darwinian variations and selection, when GOD became the rearrangement of immunoglobulin genes, violating the dogma that all somatic cells have the same DNA….It was a great time, and it still is, but it is only the stumbling, stuttering, premature foreshadowing of what lies ahead. We have barely scratched the surface.

bi-taborThe story of Celia White Tabor and Herbert Tabor’s work in biochemical research was chronicled along with their personal history in the article “It All Started on a Streetcar in Boston” for the Annual Review of Biochemistry in 1999.  Among the scientific discussion are small stories about their lives and friendships, making this an interesting read.

We first met on a Boston streetcar in 1940, being introduced by a mutual friend. Celia was returning from research work at the Massachusetts General Hospital as part of her senior thesis at Radcliffe College, and Herb was returning from a concert by the Boston Symphony. We were married in 1946 after Celia had finished her medical training. We started working together in 1952, and we are still actively collaborating in our studies on various aspects of the biosynthesis and function of polyamines.

Suzanne K. Moses is Annual Reviews’ Senior Electronic Content Coordinator. For 15+ years, she has played a central role in the publication of Annual Reviews’ online articles. Not a single page is posted online without first being proofed and quality checked by Suzanne.

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:

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.


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.