Thursday, April 22, 2010

The imporatnce of STATISTICIAN in your research paper writing.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

What a mouse wanted for his upcoming breeding programme.

Celebration continues...(BACTERIAL CULT)

They felt,they got distrubed by the late-night-working scientist.

3 laboratory MOUSE talking about their scientists.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Surprised bacteria after seeing a 'picture'.

Luc Montagnier,a nobel laurete of our times and controversy over HIV patent.

Luc Montagnier, a French Virologist
Luc Montagnier of the Institute Pasteur in Paris has devoted his career to the study of viruses. He is perhaps best known for his 1983 discovery of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which has been identified as the cause of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). However, in the twenty years before the onset of the AIDS epidemic, Montagnier made many significant discoveries concerning the nature of viruses. He made major contributions to the understanding of how viruses can alter the genetic information of host organisms, and significantly advanced cancer research. His investigation of interferon, one of the body's defenses against viruses, also opened avenues for medical cures for viral diseases. Montagnier's ongoing research focuses on the search for an AIDS vaccine or cure.
Montagnier was born in Chabris, France, the only child of Antoine Montagnier and Marianne Rousselet. He became interested in science in his early childhood through his father, an accountant by profession, who carried out experiments on Sundays in a makeshift laboratory in the basement of the family home. At age fourteen, Montagnier himself conducted nitroglycerine experiments in the basement laboratory. His desire to contribute to medical knowledge was also kindled by his grandfather's long illness and death from colon cancer.
Montagnier attended the College de Chatellerault, and then the University of Poitiers, where he received the equivalent of a bachelor's degree in the natural sciences in 1953. Continuing his studies at Poitiers and then at the University of Paris, he received his licence es sciences in 1955. As an assistant to the science faculty at Paris, he taught physiology at the Sorbonne and in 1960 qualified there for his doctorate in medicine. He was appointed a researcher at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (C.N.R.S.) in 1960, but then went to London for three and a half years to do research at the Medical Research Council at Carshalton.
Viruses are agents which consist of genetic material surrounded by a protective protein shell. They are completely dependent on the cells of a host animal or plant to multiply, a process which begins with the shedding of their own protein shell. The virus research group at Carshalton was investigating ribonucleic acid (RNA), a form of nucleic acid that normally is involved in taking genetic information from deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) (the main carrier of genetic information) and translating it into proteins. Montagnier and F. K. Sanders, investigating viral RNA (a virus that carries its genetic material in RNA rather than DNA), discovered a double-stranded RNA virus that had been made by the replication of a single-stranded RNA. The double-stranded RNA could transfer its genetic information to DNA, allowing the virus to encode itself in the genetic make-up of the host organism. This discovery represented a significant advance in knowledge concerning viruses.
From 1963 to 1965, Montagnier did research at the Institute of Virology in Glasgow, Scotland. Working with Ian Mac Pherson , he discovered in 1964 that agar, a gelatinous extractive of a red alga, was an excellent substance for culturing cancer cells. Their technique became standard in laboratories investigating oncogenes (genes that have the potential to make normal cells turn cancerous) and cell transformations. Montagnier himself used the new technique to look for cancer-causing viruses in humans after his return to France in 1965.
From 1965 to 1972, Montagnier worked as laboratory director of the Institut de Radium (later called Institute Curie) at Orsay. In 1972, he founded and became director of the viral oncology unit of the Institute Pasteur. Motivated by his findings at Carshalton and the belief that some cancers are caused by viruses, Montagnier's basic research interest during those years was in retroviruses as a potential cause of cancer. Retroviruses possess an enzyme called reverse transcriptase. Montagnier established that reverse transcriptase translates the genetic instructions of the virus from the viral (RNA) form to DNA, allowing the genes of the virus to become permanently established in the cells of the host organism. Once established, the virus can begin to multiply, but it can do so only by multiplying cells of the host organism, forming malignant tumors. In addition, collaborating with Edward De Mayer and Jacqueline DeMayer , Montagnier isolated the messenger RNA of interferon, the cell's first defense against a virus. Ultimately, this research allowed the cloning of interferon genes in a quantity sufficient for research. However, despite widespread hopes for interferon as a broadly effective anti-cancer drug, it was initially found to be effective in only a few rare kinds of malignancies.
AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome), a tragic epidemic that emerged in the early 1980s, was first adequately characterized around 1982. Its chief feature is that it disables the immune system by which the body defends itself against numerous diseases. It is eventually fatal. By 1993, more than three million people had developed full-blown AIDS. Montagnier believed that a retrovirus might be responsible for AIDS. Researchers had noted that one pre-AIDS condition involved a persistent enlargement of the lymph nodes, called lymphadenopathy. Obtaining some tissue culture from the lymph nodes of an infected patient in 1983, Montagnier and two colleagues, Françoise Barré-Sinoussi and Jean-Claude Chermann , searched for and found reverse transcriptase, which constitutes evidence of a retrovirus. They isolated a virus they called LAV (lymphadenopathy-associated virus ). Later, by international agreement, it was renamed HIV, human immunodeficiency virus . After the virus had been isolated, it was possible to develop a test for antibodies that had developed against it-the HIV test. Montagnier and his group also discovered that HIV attacks T4 cells which are crucial in the immune system. A second similar but not identical HIV virus called HIV-2 was discovered by Montagnier and colleagues in April 1986.
A controversy developed over the patent on the HIV test in the mid-1980s. Robert C. Gallo of the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland, announced his own discovery of the HIV virus in April 1984 and received the patent on the test. The Institute Pasteur claimed the patent (and the profits) on the basis of Montagnier's earlier discovery of HIV. Despite the controversy, Montagnier continued research and attended numerous scientific meetings with Gallo to share information. Intense mediation efforts by Jonas Salk (the scientist who developed the first polio vaccine) led to an international agreement signed by the scientists and their respective countries in 1987. Montagnier and Gallo agreed to be recognized as co-discoverers of the virus, and the two governments agreed that the profits of the HIV test be shared (most going to a foundation for AIDS research).
The scientific dispute continued to resurface, however. Most HIV viruses from different patients differ by six to twenty percent because of the remarkable ability of the virus to mutate. However, Gallo's virus was less than two percent different from Montagnier's, leading to the suspicion that both viruses were from the same source. The laboratories had exchanged samples in the early 1980s, which strengthened the suspicion. Charges of scientific misconduct on Gallo's part led to an investigation by the National Institutes of Health in 1991, which initially cleared Gallo. In 1992 the investigation was reviewed by the newly created Office of Research Integrity. The ORI report, issued in March of 1993, confirmed that Gallo had in fact "discovered" the virus sent to him by Montagnier. Whether or not Gallo had been aware of this fact in 1983 could not be established, but it was found that he had been guilty of misrepresentations in reporting his research and that his supervision of his research lab had been desultory. The Institute Pasteur immediately revived its claim to the exclusive right to the patent on the HIV test. Gallo objected to the decision by the ORI, however, and took his case before an appeals board at the Department of Health and Human Services. The board in December of 1993 cleared Gallo of all charges, and the ORI subsequently withdrew their charges for lack of proof.
Montagnier's continuing work includes investigation of the envelope proteins of the virus that link it to the T-cell . He is also extensively involved in research of possible drugs to combat AIDS. In 1990 Montagnier hypothesized that a second organism, called a mycoplasma, must be present with the HIV virus for the latter to become deadly. This suggestion, which has proved controversial among most AIDS researchers, is the subject of ongoing research.
Montagnier married Dorothea Ackerman in 1961. They have three children, Jean-Luc, Anne-Marie, and Francine. He has described himself as an aggressive researcher who spends much time either in the laboratory or traveling to scientific meetings. He enjoys swimming and classical music, and loves to play the piano.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

New study shows that bacteria can communicate through the air

New study shows that bacteria can communicate through the air
This month, Journal of Applied Microbiology publishes a ground-breaking study demonstrating that bacteria which are physically separated can transmit information through the air. It is well documented that bacteria can exchange messages by releasing substances into a surrounding liquid culture medium, but this new study is the first to demonstrate signalling between physically separated bacterial cells.
Professor Alan Parsons and Dr Richard Heal of QinetiQ ltd, have shown that physically separated colonies of bacteria can transmit signals conferring resistance to commonly used antibiotics. The discovery is thought to have direct application against the growing problem of the resistance of bacteria to antibiotics - in particular in preventing the growth of biofilms, which often cause infection associated with surgical implants.
Professor Parsons and Dr Heal conducted their experiments using a Petri dish divided into two compartments, connected by a five-millimetre air gap between the top of the wall and the lid. In one compartment they placed drops of the bacterium Escherichia coli, together with the antibiotics. When the other compartment was empty, the bacteria were killed. However, if thriving colonies of E.coli were placed in the other compartment, the first colony of bacteria not only survived, but also multiplied. Yet, if the gap between the compartments was sealed, the bacteria in the first compartment died. Professor Parsons and Dr Heal concluded that the bacteria must have been responding to some kind of airborne signal from the adjacent culture probably in the form of a volatile chemical.
Further research is still required to identify the exact nature of the signalling mechanism, and to establish whether blocking of the signalling mechanism might prove a valuable weapon in combatting the problem of bacterial antibiotic resistance.

Blackwell Publishing Ltd. May 2002.

Siberian Journey: On the Trail of Ancient Microorg

Siberian Journey: On the Trail of Ancient Microorg
Jun 30, 2008 10:28 AM
If "Vector" sounds like a code name in a James Bond movie, that's not a bad guess. As big as a small city but not on any map, Vector was a secret laboratory and production facility in Siberia which specialized in research on biological warfare. These days, however, Vector and Berkeley Lab scientists are working together under the Initiatives for Proliferation Prevention (IPP), a Department of Energy program established after the collapse of the Soviet Union to help keep former Soviet defense researchers gainfully -- and peacefully -- employed.
"Only five years ago Vector had 3,500 scientists," says Tamas Torok of the Life Sciences Division. "Now they are down to 1,500. Luckily these are top staff, people you wouldn't want to see working for any third party."
Torok recently returned from a visit to Vector and to the Lake Baikal region, where, in collaboration with Vector microbiologist and institute director V.E. Repin he began a search for ancient and as yet unknown microorganisms with novel medical and biotechnological potential.
Torok is a member of Berkeley Lab's Center for Environmental Biotechnology (CEB), headed by Jennie Hunter-Cevera of the Earth Sciences and Life Sciences Divisions. Hunter-Cevera is the principal investigator of both the Lake Baikal project and another IPP project to screen rare botanical and microbial extracts, undertaken with the International Institute of Cell Biology and the Institute of Microbiology and Virology, both in Kiev, Ukraine.
With industrial partners from the American Home Products Corporation's Wyeth-Ayerst Research Laboratories and Cyanamid Agricultural Research Center, Hunter-Cevera and her colleagues are searching for biological products with market potential, making use of thousands of plant species already collected throughout the former Soviet Union, plus novel microbes from various sites, including Chernobyl.
"Radiation exposure over time has most likely altered the ways microorganisms in the soils near the Chernobyl reactor metabolize and respond to stress," says Hunter-Cevera. "We want to screen extracts with high-throughput methods, including robotic methods invented here at the Lab, to see if we can isolate new classes of antibiotics or new drugs active against cancer. If so, some good will have come from this tragedy."
Earlier this year Hunter-Cevera and her Ukrainian colleagues were working within 100 meters of the concrete "sarcophagus" that encases the reactor and its melted core. "We were allowed to work in the vicinity just eight hours," she says, "and then at four o'clock in the afternoon we'd go off to have lunch. All the food had to be brought in from outside the area. They topped it off with a special brand of vodka guaranteed to cure radiation damage." She laughs and jokes, "Maybe it has a chelator to pull out the actinides. Whatever it does for radiation damage, it gave me the worst hangover since college."
In the wild taiga of the Buryat Republic, south of Lake Baikal, Tamas Torok encountered a different use for vodka. The Buryats came into the region from Mongolia at the time of Genghis Khan; to insure successful journeys, professional success, and good luck in general, they make frequent offerings of cigarettes, small coins, and splashes of water -- or vodka -- to a being known as Burhan, "the great ghost."
The journey

Torok began his Siberian journey at Irkutsk, then made his way to Ulan Ude and beyond, traveling by vintage plane -- which makes the circuit from Samara to Novosibirsk to Irkutsk just twice a week -- then by train, and finally by off-road van, ten hours over nonexistent roads through the snow and mud of mountains and forests, to the "Saint's Nose" peninsula on Lake Baikal's southeastern shore, dragging his entire laboratory with him in two ice chests.
"The only time I lost my temper was when the conductor wouldn't let me on the train with my chests," Torok recalls. "My Russian colleagues couldn't persuade her, but English somehow did the trick." The ice chests nearly filled his upper bunk, and Torok was reconciled to spending the 10-hour overnight ride clinging to a strip of bedding a few inches wide, until a Buryat man insisted on moving one of the chests into his own bunk.
The lake and the samples

Torok went to Lake Baikal because it is an isolated environment with extraordinarily diverse aquatic life -- some 1,500 species, 85 percent of which have turned out to be unique (including a fresh-water seal!). The likelihood that one could find unusual microorganisms was therefore high; it was also possible that these microbes might be "ancient" -- that is, that they had evolved relatively slowly compared to microorganisms elsewhere.
Lake Baikal is not only the biggest lake in the world, with 20 percent of the Earth's fresh surface water -- more water than all the Great Lakes combined; it is also the world's oldest, over 30 million and perhaps as much as 45 million years old. The lake floor averages a mile down, but that floor consists of sediments which fill a rift in the Earth's crust more than five miles deep.
From rented research vessels Torok took samples of deep lake water, seeking unknown organisms adapted to the cold. From hot springs in the surrounding region he took samples which may contain unknown organisms with heat adaptations. Enzymes responsible for resistance to temperature and other extremes, such as acidity, have great potential in manufacturing processes.
A third source of unique specimens came as an unexpected bonus.
"For several years the International Baikal Drilling Project, a consortium of U.S., Japanese, European Community, and Russian scientists, has been taking core samples from sediments in different parts of the lake," Torok explains. "Layers of sediment can be dated almost like tree rings, and by looking at remains of aquatic life and other deposits, they get an indication of how the climate has changed over millions of years."
Core drilling can only be done for a few weeks in winter. After the ice is frozen over, an ice breaker tows the drilling barge to the chosen site; the researchers wait until the ice-breaker's trail is refrozen before they can begin drilling into the sediments a mile beneath the ice, bringing up cores from as deep as a 1,000 meters below the lake bed.
"The core samples are divided up between the local and international scientists -- all kinds of scientists, except microbiologists," says Torok. "When we met, both parties saw an incredible opportunity. They gave up some of their cores; I've got 47 samples from the 1998 drilling to work on right here at the Lab." Torok says that coring is just too expensive for microbiologists like himself to have considered, "but once it's done, you just pick up the core samples." He's hoping to find sponsorship so that he can sample the project's final season of drilling, which will begin this January.
Torok returned from Siberia with the soil and water samples he went for, plus the unexpected bonus of the ancient lake sediments. CEB's lab is chock full of microorganic treasures awaiting analysis.
A scientific success, the trip also left Torok deeply impressed with the Siberians. "Most of the people are so poor they have no reason for dishonesty," he says. "If someone catches a fish, they divide it up right there. In a cabin without running water or beds, they made me sleep on the table; it was a place of honor. They share everything they have. They are so human. And so helpful

bacterial Contest

i have written this poem few years ago while i was doing my bachelor's degree in microbiology in Tri-Chandra College,kathmandu.
Once microbes decided to have a contest
To decide who amongst them was the best
They assembled together into a team
Staphylococcus aureus leading the way for the Gram positive
Escherichia coli doing the honors for the Gram negative
Entamoeba was the choreographer, Penicillin the chief guest
Judges included Fungi, Cyanobacteria and the rest
Sponsored by Bacteriophage wishing them all the very best
Nutrient agar the official media of the test
Came in E. coli on Mac conkey agar with enumerable flagella
S. aureus could do nothing so came alongwith Nocardia
Then entered Bacillus thermophilus,the temperature soared
Enterobacter felt uneasy, the audience roared
Negative team was angry so sent Vibrio psychroerythrus
Penicillin stood up and said it’s enough

Paul Ehrlich-Doktor Phantasus

Paul Ehrlich-Doktor Phantasus-I
Paul Ehrlich was born on March 14, 1854 at Strehlen, in Upper Silesia*, Germany. He developed the modern concept of chemotherapy.
Two hundred and twenty five years ago, Antony van Leeuwenhoek, who was a matter-of-fact man, looked through a magic eye, saw microbes, and so began this history. He would certainly have snorted a contemptuous Dutch sort of snort at anybody who called his microscope a magic eye.

Now Paul Ehrlich- who brings this history to the happy end necessary to all serious histories- was a gay man. He smoked twenty five cigars a day: he was fond of drinking a seidel(a large beer glass) of beer (publicly)with his old laboratory servant and many seidels of beer with German, English and British colleagues ,a modern man there was still something medieval about him for he said ‘’we must learn to shoot the microbes with magic bullets.’’ He was laughed at for saying that and his enemies cartooned him under the name ‘’Dokotr Phantasus.’’

Born in 1854 in Silesia in Germany, he went to the Gymnasium at Breslau and his teacher of literature ordered him to write an assay; subject ‘’Life is Dream.’’

‘’ Life rests on normal oxidations,’’ wrote that bright young Jew, Paul Ehrlich. ‘’Dreams are an activity of the brain and the activities of the brain are only oxidations ……….dreams are sort of phosphorescence of brain.’’

He got a bad mark for such smartness but then he was always getting bad marks. Out of gymnasium he went to medical school, or rather to three or four medical school. Ehrlich was that kind of medical student. It was the opinion of the distinguished medical faculties of Breslau and Strasburg and Freiberg and Leipsic that he was no ordinary student. It was also their opinion that he was abominably bad student. -to be continued………………….. In next Paul Ehrlich-II, he lived amomg scientific booksand subscribed to every chemical journal in every language he could read and several he could not read. Journals stuck out from every pocket of his overcoat.Books with those expensive cigars kept Ehrlich poor

Robert Koch-the Death Fighter-1

Robert Koch-the death fighter.
Robert Koch was born in 1843. Koch worked on anthrax and tuberculosis (TB) and he further developed the work of Louis pateur. Koch’s fame, alongside that of Alexander Flemmimg, Edward Jenner Joseph Lister and Pasteur himself, is firmly cemented in medical history.Koch came from a poor mining family and it took him a lot of determination to get a university place where he first studied mathematics and natural science and then studied medicine. Koch was able to directly link one microbe with a disease. However, Koch was also difficult to work with and could not tolerate anyone telling him that his theories were wrong.

In those astounding and exciting years between 1860 and 1870 when Pasteur was saving vinegar industries and astonishing emperors and finding out what ailed sick silkworms, a small, serious, and nearsighted German was learning to be a doctor at the university of Gottingen. His name was Robert Koch. He was a good student but he dreamed of tiger hunting in the jungle.

Koch wanted to be an explorer, to be a military surgeon and win Iron Crosses or to be ship’s doctor and voyage to impossible places. But alas, when graduated from the medical college in 1866 he became an interne in not very intresting insane asylum in Hamburg. While he was still dreaming of those stuffs, he met Emmy Fraatz, he begged her to marry him; he held out the bait of romantic trips around the world to her. Emmy told Robert that she would marry him but on condition that he forget this nonsense about an adventure life, provided that he would settle down to be a practicing doctor, a good useful citizen of Germany.
Koch listened to Emmy for a moment and gave up his dreams of exploring and settled down to practice medicine, he began what was to him a totally uninteresting practice of medicine in succession of unromantic Prussian villages.
Microbe hunting truly started after Mrs. Koch gave a microscope to him on his 28th birthday and what Mrs. Koch said ‘’ May be that will take Robert’s mind off what he calls his stupid practice…..perhaps this will satisfy him a little. he’s always looking at everything with his old magnifying glass.’’
This new microscope, this plaything ,took him on more curious and adventure than any he would have met in France and those weird experiences-that Pasteur had dreamed off but which no man had ever had before came on him out of the dead carcasses of sheep and cows.
Koch said ‘’ I hate this bluff that my medical practice is………it isn’t because I don’t want to save babies from diphtheria ………….but mothers come to me crying –asking me to save their babies –and what can I do? How can I cure diphtheria when I do not know what causes it, when the wisest doctor in Germany don’t know. So you can imagine Koch complaining bitterly to Emmy, who was irritated and puzzled, and thought that it was a young doctor’s business to do as well he could with the great deal of knowledge that he had got at the medical school.

Koch was spending his evenings fussing with his new microscope, he was beginning to find out just the right amount of light to shoot up into its lens with the reflecting mirror he was learning just how needful it was to have his thin glass slides shining clean-those bits of glass on which he liked to put the drops of blood from the carcasses of sheep and cows that had died of anthrax…………
Anthrax was a strange disease which was worryfying farmers all over Europe that here and there ruined a thousand of sheep, cows. There was no reason behind it
Koch started being concentrated using his microscope examining blood from those dead ships

This was just beginning of MICROBE HUNTING of Koch. U can find more intresting story in part II of this journal Robert Koch-the Death Fighter-II

Koch saw strange things that looked like little sticks in his wife-gifted microscope. Sometimes these sticks were short some hooked together without joints many of them ingeniously glued together till they appeared to him like long threads a thousand times thinner than the finest silk.
‘’What are these things …….are they microbes………are they alive…………?’’ Koch pondered.
Other men of science, Davaine and Rayer in France had seen these same things in the blood of dead ship and they have announced that these rods are bacilli.
Now Koch curiously stopped studying diseased creatures and began fussing around perfectly healthy ones. He went down to slaughter houses. Those threads and rods are never found in the blood of healthy animal. Koch pondered ‘’this is all very well but it didn’t tell me whether they are bacilli, whether they are alive ,do they grow, breed, multiply…………………….’’
How to prove ,these wee sticks are alive, this question made him forget to sign his name in doctor prescriptions ,it made him a morose husband, it made him call the carpenter in to put a partition in his doctor’s office. And behind the wall, Koch stayed more and more hours with his microscope and drops of black blood sheep mysteriously dead and with a growing number of cages full of white mice.
I haven’t money to buy sheep and cows for my experiments. Besides cows would be a little inconvenient to have around my office –but may be I can give anthrax to those scampering mice .may be in them I can prove that the sticks really grow.
Koch was poor he had his nose on the grindstone of medical practice all the science he know was what a common medical course had taught him and god knows he had learned nothing whatever about the art of doing experiments he had no apparatus but Emmy’s birthday present that beloved microscope . He hadn’t a convenient syringe with which to shoot the poisonous blood into mice.
He uses d slivers of wood instead of syringe. These slivers he dipped into drops of blood from sheep dead of anthrax.
He made little cut with a clean knife at the root of the tail of the mouse and into this cut he delicately slid the blood soaked splinter. He dropped this mouse into a separate cage and washed his hands.
And next morning Koch came into his home-made laboratory to find the mouse dead. He heated his knives dissected the mouse peered into every corner of its Caracasses and puts a drop of blood on its lens of microscope.
At last he muttered ‘’they are here these sticks and threads ..they are swarming in the body of this mouse exactly as they were in the drop of dead ship’s blood that I dipped the little sliver in yesterday.’’
Then for a month his life became a monotony of one dead mouse after day after day. He took a drop of the blood or the spleen of one dead best and carefully put it on a clean splinter and slid the sliver into a cut at the root of the tail of healthy mouse.
Each time next morning Koch came into his laboratory to find the new animal had died of anthrax and each time blood of dead beats showed myriad of these sticks that he could never discover in the blood of any healthy animal.
‘’These threads must be alive’’, Koch pondered, ‘’the sliver that put into the mouse has drop of blood on it and that drop holds only a few hundreds of sticks and these have grown into billions in the short twenty four-hour in which the beast became sick and died………..’’

-to be continued……………
Next chapter, how Koch proves that these sticks really grow or not, and his works on anthrax, solidifying media and tubercle bacilli, very interesting story ahead in next post. Robert Koch- death fighter-2

The very mysterious death of five microbiologists

The Very Mysterious Deaths Of Five Microbiologists

It is a story worthy of a major conspiracy theory, the script for a Mel Gibson "Who dunnit?" action movie, or a blueprint for a contrived and unbeleivable episode of "The X Files". Except the facts surrounding this story are just that. Facts. The Truth. Five emminent microbiologists, leaders in their particular field of scientific research, either dead or missing in the last eight weeks, and a bizzare connection between one of the dead scientists and the mystery surrounding the death by Anthrax inhalation of a sixty one year old female hospital worker in New York. Sounds far fetched? Read on.

Over the past few weeks several world-acclaimed scientific researchers specializing in infectious diseases and biological agents such as Anthrax, as well as DNA sequencing, have been found dead or have gone missing.

First, on Novemeber 12th, was Dr. Benito Que, a cell biologist working on infectious diseases like HIV, who was found dead outside his laboratory at the Miami Medical School. Police say his death was possibly the result of a mugging. The Miami Herald reported that:

"The incident, whatever it may have been, occurred on Monday afternoon as the scientist left his job at University of Miami's School of Medicine. He headed for his car, a white Ford Explorer parked on Northwest 10th Avenue. The word among his friends is that four men armed with a baseball bat attacked him at his car."

On November 16th, within of week of Dr. Que's assault, Dr. Don C Wiley, one of the United States foremost infectious disease researchers was declared missing. Bill Poovey, a journalist with Associated Press wrote:

"His rental car was found with a full tank of petrol and the keys in the ignition. His disappearance looked like a suicide, but according to colleagues and Dr. Wiley's family, the Harvard Scientist associated with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute would NEVER commit suicide. Associates who attended the St. Jude's Children Research Advisory Dinner with Dr. Wiley, just hours before he disappeared, said that he was in good spirits and NOT depressed. He was last seen at the banquet at the Peabody Hotel in downtown Memphis the night he vanished. Those who saw him last say he showed no signs of a man contemplating his own death."

Wiley left the hotel around midnight. The bridge where his car was found is only a five-minute drive away and in the wrong direction from where he was staying, leaving authorities with a four-hour, unexplained gap until his vehicle was found.

Now Memphis police are exploring several theories involving suicide, robbery and murder.

"We began this investigation as a missing person investigation," said Walter Crews of the Memphis Police Department. "From there it went to a more criminal bent."

Dr. Wiley was an expert on how the human immune system fights off infections and had recently investigated such dangerous viruses as AIDS, Ebola, herpes and influenza.

From the United States, the story moves to England. On November 23rd, Dr. Vladimir Pasechnik, a former microbiologist for Biopreparat, the Soviet biological-weapons production facility was found dead. The Times was the only newspaper to provide an obituary for Dr. Pasechnik, and said:

"The defection to Britain in 1989 of Vladimir Pasechnik revealed to the West for the first time the colossal scale of the Soviet Union's clandestine biological warfare programme. His revelations about the scale of the Soviet Union's production of such biological agents as anthrax, plague, tularaemia and smallpox provided an inside account of one of the best kept secrets of the Cold War. After his defection he worked for ten years at the U.K. Department of Health's Centre for Applied Microbiology Research before forming his own company, Regma Biotechnics, to work on therapies for cancer, neurological diseases, tuberculosis and other infectious diseases. In the last few weeks of his life he had put his research on anthrax at the disposal of the Government, in the light of the threat from bioterrorism."

Back to the United States, and on December 10th, Dr. Robert M. Schwartz was found murdered in Leesberg, Virginia. Dr. Schwartz was a well-known DNA sequencing researcher. He founded the Virginia Biotechnology Association where he worked on DNA sequencing for 15 years.

On Wednesday, December 12th the Washington Post reported:

"A well-known biophysicist, who was one of the leading researchers on DNA sequencing analysis, was found slain in his rural Loudoun County home after co-workers became concerned when he didn't arrive at work as expected. Robert M. Schwartz, 57, a founding member of the Virginia Biotechnology Association, was found dead in the secluded fieldstone farmhouse southwest of Leesburg where he lived alone. Loudoun sheriff's officials said it appeared that Schwartz had been stabbed."

And so to Victoria State, Australia, where, on December 14th, a skilled microbiologist was killed at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation's animal diseases facility in Geelong, Australia. This is the same facility that, as the journal Nature announced in January this year:

"Australian scientists, Dr Ron Jackson and Dr Ian Ramshaw, accidentally created an astonishingly virulent strain of mousepox, a cousin of smallpox, among laboratory mice. They realised that if similar genetic manipulation was carried out on smallpox, an unstoppable killer could be unleashed."

The microbiologist who died had worked for 15 years at the facility. His name was Set Van Nguyen. Victoria Police said:

"Set Van Nguyen, 44, appeared to have died after entering an airlock into a storage laboratory filled with nitrogen. His body was found when his wife became worried after he failed to return from work. He was killed after entering a low temperature storage area where biological samples were kept. He did not know the room was full of deadly gas which had leaked from a liquid nitrogen cooling system. Unable to breathe, Mr. Nguyen collapsed and died."

Now for the intriguing part of this story. On Friday, November 2nd, the Washington Post reported:

"Officials are now scrambling to determine how a quiet, 61-year-old Vietnamese immigrant, riding the subway each day to and from her job in a hospital stockroom, was exposed to the deadly anthrax spores that killed her this week. They worry because there is no obvious connection to the factors common to earlier anthrax exposures and deaths: no clear link to the mail or to the media."

The name of this quiet 61 year old hospital worker was Kathy Nguyen.