The smooth and efficient functioning of any system necessarily requires a mechanism for recognizing and removing components that have served their purpose and are no longer needed, in order to make way for ones that are. It's waste disposal, and at the cellular level it's the important activity of proteasomes that maintain cellular health by identifying and degrading proteins that have been targeted as obsolete or damaged. (To put this in perspective, consider that at any given moment a human cell typically contains about 100,000 different proteins.) This housekeeping function of proteasomes is critical to a broad range of vital biochemical processes, including transcription, DNA repair, and the immune defense system. Since the proteasome process was only first described in 2004 (by Nobel Prize-winning chemists), our understanding of its mechanics has been limited.
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The 1000 Genomes Project is an international genomic research and data collection effort that has produced "a deep catalog of human genetic variation" for public research use. Now, thanks to Amazon Web Services (AWS) and the White House's recently-announced Big Data Research and Development Initiative, the 1000 Genomes data is available gratis on the AWS cloud. In reality, there are over 1700 genome profiles in the demographically-diverse study, and all that data takes up about 200 terabytes of memory, according to a New York Times article on the cloud bonanza. So even though researchers could download the data free to their own computers from 1000 Genomes directly before, it's something you really don't want to do, even if you have that kind of memory (re: 200TB). Instead, you'll likely be better off accessing the data through AMS and paying them to crunch numbers for you, which probably explains why AWS has decided to engage in this bit of philanthropy. Future profit, plus their preeminence as a computational resource in the brave new world of Big Data.
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The San Francisco Bay Area is one of the largest, most successful established biotech hubs in the US, thanks in part to the presence of 3 of the world's top universities: UCSF, UC Berkeley, and Stanford. Strong on intellectual capital, the area has been notoriously short of real estate since developers were ordered to stop filling in the Bay back in the 60's. Fortunately, as manufacturing waned, industrial land became available for redevelopment as high-tech R&D lab space, which is how UCSF's Mission Bay campus eventually came to be. Across the Bay to the East, bayfront industrial property is seeing a similar repurposing, with particularly mushroom-like life science growth in the little city of Emeryville, though also in neighboring Berkeley and Richmond.
Tags: CA, University of California San Francisco, University of California Berkeley, Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, New research facilities, California, Berkeley, San Francisco, UCSF, new construction, National Lab, UC Berkeley, San Francisco Bay Area, San Francisco East Bay
Dr. Carlos Bustamante came to the United States from Peru on a Fulbright Scholarship in 1975. He studied and received his degree at the University of California Berkeley, where he worked with his mentor, Ignacio Tinoco, in Biophysics. He returned to UC Berkeley as a professor of Molecular and Cell Biology in 1998 and has continued his groundbreaking work on single-molecule manipulation studies as a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator leading a vibrant lab group with branches in the QB3 Institute, Berkeley Lab (LBNL), and the Physics Department at UC Berkeley. Now Dr. Bustamante is being honored with the 2012 Vilcek Prize in Biomedical Science, which is awarded each year to an outstanding foreign-born scientist working in the US. The honor is accompanied by $100,000 and a unique trophy (see right, courtesy of the Vilcek Foundation).