TIME WELL SPENT

David Adler dadler at milton.u.washington.edu
Tue Oct 30 12:42:49 EST 1990


Dan Jacobson writes:
        My adviser recently questioned the value of my being invoved in such
        things as the BIONET.  Somewhat stunned I stammered something about
        the value of being in contact with hundreds (thousands?) of other
        bio-scientists and the help therefore available. ...

I was just about to write a thank you to bionet.molbio.methds-reagnts
readers/participants when I read this message, so I will role my thank
you and comments into one.

About a week and half ago I ran out of the restriction enzyme, MaeII,
that I needed to complete an important series of experiments.  The
enzyme is very expensive and only available from Boehringer.  Being
conservative I had only ordered what I thought would be enough and
thus got caught short by 100 or so units.  The day after I ordered it
I was told that this enzyme was now on indefinite backorder.  I called
everyone I knew at BM but was told there was none available.  A bit
frantic, and I must say skeptical, I posted a message to
bionet.molbio.methds-reagnts relaying my desperate need and asking for
assistance.  Within 8 hours I received two replies, the first was a
phone call from someone at the Univ. of Chicago who thought they had
some in their freezer, but turned out not the case. The second was
e-mail from Nigel Brown, at the Univ. of Birmingham, U.K., who did not
have any but gave me the name and phone number of the person in
Germany who originally determined the enzyme's specificity.  In
addition Nigel educated me on the concept of exclusive production
licenses.  I then called Rudi Schmitt, Nigel's lead, at the Univ of
Regensberg and asked about the MaeII supply situation.  He explained
that now he also gets his supply from Boehringer and that the enzyme
is very dificult to purify thus the high price and possible production
problems.  He said that he would call the BM labs in Penzberg and see
if he could russle up some enzyme.  Two days later I received a FAX
from B. Frey of BM-Penzberg that they have a small amount in the
freezer and would supply me with what I needed to complete my current
experiments. The enzyme is now being shipped.

I wanted to thank, Nigel Smith, Rudi Shmitt, and B. Frey at
BM-Penzberg and most important the network without which I either
would never have gotten the enzyme or spent a lot more time and money
tracking it down. This single network success easily has justified the
time I spend on the network not to mention all the various pertinent
information exchange that goes on daily.

I also believe that this computer network is still in its infancy and
it is only through broadening participation that it will fulfill the
potential of rapid and efficient exchange of scientific information.
Prejudice and fear is often the result of ignorance and so education
is likely what is needed to respond to Dan's situation.  As an aside
it is most curious that this situation is at Johns Hopkins, home of
major genetic databases, Online Mendelian Inheritance in Man and the
new Genome Data Base.  Maybe Dan's mentor needs to have a conversation
with Victor McKusick, he may be just down the hall.



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