Discussion: can't we get along?

Hernan Espinoza espinoza at cgl.ucsf.EDU
Mon Jun 22 23:29:39 EST 1998

S L Forsburg <forsburg at nospamsalk.edu> writes:

>Okay, yeasties, here's a topic for discussion:

>The pages of Nature are filled with human homologues of mouse or
> fly genes, so those folks recognize the importance
>of doing work in multiple species.

	Honestly, I've heard more grumbling from the people
who believe studying processes in "lower" organisms is a waste
of time since the differences could fool you and what we *REALLY*
care about is humans.  [Mind you, I think this stance is a lot of
hooey too, but I've heard it and not "my yeast is better than yours"]

>There are certainly examples where the same genes in the two
>yeasts do not behave in exactly the same way. Eg, the CDC28/cdc2
>kinases and their regulation by tyrosine phosphorylation;
>the ability to induce re-replication by manipulating
>cdc2 or cdc18 levels in pombe but not in cerevisiae;
> some MCM proteins in cerevisiae
>appear to cycle in and out of the nucleus but not in

	My self-serving example: the kinases that phosphorylate the
activating threonines of Cdc28 and cdc2 are different and
pretty unrelated (and may vary a lot in different organisms).
The only way we are going to clear up what is going on is by
studying the process and players in multiple organisms.

>I put it to you that these attitudes that "my yeast is better
>than yours" and "your work is contributing nothing because
>I already did it in a differnt species" are severely damaging 
>our community.  We do not need to be  threatened by each other.  
>We have far too much to learn.  Our own  work is not invalidated
>if someone else discovers the same thing, or 
>something different, in the other species.  

	It's enhanced, IMHO.

	That said,  I'm not so sure the attitude has to do with
the judging the scientific merit of the work, so much as its sex appeal.  
They think, "Ah, good solid stuff" and at the same time "Yawn, been
there, done that".  Be honest, what do you favor at meetings and for grants:
the cool new thing or the cross species verifications/paradoxes?
Modern scientists are novelty junkies.  It's not seen as invalid, so much
as "not sexy" but even *that* perception can be the kiss of death given our
funding climate...and that is the part that scares me.


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