Training the kit generation

Most molecular and cellular biology graduate students regularly use commercial kits to conduct experiments. There is no doubt that these experiments-in-a-box make difficult, time-consuming techniques more accessible. But many worry that the gains in efficiency come with a concomitant loss of scientific intuition.  Read more

Building a better mouse test

September’s Editorial praises the new research that more genetic rodent models will enable. However, manipulating important genes in a mouse is not enough. Experimental techniques are also needed. Perhaps nowhere is this more important—and more difficult—than using animals to assess neuropsychiatric diseases. While much can be learned on the level of brain and cell physiology, behavioral tests are important to assess which aspects of physiology are most likely to matter. It’s the behavioral symptoms, not the cell-based ones, that directly affect people’s lives. How useful would a drug be if it cleared away the telltale plaques of Alzheimer’s patients but did nothing to preserve their memories?  Read more

Chemistry: time to celebrate

In our August issue, we join in the celebration of the International Year of Chemistry with a special feature, including an Editorial that highlights some of the most important contributions of chemistry to method and tool development for biology research, a Technology Feature on protein engineering, a Historical Commentary on the history of mass spectrometry, a Commentary on bioorthogonal chemistry, another Commentary on small-molecule fluorescent probes, and finally, a selection of Chemistry Methods papers published in past issues of Nature Methods.  Read more

What’s in an acronym?

Many scientists (and editors) lament the proliferation of acronyms in the literature, especially for describing methods. As editors of a methods journal, we have some definite opinions about when acronyms are useful, when a new acronym is unnecessary, and what makes a good (or bad) acronym. We discuss this in depth in our July issue Editorial.  Read more

New methods in the literature

Our August issue went live last week; check out the Research Highlights section for a few “news” stories about interesting new methods described in the literature over the last month or two. Unfortunately we cannot highlight every interesting methods paper we find in the pages of the journal, so check out some of the others we considered that didn’t quite make the cut.  Read more

Recent methods papers from the literature

Our July issue went live last week, and as always, it includes our popular Research Highlights section. Here is a list of some interesting methods papers we considered (which were published over the last month or two) but were not able, because of space reasons, to cover in the journal.  Read more

Science in fiction

In July of 2007, we highlighted several popular nonfiction science books on our “summer reading” lists in our Editorial. Given the abundance of nonfiction books on scientific topics, many of which are written for the general public, it was not too hard to identify a short list of stellar examples of science writing. For this month’s Editorial, we sought to highlight fiction books with realistic scientists (even more specifically, biologists) as main characters in laboratory settings.  Read more