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Lab bits -- August 2006

MBL, Woods Hole, MA -- Summer on Cape Cod is synonymous with a surge of tourists, but also a surge of scientists at the MBL (Marine Biological Laboratory). For more than a century, researchers have come to the MBL each summer from around the world to immerse themselves in biological discovery. Many make use of the variety of marine organisms available for study and the wealth of experts who gather here, including the MBL's community of year-round scientists, visiting investigators, and advanced-level students participating in MBL courses.

Much of the research at the MBL focuses on understanding basic life processes that are fundamental to all living things. Although marine organisms such as the squid, sea urchin, clam, and countless others are considered more "simple" organisms, they perform many of the same biological processes as humans. Scientists can study the mechanisms of disease in its simplest form using these organisms in the hopes of contributing to more effective treatment or prevention.

The resident MBL population of about 275 grows to more than a thousand in the summer, with seasoned and budding scientists congregating to investigate infertility, neurological disorders, immunology, diabetes, cancer, and other medical problems. They come from universities across the United States and across the globe, including Spain, Israel, Canada, England, China, and Germany.

Researchers enjoy the casual, collaborative atmosphere, the access to high-tech equipment and expertise, and the escape from academic duties at their home institutions. Here is a sampling of some of the research underway this summer at the MBL.

Diabetes meets nanotechnology

Testing potential diabetes medications on the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas of a human being is somewhat problematic. Dr. Peter J.S. Smith, director of the BioCurrents Research Center at the MBL and Dr. Ronald Pethig, professor of electronic engineering at
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Contact: Gina Hebert
ghebert@mbl.edu
508-289-7725
Marine Biological Laboratory
3-Aug-2006


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