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A Unique Snowflake


They say that every snowflake is unique, that each of those millions of flakes has a slight difference. But when you widen your view, you don't see those small variations in shape anymore; you just see snow (and, perhaps, the need to find a shovel). As this issue's cover story says, cells also have slight differences — to their genomes, proteomes, and more. And, again, when you study a group of cells, those single-cell variations are lost.

Focusing on studying cells at the individual level, as the researchers featured in the cover story do, opens up new avenues to work on: the University of Liverpool's Mike White uncovered a signal transduction phenomenon tied to gene expression that no one had seen before, even in the well-studied NF-kB pathway. And the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences' Ramunas Stepanauskas is delving into the depths of the ocean to uncover, by sequencing single bacteria, microorganisms important to ocean ecology. There are still challenges, particularly technological ones, as UCSD's Kun Zhang and Imperial College London's David Klug would tell you — but they are working on it.

Also in this issue is Genome Technology's biennial core lab survey. Eight hundred and forty-one of you took our survey and said that, for the most part, you are pleased with the accuracy of the results that you get from the cores that you use. For their part, core labs would love to get their hands on new tools or technologies, better software, and higher-throughput tools or technologies to improve what they offer.

In our Brute Force column this month, Matthew Dublin tackles how to keep heating and cooling costs down in data centers. Also, the case study in our clinical section takes a look at new work using kinome screens to find promising drug targets for Alzheimer's disease.

Lastly, I'd like to introduce the newest addition to the Genome Technology team. Tracy Vence has joined us and she will be writing articles for the magazine — she's already tackled news stories on a method for studying translational control and on physical forces that may affect gene expression — as well as contributing to our blog, The Daily Scan.