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In this issue:
A Fern Fatale
Colloquium: Why Do We Get Alzheimer's Disease?
SLAC Softball Goes to Extra Innings
SLAC Celebrates First Year Under CMS

SLAC Today

Friday - September 29, 2006

(Photo - Ferns)
The Pteris vittata fern defends itself with arsenic.

A Fern Fatale

Arsenic, the murder weapon of choice in Agatha Christie mysteries and in medieval political power plays, is the stuff of life for one tropical fern.

The fern Pteris vittata imbibes arsenate, a form of arsenic found in soil or water, and turns it into the most murderous form, arsenite. The plant thrives on this toxic regimen, which is likely how the plant defends itself from hungry herbivores. Researchers are now exploring ways to use this remarkable ability to remove arsenic from drinking water and contaminated sites.

Using x-ray absorption spectroscopy imaging at the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Laboratory, researchers from the University of Saskatchewan looked at live specimens of the fern to learn how it transforms arsenic and what it does with the resulting compound.

The fern absorbs arsenate from the soil and transports it from the roots to the fronds (leaves) through vascular tissue. Once in the fronds, the plant chemically alters the arsenate to arsenite (the hydrated version of arsenic trioxide). The plant sends this dangerous compound to tiny hairs that guard the reproductive cells (spores) near the edge of the fronds. The plant itself stays healthy by keeping the arsenite stored in sealed compartments within cells.

This work may soon enable environmental cleanup in areas contaminated with arsenic.
A more technical description of this work can be found in SSRL Headlines.

Colloquium Monday

Why Do We Get Alzheimer's Disease?

(Image - colloquium poster)
Alzheimer's disease (AD) is one of the major health concerns of the elderly in industrialized societies. The cause of AD is unknown and no treatment is currently available. The disease is characterized clinically by a progressive dementia and pathologically by the accumulation of protein aggregates in the brain and a profound loss of nerve cells. Recently, it has also become clear that local immune responses are activated in the AD brain and may have a role in the disease.

On Monday, Stanford University researcher Tony Wyss-Coray will present the colloquium "Why do we get Alzheimer's disease?" at 4:15 p.m. in Panofsky Auditorium. In this talk, he will discuss the basics of Alzheimer's disease and delve into his research, which uses genetic mouse models to better understand the disease and to identify potential therapeutic targets.
Learn more...

Extra Innings for
SLAC Softball

(Photo - Softball)
The Theory and Experiment softball teams enjoyed a friendly battle on Sunday. (Click on image for larger version.)

The theorists made the experimentalists work hard to win the 45th annual softball face-off last Sunday afternoon. Experiment came from behind to defeat Theory 21-20 in 10 innings. J.J. Russell won MVP for stunning catches in left field and for hitting a leadoff double in the 10th inning before going on to score the winning run on a single by Dan Harrington.

For those unfamiliar with the tradition, each year—generally in the spring—Theory and Experiment vie for supremacy on the softball field. Begun in the 1950s as a Faculty versus Students game on the Stanford campus, Sidney "Lefty" Drell and Burton "Big Daddy" Richter carried this tradition into its fifth decade at SLAC on The Green. Each year's triumphant team wins the Drell-Richter Trophy, which sports a softball statuette and a beam tree.

Read more details about this year's game here.

SLAC Celebrates First
Year Under CMS

(Photo - CMS Award)
Leigh Hayes, Executive Vice President of Haas TCM, presents a plaque to Butch Byers and Sayed Rokni. The plaque recognizes SLAC's achievement as the first academic/government facility in the country to implement a CMS system.

In the summer of 2005, SLAC implemented a new system for managing its chemicals. A year later, the benefits of the new system are unmistakably clear.

"We've realized cost savings and achieved safety and environmental gains," said Butch Byers, Acting Manager of the Chemical and General Safety Department. In addition, he says, the system has "greatly simplified the chemical delivery process, making it more efficient overall."

SLAC's new system is based on what is known as a chemical management services (CMS) model. Under CMS, a facility works with a single service provider, who supplies and manages the facility's chemicals and may provide other services, such as managing Material Safety Data Sheets and providing usage data for health and safety reports. Both the facility and provider share any cost savings, giving the provider incentive to reduce chemical usage and costs.

The auto industry has used CMS since the 1980s, and other industrial sectors have begun implementing it more recently. SLAC, however, holds the distinction of being the first academic or government facility in the United States to use a CMS system.

Prior to implementing CMS in 2005, more than 250 companies supplied chemicals to SLAC. Now, all of SLAC's chemical needs are handled by one provider, Haas TCM. The company stores the chemicals at its own facility and delivers them to specific buildings at SLAC as necessary and in the amounts requested, eliminating the need to stock or transport chemicals on site.

Dealing with a single company has resulted in quicker delivery times. In addition, the company makes Material Safety Data Sheets and chemical usage data easily available to approved SLAC users over a centralized, web-based system.

SLAC formally marked its first year using CMS earlier this summer when Haas TCM presented facility management with a plaque recognizing the efforts of those who made the CMS system a reality.

"We've paved the way, and now we hope other research facilities will follow our lead," Byers said.

For more information about using the CMS system, contact Ray Barbara at x8776 or Judy Fulton at x4538.

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