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In this issue:
Taming Asthma-related Proteins Could Lead to Easier Breathing for Many
Safety Today: Bicycle Safety Tips
LCLS and Facilities Host Classic Rides Show
Celebrate Jonathan: Registration Continues

SLAC Today

Tuesday - May 13, 2008


Taming Asthma-related Proteins Could Lead to Easier Breathing for Many

Stanford University School of Medicine scientists—working in part at the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Laboratory (SSRL) Beamline 11-1—have uncovered new molecular insights to the mechanism behind immune disorders such as asthma. Using protein X-ray crystallography, researchers Sherry LaPorte and Chris Garcia solved three structures of two signaling proteins known as "cytokines" in complex with their shared receptors, where these molecules help regulate immune system activity. The study was published as the cover story in the journal Cell.

Cytokines are a family of proteins and peptides responsible for transmitting information from cell to cell by binding with special receptors on cell surfaces. In the current study, Garcia and colleagues worked out three structures involving two separate cytokines-interleukin-4 (IL-4) and interleukin-13 (IL-13), which are associated with allergic asthma. Although both have very different signaling effects, IL-4 and IL-13 are known to bind with some of the same receptors.

The study revealed that, despite sharing common receptors, very different chemistries underlie the binding activities of IL-4 and IL-13, a feature that may play a direct role in immune system disorders such as asthma. The discovery could lead to future drug therapies that address these differences and help avoid the immune response that results in the life-threatening risks associated with an asthma attack.

To learn more about this research, see the full scientific highlight.

(Column - Safety Today)

Bicycle Safety Tips

With spring's longer days and better weather, more of us are clipping on our helmets and hopping onto our bikes. Many SLAC workers ride their bicycles to and from work, and many others use SLAC or privately-owned bikes on site. As bicycle use increases, bicycle-related mishaps can increase as well. To enjoy safe biking, please practice the following suggestions.

Wear a Helmet
The single most important thing you can do to protect yourself while riding a bike is to wear a helmet. SLAC policy requires helmet use when riding a bike on SLAC business but it is strongly suggested whenever you ride. Bike helmets are available from SLAC stores. In addition, some of the SLAC bikes are equipped with baskets. Their use or the use of a backpack is encouraged to allow for two-handed control of your bike. If you use a basket, please don't place too much weight in it or use the bike to transport hazardous materials or waste.

Size Matters
Make sure you ride a bike that is the right size for you. On a men's bike, you should be able to straddle the top tube while standing with both feet flat on the ground. On any bike, the seat height should allow you to touch the ground with one foot, leaning slightly, with your other foot on the pedal.

Additional Tips
Riding a bike can be relaxing and is great exercise. Here are a few other tips to help you ride injury-free.
- Protect your head and face by wearing a helmet that meets government standards.
- Wearing sports sunglasses can stop dust and bugs from getting into your eyes.
- Wearing bright, reflective clothing can make it easier for drivers to see you.
- Use padded gloves to protect your hands.
- Wear padded shorts and use a comfortable seat.
- Avoid riding at night.
- Always stay alert.

Please always ride defensively by performing shoulder checks before lane changes, obeying speed limits, signaling your intentions to drivers and adjusting your riding to account for road conditions and hazards. The majority of cycling injuries occur to the minority who are not following such simple safety procedures as riding with the traffic, stopping for traffic lights and stop signs, and using lights at night. A person who chooses to ride a bicycle for his or her commute or pleasure and who obeys the traffic laws and uses care at all times can experience greatly improved health and have many years of enjoyable riding.

Don't forget Bike to Work Day, which takes place this Thursday!

LCLS Hosts Classic Rides

A collection of British and Japanese motorcycles at the LCLS/Facilities Classic Rides Show.

The parking lot of Building 280 looked like a scene from American Graffiti: classic cars with their hoods propped up sat among polished motorcycles, while 50's rock and roll drifted from a car stereo. The film was actually somewhat of an inspiration for the second annual Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS) Classic Rides Show, which took place last Friday afternoon.

More than one hundred car enthusiasts and casual spectators gazed upon a total of about 20 cars and bikes. Some were classics at SLAC, including the infamous
"Rat Rod" and the little Sprite that has been in the SLAC family for over 40 years.

Organizer Lee Anne De Wan said there was increased enthusiasm for the show from last year. "I think the classic cars represent a past time that almost anyone can relate to and appreciate," she said.

"It's a bit of an addiction," said Dave Calloway of his 10+ motorcycle collection. One of the bikes, a red Speed Twin, looks more like something you'd find in an antique shop than something you'd trust your life on. But Calloway said they're all road worthy, and one—labeled with a big 249—is a regular racing bike.

"Cars used to be my passion, before I had kids. Now it's all kids, but I still pick them up from school in it," said Charles Troxel of the all-black 1965 Corvette that he fixed up from a "bucket of bolts."

And then, of course, there was the food. Chef David Saenz grilled sausage stuffed jalapeƱos, grilled skirt steak and chicken, Spanish rice and refried beans. Saenz was also one of the original drivers behind the idea of having a classic car show, which now seems to have become a tradition.


Celebrate Jonathan: Registration Continues

A symposium honoring Jonathan Dorfan's distinguished career at SLAC and his leadership of the laboratory and in the broader scientific community is scheduled for July 24, 2008.

Simply visit the event website to register.


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