SLAC Today is available online at:
http://today.slac.stanford.edu

In this issue:
SLAC Today Takes Stock: How Are We Doing?
Science Today: Mutation's Mechanism for Harm Revealed
Welcome New SLACers
New General Counsel for the Lab

SLAC Today

Thursday - November 13, 2008

SLAC Today Takes Stock: How Are We Doing?

(Calla Cofield)
Science Writing Intern Calla Cofield takes the SLAC Today survey.

Every workday for nearly three years, the Communications Office has sent SLAC Today to the inboxes of employees, users and the interested public. This publication has become a part of daily life at the lab, and we want to make sure that it is still useful and relevant. It is time to ask our readers how we are doing. With this in mind, SLAC Today is conducting an online survey.

Later today, all subscribers will receive an e-mail message with the subject line "2008 SLAC Today Survey," explaining how to complete the survey online. Please find five minutes to complete the survey, as the results will be used to improve SLAC Today as a source of lab news.

Your name will not be linked to the answers you provide, and an outside agency will tabulate the results. This agency will never identify an individual response and will provide the Office of Communications only with aggregate results. Thank you in advance for your help.

Welcome New SLACers


New SLAC employees. (Photo by Brad Plummer. Click for larger image.)

At last Thursday's new employee training, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory welcomed (from left): Alanda McCarley, Laurel Brandt, Jie Chen, Richard Burgess, Dennis Leonardo, Helen Butler, Beth Sargent, John Ward, Lee Peterson, Jimmy Graham, Matt Boyce and Milene Yip.

(Daily Column - Science Today)

Mutation's Mechanism for Harm Revealed

Scientists are one step closer to understanding a piece of the machinery involved in DNA transcription and repair, thanks to work done in part at the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource macromolecular crystallography Beamline 11-1. The team, led by Scripps Research Institute scientist John Tainer and colleagues, worked out the structure of an important enzyme called XPD, a member of the helicase family of enzymes, found in all living organisms. The results were published in the May 2008 edition of the journal Cell.

In eukaryotes, XPD is responsible for unwinding double-stranded DNA molecules during repair or transcription—the process of making an RNA map of the DNA to be used in making proteins. Because it plays such a key role in the DNA transcription and repair pathways, the structure of XPD can tell researchers a lot about how healthy cells operate and how defects lead to disease.

Mutations in the XPD protein are associated with cancer and premature aging. In this study, the team confirmed evidence from earlier experiments that suggested one of the four domains of the XPD structure contains an iron-sulfur containing cluster, and provided for the first time the structural basis to explain the mutations for three inherited diseases.

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

New General Counsel for the Lab

(Steve Porter)
Steve Porter (Photo by Brad Plummer. Click for larger image.)

This month, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory welcomes Steve Porter as the lab's new senior counsel. Porter brings a depth of experience with research organizations, including posts with the Department of Energy, Battelle and three DOE labs before SLAC, most recently as general counsel at Los Alamos National Laboratory. He joined the lab on October 31st.

Over the next months, responsibility for SLAC legal functions will transition to Porter from SLAC General Counsel Rachel Claus, who will retire at the end of January 2009. Claus joined the lab in 1992, and will continue to be available to Stanford University for export control compliance issues after her retirement.

"I've known Rachel for more than 10 years," Porter said. "She's a top-notch person; I intend to continue her dedicated service to Stanford and SLAC. And I would like to congratulate her on her upcoming retirement."

Claus said: "Steve was recruited because of his deep and extensive experience in the DOE community, his ability to assess complex situations quickly, his ability to maintain a sense of humor even when under intense pressure, and the fact that he is both an excellent attorney and an all-around good guy."

Among major projects in his first year with SLAC, Porter will concentrate on oversight of the lab management contract between DOE and Stanford. In addition, Porter will use his background in DOE property leases to address renewal of the long-term lease of 426 acres of Stanford land that provides a site for SLAC. The lease, which has been rent-free, is up for renewal in 2012.

"I am pleased and honored to be associated with Stanford and SLAC," Porter said.

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