SLAC Today is available online at:
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In this issue:
Researchers Reveal Structure of Key Genetic Proofreader
Stanford Provost Outlines Next Year's Budget
Meeting for Graduation Tour Volunteers Today
Recycling Tip of the Week: Bubble Wrap, Plastic Bags, Plastic Sheeting
Procurement "How-to": Placing a Blanket Order Release

SLAC Today

Thursday - June 4, 2009

Researchers Reveal Structure of Key Genetic Proofreading Protein

(Photo - Dong Wang)
Stanford structural biologist Dong Wang at an SSRL experiment hutch. (Photo by Nicholas Bock.)

Nature might abhor a vacuum, but it loves a backup plan. In living organisms, physiological systems are kept under tight control by hierarchies of organic safety catches and emergency releases, helping to make sure that things run as smoothly as possible.

A team of Stanford University researchers working in the lab of Nobel laureate Roger Kornberg recently used the high energy X-rays at the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource to examine one such mechanism, the proofreading function of a vital protein called RNA polymerase. According to Dong Wang, a post-doctoral fellow with Kornberg's lab and the principal investigator in the study, the findings will not only provide scientists with a better idea of how protein production works, but could also give fresh insight into the design of cancer-fighting drugs. The results were published in the May 28 issue of Science.

Protein synthesis occurs in two main stages—first, DNA inside the nucleus is transcribed to RNA. During this step, called transcription, RNA polymerase skims along the DNA template, producing a complementary strand of RNA as it goes. In the second step, called translation, the cell's machinery reads the RNA and constructs the corresponding proteins.  Read more...

Stanford Provost Outlines Next Year's Budget

(Photo - John Etchemendy)
Provost John Etchemendy presented highlights of the 2010 budget plan to the Faculty Senate on May 28. (Photo: Stanford Report)

Provost John Etchemendy began his annual budget presentation to the Faculty Senate by showing the last slide from his 2008 presentation, which said: "Don't Get Complacent."

A year ago, Etchemendy warned the senate that there were some signs of financial problems on the horizon and no one should expect that the "plenty" of the previous five years—the endowment had soared to $17.2 billion by 2007—would last forever.

Still, no one was expecting what did happen: a 30 percent drop in the value of the endowment in 2009—the largest drop in the last four decades—as the nation and the world were engulfed in an economic crisis. Before this year, the largest decline was 8 percent.

"As you can imagine, it has been a tremendously difficult year for budgeting at the university," Etchemendy, the university's chief academic and budgetary officer, said at last week's meeting. "The good news is things will be looking up as we go forward." Read more in the Stanford Report...

Meeting for Graduation Tour Volunteers Today

Know a thing or two about SLAC? Want to know more, and to share your enthusiasm for SLAC science with others? Here's your chance! Volunteers are needed to lead informal tours of SLAC for the friends and families of graduating Stanford students on Saturday, June 13. To learn more, please attend an informational meeting today at 2 p.m. in the Building 40 Orange Room. No registration is necessary, and refreshments will be served.

(Photo)

Recycling Tip of the Week: Bubble Wrap, Plastic Bags, Plastic Sheeting

Bubble wrap, air bags used for packaging, plastic bags and plastic sheeting such as that used to wrap beverage cases, can be recycled in the "mixed paper" bins provided they are free of residue. The idea is to collect clean plastic bags and bubble wrap in the mixed paper bins so that they will stay dry and contaminant-free. They will be separated from the paper when the material is brought to the sorting facility. It does not matter if a plastic bag has no recycling symbol—often a number inside chasing arrows. To recycle more than one bag or lots of wrap, please place them all in a single plastic bag to facilitate separation at the sorting facility.

Please direct questions on SLAC's recycling program to Micki DeCamara (x2348).

Procurement "How-to":
Placing a Blanket Order Release

SLAC uses Blanket Order Agreements, or BOAs, to acquire lower value, fixed-price supplies and services. The price for each supply or service is included in the BOA. Only designated SLAC personnel identified in the agreement are authorized to place Blanket Order Releases—BORs—to release funds against the BOA, within specified dollar limits, without direct action by a Procurement Specialist.

If you are authorized to place BORs, please familiarize yourself with these five simple steps to correctly place a BOR.  Read more...

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