At the beginning of Unit 3, Ken Miller posed these questions about the scientific future:
What are the signals that determine whether cells will develop into bones, muscles, nerves, or other tissues in the body?
Can we use our understanding of photosynthesis to help improve crop yields and help feed the world's hungry?
Can we learn enough about the control of cell division to find ways to stop the uncontrolled growth of cells known as cancer?
What are the signals that control cellular development?
Signals in Stem Cell Development Erika Matunis of Johns Hopkins University is a young scientist trying to answer exactly this question. Click on this link to pay her lab a visit.
Signals that cause Muscle Cells Dr. Michael Rudnicki of Ottawa has carried out experiments that may have identified the signals that tell unspecialized cells to develop into muscle cells. This work may have important implications for muscle growth and regeneration. (Click Here for another report on this work)
Can we use our Understanding of Photosynthesis to Improve Crop Yields?
"Engineering a Crop" A web page from the NOVA series that allows you to investigate the differences between selective breeding and genetic modification in improving crop yields.
Transgenic Crops A balanced treatment of the scientific background of attempts to improve crop yields by genetic modification of plants. The site is accessible in Spanish (Este sitio es accesible en español), and includes special resources for teachers, including powerpoint presentations that can be used in the classroom.
Photosynthesis and Crop Yields A page detailing how efficient photosynthesis is related to crop yields in canola oilseed farming.
Can we learn enough about Control of Cell Division to be Useful in Treating Cancer?
Cell Cyele controls and Cancer A web page with diagrams illustrating the critical points in cell cycle control that are related to the development of cancer. (Click Here for another page with more information on the same point).
The Nobel Prize forMedicine or Physiology was awarded (in 2001) to a trio of researchers who uncovered the basic mechanisms that regulate the cell cycle. (Access Excellence described the same work on a web page of its own).
All About p53 One of the most important cell cycle regulation genes is called "p53." This web site explains what p53 is, and why it is so important in human cancer.