Feb. 9-15, 2001
Vol. 31, Issue 5
Back Issues
Researchers identify unique sperm gene
Former presidents to oversee National Commission on Federal Election Reform
Leading prostate cancer physician named to direct U.Va.'s new research institute
Research computing being evaluated

Two new e-mail programs now available

College leaders grapple with state of Arts & Sciences buildings
Take our Advice ... Getting the most from vitamins
In Memoriam
Women leaders sought for summer program
Notable - awards and achievements of faculty and staff
Creative writers coming this semester
Literature symposium to bring noted writers and theorists
U.Va. Law student to show award-winning Bosnia video
Students organize relief drives
Hot Links - Miller Center forums

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Researches identify unique sperm gene
Finding may open new avenues for cancer research

Blue= Sperm nucleus
Green= X chromosome
Red= SPAN-X protein

By Suzanne Morris

Cell biologists at the U.Va. Health System have identified a new gene, called SPAN-X, that could eventually lead to better diagnosis and treatment for certain cancers.

At first it was believed that SPAN-X is only found in normal testes. Recently, the researchers found that SPAN-X is also present in some tumors, including skin, breast, prostate and ovarian. Their findings are reported in this month's issue of Biology of Reproduction.

"In the testis, SPAN-X is found in the nuclear membrane of developing sperm, which suggests it may play an important role in the maturation of the sperm nucleus. This is a highly specific function, and we were surprised to find that this gene is also present in certain cancer cells," said Anne Westbrook, a research associate at U.Va. and leader of the team that discovered the new gene.

Previous research has shown that certain proteins are found only in the testis and are introduced for the first time during puberty. To protect them from being attacked as a foreign invader, the male body has adapted to hide these proteins from the immune system. However, since these proteins are not protected from the immune system when they are produced by cancer cells, researchers believe they will be good targets for anti-tumor therapy. Full story.

Former presidents to oversee National Commission on Federal Election Reform

Staff report

Former U.S. presidents Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford have agreed to serve as active hon- orary, bipartisan co-chairs of the newly established National Commission on Federal Election Reform, being organized by the Miller Center of Public Affairs and The Century Foundation.

Former U.S. Sen. Howard Baker and former White House counsel Lloyd Cutler will co-chair the commission, which will recommend ways to improve the process used for electing federal officials, namely the president, vice president and members of Congress. Its initial focus will be on improving and standardizing the processes now being used to cast and count ballots for elected federal offices.

"This is not a commission to rewrite the Constitution or re-fight the contest in Florida," Carter and Ford said in a joint statement. "Instead, we hope to bring together thoughtful people from across the political spectrum to think about how our democratic institutions can improve the way our nation elects the leaders of our federal government, including the use of state-of-the-art technology."

In addition to holding meetings and public hearings throughout the country, the commission will have an interactive Web site to provide citizens with the opportunity to stay informed about its work and offer their suggestions. The commission plans to release its report in 2001, in time to help inform the ongoing legislative efforts of the 107th Congress.

"We applaud the attention White House and Congressional leaders are giving to election reform," Carter and Ford said. "We plan to prepare a report and sponsor research that will be of real use to the Congress and the administration as they move forward."

The commission will sponsor task forces to support its work on such subjects as the "best practices" being developed by state and local election officials, the evolution of the federal electoral process, and legal issues to be considered -- including the appropriate role of the federal government. Full story.


© Copyright 2001 by the Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia

Managing Editor
Anne Bromley

Online Web Editor
Karen Asher

Staff Writers
Rebecca Arrington
Dan Heuchert
Nancy Hurrelbrinck

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Charlotte Crystal
Jane Ford
Fariss Samarrai
Carol Wood
Ida Lee Wootten
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