Interdisciplinary research – Nobel Prize for Chemistry was awarded to two Biologists

Modern scientific research does not confine itself to any restricted boundary.  Nowadays, it is all about interdisciplinary research. In 2012, Nobel Prize for Chemistry (http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/chemistry/)was awarded to two eminent biologists, Prof. Robert J Lefkowitz and Prof. Brian Kobika, for their crucial contribution in unveiling the signalling mechanism of G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs). It’s a lifetime work of both the scientists. Dr. Lefkowitz, an investigator at Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) at Duke University, is also James B Duke Professor of Medicine and of Biochemistry at Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC, USA. Dr. Kobika, earlier a postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Lefkowitz’s laboratory, is currently Professor of Molecular and Cellular Physiology at Stanford University, School of Medicine, Stanford, CA, USA.

Transmembrane signalling of one GPCR “caught in action” by X-ray crystallography

GTP (guanosine triphosphate) binding proteins (G-protein) act as molecular switches in transmitting signals from different stimuli outside the cell to inside the cell. However, for doing this G-protein needs to be activated, and that is where GPCRs play the most important role. They sit in the cell membranes throughout the body. GPCRs, also known as seven transmembrane (pass through the cell membrane seven times) domain proteins, detect the external signals like odor, light, flavor as well as the signals within the body such as hormones, neurotransmitter.1 Once the GPCRs detect a signal, the signal is transduced in certain pathway and finally activate the G-protein. In response, the activated G-protein triggers different cellular processes. Binding of a signalling molecule or ligand to the GPCR causes conformational changes in the GPCR structure. As a result of extensive research of 20 long years, Dr. Lefkowitz and Dr. Kobika not only identified 800 members of GPCRs family in human but also caught in action how these receptor proteins actually carry out the signal transduction with the help of high resolution X-ray crystallography. The crystal structure of ß2-adrenergic receptor (ß2AR), a member of the human GPCRs family was reported by Dr. Kobika and his colleagues in 2007.2 The hormones adrenaline and noradrenaline are known to activate ß2AR, and the activated ß2AR triggers different biochemical processes which help in speeding up the heart and opening airways as body’s fight response. The ß2AR is a key ingredient in anti-asthma drugs. One of the major breakthroughs came in 2011 when Dr. Kobika and his co-workers unveiled for the first time the exact moment of the transmembrane signalling by a GPCR. They reported the crystal structure of “the active state ternary complex composed of agonist-occupied monomeric ß2AR and nucleotide-free Gs heterotrimer”.3 A major conformational change in ß2AR during signal transduction was discovered.

Now what is so special about GPCRs? Well, these proteins belong to one of the largest families of  all human proteins. GPCRs are involved in most of the physiological activities, and hence are  the targets of a number of drugs. Determination of the molecular structures of this class of receptors not only helps the researchers to understand the actual mechanism of different cellular processes but also help them to design life saving and more effective drugs. So, in a nut shell, this scientific breakthrough was possible due to the involvement of experts of different areas of science such as, chemistry, biochemistry, molecular and cellular biology, structural biology, cardiology, crystallography.

 

References

 

  1. Lefkowitz, R. J. Seven transmembrane receptors: something old, something new. Acta Physiol. (Oxf.) 190, 9–19 (2007).
  2. Rasmussen, S. G. et al. Crystal structure of the human b2 adrenergic G-protein coupled receptor. Nature 450, 383–387 (2007).
  3. Rasmussen, S. G. et al.  Crystal structure of the b2 adrenergic receptor–Gs protein complex. Nature 477,  549-557 (2011)

 

How to Get Your Research Published

Writing is the most important aspect of scientific research. There is no doubt about it. But, do not think that your goal is accomplished after you are done with this onerous task. In fact, you have to cross yet another important hurdle. After writing, you need to think of how to get your research published in some journal in order to share your research ideas and results with the scientific community. Your scientific achievement is measured in terms of the articles you have published. Most of the researchers falter in this step and end up in making some wrong decisions. Here are a few tips on how to get your research published, which might help in making things easier for you.

Tips on How to Get Your Research Published

  • Most of the researchers think about where to publish their paper after writing it. But, it is always better to first decide the journal in which you want your paper to be published, and then start writing. It saves a lot of time in terms of post-writing formatting.
  • When choosing a journal, do not choose the one with a very high impact factor unless you are fully confident about the quality of your paper. High-impact factor journals have high rejection rates.
  • Check whether your research topic comes under the aims and scope of the chosen journal. After putting in all the hard work, you would never want your paper to be rejected only because you chose the wrong journal.
  • Publishers are always impressed if you have cited articles of the chosen journal in your paper.
  • Do not submit your article simultaneously to various journals, which is unethical. Wait till you get a proper response from one particular journal before proceeding on to another.
  • Ensure that all the formatting guidelines specified by the target journal have been properly followed.
  • The cover letter is the first thing that the journal editor goes through. Address it to the Journal’s Editor/Editor-in-Chief. Keep the tone informal. Give a short gist of your work. And, include your contact details at the end.
  • Last, but not the least, do not get discouraged if your paper gets rejected. Many of the best research papers had to deal with initial rejection. If the journal has sent reviews, ponder them carefully and make the necessary changes in your paper before resubmitting. Write a proper response letter highlighting the reviewer’s comments and your responses. The original content and the revised content should be clearly distinguishable so that the reviewer can easily see what changes you have made to your paper. And, ensure that you re-submit within the stipulated time frame. If the journal has rejected your paper outrightly, then consider submitting to another journal.

The above tips on how to get your research published will surely be handy for you. But, remember that following these tips alone will not get your paper published. Your research should be well written and your ideas should have been strongly presented. If you are still unsure of how to proceed, there are professionals out there who will be happy to help you. So, go ahead, Research, Get Published, and Get Read…

Tips for Writing a Research Paper

In general terms, a research paper presents the writer’s viewpoint of a particular topic. Students might be required to submit a research paper (thesis/dissertation) for acquiring some professional qualification or degree. Researchers need to submit their original research or review results to be published in journals. A particular format needs to be followed while writing a research paper. The format might vary depending on the respective journal guidelines.

Problems in Writing a Research Paper

Writing a research paper is considered a complex process by many. They have no idea as to how and from where to start. The most common difficulty is not doing enough research about the study topic. Before you think about how to write a research paper, you need to first decide what to write. So, give yourself ample time to analyze the study topic thoroughly. Another major problem that is frequently faced is proper organization of a research paper. Presenting the facts in an organized manner is of utmost importance. There is often a lack of knowledge of the basic structure of a research paper. Different journals have different formats. That adds to the confusion of the students/researchers. To make things easier, the general format of a research paper is discussed below.

Basic Format of a Research Paper

Title Page

Frame a suitable title for your research paper based on your research objective. It should not be too lengthy. Some journals specify a word limit for titles. Mention the author(s) name(s) with the respective institutional details. Full postal details of the corresponding author should also be mentioned. A short running head may or may not be specified depending on the target journal guidelines.

Abstract

Abstract is a brief summary of the entire paper. Although small, it is a vital aspect of your research paper. People decide whether they want to go through the entire paper or not after reading the Abstract. It should present the research objective, methodology, results and conclusions of the research in brief. Generally, an Abstract can be of 200–300 words. But, some journals specify specific word limits for it.

Introduction

The introduction gives an insight about your research topic to the reader. It should provide the complete background information about your topic. Explain the key terms of your research, and cite relevant information and findings from previous studies. Mention your research objective and hypothesis in this section. You can also list the remaining sections of your paper and mention what they present at the end of this section. This section is generally written in present tense.

Methods

This section should provide sufficient information about the materials and methods that were used to conduct the research. The study environment, strategies, instruments/equipments, data collection and analysis techniques that you used should be listed.

Results

All the results that were obtained in relevance to the research question should be presented in detail. Use figures and tables to illustrate your findings, wherever applicable. Ensure that the results are presented systematically in a sequence, including the figures and tables.

Discussion

In this section, you need to describe the implications or significance of your findings. You have to present your facts that support and refer to the statements made in the Introduction. It should be properly organized as is relevant to your research. You should avoid putting forth new ideas in this section. The effect and contribution of the study should also be mentioned here. Interpret your results properly and mention the supporting data for your conclusion.

Conclusion

This is an overall summary of the paper. Mention your research objective and discuss the points that you covered during your research. Generally, while writing a research paper, it is considered that Conclusion is much easier to write compared to Introduction because, in the former, the memory of the results is still fresh.Your Conclusion should relate directly to the statements that you made in the Introduction. Like Introduction, this section is usually kept in the present tense.

Acknowledgements

In this section, you can thank the individuals or institutions who made your research possible.

References

This section should contain a list of all the references cited in the paper. Ensure that you have cited only credible sources in your paper.

Choosing a Topic for Research Project

For a researcher to choose a topic for a project, it is important to consider a broad area of inquiry and interest.  This may be as broad as global eye health or personality psychology, but it should be an area that is of interest to the researcher.  However, a broad area is useful only at the beginning of a research plan.  Within a broader topic of inquiry, each researcher must begin narrowing the field into a few subtopics that are of greater specificity and detail. For example, a researcher may be interested in global eye health, but could focus more specifically on proper eye care and how it affects individuals.  Although this topic is still too broad for a research project, it is more focused and can be further specified into a coherent project.

Oftentimes, students as well as professional researchers discover their topics in a variety of conventional and unconventional ways.  Many researchers find that their personal interests and experiences help to narrow their topic.  For students, previous classes and course material are often the source of research ideas.  Furthermore, current events in politics as well as in academia can inspire topics for research.  Academic journals such as Health Affairs, Health Economics, and the American Journal of Bioethics can provide good material for new studies and E-resources such as Pubmed, Google Scholar and Philosopher’s Index are also good starting places.  Lastly, many research ideas are generated through dialogue by talking with professors, fellow students and family.

Academic Style of Writing

When writing, you should use a formal, academic style. Academic writing does not have to be elaborate or complicated. A well-structured, straightforward paper is more easily understood and your ideas better appreciated than one filled with complicated sentences and words.

Strong academic writing must

  •  Be well-organized, with ideas presented in a logical order;
  •  Present objective analysis that is critical without being too negative or positive;
  •  Use clear language that is simple without being basic;
  •  Avoid emotional language.

Every field has its style of writing. The best way to become familiar with the style used in your field is to read and note how effective authors write.