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Berkeley Lab Currents

June 28, 1996


Life Sciences celebrates success of Human Genome Center

Former acting director Narla honored for his leadership

By Lynn Yarris

Mohan Narla of the Life Sciences Division was the toast of the crowd gathered at the Bldg. 66 Auditorium last Friday to celebrate the achievements of the Lab's Human Genome Center under his stewardship. Narla, who served as the Center's acting director from 1994 until this month, is credited with providing the leadership that helped transform what had been a struggling program into one of the nation's most successful.

"I want to call your attention to the pivotal role played by Mohan Narla in the success of our Human Genome Center," said Berkeley Lab director Charles Shank in a message read to attendees of the celebration by Deputy Director Pier Oddone. Indeed, all of the speakers at the morning-long event, which included LSD Director Mina Bissell, new HGC Director Mike Palazzolo (see Currents, June 7), and HGC leaders, began their remarks with acknowledgment of Narla's contributions. All were especially mindful of the stability he brought to the program.

"All of our success has been achieved from within," Bissell said. "With little help from the outside, Mohan worked with our own people to put our Human Genome Center on a tract that has made it one of the top genome programs in the country."

Palazzolo also praised Narla's stewardship. "Mohan did a selfless thing at the prime of his scientific career. He took the time to marshal the resources here at the Human Genome Center, said the future is in sequencing, and pointed us in that direction. We are healthy today because of it."

He noted that HGC researchers are now sequencing at the rate of 500,000 base pairs a month, which is more than what they could do in an entire year prior to Narla's acting directorship. To date, the HGC has sequenced nearly 5.5 million base pairs of DNA (human and drosophila), a total that is second in the world only to the base pairs sequenced for the nematode genome by the collaboration between Washington University in St. Louis and the United Kingdom's Sanger Centre.

It is in the sequences of the base pairs of nucleotides that make up DNA that the genetic code of life is written. The full complement of DNA needed to create any individual organism is called a genome. The human genome is one of the most complex (though not the largest), made up of three billion base pairs which are organized into 23 chromosome pairs. It is the goal of the Human Genome Project to sequence all three billion base pairs, determine which are used in genes, and map their location along the chromosomes. The project, which is jointly sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Institutes of Health, has been called "biology's flight to the moon."

With guidance from Narla, Berkeley Lab's HGC shifted from its original focus on mapping chromosome 21 to developing and implementing a cost-effective and accurate "high throughput DNA sequencing" capability. Though Narla's vision got the ball rolling, credit for the Center's subsequent success is shared by all of its component programs.

Chris Martin, who now leads the HGC's sequencing group, discussed the role played by the "directed approach" to sequencing which he and Palazzolo developed with other members of the group. Unlike the strategy followed by most genome groups, in which random coverage is expected to yield a complete sequence, the directed approach employs "sequencing templates" that have been mapped to a resolution of 30 base pairs. This greatly reduces the labor and difficulty for genome sequencing.

"In a single year, we have tripled our productivity per staff member," Martin said. The goal of the Human Genome Project is to complete the sequencing task by the year 2005.

Everyone associated with the genome project acknowledges the critical importance of automation. In her introduction of Joe Jaklevic, leader of the HGC's automation group, Bissell expressed admiration for what he and his group have accomplished.

"Joe has been the embodiment of the effort to bring high-technology into the life sciences," she said. "One of the major reasons that our Human Genome Center has been so successful is the incredible work of the automation group."

In his presentation, Jaklevic used a chart to graphically illustrate that more than 80 percent of the base-pairs sequenced at the HGC have been achieved in the past couple of years. Berkeley Lab's HGC was established in 1987.

Among the innovative technologies introduced to the Center by the automation group, Jaklevic cited such examples as the high-speed automated colony picker and arrayer, the CCD system for digital image processing, the high-speed thermocycler for PCR assays, and the DNA preparation robot.

"Most of our increased production rate has come from eliminating bottlenecks in the (sequencing) process," Jaklevic said. "DNA preparation has been a huge bottleneck." He noted that a sequencing rate of 20 million base pairs a year, a goal envisioned by our HGC, requires a lab to be able to prepare five microtiter plates of DNA material a day.

"Our DNA prep robot can do five plates in a couple of hours," he said.

The other speakers that morning were Bruce Kimmel, who spoke on the future of genome research, Edward Rubin, who heads the HGC's biology group, Frank Eeckman, who heads the informatics group, and Gerald Rubin, who heads the drosophila sequencing center. The message was that substantial progress has been made and the pace is rapidly picking up.

"We (at Berkeley Lab) have become the lead sequencing center for DOE, and we are really going to build an automated sequencing center--which is what DOE was charged to do," Palazzolo told the audience. "Today is a celebration!"

CAPTION: Mohan Narla has played a pivotal role in the success of the Center.


State-of-the-Lab address

Director Charles Shank will present his annual state-of-the-laboratory address from noon to 1 p.m. on Thursday, July 11, in the Bldg. 50 Auditorium.

The Director will review some of the scientific highlights from this past year and discuss key programmatic directions for the future. He will also comment on budget prospects, new operational developments, and other matters of interest to the Laboratory community.

All employees are invited to attend. A live remote video feed will be provided in the Bldg. 66 Auditorium.


Johnson to head Lab's Washington office

By Ron Kolb

Berkeley Lab's Rob Johnson, who has worked for years to connect the capabilities of Lab researchers to national scientific initiatives, is now working to catalyze similar interconnections between the Lab and partnering agencies in Washington, D.C.

As of June 1, Johnson assumed the role of head for the Lab's Washington office, while maintaining his duties as head of the Programmatic Initiatives Support Group. He succeeds David Dragnich, the first manager of Berkeley Lab's Maryland Avenue headquarters, who resigned to become a consultant in the private sector.

"My vision for the office to best support our researchers is: `One lab, two sites,'" Johnson said. "We're in a transition from a division-based office to a lab-based office. With funding for science under attack, we need to be more effective in developing productive working relationships with DOE and other agencies--a daunting task when the program managers and our researchers are located on opposite coasts. The Washington site enables researchers to be much more responsive."

He said Berkeley Lab divisions will be encouraged to use the office much like the Energy and Environment Division has done successfully since it established a Washington presence in 1993. That includes using the facility as a base of operations during work trips to Washington and tapping Johnson's expertise to nurture interest in prospective programs.

"Our location also allows us to carry out activities helpful to the agencies and decision-makers by having presentations in which we expose people to the value of the science," said Pier Oddone, deputy director for Research. The office, located just blocks away from DOE's Forrestal Building, is equipped for both on-site meetings and teleconferencing.

Oddone described Johnson as the "ideal person" to carry out the assignment. His 15 years with Berkeley Lab has given him "a deep knowledge of lab capabilities, and a sense of how to connect those capabilities to the research interests of sponsors," Oddone said.

Johnson began here in 1981 as a staff scientist in the Accelerator and Fusion Research Division. After serving for almost two years as AFRD's assistant division director, he became assistant deputy director (1984-89) prior to becoming leader of the initiatives group. He also served in 1989-90 as associate director of the Center for Particle Astrophysics at UC Berkeley, which he helped establish.

Working in support of Lab scientists, he was involved in the initial development of major Berkeley Lab programs such as the Advanced Light Source and ALS Life Sciences Center, Center for Advanced Materials, Human Genome Initiative, and the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center. In the 1980s, he spent significant time in Washington in support of DOE program management activities in high energy and nuclear physics.

In recent years, he has focused on building environmental programs. He helped to create--and served as interim director of--the Alameda Center for Environmental Technologies (ACET) and facilitated the interdivisional SELECT environmental software project.

Johnson said his immediate priorities will be to work with the divisions to develop realistic plans for use of the Washington office and to fully equip it for optimum efficiency, in particular network connections and other infrastructure to facilitate interactions between researchers using the office and the Berkeley Lab site.

"Our goal is to make it as easy for the Lab's program managers to do their work from Washington as here, with the added advantage of timely access to their clients," Johnson said.

Oddone also credited Dragnich for helping to launch the office, which began shared operations with the Energy and Environment Division last summer. It is located at 1250 Maryland Ave., S.W., and includes 7,700 square feet of offices, conference rooms and workstations.


Summer Lecture Series

The 1996 Summer Lecture Series begins at noon on Wednesday, July 10, in the Bldg. 50 auditorium. Designed for visiting students and teachers, the non-technical brown-bag sessions are also open to Lab employees and friends. For more information, contact the Public Information Department at X5771.

The following speakers had been scheduled at press time. All talks will take place at noon Wednesdays in the Bldg. 50 auditorium, except for the Aug. 7 talk, which will take place in the Bldg. 66 auditorium. Watch Currents for details about upcoming talks.

July 10 -- To be announced

July 17 -- To be announced

July 24 -- Mark Levine, Energy & Environment Division

July 31 -- Saul Perlmutter, Physics Division

Aug. 7 -- Deborah Charych, Materials Sciences Division


Hats, shirts sport logo, home page

CAPTION: Helen Coleman shows off some of the goods now available from the Employee Buying Service. The new items, which sport either the Lab logo or a graphic of the Lab's home page, include T-shirts (white or tan, $7), polo shirts ($16), sweatshirts ($15), and caps ($9). Coleman reports that sales are already quite good, and that the tan T-shirts are selling very quickly. Employee Buying Service hours are 10:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. daily in the cafeteria lobby. Photo by Roy Kaltschmidt




Acting on the recommendation of UC President Richard Atkinson and a strong show of support from the UC faculty leadership, the UC Board of Regents has authorized the start of negotiations with DOE to continue its management of the national laboratories at Berkeley, Livermore, and Los Alamos. The Regents' unanimous action came on the heels of a 61-39 vote in favor of renewing the contract by the academic senates of six of the nine campuses. The University has managed the laboratories as a public service since their inception. In related news, DOE Under Secretary Thomas Grumbly told reporters that the negotiations with UC would be tough. He was especially critical of the health and safety management record at Los Alamos, which has had three serious accidents over the past 15 months, including one fatality. Grumbly said DOE plans to build in "off-ramps" to UC's new contract that will allow the Department to exit after one or two years if there is dissatisfaction. Grumbly said DOE would like to complete the negotiations before the November election. UC's current managerial contract expires in September 1997.


Ruby Tebelak, head of the Technical and Electronic Information Department, was awarded a professional degree by the University of Missouri-Rolla during its 123rd Annual Commencement on Saturday, May 11. Tebelak has been a member of the English Advisory Council since its inception, and helped develop curriculum for the University's Technical Writing Program.

Gareth Thomas, a researcher in the Materials Sciences Division and professor in the graduate school department of materials science and mineral engineering at UC Berkeley, received an honorary doctorate of science degree from Lehigh University in Allentown, Pa. The degree was conferred at the university's commencement exercises on June 2.


Panel explores diversity issues, goals in the workplace

By Ron Kolb

In the face of a changing economic, cultural and social landscape that is stretching the fabric of business practice, the achievement of workforce diversity goals has never been more challenging. Nor has it had a higher priority.

This was the consistent message brought to the Lab June 24 by a panel of representatives from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Kaiser Permanente, Hewlett Packard, and Berkeley Lab.

Moderator Ronita Johnson, of the Ronita Johnson and Associates management consulting firm, noted significant progress made by firms in establishing diversity programs since "Workforce 2000" issues began to be seen as national business imperatives in the late 1980s. But times have changed, and business conditions--downsizing and restructuring, changing clients and markets, and philosophical challenges to affirmative action programs--have tested those diversity efforts.

"The diversity concept is still widely confused," Johnson said. "The process of diversity is an organizational choice; it is not mandated. And diversity must be defined to include all employees, to maximize the potential of everyone."

Gloria Gilford-Logan, director of workforce diversity at Kaiser Permanente, described her company's three diversity management initiatives that grew from a 1993-94 analysis--to target specific and diverse populations for services in the marketplace, to deliver culturally competent health care that is sensitive to the specific needs of targeted groups, and to enhance the diversity and cultural competence of the Kaiser workforce.

Tommy Smith Jr., director of affirmative action and diversity at Livermore lab, spoke critically of changing attitudes in the political arena "that lead to less tolerance, and thinking that there's no longer a need to do special things." He also pointed to fiscal constraints. "In the zeal to cut costs, diversity efforts can suffer," he said.

Similarly, Sidalia Reel, diversity education program manager for Hewlett-Packard, cited challenges even for an international corporate giant with a reputation for employee-friendly policies. As company acquisitions and an expanded marketplace have changed the client mix, implementing activities that encourage and value diversity has become more complex.

"Management had to look at questions about their own accountability," Reel said. "What we determined is that more training is not the answer. It's what managers can personally do as role models, in mentoring, hiring and supporting. We realize that you have to play a personal role in what is happening."

As economics drive organizations to focus more on cost-effectiveness, "survivability" becomes an issue, according to Harry Reed, head of Berkeley Lab's Work Force Diversity Office. And it is diversity programs, he said, that enhance the survivability of an institution in times of rapid cultural and social change.

"It's building bridges between our interactions at all levels," he said. "(Equal opportunity laws) and affirmative action are not the same as managing work force diversity, which is a process. It is developing our people to their fullest potential." He also noted the office's mission to support the education of future scientists and engineers, in particular addressing barriers and inequities that have excluded underrepresented groups in science and math.

The discussion generated almost two dozen questions from the audience.

The session, held in the Bldg. 50 Auditorium, was recommended by the Lab's Diversity Committee, endorsed by Director Charles Shank, and sponsored by the Work Force Diversity Office.

CAPTION: Sidalia Reel, diversity education program manager for Hewlett-Packard.


July 1-19



"Development and Physics of ECR Ion Source in Grenoble" will be presented by Denis Hitz of the CEA, Grenoble, at 11 a.m. in the Bldg. 71 conference room.


Classical Group Rehearsal, 5-7 p.m. in the cafeteria, for info. contact Wesley Steele at X7893.



"The Structure of the Proton and Diffraction in Deep Inelastic Scattering at HERA" will be presented by Maria Teresa P. Roco of Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron, DESY Hamburg, Germany, at 4 p.m. in Bldg. 50A-5132; refreshments, 3:40 p.m.



Folk Group Rehearsal, 5:30-7:30 p.m. in the cafeteria, for info. contact Larry Bell at X5406.







General Meeting at noon in the lower cafeteria


Classical Group Rehearsal, 5-7 p.m. in the cafeteria, for info. contact Wesley Steele at X7893.



"Molecular Mechanisms of Breast Epithelial Cell Immortalization" will be presented by Vimla Band of the New England Medical Center at 4 p.m. in the Bldg. 66 Auditorium.



General meeting at noon in the lower cafeteria


General meeting at 12:10 p.m. in Bldg. 2-100


Folk Group Rehearsal, 5:30-7:30 p.m. in the cafeteria, for info. contact Larry Bell at X5406.



7:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. near Bldg. 77


General meeting at noon in Bldg. 90-1099.


"Advances in the Microstructural Characterization of Poly (1-Alkenes): New Tools for the Mechanistic Study of Heterogeneous Ziegler-Natta Polymerizations" will be presented by Vincenzo Busico of the Universita di Napoli, Italy, at 1:30 p.m. in the Bldg. 66 Auditorium.



"Control of Selectivity in a Selective Oxidation Catalysis: Influence of Spillover Species on Surface Reconstruction in the Oxido-Reduction Process" will be presented by Bernard Delmon of the Universite Catholique de Louvain, Belgium, at 1:30 p.m. in the Bldg. 66 Auditorium.



Classical Group Rehearsal, 5-7 p.m. in the cafeteria, for info. contact Wesley Steele at X7893.





Officer's meeting at 12:10 p.m. in Bldg. 2-100


Folk Group Rehearsal, 5:30-7:30 p.m. in the cafeteria, for info. contact Larry Bell at X5406.



"The Ice Bilayer on Pt(111): Nucleation, Structure and Melting" will be presented by Markus Morgenstern of Forschungszentrum Juelich (KFA), Germany, at 1:30 p.m. in the Bldg. 66 Auditorium.


"Review of the Snowmass Workshop" will be presented by Takeo Moroi and Jose Pelaez of LBNL at 4 p.m. in Bldg. 50A-5132; refreshments, 3:40 p.m.




Retirement age factors are changing

The University of California Retirement Plan (UCRP) recently announced a change to the retirement age factors used in calculating monthly benefits under the plan. This change, effective Jan. 1, 1997, will favorably impact monthly pension amounts for covered employees age 55 years 4 months and above. Employees under this age, and those above age 60, will not be impacted by this change.

Employees may access the new age factors on the World Wide Web at under the heading of "What's New" on that page. Employees may also contact the Benefits Office at X6403.

Currently, Benefits is not able to provide individualized computer-generated estimates of the new retirement benefits because the latest factors have yet to be incorporated into the Benefits Counseling System (BCS) by UC. Once this happens, individualized estimates will once again be available through Benefits. Watch Currents for details.


Currents takes a break

Currents will take a holiday next week as the Laboratory observes the Fourth of July holiday. The next issue of Currents will hit the newsstands on Friday, July 12. Enjoy the 4th!


Name change

The Office of Sponsored Research Administration (OSRA), under the administration of the Chief Financial Office since February, has been renamed the CFO/Sponsored Projects Office (CFO/SPO), effective June 1. Acting OSRA manager Jeff Weiner has been named manager of SPO. He may be reached at X7143.


July EH&S class schedule



Flea Market ads may be sent via e-mail to [email protected], Fax to X6641, or Lab mail to Bldg. 65B. The deadline is 5 p.m. Friday.


'83 TOYOTA Corolla, 1 owner, 2-dr, 5-spd, exc. cond., 78K mi., $2700. Lisa, 653-6964

'88 CORVETTE, blk on blk, 37K mi., coupe w/2 tops, auto, Z52 pkg., exc. cond., all pwr, $17,600/b.o. Mark, X7451, 895-0151

'88 FORD Tempo, 3-dr, 5-spd, 96K mi., stereo, new bumper, brakes, clutch, muffler & fuel pump, maint. records, leaving, $2800. Martin, X5738, 540-0214

'89 FORD Ranger, king cab w/Gem top, low mi., superb cond., $7800. X7853, 526-7388

'89 PONTIAC Grand Am SE, 98K mi., many options, sunrf, alloy wheels, new transmission, muffler & battery, $3900. Marion, 215-2305

CAR CARRIER, duel axles elec. brakes, new tires & deck, dove tail, winch, $1500/b.o. John, X5901, 724-2574

ENGINE, Ford 390, w/C6 manual trans., carburetor, headers, etc., like new. 906-9786

MOTORCYCLE HELMETS (2), med. & XL, gd cond., $40 ea. Jim, 215-2305


VANPOOL, starting from the Tri-Valley area - Livermore, Pleasanton, Dublin, San Ramon. Philip, X6583


FOOTBALL, 49ers/Raiders rights (PSLs), 50 yd. line seats, as low as $1200. John, (415) 924-0367


AUTOMOBILE, used, reliable, for purchase or short term (1 yr.) lease. [email protected].

MCDONALDS STAMPS, need 520 or 512, will split 1/3/negot. Julie, X4583, 232-6919


BICYCLE, girl's, 20" wheels, $25. Gary, X7816, 523-3723

BIKE, girl's, Rand, 20" tires, pink frame, ideal for 6-8 yr. old, $15. 268-1393 (eve.)

BOOKSHELF, 27"x69", white w/birch trim, $20; racks, blk plastic, stacking, CD (4) & cass. (2), like new, $5 ea. David, X6171

CABINET, audio/video rack style, 6' tall, 30" wide, 12" deep, 4 adj. height shelves - 2 glass, wood finish, 2 units avail., $60 ea./b.o. Philip, X6583

CAMERA BODY, under warranty, Canon Elan, auto focus, 35mm, Canon F1.8 50mm lens, both in exc. cond., $350. 841-6285

DISNEYLAND 5-day adult pass, gd any 5 consecutive days between now & 1/10/97, $50. Mari, X5932

FUTON, black steel frame, incl. cover & 2 pillows, like new, $150/b.o. Bruno, X7311

HIGH CHAIR, Peg Perego, used 1 yr., clean, as new cond., $60. Jonathan, X4148

IMAGEWRITER II, w/cable, stand, extra ribbon & 1500-sheet computer paper, $100. Bjorn, X7045

MOVING SALE, futon, oak, black, very solid, 6 mo. old, cover, bought for $600, selling for $290; dining table, black, folding, $25, all in very gd cond. Diana, X4978, (415) 592-4791

US ROBOTICS 14.4 KBaud Mac-n-Fax modem, orig. software, $50/b.o. Eddie, X7637


ALBANY, rm for rent in sunny, 2-bdrm house, hardwd flrs, garden, $480 + utils. Nance, X7328

BERKELEY, Northside, Rose & Walnut, short term, furn. 1 & 2-bdrm apts, incl. local phone, utils., linen & weekly cleaning, 4 blks from UCB/LBNL shuttle, $975-$1200/mo. Viki, 549-1876

BERKELEY HILLS, 5-bdrm house, walk to UCB & LBNL, avail. 7/21 - 8/19, $1500. 704-0538, 845-7929 (FAX)

NO. BERKELEY, furn. 2-bdrm, 1-bth house, washer/dryer, walk to LHS, LBNL, UCB bus & #8, #63 bus lines., avail. to 8/31, $1350/mo. 841-2837

NO. BERKELEY, furn. 1-bdrm. apt in duplex, 5 min. walk to shuttle, avail. 7/1, $850/mo. 486-0590

NO. BERKELEY HILLS, lg., antique furn. room w/views in shared home, conscientious non-smoker, washer/dryer, 1 mi. from UCB, $460/mo. + share util. 527-2123, 233-8040 (eve.)

CROCKETT, 3-bdrm, 2-bth house, secluded w/trees, spacious living rm, lg. wrap-around deck w/Carquinez Strait view, 15 mi. to LBNL, 5 min. to I-80, $1050/mo. Frank, 540-0838

OAKLAND, nr Shattuck & Alcatraz, walk to Ashby BART, room avail. immediately in shared house w/yard, non-smoker, prefer female, $275. 654-1410

RICHMOND ANNEX, nr E.C. Plaza, 2-bdrm, 1-1/2 bth house, 2-car garage, family rm, frpl, nr trans., pets OK, $950/mo. 736-5476

RICHMOND VIEW, nr E.C. border, furn. 2-bdrm, 1-bth house, recently remodeled w/new kitchen, incl. all appliances & laundry, view of Mt. Tam., 1100 sq. ft., nr BART & AC Transit, avail. June thru Dec., $1100/mo., $1K sec. dep. Don, 242-4975, 215-2963 (eve.)

WANTED: housing for Belgian post-doc, starting mid-July for 6 mo., ~$500/mo. Marie-Paule, X6081

WANTED: quiet, 2+bdrm flat/house/apt in Berkeley (no. or hills)/Kensington/Albany/Rockridge, w/yard/garden for 1 female LBNL staff, from 8/10 (negot.), prefer 1 cat allowed, <$1.3K/mo. (415) 926-4169

WANTED: shared housing, house-sit or 1-bdrm/studio apt in Berkeley or immediate area for visiting professional, commencing 8/15, +/- $400/mo. [email protected].

WANTED: 2-3 bedroom house for visiting Swedish scientist w/wife & newborn child from July-Aug. for approx. 1 yr., prefer furn. but will consider unfurn. [email protected], -46-8-7533874, -46-8-158674 (FAX)

WANTED: studio/1-bdrm flat for responsible, clean, quiet female grad student, non-smoker, no pets, for long term rental, starting 8/15 or earlier, prefer safe neighborhood, price range $400-$500/mo. Carla, 525-1756

WANTED: short term housing for German LBNL/ALS post-doc w/spouse, Aug. only. Winni, (+49)30 6879816, [email protected]

WANTED: 1-bdrm, cottage, apt or share, furn./unfurn., for LBNL employee, 7/1 or earlier. Steven, X6966, 204-9494