Monday, November 12, 2012

New life science journal eLife publishes first articles

Most journals that publish the "big news" in life science breakthroughs, such as Nature and Science, carry with them big price tags for accessing the information they contain.  Unless your institution subscribes, that leaves most A&P professors out of the loop on the information we need to update our courses.  More importantly, it leaves us out of the loop of information that helps us keep the excitement of science alive in our courses.

The Public Library of Science (PLoS) began publishing FREE online science journals a few years ago, and now a new MAJOR free online journal dedicated specifically to the life sciences and biomedicine has emerged.  See for more information

First announced in summer 2011, eLife is a researcher-led initiative for the best in science and science communication. Backed by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Max Planck Society, and the Wellcome Trust, the initiative’s first aim is to launch an open-access journal for outstanding advances in life science and biomedicine, which is also a platform for experimentation and showcasing innovation in research communication.

The eLife journal Web site is set for launch by the end of 2012, but the first collection of articles was released October 15 – listed at the eLife Web site with the full content available at the online archive of the U.S. National Library of Medicine, PubMed Central (PMC), and its mirror sites including UKPMC.

According to Randy Schekman, the journal’s Editor-in-chief, “We see no reason to delay the availability of these discoveries. Our editors have identified them as important, inspiring contributions of the high caliber expected for eLife. So, while the launch of our own journal Web site isn’t expected until December, we will best serve our authors, and science, by just getting them out there.”

eLife’s initial collection of content includes these topics that may be of interest to A&P professors:
  • A hormone involved in response to starvation that dramatically increases the lifespan of mice in which it is overexpressed, although further research into side effects is needed (Zhang et al.).  Information about this discovery will increase student interest in endocrine function, eh?

  • A critical signaling molecule involved in the interaction between a species of single-celled organisms and bacteria – an important advance in efforts to understand the evolution of multicellularity (Alegado et al.).  I often discuss the implications of the serial endosymbiosis theory in my teaching of cell biology— I think this new information may play into that whole scenario.

  • How cells cope with the stress of poorly folded proteins, and specifically how fission yeast deploys the same cellular machinery as other organisms but in an unusual and very different way (Kimmig et al.). I've mentioned the importance of understanding protein folding in A&P many times.

Links to the freely available full text for each article, plain-language summaries (the eLife digest), expert commentaries (Insights), and an editorial describing the motivations behind this move, are available at  I think the eLife digest and the Insights are particularly useful for A&P professors and A&P students to use in expanding their understanding of human structure and function.

Want to know more?
For more information about eLife, visit
To sign up for free updates in the areas that interest you at

Content adapted from eLife press release 

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