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September 2002

The Laboratory
in the News

Commentary by
Michael R. Anastasio

A Hitchhiker's Guide to Early Earth

A New World of Maps

Solid-Oxide Fuel Cells Stack Up to Efficient, Clean Power

Empowering Light—Historic Accomplishments in Laser Research




The Laboratory
in the News

Anastasio is new Lab director
On July 1, 2002, Michael R. Anastasio became the new director of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. He replaces C. Bruce Tarter, who has led the Laboratory since 1995. Anastasio is the ninth director of the Laboratory. He was nominated by University of California (UC) President Richard C. Atkinson, and his appointment was unanimously approved by the UC Board of Regents in a special meeting in early June.
Anastasio, 53, has been a Livermore employee for 22 years, most recently as deputy director for Strategic Operations. He began his career at the Laboratory as a physicist in B Division, one of the two nuclear weapons design divisions within the Defense and Nuclear Technologies (DNT) Directorate. Later, as associate director of DNT, he was instrumental in the development and execution of the nation’s Stockpile Stewardship Program, which is designed to sustain the safety, security, and reliability of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile.
Anastasio graduated from Johns Hopkins University with a bachelor’s degree in physics. He earned his master’s and doctoral degrees in theoretical nuclear physics from the State University of New York at Stony Brook.
In 1990, Anastasio received the Department of Energy Weapons Recognition of Excellence Award for technical leadership in nuclear design. The award acknowledges Anastasio’s outstanding theoretical and experimental contributions to understanding boost physics. More recently, he served in Washington as scientific adviser at DOE, providing advice to senior members of the department on a variety of stockpile stewardship issues.
In announcing Anastasio’s appointment as director, President Atkinson said that throughout his career at Lawrence Livermore, Anastasio has distinguished himself as both a brilliant scientist and skilled administrator with the right combination of theoretical and practical experience to maintain the Laboratory’s historic place on the cutting edge of science.
Contact: Lynda Seaver (925) 423-3203 (

Helping cities respond to bioterrorism
Livermore scientists are developing a plan to help cities respond to chemical and biological terrorism. Sponsored by the National Nuclear Security Administration, the program will link cities by computer to the Laboratory’s National Atmospheric Release Advisory Center (NARAC), which provides emergency planning response assistance to the departments of Energy and Defense.
In a chemical or biological accident or attack, city officials would send NARAC the coordinates of the toxic release. Using weather and previously gathered geographic information, NARAC scientists would map where the release is likely to spread. The information would be available to the city within minutes and should help local emergency response workers to plan and execute response.
Working with Public Technology, Inc., a nonprofit affiliate of the National League of Cities, and with other municipal associations, NARAC scientists are demonstrating the new emergency response assistance program in Seattle, Washington. They are working with Seattle to gather information for the model and have begun testing and training exercises.
According to Donald Ermak, leader of the Livermore Atmospheric Release Assessment programs, plans call for expanding this capability to several cities and lowering the cost per city significantly. Eventually, the goal is to have a large number of cities involved, with information available to city, state, and federal officials.
Contact: Donald Ermak (925) 423-0146 (

Unique anthrax DNA signatures found
Livermore scientists working with collaborators from Salt Lake City, Northern Arizona University, and Los Alamos National Laboratory have discovered new DNA regions unique to the bacterium that causes anthrax, thereby potentially providing a way to improve the disease’s detection.
At a recent meeting of the American Society for Microbiology, Livermore bioscientist Lyndsay Radnedge discussed the discovery of 20 DNA regions, or signatures, unique to Bacillus anthracis, the bacterium that causes anthrax.
Most DNA-based tests for B. anthracis use plasmid sequences, that is, a small piece of DNA separate from the chromosome and transferable between microogranisms. These sequences can be genetically unstable and yield false test results.
The new signatures increase the repertoire of chromosomal markers that can be used for anthrax detection. They are found in all of the diverse strains of B. anthracis in the culture collection at Northern Arizona University. They are being checked against the signatures of other strains of the bacterium and related microbes and have been found to be far different, thus eliminating the possibility of false positive or false negative results.
The DNA signatures are undergoing an extremely rigorous screening process to select the optimal signatures before being submitted to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia, for further validation.
Once primers are developed from the B. anthracis signatures, they can be used for rapid, specific DNA-based pathogen detection on many detection platforms, including the fast, portable ones developed by Livermore and Los Alamos scientists.
Contact: Lyndsay Radnedge (925) 423-1502 (


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UCRL-52000-02-9 | October 7, 2002