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Media Contact: Holly Korschun 23 October 2008    
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Glycobiology Textbook, Co-Edited by Emory Biochemist, Released in Print and Free Online
The Essentials of Glycobiology, a new second-edition textbook co-edited by Emory University biochemist Richard D. Cummings, PhD, is written and edited by leaders in the field of glycobiology who have extensive research and teaching experience.

The first new textbook edition to be simultaneously released in print and free online, the book is geared toward graduate students, advanced undergraduates and professional researchers, and is the.

The textbook's second edition is the largest, most authoritative volume available on the structure, synthesis and biology of glycans (sugar chains), molecules that coat cell surfaces and proteins and play important roles in many normal and disease processes.

The new textbook was published in print and became freely available online Oct. 15, through a collaboration among the Consortium of Glycobiology Editors, the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, and the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), a division of the National Library of Medicine (NLM) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The release of the book followed soon after the Oct. 14 celebration of International Open Access Day (, which highlighted prior successes in providing such open access to research journals.

Co-editor Cummings is the William Patterson Timmie Professor and chair of the Department of Biochemistry at Emory University School of Medicine. He also prepared and drew most of the drawn illustrations in the book. The book's senior editor is Ajit Varki, MD, a professor at the University of California, San Diego and a leader of the Consortium of Glycobiology Editors, which initiated the project.

"This textbook and the online edition will open the world of glycosciences to professionals from many different disciplines and should serve as a model for the open approach to publishing, as well as providing needed illustrations and teaching aids," says Cummings. "This approach ensures that everyone, from the layperson to the high school student to the graduate student in a developing country, has free access to the knowledge the book contains, while increasing awareness of the availability of a printed edition that may be more suitable for some readers' requirements," adds Varki.

The consortium also includes Cummings; Jeffrey Esko, UCSD; Hudson Freeze, Burnham Institute for Medical Research; Pamela Stanley, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York; Carolyn Bertozzi, UC Berkeley; Gerald Hart, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine; and Marilynn Etzler, UC Davis.

The online version of Essentials of Glycobiology is freely available from the NLM/NCBI Bookshelf – a collection of biomedical books and other materials that have been adapted for online use – at This version will be fully searchable, and there are plans to provide links to not only current, related resources in PubMed/MEDLINE, the most commonly used biomedical literature database, but also to other relevant Internet sites. The online format will also enable the editors to periodically revise and update the text, in collaboration with the Press and the NCBI.

The first edition of Essentials of Glycobiology, published in print in 1999, was released online as part of the NCBI Bookshelf in 2003. The content of the second edition of Essentials of Glycobiology has been completely updated and expanded to reflect the new findings and extensive progress in the field of glycobiology that has occurred since the first edition appeared nearly 10 years ago.

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About the Book: Essentials of Glycobiology, Second Edition (© 2008 by The Consortium of Glycobiology Editors) is published by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press. (ISBN 978-087969770-9) 784 pp. (illus. glossary, study guide, index).

While the first edition focused primarily on vertebrate glycobiology, the second edition reflects the fact that glycosylation is universal, that all cells in all species—from eubacteria and archaea to arthropods and vertebrates—are coated (both inside and out) with a dense array of various sugar molecules. The roles of glycans in human physiology and disease, including cancer, are also emphasized. Finally, the growing field of glycomics is introduced. Glycomics aims to understand, on a more global scale, how collections of glycans govern specific biological processes.

For additional information, please see The full text of the work and associated links is also available at

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press: Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory is a private, nonprofit institution in New York that conducts research in cancer and other life sciences and has a variety of educational programs. Its Press, originating in 1933, is the largest of the Laboratory’s five education divisions, a publisher of books, journals and electronic media for scientists, students and the general public. For more information, visit

The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) Established in 1988 as a national resource for molecular biology information, NCBI creates public databases, conducts research in computational biology, develops software tools for analyzing molecular and genomic data, and disseminates biomedical information, all for the better understanding of processes affecting human health and disease. NCBI is a division of the National Library of Medicine at the National Institutes of Health. For more information, visit

The Consortium of Glycobiology Editors In the mid 1990s, a collaborative group of experts in glycobiology came together to form the Consortium of Glycobiology Editors and produce the first edition of Essentials. The Consortium has now been expanded to include editors from several additional institutions. Using electronic communication, the group has worked closely together and with other experts throughout the world, to produce the second edition.

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