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The Austerity Age


Two years ago, as the economy began to falter, I realized that if I stopped buying my lunch and began bringing it in from home — I'm partial to PB&Js and Caesar salads, though both get all over as I eat — I could save about $55 a week and that, I quickly calculated, added up to a tidy sum over the course of a year. I wasn't the only one. Friends told me about bringing cans of soup to work to heat it up in the winter instead of buying it from a deli, or closely watching receipts to see where their money was being spent. Even today, whole countries — Greece, Germany, the United Kingdom — are talking about austerity packages. Everyone, it seems, is looking for ways to save money. The new thrift, it's been called.

Scientists must nearly always be thrifty, but in recent years it has become increasingly important. Even before the economy went south, research funding levels were barely keeping pace with inflation rates. Though the stimulus package in the US has injected much needed money into biomedical research, there are worries that its benefits will be short-lived. So, researchers are trying to squeeze all they can out of their budgets. In this issue's cover story, GT looks into just that: ways to keep within, and to stretch, your budget.

Elsewhere in the issue, Matthew Dublin reports work to move basic cancer research from the lab into the clinic. There are a number of efforts, he reports, to gain a better understanding of the disease and all its various subtypes, and to develop new and better therapies. In addition, Tracy Vence wonders whether microarrays will be left by the wayside as the rush to use RNA-seq intensifies. Many experts she spoke with suspect arrays will always play niche roles.

Also, check out this month's Case Study, in which Christie Rizk reports on a new method to identify SNPs. SNIP-seq, as it's called, may find those variants with a lower rate of false positives

And if you manage not to get jelly on these pages as you flip through the magazine this month reading those and other articles, you are doing better than I am.

The Scan

Support for Moderna Booster

An FDA advisory committee supports authorizing a booster for Moderna's SARS-CoV-2 vaccine, CNN reports.

Testing at UK Lab Suspended

SARS-CoV-2 testing at a UK lab has been suspended following a number of false negative results.

J&J CSO to Step Down

The Wall Street Journal reports that Paul Stoffels will be stepping down as chief scientific officer at Johnson & Johnson by the end of the year.

Science Papers Present Proteo-Genomic Map of Human Health, Brain Tumor Target, Tool to Infer CNVs

In Science this week: gene-protein-disease map, epigenomic and transcriptomic approach highlights potential therapeutic target for gliomas, and more