Brace Yourself: The Community's Going Downstream
Here at Genome Technology, we've spent a lot of time talking about the clinic. (And no, that's not just because we're a bunch of hypochondriacs.) Over the years, we've repeatedly had to make decisions about how much to cover developments in the clinic or on the development side.
Our rule of thumb has always been simple: if it's helpful to readers, we publish it. Using that metric, we've steered clear of clinical coverage in past years, as it tended to have little to do with the research you're involved in. But now, what started as a slow creep toward the clinical side has not only sped up, but it's dragging a lot more research and discovery scientists along with it.
At the Marco Island conference a year ago, biotech consultant Jorge Leon told me that the days of scientists being able to ignore clinical affairs were coming to an end. He advised that we here at the magazine should be part of an effort to help manage the transition that many basic researchers will face as they come in more regular contact with the downstream world. It was a terrific suggestion, and one that we hope to execute well as this bridging of research and clinic becomes more and more commonplace.
The trend is translational medicine, and by the time you read through this issue you'll know more about it than you probably wanted. (But trust me: it'll come in handy.) We've got a cover story highlighting some of the latest translational initiatives and pioneers in the field — as well as comments from experts on why you should care. In the back of the magazine, you’ll find our new regular section reporting specifically on clinical news. "In the Clinic" provides a news roundup, a case study of an academic lab getting into translational research, and a Q&A with a leader in the clinical world — our first victim is Felix Frueh, associate director of genomics at the FDA. We also tapped Sandy Aronson, director of IT for the Harvard Partners Center for Genetics and Genomics, to write a column on the informatics challenges in getting translational medicine off the ground. Last but not least, our Under One Roof profiles a new translational institute at the University of Pennsylvania.
In another new section, we're introducing our career advice page. So many of you have sent in questions about career-related issues that we thought it was high time we had a regular feature on the topic. The inaugural column is a Q&A with Ari Patrinos, whose career has spanned academia, national labs, government, and now a biotech startup. He gives tips on how to break into systems biology if you, like him, didn't start out in biology.