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High-Profile Heros and Lesser-Known Luminaries


As is highlighted by this month’s story about the battle that Amersham Biosciences plans to wage against Affymetrix for a share of the DNA microarray market, success can have as much to do with sales, distribution, and so-called first mover advantage as with the technological superiority of a product.

The same is true of the GT All-Stars. As a “readers’ choice” election, winning an All-Star trophy seems to take equal parts political finesse and scientific savvy. Among the All- Stars, first movers were those who garnered enough mentions during the online nomination process to wind up on the official ballot that was shipped to readers this summer — there were loads of write-in votes during elections, but it’s tough to compete with pre-printed names.

Then, in most cases, winners emerged from the pack quite clearly. In all but one category, the winner had at least a 20 percent lead over the second placer. In two of the 10 categories, the winner led by 70 percent, making it apparent that some strong, yet stealthy, campaigning had taken place. The sequencing technology category was the only really close race, with the winner and three runners up all within 18 votes of each other.

We think you’ll agree that the personalities profiled in this issue are among the cream of the genome science crop. They represent the choices of 3,000 voters. But we’re also betting that, just like in any election, a fair share of readers will believe someone else deserves the praise. We would, of course, be happy to hear from you. We’re always looking to recognize the unsung heroes of the industry. Our immediate response, however, will be to suggest that next year you be sure to nominate your choice and then get out the vote!

Speaking of unsung heroes, this month we put the spotlight on some lesser-known luminaries. To mark the 20th birthday of GenBank, we talk to a few who were crucial to creating the database. None of these people is high profile enough to have wound up on the All-Star ballot — Bilofsky, Burks, Fickett, Goad, and Lewitter aren’t genomics household names. Yet for the role these people played building what is now arguably the single most important tool of the modern molecular biology lab, they are among those who will go down in history as the pioneers of the bioinformatics field. They’ve got an interesting story to tell, and if nothing else, you’re sure to be entertained by some of the early GenBank stats.


Adrienne J. Burke, Editor in Chief

The Scan

Interfering With Invasive Mussels

The Chicago Tribune reports that researchers are studying whether RNA interference- or CRISPR-based approaches can combat invasive freshwater mussels.

Participation Analysis

A new study finds that women tend to participate less at scientific meetings but that some changes can lead to increased involvement, the Guardian reports.

Right Whales' Decline

A research study plans to use genetic analysis to gain insight into population decline among North American right whales, according to CBC.

Science Papers Tie Rare Mutations to Short Stature, Immunodeficiency; Present Single-Cell Transcriptomics Map

In Science this week: pair of mutations in one gene uncovered in brothers with short stature and immunodeficiency, and more.