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A Lingering Fear of Lists

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Every time we publish a list — any kind of list, really — I get just a little bit jumpy. Throw the term "best" in front of that list, and it gets worse. While we always hope that our readers will find whatever we're writing about useful, it seems that lists are a good way to invite the "Hey, why'd you leave us out?" phone calls.

So I'll say it now: you may very well be left out of this month's cover story on best regions and emerging clusters in biotech. There's just no way we could've exhaustively covered every city, state, or country trying to carve out a niche for itself in an increasingly competitive biotech field. Which, as far as I'm concerned, is a terrific problem to have.

The great news is that biotech has proven its economic and scientific merit, and so regions are joining the bandwagon at an almost alarming pace. At the BIO International Convention this year, you can expect to see more than 65 region-specific pavilions crammed cheek by jowl in the San Diego Convention Center, each ready to convince you that it's doing more than any other area to support biotech. We culled through reports, listings, and other data on biotech regions in our effort to bring you profiles of the 20 most interesting, and hopefully representative, clusters in the field. One strange thing: the only mention you'll see of Europe is Oslo, which made our emerging clusters list. Our data indicated that Europe's biotech field is just coming out of a long slump that put a serious damper on its efforts to establish the industry, and that early-stage VC funding remains hard to come by. Reports suggest that this past year the biotech economy began turning around, and we hope this will enable more European regions to stake their claim.

In other articles this month, we report on the state of the venture capital industry, along with tips for academic researchers on how to polish that business plan you've been working on. We also have a story on how real-time PCR is shaping the way clinical labs analyze gene expression, particularly as diagnostic assays become multiplexed and more complicated to perform.

For the first time this month, we've got two tech guides (yep, that's why this issue feels kind of weighty) for your troubleshooting pleasure. One covers technical issues with ChIP-chip work, and the other delves into best practices for DNA extraction using FFPE.

Clarification: In last month's issue a typo resulted in our crediting Jim Kent with the Blast algorithm. It should've been the BLAT algorithm.

The Scan

Could Cost Billions

NBC News reports that the new Alzheimer's disease drug from Biogen could cost Medicare in the US billions of dollars.

Not Quite Sent

The Biden Administration likely won't meet its goal of sending 80 million SARS-CoV-2 vaccine doses abroad by the end of the month, according to the Washington Post.

DTC Regulation Proposals

A new report calls on UK policymakers to review direct-to-consumer genetic testing regulations, the Independent reports.

PNAS Papers on Mosquito MicroRNAs, Acute Kidney Injury, Trichothiodystrophy

In PNAS this week: microRNAs involved in Aedes aegypti reproduction, proximal tubule cell response to kidney injury, and more.