Career Advice in the Downturn
With the economic downturn in full swing, grant funding and tenure were on the minds of many in the blogosphere over the past two months. Over at Bitesize Bio, Nick Oswald says it's important to take some time to start planning where you want to be in the next few years, and to make sure you're taking the right steps in that direction. Juniorprof says that with the current economic climate, now's the time to be impressive and make sure that you're a valuable commodity to your institution. "Now is not the time for slacking. I've been traveling, working more hours than usual (and for me that's saying something) and generally saying yes to everything I can possibly handle," he writes.
NIH Grant Funding
The NIH grant funding policy has been a subject of hot debate lately as researchers vie for ever-decreasing funds. Blogger Juniorprof wrote several posts on the rules concerning preliminary data in new investigator grant applications and is confused as to how much scientists need to offer. Meanwhile, DrugMonkey says the inherent bias in peer review is what has to be changed, and affirmative action favoring young or first-time grant applicants is like putting a Band-Aid over the real problem. At Blue Lab Coats, a blogger discusses a recent study of gender bias in federal grant programs that found female NIH grantees received 63 percent less than their male counterparts between 2001 and 2003.
The Era of Population Genomics
Nature reported that a consortium of researchers used Illumina technology to sequence the first African genome — that of a male Yoruban from Nigeria — and the first Asian individual. Scientists also sequenced the genome of an acute myeloid leukemia genome. At Genetic Future, Daniel MacArthur says that this is the beginning of the end of high-profile papers about a single human genome. "The age of the one-genome paper is fast drawing to a close," he writes. "Human genetics now moves into a phase of new challenges and rewards — the era of population genomics."
Do-it-yourself biology has gotten a lot of traffic lately, especially in light of the first DIY biology meeting in Seattle, which Sandra Porter says was to address legal and safety concerns. Using cheap lab tools bought on eBay or homebrew pieces made out of items lying around the house, DIY biologists are doing everything from engineering microbes that perform logic operations to creating fluorescent yogurt. Derek Lowe at In the Pipeline wondered how the lack of fancy tools affects a researcher's mindset. Thinking of workarounds can be a good way to innovate, but it could also simply hamper the scientific process, he says.