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This Month in Blogs


Zerhouni Reappears

After months of wondering where former NIH Director Elias Zerhouni would land, the community got a hint when Science announced that it's launching a new journal: Science Translational Medicine, with Zerhouni serving as its chief scientific advisor. Over at Medical Writing, Editing & Grantsmanship, the blogger Writedit says the journal's mission statement and purpose are classic Zerhouni. The journal aims to "promote human health by providing a forum for communication and cross-fertilization among basic, translational, and clinical research practitioners and trainees from all relevant established and emerging disciplines," according to the mission statement. STM was expected to launch at the beginning of October, with focus areas including infectious diseases, chemical genomics/drug discovery, biomarkers, and bioengineering, among many others.

Thumbs Down for the Walkout

In late September, faculty at the University of California scheduled a walkout to protest the school's furlough policy, which arose as a cost-cutting measure in the budget-crunched state. At his Tree of Life blog, Jonathan Eisen says the walkout is a mistake, and that the faculty push to have furlough days take place during scheduled teaching time "is an unacceptable use of students as pawns in this high-stakes game," he writes on his blog and in an editorial published with co-author Winder McConnell in the Sacramento Bee. He suggests that the idea of cutting into class time as a way of proving the value of professors would probably "backfire politically and the faculty would look spiteful."

Too Many Invitations

Over at ScienceWoman, blogger SciWo gets a dialogue going on the amount of time people spend reviewing and writing papers. She notes that she's reviewed nine papers this year, and that if the pace continues she's unlikely to finish her own paper that she ought to be submitting soon. She assesses three philosophies on the number of reviews people accept: "more is better," "parity," and "bad compromise." The first is unrealistic due to limited time, while she says "bad compromise" — in which all reviews are accepted but only allotted a certain number of hours to be complete — is, well, bad. Instead, she wants to move toward parity, in which she takes on about as many reviews as she has generated.

A 'Pro' for Universal Care

If the US enters the genomics-based medicine age without universal healthcare, "it will exacerbate existing inequalities and create new ones we haven't even imagined," according to a blog post from Jeremy Grushcow at The Cross-Border Biotech Blog. Grushcow draws on new guidance from the UK's General Medical Council that says if a patient is found to have a genetic disease, then doctors must inform relatives of their risk as well. That kind of notification is only possible with universal coverage, Grushcow says. "People with genetic diseases can be informed of their risk because they won't lose their insurance or be forced into a high-risk high-cost pool as a result," he writes.

The Scan

Close Panel Vote on Califf Nomination

The New York Times reports there was a close committee vote to advance the nomination of Robert Califf to lead the US Food and Drug Administration to the full Senate.

Task Force Reports on Scientific Integrity

Nature News writes that that a new task force report recommends that the US establish a cross-agency scientific integrity council.

Across the Hall

Genetic testing, closed-circuit cameras, and more show how a traveler, without any contact, infected others at a New Zealand quarantine facility, CNN reports.

Science Paper Examines Influence of Chromatin Modifications on Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

In Science this week: genes regulating chromatin modification may contribute to OCD risk.