Potential. That word is the bane of many a student. "Ciara has great potential," said the report cards sent home in elementary school with the trailing "if only she would apply herself" left, perhaps, unwritten. The young investigators in this fourth annual special issue of Genome Technology, however, have put me to shame. They are undaunted by that word "potential" — which they have in spades — and, indeed, have applied themselves to live up to and exceed beyond it. For instance, Ed Green has been hard at work deciphering ancient DNA as he sequences the Neandertal genome with Svante Pääbo; Harmit Malik is studying genetic conflict and how these internal struggles affect evolution; and Su-A Myong is observing proteins all the way down to the single molecule level. And there are many more examples in these pages.
To choose these rising investigators, we turned to you, the systems biology community, for recommendations about which newly minted scientists will soon be taking the systems biology world by storm. We combed through that list to come up with nominees who were no more than five or so years out of graduate school or their postdoc and then parsed it out further to cover a range of scientific pursuits. We wish we could include more young investigators; but not to worry, throughout the year, we will feature these and other young investigators on our website.
As you read about the work being done by these young scientists, you'll notice that many of them have similar concerns. One theme that emerges from these profiles is the need for better data integration. So much data has come out of sequencing, mass spectrometry, gene expression, and other studies that much could be learned by trying to fit all that information into a single, coherent model. It's a tough problem, but they are on it.
Hats off, then, to these 25 — and a great big thanks to our recommenders for suggesting such a talented, living-up-to-their-potential bunch of young scientists.