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Salary Surveys, as Well as Microarrays and Mass Specs of Yore

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Last year this month, GT conducted our fourth annual salary survey, which for the first time included responses from readers in Europe and Asia. From your feedback, we learned that salaries remained mostly the same across the board, and in fact, decreased an earnings bracket for professors or PIs in academia. Raises did not meet the same expectations as in 2005, with a small decrease between the number of expected raises and those actually doled out. Reported layoffs last year were widespread, with about a third of respondents in every field having worked at a company where there were layoffs.

In this year’s salary survey, the news seemed a bit better. The percentage of readers reporting that their organizations had had layoffs in the past year was slightly lower, and less than 2 percent of respondents said that they had personally been laid off in the past year. Overall, salaries were fairly stable. Of the salaries that rose, most growth seemed to be pharma and biotech, although the higher tiers of academia and government did see some increase as well. Raises for the most part met expectations from the previous year, indicating that companies are doing better, or that employees are getting more realistic about the level of raise they can expect.

GT’s June 2002 cover story sorted through the best (and not so best) in mass spectrometry instruments, reporting on a survey of readers. Finding the “right balance between price, reliability, and performance” still holds sway in the mass spec market. Key technologies used then were MALDI-TOF, QTOF, TOF/TOF, and ion trap, and companies cornering the market were Applied Biosystems, Bruker Diagnostics, Waters, and Thermo. Today, high-throughput separations techniques, such as UPLC and 2D-LC (also known as MudPIT), have made it possible to sort through more complex samples, as well as larger amounts of samples. Coupling separations to mass spec and tandem mass spec (MS/MS) has made identifying hard-to-define and low abundance proteins easier. Industry and academic customers continue to invest in proteomic analysis, as by and large it is the future of drug discovery — target screening and small molecule development.

Another feature five years ago looked at the mainstreaming of microarrays, and how long it might take for the FDA, and others, to trust the technology. It seemed that many then were trying to reconcile using microarrays to “revolutionize toxicology testing” with the “uncertainty, sloppiness, and lack of reproducibility” still inherent in the technology. Well, five years later, microarrays have matured quite a bit, having advanced significantly as a research tool. With the advent of high-throughput arrays for whole genome association studies, SNP genotyping and analysis, and toxicological studies, use of microarrays has moved beyond simply gene expression analysis. With many pharmaceutical companies moving into pharmacogenomics approaches to drug discovery, the “regulatory ambiguity” that microarray data presented back in 2002 is becoming less so, and the FDA has cozied up a bit to this fact, made clear by its approval of updating some drug labels with information regarding genetic testing.

The Scan

Shape of Them All

According to BBC News, researchers have developed a protein structure database that includes much of the human proteome.

For Flu and More

The Wall Street Journal reports that several vaccine developers are working on mRNA-based vaccines for influenza.

To Boost Women

China's Ministry of Science and Technology aims to boost the number of female researchers through a new policy, reports the South China Morning Post.

Science Papers Describe Approach to Predict Chemotherapeutic Response, Role of Transcriptional Noise

In Science this week: neural network to predict chemotherapeutic response in cancer patients, and more.