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Truth in Transparency


I heard recently that a good boss would never hang up a list of all the employees' salaries — but also wouldn't be afraid to do so because everyone's compensation is fair and defensible. If everyone had a good boss, and if no one ever wondered what life was like in other organizations, there would be no need for a salary survey.

But since that's not the case, we proudly present our sixth annual salary survey — the longest-running such survey of people involved in systems biology. We had a wonderful turnout this year, with 1,724 of you, our readers, graciously taking the time to submit your data. Thank you so much.

One criticism I often hear about salary surveys in general is that the only people taking them are people who have the time to do so — in other words, the perception is that the data are weighted toward respondents in junior or basic positions (read: lab techs looking to kill time between experiments). People in higher positions, the conventional wisdom goes, don't have much to gain from salary surveys because not enough of their peers have time to submit their own data.

I'm pleased to report that this bias, which may or may not plague other surveys, hasn't shown up in our salary survey. This year, about as many lab technicians responded as did C-level executives. We had excellent representation in the more common levels: senior scientists, staff scientists, PIs, and VPs/directors. So be sure to see how you compare to your peers with our cover story, starting on p. 33.

Also in this issue, we have some really great technology articles for you. Jeanene Swanson checked in on protein microarrays, and reports in her feature story that recent advances allow scientists to study proteins with chips that are more stable for longer periods of time than ever before. And Ciara Curtin looked into RNAi-based therapeutics, following up on claims that the off-target effect problem had been solved. She found that while there's promising research in shutting down these unwanted effects, scientists are still hip-deep in trying to really understand what happens when siRNAs are delivered to a system. Meanwhile, Matt Dublin called David Baker to find out more about Foldit, a video game that lets non-scientists try their hand at solving protein structures. As it turns out, problems can be just as effectively solved with distributed brain power as with distributed computing. (Remember that for your next grant proposal.)

Finally, we couldn't help ourselves with our humor page this month. A number of websites now offer to activate your dormant DNA — check it out on p. 58 and share a chuckle with us.

The Scan

Expanded Genetic Testing Uncovers Hereditary Cancer Risk in Significant Subset of Cancer Patients

In Genome Medicine, researchers found pathogenic or likely pathogenic hereditary cancer risk variants in close to 17 percent of the 17,523 patients profiled with expanded germline genetic testing.

Mitochondrial Replacement Therapy Embryos Appear Largely Normal in Single-Cell 'Omics Analyses

Embryos produced with spindle transfer-based mitochondrial replacement had delayed demethylation, but typical aneuploidy and transcriptome features in a PLOS Biology study.

Cancer Patients Report Quality of Life Benefits for Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors

Immune checkpoint inhibitor immunotherapy was linked in JAMA Network Open to enhanced quality of life compared to other treatment types in cancer patients.

Researchers Compare WGS, Exome Sequencing-Based Mendelian Disease Diagnosis

Investigators find a diagnostic edge for whole-genome sequencing, while highlighting the cost advantages and improving diagnostic rate of exome sequencing in EJHG.