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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

Booster Push

New data shows a decline in SARS-CoV-2 vaccine efficacy over time, which the New York Times says Pfizer is using to argue its case for a booster, even as the lower efficacy remains high.

With Help from Mr. Fluffington, PurrhD

Cats could make good study animals for genetic research, the University of Missouri's Leslie Lyons tells the Atlantic.

Man Charged With Threatening to Harm Fauci, Collins

The Hill reports that Thomas Patrick Connally, Jr., was charged with making threats against federal officials.

Nature Papers Present Approach to Find Natural Products, Method to ID Cancer Driver Mutations, More

In Nature this week: combination of cryogenic electron microscopy with genome mining helps uncover natural products, driver mutations in cancer, and more.