My television has been acting up lately. It's sporadic — wavy lines come and go at their leisure, for no apparent reason. They do tend to crop up at inconvenient times — during a key play in a basketball game or right as somebody is about to confess on Law & Order. And sure, when I'm playing Wii, the little tennis players run off the side of the screen, causing me to miss my shot. But is it time to get a new one? Though it is old and far from a fancy, high-definition flat screen, my television still works. And if I do decide to replace it — and I am facing pressure to do so — what sort of features should I consider? Which companies are reliable? If I take the plunge, how should I go about deciding what to buy?
Similar questions come up when purchasing equipment for the lab. Do you need a new sequencer or does the one you already have suffice? Do you need all the bells and whistles on the new model or will the basic one get the job done? And just what jobs do you plan on using this new machine for? There's a lot to consider. 'Omics instruments don't come cheap and you want to be sure that what you buy is the best fit for your lab's needs in the long run. And that's what this month's cover story tackles: how to go about buying that big-ticket item for your lab. I'll even be using some of the advice that experts share as I scope out what electronics stores have to offer in their aisles.
Elsewhere in the magazine, Christie Rizk dives into the personal genomics world. She explores the rise of the field and both the technological and ethical challenges it faces. In another feature story, Matthew Dublin examines the links being made between microRNAs and disease, and how miRNAs are being used both as drugs and as drug targets. In addition, Matt notes that smaller RNAs have been uncovered that also may play a role in the clinic. And Tracy Vence reports on a collaboration among researchers across academia and industry who are searching for biomarkers to predict rheumatoid arthritis patients' response to a common treatment.