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Year Four: Still Going Strong

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Wow. That’s been the response around here as we tallied up the results of our fourth annual salary survey and saw just how many people took the time to share their job data. This year was our best yet for participant turnout, beating the previous record of about 1,500 with a whopping 1,990. Many thanks to all of you who filled out the survey — it’s only with your cooperation that we can turn out such a useful resource for all of our readers. Let’s face it: this may be the only earnings report of the year that you actually care about. You’ll find it, seven pages of poked-and-prodded data goodness, beginning on p. 27.

Well, that probably cleared the room, but for the three of you who stuck around, we have lots of other great pieces in this issue. As a sidenote to our salary survey, we invited readers to submit their career-related questions to us so we could track down appropriate experts and get their advice for you. Again, response was overwhelming: as I write this, one of the piles on my cluttered desk is reserved for the six densely packed pages of questions you sent in. (Our favorite: “Why did I choose this field? What abnormality led me to low pay, long hours, zero hope of efficient training, a future postdoc and assurances that I will not have a stable [tenured] job until I am 45 years old — if even then?” Whoever you are, we’re not sure what the answer is. If some diligent genotyper homes in on that abnormality anytime soon, we’ll let you know.)

Not surprisingly, many of you want to know about negotiating tactics: increasing your salary, scoring a promotion or a raise, convincing an organization that you’re the right person for the job. Another common query was about networking skills. (For what it’s worth: after getting cornered by the bar at a conference dinner earlier this year, I realized that during the course of the evening I had seen and chatted with a good half the folks in the room, simply because I was standing nearby as they waited for their drinks. It’s definitely an effective strategy for mingling.) We combed through the suggestions, pulled out the most commonly asked questions, and found people in the field who had experience in those areas. Their advice and practical tips for early career, late career, and everything in between can be found starting on p. 32.

Also in this issue, you’ll find a profile of the new Center for Systems and Computational Biology, a joint initiative between Jeff Trent’s TGen and the Arizona State University’s Biodesign Institute, headed up by George Poste (longtime readers may remember that both men appeared on GT covers in 2002 for their pioneering work). The center’s unusual approach has even eschewed specialized core labs in favor of integrated technology facilities spanning many different disciplines — an interesting model that may very well gain proponents at other institutions as this kind of center becomes more common. You’ll find that story, from senior editor Jen Crebs, on p. 17.

Meredith W. Salisbury, Editor

The Scan

Octopus Brain Complexity Linked to MicroRNA Expansions

Investigators saw microRNA gene expansions coinciding with complex brains when they analyzed certain cephalopod transcriptomes, as they report in Science Advances.

Study Tracks Outcomes in Children Born to Zika Virus-Infected Mothers

By following pregnancy outcomes for women with RT-PCR-confirmed Zika virus infections, researchers saw in Lancet Regional Health congenital abnormalities in roughly one-third of live-born children.

Team Presents Benchmark Study of RNA Classification Tools

With more than 135 transcriptomic datasets, researchers tested two dozen coding and non-coding RNA classification tools, establishing a set of potentially misclassified transcripts, as they report in Nucleic Acids Research.

Breast Cancer Risk Related to Pathogenic BRCA1 Mutation May Be Modified by Repeats

Several variable number tandem repeats appear to impact breast cancer risk and age at diagnosis in almost 350 individuals carrying a risky Ashkenazi Jewish BRCA1 founder mutation.