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The Adventures of Dr. Obvious

At the same time as they do studies on the human genome, researchers also work on whether cigarette smoking increases the risk of lung cancer, or whether Alzheimer's disease makes older people worse drivers, says the Los Angeles Times' Eryn Brown. Such "duh science" — like whether women who get epidurals experience less pain during childbirth than women who don't — at the very least causes the public to roll its eyes and serves as a convenient target for politicians looking to cut funding for what they consider "wasteful projects," Brown says. But experts say that proving the obvious over and over isn't a waste of time because the studies influence perceptions and policy, such as emphasizing to successive generations that smoking is bad for you, or that doctors who don't get enough sleep make mistakes when they're treating patients. Others say the trend is indicative of a larger problem in science — the need to publish as many papers as possible and to generate positive results, Brown says. Because researchers need to win grants to pay their bills, and must publish a large volume of papers to win grants, the easy way out is to publish papers that prove something that has already been proven, she adds.

The Scan

Study Points to Tuberculosis Protection by Gaucher Disease Mutation

A mutation linked to Gaucher disease in the Ashkenazi Jewish population appears to boost Mycobacterium tuberculosis resistance in a zebrafish model of the lysosomal storage condition, a new PNAS study finds.

SpliceVault Portal Provides Look at RNA Splicing Changes Linked to Genetic Variants

The portal, described in Nature Genetics, houses variant-related messenger RNA splicing insights drawn from RNA sequencing data in nearly 335,700 samples — a set known as the 300K-RNA resource.

Automated Sequencing Pipeline Appears to Allow Rapid SARS-CoV-2 Lineage Detection in Nevada Study

Researchers in the Journal of Molecular Diagnostics describe and assess a Clear Labs Dx automated workflow, sequencing, and bioinformatic analysis method for quickly identifying SARS-CoV-2 lineages.

UK Team Presents Genetic, Epigenetic Sequencing Method

Using enzymatic DNA preparation steps, researchers in Nature Biotechnology develop a strategy for sequencing DNA, along with 5-methylcytosine and 5-hydroxymethylcytosine, on existing sequencers.