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A Better Process

The role of the new — and contentious — National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences is to "develop, demonstrate, and then disseminate improvements" to the process of translating basic findings to the clinic, NCATS chief Chris Austin tells ScienceInsider. That process, he adds, is ruled by "trial and error" and "has never been subjected to the scientific method."

Critics of NCATS, like Roy Vagelos, the former CEO of Merck, say that the center won't be able to improve on pharma's processes. Austin, though, counters that NCATS isn't as tied to the bottom line. "I don't think it's a matter that companies haven't thought of these things. It's just that these are things which don't generate revenue in the near term," he says.

In addition, he tells ScienceInsider that his goal for NCATS is for it to improve the efficiency of the translational process, which will be gauged by a number of metrics.

The Scan

Genes Linked to White-Tailed Jackrabbits' Winter Coat Color Change

Climate change, the researchers noted in Science, may lead to camouflage mismatch and increase predation of white-tailed jackrabbits.

Adenine Base Editor Targets SCID Mutation in New Study

Researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles, report in Cell that adenine base editing was able to produce functional T lymphocytes in a model of severe combined immune deficiency.

Researchers Find Gene Affecting Alkaline Sensitivity in Plants

Researchers from the Chinese Academy of Science have found a locus affecting alkaline-salinity sensitivity, which could aid in efforts to improve crop productivity, as they report in Science.

International Team Proposes Checklist for Returning Genomic Research Results

Researchers in the European Journal of Human Genetics present a checklist to guide the return of genomic research results to study participants.