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Bioinformatician Blunders

Writing in Source Code for Biology and Medicine, a trio of bioinformaticians presents a satire on working in the field that outlines how not to succeed. "By scrupulously following these guidelines one can be sure to regress at a highly satisfactory rate," the authors write. While written in sarcasm, these humorous how-tos — "make sure the output of your application is unreadable, unparseable, and does not comply to any known standards," for example — speak to the challenges of successfully navigating a career in the burgeoning field.

"The looming prospect of massive layoffs in the financial sector or the new hoped-for thrill to be working on things that matter following a mid-life crisis, have all contributed to the resurgence of a new breed of a mutant, super-resistant bioinformatician species," the authors write. "The resulting ecosystem of practitioners is an eclectic mixture of individuals, including a) those whose graphics card for video games would preferably be hammered out with algorithmic computations for the elucidation of the meaning of life, b) those submerged in the muddy waters of the ever increasing 'omics subfields, and c) those fulfilling their role as annotation monkeys."

On top of that, "a myriad of new packages, formats, and databases keep on mushrooming daily throughout the biomedical arena, surreptitiously embracing complexity just for the sake of it," the authors say. "Bioinformatics has evolved into the cheap form of biology during cycles of funding shortages. Its tentacles now spread into pretty much every branch of life sciences."

The Scan

Highly Similar

Researchers have uncovered bat viruses that are highly similar to SARS-CoV-2, according to Nature News.

Gain of Oversight

According to the Wall Street Journal, the Biden Administration is considering greater oversight of gain-of-function research.

Lasker for mRNA Vaccine Work

The Scientist reports that researchers whose work enabled the development of mRNA-based vaccines are among this year's Lasker Award winners

PLOS Papers on Causal Variant Mapping, Ancient Salmonella, ALK Fusion Test for NSCLC

In PLOS this week: MsCAVIAR approach to map causal variants, analysis of ancient Salmonella, and more.