Skip to main content

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

Not Kept "Clean and Sanitary"

A Food and Drug Administration inspection uncovered problems with cross contamination at an Emergent BioSolutions facility, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Resumption Recommendation Expected

The Washington Post reports that US officials are expected to give the go-ahead to resume using Johnson & Johnson's SARS-CoV-2 vaccine.

Canada's New Budget on Science

Science writes that Canada's new budget includes funding for the life sciences, but not as much as hoped for investigator-driven research.

Nature Papers Examine Single-Cell, Multi-Omic SARS-CoV-2 Response; Flatfish Sequences; More

In Nature this week: single-cell, multi-omics analysis provides insight into COVID-19 pathogenesis, evolution of flatfish, and more.