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Breaking Down Biases

Molly Carnes, co-director of the Women in Science and Engineering Leadership Institute at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, is being funded $2 million over three years by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences in an effort to diminish the effects of implicit, unintentional biases against women, minorities, and people with disabilities in faculty hiring decisions — with a video game. The funding, awarded through the National Institutes of Health Director's Pathfinder Award to Promote Diversity in the Scientific Workforce grant program, will enable Carnes and her collaborators to develop an "interactive video game that will place faculty in situations where they can recognize the self-defeating nature of implicit bias," according to a UW-Madison news release. Carnes, also a professor of medicine and engineering, says that faculty "are the driver[s] of change in an academic institution" and that implicit bias in decision-making is "a bad habit that can be changed with practice." Working in collaboration with the university's Games and Simulation for Learning group, Carnes' team hopes to distribute the game across campus and complete a faculty-wide survey by 2013 in order to quantify the results of their efforts. According to Carnes, the ultimate test will then be whether there "is a change in hiring practices and faculty retention on campus."

The Scan

Renewed Gain-of-Function Worries

The New York Times writes that the pandemic is renewing concerns about gain-of-function research.

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A trio of researchers has analyzed gender trends in biomedical patents issued between 1976 and 2010 in the US, New Scientist reports.

Other Uses

CBS Sunday Morning looks at how mRNA vaccine technology could be applied beyond SARS-CoV-2.

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