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Making a Case for Lab Rotations

In response to an anonymous post (hosted here) in which a blogger describes her grad school experience, Comrade PhysioProf makes a case for the importance of lab rotations. "While there are some people who have known since undergrad exactly what they are interested in scientifically, feeling this way before starting grad school — and even as a first year — is almost always an illusion," CPP writes. He adds that "even if after your lab rotations you realize that you really already did know what you want to work on for your PhD, if they were selected wisely, your lab rotations will have provided you with a broader appreciation for the technical and conceptual range of approaches available in your field" and that experience may be useful during a student's thesis research. CPP says that the "personal and professional connections you will have made in the labs you end up not joining" are just as important as the skills students obtain while rotating labs. "There are many reasons why lab rotations are considered a key aspect of graduate training in those departments that require them beyond just 'picking a lab,'" he writes. In a comment to this post, blogger Beaker Half Full agrees that rotations "should be mandatory" and says that, if it weren't for them, she "would have missed out on a great opportunity for sure." Reader userj, however, writes that "I know many grad students in my [department] that have done very well without rotations" and argues that "if one is a focused student, one should be able to bypass rotations."

The Scan

Positive Framing of Genetic Studies Can Spark Mistrust Among Underrepresented Groups

Researchers in Human Genetics and Genomics Advances report that how researchers describe genomic studies may alienate potential participants.

Small Study of Gene Editing to Treat Sickle Cell Disease

In a Novartis-sponsored study in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers found that a CRISPR-Cas9-based treatment targeting promoters of genes encoding fetal hemoglobin could reduce disease symptoms.

Gut Microbiome Changes Appear in Infants Before They Develop Eczema, Study Finds

Researchers report in mSystems that infants experienced an enrichment in Clostridium sensu stricto 1 and Finegoldia and a depletion of Bacteroides before developing eczema.

Acute Myeloid Leukemia Treatment Specificity Enhanced With Stem Cell Editing

A study in Nature suggests epitope editing in donor stem cells prior to bone marrow transplants can stave off toxicity when targeting acute myeloid leukemia with immunotherapy.