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PhD Required?

An editorial in this week’s Nature contemplates the hiring process at BGI, in Shenzhen, China, which hires students fresh from their undergraduate educations to work in their state-of-the-art sequencing facility. “If Nature’s interviews are anything to go by, these BGI researchers are smart, confident and, for their age, tremendously experienced,” the Nature staff writes. Their article also questions whether the new hires, themselves, could be selling themselves short by becoming proficient in a small set of techniques, rather than pursuping postgraduate training. According to the article, nearly 500 Chinese university students have signed up to join BGI when they graduate this summer. “Given the increasing rigidity and length of the Western academic pipeline — which now extends so far beyond the PhD that the average age for first-time principal investigators on grants from the US National Institutes of Health is 42 — the BGI model may be worth serious consideration,” the editorial suggests.

The Scan

Genome Sequences Reveal Range Mutations in Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells

Researchers in Nature Genetics detect somatic mutation variation across iPSCs generated from blood or skin fibroblast cell sources, along with selection for BCOR gene mutations.

Researchers Reprogram Plant Roots With Synthetic Genetic Circuit Strategy

Root gene expression was altered with the help of genetic circuits built around a series of synthetic transcriptional regulators in the Nicotiana benthamiana plant in a Science paper.

Infectious Disease Tracking Study Compares Genome Sequencing Approaches

Researchers in BMC Genomics see advantages for capture-based Illumina sequencing and amplicon-based sequencing on the Nanopore instrument, depending on the situation or samples available.

LINE-1 Linked to Premature Aging Conditions

Researchers report in Science Translational Medicine that the accumulation of LINE-1 RNA contributes to premature aging conditions and that symptoms can be improved by targeting them.