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Survival of the Fittest … Labs

According to Odyssey at Pondering Blather, Darwin's theory of evolution applies to research labs. "Labs are, and always have been, under selective pressure. They evolve. Or go extinct," he says. But to overcome the pressures that threaten research labs — a lack of tenure-track positions and low funding levels — Odyssey says that investigators ought to focus on the traits that'll increase their fitness "in this rapidly changing landscape ... efficiency and flexibility." For the former, Odyssey says investigators ought to plan carefully and collaborate effectively. "Be a great collaborator and you'll attract great collaborations," he says, adding it's best to also "keep an eye on things outside of your sub-sub-sub-field," as it's possible to "come across an awesome approach being applied in a different sub-field that can push forward your own." As for flexibility, Odyssey says that in competitive environments, "the ability to change directions is necessary. … Learn new stuff. New techniques." Overall, he says, stagnation is the enemy; refusing to evolve at — or more quickly than — the pace of the ever-changing research environment could prove to be fatal.

The Scan

Pig Organ Transplants Considered

The Wall Street Journal reports that the US Food and Drug Administration may soon allow clinical trials that involve transplanting pig organs into humans.

'Poo-Bank' Proposal

Harvard Medical School researchers suggest people should bank stool samples when they are young to transplant when they later develop age-related diseases.

Spurred to Develop Again

New Scientist reports that researchers may have uncovered why about 60 percent of in vitro fertilization embryos stop developing.

Science Papers Examine Breast Milk Cell Populations, Cerebral Cortex Cellular Diversity, Micronesia Population History

In Science this week: unique cell populations found within breast milk, 100 transcriptionally distinct cell populations uncovered in the cerebral cortex, and more.