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A Case of Science Incest

This Scientist from the This Might Be Science blog has been scooped, and she blames it on what she calls "scientist inbreeding" — the inevitable overlap of work among researchers who study the same things. "Because scientists specialize in single molecules in single pathways in single cells of single organisms, it is inevitable that the new scientists you train will have the same specialization and ideas as you," This Scientist says. If the ideas were genes, the rule would be to spread the genes around, she adds, so that you don't end up marrying your cousins and breeding babies with "legs coming out of their heads." But in science, it's hard to get away from the family. Mentors train researchers who then go off and train mentees of their own, and they all stay within the same specialization, This Scientist says. "Ideally, our scientist inbreeding would result in lots of people attacking different facets of the same system, or taking advantage of the same system in different ways," This Scientist says. And sometimes, it just means that someone's going to get scooped.

HT: DrugMonkey

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