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Failure is an Option

Blogger DrugMonkey says that when it comes to NIH grants, a little failure can be a good thing. NIH/CSR review panels seem to be fixated on preliminary data, DrugMonkey says, perhaps because the reviewers think part of their job is to separate the projects that will succeed from those that will fail. But what does it mean to fail? Sometimes the concept is easy to understand, DrugMonkey says — for example if an experimental design looks like it would never provide any clear evidence of importance to the hypothesis, or if the investigator couldn't possibly build and validate the experiment with the time and money requested. But whatever the criticism, he adds, there should be some good rationale to back it up. "I urge reviewers to do the best they can to focus on exactly what it is that they are predicting. To be clear about whether they are confusing their experimental-outcome predictions with an evaluation of whether a good empirical test of various experimental outcome predictions will be conducted," DrugMonkey says. "The latter is an appropriate area of concern; the former is far less frequently a valuable critique." And anyway, he says, sometimes, "failure can be a good thing." There has been a rush to grant funding to safe, "unrisky me-too proposals," he says, which are supported by the preliminary data. But that comes at the cost of ignoring other projects which may be risky, but could be "high reward" if they succeed. "Remember NIH, if you aren't crashing some of the time then you aren't really trying to get better," DrugMonkey cautions.

The Scan

US Booster Eligibility Decision

The US CDC director recommends that people at high risk of developing COVID-19 due to their jobs also be eligible for COVID-19 boosters, in addition to those 65 years old and older or with underlying medical conditions.

Arizona Bill Before Judge

The Arizona Daily Star reports that a judge is weighing whether a new Arizona law restricting abortion due to genetic conditions is a ban or a restriction.

Additional Genes

Wales is rolling out new genetic testing service for cancer patients, according to BBC News.

Science Papers Examine State of Human Genomic Research, Single-Cell Protein Quantification

In Science this week: a number of editorials and policy reports discuss advances in human genomic research, and more.