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The Funds It Needs

Smaller scientific research budgets lead to less data being generated by scientists, not the "romantic ideas of a creative genius alone in a lab, struggling against the odds," writes Oxford University's Mark Stokes in the Guardian. Stokes, a neuroscientist, notes that a number of experiments in his field have been underpowered.

"Insufficient data inevitably comes down to a question of funding. Scientists love data, and they especially love lots of data," he writes. "But funding is always limited and expectations are always high — there are strong incentives to publish more for less."

However, Stokes says that increasing funding — as brain-mapping efforts in the US and Europe plan to do — is only part of the issue. The other part is the notion that doing science on the cheap is cost effective, he says. Poorly funded studies may be underpowered and full of false-positive results that could lead other researchers astray. "So yes, science needs more funding, but we also need to rethink how the available funds are allocated," Stokes writes. "If there is a genuine commitment to funding a particular experiment, then it is essential that enough money is allocated for that experiment to be carried out properly."

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.