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Lazy Snobs and Conflict of Interest

In the New York Times, John Tierney writes that having a corporate connection does not necessarily bias a researcher’s work and adds that “the growing obsession with following the money too often leads to nothing but cheap ad hominem attacks.” Tierney says there are two reasons why journalists and ethics boards first look at funding when evaluating someone’s work: “laziness” and “snobbery.” He adds:

Instead of stigmatizing certain kinds of research grants, perhaps we should consider the bigger picture. If scientists listed all their public and private donors on their Web pages, journalists could simply link to that page and let readers decide which ones are potentially corrupting. Instead of following rigid rules to report “conflicts,” journalists could use their judgment and report only the ones that seem relevant.
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.