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Letting Go of the Details

Blogger Candid Engineer says she never realized the day would come when she wouldn't understand the details of experiments being done in her name. As a new PI, Candid Engineer says it's "pretty weird" and "terrifying and exhilarating all at once" to have ceded control of the research to interns and technicians as she takes more time for "thinking, planning, writing." All she can do, she adds, is to train them as best as she can, teach them the importance of experimental decisions and lead them in troubleshooting and good record keeping. "All I can do is attempt to create mini-mes, to let them carry out my projects and to hope we can all learn together," Candid Engineer writes.

Blogger DrugMonkey says this is a lesson all junior PIs have to learn. When it comes to working at the bench, he says, keep this in mind: "That is not your job anymore." Leave the manual labor to the postdoc, grad student or lab tech, DrugMonkey adds. "You are the lab head and you have other duties which require your attention." The PI should be spending time getting good people, training them, looking at the data, trying to explain it, and looking for anomalies, DrugMonkey says; micromanaging experiments leads to "disaster."

Comrade PhysioProf agrees with DrugMonkey's assessment. "In the medium and long term, this is the only way to get and maintain funding," he says.

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.