Promises and Problems

Accepting the D.C. White Research and Mentoring Award at ASM this year, the J. Craig Venter Institute's Ken Nealson said the promises made by genomics and metagenomics have served to both draw him in and expose the problems inherent in both fields. The first promise, Nealson said, is that learning an organism's functions and the structure of its genome will enable researchers to predict how it will act in nature. Nealson used his work with the bacteria Shewanella oneidensis to illustrate problems with the first promise. Many genes don't do what they're supposed to do, he said.

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Publication of He Jiankui's work on gene-edited infants would raise ethical concerns for journals, Wired and others report.

The New York Times reports that evidence linking trauma in one generation to epigenetic effects that influence subsequent generations may be overstated.

ScienceInsider reports that US National Institutes of Health researchers were told in the fall they could not obtain new human fetal tissue.

In PNAS this week: skin pigmentation evolution among KhoeSan, biomarkers for dengue virus progression, and more.