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Science for the Sake of Science

Richard Grant at Confessions of a (Former) Lab Rat, discusses explaining to relatives and friends why it is he does what he does. He writes that while it's difficult for researchers to merely explain what it is that they do "intelligibly, to the questioner's satisfaction," but "I further suspect, in the biological sciences at least, the proportion who are able to answer the question 'why?' is much, much smaller."

Grant writes that that's because, contrary to public opinion — or even descriptions included in their grant applications — not all researchers are actively trying to cure disease. "My own mother had great hopes I'd cure cancer. For the longest time I didn't know where to even start to answer her," he muses.

It came as a relief, then, when he simply one day realized that he was doing science for the sake of science. "After this realization I would cheerfully tell friends and family that I wasn't trying to cure cancer, or anything else: like a philosopher in the pure pursuit of knowledge I just wanted to see how things — in this case the 'things' happened to be people — worked," he writes, adding that "finding out how things work is almost a definition of humanity."

The Scan

Another Resignation

According to the Wall Street Journal, a third advisory panel member has resigned following the US Food and Drug Administration's approval of an Alzheimer's disease drug.

Novavax Finds Its Vaccine Effective

Reuters reports Novavax's SARS-CoV-2 vaccine is more than 90 percent effective in preventing COVID-19.

Can't Be Used

The US Food and Drug Administration says millions of vaccine doses made at an embattled manufacturing facility cannot be used, the New York Times reports.

PLOS Papers on Frozen Shoulder GWAS, Epstein-Barr Effects on Immune Cell Epigenetics, More

In PLOS this week: genome-wide association study of frozen shoulder, epigenetic patterns of Epstein-Barr-infected B lymphocyte cells, and more.