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The Tough Postdoctoral Years

Two reports, one from the US and the other from the UK, highlight the pressure that postdocs face, says a Nature editorial.

In a report from Boston-based researchers, US postdocs say they are "invisible" and "primarily treated as cheap labor rather than as participants in a well-rounded training program." Meanwhile, a third of researchers in the UK under the age of 35 say there's temptation or pressure to compromise on research integrity or standards, according to a Nuffield Council on Bioethics report.

Research, Nature adds, can be a brutal career path, especially in academia.

"Perhaps the most telling line comes from the UK report: of 100 science PhD graduates, about 30 will go on to postdoc research, but just four will secure permanent academic posts with a significant research component," it adds. "There are too many scientists chasing too few academic careers."

And yet, that path still seems to be the default one that advisors assume their trainees will follow. The solutions, Nature says, "demand a change in culture"

"Institutions that offer [postdoc positions] must be transparent about future prospects and help postdocs to develop transferable skills to ease their transition into the broader job market," the editorial argues.


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.