Skip to main content

The Month in Blogs, February 2008

Premium

In the past month, bloggers have been abuzz about the 1,000 genomes project, Venter's latest foray in synthetic biology, the value of impact factors, and collaborative science.

1,000 Genomes Project

In January, a consortium led by NHGRI, Sanger, and the Beijing Genomics Institute announced the 1,000 genomes project, a next-gen sequencing initiative. The news was a bit confusing, but the blogosphere cleared that up. At Genetic Future, Daniel MacArthur noted that the project will only be sequencing about 200 complete genomes, and then performing exon sequencing on portions of the rest. Ultimately, the goal is to catalog variants at as little as one percent frequency across the genome. Adaptive Complexity's Michael White responded to the news, saying that while it's a great start, creating useful, high-res catalogs of rare genetic variants might necessitate sequencing a lot more than 1,000 genomes.

genetic-future.com
adaptivecomplexity.blogspot.com

Learning to Share

The blogosphere was chattering about everything open access and open notebook. Scientific American had a long piece about the pros and cons of collaborative scientific research and blogger Pedro Beltrao announced he'd be leading an open notebook study, the data for which he's depositing at Google Code. In the New York Times, an opinion piece wondered whether cancer researchers shouldn't be required to open their data archives for other investigators' benefit. Moreover, with the Protocol for Implementing Open Access Data announced at Science Commons in December, blogger Deepak Singh wondered how this will change the way scientific information is distributed.

pbeltrao.blogspot.com
mndoci.com/blog

Venter Builds a Synthetic Genome

Not surprisingly, Craig Venter and his colleagues were all over the news for creating the longest synthetic genome. In response to the media coverage of what some people considered a non-event, the blogosphere couldn't hold its tongue. Carl Zimmer at The Loom acknowledged the technical challenge of creating a synthetic Mycobacteria genitalium genome, but notes that scientists have yet to boot it up in a live cell. As an added twist, Venter's team encoded several watermarks in the genome, which a Wired blog reported to be the names of the scientists themselves. MIT synthetic biologist Drew Endy commented that the watermarks would likely disappear through random mutations, making them more like graffiti than distinguishing engravings.

scienceblogs.com/loom
blog.wired.com

Impact Factors Take a Hit

Impact factors definitely got a bad rap this past month, as did the analysts behind them at Thomson Scientific. Rockefeller University scientists wrote an opinion piece in the Journal of Cell Biology, slamming the process that Thomson uses to rank publications as well as the lack of transparency in the rating process. In turn, Thomson replied with an editorial defending its methods and saying that the Rockefeller crew based its stance on misinterpreted information. Blogger Neil Saunders opined that impact factors are outmoded, while a Nature Network blog encouraged alternatives such as the SCImago Journal Rank indicator.

network.nature.com/blogs/user/mfenner
nsaunders.wordpress.com

The Scan

Pfizer-BioNTech Seek Full Vaccine Approval

According to the New York Times, Pfizer and BioNTech are seeking full US Food and Drug Administration approval for their SARS-CoV-2 vaccine.

Viral Integration Study Critiqued

Science writes that a paper reporting that SARS-CoV-2 can occasionally integrate into the host genome is drawing criticism.

Giraffe Species Debate

The Scientist reports that a new analysis aiming to end the discussion of how many giraffe species there are has only continued it.

Science Papers Examine Factors Shaping SARS-CoV-2 Spread, Give Insight Into Bacterial Evolution

In Science this week: genomic analysis points to role of human behavior in SARS-CoV-2 spread, and more.