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Keep It (Partly) Virtual

Nearly three-quarters of researchers want scientific meetings to continue virtually or with a virtual component after the pandemic, Nature News reports.

With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, scientific meetings had to pivot from being in person at spots like conference centers to taking place online over programs like Zoom. Nature surveyed more than 900 of its readers to ask their thoughts on virtual scientific meetings of the past year, including what they viewed as their benefits and limitations. 

Overall, 74 percent of respondents said scientific meetings should continue online or have an online component, even after the pandemic ends, Nature reports. Respondents particularly liked that they could attend a greater number of meetings while also keeping up with teaching and personal responsibilities, it adds. Respondents also cited the lower carbon footprint of virtual meetings as a plus, it adds. 

On the minus side, respondents noted the networking opportunities were more limited with a virtual format, Nature reports. "I do appreciate the realm of possibilities offered by online conferences," one respondent wrote, according to Nature. "However, I really miss the opportunity to meet people and to interact with friends and colleagues."

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.