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Preprints During Lockdown

Initial analyses indicates that female researchers aren't publishing at the same rate as male researchers during the COVID-19 pandemic, Nature News reports.

It adds that lockdowns in many areas of the world have kept people at home, leading them to have to juggle work and family life in new ways, leading the University of Toronto's Megan Frederickson to wonder whether these changes in responsibilities affected male and female researchers' productivity in similar ways. Frederickson compared the genders of authors with papers posted to ArXiv and BioRxiv between March and April of 2019 and March and April of 2020, using the US Social Security Administration baby names database to gauge, with limitations, gender from authors' names. 

As Nature News notes, Frederickson found that though the number of female authors increased between 2019 and 2020, the number of male authors increased to a greater extent. This, it adds, is in line with findings from other early analyses by researchers at Indiana University Bloomington and the University of Montreal. The researchers tell Nature News that they suspect that this decline in academic productivity could be due to increased childcare responsibilities falling disproportionately on women as well as the demands of online teaching affecting women more as they tend to have greater teaching responsibilities than their male counterparts.

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.