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This Week in Science: Dec 15, 2017

In this week's Science, the heads of 10 major research institutions announce a joint effort to collect and disseminate data around student and postdoc outcomes to help inform career choices in biomedicine. The authors say that a lack of information on education and training outcomes has resulted in a "marked increase in the number of trainees spending years in postdoctoral fellowships, with few opportunities for advancement into academic positions." And while efforts have been made by some institutions to collect data that would help students make informed decisions about their training and careers, these are rare and "the publication of data is still the exception rather than the rule." The authors highlight their institutions' collective efforts to address this issue and note that data on issues such as median times for PhD completion, demographics of students, and alumni career outcomes will be made public beginning early next year. "We hope that in due course other institutions will join our efforts," they conclude.

Also in Science, a team led by California Institute of Technology investigators presents a general molecular technology for engineering enzyme-free nucleic acid dynamical systems. The scientists developed the approach by identifying critical design principles and codifying them into a compiler automating the design process, and used it to build an oscillator containing only DNA components. The work, they write, establishes that "Watson-Crick base-pairing interactions alone suffice for complex chemical dynamics and that autonomous molecular systems can be designed via molecular programming languages."

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