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This Week in Science: Apr 29, 2016

In Science this week, a group of Stanford University researchers present data pointing to an unexpectedly important role for RNA splicing in modulating phenotypic traits. In their study, the researchers quantified the contribution of cis-acting genetic effects at all major stages of gene regulation from chromatin to proteins, finding that splicing quantitative trait loci are "major contributors to complex traits," on par with variants that affect gene expression levels. The authors suggest that RNA splicing should be a key area of study in in future work connecting genetic variation to complex disease.

And in Science Translational Medicine, Merck's Chief Medical Officer Michael Rosenblatt proposes the use of a "money-back guarantee" to address the data-reproducibility crisis in science. Noting that the failure to replicate findings has a major impact on translational research, he asked, "What if universities offered some form of full or partial money-back guarantee" to industry partners in exchange for financial incentives for data that can be replicated? While this approach is not "a panacea for this complex problem … if both parties ultimately spend more time and resources, both internally and collaboratively, on projects that have a higher probability of success, then patients and society would be beneficiaries," he says. The Scan has more on this here.

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