Last month, General Electric announced that by 2020 the company would not only have equal numbers of men and women in its entry-level technical programs, but would also increase the number of women in its science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) positions from 14,700 to 20,000. The news came as a welcome surprise. In many countries, women are, and always…
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Much anticipated initial results of the Canadian chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency (CCSVI) clinical trial for multiple sclerosis (MS) were announced on March 8. The results demonstrated that the CCSVI procedure is ineffective compared to a neutral procedure in a group of 104 MS patients after 48 weeks. The outcome of the study at this time point serves as an important…
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After spending nearly 15 years in biomedical science laboratories in two different countries with publicly funded health systems, I finally feel able to write down some thoughts on the explosion of physician scientists being trained across the world. I think we have been on a very dangerous path for some time now and need some bold moves at the level…
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CRISPR Technology: Officially Off-Limits?

CRISPR, a technique that allows for precise gene editing, is taking the research world by storm. It has three components: a Cas9 enzyme that snips the DNA, a guide RNA that tells Cas9 where to snip, and the CRISPR sequence on the DNA that is recognized by the guide RNA. Because of its simplicity and remarkable precision, it has broad…
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Do Americans hate science? They certainly seem to hate it more than they used to, as they rage against experts in every field. This is more than a traditional American distaste for eggheads and intellectuals. Americans, increasingly, are acting (and voting) on myths and misinformation about science, and placing themselves at significant risk. In Texas, for example, “personal-belief exemptions” among…
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This past summer, the future of our postdoctoral association’s Science Policy Committee was uncertain. We were without purpose, our programming was sporadic—a seminar here, a blog post there—and overall interest seemed low. As a co-chair of the committee, which had dwindled to a grand total of two members, I struggled to identify ways to engage our postdoc community and to transform…
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The initial stages of a PhD can be daunting. Fortunately, there are a few ways you can make the transition into productive doctoral study as smooth as possible. Whether you’re starting a PhD fresh out of undergrad or after many years of employment, the decision to begin a doctorate is a significant career move. When I started, 18 months ago,…
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Female first-year Ph.D. students in “bench” biology disciplines—such as molecular biology, cellular biology, and genetics—spend significantly more hours in lab than their male classmates do. Yet, for every 100 hours spent at work, these female students are 15% less likely to publish a paper during that first year than their male counterparts are, a new studyreports. The observed authorship difference…
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