Fine Tuning

Don't Retire Your Mind as Retirement Approaches
Margaret Newhouse | Dec 14, 2003 | 3 min read
File photo This column is for anyone entering or already in the third age, my preferred term for that period of extended middle age and active elderhood that roughly spans ages 50 to 80. You may wish to ignore or repress thoughts about leaving or changing your career. It's easier to assume that you'll die in your lab or at your computer, or that something will magically present itself when it's time for you to retire. Even if you realize you are stagnating, it can be hard to proactively seek
Bright Outlook for SARS Research Funding
Bernard Tulsi | Jul 27, 2003 | 3 min read
Bright Outlook for SARS Research Funding By Bernard Tulsi A single bright spot in the otherwise dark SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) story is the new research opportunities it has created for researchers who study infectious diseases. As SARS episodes wax and wane, its long-term public health significance remains unclear. But its severity is undisputed: As of July 1, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported 8,447 cases, including 811 deaths in 30 countries, plus Hong Kong. Th
Building a Management Team
James Sherifi | Jul 13, 2003 | 3 min read
Courtesy of James Sherifi To secure funding and succeed, a business enterprise requires a novel, patented technology that appeals to a broad market, a sound and professional business plan, and a strong scientific and commercial management team. Each of these elements is vital, related to the others, and mutually supportive. Yet businesses often place greater emphasis on the technology and its development than on the quality of the core management, particularly the CEO. Scientists and business
Nano-Naming No-Nos
Bryan Sugar | May 18, 2003 | 3 min read
Courtesy of Bryan Sugar Nanotechnology has the intellectual property community buzzing about all the potential patentable technology coming out of nanotechnology spin-offs. But many intellectual property practitioners are sitting by idly as they watch this new emerging industry make the same trademark blunders as the last emerging technology, the Internet. The Internet industry, in naming companies, products, and services, placed the prefix "e" before descriptive or generic terms to inform th
Enduring the Downturn
David Jensen | May 4, 2003 | 3 min read
This was intended to be a "good news/bad news" report on the current state of biotechnology hiring. As it turns out, the bad news is that I can't find anything for the "good" piece of that equation. With the war adding to the general insecurity that many feel, the job market isn't a real pleasure to be a part of right now. As a biotechnology headhunter, I've staffed young companies and helped them manage the development of new medicines. Now these same firms are in need of a fix themselves, a
Break Down US Barriers
Suzanne Brummett | Apr 6, 2003 | 2 min read
The future for foreign scientists and scholars is uncertain. Tightened security has left thousands of immigrants in confusion, and now the White House has reorganized the Immigration and Naturalization Service to create three new agencies: the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (BCIS), the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection (BCBP), and the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (BICE), all housed within the Department of Homeland Security. The changes have done nothing
Basic Science in US Universities Can Infringe Patents
Ed Ergenzinger | Mar 9, 2003 | 2 min read
Courtesy of Ed Ergenzinger (left). Courtesy of Murray Spruill (right)  Madey may open the eyes of some university officials and researchers. Much of the research conducted in US universities falls into the category of basic science. Usually this simply means research that is not applied toward developing a product, but instead focuses on explaining underlying scientific principles. Many US university officials and researchers have operated under the mistaken belief that basic science is
Start a Business, Don't Sell Out
Simon Portman | Feb 23, 2003 | 2 min read
Courtesy of Simon Portman Many scientists offered the opportunity of doing industrially sponsored work would be glad for the cash. But they also face the prospect with a certain amount of nervousness. Will their academic integrity be compromised? Will they be shackled by a complicated legal document, which they do not understand until, months later, they find themselves targeted in a lawsuit because they have unwittingly breached one of its contractual terms? The problem is that industry and
Find a Partner to Help You Recruit
Emma Mills | Jan 26, 2003 | 2 min read
File photo How do rapidly developing science-based companies manage large-scale recruitment, especially when they rarely have established human resources departments? Partnership recruitment could be the answer. Recruitment can be a roller coaster of reactivity. With promotions, new projects, and turnover, companies need to remain responsive in a fiercely competitive employment market. Recruitment challenges even the pharmaceutical giants and can seem an insurmountable hurdle to a young biote
Protect Your Ideas
Raymond Fersko | Dec 8, 2002 | 2 min read
Photo: Courtesy of Raymond Fersko In the movie, Unforgiven, William Munny, the hardened gunfighter played by Clint Eastwood, remains standing after a high-mortality gunfight. The timid reporter who witnessed the shooting comes out of hiding and stutters while referring to one of the deceased: "He was unarmed." The gunfighter's taciturn reply: "He should've armed himself." The moral is clear. Science is no more immune to dishonesty or to unfair pressures and practices than are other disciplin
Keeping Tabs on Foreigners
Suzanne Brummett | Nov 10, 2002 | 2 min read
Photo: Courtesy of Suzanne Brumett The US government wants to crack down on immigration by checking up on the activities and whereabouts of foreign students, workers, and visitors. Shortly, the Department of Justice will implement plans to register and fingerprint certain foreign nationals. This move comes on the heels of other restrictive proposals. The government is also scrutinizing and tracking foreign graduate and postdoctorate students, requiring them to apply for student visas from the
A Mentor Maintenance Program
Heather Rieff | Oct 13, 2002 | 2 min read
Photo: Courtesy of Heather I. Rieff Postdoctoral fellows and principal investigators work together to craft individual development plans, but the written document represents only one stage of the project. The final step puts plan into action. Implementation of the individual development plan (IDP) challenges both mentor and fellow to remain flexible, since the postdoctoral fellow's needs and goals will almost certainly change during the fellowship. A postdoc needs to review the IDP with his m
Quality Time with Your Mentor
Phillip Clifford | Sep 29, 2002 | 2 min read
Photo: Courtesy of Phillip S. Clifford Individual development plans provide a formal planning process to help individuals identify long-term career goals and areas where further development is needed. While postdoctoral fellows must acknowledge responsibility for their own careers, the creation of an IDP requires full participation and open communication between a postdoctoral fellow and mentor. The first step in constructing an IDP is the most critical, and often the most difficult: You must
The Skill Challenge
Steve Koehler | Sep 15, 2002 | 2 min read
Photo: Courtesy of Steve Koehler Who's hot and who's not? The job market runs hot and cold depending on location, experience, and education. In hot biotechnology markets where the demand is strong, such as Rockville, Md., San Diego, and Boston, salaries remain stable. In the Midwest hiring managers are looking for detailed skill sets, even though they pay as much as 10% less than employers on either coast. Despite regional shortfalls, however, the demand and salaries for scientists remain stro
Mentors are Made, not Born
Julian Preston | Sep 1, 2002 | 2 min read
Photo: Courtesy of R. Julian Preston R. Julian Preston Principal investigators should ideally help equip postdoctoral fellows for careers, but this advisory role often receives few resources and little attention. Nevertheless, the changing nature and stringency of today's job market has made the mentor's task more difficult. One tool that may help is an Individual Development Plan (IDP), such as the one recently developed by the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (
Of Bosses and Biotechs
Dennis Mccoy | Aug 18, 2002 | 2 min read
Photo: Courtesy of Dennis McCoy Most entrepreneur-scientists who set out to start a company believe they can do it all. This hubris can lead to downfall. There is no substitute for the help of experienced business leadership. The managerial insights of the right partner are valuable. The confidence these partners give investors is essential. For the young, struggling Dyax of Cambridge, Mass., during the mid-1990s Henry Blair provided needed business and strategic leadership. He made Dyax a su
Encouraging Everyday Lab Ethics
Debra Matthews | Jul 7, 2002 | 2 min read
Photo: Courtesy of Debra Mathews Egregious cases of misconduct erode public trust, waste valuable resources, damage reputations, and destroy careers. Less obvious, however, are the myriad subtle ways in which members of our community harm the scientific enterprise when they fail to live up to their responsibilities as stewards and role models. Everyone knows of a university with a reputation for cutthroat competition, a department where the labs avoid collaboration, or a lab where the profess
Fine Tuning: Helping Reporters Get it Right
Barbara Gastel | Jun 23, 2002 | 3 min read
Volume 16 | Issue 13 | 43 | Jun. 24, 2002 Previous | Next Helping Reporters Get it Right By Barbara Gastel Photo: Courtesy of Barbara Gastel Barbara Gastel Accurate, engaging, informative reporting on science abounds in the popular media. So does science reporting that is less--sometimes much less--accurate, engaging, and informative than it could be. Universities and professional societ