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The Scientist Staff | Mar 31, 2009
I like iGEM Re: "Brick by brick"1, the iGEM competition is a fantastic idea, and I often hear comments from other scientists saying that they wish there were similar student competitions in other fields of science. The Slovenian team has been singled out not for its achievements but for the alleged hype associated with its project, which I think is not really a fair assessment. The g
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The Scientist Staff | Feb 28, 2009
Complexity vs. diversity Re: "Darwinian Time,"1 If the environment is relatively static, attributes that allow the organism to out-compete should slowly become more prevalent. The less complicated organism will evolve more rapidly. When we have large environmental perturbations, however, then the diversity within the existing population would seem to be the controlling factor; in a natural population
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The Scientist Staff | Jan 31, 2009
It's us vs. cancer This "new" strategy, in which cancer researchers beat the disease by collaborating in massive projects,1 is bound to fail. Why? Because enforced cooperation for the sake of obtaining research grants is counterproductive to a physiologic matching of research interests, including a viable chemistry between participating scientists. The European grant programs for coo
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The Scientist Staff | Dec 31, 2008
Citation debate hits Cell The general issue highlighted in the post "Critics rip Cell paper"1 and many of the comments that followed is one of "selective citation," in which papers fail to include all relevant prior art. I believe that this example reached the current level of scrutiny because the complainant, Peter Lawrence, is a well-known scientist and he was willing to raise a
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The Scientist Staff | Nov 30, 2008
Are devices dying? Re: "Biotech's hidden stepsister,"1 about the current hurdles facing the device industry, I was the founder and CTO of Avocet Medical, a medical device start-up producing a hand held meter to prevent strokes by monitoring proper level of oral anticoagulants. We raised $38 million in venture capital financing between 1991 and 2001. Although we obtained FDA approval, th
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The Scientist Staff | Oct 31, 2008
Let's change the world I congratulate you on "The scientist as politician,"1 and I personally feel it is critical that those in scientific professions become involved in the political process for a variety of reasons. Skills in writing and communication are important, since I have found that by being on several nonprofit boards, and now serving as president of a local homeowners' association, that
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The Scientist Staff | Sep 30, 2008
Biology:Big or little? Big science, with very few exceptions (one being the Human Genome Project), is a waste of money.1 Big science is grossly inefficient, and is designed to impress non-scientists (including university administrators). Anyone who has experienced the difference between forced collaborations (big science) and real collaborations (spontaneous, as-needed interactions) knows this is tru
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The Scientist Staff | Aug 31, 2008
Finding more founders In the article "Rare History, Common Disease",1 various founder populations were mentioned. Glaringly omitted from these were the Amish, particularly the Old Order Amish. Work on the Amish started when Victor McKusick discovered several genetic defects in a uniquely inbred group of people, the Old Order Amish. This discovery resulted in the publication of Mendelian
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The Scientist Staff | Jul 31, 2008
Before Darwin Re: "Before Darwin," in which Eric Smith argues that simple metabolic processes likely explain how life emerged,1 Wächtershäuser also made an argument that the reverse citric acid cycle is similar to the first metabolic pathway to evolve.2 However, carbon dioxide fixation hardly is "one of the most conserved reactions throughout the biosphere," as Smith says. " Science will never have all the answers to any question — so what?
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The Scientist Staff | Jun 30, 2008
I lost my grants, too Re: "Losing your lab," 1 which chronicles Alan Schneyer's experience when he lost his NIH grants and had to close his laboratory at Massachusetts General Hospital, much the same thing happened to me in the UK. I've never for a moment regretted taking on a mainly teaching job with a proper salary. Trying to be a postdoc and mixing for your own salar