Currently a Visiting Scholar at MIT, Victor McElheny has been writing and editing for publications including Science, The New York Times, and The Boston Globe for more than 50 years. On page 42 he takes a look, five years later, at the human genome project, also the subject of his upcoming third book. ?Many genomics predictions will take many years to fulfill,? McElheny says, ?yet the project has grown larger, more widespread, and more exciting than anyone predicted.?
Glenn McGee directs the Alden March Bioethics Institute at the Albany Medical College. In the second of his regular columns (page 24), The editor in chief of The American Journal of Bioethics considers the Korean cloning scandal. ?Before we crucify the people involved,? he says, we must realize that ?research ethics have changed. In the past 10 years the problems have been less about evil scientists than about complicated relationships between different...
Alain Fischer is director of INSERM in Paris and head of the pediatric immunology-hematology department at Necker Children?s Hospital, where Marina Cavazzana-Calvo heads the Department of Biotherapy. Both pioneers in gene therapy, Fischer and Cavazzana-Calvo write on page 36 about where the field stands today and what steps must be taken to move forward. Now that efficacy has been demonstrated on a proof-of-concept basis for a number of specific conditions, Fischer says, the most important next step is to increase safety in gene therapy trials, reducing the risk of complications that include leukemia-like diseases.
?We are on the cusp of a time when gene therapy will be just another weapon in the armamentarium of medical tools to treat a limited number of diseases,? Fischer and Cavazzana-Calvo write.
Simon Levin is Moffett Professor of Biology at Princeton University?and a member of our editorial advisory board. The growing threat of antibiotic resistance first piqued his interest in why humans knowingly behave in counterproductive ways, the topic of the piece he co-authored on page 51. ?A lot of that problem has to do with overuse by individuals of antibiotics, over-prescription by doctors of antibiotics, and the failure to follow best practice by hospital workers,? he says.
After talking with editors at Science, Nature, Public Library of Science, New England Journal of Medicine, the BMJ, and Journal of the American Medical Association, news editor Alison McCook says she was surprised to find that ?there?s so little evidence to suggest that peer review actually works, and that scientists still believe in it. They are such a skeptical lot in all other areas except this.? She writes about problems facing peer review at top-tier journals on page 26.