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Mentoring matters, says Nature Cell Biology

Mentoring matters, says Nature Cell Biology

Sound mentorship can contribute significantly to the intellectual and professional development of mentees, but mentors also stand to gain strong leadership skills in this process, and the ability to draw the best from a team can only aid in the overall success of one’s research agenda, according to February’s Editorial in Nature Cell Biology (12, 101; 2010). While picking the appropriate problem and the right approaches is fundamental to a running a successful research programme, capable mentoring of laboratory members and new faculty members is also crucial.  Read more

Access to biological databases must be guaranteed

The Arabidopsis Information Resource (TAIR) contains the most reliable and up-to-date genomic information available on the most widely used model organism in the plant kingdom. But TAIR now faces collapse: the US National Science Foundation (NSF) is phasing out funding after 10 years as the data resource’s sole supporter.  Read more

Nature Neuroscience speaks up for young researchers

The Editorial in the November issue of Nature Neuroscience (12, 1351; 2009) emphasizes the importance of the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) policy of funding an increasing number of grants to young investigators with merit scores below the ‘payline’. Early-stage investigators are “especially vulnerable to funding crisis and are often at a disproportionate disadvantage when competing with more established laboratories for R01 grants. Such actions that protect some of these young investigators are critical if we are to retain young scientists and encourage our future research base”, states the journal. This problem may have been exacerbated by recent efforts to streamline the grant peer-review process, which may mean that evaluators are putting even more store on previous track-record, hence putting young researchers at a greater disadvantage.  Read more

Fundamental scientific research is a vital endeavour

Obtaining financial support for scientific research is generally more difficult for work that is fundamental in nature rather than applied. In the October issue of Nature Chemistry, Bruce C. Gibb of the University of New Orleans contemplates how topics such as complexity might get their share — and why it is vital that they do (Nat. Chem. 1, 513-514; 2009). As he puts it: “The deeper and more fundamental the work, the further the bubbles of ideas and discoveries have to rise to the surface of contemporary life, and the more things become unpredictable. For example, was the Swedish physiologist Ulf Svante von Euler-Chelpin thinking about the mechanism of action of Aspirin when he was isolating compounds (prostaglandins) from sheep sperm?  Read more

Nature Medicine on the translation from bench to clinic

Translating a basic finding into a new therapy requires us to speak many languages—scientific, clinical, legal and financial. Yet most of us are hopelessly ‘monolingual’, a limitation that substantially slows translational research. Steps have been taken to address this problem, but a lot remains to be done, as described in September’s Editorial in Nature Medicine ‘In the land of the monolingual’ (15, 975; 2009). The Editorial begins optimistically:  … Read more

No time to waste in assisting minorities, says Nature Immunology

The research community needs to increase the number of minority students who choose scientific research careers, according to the September Editorial in Nature Immunology (10, 927; 2009). Black and Hispanic Americans compose roughly one third of the US population, yet the percentage of graduate degrees earned by members of these minorities is much less than 30%. Only 168 people of a minority background were listed as faculty members in biological science departments of the top 50 research institutions in the United States as of 2007. How can the research community encourage more minority students to pursue a research career?  Read more