Archive by category | Education

Nanotechnology and food

Nanotechnology and food

The food industry will only reap the benefits of nanotechnology if issues related to safety are addressed and companies are more open about what they are doing. This ethical question is addressed by Nature Nanotechology in its February Editorial (5, 89; 2010), an excerpt from which follows. So far nanotechnology has largely escaped becoming ‘the next GM’ — which is shorthand for the rejection of genetically modified food by the public in the UK and elsewhere in Europe — but this has largely been because many applications of nanotechnology have been inherently non-controversial: who can object to stain-free trousers or  … Read more

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. What are some of the objectives of good mentoring? The goal is to  … Read more

Nature Physics on “educate to innovate”

Nature Physics on "educate to innovate"

Will Sesame Street, video games and robots get school children interested in science, asks Nature Physics in an editorial this month (6, 1; 2010)? From the Editorial: “We will restore science to its rightful place.” President Barack Obama’s explicit nod during his inauguration was eagerly welcomed by scientists. Now fresh applause has greeted the ‘educate to innovate’ campaign, launched by the president last month. A nationwide effort “to move American students to the top of the pack in science and math achievement over the next decade”, the programme brings together businesses and non-profit groups to invest in the education of  … Read more

Nature Medicine’s wake-up call on intellectual property rights

Intellectual-property protection is a key driver of innovation, and researchers are always keen to file patents to shield their discoveries. Yet scientists often have an uninformed view of the value of their intellectual property. This naiveté slows down translational research. So concludes the November Editorial in Nature Medicine (15, 1229; 2009).  Read more

Education needed more than regulation for genetic testing

With sequencing costs dropping, it is likely that direct-to-consumer genetic services will soon include affordable whole-genome sequencing. Consumers who have familiarized themselves with the limitations of these data will be better equipped for the 3 gigabases of information that may soon come their way, according to the Editorial in the November issue of Nature Methods (6, 783; 2009). What is the right approach for direct-to-consumer genetic tests, asks the Editorial, given concerns about analytical validity, accuracy, clinical validity, clinical usefulness, helpfulness to consumers, and that the genetic variants tested for are actually associated with increased disease risk? Different countries are handling these issues in different regulatory and legislative ways, but the Editorial argues that a restrictive approach is not helpful, particularly given the huge range of genetic conditions and possible ‘tests’.  Read more

Two views of the Lindau Nobel chemistry laureates’ meeting

Each year since 1951, young researchers and Nobel laureates have gathered on the shores of Lake Constance for a unique scientific conference. In 2009 the meeting was dedicated to chemistry, and laureates and students all came away enriched by their experiences. Martin Chalfie, one of the three recipients of the 2008 Nobel prize in Chemistry, reports what they learned from each other in the November issue of Nature Chemistry (1, 586-587; 2009) He writes:  … 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

Taking it on trust in Nature Physics

Public trust in science is vital. But how do we ensure trust without imposing authority? An Editorial in the September issue of Nature Physics (5, 613; 2009) asks “where does evidence stop and trust in authority begin? Televisions, computers and other technological wonders are proof enough to convince most people of the validity of the physical principles on which they are based. But what of global warming, evolution and other issues in which science and politics or beliefs collide? Whom is the public to believe?”  … 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

Holiday reading suggestions from Nature Methods

The Editorial in the July issue of Nature Methods is the journal’s popular annual round up of summer reading (Nat. Meth. 6, 471; 2009). According to the Editorial, for those who look hard enough there are a few good fiction books to be found with refreshingly realistic biologists as central characters in laboratory settings. A mix of the old and the new follows, including brief accounts of Cantor’s Dilemma by Carl Djerassi; Intuition by Allegra Goodman; Long for this World by Michael Byers; Arrowsmith by Sinclair Lewis; Experimental Heart by Jennifer Rohn; and Mendel’s Dwarf by Simon Mawer.  Read more