“The takeaway is it doesn’t matter if you’ve been tested or not tested,” says Erlich, who is now the chief science officer at MyHeritage, the third largest consumer genetic provider behind 23andMe and Ancestry. “You can be identified because the databases already cover such large fractions of the US, at least for European ancestry.”
It sounds like science fiction: A research program funded by the U.S. government plans to create virus-carrying insects that, released in vast numbers, could help crops fight threats such as pests, drought, or pollution. “Insect Allies,” as the $45 million, 4-year program is called, was launched in 2016 with little fanfare. But in a policy forum in this week’s issue of Science, five European researchers paint a far bleaker scenario.
The New York Times
The heart monitor should not be considered a medical device and reflects wider problems with health screens.
The Washington Post
A school’s unwillingness to communicate with fathers, while most disruptive to the mothers who end up doing more than their share of the family care work, can affect children, too.
California Society of Anesthesiologists
While the recent legal battle has been a source of confusion and frustration for terminally ill Californians and their physicians, the eventual fate of this law remains unresolved. Even if there are no additional attempts to invalidate the law, it will “sunset” in 2026. Without further legislative action medical aid-in-dying will disappear from California yet again.
It’s never a good time for another bout of genetic determinism, but it’s hard to imagine a worse one than this. Social inequality gapes, exacerbated by climate change, driving hostility towards immigrants and flares of militant racism. At such a juncture, yet another expression of the discredited, simplistic idea that genes alone control human nature seems particularly insidious. And yet, here we are again with Blueprint, by educational psychologist Robert Plomin.
The discussion of race and medicine in the United States is challenging and emotionally charged. Substantial disparities in health outcomes, based on race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status, continue to exist; additional reports of racial bias and profound insensitivity in research continue to emerge in the popular media. A renewed discussion of race as a biological vs social construct has begun and is complicated by emerging data on genetics, race, and ancestry.
AMA Journal of Ethics
The contributors to this issue address many of the ethical issues that arise in the context of precision health. Although none addresses the idea of stratification directly, the concept of stratification links their contributions together, since stratification is the basis of all precision health efforts. Stratification has only rarely been explored as a concept with ethical fallout and is often downplayed in favor of the label “precision.” Therefore, this editorial lays out how the ethical issues explored by our contributors and in precision health more broadly are united and organized by the concept of stratification.
The New York Times
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
The task force was announced in a statement from MSK President and Chief Executive Officer Craig Thompson, MD. It will be chaired by Debra Berns, MSK’s Senior Vice President and Chief Risk Officer.
Last month, NSF’s biology directorate announced that researchers could submit only one proposal a year in which they are listed as a principal investigator (PI) or co-PI. The cap applies only to the directorate’s three core tracks and excludes several other NSF programs from which many biologists receive support… But 70 scientists have signed onto a letter asking the agency to reconsider the new policy, which they also complain was adopted without any community input.
Argentine scientists are deeply worried about the effects of the country’s economic crisis on science. The government has proposed cutting research budgets in 2019 as part of an austerity push and it is behind in its financial commitments to institutes for this year, which means many labs lack the funds to pay for day-to-day operations.
Finland’s national research funder has signed up to Plan S — a push by a group of European organizations to make a radical change to the way that research results are published. The Academy of Finland, which announced its move on 24 September, is the first organization to sign up since Plan S was launched by 11 funders earlier this month. The now 12-strong coalition demands that, from 2020, papers resulting from the research they fund are immediately free to read on publication.
James P. Allison, 70, and Tasuku Honjo, 76, won the prize for their discovery of cancer therapy that works by harnessing the body’s own immune system.
To overcome decades of mistrust, a workshop aims to train Indigenous researchers to be their own genome experts
Members of the Havasupai Tribe, shown in 2010 looking at blood samples previously taken from them, had to fight for access to their samples, in an episode that fueled suspicion between scientists and several Native American communities.
The Department of Health and Human Services says it is reviewing all medical research involving human fetal tissue. HHS said this week that it will conduct an audit of “all acquisitions involving human fetal tissue” as well as “all research involving fetal tissue…”
Researchers used a gene editing tool, CRISPR, to wipe out a population of malaria-carrying mosquitoes in the lab. Questions remain about how releasing this technology into the wild would impact the environment.
Brii is one of many biotech startups riding a wave of money from Asia that so far this year has poured $4.2 billion into private U.S.-based biotech companies. That is over 43 percent of the total amount of venture funding invested in the biotech sector, according to PitchBook, up from just 11 percent in 2016.
Service dog providers are seeing an influx of applications from veterans like Michel who have experienced sexual trauma while in the military. But the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, which provides veterinary benefits for service dogs assigned to people with physical disabilities, does not currently recognize psychiatric service dogs as a proven therapy for mental illness.
Brian Wansink, the Cornell University nutrition researcher known for probing the psychology behind human eating habits, has resigned after a university misconduct investigation, and following the retraction this week of six of his papers.
- A new study reveals that up to 20 percent of genes classified as coding (those that produce the proteins that are the building blocks of all living things) may not be coding after all because they have characteristics that are typical of non-coding or pseudogenes (obsolete coding genes). The work once again highlights doubts about the number of real genes present in human cells 15 years after the sequencing the human genome.
California’s insurance regulator is suing AbbVie Inc., alleging that the pharmaceutical giant gave illegal kickbacks to health-care providers in order to keep patients on its blockbuster rheumatoid arthritis drug Humira.
The Washington Post
Using genome editing to treat human diseases is very tantalizing. Correcting inherited genetic defects that cause human disease — just as one edits a sentence — is the obvious application. This strategy has been successful in tests on animals. But a few recent scientific papers suggest that CRISPR is not without its problems. The research reveals that CRISPR can damage DNA located far from the target DNA we are trying to correct.
The New York Times
Doctors and hospitals love to talk about the cancer patients they’ve saved, and reporters love to write about them. But deaths still vastly outnumber the rare successes.