The idea of massively expanding the budget and mission of the National Science Foundation (NSF) to help the United States out-innovate China is gaining political momentum in Washington, D.C. In Congress, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D–NY) is preparing to introduce a revised version of bipartisan legislation that would create a technology directorate at NSF and boost its funding by…
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When the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 burst upon the world last winter, scientists knew it was bad. But they also thought it was stable. Coronaviruses do not mutate as readily as the viruses that cause the flu, hepatitis or AIDS, for instance—thanks in part to a molecular “proofreading” system that SARS-CoV-2 and its kin use to prevent damaging genetic errors when replicating.…
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Seven Biopharma Trends to Watch in 2021

Last year, when GEN prepared an editorial titled Eight Biopharma Trends to Watch in 2020, who could have foreseen COVID-19 and the deaths, illnesses, and economic disruption that the disease would wreak? And who could have foreseen how armies of industry and academic researchers would race to develop hundreds of new and repositioned vaccines and drugs? (GEN tracks more than 300 on its COVID-19 Drug and Vaccine…
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The world has been waiting for good news on Covid-19 vaccines. Monday it got a bunch of it. A preliminary analysis of the race frontrunner, Pfizer-BioNTech’s mRNA vaccine, suggested it was 90% effective in preventing symptomatic Covid disease. While these are early findings — the trial is still ongoing — they suggest the vaccine could be very protective. There’s another important caveat. We…
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No recent biomedical experiment has caused more consternation than He Jiankui’s creation of the first gene-edited babies, in 2018, which was widely seen as dangerous, unethical, and premature—and which led to his incarceration by China. Now, an international committee has concluded that gene-editing methods, despite substantial improvements, are still far from mature enough to safely introduce heritable DNA modifications into…
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Early data on the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on scientific-publishing output suggest that female researchers, particularly those at early-career stages, are the hardest hit. Submissions to preprint servers, such as arXiv, rose more quickly for male authors than for female authors as nations adopted social-isolation measures. And female authors have accounted for only one-third of all authors on published COVID-19 papers since…
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Black academics are calling out racism in science, recounting behaviours ranging from overt acts to micro-aggressions, using social-media hashtags such as #BlackInTheIvory. A study in April highlighted how students from under-represented groups innovate more than their white male counterparts do — but receive few to no career benefits from their discoveries because their contributions are often overlooked. Nature spoke to six Black academic…
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President Donald Trump has officially withdrawn the United States from the World Health Organization. Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., tweeted Congress had received the notification Tuesday afternoon. “To call Trump’s response to COVID chaotic & incoherent doesn’t do it justice,” Menendez tweeted. “This won’t protect American lives or interests—it leaves Americans sick & America alone.” The president has frequently criticized the…
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The COVID-19 crisis has underlined just how fast and open science publishing can be — when scientists want it that way. Researchers working on the pandemic are sharing preliminary results on preprint servers and institutional websites at unprecedented rates, embracing the kind of early, public sharing that physicists and mathematicians have practised for decades. Journals have whisked manuscripts through to…
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