The U.S. Senate today confirmed mathematician and geneticist Eric Lander as director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). Lander will also serve as President Joe Biden’s science adviser and hold a seat in Biden’s Cabinet. Lander, 64, has long held prominent roles in U.S. research and science policy. He was president and founding director of…
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In response to the technological advances of recent years, the International Society for Stem Cell Research today (May 26) released an updated version of its guidelines for basic and clinical research involving human stem cells and embryos. The ISSCR’s changes include recommendations for using human embryo models, lab-derived gametes, and human-animal chimeras as well as an end to the widely…
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Two key congressional committees this week endorsed the idea of a sizable spending increase for the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF). Separate pieces of legislation—one approved by a Senate panel, the other by a committee of the House of Representatives—would more than double NSF’s budget over 5 years as part of a broader push to outinnovate China and the rest…
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In a historic move, the US government has announced that it supports waiving patent protections for COVID-19 vaccines, a measure aimed at boosting supplies so that people around the world can get the shots. “The extraordinary circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic call for extraordinary measures,” said US trade representative Katherine Tai in a statement. The move came on 5 May, the…
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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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