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Inspirational Women Scientists

 :: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 01-03-2011

What a great story!

According to the YouTube description: When Carla Shatz, PhD, professor of neurobiology, and Helen Blau, PhD, professor of microbiology and immunology, came to Stanford in 1978, they were two of he first women to be hired on the tenure tract for basic science faculty. Over the decades, as their professional and personal paths have diverged and converged, they have remained the closest of friends. In this video, they discuss the courses their paths have taken and reflect on the rewards and challenges of their lives as women scientists.

Hat tip to the PostDoc Forum for pointing out this video.

A story of genomic proportion

 :: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 11-29-2010

Earlier this month, Harper Collins published a book by Misha Angrist titled “Here is a Human Being” which is described on the publisher’s website as:

The first in-depth look at personal genomics: its larger-than-life research subjects; its entrepreneurs and do-it-yourselfers; its technology developers; the bewildered and overwhelmed physicians and regulators who must negotiate it; and what it means to be a “public genome” in a world where privacy is already under siege.

Misha’s story is quite interesting. According to his biography, Misha has a PhD in genomics from Case Western University and currently is on faculty at Duke University. In 2009 Misha became the fourth person to have his entire genome sequenced in George Church’s lab at Harvard.

Misha blogs under the moniker genomeboy on PLoS Blogs.

Below is a Hollywood style trailer for “Here is a Human Being.” As an aside, I found it interesting that the narrator mentions that there may be good reasons to be scared of genetics just as a picture of a woman cutting bands from an agarose gel appears on the screen. I can’t imagine anything scarier! Can you?

Let’s Help Academics Become Tomorrow’s Entrepreneurs

 :: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 05-16-2010

Following fast on the heals of last week’s blog posts concerning the positive impact of the stimulus package on biotechnology research and the BIO report showing good growth in the sector over the past 9 years comes a news story from GenomeWeb writer Matthew Dublin bemoaning the bleak prospects facing PostDocs looking for academic appointments.

Dublin interviewed Sheldon Schuster, the president of The Keck Graduate Institute of Applied Life Sciences in Claremont, California, who recently launched a nine-month professional master’s degree program that is specifically geared toward preparing life science postdocs for careers in industry or government. According to Schuster there are 200,000 postdocs in the United States and it is expected that only 10% of them will be able to land an academic appointment. While this is a tough pill to swallow, if we are to believe what was posted last week, it will only get worse. Last week I explained that although the NIH funded many “ready to go” projects using the stimulus package, most of this money benefited senior researchers and was not awarded to young investigators nor was it used to create appropriate training programs. So what are recent PhD grads and postdocs to do? Perhaps their salvation lies in industry. According to Dublin, due to a lack of exposure, postdocs are not familiar with the opportunities available outside of academia and need to be educated accordingly, which is exactly the need that the Keck program is looking to fill. I tend to agree with Dublin’s assessment as I have spoken to many graduate students and postdoctoral fellows who have gotten where they are simply by the process of inertia without really ever contemplating other opportunities that may be available to them outside of the University’s walls.

As per the website, the Keck program is open to: post doctoral fellows interested in pursuing upper level management positions or starting their own life science company and entrepreneurial-mined scientists.

A brief internet search reveals that there are several programs out there aimed at helping academics move out of the academic research environment and into industrial management.

Some of these include:

-The Masters of Science in Biotechnolgy Program at The University of Wisconsin-Madison
-The Professional Master’s in Biotechnology at U Penn
-The Master of Biotechnology Program at Northwestern University
-The Biotechnology Management Program at the University of Maryland University College

In addition to these formal educational programs, those of us involved in the social networking world of biotechnology should do our utmost to convey our personal stories of what we’ve done with our academic background and lend a hand to others looking for advice.

What good social networking sites (blogs, facebook, linkedin etc) do you know of that could fit the bill of helping academics recognize other opportunities available outside of the academic realm?

Voyerism to the Max: PhD defense to be held live online @11am EST on Wed.

 :: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 03-10-2010

Talk about brave. When I defended my thesis I wanted the doors shut tight and have the window shades drawn. Soon to be Dr. (hopefully) Danielle Lee will broadcast her defense live on and via twitter. If you are on twitter, you can follow the defense live at 11am EST on Wed March 10, 2010. You should search for hashtag #LeeDefense.

Go Danielle and lots of luck!

In Memoriam: Marshall Nirenberg, Biologist Who Untangled Genetic Code, Dies at 82

 :: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 01-21-2010

Marshall W. Nirenberg, a biologist who deciphered the genetic code of life, earning a Nobel Prize for his achievement, died Friday at his home in Manhattan. He was 82.

In solving the genetic code, Dr. Nirenberg established the rules by which the genetic information in DNA is translated into proteins, the working parts of living cells. The code lies at the basis of life, and understanding it was a turning point in the history of biology.

See the New York Times Post for the full story