Why Aren’t There More Female Scientists?

 :: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 04-09-2014

The number of male scientists far outweigh the number of females. Why? Are men smarter? Is the male brain wired more for science than the female brain? Is it the way parents raise their boys versus their girls?

Watch three successful female scientists share their opinions on this issue.

Learn the Basics of Image Lab Software

 :: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 04-08-2014

Image Lab™Software: Learn the Basics from the Experts

Join Bio-Rad Laboratories for a 30 minute live webinar developed and delivered by Ben Wang, PhD, Senior Technical Support Specialist, Bio-Rad Laboratories

The webinar will take place TOMORROW – Wednesday April 9, 2014 at 9:00 AM Pacific.

As you get ready to use your new system, Bio-Rad will provide you with an opportunity to learn the basic features of Image Lab Software. This training will cover the primary tools, as well as how to acquire an image.

The webinar will be recorded and the playback link will be shared with registrants

Click here to register for the webinar.

Directing the World With Your Imagination

 :: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 04-07-2014

New Study: Funding Science is Good for the US Economy

 :: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 04-04-2014

University research is a key component of the US economic ecosystem, returning the investment through enormous public value and impact on employment, business, and manufacturing nationwide.

Using new data available to examine the short-term economic activity generated by science funding, researchers have for the first time been able to illuminate the breadth of the scientific workforce and the national impact of the research supply chain that is funded by federal grants.

Most of the workers supported by federal research funding are not university faculty members. In fact, fewer than one in five workers supported by federal funding are faculty researchers. The study, published this week in the journal Science, provides the first detailed information about the short-term economic impacts of federal research spending, the researchers said.

Using a new data set, the researchers also found that each university that receives funding spends those dollars throughout the United States – about 70 percent spent outside their home states – supporting companies both large and small.

The researchers conclude that federal funding has a wider impact than is often assumed. “The process of scientific research supports organizations and jobs in many of the high skill sectors of our economy,” the researchers wrote in Science.

The study was conducted by researchers from the American Institute of Research, the Committee on Institutional Cooperation, University of Michigan, University of Chicago, and the Ohio State University. The data came from the STAR METRICS project, which is a partnership between federal science agencies and research institutions to document the outcomes of science investments to the public.

In this study, the researchers examined STAR METRICS data from nine universities – Michigan, Wisconsin-Madison, Minnesota, Ohio State, Northwestern, Purdue, Michigan State, Chicago and Indiana (all members of the Committee on Institutional Cooperation consortium).

The universities in this study received about $7 billion in total research and development funding in 2012, and about 56 percent of that came from the federal government.

One key insight from the study was whose jobs were supported by federal funding. “Workers with many different skill levels are employed, and these are not primarily faculty,” the authors said.

Faculty members accounted for fewer than 20 percent of the people supported by federal funding. About one in three workers is either a graduate student or an undergraduate. One in three is either research staff or a staff scientist, and about one in ten is a post-doctoral fellow.

The study also sheds light on where universities spend the federal funding they receive. In 2012, almost $1 billion of research expenditures were spent with U.S. vendors and subcontractors.

Of those expenditures, 15 percent went to vendors in the university’s home county, 15 percent in the rest of the home state and the balance to vendors across the United States.

The researchers noted that universities bought goods and services from a wide range of contractors in a variety of industries: everything from test tubes to telescopes and microscopes to gene sequencing machines.

Many of the purchases came from large U.S companies. But as the researchers examined the websites of some of the tens of thousands of vendors, “we were struck by how many are small, niche, high-technology companies…” they wrote.

Noting the scope of the impact of scientific work being done across universities, co-author Roy Weiss, Deputy Provost for Research at the University of Chicago, said, “Research universities are dedicated to the discovery of new knowledge. This study reports the first cooperative endeavor by multiple universities to evaluate the benefit of government investment in research. In addition to making the world a better place by virtue of these discoveries, we now have data to support the overall benefits to society.”

“The main purpose of science funding isn’t as a jobs or stimulus program, but this study shows there are also major short-term economic benefits to science funding,” said Bruce Weinberg, co-author and professor of economics at Ohio State.

As Julia Lane, Senior Managing Economist at the American Institutes for Research and a lead researcher on the project, summarized, “This study provides evidence that while science is complicated, it is not magic. It is productive work. Scientific endeavors employ people. They use capital inputs. Related economic activity occurs immediately. Policy makers need to have an understanding of how science is produced when making resource allocation decisions, and this study provides that information in a reliable and current fashion.”

Thanks to the Committee on Institutional Cooperation for contributing this story.

Designing the Perfect Quantitative Western Blot

 :: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 04-02-2014

A methods article published yesterday provides a rigorous and concise workflow with specific instructions on how to produce and analyze quantitative data using western blot experiments. The paper, coauthored by Bio-Rad scientists and published in BioMed Research International, also highlights recently introduced technologies that improve reproducibility. The result is a powerful, step-by-step guide to obtaining quantitative and reproducible densitometric data from western blots regardless of the specific experiment.

Although western blotting is a well-established laboratory technique, it has recently come under fire as a quantitative method because extreme care must be taken when generating and interpreting the resulting data.

The technique is challenging and requires following a rigorous methodology to achieve reproducible and quantitative data. According to a recent survey of more than 750 labs, 41% of researchers say their western blots fail a quarter of the time.

Dr. Aldrin Gomes, an assistant professor at University of California, Davis, agrees that flawed western blots are not unusual. To compare expression of a protein of interest from sample to sample, protein abundance is commonly normalized to a housekeeping gene. “When I see a large, dense band for the protein of interest or the housekeeping protein, I cringe,” says Gomes. That dense band usually means the protein of interest or housekeeping protein was no longer within the assay’s linear dynamic range. No accurate quantitative data can be extracted from such blots.

Sean Taylor discusses the BioMed Research International paper he coauthored.

Another common reason for failure of quantitative western blots is flawed or incomplete protocols, according to Sean Taylor, the paper’s lead author and a Bio-Rad field application scientist (watch a video of him discussing the paper on the left). To address this, Taylor’s review pays special attention to experimental design and sample preparation and discusses proper definition of the linear dynamic range of protein loading, all key factors for generating meaningful quantitative western blot data.

Taylor also introduces more advanced concepts to improve reproducibility, simplify workflow, and reduce the time and cost of western blotting. One such technique is stain-free total protein normalization, which over the past year has proven superior to using housekeeping proteins or total protein staining to correct for loading errors.

With this article, Taylor hopes researchers now have a simple guide to ensure quantitative and reproducible western blot data for all research fields that rely on this technique.

To read the open access research article, visit http://bit.ly/1kCAOcr.

For additional resources please consult Bio-Rad’s guide to Troubleshooting Western Blots.