Author Archives: Michael Eisen

The Tragedy of Lander

Given my previous history of harsh criticism of Eric Lander’s actions and character, people seem to expect me to be gloating at the news that his tenure as President Biden’s chief science advisor ended in ignominy after barely a year following an investigation that found he had bullied and belittled staffers. I am unsurprised. I […]

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The abysmal response of the Salk Institute to accounts of gender discrimination in its midst

Last week news broke of a pair of lawsuits filed by two prominent female scientists alleging they had been subject to persistent gender discrimination by The Salk Institute, the storied independent research center in La Jolla, California, where they both work. Wow: NAS member Vicki Lundblad and Professor Katherine Jones are suing @salkinstitute for gender […]

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Patents are destroying the soul of academic science

The soul of academic science is being destroyed, one patent at a time. Nowhere is this more evident than in the acrimonious battle between the University of California and The Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT over who owns the rights to commercialize gene and genome editing systems based on the CRISPR  immune system of bacteria. There […]

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Replace Francis Collins as NIH Director

For decades the NIH has been the premier funding agency in the world, fueling the rise of the US as the undisputed powerhouse of global science. But in his eight years in charge of federal efforts to understand, diagnose and cure disease, current NIH Director Francis Collins has systematically undermined the effectiveness of the institution and overseen […]

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Exploring the relationship between gender and author order and composition in NIH-funded research

Last week there was a brief but interesting conversation on Twitter about the practice of “co-first” authors on scientific papers that led me to do some research on the relationship between author order and gender using data from the NIH’s Public Access Policy. I want to note at the outset that this is my first foray […]

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What population genetics has to say about Olympic success of West African sprinters

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Publishers are routinely stealing content from American citizens

President Obama published an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association today discussing the current state of his health care reform initiatives. Fortunately, the article is not behind a paywall. But JAMA nonetheless asserts their ownership and right to control the article’s use, as they do on all articles they publish, by attaching […]

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Elsevier is tricking authors into surrendering their rights

A recent post on the GOAL mailing list by Heather Morrison alerted me to the following sneaky aspect of Elsevier’s “open access” publishing practices. To put it simply, Elsevier have distorted the widely recognized concept of open access, in which authors retain copyright in their work and give others permission to reuse it, and where publishers are a […]

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The Imprinter of All Maladies

Any sufficiently convoluted explanation for biological phenomena is indistinguishable from epigenetics. Epigenetics is everywhere. Nary a day goes by without some news story or press release telling us something it explains. Why does autism run in families?  Epigenetics. Why do you have trouble losing weight? Epigenetics. Why are vaccines dangerous? Epigenetics. Why is cancer so hard to fight? Epigenetics. Why […]

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PLOS, open access and scientific societies

Several people have noted that, in my previous post dealing with PLOS’s business, I didn’t address a point that came up in a number of threads regarding the relative virtues of PLOS and scientific societies – the basic point being that people should publish in society journals because they do good things with the money (run meetings, […]

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