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Sequencing Report

Dan Zabetakis dan at cubsps.bio.columbia.edu
Sat Aug 26 12:05:37 EST 1995

In article <1995Aug25.135619.947371317 at wi.mit.edu>,
Steve Kron <kron at WI.MIT.EDU> wrote:
>Truly wonderful, the nearing completion of the sequencing will end the era
>of non-science that still persists--the proliferation of papers reporting a
>yeast gene that looks like a mammalian protein and little else.  Bravo
>again.  Soon we will all turn back to biology: pathways and biochemistry
>and physiology.  The effects on the literature are already obvious. 

  Yes, but it won't be "we ... all". The yeast field will shrink very fast,
and probably already is, as a proportion of total trained workers.
  Once the genome is finished the main way that a young investigator got a
grant and got published, and later got tenure, was thorugh the cloning of
novel genes. No more will that be enough. It would be nice if the field
would "turn back to biology", but there isn't room. As it is, every sub-field
has 2-4 senior labs, 3-8 mid-level labs, and 2-6 junior faculty each trying
to get that big important paper. Before they would all just clone genes.
Now, anyone trying to start up a lab is going to be plainly froze out.
  If science were in a steady state, each faculty member would produce
one Ph.D. student in thier _lifetime_. We have been in the position where even
unsuccessful junior faculty reproduce themselves 3-5 times in the 8 years it
takes them to not get tenure. Even though science funding has been growing,
nothing can keep up with the growth of modern biology. And I still here that
some advisors are telling undergrads that they expect a shortage of Ph.D.'s.

   Think of it this way, the people who were grad students inventing all the
great early molecular techniques are all still with us, and only in mid-
career for the most part. There has been _no_ turnover in the molecular
revolution. If you are a graduating Ph.D. you have to compete not only with
your class and the 2 or three classes ahead of you who are now doing extended
postdocs, but also with everyone who ever worked in molecular biology.


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narratives or ideas contained herein are not necessarily true, and do
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