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News especially for members of the genetics community
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January 18, 2017
Fruit fly feast
Preview the #DROS17 Lineup
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Society News
Barbara Meyer (HHMI/UC Berkeley) will unfortunately be unable to take up the position of 2017 Vice President and 2018 President of the GSA. She wishes to convey her regret to the GSA and its members. In accordance with GSA’s bylaws, the Board of Directors voted unanimously to appoint Jeannie Lee (HHMI/Harvard/MGH) to the Board, and then voted unanimously to appoint her Vice President. Lee has ample experience leading the GSA. She served on the Board of Directors from 2011-2013 and was co-chair of The Allied Genetics Conference, helping orchestrate the success of our new meeting experiment.
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GSA Meetings
Don’t miss out on #DROS17, the 58th Annual Drosophila Research Conference! Late abstracts are due next week on January 23. The early (discounted) registration deadline is February 3.
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Students and Postdocs
The GRE fails to accurately measure the skills that are essential for success in graduate school, and using this test as a basic requirement for admission to biomedical graduate programs will continue to limit diversification of the field, writes GSA Program Director for Early Career Scientist Engagement Sonia Hall in a post for Rescuing Biomedical Research.
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Theresa Mercer writes about the many tangible benefits she gained from organizing a conference about “The PhD Experience.” Don’t forget that postdoc and graduate student GSA members can apply for funding to organize research, career, or other relevant symposia!
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A new study of the careers of biomedical PhDs shows that doing a postdoc, while essential for entry into academia, comes at a price for those who end up in non-academic career tracks. A postdoc stint is associated with an approximately 20% decrease in earnings compared to those who leave academia right after gaining their PhD.
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Recent PhD and MD graduates: Nominations for the UCSF Sandler Fellows Program are due March 15. These fellowships are distinct from traditional postdoctoral positions, allowing promising scientists to establish independent research programs with the sole mandate to do their best science. Fellows are small group leaders with Principal Investigator status in the University, which enables them to obtain extramural grants to support the growth of their programs.
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GSA Journals
Kousathanas et al. introduce new methods to infer genetic diversity from very low coverage data of a single individual and to recalibrate quality scores from sequencing machines. Importantly, neither method requires a reference genome except for the initial alignment of the data. Applying these new approaches to ancient human samples revealed substantial differences between European hunter-gatherer samples, suggesting the European population was highly structured prior to the arrival of farming.
Inferring heterozygosity from ancient and low coverage genomes
Athanasios Kousathanas, Christoph Leuenberger, Vivian Link, Christian Sell, Joachim Burger, and Daniel Wegmann
GENETICS January 2017 205: 317-332
Just in time for Canada’s 150th anniversary, Lok et al. report the draft annotated genome of the Canadian beaver in G3. Using DNA from a resident of Toronto Zoo named “Ward,” the team used a new, simplified, more cost-effective method for de novo assembly of large genomes. The achievement has been covered by The Globe and Mail, The Toronto Star, and CTV, among others.
De novo genome and transcriptome assembly of the Canadian beaver (Castor canadensis)
Lok et al.
G3: Genes|Genomes|Genetics Early Online January 13, 2017, doi:10.1534/g3.116.038208
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Genes to Genomes Logo
The tiny worm with a big impact
Caenorhabditis elegans’ journey to prominence was kickstarted by a landmark paper published by Sydney Brenner in the May 1974 issue of GENETICS.
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photo of <em>C. elegans</em>
The fungus-fighting secrets hiding in the sugar pine’s enormous megagenome
The sugar pine genome is ten times the size of the human genome—a whopping 31 billion base pairs. Kristian Stevens and colleagues announced the complete sequence of the sugar pine genome in the December issue of GENETICS, the largest genome fully sequenced to date.
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Painting of sugar pine
GSA-Art: Irene Yan
Irene Yan finds inspiration for her science cartoons even in boring seminars and committee meetings.
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Photo of horses
Members in the News
The New York Times features a story on topologically associating domains (TADs) and 3-D genome organization, including the work of GSA member Job Dekker.
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"The Telomere Effect" is a new book aimed at the public co-authored by GSA member and Nobel laureate Elizabeth Blackburn. It explores the implications for health and aging of Blackburn's research on telomeres.
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A recent Science Friday segment on "slow science" featured GSA member Richard Lenski and his 29-year old E. coli long-term evolution experiment.
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Nautilus and the Science Philanthropy Alliance have produced series of narratives highlighting ways that basic science has changed the world, including a story on GFP that features GSA members Marty Chalfie and Manish Chamoli.
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Enrollment is open for two free online courses in evidence-based teaching of undergraduate STEM topics, both developed by the Center for Integrated Research Teaching and Learning. One course focuses on introducing the next generation of STEM educators to effective teaching strategies and the other introduces education research methods and the practice of “teaching as research.”
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G3 Genome Reports
US researchers: Help FASEB learn about the shared research resources you use on a regular basis, how they are funded and accessed, and your unmet resource needs. Survey responses will inform FASEB's policy positions and recommendations.
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Legislation to end tenure at public universities has been proposed in Missouri and Iowa. Inside Higher Ed quotes GSA member J Chris Pires.
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A newly formed STEM advocacy group named 314 Action has a mission to encourage scientists to run for office at all levels of government.
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Community Announcements
The FASEB Excellence in Science Award is given in recognition of outstanding achievement by women in biological science. Women who are members of the GSA or another FASEB society are eligible for nomination. Deadline: March 1.
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FASEB has launched the Database of US Providers of Research Organisms to help researchers find stock centers, living collections, and other providers. If you would like to suggest additional providers or update your collection’s entry, contact Bethany Drehman:
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News Around the Web
Rewriting the Code of Life
Oliver Smithies, Tinkerer Who Transformed Genetics and Won a Nobel, Dies at 91
Sequencing a genome for less than the cost of an X-ray? Not quite yet
One Man’s Quest to Hack His Own Genes
Genetics Careers Logo
Looking for a job or have one to offer? provides free job listings across the breadth of genetics—from academic, government, and industry positions to postdoctoral opportunities and much more.
Postdoc Fellow- Bioinformatics, Comp Bio, System Bio
La Jolla, CA
Somatic mutations in epilepsy
New York, NY
Assistant Professor of Biology
Winter Park, FL
Postdoctoral Position in RNA Epigenomics
Chapel Hill, NC
5 Reasons to join the GSA
  1. Networking: Connect with our international community of microbial, plant, animal, human, population, and theoretical geneticists, as well as other thought leaders in the field.
  2. Education and Mentorship: Participate in professional development workshops and meet mentors who can help you progress to the next level of your career.
  3. Advocate for Research: Become an advocate for genetic research and work with GSA to share the value of your research with the public and policymakers.
  4. Become a Leader: Vote and run for positions on the GSA Board of Directors and GSA committees, where decisions regarding the direction of the Society are made.
  5. Promote your Research: Publish in GENETICS and G3 at a reduced rate and become eligible to have your contributions to the field recognized with a GSA award.
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Deadline for next issue: January 27, 2017. Send items (and feedback) to Cristy Gelling,
Disease Models & Mechanisms
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