Daily briefing: Why more people die when the economy prospers

An economic boom can be bad for your health, the CRISPR-baby scientist has been fired and PhDs face a US$18,000 gender pay gap.

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He Jiankui

He Jiankui claimed last November that he had helped to produce the world’s first gene-edited babies.Credit: Anthony Kwan/Bloomberg/Getty

CRISPR-baby scientist fired by university

He Jiankui, the scientist who announced last year that he had produced the world’s first gene-edited babies, has been fired by his university in China. The move follows an investigation into He’s work by provincial health authorities. The probe found that He’s experiment ran counter to national regulations against using gene-editing for reproductive purposes and providing people with HIV with assisted reproduction, reports Chinese state media.

Nature | 3 min read

Read more: Genome-edited baby claim provokes international outcry (Nature)

Green light for India’s gravitational-wave observatory

A new detector in India will soon expand the area of sky in which gravitational waves — ripples in the fabric of space-time — can be detected and help to triangulate data to boost sensitivity and confidence of detection. The construction site for advanced LIGO (aLIGO) has received final approval and is scheduled for completion in 2024. aLIGO will be similar to the two US detectors that made a groundbreaking observation of gravitational waves in 2015.

Nature | 3 min read

Popular bioRxiv papers end up in impactful journals

An analysis of the 37,648 preprints posted on the server bioRxiv, which turned five last November, shows the preprint platform is growing fast. Researchers posted more preprints to the bioRxiv server in 2018 alone than in the four previous years. More than 1 million studies are now downloaded from the site every month, mostly in neuroscience, bioinformatics and genomics. And preprints that are downloaded more often on bioRxiv tend to be published in journals with higher impact factors.

Nature | 4 min read

Source: R. J. Abdill & R. Blekhman Preprint at bioRxiv (2019).


Why an economic boom can be bad for your health

When the economy prospers in the developed world, more people — including babies — die. The surprising trend is likely driven by factors including fewer workplace accidents, less pollution and even a lack of money to buy cigarettes and booze. Of course, downturns have plenty of harmful effects, too, so nobody is recommending recessions. Instead, these insights could hint at ways of improving health during boom and bust.

Nature | 14 min read

PhDs face US$18,000 gender pay gap

Male researchers who gained PhDs in 2017, and who have jobs lined up, expect to earn median annual salaries of US$88,000, compared with $70,000 for women. The annual census by the US National Science Foundation found that much of that gap can be explained by the outsized proportion of men in higher-paying fields, such as mathematics and computer science. Men didn’t always come out on top in the survey: women in chemistry expected to earn $85,000, $5,000 more than their male counterparts.

Nature | 4 min read

The ballsy legacy of a biotech giant

“Want to know why an industry that views itself as lifesaving and heroic is viewed by much of the public as price gouging and venal?” Look at Celgene, says STAT in its profile of the drug company. Celgene resurrected the infamous drug thalidomide as a successful treatment for cancer — and increased its price by a factor of 100 in the process. Now, Celgene has been sold, and its demise can be seen as an end of a hard-charging biotech era.

STAT | 11 min read

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Flora Graham, senior editor, Nature Briefing

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