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United Press International (UPI)

UPI reporter Brooks Hays writes that a new tool developed by researchers from MIT and other institutions can precisely control gene expression without altering the underlying gene sequence. “Scientists hope this new ability to silence any part of the human genome will lead to powerful insights into functionality of the human genome, as well as inspire new therapies for a variety of diseases and genetic disorders,” writes Hays.

Stat

Prof. Emerita Nancy Hopkins speaks with Rebecca Sohn of STAT about the Boston Biotech Working Group’s goal of increasing the number of women leaders and entrepreneurs in biotech and her hopes for the future of women in biotech and the sciences. “You want people to feel that they are free to participate in all the things wherever it leads them,” says Hopkins. “So I think the goal is just that people who really want to do this [pursue biotech] don’t face any greater barrier than anybody else. That everybody has equal access and education to do as they want to.”

Boston Globe

A group of MIT scientists has announced a new plan, called the Future Founders Initiative, aimed at addressing gender inequities in the biotech industry, reports Anissa Gardizy for The Boston Globe. “If we can’t advance discoveries at the same rate for women and men, that means there are drugs, therapies, devices, and diagnostics that are not getting to where they can actually benefit people,” says President Emerita Susan Hockfield. “If as a region we want to continue to lead the world, the best thing to do is not squander our resources.”

The Boston Globe

Prof. Matthew Vander Heiden has been selected to serve as the new director of MIT’s Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, reports Anissa Gardizy for The Boston Globe. “We have broken down all these barriers, these traditional silos of fields, and I think that uniquely positions us to answer the big questions about cancer going forward," says Vander Heiden of the Koch Institute's work.

New Scientist

New Scientist reporter Layal Liverpool writes that a new study co-authored by MIT researchers finds that “synthetic cells made by combining components of Mycoplasma bacteria with a chemically synthesised genome can grow and divide into cells of uniform shape and size, just like most natural bacterial cells.”

Smithsonian Magazine

Smithsonian reporter Theresa Machemer writes that a new study by MIT researchers shows that C. elegans are able to sense and avoid the color blue.

Stat

Prof. Ruth Lehmann, director of the Whitehead Institute, speaks with STAT reporter Elizabeth Cooney about the importance of fundamental scientific research. “There are so many areas that are so important for science,” says Lehmann. “One is supporting fundamental research. But then there are other areas like diversity and disparities.”

New York Times

A new study by MIT researchers investigates how roundworms are able to sense the color blue to avoid dangerous bacteria that secrete toxins, reports Veronique Greenwood for The New York Times. Greenwood found that “some roundworms respond clearly to that distinctive pigment, perceiving it — and fleeing from it — without the benefit of any known visual system.”

United Press International (UPI)

UPI reporter Brooks Hays writes that MIT researchers have developed a new machine learning algorithm that can anticipate and recognize a protein’s varied structures. “The new AI-system,” writes Hays, “does more than image a diversity of conformations, it can also predict the varied motions of different protein structures.”

Los Angeles Times

In an opinion piece for The Los Angeles Times, Institute Professor Phillip Sharp, Ellen Sigal of the Friends of Cancer Research and Sherry Lansing of the Sherry Lansing Foundation underscore the importance of selecting an effective leader for the FDA. “In order to restore trust in the FDA, and restore morale within, a permanent leader with expansive experience, medical expertise and the confidence of agency staff and the American public needs to be nominated in short order,” they write.

CBS News

CBS News spotlights how two MIT researchers have been named to key roles on the Biden administration’s science team. Prof. Eric Lander, president and founding director of the Broad Institute, has been nominated to lead the Office of Science and Technology Policy, and Maria Zuber, MIT’s vice president for research, will co-chair the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. Zuber said she hopes to "restore trust in science, and pursue breakthroughs that benefit all people."

Nature

Prof. Eric Lander, president and founding director of the Broad Institute, and Maria Zuber, MIT’s vice president for research, have been nominated to leading roles on the Biden administration's science team, report Nidhi Subbaraman and Alexandra Witze for Nature. “These are excellent appointments, highly qualified and experienced, and well grounded in science,” says Rita Colwell, a professor at University of Maryland at College Park and former director of the National Science Foundation

Associated Press

AP reporter Seth Borenstein writes about how President-elect Joe Biden is nominating Prof. Eric Lander of the Broad Institute to serve as his chief science officer and lead the Office of Science and Technology Policy, and has selected Maria Zuber, vice president for research at MIT, to co-chair the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. Francis Collins, director of the NIH, called Lander, “brilliant, visionary, exceptionally creative and highly effective in aspiring others. I predict he will have a profound transformational effect on American science.”

New York Times

New York Times reporter Carl Zimmer writes that Prof. Eric Lander, president and founding director of the Broad Institute, has been nominated to serve as director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy and to serve as a presidential science advisor. MIT Vice President for Research Maria Zuber will co-chair the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.

The Washington Post

Prof. Eric Lander, president and founding director of the Broad Institute, has been nominated by President-elect Joe Biden to lead the Office of Science and Technology Policy, which Biden will make a Cabinet-level position, reports Sarah Kaplan for The Washington Post. Maria Zuber, MIT’s vice president for research, will co-chair the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.