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developmental and stem cell biologists

James Briscoe

Posts by James Briscoe

Course announcement: Gene Regulatory Networks for Development

Posted by , on 6 July 2023

After a pandemic related hiatus the MBL Gene regulatory networks (GRNs) course at Woods Hole is back. It’s been refreshed with new course directors and faculty and is better than ...

2023 Developmental Biology Gordon Research Conference and Seminar - travel grants available

Posted by , on 18 May 2023

Calling all developmental biology postdocs and graduate students! Interested in attending an exciting meeting? Want to expand your dev bio network? Want to present your work to a supportive audience?  ...

Gordon Research Conference: Development Biology 2023

Posted by , on 13 January 2023

June 25 – 30 Mount Holyoke College, Massachusetts, USA It’s back! After 4 years and a global pandemic, the Developmental Biology GRC is on. This is the premier, international scientific ...

EMBO Workshop: Timing mechanisms linking development and evolution

Posted by , on 20 April 2022

Only a few days left to register for the EMBO workshop on time in development and evolution. Barcelona, 29 Jun – 1 Jul 2022. / Time is inherent to biological ...

An update from Development

Posted by , on 11 May 2020

I wanted to take a couple of minutes to update you on how things are going at Development. I imagine many of you will be reading this on a laptop ...

Recent comments by James Briscoe

I understand Jonathan’s point but I would side with Teisha – these definitions could really be “splitting hairs” or becoming increasingly redundant. For example, what definitions do we use when stem cell behaviour (lasting throughout life and generating progeny) is the result of the probabilistic behviour of a population of cells? In these cases it appears impossible to distinguish a priori which cells will be the stem cells and which the progenitors. Do we call them all stem cells? Indeed there may not be a distinction between these two types of cells, beyond the vagaries of probability, and one would argue that “stemness” and “progenitorness” are properties of the population and not individual cells. (See work by Ben Simons and others for more on this type of stem cell behaviour. Nice review in Cell Stem Cell. 2007 Oct 11;1(4):371-81.)
by James Briscoe in Stem Cells versus Progenitors on February 15, 2011
No, I'm afraid we're not going to have a video-feed, but its an idea we should consider for future meetings. As a matter of interest, do you think you (i.e. your lab/institute) would be willing to pay a small fee (~USD 100) for having access to a conference in this way, because if we were to video a meeting we would have to cover the cost of hiring the equipment and operators.
by James Briscoe in Development of Sensory Systems: Autumn BSDB2010 on August 12, 2010
I agree with Greg. The conventional salary structures that most publicly funded research bodies use perpetuate the idea that there is a single linear, hierarchical career ladder. In addition, I do not believe they are an honest reflection of the reality of how research is accomplished. More flexibility is what’s needed and the acknowledgment and encouragement of a diversity of career routes and development paths. In the same way, I think its very unhelpful when senior members of the life science community publicly state that only people in their 30s and 40s can be successful, productive PIs. However, this might be an issue for another thread....
by James Briscoe in Too many postdocs and PhD students? on July 27, 2010
I think we need to ask this question in a different way. Instead of asking if we are training too many scientists, we should ask what is the purpose of scientific training. If we believe that a PhD is simply a vocational qualification for academic research then its easy to argue that we are training too many. Likewise, we would should slim down business schools if an MBA is simply a qualification for CEOs of blue-chip companies. But I think scientific training should be viewed in a broader context. The skills learned in research – project management, communication, critical analysis, creativity – are highly valued and needed in a diverse range of jobs. What better way to acquire these skills than in research? I’d argue that the more people who are trained in a research environment that end up pursuing careers in other sectors, the stronger the economy will be. For example, I find it deeply worrying that currently there are only two members of the British parliament that have a PhD. How can we hope to develop and nurture a “knowledge economy” if an understanding of science and scientific training does not ramify throughout the economy. We, as the academic science community, need to stop thinking that the only acceptable career route leads to a tenure committee at an ivy league university and that anyone not achieving this goal has failed or quit. Instead, we need to promote the benefits of a PhD and research experience to all employers. At the same time we should stop dividing the world into “science” and “alternative” careers and look to expand the range of career choices available.
by James Briscoe in Too many postdocs and PhD students? on July 23, 2010