Keeping the Lights On

“Productive anxiety is the competitive anxiety that we all have as scientists—worrying that you will get scooped on your next paper, or that someone else is working harder than you.

Unproductive anxiety revolves around questions such as, “Am I going to get a paycheck? Am I going to be able to feed my kids? Am I going to have a job in five years?”

Those are the kinds of things that people shouldn’t have to worry about when they have studied for a dozen years to get an advanced degree to pursue science.

 

Susan A. Slaugenhaupt, PhD
Scientific Director, Mass General Research Institute

Quote from Dr. Szostak, 2009 Nobel Laureate

It’s important to recognize that despite all the problems we have, this is still a great time to be doing science. There are unbelievable advances being made, and incredible new technologies that allow us to make discoveries that we couldn’t even dream about 20 years ago. So it may be harder in some respects, but it is still a fantastic time to be involved in research.

Jack Szostak, PhD
2009 Nobel Laureate
Department of Molecular Biology
Massachusetts General Hospital

Mass General Nobel Laureate Jack Szostak Reflects on the Future of Science in the United States

Jack Szostak, PhD, a molecular biologist at Massachusetts General Hospital, was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 2009. With the perspective of his 35-year career in the sciences, Szostak recently joined a small panel of fellow Nobel Laureates to discuss the future of scientific careers for an audience of young scientists, and shares some of those reflections with Proto.

Here are a few memorable quotes:

“Really good creative scientists still do risky stuff—that is why we are in science in the first place. But when only 10% of grant proposals are approved, it is hard to pursue things that are overly risky. That’s just an unintended consequence of a grant system that has become increasingly conservative.”

“It’s important to recognize that despite all the problems we have, this is still a great time to be doing science. There are unbelievable advances being made, and incredible new technologies that allow us to make discoveries that we couldn’t even dream about 20 years ago. So it may be harder in some respects, but it is still a fantastic time to be involved in research.”

READ THE ARTICLE  

New Polymer Gel Could Improve the Safety of Slow-Release Medications

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A research team from Mass General and MIT’s Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research are working on a new type of polymer gel that could allow swallowed medical devices or capsules to safely act inside the body over the course of days, weeks or even months.

Improving the safety of slow-release medications could open the door for devices that control hunger in patients with obesity, help to diagnose gastrointestinal issues and extend the effects of drugs.

Long-term devices are not currently in wide use because of the potential for causing an intestinal blockage when the device reaches the small intestine.

However, this new gel is designed to break down upon entering the small intestine. Giovanni Traverso, MBBCh, PhD, of the Department of Gastroenterology at Mass General, is co-senior author of the study.