How to Review a Scientific Manuscript

Even in the era of open access and non-traditional forms of communication like social media, publication of research findings in peer-reviewed scientific journals remains the major way of disseminating our findings to the broader research community.  As such, appropriate peer-review is crucial for the critical review of new data before the findings are presented to the scientific public.  It seems simple enough right?  All of us read papers and think about what the results mean for our wok and for the field.  But we all have our own opinions about what makes a paper really exceptional.  When I read a paper I always think about why the authors chose to do a certain experiment a particular way, or why they didn’t follow up on this finding more.  So we all have an internal monologue, which serves as our own peer-review.  The people called upon by journals to review manuscripts essentially serve as gate-keepers to ensure rigorous and careful interpretation before the data are made public…

New Investigators: This Year’s ISEH NIC Invited Speaker is…

Every year at the ISEH meeting, the New Investigator Committee (NIC) invites one speaker to present in the New Investigator Award Session. For this year’s meeting in Brisbane, we have invited Marella de Bruijn PhD, Professor of Developmental Haematopoiesis at the University of Oxford. Marella completed her PhD at the University of Rotterdam in 1997 and went on to do postdoctoral training with Profs. Elaine Dzierzak and Nancy Speck, In 2003, Marella started her own lab at the Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine at Oxford, where she has focused on understanding the genetic regulation of developmental blood formation. Besides running her research laboratory, Marella has been heavily involved in training and mentorship at Oxford and within ISEH, and is this year’s organizer of the ISEH pre-meeting workshop. In preparation for her invited talk at ISEH, we caught up with Marella to find out more about her interests and her science.

Q&A with Marella de Bruijn:
Q1. How would you desc…

Lab Spotlight: McKinney-Freeman Lab

Each month, Simply Blood spotlights a lab focused on the research of basic hematology, immunology, stem cell research, cell and gene therapy, and other related aspects. Get to know these different labs around the world! This month, we are featuring the McKinney-Freeman Lab at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

1. How long have you had your lab? 
Almost nine years.

2. How many members make up your lab?  Students/postdocs?
Currently, my group consists of four postdoctoral fellows, two PhD students from the University of Tennessee Health Sciences Center, an international Master’s student from Paris Diderot University, an undergraduate from Rhodes College here in Memphis and a technician. I am currently looking to recruit a lab manager and multiple additional postdoctoral fellows.

3. What is the major research theme of your lab?

The major overarching theme of my lab is the basic biology of hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs). We are currently focused on deciphering novel molecular regul…

The ISEH Junior Investigator Grant Writing Workshop—a key to your future success!

Obtaining independent grant funding for a new lab is hard.  We all know it, but it feels bigger and heavier when it’s your own lab on the line.  In 2013 I set up my own lab and submitted my first R01 application.  I felt that I had done my due diligence in preparing for this momentous step – having completed 16 (!) years of postgraduate training.  I had put the work in and knew that this was the next leap I needed to take to really become an independent scientist.  Yet even with the benefits granted to new and “young” applicants, my score on that first R01 fell far short of the funding line. I felt the sting and shame of failure, and it rooted itself in a very dark place in my psyche. Over the next year I worked and worked and worked – mostly alone and in my office, and after a full year submitted a revision of the first grant that I felt could pass muster. I had even paid a professional editing service to help with feedback on that grant. So, when that grant was not even scored, the…

Leading a Research Group in Europe - Part II: United Kingdom

Throughout the next few months ISEH member, Christophe Lancrin, will be highlighting his professional journey working in various European countries. This month we travel to the United Kingdom.

Last month, I have started a series of blogs to give a snapshot of how it is to work in academia in Europe. In the first entry, I presented the French system where tenure track is not common and young scientists who just completed their post-doctoral research could get permanent state-funded positions right away.

In this new entry, I will discuss the British system. For the readers who are based in the US, they will notice similarities between the two countries. In particular, a starting group leader has usually to go through the tenure track process before being awarded a permanent position.

I did my post-doctoral research in the UK at the Paterson Institute for Cancer Research now Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute. Cancer Research UK is one of the largest charities in Europe and provides c…

Exploring Experimental Hematology: Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell Modeling of Malignant Hematopoiesis

In this issue of Simply Blood, Yoon-A Kang is exploring Experimental Hematology by highlighting and deconstructing one of her favorite manuscripts from the ISEH society journal: "Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell Modeling of Malignant Hematopoiesis"

The discovery of a means to induce cellular pluripotency by introducing four transcription factors (Sox2, Klf4, Oct3/4 and c-Myc) (Takahashi et al., 2007) has heralded a global scientific re-thinking of genetics and epigenetics among developmental processes and disease. A decade later, induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) with genome editing technology have now opened doors to help answer questions previously limited in the past. Here is a sneak preview of an excellent review where Mark Chao and Ravindra Majeti cover this line of work and more:

My reason for reading this review:
Disease modeling provides important first steps to understand disease pathology and underlying mechanisms that inform ways to eventually discover therapeut…

Clonal Dynamics at the Stem Cell Level in the Progression of Myelodysplastic Syndrome to Acute Myeloid Leukemia: An Interview with Jiahao Chen

A widely known fact is that patients diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) are at a significantly increased risk for developing subsequent acute myeloid leukemia (AML).  However, how these clinical entities are related at a clonal level has not been well elucidated, let alone studied at the single-cell-level in comparing stem and blast cell populations from the same individual over time. At last year’s ISEH 2018 meeting in Los Angeles, I met Jiahao Chen, the first author of a recently published paper from Dr. Ulrich Steidl’s lab at Albert Einstein College of Medicine who addressed these knowledge gaps (Chen et al. 2019).  Here are answers to a few follow-up questions about his work that was first reported at the annual meeting.

1.  What is the most important take-home message readers should get from your work?

I would say that the most important message from our work comes from our demonstration that stem cells within MDS and AML have a much higher level of clonal he…