Epistasis Blog

From the Artificial Intelligence Innovation Lab at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center (www.epistasis.org)

Sunday, August 28, 2011

People are inherently biased against creative ideas

Physorg.com reports on a study to be published in Psychological Science that suggests people are inherently biased against creative ideas. If true, this could have rather significant implications for how we conduct the peer review and practice of science.

According to Physorg.com, the study finds:

• Creative ideas are by definition novel, and novelty can trigger feelings of uncertainty that make most people uncomfortable.

• People dismiss creative ideas in favor of ideas that are purely practical -- tried and true.

• Objective evidence shoring up the validity of a creative proposal does not motivate people to accept it.

• Anti-creativity bias is so subtle that people are unaware of it, which can interfere with their ability to recognize a creative idea.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

New Center Grant on Gene-Environment Interactions

I have been awarded a five-year $11M NIH/NCRR Center of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) grant to mentor junior investigators, fund junior investigator research projects, hire faculty and build bioinformatics infrastructure for the analysis of gene-environment interactions. This new center grant will complement the institutional funding I received to establish the Institute for Quantitative Biomedical Sciences (iQBS) at Dartmouth College.


Modern biomedical research relies on interdisciplinary approaches such as bioinformatics that synthesize knowledge and methods from other disciplines to provide an integrated framework for solving biomedical problems. The rapid advancement of high-throughput technologies for measuring biological systems has generated a significant demand at Dartmouth College and other research institutions across Northern New England for interdisciplinary approaches in the quantitative sciences (e.g. bioinformatics, biostatistics, genomics, mathematical biology, proteomics, and systems biology). Integrating high-dimensional research databases with clinical databases from medical schools and hospitals across the region will be needed for translational medicine to become a reality. Unfortunately, the research institutions in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont are in a largely rural setting have not kept pace those in larger metropolitan areas such as nearby Boston or New York. The goal of this COBRE program is to establish an Institute for Quantitative Biomedical Sciences (iQBS) that will support and enhance quantitative research across the region and facilitate its integration and synergy with experimental and observational biology. This will be accomplished by 1) establishing a new Institute focused on developing, supporting, and enhancing quantitative research in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont that will become nationally and internationally recognized, free standing, and will foster meaningful collaborations with experimental biologists thus improving the ability of investigators in the region to compete for NIH funding, 2) recruiting talented tenure track quantitative scientists to Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont, 3) mentoring the development of four junior quantitative scientists across the region and 4) promoting synergistic collaborations between quantitative scientists and experimental biologists through four research projects, an Administrative Core and an Integrative Biology Core. The scientific focus of the four research projects is gene-environment interaction within the context of environmental health and toxicology. This provides an important unifying and synergistic theme for the COBRE.