My name is Niko McCarty. I'm a biotechnology writer.
Advances in biotechnology have already enabled incredible breakthroughs in food, medicine, and agriculture. Genetic engineering is the foundation of the mRNA vaccines for COVID-19, FDA-approved salmon that grow twice as fast as wild fish, modified bulls that do not grow horns and thus do not suffer upon their removal, advanced CAR-T cancer therapies in which 9 out of 10 people with treatment-resistant lymphoblastic leukemia experience remission, artificial heme proteins for Impossible Burgers, plant microbes that fix nitrogen and thus reduce the planet's reliance on artificial fertilizer, and most of the planet's insulin supply.
Many biological research advances are never covered by journalists because they are technically dense, difficult to decipher, or rich in nuance. My life's goal is to ameliorate the divide between biotechnology journalism and the general public. I want everyone to know about the amazing, biological achievements that are driving this century of progress.
Let's build a better future together.
Send me an email: nsmccarty3 [at] gmail.com
I was a biological engineer, working at the bench, for seven years. I've studied the links between diabetes and heart failure, have invented tools to make dozens of genetic edits in living cells simultaneously, and have quantified the binding energies between proteins and a cell's DNA.
My peer-reviewed research has appeared in Nature Communications, eLife, JCI Insight, and other journals. A full list of my work can be found online.
After dropping out of Caltech's PhD program in bioengineering, I went to study science journalism at New York University and, afterwards, became a staff Data Journalist at the Simons Foundation in New York. My published work has appeared in Scientific American, The Counter, Retraction Watch, Forbes, Spectrum, and elsewhere. A full list of my articles can be found on the "Published Work" tab.
I'm currently a Learning & Curriculum Specialist at MIT, where I'm studying how genetic engineering is currently taught, and how it can be improved, with Christopher Voigt. The long-term goal is to build a flourishing bioeconomy, wherein young people can learn all the skills they need to design and manipulate DNA — and living organisms — to produce medicines, food, and advanced materials without obtaining a PhD.
I also work as a Writer at Asimov, a full-stack genetic design company in Boston. I'm working on writing, creative, and education projects.
Previously, I was Head of Media at New Science, a 501c3 nonprofit that made grants to highly talented scientists with the aim of accelerating basic science. I've also worked as a data journalist at Spectrum in New York and as a journalism intern at Retraction Watch, where I broke several stories that were later covered by the Financial Times and WIRED.
Before that, I was a research scientist at Caltech (with Rob Phillips), Imperial College London (with Rodrigo Ledesma-Amaro and Tom Ellis), and the University of Iowa (with E. Dale Abel).
New York University | MA in Science Journalism
California Institute of Technology | MS in Bioengineering (dropped out of PhD)
Imperial College | MRes in Systems and Synthetic Biology (Fulbright Scholar)
University of Iowa | BS in Biochemistry (Goldwater Scholar)
My edited articles have appeared in Scientific American, Forbes, The Counter, Retraction Watch, Spectrum, and elsewhere.
Hacking Photosynthesis | Codon Magazine
The Laws of Science | New Science
Prominent Chinese scientist failed to disclose company ties in COVID-19 clinical trial paper | Retraction Watch (later covered in the Financial Times)
New Science's Report on the NIH (Editor) | New Science
Interactive Autism Drug Tracker | Spectrum