Jun 26·edited Jun 26Liked by Niko McCarty

>An anti-aging talk by Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte, a biochemist at Altos Labs, was so crowded and overfilled with people that police showed up and ejected half of them. In 2016, Belmonte “reported that sick mice lived 30% longer than expected after receiving a cocktail of special reprogramming proteins,” according to the article in MIT Technology Review.

I was at this conference (but not the talk). The whole conference was poorly organized and chaotic, and I really hope the organizers learn from this.

I also saw Magdalena Żernicka-Goetz's talk, and read her preprint and Jacob Hanna's preprint. I think Hanna's is better but Żernicka-Goetz's is still pretty interesting. They certainly have a huge rivalry going on.

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Great read as always Niko, thanks!

Two comments: 1) why would they call it synXNA, given the clear use of XNA in a different scientific context as unnatural genetic polymers (https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/anie.201905999)? And what's with the spurious website (http://synxna.com/#)?

2) As you applied to Jason Chin's group, you should know that it's at the MRC LMB, not Cambridge Uni (although Jason has an appointment there, too)


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> “Is the LLM really the democratising force here?” wrote Patrick Kearns, a PhD student at the University of Edinburgh. “Anyone with a few years of molecular biology training could do this if so inclined."

The difference between the number of people with a few years of molecular biology training and the number of people who can use ChatGPT is at least two orders of magnitude, maybe more. So yeah, that seems like a big deal.

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