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I have awarded myself with a week off. I am giving myself 4 days to write my job talks, tidy up some nitty gritty bits of left over projects before 2012, send off a few final job apps, and restore my house to normality. To sleep, because I have a very busy and exciting January and MUST NOT get sick during it, and to prepare to hit the last 3/4 of my postdoc running sprinting. Actually, I have noticed that my approach to work schedules is less slow steady marathon, and more Yasso 800, albeit with slightly shorter recovery periods. I love Yasso (the person), and the approach works so far, but the recovery jogs of my work life (I never quite stop) do come with some guilt. Therefore it is nice when they are accompanied by a little reminder that my approach seems to work. Yup! I had another paper accepted. I published 11 papers in my 3-year Ph.D., and would like to beat that for my postdoc. This is paper no.  9, and I have 5 more under review. So, if they are accepted, I am on to smash my Ph.D. record. In fact, I would like to finish my postdoc with an average publication rate of 1 paper every 3 months. That would mean, over my 72 month Ph.D. & postdoc, I would need 24 papers. I have 18 now… 5 under review… and 4 more drafted. I am keeping my fingers crossed. So, onto:

Frazier-Wood et al, PLoS One

I like this paper. This paper was inspired by Dr. Kabagambe who noticed that the LRP-1 receptor is the secondary site of lipid uptake in humans (after the LDL-receptor). In animals, variations at the LRP-1 receptor gene have been associated with changes in fasting lipids. This hadn’t been looked at in humans, and he wanted someone to do so. He also wondered if the LRP-1 gene would interact with variants on the ApoE gene (which contributes to the composition of the lipids that interact with the LRP-1) in fasting lipids. This was supported by the fact the ApoE variants are robustly associated with fasting lipids. However, this not the case, so I decided to extend it to BMI – a phenotype perhaps more ‘downstream’ of the direct LRP-1 / ApoE effects.

I saw a ‘preliminary’ (i.e. weak 🙂 ) effect of LRP-1 on BMI that did not interact with ApoE. Interesting. The effect of the LRP-1 variant (SNP) was actually quite large (accounting for > 1 kg / m2 difference i.e. an increase in BMI of over 1) but as I tested a few SNPs in the LRP-1 gene, it did not survive the correction for multiple testing (hence ‘premilinary’).

This paper was interesting to me as I have always really thought of effects of SNPs on BMI as operating through behavioural phenotypes: perhaps they affect your food preferences (a project I am currently working on), or your motivation to go on a diet, or your ability to stick to your diet… but this is a different, complementary angle: here it is likely a purely metabolic effect. I am looking forward to following this up in 2012 and seeing how this may affect BMI – can I link it more clearly to any biological processes (I don’t normally write about what I intend to do, in case someone else does it… but this is clearly delineated in the paper which should go live and open access in a few days).

I have had a great experience with PloS ONE. The initial reviews were slower than expected (8-10 weeks) but excellent in their quality.  When, in response to such reviews and their excellent statistical critique, I had to rewrite the paper to be less ‘huge evidence for a vast effect of LRP-1 with an exciting interaction with ApoE’ to more ‘Preliminary evidence for a modest effect with no interaction’ PloS ONE stayed true to their stated goal of publishing accurately conducted research, not only going for the Editor’s opinion of exciting findings. The second round of reviews were quick, and the paper accepted immediately from them. I will certainly submit there again.

As a reward I updated my CV to make it look (I hope) cleaner and simpler. I would appreciate anyone’s thoughts on this, as I am utterly in the dark as to how it should look.

Right. Back to my day off. Each day I must : (1) Pick one of my languishing papers and finish it up (mostly stuff in press that needs to be proofed / revisions for papers on which I am a co-author etc); (2) Plan a new paper for 2012 (variables, analysis plan) and make sure the ms proposal is written and out;  (3) finalize and submit a job app; and (4) clean out  and clean up one room in the house. Such is a day off in the life of a final year postdoc 🙂