Focusing on stem cells

May 17, 2011
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Since Nature Protocols launched we’ve been having a shall-we-shan’t-we discussion about the relative merits of article series. On one hand they seem such a great idea – bringing together lots of protocols in a specific area to make life easier for researchers in that area. On the other hand we worry they’ll alienate researchers working on other things – why do the mass spectrometrists get special treatment and not us? And how do you decide what to include on such a page – anything vaguely connected or just the hard core of a particular topic? Then finally, as an Editor I just find myself wondering why I am making more work for myself…

But back in 2009 we took the plunge and launched our Stem Cell Series page. At the time stem cells were all the rage – if you watched the TV news at night you’d think all diseases were on the verge of being cured by these fantastic new cells. Unless you lived in the US, where they were not viewed so kindly by some.

Recently the page has slipped a bit in priorities – launching the Protocol Exchange was quite a job. But we feel it’s now time to revitalise it. Stem cells remain a hot research topic, and the optimism about their potential remains. Each week more and more possible applications are being devised. I’m pleased to see that our recently published stem cell protocols are reflecting this increased variety. Currently featured, in addition to our typical protocols showing how to get your stem cells initially, or how to go from stem cells to your cells of choice, there are some intriguing ways to look at your stem cells. Some of these methods can be applied to cells other than stem cells so do check it out even if your favourite cell is not a stem cell.

The juries still out on whether series pages are a useful addition to our site. So, if you’ve not checked for a while, or if you’ve not looked at all, we do suggest you take a peek. And do let us know what you think – should we run series or not? And if so, what topics should we cover?

Katharine Barnes

Managing Editor, Nature Protocols, Nature Research

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