July 14, 2020

The Niche

Knoepfler lab stem cell blog

The Niche’s 2,000th post: where do we go from here?

2,000 is a big number.

As of this week I’ve now published 2,000 posts here on The Niche since I started back in early 2010. I can’t quite believe it myself.

To celebrate that milestone, I have revamped The Niche in terms of its organization and style with the help of a very skilled web developer.

You might have noticed some of these changes around here. I hope you like them. The site should be speedier for one thing.

We are also nearing another milestone of 10,000 comments, which means we are averaging just about 5 comments/post.

Since post #1 way back more than 7 years ago until now the 2,000th post, I’ve covered a whole range of topics within the stem cell universe and even some others beyond such as CRISPR.

Where do I and we as a community interacting here on this site go from here?

I’m considering some new areas of focus and new approaches to educational outreach as well as community interaction.

I’m going to try to stick a bit more to stem cells. If I do weigh on in CRISPR and gene editing-related issues not directly related to stem cells, I may post them on just on our new sister site, CRISPR ME or co-post them in both places, but that new educational site is still in development. I also want to find ways to involve patients more. For instance, my post for patients to share their experiences and ask questions has gotten more than 200 comments. How can we build on that and get more dialogue?

Based on the reader polling I did earlier this year, I am thinking to continue doing investigative types of posts such as these on the Richard Burt stem cell trials for MS as Northwestern (here, here, and here) as well as on the dubious practices of many stem cell clinics. However, frankly those kinds of posts are risky for me so I have to consider how to approach them and what is the best for the community.

I also want to keep doing fun things like polls, reader contests, and other outside the box kinds of activities. In addition, it’s always exciting to experiment with innovative approaches to blogging and science. For instance, in 2014 in the midst of the whole STAP fiasco, I hosted a real-time STAP crowd sourcing page for results from attempts to replicate STAP. While that was somewhat imperfect, it had positive impact and rapidly pointed toward one of the key problems with the STAP cell nature papers and that was autofluorescence. This was one of the earliest attempts of its kind at open, crowd sourcing in real-time of replication efforts related to published papers.

What new things might be in store for the future of The Niche? Stay tuned, but one thing I’d like to do more of is drawings and science-related cartoons. I also want to bring in my stakeholders in the clinical arena.

I’m revisiting the idea of my Stem Cell Person of the Year Award as well where I give out an award for the person having the most positive impact who is also doing it in an outside the box kind of way. The prize includes $2,000. I am most likely planning to continue giving it out, but looking for ways to boost the positive impact.

As a busy professor, research scientist and medical educator, time management is always on my mind. Getting more sleep would be nice, but there are only so many hours in the day to try to get everything done.

In looking ahead to the future of this blog it helps for me in terms of considering the evolving mission and vision that the stem cell and regenerative medicine field remains so exciting, important, and ever-changing. In other words, there is likely going to be much to post about here for many years to come. I hope you’ll continue to read and comment here.

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