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The resignation of Eric Lander as President Biden’s lead scientific adviser is not just a blow to one president’s plans for advancing research, but a signpost on the death march of a certain way of doing science. It’s not quite “big science,” which isn’t going anywhere. Call it “big ego.”

In science, “big ego” isn’t exactly a new phenomenon. But in recent decades it grew with the emergence of researchers who could both handle the kind of gloves-off debate that can mark academic discourse and marshal vast resources to make certain types of scientific discoveries, like mapping genomes or understanding how molecular changes in a cell lead to cancer.

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