Articles and Events – Congress passes a budget, genetic testing recommendations, and NSF can no longer fund political science research

Posted: March 24, 2013 in Ethics, Events, Funding, Jobs, Policy, Science

“This afternoon, the United States Senate delivered a devastating blow to the integrity of the scientific process at the National Science Foundation (NSF) by voting for the Coburn Amendment to the Continuing Appropriations Act of 2013.

Senator Coburn (R-OK) submitted an amendment (SA 65, as modified) to the Mikulski-Shelby Amendment (SA 26) to H.R. 933 (Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act of 2013).  The amendment places unprecedented restriction on the national research agenda by declaring the political science study of democracy and public policy out of bounds.  The amendment allows only political science research that promotes “national security or the economic interests of the United States.””

“Today, the American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics (AMCG) released recommendations for how genome-sequencing laboratories should report incidental findings after a doctor orders a full or partial genome sequence. It defines a minimum list of about 60 genes and 30 conditions that should be reported to the doctor as part of a patient’s care, whether the patient wants to know them or not. But the guidelines stop far short of recommending that all risk factors be passed on to doctors and patients.”

“U.S. research agencies finally know what they have to spend for the rest of the 2013 fiscal year after Congress completed work today on a bill to fund the government through 30 September.”

“The Senate passed a 2013 spending plan today that would ease the blow of mandatory budget cuts to some US science funding agencies — but only slightly.”

“OSTP Director John P. Holdren hosted a roundtable today of more than 30 professionals from inside and outside government committed to the cause of improving the Nation’s corps of K-12 science, engineering, and math teachers. The discussion, in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, came on the heels of this morning’s announcement by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) that it would donate $22.5 million to the National Math and Science Initiative to accelerate the scale-up of the UTeach program in American universities.”

“A swath of science fans expressed shock Wednesday upon learning that a popular science Facebook page is run by a woman.”

Not a single scientist on the latest 50 Most Influential People in Seattle list.

“There is broad public support in the United Kingdom for allowing a new type of IVF treatment that could prevent mitochondrial diseases, the country’s Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority (HFEA) announced today. The techniques would introduce new DNA into an embryo, and so it has raised thorny ethical questions. At the same time, the authority advised the government that several safeguards should be included in any proposals for new regulations that would permit clinics to perform the technique.”

“Today the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) released a letter to the Presidentdescribing six key components the advisory group believes should be central to the Administration’s strategy for addressing climate change.”

“As directors of the Department of Energy’s National Laboratories, we have a responsibility both to taxpayers and to the thousands of talented and committed men and women who work in our labs. We are doing everything we can to make sure our scientists and engineers can keep working on our nation’s most pressing scientific problems despite the cuts. It’s not yet clear how much funding the National Labs will lose, but it will total tens of millions of dollars. Interrupting — or worse, halting — basic research in the physical, biological, and computational sciences would be devastating, both for science and for the many U.S. industries that rely on our national laboratory system to power their research and development efforts.”

“And the award for ‘best physicist’ goes to…Alexander Polyakov, of Princeton University in New Jersey. Polyakov was yesterday named the winner of 2013’s whopping US$3-million Fundamental Physics Prize for his early work on developing some of the mathematics behind the quantum-mechanical theory of fields that today underpins the standard model of particle physics.”


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