News and Events – National Academies recommends gun-research agenda, NSF to include Coburn criteria in metrics, and open access update

Posted: June 9, 2013 in Events, Funding, Jobs, Science

“When he responded in January to the massacre of 20 schoolchildren and six educators in Newtown, Connecticut, US President Barack Obama issued 23 orders aiming to address the US epidemic of gun violence — including one directing the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to re-start gun research, which has languished since 1996.

The CDC, in turn, asked the Institute of Medicine (IOM), a branch of the National Academies, to recommend a gun-research agenda. Today, the IOM delivered its recommendations.”

“In March, Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) won passage of an amendment to a government-wide spending bill for 2013 that ordered NSF to fund only those research projects in political science that promote national security or economic development. Many scientists feared that NSF, in response, would decide to scrap its entire $10 million political science portfolio because of the difficulty of separating out proposals that fit Coburn’s narrow language.

Instead, today NSF announced that it would simply add Coburn’s two criteria to the two long-standing metrics, intellectual merit and broader impacts, that NSF has used to judge the quality of any grant. Reviewers would start with the traditional criteria and “provide input on whether proposals meet one or both of the additional criteria” allowed as exceptions under the spending bill.”

“Three months after Congress approved mandatory across-the-board 5% budget cuts due to sequestration, the National Institutes of Health today described in grim detail how it is absorbing the loss of $1.55 billion. “NIH must apply the cut evenly across all programs, projects, and activities (PPAs), which are primarily NIH institutes and centers. This means every area of medical research will be affected,” a fact sheet states.”

“This morning, the Senate took up both S 953, the Reed-Harkin-Reid-Murray two year extension of 3.4% interest rate on student loans and the Senate Republican alternative, S 1003, sponsored by Senators Tom Colburn and Lamar Alexander.  The Senate Republican bill would have tied student loan interest rates to the 10-year Treasury note rate plus 3 percentage-points.”

“Democrats and Republicans on the House of Representatives science committee agreed yesterday that the federal government needs to take a more coordinated approach to improving science education. But that’s about the only aspect of the Obama administration’s proposed reorganization of 226 programs at a dozen agencies that they liked.”

“A group of scientific publishers today announced a plan for allowing the public to read taxpayer-funded research papers for free by linking to journals’ own websites. The publishers say that this will eliminate the need for federal agencies to archive the papers themselves to comply with a new government directive. Details are sketchy, however, and it’s not yet clear whether the plan will accomplish everything that the government wants from agencies.”

New research out of UW (in collaboration with John Hoppkins and IRC). “A type of group therapy designed for trauma victims has proved extraordinarily helpful for survivors of sexual violence in Democratic Republic of Congo, enabling women to overcome the shame, nightmares and terrifying flashbacks that had left them unable to work or take care of their families or themselves, researchers report.”

Antibiotic resistance is higher than ever. Now the Obama administration hopes to help. “It’s investing tens of millions in private drug companies to foster new germ-killing drugs. It’s setting up a new research network to develop new antibiotics. And, most controversially, federal health officials are pushing to loosen up the approval process for new antibiotics targeted at patients with life-threatening infections and dwindling treatment options.”

“Martin Stratmann, a director at the Max Planck Institute for Iron Research in Düsseldorf, Germany, will take the chair next year of that country’s largest non-university basic-research organization.”

“A billionaire businessman from Dallas, Texas, has sweetened the pot for a number-theory prize that has remained unclaimed for 16 years. After putting up US$5,000 in 1997 for a solution to the Beal conjecture and then upping it to $100,000 in 2000, Andrew Beal has now raised the stakes yet again to $1 million, the American Mathematical Society (AMS) announced today.”

“Despite the continuing economic crisis, the balance between start-ups and failures in the French life-science sector bounced back last year to the 2010 level, after tilting sharply in 2011. The number of new firms created in 2012 rose from 24 to 35 in 2011, and the number of closures fell from 25 to 14.”


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