Archive for the ‘Science’ Category

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The Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) has released a new report, Sustaining Discovery in Biological and Medical Sciences: A Framework for Discussion,detailing FASEB’s most recent analysis of the problems/issues facing the biomedical research enterprise.

From the executive summary: “FASEB….is concerned about the future of biological and medical research. Inconsistent investment policies, growing demands for research funding, and outdated policies are jeopardizing current and future progress in this important area of research. This is a serious problem for the nation, and requires immediate attention and action.”

Options for mitigating the multitude of problems discussed in the FASEB report include: 1: Maximize research funding; 2: Optimize funding mechanisms; and 3: Improve workforce utilization and training.

ScienceInsider writes, “Although it echoes previous reports, FASEB’s analysis breaks new ground for the society because it provides “a comprehensive view of the problem and recognizes that an increase in funding is not the way out of this dilemma,” says Howard Garrison, director of FASEB’s Office of Public Affairs. He said FASEB’s board now hopes to collect feedback from its membership.”

http://researchamerica.wordpress.com/2014/08/21/a-weekly-advocacy-message-from-mary-woolley-deep-thoughts-occasioned-by-ice-buckets/#more-2309

Dr. Mary Woolley, Research!America President and CEO, shares her thoughts on the ALS ice bucket challenge and issues her own challenge. “Where will change come from?  Probably not from more ice bucket challenges, per se, yet we should not underestimate the power of social media that is driving this challenge.  The science community is not particularly adept with social media and may even disparage it.  But we do so at great risk if we care about staying relevant and accessible to the public.  Using social media this election season to ask candidates to take a stand on the importance or lack of importance they assign to medical progress is a different challenge than pouring freezing cold water over your head and/or writing a check to the ALS Association.  Both are ways to speak out about the importance of fighting back against diseases instead of standing down, as Congress appears to be doing. Contact your candidates and tell them what you think. Don’t wait; seize this teachable moment; make a phone call; show up at a town hall meeting;  use social media to connect to candidates. Tap our list of candidates’ Twitter handles to easily direct a tweet to their attention.  And take the ice bucket challenge!”

 

http://news.sciencemag.org/asiapacific/2014/08/china-pulls-plug-genetically-modified-rice-and-corn

“China’s Ministry of Agriculture has decided not to renew biosafety certificates that allowed research groups to grow genetically modified (GM) rice and corn. The permits, to grow two varieties of GM rice and one transgenic corn strain, expired on 17 August. The reasoning behind the move is not clear, and it has raised questions about the future of related research in China.”

 

http://news.sciencemag.org/education/2014/08/flow-chinese-grad-students-u-s-slows

“For years, U.S. university administrators have worried that China’s massive investment in higher education would eventually mean fewer Chinese students seeking to earn advanced science and engineering degrees at their institutions. A new survey from the Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) hints that the time may be approaching: For the second straight year, graduate applications from Chinese students are essentially flat. So is the number of acceptances, the first time that has happened in nearly a decade.”

 

http://news.sciencemag.org/education/2014/08/iranian-parliament-ousts-reform-minded-science-minister

“A monthslong effort to breathe new life into Iranian universities is at a crossroads after the ouster on Wednesday of the nation’s reformist science minister, Reza Faraji-Dana. “His downfall is a sad day for science in Iran,” says a scientist at the Sharif University of Technology in Tehran who asked to remain anonymous because of the uncertain political climate.”

 

http://news.sciencemag.org/people-events/2014/08/science-group-asks-u-s-energy-secretary-intervene-case-fired-los-alamos

“A science advocacy group is calling on Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz to get involved in the case of political scientist James Doyle, who was fired by the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) after publishing a scholarly article questioning the value of nuclear weapons.”

 

http://thinkprogress.org/health/2014/08/25/3475190/date-rape-nail-polish/#

Alternative response/opinion to the recent headline grabbing Undercolor Colors, a new nail polish that will detect certain types of date rape drugs in liquids. “While the new product has captured its fair share of headlines over the past week, sexual assault prevention advocates warn that it’s not necessarily the best way to approach the sexual assault epidemic on college campuses.”

 

http://news.sciencemag.org/environment/2014/07/greening-food-pyramid

“Advice about a healthy diet might soon take the planet itself into account. The next version of Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the major nutrition report from the government agencies that brought you the food pyramid, seems likely to contain advice about sustainable food choices. The prospect is already generating controversy.”

 

http://news.sciencemag.org/people-events/2014/07/hivaids-field-shocked-death-leading-researcher-mh17-crash

“As thousands of researchers gathered here today to attend the 20th International AIDS Conference, which starts Sunday, the usual joyous hugs of greeting between far-flung colleagues were replaced by hugs of sorrow at the loss of Dutch HIV scientist Joep Lange, a leading light in the field, and at least five others heading to the meeting who were on the Malaysian Airlines flight shot down over Ukraine on 17 July.”

 

http://blogs.nature.com/news/2014/07/wellcome-trust-looks-to-youth-and-high-risk-research.html

“The United Kingdom’s largest biomedical charity is to shake up the way it forks out its funding, with an increased emphasis on ‘high-risk’ research and stronger support for less-experienced scientists.”

 

http://news.sciencemag.org/asiapacific/2014/07/australia-scraps-carbon-tax

“Bucking global efforts to curtail carbon pollution, Australia’s conservative government yesterday abolished a national carbon tax that it had long opposed. The move to “ax the tax”—as Prime Minister Tony Abbott is fond of saying—makes Australia the first country in the world to abolish a functioning carbon pricing scheme.”

 

http://nexus.od.nih.gov/all/2014/07/17/formula-for-innovation-people-ideas-time/

“To meet the changing needs of the biomedical workforce, NIH is piloting the concept of awarding longer grants that provide more stable support for investigators at all career stages. It is our hope that with more sustained support, investigators will have more freedom to innovate and explore new lines of inquiry. The NIH Pioneer Award, supported by the Common Fund, represents a compelling example of such an approach. Pioneer Awards supports individual scientists of exceptional creativity, who propose pioneering – and possibly transformative approaches – to major research challenges. This award allows for $500,000 annually in direct costs for five years, and, in a recent evaluation, was shown to facilitate a high level of innovation and productivity.”

 

http://news.sciencemag.org/scientific-community/2014/07/1-scientific-publishing

“Publishing is one of the most ballyhooed metrics of scientific careers, and every researcher hates to have a gap in that part of his or her CV. Here’s some consolation: A new study finds that very few scientists—fewer than 1%—manage to publish a paper every year.”

 

http://news.sciencemag.org/asiapacific/2014/07/researcher-sues-block-retraction-golden-rice-paper

“A researcher whose nutrition study in Chinese children was found in breach of ethical regulations is going to court to salvage a paper describing her results. Nutrition scientist Guangwen Tang is suing the American Society for Nutrition (ASN) and Tufts University, where she has worked for more than 25 years, to prevent the retraction of her 2012 paper in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.”

 

 

http://news.sciencemag.org/health/2014/04/first-global-drug-resistance-overview-paints-grim-picture

“Without urgent, coordinated action by many stakeholders, the world is headed for a post-antibiotic era, in which common infections and minor injuries which have been treatable for decades can once again kill,” wrote Keiji Fukuda, WHO’s assistant director-general for health security, in a press statement.”

 

http://news.sciencemag.org/climate/2014/05/u.s.-climate-changes-white-house-embraces-science-never

The White House has just released its new National Climate Assessment (NCA), and its central scientific message will be familiar to climate scientists and the White House press corps. Climate impacts are already apparent in the United States, they are likely to worsen, and communities should begin factoring climate change into all kinds of decisions. From Hawaii to Maine, from the fishing industry to manufacturing, the report’s 30 chapters emphasize that “evidence of human-induced climate change continues to strengthen and that impacts are increasing across the country.””

 

http://blogs.nature.com/news/2014/05/uks-royal-society-still-trails-us-national-academy-of-sciences-in-female-members.html

“The Royal Society — the United Kingdom’s national science academy — today announced that it has elected 50 new fellows, who get to put the prestigious letters ‘FRS’ after their name….Just 14% of the new fellows are women, meaning that the Royal Society still lags behind the US National Academy of Sciences (NAS) in terms of female representation. The NAS had 21% women among the 84 newly elected members it announced two days ago, and consistently elects a higher proportion of women than its UK counterpart (see chart).”

 

http://news.sciencemag.org/health/2014/05/calling-polio-international-emergency-who-recommends-travel-requirements

Citing “extraordinary” circumstances, the World Health Organization (WHO) today declared the international spread of wild poliovirus a public health emergency of international concern. It is just the second time that WHO has declared an emergency, saying the recent export of polio from three nations to adjoining areas could threaten global efforts to eradicate the disease. “

 

http://news.sciencemag.org/asiapacific/2014/05/mega%E2%80%93marine-reserve-going-limits-fishers

The government of the Pacific island nation Kiribati has announced that it will close one of the world’s biggest marine reserves to all commercial fishing at the end of the year. The Phoenix Islands Protected Area, about the size of California, is home to the world’s last major stocks of tuna.”

 

http://blogs.nature.com/news/2014/05/uk-politicians-wade-into-pharma-mega-deal.html

“Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer has attempted to reassure UK politicians over its attempts to buy AstraZeneca, as political parties traded blows over the potential merger.”

http://news.sciencemag.org/biology/2014/04/u.s.-biomedical-research-unsustainable-prominent-researchers-warn

The U.S. biomedical science system “is on an unsustainable path” and needs major reform, four prominent researchers write in an opinion piece published today by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Researchers should “confront the dangers at hand,” the authors write, and “rethink” how academic research is funded, staffed, and organized,according to Science Careers (published by AAAS, which also publishes ScienceInsider).”

 

http://blogs.nature.com/news/2014/04/ipcc-report-calls-for-climate-mitigation-action-now-not-later.html

“The world is heading towards possibly dangerous levels of global warming despite increasing efforts to promote the transition to a low-carbon economy, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warns in its latest report today.”

 

http://news.sciencemag.org/europe/2014/04/pro-life-citizens-initiative-worries-e.u.-scientists

A group of European pro-life organizations is mobilizing against embryonic stem cell research in a way that the European Commission cannot ignore. One of Us, a so-called European citizens’ initiative, has collected 1.7 million signatures from all 28 E.U. member states for a proposal that would block funding for research in which embryos are destroyed; under E.U. rules, the European Commission must now consider turning the proposal into legislation.”

 

http://blogs.nature.com/news/2014/04/acid-bath-stem-cell-scientist-apologizes-and-appeals.html

“Haruko Obokata, the Japanese scientist at the centre of a controversy over studies purporting to turn mature cells to stem cells simply by bathing them in acid or subjecting them to mechanical stress, today apologized for her errors in the work.”

 

http://news.sciencemag.org/health/2014/04/armed-new-data-researchers-again-challenge-effectiveness-antiflu-drug

BMJ has published the latest volley in a battle over one of the most controversial drugs of the 21st century: the anti-influenza compound oseltamivir, better known as Tamiflu. A working group of the Cochrane Collaboration, an international network of scientists that performs systematic reviews of the medical literature, has carried out the most exhaustive meta-analysis yet of the drug’s efficacy—and its conclusions are, once again, pretty damning.”

 

http://news.sciencemag.org/people-events/2014/04/white-house-budget-director-lead-health-and-human-services

President Barack Obama today nominated Sylvia Mathews Burwell, director of the White House budget office, to replace Kathleen Sebelius as secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).”

 

http://blogs.nature.com/news/2014/04/former-nih-stem-cell-chief-joins-new-york-foundation.html

“Stem-cell biologist Mahendra Rao, who resigned last week as director of the Center for Regenerative Medicine (CRM) at the US National Institutes of Health (NIH), has a new job. On 9 April, he was appointed vice-president for regenerative medicine at the New York Stem Cell Foundation (NYSCF), a non-profit organization that funds embryonic stem-cell research.”

 

http://news.sciencemag.org/environment/2014/04/u.s.-park-service-nixes-immediate-genetic-rescue-isle-royale-wolves

The next chapter in the long-running scientific story of Michigan’s Isle Royale wolves will not include a dramatic genetic rescue. After 2 years of consideration, the National Park Service (NPS) announced this week that it will not introduce mainland wolves to revive the genetically inbred and declining wolf population on the isolated island. “The decision is not to intervene as long as there is a breeding population,” Isle Royale National Park Superintendent Phyllis Green tells ScienceInsider.  “

http://news.sciencemag.org/funding/2014/03/1000-nih-investigators-dropped-out-last-year

“Has the cull begun? New data show that after remaining more or less steady for a decade, the number of investigators with National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding dropped sharply last year by at least 500 researchers and as many as 1000. Although not a big surprise—it came the same year that NIH’s budget took a 5% cut—the decline suggests that a long-anticipated contraction in the number of labs supported by NIH may have finally begun.”

 

https://chronicle.com/article/Strapped-Scientists-Abandon/144921/

Powerful article on the negative effects continued flat funding and budget cuts have had on the research force in the US (and especially on young scientists). Focuses on a poll of over 10,000 basic science researchers. Nothing too new in the poll’s findings, except that whereas even just a few years ago you would be hard pressed to find even 10% of lab heads encouraging their mentees to seek out non tenure-track positions and career alternatives, based on the poll, now more than 50% responded that they currently encourage this type of “alternative” career planning. Subscription required unfortunately.

 

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/sns-wp-blm-news-bc-research-bias03-20140303,0,528842.story

“Scientists continue to neglect gender in medical research, endangering women’s health by focusing on males in studies that shape the treatment of disease, according to a report released Monday.”

 

http://www.nature.com/news/obama-s-budget-plan-defies-spending-cap-1.14793

“US President Barack Obama’s budget proposal for the 2015 fiscal year seems destined to please no one. The US$3.9-trillion plan, released on 4 March, exceeds the spending limit approved for the year by Congress by about $56 billion, drawing quick rebukes from lawmakers. But it also proposes almost flat budgets for key research agencies, including the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF), which has disappointed science advocates.” For a supposedly science friendly president who has repeatedly claimed a strong commitment to basic biomedical research, his request for essentially flat funding for the NIH is very disappointing and disheartening.

“According to the agency’s Biomedical Research and Development Price Index, which calculates its purchasing power, the cost of doing research is expected to rise by 2.9% in fiscal year 2015, far outpacing the NIH’s 0.7% budget hike.” Case in point for why flat funding is actually a budget cut for the NIH.

See also: http://news.sciencemag.org/funding/2014/03/major-u.s.-science-agencies-face-flat-prospects

 

http://nexus.od.nih.gov/all/2014/03/05/comparing-success-award-funding-rates/

From Dr. Sally Rockey’s blog Rock Talk: Success Rates, Award Rates, and Funding Rates”

 

http://blogs.nature.com/news/2014/02/south-korean-supreme-court-confirms-hwangs-sentence.html

“The South Korean Supreme Court has upheld a 2010 ruling that sentences disgraced cloning expert Woo Suk Hwang to a one-and-a-half-year prison term for embezzlement and violation of the country’s bioethics law. The term comes with a two-year probation, however, and if Hwang does not commit a crime during that period, he will not have to serve jail time at all. This is the final judgment on a trial that started in 2006 andreached its first verdict in 2009 after 43 hearings involving 60 witnesses.”

 

http://www.topuniversities.com/subject-rankings/2014

QS World University Rankings by Subject 2014, published on 25 February. University of Washington does quite well, with 23rd for medicine and 24th for biological sciences.

 

http://www.nih.gov/news/health/mar2014/nichd-05.htm

“Women whose male partners have high concentrations of three common forms of phthalates, chemicals found in a wide range of consumer products, take longer to become pregnant than women in couples in which the male does not have high concentrations of the chemicals, according to researchers at the National Institutes of Health and other institutions.”