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UK
Science policy and funding
Health policy
Education, training and careers
Technology transfer
Global Themes
Pharma and biotech sector
Biomedical ethics
Public engagement in science
Publishing and data sharing
Global health
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European Union
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Africa
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Asia
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Issue 1204: 31 July 2015
UK
Science policy and funding
Quitting EU 'would harm universities and students'
University vice-chancellors this week warned that a UK exit from the EU could harm research and the economy, and damage the career prospects of graduates. Universities UK, which represents the leaders of 133 institutions, launched its campaign for the UK to remain in the EU, with its president-elect, Dame Julia Goodfellow, arguing that the forthcoming referendum is a "decisive moment" for the UK and its future.

Independent      - 27 July 2015 p.1, 4
  See Also:
Research Europe      - 30 July 2015 p.4
REF triumph of life sciences ‘lacks credibility’
An article discusses a paper published in 'Plos One' which debunks the claim that the amount of medical and life science research in the UK classed as 'world leading' has doubled over the past six years, as indicated by the results of the Research Excellence Framework. The paper argues that this claim “lacks credibility” due to issues involving lowered grade thresholds, problematic bibliometrics and peer review methods.

THE    Issue.2214  - 30 July 2015 p.9
Safeguard patient data
A letter from research charities and patient groups highlights the need to safeguard patient data in healthcare delivery and research, ensuring trust and confidence in the system. While patient data has huge potential as a resource for research, concerns over privacy must be taken seriously.

Guardian      - 28 July 2015 p.34
Health policy
No stories this week.
Education, training and careers
Traditional PhD ‘under threat’ from commercially minded supervisors
A report discusses research led by Danish academic Dr Pia Bøgelund on the changing roles of PhDs. Bøgelund argues that an increasingly market-driven approach to PhD training has led to supervisors shifting away from traditional mentoring roles that guide students, in favour of becoming ‘project leaders’ to students who act more as employees and are expected to bring new ideas which will generate profit.

THE    Issue.2214  - 30 July 2015 p.11
Technology transfer
No stories this week.
Global Themes
Pharma and biotech sector
No stories this week.
Biomedical ethics
No stories this week.
Public engagement in science
Why has scientific progress stalled in many Islamic countries?
The magazine ‘Critical Muslim’ has published a series of essays exploring the issues surrounding the lack of scientific education and engagement in the Muslim world. Academics discuss the multi-billion dollar scientific and educational investments which are nonetheless dependent on expatriates, and which are made within a culture that is “indifferent to science at best, or aggressively anti-science at worst”. The essays also draw attention to the challenge of inflexible education systems that have failed to adapt to an increasingly globalised economy.

THE    Issue.2214  - 30 July 2015 p.18
Publishing and data sharing
Clinical trial data should be open to public view
This week 50 patient and medical organisations lent their support to the international AllTrials campaign, which is pushing for greater openness in clinical trials data. An editorial notes that the campaign has already seen GlaxoSmithKline and other big pharmaceutical companies set a positive example ahead of the implementation of new EU clinical trials legislation next year, and that moves towards greater transparency will have obvious benefits for patients and the advancement of modern medicine, as well as reducing risk to shareholders and investors.

Financial Times      - 29 July 2015 p.10
Global health
Antibiotic resistance could kill off medicine
Research commissioned by the Wellcome Trust into the public understanding of antimicrobial resistance has demonstrated a concerning gap in public knowledge. Chief Medical Officer Dame Sally Davies has warned of the dangers of failing to confront the growing challenge of antibiotic resistant infections before it is too late.

Daily Telegraph      - 30 July 2015 p.5
Realistic risks
An editorial reflects on communications from the media and politicians around recent infectious disease outbreaks. It is argued that the reactions to both Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) and Ebola not only had a disproportionate negative social impact, but also an economic one.

Nature    Vol.523  Issue.7562  - 30 July 2015 p.502
Malaria vaccine clears hurdle
The first ever malaria vaccine has been endorsed by the European Medicines Agency. The vaccine, called RTS,S provides only partial protection but the way is now clear for the WHO to recommend to countries how to use it. However, poorer countries will need to make a difficult choice over whether or not to purchase the vaccine when it is produced.

Science    Vol.349  - 31 July 2015 p.456
  See Also:
Nature    Vol.523  - 30 July 2015 p.507
International science
China and EU strengthen collaboration
The European Commission has signed an agreement with the Chinese ministry for science and technology to improve collaboration between China and the EU. The deal includes provisions to support joint research in areas including biotechnology, food, agriculture and energy, using funds from Horizon 2020 - following changes to the programme that require nations including China to cover their own costs of participation.

Research Europe    Issue.414  - 30 July 2015 p.4
If you want to see the cites, get moving
Data collected from a series of bibliometric studies has revealed that researchers who are internationally mobile have, on average, higher citation impacts than those who are not. The effects of international collaborations, global mobility patterns, and the potential cause and effects of researchers leaving and entering other countries are also discussed.

THE    Issue.2,14  - 30 July 2015 p.20-21
Risk of 'leaky' vaccines debated
An article explores the theory that some vaccines cause bacteria and viruses to become more lethal. Although the proponent of the theory has been accused of 'scaremongering', the idea that vaccines that only reduce symptoms may help the spread of infectious disease is gaining credibility as a result of studies on virus shedding in birds.

Science    Vol.349  - 31 July 2015 p.461-462
Lifespan lineage
AncestryDNA, a subsidiary of genealogy firm Ancestry.com, has partnered with research company Calico to search customers' anonymised genome data and ancestry records for genetic factors that might promote longevity.

Nature    Vol.523  Issue.7562  - 30 July 2015 p.506
Worldwide
European Union
Ministers dig in on researcher mobility
Divisions have emerged between the EU Council of Ministers and the European Commission over the issue of researcher mobility. In trilogue negotiations also involving the European Parliament, the Council has tried to push back on proposals from the Commission to double the three-month period during which a researcher can work in another member state without additional authorisation from the host state.

Research Europe    Issue.414  - 30 July 2015 p.1
Research ombudsman plan criticised by lobby groups
Plans by EU research commissioner Carlos Moedas to establish an ombudsman to rule on issues of research integrity have been criticised by some research groups, who claim that it would require complaints to be actively raised, and could be too heavy-handed. It is also felt in some quarters that the responsibility to act in this area should remain with institutions, rather than being centrally ruled from Brussels.

Research Europe    Issue.414  - 30 July 2015 p.5
Ministers discuss gender equality options
Research ministers from EU member states met at an informal meeting of the EU Competitiveness Council last week to discuss initiatives to increase the representation of women in research. This coincided with the publication of new figures from the European Commission which show that progress on gender equality in research has been slow. There were calls at the meeting for more proactive measures to address this, including quotas for female representation at high levels, and changes to institutional practices.

Research Europe    Issue.414  - 30 July 2015 p.5
Well connected
In an interview, Robert Madelin, the outgoing head of the European Commission's Directorate-General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology (DG Connect), talks about his achievements over the last five years, and his future as senior adviser on innovation to Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.

Research Europe    Issue.414  - 30 July 2015 p.6
A difficult birth, a hopeful future
In a comment piece, Kurt Deketelaere, secretary-general of the League of European Research Universities, gives his view on the first nine months of Jean-Claude Juncker’s term as President of the European Commission - assessing progress made thus far on research and innovation, as well as future challenges.

Research Europe    Issue.414  - 30 July 2015 p.8
Europe
No stories this week.
Africa
No stories this week.
Middle East
No stories this week.
Asia
South Korea declares MERS over
South Korean President Hwang Kyo-ahn announced this week that the country’s Middle East respiratory virus (MERS) outbreak was officially over. However, this claim was labelled 'premature' by the WHO. In total 186 people were infected and 36 people died in the outbreak, after an infected traveller brought the disease to South Korea from the Middle East.

Science    Vol.349  - 31 July 2015 p.458
Genome head quits
Jun Wang, chief executive of BGI, the world-leading genomics centre in Shenxhen formerly known as the Beijing Genomics Institute, has announced that he will step down in order to further his research on artificial intelligence.

Nature    Vol.523  Issue.7562  - 30 July 2015 p.507
  See Also:
Science    Vol.349  - 31 July 2015 p.463
Australasia
No stories this week.
North America
Secret service
In the context of a recent biosecurity breach, an editorial looks at the oversight mechanisms at US federal research laboratories. In contrast with the ‘overabundance of caution’ applied to other areas of defence, and the strict regulations for academic institutes, it is argued that federal labs lack effectual oversight and transparency, which might ultimately put important biosecurity research at risk.

Nature    Vol.523  Issue.7562  - 30 July 2015 p.501-502
  See Also:
Science    Vol.349  - 31 July 2015 p.457
Latin America
No stories this week.
Top Stories

Top Story
China and EU strengthen collaboration

The European Commission has signed an agreement with the Chinese ministry for ...

Top Story
Quitting EU 'would harm universities and students'

University vice-chancellors this week warned that a UK exit from the EU ...
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