CATEGORIES
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
International science
Worldwide
European Union
Europe
Africa
Middle East
Asia
Australasia
North America
Latin America
Issue 1162: 19 September 2014
UK
Science policy and funding
Divided we fall
An analysis piece examines the Labour party's science policy and queries whether its emphasis on winning the "race to the top" is appropriate, given the increasiningly global requirements for cooperation and the need for science to benefit all.

Research Fortnight    Issue.441  - 17 September 2014 p.21
A 10-year engagement
In an article, two researchers from the think tank 'Involve' discuss the use of the 'Sciencewise' programme to engage the public in policy making. They suggest the successes of the programme indicate that public dialogue can have a genuine impact on government and the formation of policies.

Research Fortnight    Issue.441  - 17 September 2014 p.22
Health policy
Faster, cheaper DNA testing closes in on superbugs
Scientists are to use rapid DNA sequencing to track and control hospital outbreaks of life-threatening infections involving drug-resistant bacteria in real time. Addenbrooke’s hospital in Cambridge will next year be the first in the UK to adopt the new system, which could help to halt a dangerous outbreak in as little as three days, by enabling doctors to track transmission and pick the most appropriate drugs for treatment.

Guardian      - 13 September 2014 p.17
The micromanagers
An editorial and news article discuss ethical issues around so-called "three-parent babies", raised by recent research suggesting that the influence of mitochondria on the human body is broader than their function as cellular powerhouses. The findings could have implications for the way mitochondrial replacement technologies are perceived.

New Scientist    Vol.223  Issue.2987  - 20 September 2014 p.5, 42-45
Drugs price watchdog urges review of medicine adoption
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has called for a review of medicine adoption in the NHS. The review will include the development of a consensus approach to the provision of expensive oncology treatments on the NHS before the special £200 million per year fund to pay for some treatments expires in 2016. NICE will work with industry, as well as health services and patient groups, to develop new models for drug pricing and appraisal.

Financial Times      - 18 September 2014 p.4
Education, training and careers
Britain shows off its brilliant brains in table of world’s top universities
The latest global university rankings from the publisher QS show four British universities featuring in the top six in the world. The University of Cambridge shares second place with Imperial College London, with Oxford being joint fifth with University College London. The top 200 features 29 British universities - the strongest British representation since the rankings first started 10 years ago.

Times      - 16 September 2014 p.17
UUK backs 10-year funding plan
The president of Universities UK, an influential group of vice-chancellors, has advocated the development of a ten year plan for research funding by the next UK government.

Research Fortnight    Issue.441  - 17 September 2014 p.3
More academic leaders from arts than science
Data from the Higher Education Funding Council for England indicate that academics with a science background are outweighed in leadership roles in English universities by those specialising in arts, humanities and social sciences. This is likely due to a number of factors, including the higher number of departments in arts disciplines and the tendency for scientists to work in a more isolated way.

THE    Issue.2170  - 18 September 2014 p.11
‘Universities are gold mines and we must better extract their value’
Professor Brian Cox has called on universities to play a “much bigger role in society” and to do more to encourage school students to consider higher education. Speaking during a science summer school in East London, Professor Cox also highlighted the growing importance of new STEM graduates to address the skills gap in the current workforce.

THE    Issue.2170  - 18 September 2014 p.11
Technology transfer
No stories this week.
Global Themes
Pharma and biotech sector
Commercial backing means faster start for clinical trials
According to data from the National Institute for Health Research, clinical trials funded by industry are more likely to be approved within target times than those funded through public and charitable research means. It is thought that the discrepancy may stem from the lack of commercial drivers in academia and the increasingly complex study designs of non-commercial trials.

THE    Issue.2170  - 18 September 2014 p.8
AstraZeneca strikes Eli Lilly Alzheimer's deal
Governments have recently stepped up pressure on pharmaceutical companies to bolster their R&D spend on dementia, with the affected population set to triple to 135 million by 2050. AstraZeneca has announced it is partnering with Eli Lilly to develop an Alzheimer’s treatment, with AstraZeneca to focus on manufacturing and Eli Lilly on clinical development.

Financial Times      - 17 September 2014 p.20
Cheaper alternative for wet AMD is as safe as licensed drug
Findings from a Cochrane review have shown that bevacizumab, the cheaper alternative for treating wet age related macular degeneration (AMD), is as safe as the more expensive treatment most commonly used in the UK. It is estimated that the NHS could save £84.5 million a year by switching to the cheaper treatment.

BMJ    Vol.349  Issue.7975  - 20 September 2014 p.1
Biomedical ethics
No stories this week.
Public engagement in science
Who are the science stars of Twitter?
Prompted by a recent proposal from genomicist Neil Hall to establish a "Kardashian Index" comparing a scientist's number of Twitter followers with their number of citations, an article looks at a list of the 50 most-followed scientists on Twitter. It reveals that many have a significant focus on science communication, but several are also highly cited researchers. It also indicates that very few women appear in the list.

Science    Vol.345  - 19 September 2014 p.1440-1441
Publishing and data sharing
No stories this week.
Global health
Ebola vaccine: little and late
An article discusses public-private efforts to scale up the production of experimental drugs and vaccines to combat the Ebola epidemic. Given the challenges and lengthy timescales associated with current production methods, the level of impact this will have on the current epidemic is a matter of debate.

Science    Vol.345  - 19 September 2014 p.1441-1442
  See Also:
Research Fortnight      - 17 September 2014 p.23
Guardian      - 18 September 2014 p.12
The Lancet    Vol.384  - 20 September 2014 p.e45-e46
Economist    Vol.412  - 20 September 2014 p.17
Ebola response ramps up
Several countries have pledged substantial new assistance to combat the Ebola epidemic in West Africa - with the US providing $500 million for an outbreak containment initiative, and China and Cuba sending over 200 healthcare workers to the region.

Science    Vol.345  - 19 September 2014 p.1434-1435
Sugar substitutes linked to obesity
A study has provided evidence that artificial sweeteners are linked to glucose intolerance by acting on the gut microbiome – the balance of bacteria in the gut. The study, conducted first in mice and then in humans, may alter the way dieticians view artificial sweeteners in food and nutrition.

Nature    Vol.513  Issue.7518  - 18 September 2014 p.290
  See Also:
New Scientist    Vol.223  - 20 September 2014 p.5, 8-9
Economist    Vol.412  - 20 September 2014 p.88-89
International science
Pride in science
An editorial and accompanying feature article examine the experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender scientists; and how various pressures and biases can affect their ability to practice science. The article looks at changing attitudes, peer pressures, and cultural differences in levels of acceptance.

Nature    Vol.513  Issue.7518  - 18 September 2014 p.297–300, 279
Dementia: a false promise
A meeting of scientists, politicians, and pharmaceutical industry representatives on "Global Action Against Dementia" was held recently. The meeting was a follow-up to the 2013 G8 Summit on dementia, which pledged to find a cure for the condition by 2025. An editorial discusses recent findings which appear to cast doubt on the likelihood of achieving this goal in the stated timeframe.

The Lancet    Vol.384  Issue.9948  - 20 September 2014 p.1072
Worldwide
European Union
A worthy ambition
An editorial reports on the ongoing goal of completing the European Research Area. The idea, although presenting numerous challenges and fast approaching its 2014 deadline, is still regarded as a relevant and important task.

Nature    Vol.513  Issue.7518  - 18 September 2014 p.279–280
New head of European research
Portuguese secretary of state Carlos Moedas has been appointed as European Commissioner for research, science and innovation - subject to approval by the European Parliament.

Science    Vol.345  - 19 September 2014 p.1436
  See Also:
Research Fortnight      - 17 September 2014 p.19
Europe
Horizon 2020 reopened to Swiss
The European Commission and Switzerland have reached a short-term agreement to restore the ability of Swiss researchers to apply for some research funding through the Horizon 2020 programme.

Science    Vol.345  - 19 September 2014 p.1434
Africa
Ebola economic impacts to hit $359 million in 2014
A blog post reports the estimated current economic costs to Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone due to the current Ebola outbreak, as reported by the World Bank. The report also recommends that aid from the rest of the world is supplied quickly in order to prevent the outbreak from having a devastating effect on the economies of the West African countries.

Nature News      - 17 September 2014
Middle East
No stories this week.
Asia
Japan stem-cell trial stirs envy
A trial of induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells in Japan has been completed successfully at the RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology in Kobe, Japan. Masayo Takahashi and her team successfully inserted iPS cells into the eye of a woman with macular degeneration. Although there are no predicted improvements for the woman’s eyesight, if there are no side effects to the procedure it would mark a huge leap for stem cell technologies.

Nature    Vol.513  Issue.7518  - 18 September 2014 p.287–288
  See Also:
Science    Vol.345  - 19 September 2014 p.1435
Australasia
Exploding on impact
In an interview, Aidan Byrne, chief executive of the Australian Research Council, discusses his views on the use of impact case studies. He compares research impact evaluations in Australia and the UK, arguing that case studies, although useful for communicating research, may not be the best way to determine allocations of research funding.

Research Fortnight    Issue.441  - 17 September 2014 p.6
North America
US President's science panel advises on antibiotic resistance
An article discusses the likely impact of the US President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology's (PCAST) upcoming report on antibiotic resistance. The report makes recommendations across three domains: stewardship of antibiotic use; surveillance of antibiotic-resistant pathogens; and development of new antibiotic drugs.

The Lancet    Vol.384  Issue.9948  - 20 September 2014 p.1083-1084
Play it again, Uncle Sam
A panel convened by the American Academy of Arts & Sciences has called on the US Government to restore funding for basic research to historically high levels in order to reassert the country's status as a global leader in science and technology.

Science    Vol.345  - 19 September 2014 p.1442
Latin America
No stories this week.
Top Stories

Top Story
Who are the science stars of Twitter?

Prompted by a recent proposal from genomicist Neil Hall to establish a ...

Top Story
Britain shows off its brilliant brains in table of world’s top universities

The latest global university rankings from the publisher QS show four British ...
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