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Science policy and funding
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Issue 1221: 27 November 2015
UK
Science policy and funding
Scientists welcome real terms protection of £4.7bn budget
Scientists have welcomed George Osborne's announcement in this week's Spending Review that the UK's science budget will be protected in real terms for the rest of the parliament. The Chancellor also announced the creation of a £1.5 billion Global Challenges Fund within the science budget, to help tackle some of the biggest challenges facing developing countries around the world.

Financial Times      - 26 November 2015 p.10
  See Also:
Independent      - 25 November 2015 p.
Guardian      - 25 November 2015 p.
Osborne joins Bill Gates in bid to eradicate malaria
As part of this week's Spending Review, Chancellor George Osborne has announced a partnership between the UK Government and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to set up a new £1 billion fund to tackle infectious diseases, including malaria. The Ross Fund will draw on the UK's foreign aid budget to support research into new drugs targeting diseases with "epidemic potential" such as Ebola.

Independent on Sunday      - 22 November 2015 p.11
Councils' independence still under threat
Paul Nurse's review of the UK Research Councils, which reported last week, has provoked concerns among experts about the councils' level of independence in the future. Plans for the creation of a ministerial committee to oversee UK research, and a single accounting officer for all of the Research Councils - who will be the chief executive of new overarching body Research UK - raise questions about the balance of power.

Research Fortnight    Issue.468  - 25 November 2015 p.1, 2
  See Also:
THE      - 26 November 2015 p.9
Science    Vol.350  - 27 November 2015 p.1008
The Lancet    Vol.386  - 28 November 2015 p.2129
Research Fortnight      - 25 November 2015 p.20
Science and serendipity
Ahead of the completion of the Francis Crick Institute, a feature article examines how the centre was established and its plans for encouraging interdisciplinary collaboration and new ways of working.

THE    Issue.2231  - 26 November 2015 p.34-39
BIS to reinstate its 'super civil servant' for science
An internal review at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has led to the decision to hold an open competition for the role of director-general for business and science. The role will replace and expand the remit of the previous role of director-general for knowledge and innovation.

Research Fortnight    Issue.468  - 25 November 2015 p.3
McDonnell commits Labour to 3% research spending target
Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell has outlined his party's commitments to research, which include a long-term investment plan and an increase in research spend to three per cent of GDP, in a speech at Imperial College last week.

Research Fortnight    Issue.468  - 25 November 2015 p.3
Emergencies fund will need speedy decision-making
Experts have responded positively to Paul Nurse's recommendation of a fund for emergency responses to be administered by the new body Research UK, as part of his review of the Research Councils. However, they highlight the need for flexibility, speed and coordination, attributes which were important in the response to the recent Ebola outbreak.

Research Fortnight    Issue.468  - 25 November 2015 p.4
Health policy
Doctors' contract would reopen divide between lab and clinic
In a comment piece, four clinical academic trainees argue that the new contract for junior doctors will threaten recruitment to academic medicine. Time taken out of clinical training by junior doctors for academic work will not contribute to pay progression, creating a financial disincentive to pursue clinical research. Correspondingly, a decrease in the number of clinical researchers will negatively affect the UK's ability to translate research into positive health outcomes.

Research Fortnight    Issue.468  - 25 November 2015 p.21
Education, training and careers
‘Workaholic’ culture hits women hardest
The results of a Higher Education Leadership and Management Survey by the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education have shown that stress at work is disproportionately affecting women. Over 85 per cent of respondents reported working more than 48 hours per week, but satisfaction with work-life balance was much lower, and levels of stress higher, among women.

THE    Issue.2231  - 26 November 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
No stories this week.
Publishing and data sharing
No stories this week.
Global health
Ebola: lessons for future pandemics
This week, 'The Lancet' publishes a report from the Harvard–London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine Independent Panel on the Global Response to Ebola, which makes ten recommendations for reforms to improve responses to future pandemics - including reforms to the World Health Organization and international surveillance systems.

The Lancet    Vol.386  Issue.10009  - 28 November 2015 p.2118, 2204-2221
  See Also:
Guardian      - 23 November 2015 p.18
Nature    Vol.527  - 26 November 2015 p.414-415
Times      - 23 November 2015 p.4
Daily Telegraph      - 23 November 2015 p.14
Financial Times      - 23 November 2015 p.12
The Global Burden of Diseases: living with disability
Ahead of this year's International Day of Persons with Disabilities on 3 December, the Global Burden of Disease initiative has published a report on disability adjusted life years and healthy life expectancy for 188 countries, providing important baselines against which disability-relevant sustainable development goals can be tracked.

The Lancet    Vol.386  Issue.10009  - 28 November 2015 p.2118
Is this the end of modern medicine?
An article examines the threat posed by new strains of drug-resistant infections, including a new case in southern China. In a separate comment piece, the UK's chief medical officer, Dame Sally Davies, outlines the need for actions on the part of healthcare professionals and the public to stem the rise of antibiotic resistance.

Sunday Times      - 22 November 2015 p.34
International science
Built on trust
Against a backdrop of recent controversy in China between two collaborating researchers, an editorial explores the potential for formalising agreements between collaborating scientists to avoid disputes. There has been some resistance to formalising collaborations, particularly in cultures such as China where it is taken as an indication of distrust, but the author argues that this would ultimately foster effective partnerships and thus encourage collaborations.

Nature    Vol.527  Issue.7579  - 26 November 2015 p.410
Gene drive turns mosquitoes into malaria fighters
A new 'gene drive' technology, which can encourage the spread of specially engineered genes throughout a population of animals, could be utilised in the fight against malaria. Researchers succeeded earlier this year in adapting the CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing system to spread an antiparasitic mutation throughout a fruit fly population. However, the technique must still overcome debates over the use of gene editing technologies before it can be tested in the field.

Science    Vol.350  Issue.6264  - 27 November 2015 p.1014
Worldwide
European Union
No stories this week.
Europe
No stories this week.
Africa
Ebola setback
On 20 November the World Health Organisation announced three new cases of Ebola in Liberia. This comes more than two months since the country was declared Ebola-free.

Nature    Vol.527  Issue.7579  - 26 November 2015 p.414
  See Also:
BBC News Online      - 24 November 2015 p.
Guardian      - 21 November 2015 p.30
Middle East
No stories this week.
Asia
China pursues fraudsters in science publishing
Chinese research bodies are taking a tougher line against fraud. The China Association for Science and Technology recently reported that it had investigated a number of researchers who had used fake peer reviews to get their papers published, in a scandal dating back to 2012. Meanwhile, the National Natural Science Foundation of China has investigated the authors (who had received the organisation's support) of 22 retracted papers, amid signals from the Chinese government that greater steps will be taken to prevent fraudulent research activities.

Science    Vol.350  Issue.6264  - 27 November 2015 p.1015
Australasia
No stories this week.
North America
An end to US chimp research
The director of the National Institutes of Health, Francis Collins, has announced that NIH is to end its support for invasive testing on chimpanzees, and to retire a colony of chimps that it had intended to keep in reserve for research. Several factors have been cited, including the decline in demand to use chimps in research - although some researchers have expressed concern about what the decision will mean for research capacity in the future.

Science    Vol.350  Issue.6264  - 27 November 2015 p.1013
  See Also:
Nature    Vol.527  - 26 November 2015 p.422-423, 415
USA grapples with high drug costs
A number of recent cases of large, sudden increases to the costs of specific drugs has focused public attention on the pricing practices of big pharmaceutical companies in the USA. A 'Lancet' article describes the various perspectives on the issue heard at a recent 'pharmaceutical forum' hosted by the US Department of Health and Human Services, and the response of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), the US trade association of brand name drug makers.

The Lancet    Vol.386  Issue.10009  - 28 November 2015 p.2127
  See Also:
Economist    Vol.417  - 28 November 2015 p.69-70
Salk names new president
The Nobel prize-winning biologist Elizabeth Blackburn has been confirmed as the new president of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, succeeding William Brody.

Science    Vol.350  Issue.6264  - 27 November 2015 p.1010
Latin America
Brazilian courts tussle over unproven cancer treatment
A news article and accompanying editorial examine the recent controversy in Brazil over access to a new cancer drug called phosphoethanolamine, which has shown some promise but which is only at the very early stages of research. The editorial argues that the debate risks offering false hope to patients about the potential effectiveness of the drug, which has not been evaluated in any human trials.

Nature    Vol.527  Issue.7579  - 26 November 2015 p.420-421, 410
Top Stories

Top Story
Councils' independence still under threat

Paul Nurse's review of the UK Research Councils, which reported last week, ...

Top Story
Scientists welcome real terms protection of £4.7bn budget

Scientists have welcomed George Osborne's announcement in this week's Spending Review that ...
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