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 1199: 26 June 2015
UK
Science policy and funding
BIS report cautions against privatisations
An article considers the findings of a report commissioned by the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) on the funding of public sector research institutes. The author raises concerns over the lack of consistency in the Government’s science funding policy, and calls for fresh thinking around the way that these research institutes are managed, warning against more private sector involvement.

Research Fortnight    Issue.459  - 24 June 2015 p.1
The importance – and limits – of the Haldane principle
In an opinion piece, former president of the Royal Society, Martin Rees, weighs up the pros and cons of the Haldane principle, which states that it is for scientists to decide how research funding is spent.

Research Fortnight    Issue.459  - 24 June 2015 p.20-21
Sir Paul's cathedral
With the Francis Crick Institute due to open in London later this year, its director Sir Paul Nurse outlines his vision for the Institute's 'bottom-up' structure and its future development, while acknowledging the level of ambition in his plans.

Nature    Vol.522  Issue.7557  - 25 June 2015 p.406-408
Health policy
Medical Bill will free doctors to try out untested drugs
The Access to Medical Treatments (Innovation) Bill is to be debated in parliament this autumn, in the hope of providing a new avenue for doctors to pursue innovative treatments for patients without fear of litigation. The Bill is based on legislation previously introduced by Lord Saatchi, which was opposed by the Liberal Democrats in the last parliament.

Daily Telegraph      - 25 June 2015 p.12
Education, training and careers
Women in STEM
As part of a special supplement in the 'Independent' on women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) careers, Kirsten Bodley, chief executive of the network STEMNET, has spoken about the need to inspire the next generation of girls into science at an early stage of their education to introduce them to possible scientific careers. Bodley also emphasises the importance of educating both boys and girls, making it clear that STEM careers are for both genders.

Independent      - 23 June 2015 p.6
Poly-type proposals alarm post-92 group
A consultation by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has stirred controversy among members of the 'Million+' group of universities. The proposals outline a potential model for funding vocational higher education courses that would be reminiscent of the historical set up of polytechnics, creating competition between universities established from polytechnics after 1992 and further education colleges.

THE    Issue.2209  - 25 June 2015 p.6-7
Role recognition: university considers making PhD students employees
Queen Mary University of London is to consider categorising its PhD students as employees of the university, rather than students, in recognition of the vital role they play in the research community. The move would come up against several logistical and practical difficulties, and some commentators have questioned whether it would be beneficial for the postgraduate population.

THE    Issue.2209  - 25 June 2015 p.6-7
Quality of UK's quantitative skills 'languishing'
A new report from the British Academy warns that the UK may be ill-equipped to capitalise on the era of "big data" owing to poor training in quantitative skills. Such skills have been de-emphasised in recent years in social science and humanities degrees, and the report suggests this can be due to both weaker lecturer competencies and lower levels of student ability in arithmetic and statistics.

THE    Issue.2209  - 25 June 2015 p.8
Technology transfer
Mayor makes push to woo life sciences to London
Mayor of London Boris Johnson has held a meeting with pharmaceutical companies and investment bankers to discuss plans for a £10 billion fund to invest in the life sciences sector in the UK, and compete with New York’s biotech sector. This ‘megafund’ would invest in a wide portfolio of drugs at different stages of development, and could bring together investors who would not normally invest in biomedicine.

Financial Times      - 25 June 2015 p.4
Global Themes
Pharma and biotech sector
No stories this week.
Biomedical ethics
Move beyond differences
A comment article considers the unfolding scientific, ethical and policy debates around research into editing the human genome - and the need to "integrate the diverse perspectives of people with different expertise and values" in order to enable fruitful discussions.

Nature    Vol.522  Issue.7557  - 25 June 2015 p.415
Public engagement in science
What entertainment can do for science, and vice versa
An opinion piece discusses attitudes in the UK towards the way entertainment and science interact and complement each other, and how this interrelationship can be beneficial for science communication efforts. It highlights the development of the British Art and Science Exchange, which will provide an avenue for willing scientists to advise the entertainment industry.

Research Fortnight    Issue.459  - 24 June 2015 p.22
Publishing and data sharing
Solving reproducibility
An editorial discusses how open-source tools and infrastructures could help scientists to adopt more transparent ways of working, and enable greater research reproducibility. It introduces two perspectives articles: the first discusses the need for new incentives to support research integrity; and the second presents a new series of author guidelines for journals, setting out standards for openness and transparency in published research articles.

Science    Vol.348  - 26 June 2015 p.1403, 1420-1425
The cancer test
A feature article discusses an initiative to reproduce the findings of 50 high-profile research papers in the field of cancer biology. Some of the scientists whose work is included have expressed concerns over the burden it has placed on their labs, and the ability of the facilities attempting the replication studies to apply highly-specialised techniques.

Science    Vol.348  - 26 June 2015 p.1411-1413
Sense About Science charity joins fight against bid to prevent transparency of trials
The charity Sense About Science is considering intervening in a legal challenge brought by the contract research organisation Richmond Pharmacology. Richmond is contesting the Health Research Authority's requirements that researchers applying to conduct a clinical trial declare that all previous trials have been registered, as part of efforts to increase trial transparency.

BMJ    Vol.350  Issue.8014  - 27 June 2015 p.4
Peering into the past
A feature article examines the history of peer review, which is often assumed to be the at the heart of traditional academic practice. Historian Aileen Fyfe argues that scrutiny of scientific findings and publishing practices have evolved significantly since the first journal was published, and the current dominant system of peer review should not be seen as a "sacred cow".

THE    Issue.2209  - 25 June 2015 p.40-43
Global health
Half-century of health gains will be wiped out by climate change, report warns
A report published last week in 'The Lancet' by authors from University College London and the University of Cambridge has called for major policy changes to restrict climate change, arguing that it could undermine 50 years of advancements in medical health.

Daily Telegraph      - 23 June 2015 p.8
  See Also:
BMJ    Vol.350  - 27 June 2015 p.3
Medics close to eradicating polio from planet
In the past three decades, polio cases have reduced from 350,000 in 1988 to 416 in 2013 due to global efforts to vaccinate children to eradicate the disease. Experts warn that even after the last case is recorded, 'silent transmission' of the disease could continue for more than three years. Presently, only three countries remain polio-endemic; Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria.

Independent i      - 20 June 2015 p.12
Company halts Ebola drug trial
Tekmira Pharmaceuticals has discontinued a clinical trial of a potential Ebola drug, TKM-Ebola-Guinea, after it failed to demonstrate a benefit to patients.

Science    Vol.348  - 26 June 2015 p.1405
  See Also:
Nature    Vol.522  - 25 June 2015 p.396
International science
No stories this week.
Worldwide
European Union
Data overprotection
An editorial considers the unintended threat to research that has emerged from the draft EU Data Protection Regulation, which seeks to update rules governing the use of personal data. The proposals could inadvertently restrict the conduct of biomedical research studies involving such data, which are already subject to rigorous governance, and the author argues that for this reason research exemptions must be maintained within the updated EU rules.

Nature    Vol.522  Issue.7557  - 25 June 2015 p.391-392
  See Also:
Research Fortnight      - 24 June 2015 p.19
Europe
Reforming public and global health in Germany
A new report on the state of health research in Germany identifies key barriers preventing the country from realising its potential in public and global health: a lack of political backing behind recommended health policies; a lack of funding; and disorganised infrastructure. The international cohort of scientists behind the report go on to recommend a strategy for overcoming these issues.

The Lancet    Vol.385  Issue.9987  - 27 June 2015 p.2548
France fills top science policy post
Political scientist Thierry Mandon has been appointed as the new secretary for higher education and research in the French government. From 1998 to 2014, Mandon was president of Genopole, a biotechnology and genomics cluster outside Paris.

Science    Vol.348  - 26 June 2015 p.1405
  See Also:
Nature    Vol.522  - 25 June 2015 p.396
Africa
Surviving Ebola survival
As the Ebola epidemic continues in Sierra Leone and Guinea, many of those who have recovered following initial infection with the virus are still suffering health problems. Long-term studies are now underway to follow up on Ebola patients and catalogue these 'post-survival' symptoms.

Science    Vol.348  - 26 June 2015 p.1406-1407
Middle East
No stories this week.
Asia
Thailand confirms first Mers case
A 75 year old man from Oman has been found to have Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (Mers) after being treated for heart problems in Bangkok. The infected patient is now in quarantine and the WHO does not expect the outbreak to spread among the wider community.

BBC News Online      - 19 June 2015
  See Also:
Nature    Vol.522  - 25 June 2015 p.397
Mental health in China: what will be achieved by 2020?
China has released its National Mental Health Working plan, which spans the next five years and contains ambitious goals for tackling mental health conditions including autism, dementia and depression. Key targets identified in the plan include: doubling the number of registered psychiatrists; aiding those who require financial support; and treating a minimum of 80 per cent of people with schizophrenia.

The Lancet    Vol.385  Issue.9987  - 27 June 2015 p.2548
Japan’s vision for health care in 2035
The increasing health needs of Japan’s ageing population has been recognised by the Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare Yasuhisa Shiozaki and his 'Japan Vision: Health Care 2035' working group, set up to tackle the new challenges which will emerge in the next two decades. The working group has proposed three visions: “lean health care to implement value-based health care; better life design to empower personal and social healthy choices; and global health leadership to take a leading part in global health security and wellbeing.”

The Lancet    Vol.385  Issue.9987  - 27 June 2015 p.2549-2550
Australasia
No stories this week.
North America
No stories this week.
Latin America
No stories this week.

Consultations and Publications
Count Us In   [British Academy]
Click Here
Top Stories

Top Story
Peering into the past

A feature article examines the history of peer review, which is often ...

Top Story
Data overprotection

An editorial considers the unintended threat to research that has emerged from ...
Gibbs Building, 215 Euston Road, London NW1 2BE, UK T:+44 (0)20 7611 8888