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
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Worldwide
European Union
Europe
Africa
Middle East
Asia
Australasia
North America
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Issue 1189: 17 April 2015
UK
Science policy and funding
No science ring fence in Labour manifesto
Shadow Business Secretary Chuka Umunna has justified the lack of detail relating to science and innovation in Labour's election manifesto, stating that the party is "unwilling to make unfunded spending promises". He also argues that, if elected, his party would offer a more fiscally responsible funding framework than the Conservatives.

Research Fortnight    Issue.454  - 15 April 2015 p.4
Science matters to voters, so why is it being ignored by our politicians?
Athene Donald of the University of Cambridge questions why science is so low on the agenda in the discourse leading up to the general election. The leading physicist challenges the political parties to back up their claims that scientific research is a priority, emphasising several prime concerns: altering the immigration cap to attract more of "the world's brightest"; raising the UK's spend on research above the 1.72 per cent of GDP which compares poorly to the G8 average; diversifying industrial research beyond pharmaceuticals; and greater investment in science education.

Observer      - 12 April 2015 p.36
Scientific elitism helps to keep science policy on the margins
In an opinion piece, Imran Khan, Chief Executive of the British Science Association, argues for two big changes in the way the science lobby operates: first, that there needs to be a genuinely visible group of science advocates in parliament; and second that science needs to be more inclusive in order for politicians from non-science backgrounds to feel that they have the licence to contribute to science policy decisions.

Research Fortnight    Issue.454  - 15 April 2015 p.20
Humble no more
An article profiles the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee, which exemplifies the growing impact of parliamentary committees on governance, democracy and academic research. The author also argues that the increasing profile of committees and the changing way in which they are appointed now make them a popular option for MPs.

Research Fortnight    Issue.454  - 15 April 2015 p.6
'Huge amounts of confusion' over IP rights
A survey conducted by 'Times Higher Education' has suggested that almost a fifth of universities are using out of date or "legally questionable" intellectual property (IP) policies in relation to students' work. This could create problems for students seeking to exploit their work after they graduate, with broader impacts on entrepreneurship and industry engagement. Experts have suggested a more standard approach to IP to mitigate this problem.

THE    Issue.2199  - 16 April 2015 p.6-7
Health policy
Stroke and dementia studies 'lack cash'
A study from the Health Economics Research Centre at Oxford University highlights the lack of funding for stroke and dementia research in comparison to cancer and heart disease. The researchers discuss the economic cost of dementia, contrasting the £11.6 billion health and social care cost in 2012 to the £5 billion cost of cancer.

Guardian      - 14 April 2015 p.11
  See Also:
Times      - 14 April 2015 p.2
Daily Telegraph      - 14 April 2015 p.11
Education, training and careers
Pilot aims to stem 'leaky pipeline'
A new programme to increase the numbers of senior female scientists has been launched by the Academy of Medical Sciences, with support from the Medical Research Council, the Royal Society and the Royal College of Physicians. The 'Sustain' pilot programme will provide specific training and support to female recipients of career development awards and fellowships.

THE    Issue.2199  - 16 April 2015 p.32
Forget men not
An article argues that male colleagues should play a larger role in challenging sexism against women in academia. It encourages male academics to adopt approaches to address unconscious biases, with the goal of achieving real changes to individuals' behaviour.

Research Fortnight    Issue.454  - 15 April 2015 p.23
Technology transfer
No stories this week.
Global Themes
Pharma and biotech sector
Ebola drug restart
On 10 April the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) lifted restrictions on Tekmira Pharmaceuticals, allowing the company to restart Phase I clinical trials of a potential Ebola therapeutic. FDA restrictions on the use of TKM-Ebola have been in place since July 2014 pending further information on how the experimental drug works.

Nature    Vol.520  Issue.7547  - 16 April 2015 p.268
Biomedical ethics
Numbers matter
An editorial discusses concerns that some research involving animals may have too small a sample size. Not only does this have implications for the robustness of scientific findings, it also raises significant ethical issues about using research animals in studies that may not have sufficient evidence to support their conclusions. UK research councils have responded by changing their guidelines to require funding applicants to show how their work will be statistically robust, and the author calls on institutions and journals to address the issue.

Nature    Vol.520  Issue.7547  - 16 April 2015 p.263-264
Public engagement in science
No stories this week.
Publishing and data sharing
Results of all clinical trials should be posted within a year, says new WHO policy
A new World Health Organisation policy states that clinical trial findings should be posted to a primary clinical trial registry within a year of the end of the study, and be published in a peer reviewed journal within two years. The new policy has been praised by co-founders of the AllTrials campaign, who urge for mechanisms to be put in place to ensure that the policy is enforced and that individuals are accountable for their data.

BMJ    Vol.350  Issue.8004  - 18 April 2015 p.1
  See Also:
Science    Vol.348  - 17 April 2015 p.264
Time to tackle cells’ mistaken identity
'Nature' has announced plans to strengthen its policy on cell line reporting in its research publications because of concerns regarding mislabelled, misidentified or contaminated cell lines. As well as reporting their sources, authors will be required to check their cell line against a watch-list of those known to be of concern, and authors making use of problematic cell lines will need to justify why this doesn’t undermine their findings. It is hoped that this will not only improve the quality of publications, but also of cell lines.

Nature    Vol.520  Issue.7547  - 16 April 2015 p.264
Call for more recognition for peer reviewers
A report from the Research Information Network has said that publishers and researchers both want more credit and recognition for peer reviewers, and that they are having difficulty finding sufficient researchers to carry out reviews.

Research Fortnight    Issue.454  - 15 April 2015 p.5
Global health
No stories this week.
International science
No stories this week.
Worldwide
European Union
UK v-cs lobby EU on research cuts
A delegation to Brussels of vice-chancellors (v-cs) and other senior research leaders, including Sir Leszek Borysiewicz of the University of Cambridge, has lobbied against proposed cuts to Horizon 2020. Sir Leszek said that the cuts would impact basic research in UK universities, who would be unable to replace the funds through the proposed loan system.

THE    Issue.2199  - 16 April 2015 p.7
  See Also:
Research Fortnight      - 15 April 2015 p.5
Funders call for 'science-friendly' copyright law
A Science Europe working group has argued that intended reforms to European copyright law should permit data mining by academics of legally accessed publications to overcome current barriers to this activity.

Research Fortnight    Issue.454  - 15 April 2015 p.19
Europe
Irish science 'apartheid' draws protest
A letter published in 'The Irish Times' last month, and signed by more than 900 scientists, has claimed that Irish science is facing an 'apartheid' caused by the restriction of funding to 14 priority areas motivated by commercial considerations. The letter calls on the Irish government to restore the full balance of funding for basic research and end its "short-sighted" policy.

THE    Issue.2199  - 16 April 2015 p.24-25
Africa
Disease control
On 13 April the African Union and the United States agreed to establish the African Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), to be launched later this year. The African CDC will increase health surveillance and response capacity in the region, and will be supported by the US CDC through technical advice, staff secondments and fellowships.

Nature    Vol.520  Issue.7547  - 16 April 2015 p.268
Middle East
No stories this week.
Asia
New global centre launched to address chronic diseases
The Centre for Control of Chronic Conditions (CCCC) in New Delhi was officially opened on April 7. The CCCC is a partnership of Emory University, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, and the Public Health Foundation of India, and will provide a base for specialists to conduct collaborative, interdisciplinary research into non-communicable diseases (NCDs) - which are among the leading causes of death and disability in India.

The Lancet    Vol.385  Issue.9977  - 18 April 2015 p.1497
For toilets, money matters
In a bid to end open defecation - a key contributor to high rates of diarrheal diseases - Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has pledged to build 111 million toilets as part of a national sanitation campaign. However, there is an active debate over the best way to deliver such initiatives; new research in Bangladesh suggests that subsidising the cost of latrines is an effective strategy, but some experts have questioned whether the findings will translate to India.

Science    Vol.348  - 17 April 2015 p.272
Australasia
No stories this week.
North America
Women best men in study of tenure-track hiring
A study by psychologists at Cornell University has found that hiring committees for tenure positions in US universities were twice as likely to rate a highly qualified female applicant as the best candidate, compared to an equally qualified male applicant. However, some commentators have questioned the extent to which the findings, which are based on hypothetical profiles of candidates, translate to the real world.

Science    Vol.348  - 17 April 2015 p.269
  See Also:
Economist    Vol.415  - 18 April 2015 p.72-73
Canadians baulk at reforms to health-research agency
The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) has been significantly overhauled with the aim of overcoming lengthy grant cycles which were adversely impacting the biomedical research community. The changes, the largest since the CIHR's inception 15 years ago, will bring in new models for awarding grants, new virtual institutions and restructured advisory boards. Although the community had previously called for changes to the CIHR, concerns are being expressed that there has been insufficient preparation, and that niche fields and early-career researchers may be disadvantaged.

Nature    Vol.520  Issue.7547  - 16 April 2015 p.272
Precision medicine
Following the recent launch of the US Precision Medicine Initiative, California has begun a state-wide project to study how different forms of patient data can be combined to inform medical practice and drug development. This $3 million initiative will be based at the University of California in San Francisco, and will span a broad range of types of personal data including genomic, environmental and mobile information.

Nature    Vol.520  Issue.7547  - 16 April 2015 p.268
Research fraud
On 7 April the US Office of Research Integrity announced the findings of its investigation into research malpractice committed by neuroscientist Ryousuke Fujita of Columbia University, New York. They found a series of frauds extending beyond a previous publication withdrawal. For the next three years Fujita has agreed to exclude himself from national research funding and peer review activities.

Nature    Vol.520  Issue.7547  - 16 April 2015 p.268
Retraction request
On 7 April the US Office of Research Integrity announced neuroscientist Teresita L. Briones "intentionally, knowingly and recklessly" fabricated research data. Five publications are compromised by these fabrications and Briones has agreed to retract them.

Nature    Vol.520  Issue.7547  - 16 April 2015 p.268-269
Latin America
No stories this week.
Top Stories

Top Story
Pilot aims to stem 'leaky pipeline'

A new programme to increase the numbers of senior female scientists has ...

Top Story
Science matters to voters, so why is it being ignored by our politicians?

Athene Donald of the University of Cambridge questions why science is so ...
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