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UK
Science policy and funding
Health policy
Education, training and careers
Technology transfer
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Europe
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Issue 1154: 25 July 2014
UK
Science policy and funding
National capital projects must not be at expense of local investment, BIS told
A news article reflects on responses to the Government's consultation on its strategy for long term science and innovation capital spending. Among the responses was the message that the strategy must include continual funding for small and medium sized facilities.

Research Fortnight    Issue.439  - 23 July 2014 p.5
Willetts: I have plenty of unfinished business
In an interview, the former science minister David Willetts reflects on his tenure and discusses his future plans, including an ambition to encourage academics to improve the way they think about and discuss policy.

Research Fortnight    Issue.439  - 23 July 2014 p.1, 4
Just the man for a matter of life and death
An interview with George Freeman discusses his appointment as life sciences minister, as part of David Cameron’s recent reshuffle. As part of the newly created role he will report to both the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Department of Health. He hopes to emphasise the importance of the life sciences, including key areas such as personalised medicine, genomics, access to medicines, and the creation of "the right landscape for innovation" in the UK.

Independent      - 25 July 2014 p.58
It’d be ‘bonkers’ to split science
Following the Government reshuffle last week, questions have been raised about how the science portfolio will be divided between George Freeman, the new minister for life sciences, and Greg Clark, the new science and universities minister. Sir John Tooke, President of the Academy of Medical Sciences, has emphasised the need for the two ministers to work closely in the event of a split between life sciences and the rest of the science brief.

THE    Issue.2162  - 24 July 2014 p.11
Government sees that growth is already in the university mission
In an opinion piece, former Deputy Prime Minister Lord Heseltine argues that Greg Clark’s recent appointment as minister for universities and science, in addition to his role as minister for cities, recognises the important role of universities within local communities and will help to "reactivate our local economies".

THE    Issue.2162  - 24 July 2014 p.26-27
  See Also:
THE      - 24 July 2014 p.32-37
Researchers’ curiosity still rife, but grant application success rates slip
In the past year, four of the seven Research Councils, including the Medical Research Council, have seen a drop in application success rates for their "responsive mode" funding. The decrease has been attributed in part to an increase in the volume of applications and a reduction in the amount of funding available.

THE    Issue.2162  - 24 July 2014 p.6-7
Wellcome to rationalise grant schemes
The Director of the Wellcome Trust, Jeremy Farrar, has announced that the Trust will undertake a restructuring of its funding schemes next year, and place greater emphasis on supporting early- and mid-career researchers.

Research Fortnight    Issue.439  - 23 July 2014 p.3
Health policy
Babies with three people’s DNA brought a step closer
The Department of Health has announced plans to introduce regulations that would allow the creation of the first babies through mitochondrial transfer, following a public consultation which drew nearly 1850 responses. The procedure replaces faulty genetic material found in mitochondria with healthy DNA taken from a donor woman to prevent disease. The draft regulations are due to go to parliament in the autumn and could be law by April next year.

Guardian      - 23 July 2014 p.15
Ministers give backing to three-parent babies
see also

Times      - 23 July 2014 p.20
World's first three-parent baby could soon be born in UK, as Government approves treatment
see also

Independent      - 22 July 2014
NHS embarks on £100m DNA project to unlock genetic secrets of cancer
A project to sequence the genomes of 100,000 NHS patients with the aim of improving cancer survival rates is taking shape in the UK. Negotiations with US firm Illumina are nearing completion for the £100 million project which will take advantage of the plummeting cost of genome sequencing.

Independent      - 21 July 2014 p.7
Education, training and careers
No stories this week.
Technology transfer
No stories this week.
Global Themes
Pharma and biotech sector
Cheap DNA sequencing will transform medical research
An article discusses the consequences for medicine of the cost of genome sequencing falling below $1000, as looks likely in the next few years. The most active area of research in this field is in nanopore technology in which DNA is read by measuring the change in charge in a manufactured pore it is passed through.

Financial Times      - 23 July 2014 p.1
Gene-hunt gain for mental health
A paper published in 'Nature' this week tied 108 genetic locations to schizophrenia, marking one of the largest steps taken towards a biological understanding of the disorder. The work by the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium took advantage of research from over 80 institutions and large sample sizes to identify small genetic effect sizes that were unidentifiable in small samples.

Nature    Vol.511  Issue.7510  - 24 July 2014 p.393
Biomedical ethics
No stories this week.
Public engagement in science
No stories this week.
Publishing and data sharing
No stories this week.
Global health
Blow to HIV research as experts die
A number of HIV researchers, health workers and lobbyists have died in the MH17 plane crash in Ukraine, while travelling to a major conference on AIDS in Australia. Joep Lange, the Dutch former President of the International Aids Society, was among those on the plane.

Times      - 19 July 2014 p.5
AIDS researcher dead in Ukraine crash
Joep Lange, head of the Amsterdam Institute for Global Health and a leading HIV/AIDS researcher, was among those who lost their lives on Malaysian airlines flight MH17 last week. Delegates at the 20th International AIDS Conference paid tribute to Lange's contribution to the field.

Science    Vol.345  - 25 July 2014 p.362
Medical world mourns leading Aids researcher
see also

Independent      - 19 July 2014 p.9
Aids researchers on crashed plane
see also

BBC News Online      - 18 July 2014
Western donor 'neglect' eroding fight against Aids
A report published by Harm Reduction International, the International Drug Policy Consortium and the International HIV/AIDS Alliance has put forward a case that the fight against AIDS is being undermined as western countries, including the UK, are reducing funding in areas that are in need of it most.

Observer      - 23 July 2014 p.23
Deadly diseases lose their sting as aid spending soars
A new study has found that cases of three of the world's deadliest diseases, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, have fallen over the past decade, as a result of international spending on treatment and prevention. An accompanying leader article expresses optimism that the conditions are on the way to being controlled.

Times      - 22 July 2014 p.10, 22
STOP TB—moving out and moving on
The STOP TB Partnership is to move its administrative base from the WHO to the UN Office for Project Services in early 2015, and in so doing become an independent body no longer formally attached to the WHO. STOP TB has co-ordinated global TB advocacy efforts since 2001, and is made up of over 1000 constituent organisations. Tensions had grown between the Partnership and WHO as the former's role expanded to include operational duties and drug procurement, although the two organisations will continue to collaborate following the move.

The Lancet    Vol.384  Issue.9940  - 26 July 2014 p.282
Treat ageing
A comment article calls for a more extensive study of life-extending molecular pathways in order to target ageing, rather than tackling diseases related to ageing one at a time. With an increasingly elderly population, there are also recommendations made that funding bodies should place more focus on the issue of ageing and geriatric health.

Nature    Vol.511  Issue.7510  - 24 July 2014 p.405–407
Researchers call for easy access to contraception
A news piece looks at progress in the field of contraception and its uptake in developed and developing countries. With the human population predicted to reach eight billion in less than a decade, it is argued that there is an urgent need to ensure appropriate contraceptive measures are in place.

Nature News      - 23 July 2014
Dengue vaccine trial poses public health quandary
Researchers and global health officials are struggling to interpret the implications of the first large-scale trial of a Dengue vaccine, which revealed a complex picture of varying efficacy against different Dengue serotypes. Endemic countries face difficult decisions over the relative benefits of incorporating the vaccine into their programmes to control the disease.

Science    Vol.345  - 25 July 2014 p.367-368
Chikungunya hits US and Europe
Transmission of Chikungunya, a mosquito-borne viral disease present in parts of Africa, has been reported in the US, with imported cases also reported in continental Europe.

New Scientist    Vol.223  Issue.2979  - 26 July 2014 p.6-7
International science
A World Cup for science diplomacy
An opinion piece and accompanying editorial reflect on the current state of science diplomacy in light of recent meetings and discussions on the subject. The authors argue that the boundaries of science diplomacy have become blurred, and that its focus needs to shift in order to successfully engage with current global events.

Research Fortnight    Issue.439  - 23 July 2014 p.20, 2
Worldwide
European Union
No stories this week.
Europe
No stories this week.
Africa
Ebola drugs still stuck in lab
As the Ebola outbreak in West Africa continues to worsen, international researchers and health experts have been debating whether new products that are still experimental should be offered to affected countries on a compassionate basis. So far, the WHO and others fighting Ebola on the ground have ruled out any such move.

Science    Vol.345  - 25 July 2014 p.364-365
Kenyan doctors win landmark discrimination case
A group of researchers from the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI), have won a court case against the institute for racial discrimination. KEMRI is a Wellcome Trust funded centre in Kilifi in partnership with the University of Oxford, and is seen as a flagship of UK-African research collaboration. The case against KEMRI concerned "systemic discrimination" and "institutional racism", whereby the researchers were held back in their research and career progression.

Nature News      - 22 July 2014
Middle East
No stories this week.
Asia
Paper trial: early scholars’ high publication rate eases over time
A recent study has revealed that early stage researchers in South Korea have a higher research productivity than academics at a later stage of their career, possibly because they believe that tenure is dependent on high research output. The study found that scientific researchers in the first ten years of their career produced an average of eight articles every three years compared to less than seven when they had reached an 'established' career stage.

THE    Issue.2162  - 24 July 2014 p.18
Australasia
No stories this week.
North America
NIH institute considers broad shift to 'people' awards
The US National Institute of General Medical Sciences is consulting its communities on proposals to replace its current project grants with long-term awards for individual researchers based primarily on their track records. Other NIH institutes, including the National Cancer Institute, are considering similar moves.

Science    Vol.345  - 25 July 2014 p.366-367
Latin America
Chile needs better science governance and support
A comment piece argues that the Chilean government needs to develop a more focused science policy in the country. Individual research groups in Chile rank among the highest in South America, but the administration of science as a whole may not be supportive of best practice.

Nature    Vol.511  Issue.7510  - 24 July 2014 p.385
Drop dead, dengue
Brazil has approved the use of genetically modified mosquitoes on a commercial scale to fight dengue, an acute tropical disease. The effectiveness of the intervention will be reviewed next year by conducting a full epidemiological study.

New Scientist    Vol.223  Issue.2979  - 26 July 2014 p.7
Top Stories

Top Story
Blow to HIV research as experts die

A number of HIV researchers, health workers and lobbyists have died in ...

Top Story
Babies with three people’s DNA brought a step closer

The Department of Health has announced plans to introduce regulations that would ...
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