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Issue 1163: 26 September 2014
UK
Science policy and funding
After the referendum: academics query the future of research funding
Despite the vote against independence in last week’s Scottish referendum, the future of research funding for Scottish academics remains uncertain. While continued access to UK Research Council funding appears safe, the way in which the funding is accessed may need to change if, as promised by the UK Government, further powers are devolved to Scotland.

THE    Issue.2171  - 25 September 2014 p.6-7, 28-29
  See Also:
Nature    Vol.513  - 25 September 2014 p.460, 464
University income rivals UK's biggest companies
A recent report from the Association of University Directors of Estates estimates the total revenue of UK universities at over £27 billion. Their spending rivals the top ten of the FTSE 100 index, exceeding Sainsbury's expenditure of £23.9bn.

Times      - 24 September 2014 p.24
Collaborative research gets a health check
The Academy of Medical Sciences has launched a new project to consider the role of 'team science' collaboration, which involves multiple research groups collaborating on a single study. The project will aim to address the challenge of recognising the contributions and achievements of individuals within such modes of collaboration, which are becoming increasingly common.

The Lancet    Vol.384  Issue.9949  - 27 September 2014 p.1173
Health policy
No stories this week.
Education, training and careers
UCL network to flag up struggles of junior staff
University College London (UCL) has launched a new network to highlight the challenges faced by junior academics and to give those at an early stage of their career "a voice within university management". The network aims to support and inspire junior academics and to provide a forum in which to tackle common difficulties, such as fixed-term contracts, collectively rather than individually.

THE    Issue.2171  - 25 September 2014 p.12
Surge in take-up of STEM subjects
A report in the 'Times Good University Guide' notes that increasing numbers of students are studying STEM courses at university, with biology and medical degrees the most popular. This trend is attributed to students wanting to study degrees that lead to higher starting salaries due to increased tuition fees. Universities are also bringing different disciplines together and diversifying science degrees and modules.

Times      - 25 September 2014 p.1
Dedicated to diversity
An article discusses the work of Women in Science and Engineering (WISE), which is aiming to raise the distribution of women in STEM jobs from 12 per cent to 30 per cent by 2020. Its key areas of focus include: lack of suitable role models; disproportionate rewarding of male attributes; and boosting confidence and networking skills among the female workforce.

Sunday Telegraph      - 21 September 2014 p.4
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Independent i      - 26 September 2014 p.19
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
Debate on stripy nanoparticles stifled by restrictive copyright
Julian Stirling, a researcher at the United States National Institute for Standards and Technology, has criticised academic publisher Wiley after it refused permission for him to reproduce a figure from one of its papers. Dr Stirling, who required the figure for an article critiquing the evidence for stripy nanoparticles, argued that such a refusal prevents scientific discourse and the ability of science to self-correct.

THE    Issue.2171  - 25 September 2014 p.10
Global health
Clinical trials of Ebola treatment to start in Africa with £3.2m grant
A consortium of international organisations is funding clinical trials of potential Ebola treatments in West Africa, to begin in November. It is acknowledged that the current epidemic is likely to be controlled via public health measures rather than vaccines and therapeutics, and that innovation in healthcare infrastructure in affected countries is key to containing such outbreaks.

BMJ    Vol.349  Issue.7976  - 27 September 2014 p.5
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Guardian      - 24 September 2014 p.4
Testing new Ebola tests
Several rapid, cheap and easy-to-use diagnostic tests for the Ebola virus are in development - the first of which will enter field trials later this year. Such tests could be a vital tool in helping to allow rapid targeting of interventions to control the disease.

Science    Vol.345  - 26 September 2014 p.1549-1550
Ebola cases could rise to a million by end of year
The World Health Organisation has published a report on the current state of the Ebola crisis and has concluded that unless "drastic improvements in control measures" are made, the number of cases of Ebola will rise from the current rate of 5800 cases to nearly 21 000 by the end of next month. The outbreak is the deadliest in the history of the disease.

Daily Telegraph      - 24 September 2014 p.22
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New Scientist    Vol.223  - 27 September 2014 p.8-9
Nature    Vol.513  - 25 September 2014 p.459
Financial Times      - 24 September 2014 p.8
Implementing Pasteur's vision for rabies elimination
A 'Perspectives' article argues that the elimination of rabies is an achievable goal, and meets the criteria for becoming a global health priority. It discusses how success depends critically on the adoption of an effective 'One Health' approach that integrates medical and veterinary sectors, together with political will and effective cross-border cooperation.

Science    Vol.345  - 26 September 2014 p.1562-1564
Women, children, and adolescents: the post-2015 agenda
An editorial and accompanying comment article discuss progress towards the Millennium Development Goals and their successors, the Sustainable Development Goals, with regard to public health, and child and maternal mortality. While some progress has been made, the authors argue that a stronger framework is required in order to move towards universal health coverage.

The Lancet    Vol.384  Issue.9949  - 27 September 2014 p.1159, 1161-1162
International science
No stories this week.
Worldwide
European Union
Academics line up to lobby fresh Commission
A leader article discusses the 27 nominations for new commissioners at the European Commission made on 10 September by president-elect Jean-Claude Juncker, which will be subject to agreement by the European Parliament. The article discusses the possible implications of the nominations for the research lobby, and notes that hearings for the proposed commissioners commence on 29 September.

Research Europe    Issue.394  - 25 September 2014 p.1, 4
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Research Europe      - 25 September 2014 p.2
Protests mount against transfer of responsibility for drugs in Europe
The president-elect of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, is under pressure from a number of European organisations to retain the European Medicines Agency and other health technology responsibilities in the Commission's health portfolio, rather than moving it to the industry directorate.

BMJ    Vol.349  Issue.7976  - 27 September 2014 p.2
Europe
Finland plans to embrace open access by 2017 in bid to raise public awareness of science
The Finnish Government has announced the Open Science and Research Initiative, which will aim to help researchers to share their research outputs, including publications, methodologies and data. The initiative will seek to raise public awareness of science, and will formulate a long-term strategy for increasing openness in science, to run through to 2017.

Research Europe    Issue.394  - 25 September 2014 p.16
Staff support
An editorial discusses the recent case of an animal research activist who obtained a position at one of the leading neuroscience facilities in Germany and secretly filmed the experiments there, which purported to show animals being mistreated. The author argues that German research organisations need to do more to support their staff in defending animal research.

Nature    Vol.513  Issue.7519  - 25 September 2014 p.459-460
Africa
No stories this week.
Middle East
Deadly vaccine mix-up
Early indications are that the deaths of 15 children during a measles immunisation programme in an area of opposition-held Syria were the result of human error. Investigations are ongoing, but it is believed that a strong muscle relaxant was mistakenly administered with the vaccine.

Science    Vol.345  - 26 September 2014 p.1544
Asia
Chinese science gets mass transformation
The Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) is undertaking a series of major reforms to boost collaboration and research output. The changes follow a call from the Chinese president for the CAS to become a global leader in science, and will see structural reforms to encourage scientists to collaborate more and focus on smaller numbers of larger challenges.

Nature    Vol.513  Issue.7519  - 25 September 2014 p.468-469
Australasia
STIs on rise in Australia
Two reports released in Australia last week have shown a dramatic rise in the number of new cases of syphilis and other sexually transmitted infections. However, rates of human papillomavirus infections had dropped significantly since 2007, when a vaccination programme for high school students was introduced.

Science    Vol.345  - 26 September 2014 p.1545
North America
Time for a new approach to the cancer research funding gap
An editorial argues that funding shortfalls are likely to hamper further progress in fighting cancer in the US, with funding cuts to the National Institutes of Health amounting to $1.6 billion. The author argues for the need for targeted research strategies to address rising cancer rates, in a similar vein to President Obama's recent call for stronger efforts to combat antibiotic resistance.

The Lancet    Vol.384  Issue.9949  - 27 September 2014 p.1160
Prize to spot resistant germs
As part of a series of new US Government initiatives to combat antibiotic-resistant microbes, the US National Institutes of Health and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority are co-sponsoring a $20 million prize to develop a rapid diagnostic to identify highly-resistant pathogens. The White House also this week published a national strategy, with goals for 2020.

Science    Vol.345  - 26 September 2014 p.1544
NIH cleared of interference
The Inspector General of the US Department of Health and Human Services has dismissed allegations that officials from the US National Institutes of Health interfered inappropriately with the oversight of a controversial study into the level of oxygen that premature infants should receive.

Science    Vol.345  - 26 September 2014 p.1544
Drug-safety pilot makes the grade
A programme piloted by the US Food and Drug Administration since 2009, to mine electronic patient records for indications of harmful side effects in medicines, is to be fully rolled out from 1 October. The project, 'Mini-Sentinel' will also allow scientists to use its data for research in other areas, although concerns have been raised over who will have access to the data, and how findings on drug safety will be applied to regulatory decisions.

Nature    Vol.513  Issue.7519  - 25 September 2014 p.472
Latin America
No stories this week.

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Academics line up to lobby fresh Commission

A leader article discusses the 27 nominations for new commissioners at the ...

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Clinical trials of Ebola treatment to start in Africa with £3.2m grant

A consortium of international organisations is funding clinical trials of potential Ebola ...
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