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Small is beautiful for science start-ups

Venture funding is declining quickly and is unlikely to bounce back. But less money means lower expectations — good news for smaller science start-ups, says John Browning in an Essay in today’s issue of Nature (460, 459; 2009 – free to access online for one week from publication date). From the Essay:  … Read more

Nature Materials on value of research

This year is turning out to be an interesting one for research funding in the UK. Everyone wants the best science to be funded, but it’s not clear that the proposed policy changes will achieve this. So begins the July Editorial in Nature Materials (8, 535; 2009), entitled Value for money.  Read more

Incentives needed for science outreach, says Nature Neuroscience

In its June Editorial Encouraging science outreach, Nature Neuroscience (12, 665 ; 2009) responds to US President Obama’s recent call for more scientist involvement in education. Science outreach programs are very welcome, states the Editorial, but to be effective, they must include incentives for teachers and better training for scientist volunteers if true change is to be achieved.  Read more

System for research proposals overwhelmed

US federal agencies are scrambling to prepare for a wave of research proposals from scientists eager to win funding offered in the nation’s economic stimulus package, as reported in an online Nature News story on 16 March. White House officials fear that the number of applications could overwhelm the country’s online grant-application system,, if immediate action is not taken. From the News story: “The system, which went online in 2004, was intended to streamline the grant process by offering a central electronic application portal for all federal grant-making agencies. But it was designed to handle only about 65,000 applications a year, says Sheila Conley, acting deputy assistant secretary in the office of grants at the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) in Washington, DC, which manages the system.  Read more

Nature Materials on the global importance of research investment

Nature Materials starts the new year with a rousing editorial in its January edition (Nat. Mater. 8, 1; 2009) on the importance of innovation: “we cannot afford reductions in fundamental research or to be complacent on issues such as the energy crisis. The lesson from the recent financial meltdown seems straightforward. If we do not understand the risks we are exposed to and cover ourselves against them, the long-term implications might be grim. Unlike the banks and their complex financial instruments, which even proved too complex for sophisticated risk-assessment computer models, the gamble we are taking with our planet is painfully clear.”  … Read more

Nature Neuroscience on philanthropic support for science

The October editorial in Nature Neuroscience (11, 1117; 2008) describes how the contribution of private philanthropy to research has been growing. Although these large infusions of money can galvanize research, private and public funds now increasingly seem to support similar projects. Caution is warranted to prevent funding for specific topics from skewing research to the detriment of other fields.  Read more