Archive by date | July 2012

Science committee criticizes UK education system and immigration policy

Every nation anxious about its future wants to produce more science graduates. But a brow-beating report out today from the UK’s House of Lords Science and Technology Committee says the quality of students, not just their number, needs urgent attention. It criticizes every aspect of the UK’s science education system – from secondary schools up to universities – and worries that reforms to the system at university level, including rising tuition fees and a clampdown on student immigration, will only exacerbate problems. To top it all off, there’s a blast at poor-quality statistics that make it impossible to fully understand what’s going wrong.  Read more

NIH reflects on the reality of an AIDS-free generation — updated

NIH reflects on the reality of an AIDS-free generation -- updated

After 22 years, the International AIDS Conference returns the US after a ban in 1992, intended to prevent HIV-infected people from entering the country, was lifted in 2010. This fact suits the optimistic tagline for the meeting, Turning the tide on the HIV epidemic, and Anthony Fauci, director of the NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) appeared jovial as he discussed the strides made since he attended the first meeting held in Atlanta, Georgia in 1985.  Read more

One fish, two fish and 400,000 zebrafish

The zebrafish repository.

Hundreds of translucent creatures that biomedical researchers rely on for genetic insights settled into new digs today as researchers opened a newly refurbished and expanded animal repository called the European Zebrafish Resource Center. Housed at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) in southwest Germany, the center can maintain 400,000 live fish at maximum capacity in more than 3,000 tanks, and will include lab space for on-site zebrafish in vitro fertilization. Uwe Strähle, a geneticist at KIT, told Nature Medicine by phone after the ribbon-cutting ceremony that European zebrafish researchers eager to preserve their hard-won transgenic and mutant lines may begin submitting eggs to the center. Currently the center houses 300 transgenic lines but Strähle expected the collection to expand to hold thousands of lines in the next five years.  Read more

California university asks for its own board

University of California, San Francisco today released a series of proposals aimed at fixing finances at the biomedical powerhouse. Though UCSF receives more grants from the U.S. National Institutes of Health than any other public institution, it is still struggling to stay above water. Under historic growth rates in revenues and expenses, UCSF would be in the red by 2015. In January, UCSF Chancellor Susan Desmond-Hellmann created a working group to explore new governance structures and financial relationships with the greater UC system.  Read more

As emissions rise, China loses moral high ground

As emissions rise, China loses moral high ground

For years China has dismissed concerns about its rising carbon emissions by pointing out that, on a per-capita basis, Chinese citizens still emit far less than their counterparts in the industrialized world. But now that China’s per-capita emissions are on par with those of the European Union, that argument will be much harder to make.  Read more

Police close ‘Climategate’ investigation

The Norfolk Constabulary has closed its investigation into the November 2009 release of private emails between researchers at the Climatic Research Centre (CRU) at the University of East Anglia (UEA) in Norwich after failing to identify those responsible. Despite not being able to prosecute any offenders, the police have confirmed that the data breach “was the result of a sophisticated and carefully orchestrated attack on the CRU’s data files, carried out remotely via the internet”. The investigation has also cleared anyone working at or associated with UEA from involvement in the crime.  Read more

US legislators would keep NIH flat-funded in 2013

US legislators would keep NIH flat-funded in 2013

A key figure bearing on the fiscal fate of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) was published today: the House subcommittee that funds the agency proposed sustaining it with a flat, $30.6 billion budget in 2013 – the same figure that President Barack Obama requested in February. Because the NIH-funding committee in the Senate has already called for a $100 million boost for the biomedical agency next year, the agency looks likely, in a financially precarious time, to have escaped the absolute cuts of the budget axe, at least for the moment.  Read more