Merit review under the microscope in US

Merit review under the microscope in US

A US House subcommittee today held a hearing to determine whether the National Science Foundation (NSF) merit review process — by which agency selects the research projects it will fund each year — is identifying the best science possible to support. The subcommittee heard testimony from four witnesses about the quality of selected research and solicited suggestions for how to improve the process.

Report calls for better ecological data management by US agencies

Report calls for better ecological data management by US agencies

Biodiversity and ecosystem data gathered by US environmental monitoring programs need to be better centralized, according to Sustaining Environmental Capital: Protecting Society and the Economy, a report released today by the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST).

Stop-gap funds will support summer research on oil spill

Stop-gap funds will support summer research on oil spill

The Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GRI) Research Board today awarded US$1.5 million in funds to 17 scientists doing research on the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Short term funding made available in these grants will allow researchers to collect crucial summer data, tiding them over until more of BP’s funds become available in the fall.  Read more

Committee votes to withdraw approval for breast cancer drug

The Food and Drug Administration’s Oncologic Drugs Advisory Committee voted today to move forward with its December decision to withdraw approval for the drug Avastin in the treatment of metastatic breast cancer. The committee’s vote was unanimous on the grounds that the available evidence doesn’t show that the drug is effective enough to justify serious toxic side effects, including severe high blood pressure, hemorrhage and heart failure.  Read more

New Jersey nixes participation in US cap-and-trade system

New Jersey nixes participation in US cap-and-trade system

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie yesterday announced his decision to withdraw his state from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), the only functioning US carbon cap-and-trade system, by year’s end. He argued that the program not only fails to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but creates an unnecessary tax burden on citizens and businesses.  Read more

Role of bacteria in Gulf oil spill under the microscope

Role of bacteria in Gulf oil spill under the microscope

Since last year’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, microbiologists have been working to understand how the microbial environment responds to and ultimately breaks down oil from a spill. (For more information, see our feature on the topic.) This weekend at the 111th general meeting of The American Society for Microbiology in New Orleans – the nearest large city to the spill site – an entire session was dedicated to the newest results from spill studies.  Read more