“Science is not a national thing”: Leonor Beleza, new director of Portugal’s Champalimaud foundation, on a billionaire’s biomedical legacy

"Science is not a national thing": Leonor Beleza, new director of Portugal's Champalimaud foundation, on a billionaire's biomedical legacy

Portuguese businessman António Champalimaud surprised his family when his will, opened after his 2004 death, revealed that he was bequeathing €500 million ($690 million), about a quarter of his estate, to establish a foundation for applied biomedical research. He also surprised law professor and one-time Portuguese Health Minister Leonor Beleza, whom he named to lead the foundation. Beleza, who met Champalimaud just once, agreed in principle to run his proposed foundation during a phone call in 2000 but did not hear any further until his death. She has now returned from a global tour of medical research institutions and foundations lasting over a year to determine how best to spend Champalimaud’s millions.  Read more

Tea partiers and progressives may agree on at least one thing, poll finds: stem cell research

Over the past decade, federal funding for embryonic stem cell research in the US has been held up continuously by rogue players—first by former President George W. Bush who established an executive order in 2001 limiting funding and twice vetoed legislation to expand the scope of such research, and now by a US district court judge’s decision that threatens to halt taxpayer supported embryonic stem cell science altogether.  Read more

Opinion: how ‘global health governance’ can fight disease across borders

Opinion: how 'global health governance' can fight disease across borders

By Tikki Pang, Nils Daulaire, Gerald Keusch, Rose Leke, Peter Piot, Srinath Reddy, Andrzej Rys and Nicole Szlezak The recognition that many diseases present worldwide challenges has spurred nations and institutions to participate in the development of what is known as ‘global health governance’. But this new form of governance will only succeed with strengthened country commitment, collaborations across disparate sectors and improved accountability. In an era of rapid globalization, the world faces serious global threats to human health, including infectious and chronic diseases, antimicrobial resistance and inequitable access to medicines. Fortunately, since the mid-1990s, recognition of a need for  … Read more

For Bush’s stem cell decisions, seeing was believing

For Bush's stem cell decisions, seeing was believing

Former US President George Bush has been making the talk show rounds to promote his new memoir, Decision Points. Rather than a chronological chronicle, Bush takes a more thematic approach, explaining the motivation behind some of his more controversial policy decisions. One telling anecdote describes how his mother, Barbara Bush, miscarried and enlisted her eldest son to drive her to the hospital. She brought the fetus in a jar with her (as the American College of Obstetricians and Gynocologists recommends, incidentally). Seeing the remains of his unborn sibling, Bush says, helped foment his pro-life worldview, which led to the compromise of funding stem cell research only for lines that had already been created by the US National Institutes of Health (NIH).  Read more

Animal research in the EU: less pharma, more basic bioscience

Animal research in the EU: less pharma, more basic bioscience

By Elie Dolgin Drug companies in the EU are increasingly turning to nonanimal strategies to test medicines, but the number of animals used for basic research is on the rise, according to statistics published 30 September by the European Commission. Although the total number of animals used for scientific purposes in the EU’s 27 member states has held steady at around 12 million per year, this overall figure masks shifting trends in animal experimentation. The European Commission report, which documents data submitted for 2008, shows that studies investigating basic biological principles used approximately 4.5 million research animals—up by more than  … Read more

Digital imaging — and MRIs — may cut autopsies out of the picture

Digital imaging — and MRIs — may cut autopsies out of the picture

By Daniel Cressey Despite its value to clinical practice and medical research, use of the autopsy is in decline worldwide, in part as a result of changing attitudes and cost cutting. Researchers met in London last month to discuss how body scans can enhance and possibly one day replace some forms of one of the oldest medical practices. The issue is of particular interest in the UK, which has one of the highest rates of autopsy in the Western world but where public confidence was severely damaged by a scandal at the Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool, when it  … Read more

Think you might have chlamydia? There’s an app for that (in development)

Mobile phones can already function as a stethoscope or a microscope; soon they could diagnose sexually transmitted infections as well. The UK Clinical Research Collaboration has spent £4 million ($6.4 million) developing mobile phone test kits for STIs. The kit, which would be sold in vending machines for as little as £1, is a computer chip that can be urinated or spit on and then plugged into a cell phone or computer. A diagnosis pops up in minutes, and depending on the results, you either schedule a doctor’s appointment or get right back to a game of “”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angry_Birds”>Angry Birds”.  Read more

The knee bone’s connected to the… titanium foam?

The knee bone's connected to the... titanium foam?

By some estimates, more than two million bone grafts take place worldwide each year. The best possible graft material is autologous bone taken from the patient—usually shaved from the side of the pelvis. But researchers are busy developing advanced titanium foams for certain circumstances in which artificial grafts work best.  Read more

For a working vacation, try an NIH sabbatical

Clinical psychiatrist Barbara Gracious had a month to spare over the summer while transitioning to her new job at Ohio State University in Columbus. But, instead of jetting off to a vacation spot, she packed her bags for Bethesda, Maryland, home of the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) Clinical Center, to go on sabbatical.  Read more

What can the lame duck US Congress do for biomedicine?

What can the lame duck US Congress do for biomedicine?

With Republicans set to take control of the US House of Representatives next year, the Democratic-led Congress has entered the awkward end of its life cycle — technically still in power, but lacking the clout to push forward any major initiatives. But even a lame duck can attempt a short flight, and the 111th Congress may still be able to pass legislation with implications for biomedical research.  Read more