By: Jennifer Plank
Our weekly linkpost, bringing you interesting and informative links on science policy issues buzzing about the internet.
NIH discontinues Immunizations in HIV vaccine study – Immunizations in an NIH sponsored HIV vaccine trial (HVTN 505) were halted last week. The study was in Phase IIb and aimed to determine if the vaccine could prevent infection or reduce viral load in patients who become infected with HIV. The trial consisted of a DNA-based vaccine to “prime” the immune system followed by a recombinant vaccine with the adenovirus type 5 vector housing genetic material encoding HIV antigens. Approximately 2500 people enrolled in the study. This phase of the study was limited to men who have sex with men and transgender individuals who have sex with me. Of the participants, 1250 received the vaccine and 1244 received the placebo. Overall, 71 cases of HIV were reported (30 placebo recipients and 41 vaccine recipients). Additionally, there were 30 participants with a measurable viral load (15 placebo/15 vaccine). Based on these findings, the NIH decided to halt vaccination at each of the trial sites. (NIH News)
Oregon’s math problem: How to measure health? - In an effort to improve health care and reduce unnecessary expenses, the Obama administration granted the state of Oregon almost $2 billion to coordinate better health care practices. The state has decided on 33 different measurements in evaluating health care providers. For example, health care providers are encouraged to ask patients if they use drugs or alcohol. If the patients answers affirmatively, the clinician is supposed to ask follow up questions and refer the patient to facilities to help them if necessary. The goal of the program is to have doctors refer patients for additional services only when necessary. The state has 5 years to fully implement the evaluations and prove that medical costs have not increased. (Kristian Voden-Vencil)
U.S. lawmakers propose new criteria for choosing NSF grants – A new bill drafted by Lamar Smith (R-TX) would replace NSF peer review with funding criteria chosen by Congress. Additionally, the bill includes language that suggests that every other scientific agency could be evaluated by the same process. All awarded NSF grants would have to meet the following criteria:
1) “… in the interests of the United States to advance the national health, prosperity, or welfare, and to secure the national defense by promoting the progress of science;
2) “… the finest quality, is groundbreaking, and answers questions or solves problems that are of utmost importance to society at large; and
3) “… not duplicative of other research projects being funded by the Foundation or other Federal science agencies.”
The top Democrat on the House of Representatives science committee, Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX), strongly opposes the legislation stating that no chair of the science committee has ever deemed themselves an expert in the science underlying the grant proposals. (Jeffrey Mervis)
Have an interesting science policy link? Share it in the comments!