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Archive for March 2014

Science Policy Around the Web – March 17, 2014

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Photo credit KOMUnews via Photo Pin cc

Photo credit
KOMUnews via Photo Pin cc

By: Tara Burke

Our weekly linkpost, bringing you interesting and informative links on science policy issues buzzing about the internet.

Billionaires With Big Ideas Are Privatizing American Science – With budget cuts leaving the nation’s research institutions scrambling for funds, American science is increasingly becoming a private enterprise. Research labs are closing, projects are being shelved and many scientists are forced to close their labs due to a drastic drop in federal funding for basic science research. Billionaires such as Eric E. Schmidt (Google), James Simmons (hedge funds) and Michael Bloomberg, to name a few, are financing hunts for disease cures, space exploration, ocean science as well as other science avenues.  However, this private cherry-picked science initiative has some in the science establishment worried that this financing could skew research toward fields deemed more trendy than central. (William J. Broad)

Evidence Mounts Against Reprogrammed Stem Cell Papers – The lead authors are considering retracting two papers that describe a simple method for creating stem cells known as STAP (stimulus-triggered acquisition of pluripotency). An investigating committee confirmed finding problems in the papers and the authors are facing mounting allegations of problematic images and plagiarism. Scientists that have attempted to replicate the findings have not been successful. This controversy is not only damaging to the stem cell community but impacts public trust and support for all fields of science in Japan. (Dennis Normile)

The E.U. Is the Problem on GM Crops, Says U.K. Scientists – Genetically modified (GM) crops in Europe are facing hurdles as use is being hampered by a “dysfunctional approval process” set up by the European Union. The technology of GM has the unanimous backing of U.K. scientists but approval for release of a GM organism must get approval from Brussels. U.K. scientists claim that E.U. regulation has fettered progress of GM use and risk assessments of the technology have been “influenced by political considerations that do not have a scientific basis”. (Angela Saini)

Have an interesting science policy link?  Share it in the comments!

Written by sciencepolicyforall

March 17, 2014 at 3:42 pm

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Science Policy Around the Web – March 6, 2014

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By: Kaitlin Morabito

photo credit: subarcticmike via photopin cc

photo credit: subarcticmike via photopin cc

Our weekly linkpost, bringing you interesting and informative links on science policy issues buzzing about the internet.

Giant virus resurrected from 30,000-year-old ice – Scientists from Aix-Marseille University in France discovered an ancient giant virus, dubbed Pithovirus sibericum, frozen in Siberian permafrost. Since the known giant viruses, Mimivirus and Pandoraviruses, infect ameobae, the group incubated permafrost samples with amoebae and watched for cell death.  Within these dying amoebae, the scientists, lead by Jean-Michel Claveria and Chantal Abergel, could visualize the virus within the walls of the amoebae via microscope.  Despite similarities with the other giant viruses in host, size, and shape, Pithovirus sibericum has very different properties including mechanism of replication and a much smaller genome.  As global temperatures rise and glaciers melt, the virome in the frozen environment may potentially have an impact on human health. (Ed Yong)

Rare gene protects against Type 2 Diabetes even in obese people – A mutation in one allele of a gene, known as ZnT8, has been shown to mitigate Type 2 diabetes even among the overweight and obese.  The gene was initially identified in a studying comparing 758 people on either end of the weight, age, and risk spectrum.  Of these 758 people, only 2 people in the high-risk group with diabetes had this mutation.  To confirm these results, the researchers added 18,000 people to their study and found an additional 31 obese individuals who were seemingly protected from diabetes.  The findings were further authenticated using bioinformatics.  Interestingly, the mutation of the gene has the opposite result in mice, causing Type 2 diabetes.  Researchers are now focuses on developing drugs which targets the ZnT8 gene. (Gina Kolata)

U.S. Army agriculture development teams – To help combat counterinsurgency in Afghanistan, the United States Army National Guard has deployed Agriculture Development Teams (ADT) made up of environmental scientists, engineers, and professors, who tackle projects aimed at improving agriculture and agricultural education in rural Afghanistan.  An example of militarized aid, this program is focused on small scale, local efforts to engender a good rapport with the United States Army and Afghan government in rural areas where counterinsurgency is problematic.  These projects not only involve endeavors such as delayed-action dams, but are also highly education focused, so the locals and universities can continue to reap benefits after the ADTs leave.  (Alexander Stewart)

Have an interesting science policy link?  Share it in the comments!

Written by sciencepolicyforall

March 6, 2014 at 2:37 pm