Science Policy For All

Because science policy affects everyone.

Science Policy Around the Web – April 8, 2014

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By: Tara Burke

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

NASA Breaks Most Contact With Russia – NASA is suspending most contacts with Russian space agency officials. This move underscores the rapid deterioration of the Russian-American relationship which comes after the annexation of Crimea by Russia earlier this year. One exception to this move is operations of the International Space Station which are to remain the same. Historically, the relationship NASA has with Russia has been immune to such political tensions between the two countries. However, as the confrontation over Ukraine intensifies, the Obama administration cannot continue allowing meetings between NASA and Russian officials as if all were normal. This decision by the administration was made easier since the US space program has dwindled and space-relations with other countries are not needed like they once were. (Kenneth Chang and Peter Baker)


Neurological Institute Finds Worrisome Drop in Basic Research – The director of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), Story Landis, announced data that showed a “sharp decrease” in basic research at her institute. Landis and her staff examined the aims and abstracts of grants funded between 1997 and 2012 and found that NINDS competing grant funding that went to basic research declined from 87% to 71%. Applied research rose from 13% to 29%. When NINDS staffers dug deeper, they found that the percentage of NINDS-funded proposals that were considered basic research and did not have a specific disease focus fell from 52% to 27%. Landis plans to continue to explore the reason behind this decline. She finds this decline worrisome since “fundamental basic research is the engine of discovery”. (Jocelyn Kaiser)


The Africa Ebola outbreak that keeps getting worse – News of an Ebola outbreak in Africa has received modest notice in the West. The World Health Organization was not notified until March 23th, months after individuals were infected. As of April 3, the WHO reported that Ebola “has a case fatality of up to 90 percent” with 83 dead and 127 confirmed cases. On April 6th, the number of dead reached 90 and Ghana and Mali announced their first suspected cases of the disease. The announcement of this outbreak has struck fear in the African population. What is particularly worrisome is the migratory pattern of the outbreak. Usually, the outbreaks stay in isolated, remote geographical pockets but, this time, Ebola has shot hundreds of miles from southwest Guinea to the coastal capital of Conakry. Very few doctors, poor infrastructure, and a general distrust of authority by the people of Guinea exacerbate this situation. (Terrence McCoy)


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


Written by sciencepolicyforall

April 8, 2014 at 12:42 pm

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