Science Policy For All

Because science policy affects everyone.

Archive for May 2014

Science Policy Around the Web – May 16, 2014

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By: Jennifer Plank

photo credit: torbakhopper via photopin cc

photo credit: torbakhopper via photopin cc

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

New Guidelines Reinforce Value of Anti-HIV Pills for Prevention – Recent findings suggest that an Anti-HIV pill, Truvada, can be taken to prevent HIV. Pre-exposure prophylaxis, also called PrEP, is recommended for high risk individuals, such as homosexual men or heterosexuals in a relationship with an HIV-positive partner. However, very few high risk individuals are using PrEP and the number of new infections has not decreased. Therefore, the US Public Health Service has issued new guidelines recommending daily use by high risk individuals. Cost may be a limiting factor in Truvada use (it costs approximately $13,000/year), however, it is typically covered by insurance and assistance is available for uninsured individuals. (Jon Cohen)

Obama Administration Releases Major Climate Change ReportLast week, the Obama administration released a report detailing current and future effects of climate change. The National Climate Assessment, a collaboration of over 200 scientists, focused the affect of climate change on the United States. The NCA reported findings related to higher temperatures and increased incidence of fires, melting Alaskan glaciers and permafrost, coastline flooding, and long term agricultural problems. With this report comes renewed efforts by the Obama administration to reduce the effects of climate change. (Bryan Walsh)

Americans’ Aversion to Science Carries a High Price – Americans have many beliefs that are not founded in science including a link between vaccines and autism, the idea that taking vitamins is good for your health, fear of GMOs. Many factors, such as religion or culture, lead to these erroneous beliefs. In his opinion piece, Michael Gerson discusses the negative implications of denying science and how scientists can more adequately advocate for research. (Michael Gerson)

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Written by sciencepolicyforall

May 16, 2014 at 3:20 pm

Science Policy Around the Web – May 8, 2014

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By: Kaitlyn Morabito

By pakorn, published on 27 March 2014 Stock Photo - image ID: 100251584  Via www.freedigitalphotos.net

By pakorn, published on 27 March 2014
Stock Photo – image ID: 100251584
Via http://www.freedigitalphotos.net

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

Soaring MERS cases in Saudi Arabia Raise Alarms – A spike in the number of new MERS virus cases, over 200 in April alone, in Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates has raised concerns amid scientists, the ECDC, and the WHO.   Among the fears is that the virus has mutated to enhance human-to-human transmission potentially leading to a pandemic, although there is no evidence to support this supposition. Other reasons for the surge may be increased testing, increased birth rate of camels, poor hospital hygiene or a combination of these possibilities. Scientists, including Christian Drosten of University of Bonn in Germany, are sequencing viral genomes from outbreaks, and the data seems to support recurrent camel-to-human transmission. Further understanding of the route of transmission is needed to control circulation between camels and humans. (Kai Kupferschmidt)

Science Diplomacy Visit to Cuba Produces Historic Agreement – Despite a frosty relationship between their governments, US and Cuban scientists and policy makers recently met at the Cuban Academy of Sciences in Havana, Cuba to strengthen scientific collaboration between the countries. Undeterred by periods of economic hardship, Cuba currently has a strong biotechnology industry especially in regards to infectious disease. The American group, lead by AAAS, along with Cuban scientists penned an agreement focused on cancer, antibiotic resistance, emerging infectious disease, and brain disorders as areas in which collaborations could flourish. This memorandum is just one step in continuing to grow the partnership between the US and Cuba in science and there remains significant obstacles to success. (Kathy Wren)

Climate Change Assessment Paints Stark Picture of Potential Damage – The Obama administration released the Third National Climate Assessment on Tuesday, which evaluates the local impact of and the influence of humans on climate change. The congress-mandated quadrennial report concludes that there has been an uptick in the number of extreme weather events as well as the severity of these events. The report uses scientific data to refute many aspects of climate change deniers’ arguments regarding the role of man in causing climate change.   The impact on specific US regions are outlined including increased heavy precipitation in the Northeast and Midwest leading to flooding. The Southwest, on the other hand, will likely see more heat leading to drought and wild fires. This report bolsters efforts by the Obama administration to actively focus on mitigating climate change. (Neela Banerjee & Kathleen Hennessey)

 

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Written by sciencepolicyforall

May 8, 2014 at 9:10 pm

Science Policy Around the Web – May 5, 2014

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By: Tara Burke

Photo credit: Novartis AG via photo pin cc

Photo credit: Novartis AG via photo pin cc

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

UK proposes greater transparency on animal research – The government of the United Kingdom wants to drop rules that prevent release of any confidential information on animal research. This is part of a continuing push towards openness about such research methods. Animal-rights groups have complained about these rules for years. If this rule is repealed it would help to maintain the public trust about research activities being performed in the UK. If implemented, the names and locations of animal research would be kept out of the public domain. This anonymity was important to researchers who feared their safety from extremist animal rights protestors. To further protect researchers, the government is also considering creating a new criminal offense of ‘malicious disclosure’ of animal research information. This is aimed at preventing attempts by anti-research extremists to ‘out’ researchers online. (Daniel Cressey)

White House Science Adviser Criticizes FIRST Act – John Holdren, The White House science adviser, expressed the first public reaction from the White House to the Frontiers in Innovation, Research, Science, and Technology (FIRST) Act, a 2-year reauthorization of NSF programs. Holdren, whose views are in line with most academic leaders, commented that FIRST would “have an extraordinary unfortunate effect” on the NSF, a $7 billion research agency. The FIRST act worries leaders of the scientific community because it shifts the NSF’s focus from funding the best basic research across all areas of science and engineering to more applied research. Holden argues FIRST would narrow the focus of NSF to science applied to various national interests other than simply advancing the progress of science.  FIRST is expected to be approved this month by the science committee of the U.S. House of Representatives. (Jeffrey Mervis)

Planet headed toward ‘post-antibiotic era’ when treatments don’t work: WHO – In an attempt to alert all countries around the world, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that antibiotic resistance has developed in all parts of the world. WHO stresses that this problem is so serious it could threaten the achievements of modern medicine. Keiji Fukuda, WHO’s assistant director-general for health security, said that the international community needs to take significant actions to improve efforts to prevent infections. He also stresses that there needs to be changes in how antibiotics are prescribed, produced and used. (Lenny Bernstein)

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Written by sciencepolicyforall

May 5, 2014 at 9:32 am