January 2013

In other news

Coming out of the scientific closet: unapologetic about basic research
Steve Caplan of the University of Nebraska discusses the advantages and disadvantages of focusing exclusively on translational studies and declares his support of nontranslational, basic research. Without well-grounded, basic knowledge about essential cellular mechanisms, he says, the gap between new discoveries and their clinical applicability will continue to grow. Read Caplan’s editorial in The Guardian.

Why do women leave biology?
Writing in the January issue of BioScience, Shelley A. Adamo of Dalhousie University rejects the idea that women are less willing to do the work required to succeed in science. The problem, she says, is one of timing: Women in their early 30s find it particularly hard to balance their families and careers at the same time, when both are in stages requiring the utmost attention. Read about Adamo’s paper.

Amgen to acquire deCODE Genetics
deCODE Genetics and Amgen announced last month that they will merge forces. “We believe Amgen’s focus and ability to incorporate our genetic research into their research and development efforts will translate our discoveries into meaningful therapies for patients,” says Kari Stefansson, founder and chief executive officer at deCODE Genetics. Read the press release.

Florida may reduce tuition for select majors
Florida Gov. Rick Scott wants to encourage students to look for more job-friendly degrees by reducing tuition costs for certain majors. The state is prepared to take on part of the financial responsibilities, but universities are also advised to tighten their belts. Liberal arts devotees across Florida are protesting this proposal. Read more in The New York Times.

How to motivate scientists?
The life of a scientist is harsh: fierce competition, great risks and few financial rewards. Uri Alon, a molecular cell biologist at the Weizmann Institute of Science, studied the matter of motivation under such conditions. He has come up with four techniques that don’t use money, intimidation, threats or bonuses but could provide personal and professional development. Learn more about these techniques.

Texas cancer agency halts granting
The embattled Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas has suspended the awarding of new grants until the institute reviews and improves its scientific-review procedures. The moratorium comes at the request of Texas Gov. Rick Perry and after more than seven months of public questions about the scientific review of grants at the institution. In May, Chief Scientific Officer and Nobel laureate Alfred Gilman, the majority of members of the institute’s scientific review council, and more than 20 percent of the CPRIT’s peer reviewers resigned due to dissatisfaction with the peer-review process at the agency. Earlier this month, the executive director of CPRIT also resigned amid new allegations and investigations about grants that were awarded despite poor scientific reviews or no reviews at all. Read the story in ScienceInsider.

Crime-lab chemist indicted on 27 counts
Massachusetts crime-lab chemist Annie Dookhan, who was accused of falsifying data and tainting samples involved in thousands of criminal trials, was indicted on 27 charges, ranging from obstruction of justice to perjury. Each obstruction of justice charge (17 total) carries a maximum 10-year sentence, while the single perjury charge has a 20-year sentence. Dookhan pleaded not guilty to all 27 counts. Read the Boston Globe’s story.

Teodora DonisanThis news roundup was compiled by ASBMB Today contributor Teodora Donisan and Chris Pickett, ASBMB’s science policy fellow.

Send links of interest to asbmbtoday@asbmb.org for possible inclusion in future issues.

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