Policy and Advocacy News

Key Legislator Tells Trump Officials to Back Off on Proposed Overhead Spending Cap for NIH

October 25, 2017 | Science

Representative Tom Cole (R-OK), chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee funding NIH, wrote language preventing NIH overhead spending caps into a 2018 appropriations bill. The indirect costs NIH pays to universities are a likely target for policymakers wanting to reduce federal spending. Cole also held a hearing for members of the biomedical research community and supporting lawmakers to defend indirect costs. 

  • Join the Advocacy Network to stay informed about issues related to neuroscience research at SfN.org

Six Months Later, the March for Science Tries to Build a Lasting Movement

October 23, 2017 | The Washington Post

March for Science organizers are working to harness the passion of those that participated in the April 22 march, and turn it into a lasting movement with the creation of a nonprofit. Since the march, there has been an increase in scientist participation in advocacy and outreach, marking a major step in the evolution of the science advocacy community. Organizers are still figuring out the goals of the March for Science nonprofit, and are developing resources for scientists interested in advocacy.


NIH-Funded Network Struggles to Use Mentoring to Foster Diversity

October 24, 2017 | Science

The National Research Mentoring Network is part of NIH’s diversity initiative aimed at encouraging underrepresented minorities in biomedical sciences. The mentoring program started slowly with administrative complications and evaluative challenges but has grown in popularity.


In Brazil, Researchers Struggle to Fend Off Deepening Budget Cuts

October 20, 2017 | Science

Last week, Brazilian researchers delivered a petition with over 82,000 signatures to congressional leaders to protest deep cuts in research funding. Over the last five years, Brazil’s federal science funding has been cut by more than 50%, reducing the science budget to the lowest level in recent history. A $150 million budget increase was appropriated by the science ministry last month, but ministry officials anticipate the supplement to be insufficient to fulfill science spending commitments through the end of the year.


Many Junior Scientists Need to Take a Hard Look at Their Job Prospects

October 25, 2017 | Nature

In this op-ed, the author states that early career scientists and their faculty mentors need to be realistic about the job prospects of junior scientists and prepare them for non-academic careers. Taboo around non-academic careers may be because only one-third of early career scientists engage in career development conversations with their supervisors and mental health needs often go unaddressed in this population.

Articles of Interest

First Living Human Cells Added to Brain Database

October 25, 2017 | Nature

Data including 3D mapping and cell type-specific electrical properties from human brain tissue was incorporated into the Allen Institute for Brain Science database. The data derived from human tissue was collected from discarded bits of cerebral cortex in patients undergoing brain surgery. While patients were typically undergoing surgery for epilepsy or brain tumors, the donated cells were healthy and information about patients’ brain function before and after surgery was also provided.

  • Find more information on the human brain on BrainFacts.org

United States Should Dramatically Retool Animal Research Rules, Groups Say

October 24, 2017 | Science

The Association of American Medical Colleges and three additional groups have proposed changes to animal research rules in a recently released report. The report calls for moving animals research oversight to a single agency, conducting less frequent lab inspections, and providing researchers with greater input in crafting of new rules. The recommendations have received some criticism, but there is agreement amongst the community that the current system could be improved.


In Memory Training Smackdown, One Method Dominates

October 23, 2017 | NPR

A comparison of two common brain training methods found that one was twice as effective as the other, but neither increased participant’s intelligence. The study’s author clarified that brain training methods are still in the very early stages and warns users not to count on commercial and academic brain training methods to improve intelligence.

Wild and Captive Chimpanzees Share Personality Traits With Humans

October 24, 2017 | The New York Times

Researchers at Gombe National Park in Tanzania have updated Jane Goodall’s initial observations of chimpanzee personalities. New questionnaires assessing chimps’ traits demonstrate consistent temperaments between captive and wild chimpanzees as well as similarity with human personalities.