Policy and Advocacy News

Trump Names Sharpless to Lead U.S. Cancer Institute

June 9, 2017 | Science

The administration named Norman “Ned” Sharpless to be the next director of the National Cancer Institute (NCI), the largest NIH institute. Sharpless is currently the director of the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center at UNC Chapel Hill.

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NIH Scraps Plan for Cap on Research Grants

June 8, 2017 | Nature

NIH has decided to drop a previously proposed plan to cap the number of grants an investigator can hold at one time and instead create a special fund called the Next Generation Researchers Initiative for early and mid-career scientists. The previously policy was established in attempt to free up funds for younger researchers and this new Initiative will initially set aside $210 million for researchers with less than 10 years’ experience as an NIH-funded principal investigator, and eventually grow to $1.1 billion per year in five years.

US Mental-Health Agency's Push for Basic Research has Slashed Support for Clinical Trials

June 13, 2017 | Nature

According to analysis done by Nature, between 2009 and 2015, the number of clinical trials funded by NIMH has dropped by 45 percent. These findings align with the launch of the Research Domain Criteria (RDoC) by NIMH in 2011 which asked researchers to study the biological roots of disease. Neuroscientists and mental health researchers agree with the idea behind the RDoC, but the movement away from funding clinical studies has angered clinical researchers, causing them to call for a reversal in the drop of clinical research funding.

Curiosity and Irritation Meet Macron's Effort to Lure Foreign Scientists to France

June 10, 2017 | Science

The French government is inviting U.S. researchers to work in France with the creation of 4-year grants worth up to €1.5 million each. This invitation has intrigued some U.S. researchers, but is angering French scientists who fear this move could signal less of a commitment to homegrown science.

Opinion

June 8, 2017 | The Hill

Nicholas Zeppos, chancellor of Vanderbilt University, discusses the importance of research universities and the federal funding they receive to the research enterprise. Zeppos notes that a loss in funding to research universities would be a loss for businesses and the American people and calls on Congress to continue investing in research universities by increasing funding to NIH.

Gardner: Science Shouldn't be Partisan Issue

June 12, 2017 | The Coloradoan

Senator Cory Gardner argues that science should not be a partisan issue given the tremendous impact it has had on the nation’s economy, health, and national security. Gardner reinforces his dedication to advocating for science by highlighting his call for an increase to the budgets of both NIH and NSF, and his partnerships across the aisle on bills such as American Innovation and Competitiveness Act, which was signed into law in January 2017.

Empty Rhetoric Over Data Sharing Slows Science

June 12, 2017 | Nature
In this op-ed the author highlights the disconnect between agreement regarding the necessity of open data and the lack of implementing data sharing platforms. The author acknowledges the budgetary constraints associated with this endeavor and offers solutions so researchers and the scientific community can benefit from the improvements in transparency and research reproducibility that data accessibility would provide.

Articles of Interest

Smell Test May Sniff Out Oncoming Parkinson's and Alzheimer's

June 12, 2017 | Scientific American

This article examines the connection between problems with smell and diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, including the possibility of using smell loss as a predictor of future diagnosis. Specifically, one researcher hopes to undertake a large scale study using a low cost smell test to further examine this relationship.

Research on Lab Chimps is over. Why Have so Few Been Retired to Sanctuaries?

June 12, 2017 | Science

This piece looks at the frustrations surrounding the slow pace at which research chimps are moved to sanctuaries and the challenges associated with retiring former research chimps. The U.S. has used research chimps since 1960, in 2000 the first national chimpanzee sanctuary was established, and following the classification of U.S. chimps as endangered in 2015, NIH declared that research chimpanzees would be retired.

Evan a Moderate Amount of Drinking Could Cause Brain Decline

June 11, 2017 | Scientific American

A recent study found that moderate drinking, eight to twelve drinks per week, was associated with cognitive decline and degeneration in the hippocampus. Results from this study suggest that alcohol has an effect on your brain at lower levels than previously thought, strengthening the argument that drinking habits previously considered normal may have adverse consequences for health.