Policy and Advocacy News

House Science Panel Joins Trump in Questioning Research Overhead Payments

May 26, 2017 | Science

The House Science Committee recently held a hearing looking at NSF and indirect costs. The committee focused on indirect costs associated with grants coming from NSF, but also examined the differences in indirect costs among universities. All members on the committee noted the importance of containing costs, but the suggested idea of overhauling the current system raised concern among members who warned that simply looking at the bottom line could harm the quality of research.

NIH Scales Back Plan to Curb Support for Big Labs after Hearing Concerns

May 26, 2017 | Science

Concerns regarding NIH’s proposed plan to limit research grants were raised at a meeting of NIH’s Council of Councils. Council members called the plan rushed out and warned that the new Grant Support Index (GSI) could have a devastating effect on collaborative research. However, NIH leaders defended the policy, calling it a leadership decision resulting from years of discussions at NIH. 

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

Trump Wants to Cut Health Research. This Republican Won't Let Him.

May 23, 2017 | Vox

In this interview with Rep. Tom Cole, Chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human services, Education, and related agencies, which controls NIH’s budget, he discusses the importance of NIH funding and reaffirms his dedication to keeping NIH a legislative priority.

UK Election: Science Spending Pledges Overshadowed by Brexit

May 31, 2017 | Nature

All three candidates in the UK election have pledged to spend more money on science, but the uncertainty of Brexit on the future of British science has many researchers viewing the promises as a consolation prize versus a solution. The Labour and Liberal Democratic Party currently have large academic and scientific support, but the Conservative party’s increase in focusing on science could lead to greater support among the scientific community.


Washington Needs High-Level Science and Technology Expertise-Now!

May 26, 2017 | The Hill

In this op-ed, the authors argue that it is necessary for Washington to have high-level science and technology experts among policymakers, starting with naming a director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OTSP). The authors note the historical tradition for the President to have a science advisor and states that the White House needs experts to sort out issues the President confronts and to coordinate science and technology activities across federal agencies.

It's Time to Recognize Mental Health as Essential to Physical Health

May 31, 2017 | STAT

John Campo, chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, states that it is necessary for mental health issues to be treated as effectively as physical ailments. Campo discusses the disconnect between the prevalence of mental illness and access to treatment mechanisms and shares what his institution is doing to try to bridge the gap.

Budget Cuts Threaten the Community Work of Graduate Students

May 31, 2017 | The Boston Globe

Evan Kuras, Destenie Nock, and Avelino Amado, PhD candidates at UMass Amherst, argue that federal budget cuts will impact the ability for graduate students to conduct research and perform educational outreach to the community. The authors state that cuts could harm successful programs like CityLab which receives NIH funding and provides thousands of student’s hands-on educational experiences.

Articles of Interest

Scientists Discover How the Brain Recognizes Faces- by Reading Monkey's Minds

June 1, 2017 | The Guardian

By recording monkey’s brain waves, scientists were able to create replicas of human faces, leading to greater insight into how the brain recognizes faces. Researchers uncovered that the brain uses a series of mathematical transformations to recognize faces and they believe these findings could lead to other breakthroughs in understanding the neural code of other processes like memory and imagination.

NIH Funds Using Anonymous Proposals to Test for Bias is Harder Than it Looks

May 31, 2017 | Science

This article looks at NIH’s attempt to test for racial bias in applying for NIH grants following a 2011 study that concluded black applicants were 35% less likely than white researchers to get a grant. The current study plan involves using proposals submitted in 2014-2015 and comparing black and white applicants matched by multiple categories including research topic, gender, and degree.

Web of Science Owner Buys Up Booming Peer-Review Platform

June 1, 2017 | Nature

Clarivate, a U.S. company, acquired Publons, the start-up firm that encourages scientists to share their peer review history online and gain credit for reviewing activity. Publons is building a network of trusted, verified reviewers which publishers and journals could use when combating the problem of fake peer reviewers, an issue that has already lead to hundreds of redacted papers.

The Earliest Signs of Brain Damage in Athletes? Listen for Them

May 29, 2017 | The New York Times

A new study suggests that signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (C.T.E.), currently only detectable by autopsy, may be found with a noninvasive test that tracks changes in conversational language. If this test linguistic test is successful, it could be helpful in assessing the effectiveness of treatments to prevent damage because of C.T.E or to slow its progression.

  • Watch a video on C.T.E at BrainFacts.org