Policy and Advocacy News

Senate Panel Blocks NIH from Revising Translational Research Awards

September 26, 2017 | Science

The Senate Appropriations Committee backed scientists involved with a network of bench-to-bedside research centers in their fight with NIH over the direction of the Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSAs) program. CTSAs were created in 2006 and became a large share of the National Center for Advancing Translational Science (NCATS) at NIH, setting off repeated clashes with NCATS Director Chris Austin. The report accompanying a 2018 spending bill approved by the committee earlier this month included language address concerns over NCAT’s management of the CTSA program and orders NCAT to set the length of hub awards at five years starting in FY17.

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


FDA Halts Monkey Research Denounced by Jane Goodall As 'Shameful'

September 25, 2017 | The Washington Post

The FDA has halted experiments using squirrel monkeys which was aimed at better understanding the effects of nicotine. The suspension by FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb comes in response to a letter written by Jane Goodall, who called the experiments, cruel, unnecessary, and shameful. Some scientists took issue with Goodall’s criticism of FDA’s monkey research, disputing her assertions that the results of smoking are known in humans and that the same research could be conducted with humans.



Biochemist Chosen as Canada’s Chief Science Advisor

September 26, 2017 | Nature

Biochemist Mona Nemer was appointed as Canada’s chief government science advisor, a position that has been empty for nearly a decade. As chief science advisor, Nemer will advise the Canadian government on ensuring that scientists are able to speak freely about their work, government science is publically available, and that scientific analyses are incorporated into government decisions.



We Must Work Across Party Lines to Restore Investment in NIH

September 25, 2017 | The Hill

Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) and Rep. Scott Peters (D-CA) wrote an op-ed calling on their colleagues to work together to increase NIH funding in FY18. Stefanik and Peters discuss how investments into NIH result in economic and lifesaving returns and reinforce the need to put problem solving over politics. 


Scientists: Advertise Your Failures!

September 25, 2017 | Scientific American

This piece calls on the research community to embrace their failures and share them with young researchers. The author highlights individuals like Brad Voytek, Assistant Professor of Computational Cognitive Science and Neuroscience at UCSD, who have shared their defeats publically and used them as a source of motivation throughout their careers.


Articles of Interest

Jellyfish Caught Snoozing Give Clues to Origin of Sleep

September 21, 2017 | Nature

Researchers have demonstrated that an organism without a brain, a species of jellyfish, shows sleep-like behavior, suggesting that the origins of sleep are more primitive than thought. Scientists believe these findings could lead to greater understanding of why sleep evolved and what it does.

Another Alzheimer's Failure: Axovant's Drug Flops in Late-Stage Trial


September 26, 2017 | STAT

Intepirdine, a drug hoped to delay symptoms of Alzheimer’s, failed to achieve its goal in a large trial. The pharmaceutical industry has investment billions over the past decade to develop pills and injections that could reverse or halt the progress of Alzheimer’s, and Intepirdine’s failure is the most recent disappointment for doctors, scientists, and patients hoping for new Alzheimer’s treatments.


Few Authors Choose Anonymous Peer review, Massive Study of Nature Journal Shows


September 22, 2017 | Science

A recent study uncovered that when given the option to submit a paper for a double-blind review, only one in eight authors chose to do so. Additionally, the study also found that papers submitted for double-blinder review were less likely to be accepted. Currently, most reviews are single-blinded, so the author does not know the reviewer, but the reviewer knows the author. Some believe that by knowing the author, reviewers could exercise a conscious or unconscious bias against researchers based on their country of origin, ethnicity, gender, or relationship with the author. However, others suspect that demand for double-blind reviews is suppressed by a fear that it could harm the author, or be a method to separate oneself from poor research.


1 in 5 Teens Reports a Concussion Diagnosis


September 26, 2017 | NPR

Approximately 20 percent of teens report being diagnosed with at least one concussion, with almost six percent saying they’ve been diagnosed with more than one, according to a recently published research letter. Little was previously known on simple prevalence rates and factors that correlate with concussions and the authors hope that these findings will help address the issue and track progress.