Weekly Advocacy News Roundup
France’s Research Minister Lays Out His Priorities
May 6, 2016 | Nature
Major changes are coursing through France’s research and higher-education system, many intended to simplify bureaucracy and promote research excellence. Last week, science minister Thierry Mandon — who was minister for state reform and simplification before taking on the research and higher-education role last June — announced the outlines of 50 measures to reduce researchers' paperwork and administrative burden.
- See more science funding advocacy tools at SfN.org.
Science Gets Little Attention in Australian Budget
May 4, 2016 | Science
Australia’s 2016–17 federal budget released yesterday did not make significant mention of spending earmarked for scientific research. Total spending won’t be known until the line items scattered across government departments are tallied in the coming days, but there is little to suggest any recovery from the $2.2 billion decline in support for science, innovation, and research since 2014.
- Find out about worldwide neuroscience initiatives at SfN.org.
MIT Grad Students Lobby Congress for Science Funding
May 5, 2016 | The MIT Tech
A multidisciplinary delegation of MIT graduate students recently traveled to Washington, D.C. speak with members of Congress about the value of federal funding in scientific research efforts. Organized by the student-run Science Policy Initiative (SPI), the trip brought 24 graduates to Capitol Hill for The Alliance for Science & Technology Research in America’s Congressional Visits Day (CVD) to discuss with legislators from both sides of the aisle the effects of research and development on the districts they represent
- Learn more about SfN’s annual Capitol Hill Day at SfN.org.
Articles of Interest
Scientists Show How We Start Stereotyping the Moment We See a Face
May 2, 2016 | The Washington Post
In a new study, psychologists report that the neurons that respond to things such as sex, race and emotion are linked by stereotypes, distorting the way we perceive people's faces before that visual information even reaches our conscious brains. Researchers had participants look at images of faces in a brain scanner, and noticed that neurons seemed to be firing in similar patterns in both the orbital frontal cortex, which is responsible for rapid visual predictions or categorizations, and the fusiform cortex, which is involved in recognizing faces. This suggests that information from each part of the brain was influencing the other.
- Learn more about face recognition at BrainFacts.org.
Studying How Poverty Keeps Hurting Young Minds, and What to Do About It
May 3, 2016 | The New York Times
Experts in neuroscience, genetics and social work met in New York City this month to talk about what emerging research tells us about poverty and the developing brain. For some children, living in poverty is like playing football without a helmet; everyday life causes social concussions. The developing brain gets hammered by the stresses often present in homes where people are poor. Some children are exposed to multiple, chronic stresses: neglect, abuse, maternal depression, parental discord, crime and other domestic dysfunctions. In response, cortisol levels rise and stay high, altering the brain’s development.
- Read more about the effect of stress on the developing brain at BrainFacts.org.
Scientists Need to Engage More With the Public to Secure Funding
May 1, 2016 | The Conversation
Federal science funding in many countries is falling, with Australia continuing to reduce the total science budget. Repeated studies demonstrate public science investment has a strong multiplier effect on the economy, with estimates suggesting a minimum 10:1 return, thus the cutting of science funding seems particularly perverse. Science needs to flourish if it will continue to innovate for future generations and we need to redouble our efforts engaging with the wider community to help it understand why science matters.
- Watch advocacy webinars on about how to communicate your science at SfN.org.
Lessons Learned From Nobel Laureate Harry Kroto
May 5, 2016 | Slate
Harry Kroto, Nobel laureate chemist, discoverer of the “bucky-ball” carbon molecule, and passionate defender of young science students, died on Saturday. One science writer remembers his relationship with the scientist as he fought for increased funding for basic scientific research.
- Join the advocacy network to stay informed on issues of science policy at SfN.org
Share Data for All Diseases
April 28, 2016 | The Scientist
The announcement by tech billionaire Sean Parker, the founder of Napster and first president of Facebook, of his plans to donate $250 million to cancer research is not as large a departure from his file-sharing roots as it might at first seem. Parker’s pledged support includes both the funding and sharing of cancer immunotherapy results. This is in line with new recognition of the essential role of open data to advance biomedical research, particularly in context of public health emergencies.
- Read the latest neuroscience advances in SfN’s open-access journal eNeuro.