Weekly Advocacy News Roundup
Sweeping Health Measure, Backed by Obama, Passes Senate
December 7, 2016 | The New York Times
The 21st Century Cures Act, which allocates $4.8 billion for NIH over the next decade, was passed by the Senate in a 94-5 vote on Wednesday afternoon. The bill, which overwhelmingly passed the House last week, will be signed into law by President Obama, who has been a strong supporter. The $4.8 billion allocated to NIH includes $1.5 billion for the BRAIN Initiative and $1.8 billion for Vice President Biden’s cancer “moonshot” initiative.
- Join the Advocacy Network to stay informed about issues related to neuroscience research at SfN.org
Stopgap Spending Bill Leaves U.S. Scientists in Limbo
December 7, 2016 | Nature
Congress is poised to pass another continuing resolution (CR) that would keep funding for most science agencies flat through April 28. While the CR includes full funding as allocated by 21CC for FY2017, agencies can’t start or end programs under a CR and the uncertainty surrounding when full funding will come through makes it difficult for the agencies to fund new grants.
- Contact your senator today to tell them how devastating a CR is for biomedical research funding
Congress is Poised To Back NSF's Approach to Research
December 5, 2016 | Science
The newest version of the America COMPETES Act that sets policies for NSF is largely in line with policies the agency already has in place. The bill endorses the NSF criteria for judging grants- “intellectual merit” and “broader impacts” and emphasizes that broader impacts can include how the research will serve “national interest.” The bill also includes provisions to examine reduction of administrative burden and to clarify policies on travel to scientific conferences and workshops.
- Read about U.S. advocacy programs at SfN.org
Maryland Congressman in Running To Head NIH?
December 1, 2016 | Science
Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD) has made his interest in serving as the director of NIH known to the incoming Trump administration. An anesthesiologist, Harris was a co-investigator on an NIH funded grant while a faculty member at Johns Hopkins University and helped to shape 21CC. However, some Republicans want Francis Collins to continue as director for another four years.
- Find science funding at SfN.org.
Ottawa Seeks Scientist To Advise Trudeau, Cabinet
December 5, 2016 | The Globe and Mail
The Canadian government has opened up applications for the promised chief science adviser. The adviser would provide the government with scientific analysis to help with decision-making and how science is shared and used by the government. The position will report to the Prime Minister and the application will be open until Jan 27.
- Find information about global advocacy programs at SfN.org
Articles of Interest
Breakthrough Prize Awards $25M to Researchers at 'Oscars of Science'
December 4, 2016 | The Guardian
The Breakthrough Prizes are intended to celebrate scientists like celebrities with a star-studded ceremony and large cash prizes. Funded by Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, winners included a lab that discovered the mechanism underlying a rare neurological disorder and a lab that illuminated how cells respond to damaged DNA, and celebrity attendees included Morgan Freeman, Vin Diesel, and will.i.am.
- Meet neuroscientists doing breakthrough research at BrainFacts.org
A Dose of a Hallucinogen From a 'Magic Mushroom' and Then Lasting Peace
December 1, 2016 | The New York Times
A new clinical trial showed that about 80% cancer patients who took small doses of psilocybin in a controlled and monitored environment showed a reduction in anxiety and depression soon after the experience. The intensity of the experience was correlated with the degree of reduction of symptoms. As the U.S. government classifies hallucinogens as a Schedule 1 drug, the studies were funded privately, but researchers hope they will stimulate more studies into the clinical uses of psilocybin.
- Learn about how the brain creates hallucinations at BrainFacts.org
Battle Over U.S. Overtime Pay Rules Leaves Many Postdocs in Limbo
December 1, 2016 | Nature
Regulations created by the U.S. Department of Labor mandating overtime pay for anyone making less than $47,476 per year and working more than 40 hours a week was supposed to go into effect on December 1 but has been halted by a US federal judge. As average postdoc salary is ~$45,000 per year and most work more than a 40 hour week, many postdocs have been left unsure about what their next paycheck will look like. NIH is planning to raise minimum salary to $47,484, but not all research institutions are following their lead.
- Find career tools and resources at SfN.org.
Fellow Lawmakers: Let's Read Real Science News, Not Breitbart
December 8, 2016 | Wired
Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) writes to her fellow lawmakers to ask them to rely on the results of peer-reviewed science rather than sources in the mainstream or right-wing media. She also encourages them to read the testimony that scientists submit regarding their research and to ask them questions to learn more, as well as paying attention to the analyses and reports produced by federal science agencies like NIH and NSF.
- Learn how to contact congress at SfN.org
Take the Time and Effort To Correct Misinformation
December 6, 2016 | Nature
Phil Williamson argues that while it may seem like time wasted, challenging the misinformation spread by journalists and pundits online is a worthwhile endeavor. While you may not change the minds of the people writing the falsehoods, he says, our refutation of them with the scientific evidence will be seen by readers with more open minds. It is far more dangerous to leave misinformation unchallenged than to engage with those who spread that misinformation.
- Find resources on engaging the media at SfN.org