This Week in Science Policy and Advocacy
Policy and Advocacy News
January 17, 2017 | Nature
In this look at who is being considered for the next NIH Director, the main front-runners include current NIH director Francis Collins and Representative Andy Harris (R-MD). Additional rumored candidates include Geoffrey Link, a retired Army neurosurgeon and former director of biotechnology at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), and John Ioannidis, an epidemiologist at Stanford. Collins has the backing of four senior Republican members of Congress, and if picked, Collins will be the first NIH director since the 1970s to be chosen by two presidents.
- Join the Advocacy Network to stay informed about issues related to neuroscience research at SfN.org
January 17, 2017 | Washington Post
STEM the Divide is a new group working to boost the number of scientists involved in politics by providing them with the expertise and funds needed to run a successful campaign in the hopes of increasing the profile of science based decision making. In the next few months, the organization will pick from interested individuals and focus on a select number of candidates and campaigns to run for state and national office seats in 2018, with the possibility of promoting a candidate this fall.
- Read about the advocacy activities of SfN members on Neuronline.
January 18, 2017 | Science
Federal officials have dropped a proposed plan to impose new rules on how researchers use blood, urine, tissue, and other specimens leftover from clinical care or specific research. Currently, those samples can be used in new research without the donors consent if they are stripped of all identifying features. The abandoned rule would have required written consent of future use of deidentifed samples, which would have imposed large costs and a likely decrease in the number of samples provided from small hospitals and clinics to researchers.
- Find science funding resources at SfN.org
January 16, 2017 | Ottawa Citizen
As Canada continues its search for a chief science advisor, Sir Peter Gluckman, chief science advisor to the prime minister of New Zealand, advised the newcomer to serve as a broker between science and society. To be most effective, Gluckman suggests maintaining informal communication with government leaders, being ready to answer questions as they arise, and to not be afraid to say how much science doesn’t know.
- Find information about global advocacy programs at SfN.org
January 16, 2017 | The Hill
Maria T. Zuber, Chair of the National Science Board (NSB), indicates that even in times of partisan politics, our elected officials have a strong record of uniting around science, and the passing of the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act (AICA) right before the holidays is a strong reminder of this scientific unity. Zuber highlights times in which Congress has facilitated scientific advances and challenges the new Congress and Administration to remain champions of discovery research.
- Learn how to contact your members of congress at SfN.org
January 17, 2017 | Nature
In order to restore the reputation of science as a way to truth, scientists must make the process of science more transparent and give the public tools to understand the evidence and make their own judgments. The author argues that the research that is most relevant to the public’s daily life is being continually updated and reevaluated by the scientific process, and that changing the way this socially relevant science is presented is critical for restoring the place of evidence as a guide to truth.
- Get resources for engaging the media at SfN.org
January 17, 2017 | The Guardian
As Brexit negotiations continue, the author challenges the scientific community to be vocal about the risks associated with Brexit, such as the possibility of a large exodus of scientists, and mitigate these risks through facilitating conversation. Additionally, the author supplies ways for scientists and supporters of the scientific community to become involved in this effort throughout the coming months, including writing to MPs and staying informed.
- Find science advocacy tools at SfN.org
Articles of Interest
January 13, 2017 | Nature
Due to the Gates Foundation’s open-access policy, which requires its funded researchers to make their underlying data sets and resulting papers immediately open-access upon release, top journals, such as the New England Journal of Medicine, Nature, and Science, will not allow publication of Gates Foundation funded research. This clash is estimated to affect only a few hundred research papers out of the 2,000-2,500 papers published from the Gates Foundation funding, but various publishers are in discussion with the foundation to address the issue.
January 12, 2017 | The Guardian
A new study has suggested that predatory behaviors may be controlled by two separate circuits in the brain. Using optogenetics, a technique that allows scientists to use light to turn on specific cells, the researchers found one cluster of neurons in the amygdala that triggered the mice to pursue small prey, while another amygdala cluster controlled the mice’s biting behaviors. While these circuits are believed to be also found in humans, the researchers believe they’re more likely to be related to food seeking behaviors rather than aggression or anger.
- Learn more about optogenetics at BrainFacts.org.
January 1, 2017 | Scientific American
Stories of octopuses escaping from aquariums both entertain the public and fascinate neuroscientists who study animals’ brains and behaviors. The brains of octopuses and other cephalopods are amazingly complex and researchers are only now beginning to understand how these sea creatures are able to learn and thrive.
- Find out more about animal brains at BrainFacts.org