This Week in Science Policy and Advocacy
Policy and Advocacy News
Q&A: William Happer, Possible Science Advisor to the President & Q&A: David Gelernter, Possible Science Advisor to the President
February 6, 2017 | The Scientist
In these interviews, William Happer and David Gelernter discuss issues such as climate change, federal research funding, the role of immigrants in science, and the science marches planned for April. Both Happer, a Princeton physicist, and Gelernter, a Yale computer scientist, met with President Trump last month about assuming the role of science advisor, but the administration has yet to announce when a final decision will be made.
- Join the Advocacy Network to stay informed about issues related to neuroscience research at SfN.org
February 3, 2017 | Nature
The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), has taken down its inspection reports and enforcement records from the facilities it monitors, which range from zoos to laboratories. While the USDA says making the data public poses a threat to individuals’ privacy and that the records can still be obtained via a Freedom of Information Act request, animal welfare and animal research groups have criticized the move.
- Read more about animal research at SfN.org
February 6, 2017 | The New York Times
This article examines the movement of scientists into politics, highlighting Dr. Michael Eisen, who recently announced his intention to run for US Senate, and the surge of interest in the Political Action Committee 314 Action, which seeks to increase the number of scientists and engineers running for elective office. Some scientists still want to be left in the lab and feel that science is becoming too politicized, but others believe that staying out of politics may be why there’s a public disregard for evidence on issues like climate change and vaccine safety.
- Learn about U.S. advocacy programs at SfN.org
February 7, 2017 | Nature
According to recently released figures from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Israel has moved ahead of South Korea as the world’s more research-intensive economy. However, the overall amount of R&D funded by federal governments has been steadily falling over the last five years, while cross-border and industry-financed research funding is on the rise.
- Find information about global advocacy programs at SfN.org
February 9, 2017 | Science
Paul Cairney, a political scientist at the University of Stirling, offers tips for scientist interested in shaping policy. For example, he suggests picking battles strategically, and utilizing persuasive and accessible language appealing to the target audience when getting involved in politicized debates over topics such as stem cell research
- Learn how to communicate your science at Neuronline
February 7, 2017 | Nature
In response to the US immigration ban, there has been a concerted push for scientists to boycott US-based conferences until all researches can attend, but the author argues against this response. The author offers alternatives to boycotting, such as utilizing virtual technology and lobbying the government to grant researchers from banned countries entrance for these events.
- Take action against the executive order on immigration at SfN.org
February 8, 2017 | Nature
Following the announcement that Mark Walport, former chief scientific advisor to the UK government and former director of the Wellcome Trust, will be the first head of a new funding body called UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), some have expressed concern over his government connections and tendency to centralize power. The author argues that Walport deserves a chance to prove himself, highlighting his qualifications and emphasis on enabling British science to speak with one voice as reasons for why he will be a successful leader.
- Find more information about global science funding at SfN.org
Articles of Interest
February 6, 2017 | Scientific American
A recent study by Andrea Smit, used EEG to study the interaction between chronotypes, the degree to which someone is a “morning lark” or a “night owl”, and memory. The study found that so-called “night owls” had a harder time suppressing distracting visual information and a worse visual short term memory in the morning than they did later in the day.
- Read more about the sleep memory connection at BrainFacts.org
February 1, 2017 | Science
Scientists have successfully created personalized tumor-homing cells, from adult skin cells, which shrank brain tumors in mice to 2% from 5% of the original tumor size over the course of four days. The research team is already testing the success rate of these cells in larger animal models with skin cells from glioblastoma patients, hopefully leading to the use of these cells in humans.
- Learn more about brain cancer at BrainFacts.org
February 2, 2017 | The New York Times
A pair of recently published papers offer evidence that we sleep to forget some of the information learned each day. One study found synapses, the connections between neurons in the brain, of sleeping mice to be 18% smaller than awake ones, and the second study suggest that sleepiness triggers neurons to make the protein Homer1A, which activates shortening of the synapses during sleep.
- Read more about sleep and the brain at BrainFacts.org
February 6, 2017 | NPR
Scientists have created a new test allowing them to diagnose Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease prior to death, representing a step forward in diagnosing neurological disorders that currently can only be confirmed by an autopsy. A modified version of this new diagnostic test may be capable of detecting Parkinson’s disease, which until now could only be diagnosed once symptoms were obvious enough for a clinical diagnosis.