This Week in Science Policy and Advocacy
Policy and Advocacy News
March 16, 2017 | Science
President Trump’s budget outline calls for a cut to NIH funding by $5.8 billion, or nearly 20% of its current funding level, which would bring NIH funding to a 15 year low. Scientists are fighting back, aruging that cutting NIH’s budget would undo years of bipartisan support for NIH and the American biomedical research enterprise, as well as threaten America’s status as a global scientific leader.
- Read SfN’s statement on the President’s budget at SfN.org
March 13, 2017 | The Washington Post
With the naming of physician Scott Gottlieb as the nominee for FDA commissioner, President Trump has only actively moved to fill one of the 46 key Senate-confirmed science and technology positions. While the length of time taken to choose nominees is not uncommon for new administrations, the delay in appointees is alarming to some due to proposed plans to cut science agencies and budgets.
- Join the Advocacy Network to stay informed about issues related to neuroscience research at SfN.org
March 14, 2017 | Science
Recent comments from Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), chair of the House Science Committee, signal that he may restart the fight against National Science Foundation (NSF) policies. Smith sent a letter to the House Budget Committee last Friday pledging that the House Science Committee would require 70% of NSF research funding to go towards only four directorates and raised questions in a recent NSF hearing that laid the groundwork push for a requirement that the NSF publically disclose grantees who committed misconduct.
- Learn about U.S. advocacy programs at SfN.org
March 13, 2017 | Science
Following Brexit, U.K. researchers had been hoping for a “soft Brexit”, which would allow them access to EU funding and collaborators, but researchers are now accepting that they will not be able to apply for EU funding or easily recruit students and colleagues from across Europe. To combat this possible drop in funds, researchers are now looking to Mark Walport, incoming director of UK Research and Innovation, who will oversee £6.8 billion of funding and working to create non-EU international collaborations.
- Find information about global advocacy programs at SfN.org
March 13, 2017 | Scientific American
Senator Chris Coons, Appropriations Committee member and co-founder of the Senate Chemistry Caucus, argues that sustained investment in R&D through federal institutions like the NIH is necessary for America’s future. Coons also calls on Congress to make critical data publically available, work on a bipartisan basis to secure long-term and sustained federal investments for R&D, and push back against discriminatory immigrant bans.
- Find science funding resources at SfN.org
March 15, 2017 | The Conversation
In this op-ed, three experts offer solutions to the science reproducibility crisis. Danny Kingsley, head of Office of Scholarly Communication at the University of Cambridge calls for an increase in open research, while Jim Grange of Keele University believes the psychology around “publish or perish” needs to change. Finally, Ottoline Leyser, director of the Sainsbury Laboratory at the University of Cambridge believes that a restructuring of journal publication rules is the solution.
- Watch a webinar on experimental rigor and enhancing data reproducibility in neuroscience at Neuronline
March 14, 2017 | Nature
Amaya Moro-Martin, an astrophysicist at the Space Telescope Science Institute, discusses her experience as a Spanish emigrant scientist who was forced to leave Spain for better research opportunities and responds to the claims that displaced Spanish scientists are scientific diplomats. Moro-Martin argues that scientists did not leave to reinforce Spain’s scientific presence in strategic countries; rather they fled because of severe, damaging cuts to domestic research funding. Moro-Martin also calls on Spanish researchers to find their voice and demand that policymakers replace these alternative facts with positive initiatives.
- Learn how to communicate your science at Neuronline
Articles of Interest
March 8, 2017 | Science
Researchers used the CRISPR-Cas9 technique to remove a gene in ants responsible for producing a protein required for the function of odor-sensing nerve cells in an ant’s antennae. This alteration uncovered that these odor receptors play a key role in ant societies. Additionally, knocking out this gene inhibited the formation of odor receptor clusters in the ant’s brains, providing scientists the opportunity to compare how brains evolve to manage behaviors, a key aspect of social evolution in ants and other species.
- Read more on smell and the brain at BrainFacts.org
March 14, 2017 | The Guardian
DeepMind, Google’s artificial intelligence (AI) company, has developed a program capable of using acquired knowledge from past tasks to tackle new problems, primarily based off of research on learning in the brain. A research study allowing the new AI program to play ten classic Atari games found that after a few days, the AI was as good as a human player at seven of the games, contrasting a traditional AI which barely learned how to play one game. While researchers were able to demonstrate the AI’s ability to learn sequentially, it remains unknown if the AI learns better because of this sequential learning.
- Learn more about how the brain learns at BrainFacts.org
March 11, 2017 | The New York Times
Dan L. Monroe, museum director of the Peabody Essex Museum, has begun incorporating neuroscience into exhibitions in order to make the museum more engaging, increase attendance, and hopefully draw science and art closer together. For example, an exhibit of horror film posters will also include an essay by neuroscientist Joseph E. LeDoux discussing fear and its relation to what happens in horror movies.
- Watch a video about art, music, and the brain at Neuronline