This Week in Science Policy and Advocacy
Policy and Advocacy News
Plans to Cut Funding for Biomedical Research Hits Opposition in Congress
April 3, 2017 | The New York Times
Republicans and Democrats are coming out against President Trump’s proposed 18 percent cut to NIH funding for FY18. Administration officials have claimed that reducing indirect costs for universities would allow NIH to continue the same level of research, but congressional representatives and members of the science community are challenging that claim, highlighting that indirect costs are necessary to keep labs running and researchers employed.
- Read SfN’s statement on the President’s budget at SfN.org
Brazilian Scientists Reeling as Federal Funds Slashed by Nearly Half
April 3, 2017 | Nature
The Brazilian government announced a 44 percent cut to the countries federal science budget, its lowest budget in 12 years. Brazilian scientists are calling this is war on the future of science in Brazil and see the silver lining in these drastic cuts as fuel for participation in the March for Science Brazil.
- Join the Advocacy Network to stay informed about issues related to neuroscience research at SfN.org
Japanese Scientists Call for Boycott of Military Research
April 6, 2017 | Nature
In response to attempts by the Japanese government to enlist academic scientists into military research, the Science Council of Japan has called on scientists to boycott military research and for universities and research organizations to evaluate the possible threats associated with using scientific research for military applications. In 2015, Japan launched a program in which scientists can apply for ‘dual use’ research grants, covering the development of technologies for civilian purposes with possible military uses. But researchers are taking issue with this program, claiming it would ultimately harm the freedom and autonomy of scientific research.
- Find information about global advocacy programs at SfN.org
Should the Science March Stick Exclusively to Science?
April 3, 2017 | Scientific American
The author argues that science is framed by political and social issues and such issues should not be sidelined in the March for Science messaging. The author goes on to state that questions regarding who makes decisions for the scientific community, who gets to contribute to science, and who is represented in science are all critical to the scientific enterprise and need to be included in the March for Science.
- Read SfN’s statement on the March for Science at SfN.org
Editorial: Stakes High With NIH
April 2, 2017 | Boston Herald
The Boston Herald editorial staff highlights the role of NIH as an economic driver in arguing why NIH’s budget should not be cut. The editorial staff states that investment in basic research drives drug and medical device manufacturing and notes that Congress having the final say in budget negotiations should prevent major cuts to health research budgets.
- Learn more about the federal budget process and its impact on your lab at Neuronline
Articles of Interest
Meditation's Calming Effects Pinpointed in Brain
March 30, 2017 | Scientific American
Researchers have found a separate group of neurons in the brain region responsible for generating sighs that appear to regulate states of calm and arousal. It was also reported that these neurons form connections with another area in the brainstem involved in balancing arousal and emotion, raising the possibility that any practice that actively manipulates breathing, such as mediation or yoga, may be using this newly found pathway to regulate aspects of arousal. Researchers believe that a greater understanding of how the brain controls breathing could lead to the development of therapeutic targets.
- Read more about the study of meditation and stress at BrainFacts.org
Is There Awareness Behind Vegetative States?
April 6, 2017 | Nautilus
Adrian Owen, a leading researcher on disorders of consciousness, has found evidence that a degree of awareness could exist in patients in vegetative states. However, uncertainty remains over whether this awareness signals true consciousness or simply represents a small and possibly reflexive form of brain activity, signaling the need for future research and testing.
- Learn more about measuring consciousness at BrainFacts.org
Alzheimer's: Ultrasound Safely Delivers Drugs to Damaged Brains of Mice
April 4, 2017 | The Guardian
Researchers were able to safely and effectively deliver therapeutic drugs to the brain through ultrasound, slowing the progression of Alzheimer’s disease in mice. This noninvasive technique allowed the antibodies to cross the blood-brain barrier, circumventing one of the key challenges in drug delivery to the brain. Future research will try to adapt this technique to treat other neurodegenerative diseases.
- Find more information about Alzheimer’s and drug development at BrainFacts.org
Do U.S. Troops Risk Brain Injury When They Fire Heavy Weapons?
April 5, 2017 | The Guardian
The U.S. military is studying the possibility of brain injuries from shoulder-fired weapons. In 2011, gauge sensors were used to detect blast levels for soldiers in Afghanistan, but the results were hard to interpret because of the many battlefield variables. The military still continues to study low-level blast impact with a recent study showing that firing heavy weapons could temporarily impair learning and memory.
- Learn more about military related brain injury at BrainFacts.org