This Week in Science Policy and Advocacy
Policy and Advocacy News
U.S. Scientists Breathe a Sigh of Relief as Government Shutdown to End
January 22, 2018 | Science
Congress passed a continuing resolution to fund the government through February 8th, ending a three day government shutdown. The shutdown brings some relief to researchers employed by or receiving funding from the federal government, but uncertainty over final FY18 funding levels remains.
- Join the Advocacy Network to stay informed about issues related to neuroscience research at SfN.org
NIH’s New Clinical Trial Policy Kicks in Despite Concerns from Basic Behavioral Researchers
January 23, 2018 | Science
A NIH policy, which would classify some basic behavioral research studies as clinical trials, goes into effect for grant proposals due on or after January 25th. These changes are part of a new clinical trial definition that was released by NIH in 2014, but only started to be implemented last year. Some revisions were made following outcry from the science community, but a lack of clarity in the new definition is still an area of concern.
- Find information about neuroscience funding resources at SfN.org
House Committee Requests GAO Report on Sexual Harassment by Federally Funded Researchers
January 19, 2018 | Inside Higher Ed
U.S. House Science, Space, and Technology Committee leaders recently requested information from the Government Accountability Office about sexual harassment by federally funded researchers. Information requested includes the number of pending harassment cases before federal agencies, how many cases have been investigated and resolved since 2013, and federal grant-making agencies’ harassment policies and procedures.
- Learn more about Congressional Committees affecting science at SfN.org
Update: U.S. Abandons Controversial Consent Proposal on Using Human Research Samples
January 18, 2018 | Science
The Common Rule was updated in 2015 to simplify informed consent procedures while requiring additional informed consent for the use of biomedical materials left over from clinical care and specific research studies. HHS recently abandoned the revised biospecimen provisions when the research community argued that the new rules would be costly, create privacy risks, and limit research progress.
- Learn about U.S. advocacy programs at SfN.org
German Scientists Hope for Windfall From Incoming Government
January 23, 2018 | Nature
German politicians are close to an agreement that would boost federal research funds with a leaked document indicating an increase of at least €2 billion for Germany’s science system. In Angela Merkel’s 12 year chancellorship, federal science spending has nearly doubled, encouraging to the German scientific community.
- Find more about Global Advocacy Programs at SfN.org
NSF Director: Federal Funds Are Key to Scientific Discovery
January 24, 2018 | U.S. News & World Report
In this interview, Dr. France Cordova, director of the National Science Foundation, shares what she has learned throughout her career, interesting current NSF research, and the importance of federal funding for scientific innovation.
- Learn about Neuroscience Funding Through NSF at SfN.org
When Scientists Preach to the Choir
January 22, 2018 | Scientific American
In this op-ed, Mark Henderson, Director of Communications at the Wellcome Trust, discusses the importance of effective science communication and provides examples of successful campaigns. Henderson also emphasizes the importance of sharing science to the masses and encourages the science community to be active participants in sharing their science.
- Read about SfN’s science outreach efforts at SfN.org
Robust Research Needs Many Lines of Evidence
January 23, 2018 | Nature
In this op-ed, Marcus Munafo and George Davey Smith convey the importance of multiple scientific approaches and suggest that replication is not enough to improve the reliability of science. To avoid flawed findings, the authors propose the use of triangulation, a process of acknowledging biases, approaching the same underlying questions from different angles, and assuring that each approach has unrelated biases.
- Find scientific rigor and reproducibility resources at Neuronline.org
Articles of Interest
Flushing Out “Zombie Cells” Could Help Stave Off Parkinson’s Disease
January 23, 2018 | The Guardian
Senescent or “zombie” cells do not divide but release inflammatory chemicals thought to be particularly detrimental to dopamine producing neurons in Parkinson’s disease. New research suggests that flushing these cells out of the brains of Parkinson’s mice protects them from movement impairments associated with Parkinson’s.
- Learn about Parkinson’s disease research at BrainFacts.org
The World’s Largest Set of Brain Scans are Helping Reveal the Workings of the Mind and How Diseases Ravage the Brain
January 23, 2018 | Science
ENIGMA, the world’s largest consortium of brain imaging and genetic mapping, is gaining traction in analyzing over 30,000 people’s data in 39 countries. Although both genome-wide association studies and small brain imaging studies are numerous, ENIGMA is the first large-scale meta-analysis to link genetic findings to brain structural features.
- Find out more about brain scans at BrainFacts.org
How Brittlestars “See” Without Eyes
January 24, 2018 | Nature
New findings indicate how brittlestars, relatives of starfish, “see” using light-sensitive cells distributed across their skin. Extraocular photoreception or “seeing” without eyes is common in crustaceans and sea urchins, and advantageous for responding to stimuli quickly without the delay required for the signal to reach the brain.
- Learn about the role of photoreception in vision at BrainFacts.org