This Week in Science Policy and Advocacy
Policy and Advocacy News
January 26, 2018 | The Hill
Following outcry from consumer and animal advocates, the FDA has ended its nicotine addiction experiment with squirrel monkeys. The study was suspended in the fall and an investigation into the welfare of the animals was conducted. FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said the investigations found the study was inconsistent with the Agency’s animal welfare standards.
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January 29, 2018 | The Hill
Alex Azar has been sworn in as the new head of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), replacing former HHS secretary Tom Price. Azar previously worked at HHS in the George W. Bush administration and spent ten years at Eli Lilly.
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January 25, 2018 | Nature
In India, a higher-education minister questioned the scientific validity of Darwin’s theory of evolution and called for changes in educational curriculum. The Indian scientific community was outraged and responded by garnering widespread support for a petition asking the minister to redact his claims and stating that comments like his harm efforts to promote scientific thoughts and diminish the country’s image internationally.
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January 26, 2018 | The New York Times
In this op-ed, Maria Zuber, vice president for research at MIT, states that the United States status as a world leader in science is at risk with countries like China increasing spending on research and development. Zuber highlights that while countries like China are committing to investing in research, the short-term funding for government programs and budget indecision in the US is leading to inadequate funding levels. Zuber calls on the US government to respond to other countries’ growing scientific power by strategically investing in research to fuel discovery.
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January 25, 2018 | The Guardian
Ethical questions regarding cloning have recently been reignited by Chinese neuroscientists’ success in cloning macaque monkeys. In this op-ed, science writer Philip Ball argues that cloning techniques could likely be modified to clone humans but that the numerous risks, including safety, outweigh the potential benefits.
Learn more about neuroethics topics at BrainFacts.org
Articles of Interest
January 30, 2018 | STAT
Post-publication peer review has become increasingly common on websites like PubPeer. Researchers use these venues to warn of potentially erroneous and falsified findings, posing a public relations risk for private industry funders.
Find scientific rigor and reproducibility resources at Neuronline.org
January 26, 2018 | Nature
Supercomputing microchips that mimic neural processing have now surpassed the brain’s processing speed. This milestone indicates progress toward improved brain-machine interfaces as many different artificial neuron approaches are being developed concurrently.
Learn about advances in brain-machine interface technology at BrainFacts.org
January 31, 2018 | Scientific American
A new blood test may improve Alzheimer’s diagnosis by screening for the beta amyloid protein, the hallmark pathology of Alzheimer’s disease. Streamlining diagnosis by making beta amyloid tests affordable and relatively non-invasive will likely increase Alzheimer’s patients’ enrollment in clinical trials and, ultimately, aid the discovery of new treatments.
Read about beta amyloid in Alzheimer’s disease at BrainFacts.org
January 29, 2018 | BBC News
A portable device that is the size of a cell phone has been developed to sequence a human’s genome. Lowering the cost and increasing the speed of DNA sequencing has transformative potential for individualized medicine, but hurdles remain in interpreting sequencing results.
Learn more about neurogenomics at BrainFacts.org
January 30, 2018 | Forbes
Dr. Ori Amir, a neuroscientist based in Southern California, studies the brains of comedians, specifically looking at humor creation in the brain. Amir and his colleagues scanned the brains of comedians using fMRI and found that professional comedians during joke creation are less reliant on the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) and use the temporal lobe more than amateurs. These results suggest that although the mPFC is critical for creativity the temporal lobe may be most important for forming the abstract thoughts required for jokes.
Read about the evolution of laughter in the brain at BrainFacts.org