This Week in Science Policy and Advocacy
Policy and Advocacy News
February 13, 2018 | Nature
The Trump administration recently released FY19 budget request asked for $34.8 billion for NIH and $7.47 billion for NSF, effectively flat-funding both agencies at FY17 levels. Prior to the budget agreement made days earlier, the Trump administration planned to seek a 27% funding cut for NIH and a 29% funding cut for NSF, but the recent budget agreement’s increase in spending caps allowed for an adjustment to be made.
- Read SfN’s statement on the Presidents Budget Released at SfN.org
February 8, 2018 | Nature
The NSF has announced a new policy that requires any institution receiving grant money to inform the agency if anyone funded by an NSF grant proposal has committed sexual harassment. The new requirement is rare for a U.S. research agency and comes following the rise of sexual harassment scandals.
- Join the Advocacy Network to stay informed about issues related to neuroscience research at SfN.org
February 12, 2018 | STAT
Recently researchers documented the origins of 210 drugs approved by the FDA between 2010 and 2016 to determine the role of federally funded research in drug development. NIH funding contributed to all approved drugs directly or indirectly. Nearly 90% of related NIH funded publications focused on the biological targets of drugs, demonstrating the need for basic science to compliment the applied research conducted by the pharmaceutical companies producing these drugs.
- Learn about Neuroscience Funding at SfN.org
February 12, 2018 | Nature
A new survey reveals that few British institutions have taken steps called for in the Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA), an international accord denouncing misuses of research metrics in academic hiring and promotion practices. DORA suggests that the quality and content of research papers should be valued above impact factor.
- Learn about Global Advocacy Programs at SfN.org
February 14, 2018 | Austin American Statesman
In this op-ed Robert Weiner, former spokesman for the Bush and Clinton administrations, and Kyle Flex, policy analyst for Robert Weiner Associates, discuss AAAS’s upcoming annual meeting, which will include discussions on the importance of communicating objective facts to the public. Weiner and Flex believe that effective communication is more important than ever, especially with the current administration expressing hostility over phrases like, “evidence-based” and “science-based.” The authors state that banning language detracts from the ability to care for people and that despite what the administration has states, “evidence” and “science” are not bad words.
- Find information about US Advocacy Programs at SfN.org
Articles of Interest
Major Mental Illnesses Unexpectedly Share Brain Gene Activity, Raising Hope for Better Diagnostics and Therapies
February 8, 2018 | Science
A recent report analyzed patterns of gene expression from the cerebral cortex of postmortem autism, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, and alcoholism brains and found substantial overlap between psychiatric diseases but not alcoholism. This study has inspired a new clinical trial to treat overactive neurons in autistic adults and may provide genetic information useful for new diagnostics and therapies.
- Learn about the global burden of psychiatric diseases at BrainFacts.org
February 14, 2018 | STAT
The FDA approved the Brain Trauma Indicator, a blood test that doctors can use to help rule out concussions. The test takes three to four hours and measures the levels of two proteins whose increased presence suggests a type of brain damage.
- Read more about blood tests diagnosing concussions at BrainFacts.org
February 8, 2018 | The Atlantic
A recent praying mantis study indicates that stereopsis or depth perception can be accomplished by visual mechanisms previously unknown and different from humans. Researchers presented slightly different images to each eye of a praying mantis and found that motion cues are compared between eyes to determine the distance from targets.
- Find out more about the science of depth perception at BrainFacts.org
February 8, 2018 | STAT
Advances in precise brain activation bring researchers closer to therapeutically using neuromodulation techniques like optogenetics. Two recent reports activate the brain less invasively and do not require device implantation: 1) researchers used ultrasound to open the blood brain barrier for designed receptors to enter the brain and then activated those receptors by injecting an otherwise harmless drug; 2) another group injected nanoparticles into the brain and activated them by shining infrared light through the skull. Invasiveness is a major barrier for human neuromodulation and needs to be addressed for these technologies to be clinically relevant beyond the eye.
- Watch the award winner of the Brain Awareness Video Contest explaining optogenetics at BrainFacts.org