This Week in Science Policy and Advocacy
Policy and Advocacy News
China May Soon Surpass the United States in R&D Funding
February 20, 2018 | Eos
The U.S. National Science Board (NSB) recently released a statement claiming that if current R&D investment trends continue, China is expected to pass U.S. investments in R&D by the end of this year. An NSB report released in January 2018 stated that China was catching up to the U.S., but this statement presents a new revelation. In response to the report, Chinese officials have expressed no need for concern and welcomed scientific cooperation with the U.S.
- Join the Advocacy Network to stay informed about science policy issues at SfN.org
Half of Canada's Government Scientists Still Feel Muzzled
February 21, 2018 | Science
A recent survey done by the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC), a union representing more than 16,000 federal scientists, found that more than half of government scientists in Canada do not feel they can speak freely to the media about their work. The survey indicates that the situation has improved since 2013, in which a previous survey found that 90% of scientists felt unable to speak about their work. This improvement is believed to be attributed to Prime Minister Trudeau’s openness towards science, but advocates feel progress has been slow.
- Learn about Global Advocacy Programs at SfN.org
A Chance to Reboot the House Science Committee
February 20, 2018 | Scientific American
This editorial argues that as Representative Lamar Smith’s term as House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space, and Technology Chair comes to an end, scientists and concerned citizens need to demand change from the House science committee and petition for oversight to focus on the outcomes of legal mandates across government agencies. Congressional oversight should ensure that scientific integrity policies, which protect against political interference in science, be implemented and serve as a check on science advisory appointees.
- Read about US Advocacy Programs at SfN.org
The Public Mostly Trusts Science. So Why are Scientists Worried?
February 18, 2018 | Science
In this interview, science communications expert John Besley of Michigan State University, discusses American’s perception of science and how scientists can use that to their advantage. Besley also spoke on this topic at American Association for the Advancement of Science’s Annual Meeting this past weekend.
- Learn about Engaging the Media at SfN.org
Science Needs to Redefine Excellence
February 21, 2018 | Nature
This editorial discusses a recent study interviewing policy and scientific experts about research funding assessments. Experts agree that measuring excellence in research is necessary, but many scientists are opposed to relying on excellence metrics. The author suggests that policymakers should use excellence metrics solely as a guide and, ultimately, incentivize research transparency.
- Find Neuroscience Funding information at SfN.org
Articles of Interest
Fighting Back Against "Alternative Facts': Experts Share Their Secrets
February 17, 2018 | Science
A recent session at the American Association for the Advancement of Science Annual Meeting debated how to approach an era of alternative facts and have conversations about the importance of evidence. Session leader and longtime political expert Mark Bayer recommended appealing to the moderate political majority using stories and shared social values while asking for incremental change.
- Practice Making Strides in Brain Awareness Outreach from SfN.org
International Day of Women & Girls In Science Highlights Neuroscience As Our Future
February 21, 2018 | Forbes
In recent years, representation of women in U.S. has increased but change has not been reflected in leadership positions or amongst women of color. Neuroscience is one area where women are increasingly contributing to the field both in the U.S. and globally. Gatherings for International Day of Women & Girls celebrated progress in science while addressing how to cultivate the leadership and culture necessary for future advancement of women and girls.
- Access a women in neuroscience toolkit at Neuronline.org
Scientists Explore Ties Between Alzheimer's and Brain's Ancient Immune System
February 18, 2018 | NPR
Massachusetts General Hospital neuroscientists suggested links between amyloid-beta and the ancient immune system (i.e., the innate immune system) when reading literature together. They hypothesized that amyloid-beta was originally used to fight infections and its overproduction resulted in Alzheimer’s. After confirming that amyloid-beta effectively kills bacteria and viruses in other organisms, these researchers are now studying when innate immunity problems arise and result in Alzheimer’s.
- Watch a discussion about the importance of immune cells in the brain at Neuronline.org
Sex and Drugs and Self-Control: How the Teen Brain Navigates Risk
February 21, 2018 | Nature
Recent research indicates that adolescents’ relationship with risk taking behavior is more complicated than once thought because youth assess risks uniquely. A broader range of behaviors including positive and social risks have been studied to find that different types of risks distinctly affect individuals’ brains. Scientists are particularly excited about how development research can affect policies limiting risk-taking and dangerous opportunities.
- Learn about teen brain development at BrainFacts.org