First House Minibus Passage
House Passes Four-Bill Appropriations Package
June 19, 2019 | House Committee on Appropriations
The House passed, on a 226 to 203 vote, a package of fiscal year 2020 appropriations bills. The package consists of four bills that fund federal departments including Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, Defense, State, and Energy from October 1, 2019 to September 30, 2020. Notable figures include $41.1 billion for NIH, $3.53 billion for DARPA, and $411 million for the BRAIN Initiative.
Trump Order Requires Science Agencies to Cull Advisory Panels
June 21, 2019 | American Institute of Physics
President Trump issued an executive order on June 14 that directs all federal agencies to eliminate “at least one-third” of the external advisory committees they have created under the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA). The order excludes FACA committees that are mandated by statute or established by presidential directive. It also exempts panels that conduct merit reviews of applications for government funding or contracts, or that provide “scientific expertise” related to the “safety or efficacy of products to be marketed to American consumers.” Agencies have until Sept. 30 to comply.
House Panel Clarifies How Universities Would Report Sexual Harassment Cases to U.S. Funders
June 21, 2019 | Science
New rules from the National Science Foundation (NSF) on reporting sexual harassment by someone with an NSF grant raise questions about due process, university administrators say. On June 20, 2019, a key congressional panel took those concerns to heart by modifying language in a bill that would require the administration to write guidelines applying to half a dozen major federal research agencies.
Monkeys, Research, Retirement, and Public Interests: Facts and Relevant Considerations
June 21, 2019 | Speaking of Research
Recent news about monkey sanctuaries, combined with a couple of legislative efforts narrowly targeted at animals in research at federal agencies, have stimulated media coverage and other discussions about the when, why, and how of research animal retirement.
Academics Join Outcry Sparked by Hong Kong’s Contentious Extradition Bill
June 18, 2019 | Nature
Hong Kong's government has suspended an unpopular bill that would legalize the extradition of people from the island to mainland China to stand trial or serve criminal sentences following huge street protests that began more than a week ago. But the protests have continued – and critics are still demanding the bill’s withdrawal.
Inhumane or Unavoidable? As Congress Scrutinizes an Increase in Monkey Research, Scientists Defend its Necessity
June 17, 2019 | STAT News
Federally funded research labs conduct thousands of experiments that rely on monkeys and other nonhuman primates — and now, Congress is ramping up its scrutiny of that science. As part of the congressional appropriations process in the House this year, lawmakers directed both the National Institutes of Health and the Food and Drug Administration to produce reports detailing the ways the agency’s scientists use the thousands of nonhuman primates in their research centers.
Science in the News
The Secret Social Lives of Viruses
June 18, 2019 | Nature
Geneticist Rotem Sorek could see that his bacteria were sick. He had infected them with a virus to test whether each ailing microbe soldiered on alone or communicated with its allies to fight the attack. But when he and his team at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, looked into their flasks, they saw something completely unexpected: the bacteria were silent, and it was the viruses that were chattering away, passing notes to each other in a molecular language only they could understand.
Dormant Neural Stem Cells in Fruit Flies Activate to Generate New Brain Cells
June 18, 2019 | Duke-NUS Medical School
How dormant neural stem cells in fruit flies are activated and generate new neurons is described in a new research study by Duke-NUS Medical School. The findings could potentially help people with brain injury or neuronal loss, if similar mechanisms apply in humans.
Personalized Medicine: Testing Therapies on Mini-Tumors of Head and Neck Cancer
June 17, 2019 | Science Daily
Researchers of the Hubrecht Institute (KNAW) and UMC Utrecht succeeded in growing mini-tumors (or organoids) of head and neck cancers, that can be kept alive in the petri-dish for a long time. Else Driehuis, researcher at the Hubrecht Institute: “These mini-tumors can be used to better understand this complex disease. Moreover, organoids allow us to test both novel and existing therapies in the lab, without burdening the patient.”
Better Memory through Electrical Brain Ripples
June 14, 2019 | Scientific American
Specific patterns of brain activity are thought to underlie specific processes or computations important for various mental faculties, such as memory. One such “brain signal” that has received a lot of attention recently is known as a “sharp wave ripple”—a short, wave-shaped burst of high-frequency oscillations.