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5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
Vol. 342 ,
An animal rights group known as the Nonhuman Rights Project filed lawsuits in three New York courts this week in an...
Researchers have been hot on the trail of the elusive Denisovans, a type of ancient human known only by their DNA and...
Thousands of scientists in the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) are about to lose their jobs as a result of the...
Dyslexia, a learning disability that hinders reading, hasn't been associated with deficits in vision, hearing, or...
Exotic, elusive, and dangerous, snakes have fascinated humankind for millennia. They can be hard to find, yet their...
Researchers have sequenced and analyzed the first two snake genomes, which represent two evolutionary extremes. The...
Snake venoms are remarkably complex mixtures that can stun or kill prey within minutes. But more and more researchers...
At age 30, Dutch biologist Freek Vonk has built up a respectable career as a snake scientist. But in his home country,...
- 5 December 2013 11:26 am , Vol. 342 , #6163
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Tales of the Shutdown: Fruit Fly Shipments on Hold
8 October 2013 6:15 pm
Even Austrian research fruit flies are feeling the effects of the U.S. government shutdown. The flies are unable to enter the country in shipments bound for U.S. research labs because border inspectors are on furlough, speakers at a Washington, D.C., press conference said today.
The grounded flies are just another example of how the 1 October shutdown is affecting science, speakers organized by the American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB) said at today’s event. And it is yet another blow on top of a decade of declining budgets for the $29 billion National Institutes of Health (NIH) and last year’s 5.5% cut due to across-the-board cuts known as sequestration, they added. ASCB Executive Director Stefano Bertuzzi noted that in addition to shuttering experiments at the NIH campus in Bethesda, Maryland, the shutdown has canceled peer-review meetings and furloughed the 1300 NIH program officers who help scientists receive funding.
ASCB President Don Cleveland of the University of California, San Diego, said his team just published an animal study on a gene silencing therapy for treating a form of Lou Gehrig’s disease that they now hope to move to clinical studies. But his grant application submitted in September is now on hold at NIH’s neuroscience institute. “We are deeply frustrated. … It’s demoralizing,” he said.
Johns Hopkins University cell biologist Carol Greider, a 2009 Nobel Prize-winner, lamented that NIH grant success rates are now about 15%, less than half of what they were in the 1980s when she did her prizewinning work. Young scientists “are in jeopardy today,” she said.
Princeton University molecular biologist Rebecca Burdine, who also worries that the NIH cuts are delaying treatments for her child with a rare neurological disease called Angelman syndrome, said that “many” of her peers are “circling the drain” waiting in vain to receive NIH funding. “They’re slowing shutting their labs down and they’re leaving science,” she said.
The fruit fly example came from Bertuzzi, who heard it from New York University fruit fly geneticist Ruth Lehmann. When Lehmann ordered flies last week from a Drosophila repository in Vienna, the center e-mailed back that it has suspended shipments to the United States because the closure of the U.S. Department of Agriculture means the flies cannot clear customs. “We’re isolating our scientists from the rest of the world” by preventing them from sharing reagents, Bertuzzi said.
Kevin Wilson, ASCB’s director of public policy, said his group’s greatest concern is that NIH’s budget may be cut further in 2014 as part of new sequestration cuts. That “would decimate the community,” he said.