Here's a rundown of some of the stories we've been following on Science's policy blog, ScienceInsider :
The new director of the U.S. National Institutes of Health laid out his priorities today, spending his 1st day on the job speaking to his staff and reporters. Physician-geneticist Francis Collins said he plans to emphasize five "themes,"  including health care reform and translating research into medicine. Collins also sought to allay perhaps the biggest concerns about his nomination last month by President Barack Obama, saying that he will protect investigator-initiated science and that his religious interests will not influence how he runs the agency.
Restoring national forests to prepare them for climate change  and to protect water resources will be the overarching goal of U.S. forest policy, Tom Vilsack, who heads the U.S. Department of Agriculture, announced 14 August.
The chair of a blue-ribbon panel reviewing the U.S. human space program briefed senior Obama Administration science officials on what's expected to be a frank assessment of NASA's choices . The panel held its final public hearing on 12 August and has promised to finish its report by the end of this month.
Lower-than-expected inflation rates have U.K. research councils considering whether they can legally demand that grantees return some grant money .
The Smithsonian Institution has tapped an academic administrator to take over as Under Secretary for Science . Eva Pell, senior vice president for research and dean of the graduate school at Pennsylvania State University, will start in January.
President Barack Obama has awarded the 2009 Presidential Medal of Freedom to 16 people, including two scientists : geneticist Janet Davison Rowley of the University of Chicago, who identified a chromosomal translocation as a cause of leukemia, and Stephen Hawking of Cambridge University for his work in theoretical physics.
Astronomers are making good progress discovering and tracking large asteroids  that could hit Earth, but they won't meet the goal set by Congress without dedicated funding, according to a report released 12 August by the National Academies' National Research Council.
A decision to fold a long-running center supporting underrepresented minorities and women in engineering  into a larger student services office has upset many students and faculty at the University of California, Berkeley.
For more on these stories and the latest science policy news and analysis, visit ScienceInsider .