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6 March 2014 1:04 pm ,
Vol. 343 ,
Magdalena Koziol, a former postdoc at Yale University, was the victim of scientific sabotage. Now, she is suing the...
Antiretroviral drugs can protect people from becoming infected by HIV. But so-called pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP...
Two studies show that eating a diet low in protein and high in carbohydrates is linked to a longer, healthier life, and...
Considered an icon of conservation science, researchers at World Wildlife Fund (WWF) headquarters in Washington, D.C.,...
The new atlas, which shows the distribution of important trace metals and other substances, is the first product of...
Early in April, the first of a fleet of environmental monitoring satellites will lift off from Europe's spaceport in...
Since 2000, U.S. government health research agencies have spent almost $1 billion on an effort to churn out thousands...
- 6 March 2014 1:04 pm , Vol. 343 , #6175
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- Wednesday, March 5, 2014 - 11:30am
A new, deadly H5N8 strain of avian influenza penetrated the biosecurity defenses of a National Institute of Animal Science (NIAS) campus, prompting authorities to cull all of the facility's 11,000 hens and 5000 ducks.
The devastating loss could set back poultry experiments at the NIAS lab for 2 years. "It will likely to take up to 95 weeks to fully rebuild [the flocks] and resume normal research," says Kim Sung-Il, head of the contingency team at the Rural Development Administration, which oversees NIAS. Kim adds that the institute, which studies breed improvement and animal husbandry techniques, will reconstitute its flocks from birds kept at other facilities.
A wild goose that died of the virus was found 10 kilometers from NIAS's Suwon campus, near Seoul, on 1 February. The entire NIAS staff went to work disinfecting and shoeing away wild birds at the three centers that keep poultry. Despite those efforts, 30 ducks were found dead on 2 March at the Cheonan campus, 85 kilometers south of Seoul. The next day, authorities confirmed the cause of death as H5N8 avian influenza. NIAS immediately initiated culling, which was completed on 4 March.
- Tuesday, March 4, 2014 - 10:30pm
President Barack Obama on Tuesday released a $3.901 trillion budget request to Congress, including proposals for a host of federal research agencies. The unveiling is just the beginning of the annual budget process; Congress will now chew on the proposal and is likely to ignore many of the White House's suggestions. Still, the budget request offers insight into the White House's research priorities and can play an important role in negotiating final spending levels for the 2015 fiscal year, which begins 1 October.
ScienceInsider has been combing through the document, and the stories below report some of what we found on the first day. Come back for more stories this week on research spending.Posted In:
- Tuesday, March 4, 2014 - 5:45pm
Human genome sequencing pioneer J. Craig Venter has jumped with both feet into biomedical sequencing with his latest venture, Human Longevity Inc., "a genomics and cell therapy-based diagnostic and therapeutic company" that should be up and running by summer. Its ultimate goal: promote healthy aging.
Speaking at a telephone press conference today, the founder and CEO of the J. Craig Venter Institute headquartered in San Diego, California, announced that the new company has $70 million in startup funds to build the largest human genome sequencing center in the world. Its ability to read DNA will surpass even the sequencing powerhouse BGI in China, Venter says. The firm plans to acquire 20 of the new million-dollar sequencing machines from Illumina, which, when running at full capacity, should bring the cost of generating a human genome down to $1000. "Their new technology finally crosses the threshold that I've been waiting for in terms of quality, volume, and cost," says Venter, who points out that deciphering his genome in 2007 took $100 million and 9 months.
To date, beyond limited success tying certain tumor genetic profiles to prognosis and treatment, genome sequencing of individuals rarely provides a clear guide for doctors. But by pooling "everything we can measure" with clinical data, Venter hopes patterns will emerge that will be predictive of disease and of what treatments or preventive actions will be most beneficial. “Genomics is only a small part of the picture,” Venter stresses. Still, Human Longevity plans to sequence 40,000 genomes a year at first, with the goal of having a half-million or more within 5 years.
- Monday, March 3, 2014 - 6:45pm
At 10 a.m. Monday morning, while most of Washington, D.C., lay quietly under a blanket of snow, the U.S. Supreme Court rang with nerve-wracking arguments over the fate of Florida death row inmate Freddie Lee Hall.
The question at hand was whether Hall, who in 1978 helped assault and murder a 21-year-old woman, is intelligent enough to merit the death sentence. The court's decision could set new national standards for assessing the mental capacities of death row inmates. In 2002, the Supreme Court ruled that executing people who are intellectually disabled qualifies as cruel and unusual punishment, which is unconstitutional, but it left individual states to establish their own means of assessing a defendant's level of impairment.
Since the 2002 ruling, Florida has opted for a strict definition of intellectual disability as having a score of 70 or below on tests that measure a person’s IQ. The state says that Hall's average score puts him above a "bright line" of 70, and therefore makes him eligible to be executed. But Hall's lawyers and mental health organizations, including the American Psychological Association and American Psychiatric Association, argue that Hall's assessment does not include the standard 5-point margin of error built into the design of the test. If that uncertainty is considered, Hall would not be eligible for the death penalty, they argue.
- Monday, March 3, 2014 - 3:00pm
George Gollin faces an uphill battle in his campaign for Congress. A particle physicist from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), he has never run for public office. In contrast, his chief opponent in the 18 March Democratic primary is Ann Callis, a veteran county judge who has been anointed by the party’s leadership as their best bet to topple freshman Representative Rodney Davis (R–IL) in the November general election.
But Gollin, 60, isn’t backing down. Labeling himself a “scientist, teacher, watchdog” and bolstered by contributions from scientists and educators from around the country, Gollin hopes to convince voters in this swing district in central Illinois that a “progressive” Democrat who has spent his career “analyzing tough problems and fixing things that are broken” deserves their vote.
He’s also embracing the reality that he’s David against a political Goliath. His first television ad, a 30-second spot intended to introduce him to voters, shows the U.S. hockey team beating the heavily favored Soviet squad in the 1980 Olympics as the announcer proclaims, “Do you believe in miracles?” The miracle is changing Washington, Gollin explains. But the words could also suggest that Gollin knows he’s bucking long odds.
- Monday, March 3, 2014 - 2:30pm
Don’t expect an artificial chicken in every pot anytime soon. Since 2008, the animal rights organization People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has offered $1 million to anyone able to create a commercially viable artificial meat from growing chicken cells. But although scientists are making progress toward artificial hamburgers, even a 2-year extension from the original deadline of 2012 wasn’t enough to lure applicants for PETA’s prize. With the award’s latest deadline expiring tomorrow, ScienceInsider asked the group about its plans and PETA President Ingrid Newkirk released the following statement:
“Herbert Hoover's ‘chicken in every pot’ was the impetus for PETA's extension of its $1 million prize for the first scientist to put an in vitro chicken in every pot or at least in your local supermarket. Since announcing the prize, laboratory work on in vitro meat has come a long way, but it looks as if the first commercially viable in vitro meat will be a beef hamburger or a pork sausage, rather than anything involving chicken. PETA is happy that its offer sparked debate, created a fellowship, spurred interest and investment from the food industry and ‘dot.com millionaires,’ and has seen patents pending for breakthroughs in developing the process, from tissue scaffolding to muscle development.Continue Reading
- Friday, February 28, 2014 - 5:30pm
BARCELONA, SPAIN—Spain’s premier research agency faces years of eroded research activity and a dwindling workforce, its leadership has revealed in a grim new report. While the beleaguered Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) paints a realistic picture of its present plight, researchers say, they fault the agency for failing to substantively address its problems.
On Wednesday, after the national newspaper El País broke the story, Spain’s largest public research organization released its action plan for 2014 to 2017. As outlined by CSIC President Emilio Lora-Tamayo in the prologue, over the next 4 years the council aims to concentrate its efforts on “try[ing] to solve or at least palliate” two major threats to its 125 institutes: an aging and shrinking workforce and limited management flexibility.
The outlook could have been worse. As Spain grappled with a nationwide economic crisis over the last several years, the central government slashed CSIC’s budget repeatedly until bottoming out at €418 million in 2013, a 36% decrease from its biggest ever budget in 2008. CSIC initially coped with the belt-tightening by dipping into savings researchers had accumulated from unspent competitive grants and industry contracts. Last year, Lora-Tamayo capped spending and called on the government to rescue CSIC from imminent bankruptcy. Three months later, the government threw CSIC a lifeline, injecting €70 million into the council and upping its 2014 budget.Continue Reading
- Friday, February 28, 2014 - 3:00pm
ITER, the international fusion reactor project in France, is reeling from an assessment that found serious problems with the project's leadership, management, and governance. The report is so damning, Science has learned, that after a 13 February special session that reviewed and accepted the report's conclusions and recommendations, the ITER Council—the project's governing body—restricted its readership to a small number of senior managers and council members. ITER leaders fear that the damning assessment, combined with expected delays, could cause backers to pull their funding.
- Thursday, February 27, 2014 - 1:15pm
The U.K. government today issued proposed regulations that would allow researchers to try a new and controversial in vitro fertilization (IVF) procedure in patients. The technique could allow women who are carriers of mitochondrial disease to have healthy, genetically related children. But it also transfers DNA from one egg or embryo into another, a form of genetic alteration that could be passed on to future generations. Altering the genes of human egg cells or embryos in IVF procedures is now forbidden in the United Kingdom.
The procedure has also been under scrutiny this week in the United States as an advisory committee to the Food and Drug Administration discussed the technique at a 2-day meeting.
Mitochondrial diseases occur when the organelles, which provide energy for cells, don’t work properly. Many such disorders result from mutations in the genes that mitochondria carry. Because mitochondria are passed on through the egg cell, the diseases are inherited from the mother.
Researchers have developed ways to transfer the genetic material from an egg cell that carries faulty mitochondria into a donor egg cell that has healthy mitochondria. The resulting embryo carries nuclear DNA from the mother and father and mitochondrial DNA from an egg donor.Continue Reading
- Thursday, February 27, 2014 - 12:45pm
Discredited stem cell scientist Woo Suk Hwang suffered a setback in his bid to reclaim respectability today when South Korea’s Supreme Court confirmed his conviction on embezzlement and bioethics violations. The court also sent Hwang's plea to overturn his dismissal from Seoul National University (SNU) back to a lower court for review and upheld previous rulings acquitting him of fraud charges.
The ruling comes 2 weeks after Hwang scored a victory of sorts in gaining a U.S. patent for a purportedly cloned human embryonic stem cell line.
Hwang claimed to have made several breakthroughs in embryonic stem cell research that proved to be based on fabricated data. In a February 2004 Science paper, Hwang's team announced the first stem cell line derived from a cloned human embryo. Then in May 2005, they reported the creation of several stem cell lines matched to specific patients. After questions emerged about the results, an SNU investigating panel concluded in December 2005 that there was no evidence to support the second Science paper; in its January 2006 final report, the panel stated that the data and images in the first Science paper too were fabricated. That month, Hwang publicly admitted that both Science papers were bogus, though he laid the blame on junior researchers. Both papers were immediately retracted, and SNU fired him in March. In October 2009, a trial court convicted him of embezzling research funds by using falsified data and of illegally buying human eggs for his research, but cleared him of fraud. The court imposed a 2-year suspended prison sentence. An appeals court upheld that verdict but trimmed the sentence to 18 months. (Hwang did not serve time in prison.) "Manipulating scientific data in papers cannot escape strict punishment," the high court wrote in today's decision upholding the appeals court ruling.Continue Reading
- Wednesday, February 26, 2014 - 5:45pm
A controversial in vitro fertilization (IVF) technique that could help prevent the transmission of certain genetic disorders is not quite ready for human clinical trials. That appeared to be the general consensus among advisers to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) who met yesterday and today to discuss a technique that could prevent women affected by various mitochondrial diseases from passing their conditions to children. The method has provoked controversy because it involves combining genetic material from two different women’s egg cells. Crossing an ethical line that many have drawn, the genetic changes introduced by the procedure could also be passed on to future generations.
The IVF method addresses disease that occurs when the mitochondria, organelles that provide energy to cells, don’t work properly. Some devastating or fatal syndromes, for example, result when the DNA that the organelles carry suffers mutations. Mitochondria are inherited from the mother through the egg cell, and several teams of scientists have found ways to remove the normal complement of human chromosomes from an egg with mutated mitochondrial DNA and place it into a donor egg that has healthy mitochondria. The egg is then fertilized with sperm—the resulting embryo carries genetic information from the mother, the father, and the egg donor.
A group led by Shoukhrat Mitalipov of Oregon Health & Science University in Beaverton has produced a half-dozen monkeys using this IVF technique, and he told the FDA advisory panel yesterday that they seem healthy so far. But most members said they would like to see more data indicating that the procedure doesn’t have unexpected side effects before they would recommend testing in human patients.Continue Reading
- Wednesday, February 26, 2014 - 2:45pm
James Hansen may have retired from NASA but he’s still active in the climate change wars. Five months into its existence, his Program on Climate Science, Awareness and Solutions at Columbia University is moving ahead on its unique goals. Led by the 72-year-old climate scientist, the initiative focuses on bringing policy-relevant science to the public, building on dogged—and often controversial—efforts along those lines by its director. Some climate scientists devote part of their time, or just lip service, to advocacy or outreach; the program makes these tasks integral to its scientific mission.
The intent for the program’s three-person team, all of whom previously worked at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) at Columbia University, is to continue science, outreach, and advocacy work on climate change but without the limitations that come with a federal job, like working on agency priorities, managing a big lab, or avoiding political activities during work. Text from a recent proposal to a foundation, shared with ScienceInsider, makes clear that Hansen’s group wants to have a political impact. It assails the position “that scientists should not go all the way to describing policy implications of their research.” Instead, it asserts, “The objectivity of science is particularly effective in ferreting out the relative merits of alternative policies.” “The centerpiece of our project remains scientific research," says Pushker Kharecha, Hansen’s deputy. The team’s studies, according to the proposal text, seek to "connect the dots from advancing basic climate science to promoting public awareness to advocating policy actions.”
- Tuesday, February 25, 2014 - 11:00pm
HONOLULU—Marine researchers are facing a 15 March deadline for weighing in on how the National Science Foundation (NSF) should set priorities for U.S. ocean science over the next decade.
“Now is the time to speak up—we’re looking for ideas,” said oceanographer Shirley Pomponi, the co-chair of a blue ribbon panel charged with advising NSF on the issue, here on Tuesday at the 2014 Ocean Sciences Meeting. The priority-setting effort comes as U.S. ocean scientists voice increasing concerns about the future of their field, which is struggling to sustain a robust research fleet and adapt to stagnating funding.
To address such issues, last year NSF officials asked the panel, organized by the Ocean Studies Board of the National Research Council (NRC), to develop “a compelling research strategy for increased understanding of the oceans over the decade 2015-2025.” NSF is one of the major funders of marine research; its oceans office has spent some $350 million annually over the past few years, and the agency has played a major role in building costly new ships, automated seafloor observatories, and networks of instrumented buoys and floats.
- Tuesday, February 25, 2014 - 2:30pm
When Ugandan researchers were asked to advise President Yoweri Museveni on the science of sexual orientation so he could decide whether to sign an antigay law, they tried to explain the science in good faith. But they are now crying foul, claiming that their conclusions were distorted by both the president and his ruling party, and that Museveni would have signed the law no matter what they said.
- Monday, February 24, 2014 - 2:15pm
A linguist and former university administrator has been appointed to Italy's top science policy position. On Friday, Italy's new prime minister, Matteo Renzi, announced that Stefania Giannini will be his minister of education, universities, and research. Giannini will have the unthankful job of preserving what's left of Italy's scientific legacy at a time of shrinking budgets.
Giannini, 53, is a professor of linguistics and comparative linguistics at the University for Foreigners of Perugia; between 2004 and 2013, she also served as the university's rector, a position she gave up when she was elected to the Senate for former Prime Minister Mario Monti's centrist party, Civic Choice, in February 2013.
“I hope that Giannini will be able to appreciate the strategic importance of scientific research and its applications, despite her background in the humanities,” says Piergiorgio Strata, a neuroscientist at the University of Turin.
The third minister on the post in less than 3 years, Giannini doesn't have an easy job ahead of her. Public spending on research and development in Italy is just 1% of its gross domestic product, a low rate compared with neighbors like Switzerland and France. A key funding instrument, the Italian Research Project of National Interest, shrunk from €170 million in 2010 and 2011 to €38 million in 2012, and may drop to zero in 2014. Italy's Ordinary Fund for Higher Education, which provides block funding for universities, has shrunk from €7.5 billion in 2009 to €6.6 billion in 2013.
- Monday, February 24, 2014 - 9:00am
A new electronic tool called Global Forest Watch (GFW) offers the public, policymakers, and scientists near-real-time data on Earth’s forests through an interactive website. Launched last week by the World Resources Institute, the tool allows users to track deforestation over time, find recently clear-cut areas and current fires, and receive alerts when there are changes to specific tracts of interest.
A coalition of governments, scientists, and environmental groups worked on the interactive map for 2 years. The target audience is everyone from activists to wildlife biologists to companies interested in the origin of the products they buy from forested areas. “If you’re trying to monitor deforestation in near real time for law enforcement, for supply chain management, we think this will be a very helpful new tool,” says Nigel Sizer, an ecologist who leads the forest team at WRI, a nonpartisan environmental think tank in Washington, D.C.
Scientists have loaded GFW with a variety of data sets and tools. Satellite data from Landsat, MODIS, and other remote sources are tapped. Users can view political boundaries, protected areas, and commercial areas for logging, mining, or palm oil production. Maps are accompanied with sliding time bars to allow users to scroll backward and forward. The data sets underpinning the website are linked in a single place, helping scientists new to the geographical data navigate the information. Citizen scientists are encouraged to post stories linked to particular forests.
- Friday, February 21, 2014 - 12:15pm
A defiant Yoweri Museveni has responded to U.S. President Barack Obama’s criticism of Uganda’s pending Anti-Homosexuality Bill by stating that he intends to sign it into law as soon as a scientific committee has completed its work. In a letter to Obama dated 18 February—but which has just become public—Museveni, Uganda’s president, defends the bill, which would introduce life sentences for so-called “aggravated homosexuality” with minors or in cases of rape, and terms of 7 to 14 years for attempted or actual homosexual activity.
The bill was passed by Uganda’s Parliament last December, but Museveni declined to sign it until a specially appointed committee of researchers and health officials pronounced on the causes of homosexuality. The committee presented its report to Museveni and members of his ruling National Resistance Movement party on 14 February, whereupon Museveni announced through a spokesperson that he would sign the legislation.
The “unanimous conclusion” of the committee, Museveni wrote Obama, “was that homosexuality, contrary to my earlier thinking, was behavioural and not genetic.” But some members of the committee have told ScienceInsider that this is not the conclusion they came to, and that their findings do not lend support for the draconian legislation.
Museveni told Obama that he is now waiting for clarification from the committee about whether “a combination of genes can cause anybody to be homosexual.” Once he has that, Museveni wrote, “my task will be finished and I will sign the Bill.”
- Thursday, February 20, 2014 - 4:15pm
Since first observing a planet orbiting a star other than our sun in 1992, astronomers have made definitive sightings of about 1000 "exoplanets" and have identified a further 3000 to 4000 candidate exoplanets. But only a few dozen of the planets have been rocky, as opposed to gaseous, and of these none have been found in the so-called habitable zone around their parent star that would allow liquid water on their surface.
The PLAnetary Transits and Oscillations of stars (PLATO) mission is designed to fill that gap. Slated for launch in 2024, PLATO was chosen yesterday by the European Space Agency's (ESA's) Science Programme Committee to be the third medium-class science mission in the agency's "Cosmic Vision 2015-25" program. According to the German Aerospace Center's Heike Rauer, principal investigator of the European consortium developing the mission's instrumentation, PLATO should "find hundreds of rocky planets in habitable zones and thousands of characterized planets altogether."
PLATO will search for exoplanets using what is known as the transit method, which simply involves measuring the dimming of the light from a star as a planet passes in front of it. The technique has been employed with great success by NASA's Kepler spacecraft, launched in 2009, which has found nearly 3000 planetary candidates and more than 100 confirmed exoplanets.
- Wednesday, February 19, 2014 - 6:00pm
The next president of the U.S. National Academies’ Institute of Medicine (IOM) will be Victor Dzau, a physician-scientist who is now chancellor of health affairs at Duke University. The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) today announced Dzau’s appointment to the 6-year post. He will join IOM on 1 July, when current IOM President Harvey Fineberg steps down after 12 years.
Dzau, 67, will bring a wealth of experience in the lab and running a major university health system to the nation’s most prominent advisory body on medical and public health issues. Born in Shanghai and educated in Canada and the United States, Dzau has studied the genetics of cardiovascular disease and gene therapy and stem cell treatments. As president and CEO for Duke University Health System for nearly 10 years, he created new institutes focusing on translational medicine, global health, and health innovation. He led the founding of a joint medical school with the National University of Singapore and has been active in in global health through the World Economic Forum. He was elected to IOM in 1998.
As the medical branch of the congressionally chartered NAS, IOM advises the government on topics ranging from the rise in obesity to veterans’ health. In a statement, NAS President Ralph Cicerone called Dzau “an internationally acclaimed leader and scientist whose work has improved health care in the United States and globally. Under his direction, the Institute of Medicine will continue to advance research and improve health by providing objective, evidence-based guidance on critical issues.”
- Wednesday, February 19, 2014 - 2:30pm
A group of scientists are fighting plans by the Nicaraguan government for a canal that would open a direct route for ships to pass between the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean. Such a canal, which would likely pierce the largest freshwater lake in Central America, would imperil wetlands and other fragile ecosystems, the scientists warn in a commentary today in Nature.
“This is the most imminent threat to the environment in Central America. It’s more urgent than climate change,” co-author Jorge Huete-Pérez, a molecular biologist at Universidad Centroamericana in Managua tells ScienceInsider.
Last June, the Nicaraguan government granted a concession to HKND Group in Hong Kong to develop the $40 billion project, which would compete with the Panama Canal for a share of the booming shipping industry. Last month, Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega and HKND Group CEO Wang Jing announced they hoped to break ground in December.
- Wednesday, February 19, 2014 - 1:15pm
BEIJING—A corruption probe has so far snared more than 50 scientists and research administrators in Guangdong, one of China’s wealthiest provinces.
On Friday, a Guangdong government website revealed that the provincial science bureau’s former deputy director, Wang Kewei, was under investigation for “serious violation” of antigraft regulations. The bureau’s director, Li Xinghua, was removed from his post and stripped of Communist Party membership last month. Among other stings, 21 employees of the science department of Foshan city in December were charged with skimming money from government R&D subsidies intended for local companies.
Guangdong’s prosperity made it a tempting target for graft. In 2012, provincial Chinese governments spent 224 billion yuan (about $36 billion) on science and technology; Guangdong alone spent nearly $4 billion, a disproportionately large share. The Guangdong Science and Technology Department’s budget that year was a hefty $623 million.Continue Reading
- Wednesday, February 19, 2014 - 10:45am
TOKYO—Japan's Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare today asked public prosecutors to investigate a possible criminal violation of drug marketing laws by the Japanese subsidiary of the giant Swiss pharmaceutical firm Novartis. The ministry says the company may have exaggerated the benefits of its hypertension drug valsartan.
Last July, Novartis Pharma admitted that a former employee created a conflict of interest by participating in clinical studies of valsartan, sold under the trade name Diovan, conducted by five Japanese medical schools while concealing his affiliation with the company. Several of the studies were retracted after investigations by the medical schools and the health ministry turned up data manipulation that skewed results. Novartis Pharma advertisements had pointed to the studies as showing that the use of Diovan reduced the risk of heart attack and stroke in hypertension patients better than alternative medications. According to Japanese press reports, potential fines could be just $20,000, but there is a small chance that executives could face jail sentences.
Also today, Novartis Japan posted a statement in Japanese on its website acknowledging the investigation and apologizing "to patients, their families, health care workers and citizens for causing great worry and trouble." As in previous statements, Novartis pledged to fully cooperate with authorities but did not admit any wrongdoing.Continue Reading
- Tuesday, February 18, 2014 - 3:15pm
One of two physicists in the U.S. House of Representatives announced today that he is retiring at the end of the year.
Representative Rush Holt (D-NJ), a plasma physicist, didn’t reveal why he has decided to leave Congress after eight terms, or what lies in his future. “This is not the time to discuss next steps in my career; that can come later,” said Holt, who was assistant director of the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory before coming to Washington in 1999.
However, one science lobbyist who knows him well speculates that Holt, who was beaten badly in the Democratic primary last year for an open Senate seat, could still harbor statewide ambitions. “If you wanted to run for governor [in New Jersey in 2017], getting out of the House is probably a good idea,” says Mike Lubell, head of the Washington, D.C., office of the American Physical Society. “At least, that’s what I’d advise him if he asked me.”
Holt was once part of a triumvirate of Ph.D. physicists in the House. But longtime Representative Vern Ehlers (R-MI) retired in 2010, and Representative Bill Foster (D-IL) returned to the House only last year after losing his one-term seat in 2010.
- Monday, February 17, 2014 - 7:00pm
Less than a week after AAAS, Science’s publisher, announced the launch of its first open-access online journal, Science Advances, Britain’s Royal Society has done the same. Royal Society Open Science, slated for launch later this year, will “provide a scalable publishing service, allowing the Society to publish all the high quality work it receives without the restrictions on scope, length or impact imposed by traditional journals,” a statement issued today says. The journal will cover life sciences, physical sciences, mathematics, engineering, and computer science.
The Royal Society is the world’s oldest scientific society and publisher. Next year, it will celebrate the 350th anniversary of its Philosophical Transactions.
There are several open-access business models, but the Royal Society, like AAAS, has opted for "gold," meaning that scientists pay for submission and then published papers are available to everyone for free straightaway. Some publishers of traditional journals—for which submission is free but readers must pay a subscription—have shied away from open-access journals because it was not clear whether they would be profitable. But an increasing number are now going down that route and some journals are making a profit.
- Monday, February 17, 2014 - 3:30pm
BRUSSELS—Swiss scientists could be the first to feel the effects of a referendum in which Swiss people agreed to cap the entry of migrants into their country. As an indirect consequence of the vote, held on 9 February, the European Union has postponed negotiations to include Switzerland as an associated country to Horizon 2020, the bloc's research and innovation program, and to the higher education program Erasmus+, which both run from 2014 through 2020.
Switzerland has been an associated country to the European Union's research programs since 2004; this means that Swiss researchers are eligible for funding just like scientists from an E.U. member state. Both sides assumed that the agreement would soon be renewed and would apply retrospectively from the beginning of Horizon 2020 on 1 January.
But the immigration referendum got in the way—indirectly. The European Union expects Switzerland to include Croatia, which entered the union last year, in its agreement on the free movement of persons. But after the vote, Switzerland informed Croatia that it would not be able to sign the deal in its current form.
The European Commission had warned that not honoring the Croatian deal would endanger Switzerland's association agreements for Horizon 2020 and Erasmus+. “A round of negotiations was due to take place last Wednesday [12 February] but was postponed,” a commission official tells ScienceInsider in an e-mail, adding that the commission is waiting for more “clarity” from Switzerland, and that time is running short. “The window of opportunity in which to reach an association agreement is small and closing fast (we are talking about days, not weeks),” the official says. “Even if we got an agreement tomorrow we would still need to jump through a lot of procedural hoops before it could provisionally enter into force.”