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02/07/2017

USDA blacks out animal welfare information

Science

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today removed public access to tens of thousands of reports that document the numbers of animals kept by research labs, companies, zoos, circuses, and animal transporters—and whether those animals are being treated humanely under the Animal Welfare Act. Henceforth, those wanting access to the information will need to file a Freedom of Information Act request.

02/06/2017

Will the Trump presidency mean the end of FDA drug regulation?

Los Angeles Times

Donald Trump will be coming into office waving the banner of deregulation. While most of the speculation about his plans has focused on the financial industry and the possibility of eviscerating Dodd-Frank reforms, keep your eyes on the Food and Drug Administration. In a Trump administration the agency, figuratively speaking, will have a big bull’s-eye on its back.

02/03/2017

On 22 April, empiricists around the country will march for science

Science

Some fear a demonstration led by researchers might only serve to paint scientists as an interest group, further politicizing scientific issues. And at least one veteran science lobbyist has urged organizers to make sure it’s a march for science, not scientists.

02/02/2017

Gene drives thwarted by emergence of resistant organisms

Nature

By studying the insects under more-natural conditions, scientists hope to better understand how to eradicate them — and malaria — using an emerging genetic-engineering technology called gene drives. The technique can quickly disseminate genetic modifications in wild populations through an organism’s offspring, prompting some activists to call for it to be shelved. Yet gene drives might not be as effective as activists think. Recent research has identified a major hurdle to using them to eliminate diseases and vanquish invasive pests: evolution.

02/01/2017

Meet the scientists affected by Trump’s immigration ban

Science

Kaveh Daneshvar was thrilled when he was invited to speak at a molecular biology meeting next month in Banff, Canada. Daneshvar, a molecular geneticist, is finishing a postdoc at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and preparing to go on the job market. He hoped that the conference talk would give him much-needed exposure to leaders in his field.

01/31/2017

Vaccine initiative marks bold resolution

Science

Clearly, private companies cannot be expected to invest on their own. But it is incumbent on governments to invest, and thus address this market failure, in partnership with pharma. It is therefore encouraging that there is now a solid plan to do just that: the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), launched on 18 January at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, aims to develop and take through early clinical trials vaccines against potential threats. It already has enough cash to work on three — MERS, Nipah-virus infection and Lassa fever.

01/30/2017

Journals invite too few women to referee

Nature

Using a large data set that includes the genders and ages of authors and reviewers from 2012 to 2015 for the journals of the American Geophysical Union (AGU), we show that women were used less as reviewers than expected (on the basis of their proportion of membership of the society and as published authors in AGU journals). The bias is a result of authors and editors, especially male ones, suggesting women as reviewers less often, and a slightly higher decline rate among women in each age group when asked.

01/27/2017

Japanese military entices academics to break taboo

Science

In 1950, Japan’s scientific community, chastened by the complicity of researchers in their nation’s disastrous military adventurism, took an extraordinary vow. “To preserve our integrity as scientists, we express our firm commitment both domestically and abroad that we will never pursue scientific research for the purpose of war,” declared the Science Council of Japan (SCJ), now the nation’s equivalent to the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

01/26/2017

Human tissues in a dish: The research and ethical implications of organoid technology

Science

Growing functional human tissues and organs would provide much needed material for regeneration and repair. New technologies are taking us in that direction. In addition to their use in regenerative medicine, stem cells that grow and morph into organ-like structures known as organoids can be used in drug development and toxicology testing. The potential developments and possibilities are numerous and affect not only biomedicine but also areas of ongoing ethical debate.

01/25/2017

We spoke with the man who could lead the world’s top health organization

Business Insider

The WHO lost a lot of trust in the aftermath of the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa. Nabarro said his hope is to make sure that doesn’t happen again.

01/24/2017

With executive order, Trump tosses a ‘bomb’ into fragile health insurance markets

Washington Post

The practical implications of Trump’s action on Friday are harder to decipher. Its language instructs all federal agencies to “waive, defer, grant ­exemptions from or delay” any part of the law that imposes a financial or regulatory burden on those affected by it. That would cover consumers, doctors, hospitals and other providers, as well as insurers and drug companies.

01/23/2017

Trump asks NIH Director Francis Collins to stay on

Science

Ending weeks of speculation, President-elect Donald Trump has asked National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director Francis Collins to remain in his position. It is not clear for how long.

01/20/2017

How Science Is Helping Us Understand Gender

National Geographic

A “neutral space” is a hard thing for a teenager to carve out: Biology has a habit of declaring itself eventually. Sometimes, though, biology can be put on hold for a while with puberty-blocking drugs that can buy time for gender-questioning children.

01/20/2017

New Common Rule on the Federal Policy for the Protection of Human Subjects

Federal Register

The departments and agencies listed in this document announce revisions to modernize, strengthen, and make more effective the Federal Policy for the Protection of Human Subjects that was originally promulgated as a Common Rule in 1991. This final rule is intended to better protect human subjects involved in research, while facilitating valuable research and reducing burden, delay, and ambiguity for investigators.

01/19/2017

Pharmacological rescue of diabetic skeletal stem cell niches

Science

Stem cells: The key to boosting bone healing in diabetes

01/18/2017

Rewriting The Code of Life

The New Yorker

Until crispr came along, biologists lacked the tools to force specific genetic changes across an entire population. But the system, which is essentially a molecular scalpel, makes it possible to alter or delete any sequence in a genome of billions of nucleotides. By placing it in an organism’s DNA, scientists can insure that the new gene will copy itself in every successive generation.

01/17/2017

The Life of a Disabled Child, From Taunts to Hate Crimes

The New York Times

Since the days when my mother wouldn’t let my older brother go out to play stickball if I wasn’t with him, there’s been a lot of progress in attitudes toward those we now call developmentally or intellectually challenged.

01/16/2017

How Gene Editing Could Ruin Human Evolution

Time

CRISPR may be used to repair a gene that has a deficient product, such as an enzyme or receptor, or alter code that merely suggests of risk. Ideas on how to use it change hourly. The method is here to last. The ethics will only get more fraught.

01/13/2017

Successful Ebola vaccine will be fast-tracked for use

BBC News

Trials conducted in Guinea, one of the West African countries most affected by an outbreak of Ebola that ended this year, show it offers 100% protection. The vaccine is now being fast-tracked for regulatory approval.

01/12/2017

Thanks to AI, Computers Can Now See Your Health Problems

Wired

Face2Gene takes advantage of the fact that so many genetic conditions have a tell-tale “face”—a unique constellation of features that can provide clues to a potential diagnosis. It is just one of several new technologies taking advantage of how quickly modern computers can analyze, sort, and find patterns across huge reams of data.

01/11/2017

Capital Weather Gang U.S. posts second-warmest year on record, breadth of warmth ‘unparalleled’

Washington Post

Every single state and every single city in the Lower 48 states was warmer than normal in 2016.

01/10/2017

Assessing recent warming using instrumentally homogeneous sea surface temperature records

Science

Adjustments to correct for inhomogeneities in sea surface temperatures in recent years have a large impact on the resulting decadal-scale global temperature trends. Assessing the effectiveness of these adjustments is critical to improving our understanding of the structure of modern climate changes and the extent to which trends in recent periods may have been anomalous with respect to longer-term warming.

01/09/2017

Fact-checking Congress’s fetal tissue report

Science

They interviewed senior physicians from Planned Parenthood, who spoke bluntly about their provision of fetal tissue from legal abortions for medical research

01/06/2017

How drones could become a farmer’s best friend

Science

Researchers have now used images captured by an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) to map barley fields and determine which rows of plants are most in need of water

01/05/2017

After Backlash, Including From Trump, House GOP Drops Weakening Of Ethics Office

NPR

House Republicans have reversed themselves and restored the current rules of the Office of Congressional Ethics

12/23/2016

Abortion Is Found to Have Little Effect on Women’s Mental Health

The New York Times

Some states require women seeking abortions to be counseled that they might develop mental health problems. Now a new study, considered to be the most rigorous to look at the question in the United States, undermines that claim.

12/22/2016

Trump team targets changes to key metric that calculates social cost of carbon

Science

Last week a provocative leaked memo hinted at another likely element of the incoming administration’s plan for weakening climate regulations: tweaking an obscure but increasingly utilized economic measure that tallies the costs and benefits of controlling carbon pollution.

12/21/2016

Update: Surprise! Innovation bill clears House, heads to president

Science

“This bill maximizes the nation’s investment in basic research, and helps boost U.S. competitiveness, creates jobs and spurs new business and industries”

12/20/2016

OxyContin goes global — “We’re only just getting started”

LA Times

Former U.S. Food and Drug Administration commissioner David A. Kessler has called the failure to recognize the dangers of painkillers one of the biggest mistakes in modern medicine.

12/19/2016

2016 in pictures: The best science images of the year

Nature

In a year of political turmoil and shock, science, too, came up with surprises. To document some of these wonders, photographers roamed the world, revealing objects from the microscopic to the cosmic in scale.