Elsewhere in Science, 21 March 2014

Each week, Science publishes a number of articles that are likely to be of interest to career-minded readers. Because those articles are published on the other Science sites, Science Careers readers could easily overlook them.

To remedy that, every Friday we’re pointing our readers toward articles appearing in Science—the print magazine as well as ScienceInsider, ScienceNOW, Science Translational Medicine (Sci. TM) and Science Signaling—that hold some relevance to careers in science and technical fields. (Note that while articles appearing in ScienceInsider and ScienceNOW can be read by anyone, articles appearing in Sci. TM, Science Signaling, and Science may require AAAS—publisher of Science Careers—membership/Science subscription or a site license.)

• European researchers have expressed concern over proposed E.U. rules that would tighten privacy restrictions on data. On 12 March, those rules were overwhelmingly approved by the European Parliament, so now, pending negotiation with the Council of Ministers—which represents the European Union’s 28 states—”research organizations must get specific consent to use or reuse patients’ data unless the research serves a ‘high public interest … [and] cannot possibly be carried out otherwise.’ Supporters call the changes reasonable and necessary, but scientists argue that they are too strict and vague and will threaten important research,”  according to an item in the  News of the Week section.

• In this week’s News & Analysis section, Jeffrey Mervis wrote that congressional Republicans and the National Science Foundation are edging closer together in their “yearlong fight over how the agency manages its $7 billion research portfolio.” Earlier drafts were widely reviled in the scientific community “as a direct attack on  [the National Science Foundation’s] vaunted system of peer review,” but the latest proposals are less radical.

• This week in Letters, three researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge responded to a policy forum article about U.S. immigration policy as it applies to doctoral students. “From a practical standpoint, these restrictions dissuade future innovators from pursuing careers in this country and thereby encourage the development of new technologies elsewhere in the world,” wrote Arolyn Conwill, Yuqing Cui, and Daniel Day. The authors offered suggestions for how to “improve the situation.”  

• Scrutiny continued this week for Haruko Obokata, the Japanese stem-cell scientist whose apparent stunning advance—reprogramming adult stem cells by stressing them in acid—has proved difficult to reproduce, even by her own collaborators. “Allegations that the papers contain images recycled from Obokata’s Ph.D. thesis, among other problems, have fed doubts about the claims,” Dennis Normile and Gretchen Vogel wrote at ScienceInsider. “And as the scrutiny has grown, several of the collaborating researchers have confirmed that they have not yet produced STAP [stimulus-triggered acquisition of pluripotency] cells either.”

Considering the apparent simplicity of the technique, Martin Pera, a stem cell scientist at the University of Melbourne in Australia, finds the difficulty reproducing the result “puzzling.” A RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology investigation—not yet complete—concluded that there had been “inappropriate handling of data,” but that these instances were ” not judged to constitute research misconduct.” At a press conference announcing the interim results, RIKEN president and Nobel laureate Ryoji Noyori offered an apology.

Top Image: Haruko Obokata CREDIT: Kyodo

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