Elsewhere in Science, 4 September 2015


Every Friday, Science Careers points to articles in the Science family of publications that are relevant to careers in science and other technical fields. Some of them are accessible to anyone, but access to articles appearing in Science Translational Medicine (STM), Science Signaling, and Science may require AAAS membership (AAAS is the publisher of Science Careers) or a site license.

► In another Tuesday ScienceInsider, Jocelyn Kaiser conducted a Q&A with physician Eliseo Perez-Stable, who, this month, will become the new director of the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities, where he “will oversee $270 million in research and training programs, and help coordinate minority health research across [the National Institutes of Health].” Perez-Stable told Kaiser that he will spend the first 3 months or so learning, but he is ready to explore “the scientific questions that can be asked using this laboratory of the diverse population in the United States.”

► The journal Cell Metabolism retracted a 2014 paper in which researchers announced “that they had discovered how grizzly bears gain scores of weight before hibernation, but avoid the obesity-associated health problems,” Hanae Armitage reported in a third Tuesday ScienceInsider. The move came after some of the authors “at Amgen in Thousand Oaks, California, announced that the original paper contained falsified data.” An investigation “found that specific sets of data had been distorted to more convincingly support the paper’s claims.” The co-authors of the study, however, “insist that the findings are still viable and they’re in the process of replicating the exaggerated portion of the study to verify their findings.”

► “To facilitate communication among scientists, physicians, and veterinarians, a paradigm of ‘one literature’ can raise cross-species awareness and bring together new research communities and collaborations that advance translational medicine,” wrote Mary M. Christopher of the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of California, Davis, in this week’s issue of STM. Christopher highlighted the work of the “One Health Initiative, endorsed by the American Medical Association and the American Veterinary Medical Association,” which “embraces the concept that animal, human, and environmental health are inseparable and that the expertise of all health care professionals is essential for solving problems and advancing research.” Ultimately, Christopher wrote, “[a] future in which One Literature has displaced rigid notions of veterinary and medical research is a future in which translational medicine has fully capitalized on the essential connection between animal and human health.”

► Last year, the U.S. government suspended funding of gain-of-function (GOF) studies, “in which viruses are made more transmissible or more pathogenic,” and it ordered a review of their risks and benefits. But influenza vaccine research completed before that time by Yoshihiro Kawaoka’s group at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, may demonstrate “the risk of curtailing so-called [GOF] studies,” wrote Jon Cohen in a Wednesday Insider. The group created “heartier influenza viruses” to “streamline vaccine production,” which places the research in the GOF category, suggesting that its valuable contribution to vaccine development efforts might not have been allowed under current policies. However, U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases “Director Anthony Fauci says ‘it is very likely’ that Kawaoka’s group would have been granted an exemption and continued to receive funding because the study specifically aims to improve vaccines against influenza.”

► “After 4 years of mulling, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is preparing to tighten rules designed to protect people who participate in research funded by the federal government and many private entities,” Kelly Servick wrote in a Wednesday Insider. She reported that “HHS, along with 15 other agencies, released a Federal Register notice [that same day] describing the intended changes, which include tighter consent requirements for the reuse of stored blood or tissue in new research.” This news comes as the National Institutes of Health “itself is gearing up for an ambitious bit of human subjects research—a longitudinal study of at least 1 million volunteers as part of the White House’s precision medicine initiative.”

► In this week’s issue of Science, Richard Stone provided a glimpse into the world of science in Iran. Stone highlighted the planned construction, beginning in 2018, of the Iranian Light Source Facility (ILSF), which would be the country’s first synchrotron and its “biggest basic science project ever,” as “a testament to the country’s determination to do science in spite of turmoil, political interference, and the viselike grip of economic sanctions imposed by the United States and its allies to block Iran’s suspected effort to develop nuclear weapons. … ‘Failure is not an option,’ says Javad Rahighi, a nuclear physicist and the ILSF’s director. Animated by the same spirit, an array of other homegrown initiatives has flourished, despite the sanctions, in areas ranging from seismology to stem cell research. The result is a surprisingly robust scientific enterprise.”

► This week’s issue also included an editorial from Mohammad Farhadi—Iran’s minister of science, research, and technology—emphasizing that Iran would like to promote international scientific collaborations. “Iran takes the role of science for peace, progress, and dialogue very seriously,” Farhadi wrote. “Iran is in a position to fine-tune its development model and move toward qualitative improvement of its science and technology. This includes growing its international scientific collaborations. Given that cooperation is most effective through direct contacts between scientists rather than through government-driven agreements, the Iranian government will encourage and support collaborations initiated by individual scientists from within the country or in any part of the world. … We invite scientists from all over the world to initiate a collaborative program with our scientists. Iran is ready.”

►“Funding for the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), the world’s premier group of agricultural research centers, is sagging in the global economic downturn,” Dennis Normile reported in another Science feature. “Its flagship backer—the World Bank—threatened to pull the plug on” its $50 million a year in contributions. But right now, says Robert Zeigler, director-general of the International Rice Research Institute in Los Baños, the Philippines, a CGIAR center, “‘[w]e’re burning up another year to 2 years in a reorganization,’ when the time and effort would be better spent shoring up CGIAR’s finances and making tough decisions about which programs deserve the precious support.”

► In this week’s Science Careers-produced Working Life story, Kim Hunter-Schaedle described how a family tragedy pushed her to strive for a better work-life balance and to “grab life—now.”

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