This open source software tool could be used for research brainstorming sessions as well.
– President Obama has nominated Charles F. Bolden Jr., a former astronaut and retired Marine Corps general, to be NASA administrator. Bolden would be the first African American to head the space agency if approved by the Senate.
– Paul T. Anastas, the Teresa and H. John Heinz III professor in the practice of chemistry for the environment at Yale University, was nominated by President Obama as the Environmental Protection Agency’s assistant administrator for the Office of Research and Development. Anastas is director of Yale’s Center for Green Chemistry and Green Engineering; he served in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy from 1999 to 2004.
– Last week, the Senate approved Aneesh Chopra to serve as the Associate Director for Technology (aka Chief Technology Officer) at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP)
AAAS Policy Alert — May 20, 2009
NSF Releases Details of FY 2010 Budget Request.
The U.S. House of Representatives last week approved the proposed budget for fiscal year (FY) 2010 on May 15. NSF’s Research and Related Activities (R&RA) programs would grow 10.6 percent above the final FY 2009 levels (excluding stimulus) for a total of $5.7 billion. All R&RA Directorates would receive increases between 6.7 percent (U.S. Arctic Research) to 12.6 percent (Geosciences). The Education and Human Resources (EHR) program would grow 1.5 percent for a total of $858 million. supplemental defense spending bill containing $2 billion for pandemic flu preparedness, of which $1.5 billion will go towards development and purchase of vaccines for the national stockpile. Meanwhile, the Senate Appropriations Committee passed its version of the bill (which also includes pandemic preparedness funds) allowing it to go to the floor for a vote.
Other Congressional News
On May 18 the U.S. Senate approved the nomination of Margaret Hamburg as commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration.
Committee Begins Markup of Climate Bill.
The House Energy and Commerce Committee began markup of the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (H.R. 2454) on Monday. Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Energy and Environment Subcommittee Chair Ed Markey (D-MA) released the The Senate Environment and Public Works passed a bill cosponsored by Chair Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Ranking Member James Inhofe (R-OK) on May 14. The Black Carbon Emissions Bill (S. 849) requires the EPA to study the climate and health-related impacts of black carbon and to identify the most effective control strategies for the pollutant, a contributor to global warming that is mainly emitted from diesel engines and burning wood. On May 13, the House Science and Technology Subcommittee on Energy and Environment passed a draft bill that would create a National Climate Service within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Sponsored by Committee Chairman Bart Gordon (D-TN), the proposal would expand NOAA’s delivery of climate-oriented services and is envisioned as a single point of federal contact for data collection, information exchange, climate forecasting, and adaptation assistance. The bill establishes a network of regional and local facilities to enhance collaboration, including the six preexisting Regional Climate Centers, facilities run by the National Weather Service, and other NOAA programs. The full committee is scheduled to take up the bill later this week. bill’s text late last week. The bill contains several changes from an earlier draft, notably reducing the greenhouse gas emissions goal in 2020 from 20 to 17 percent below 2005 levels and lowering a renewable electricity standard from 25 percent in 2025 to 20 percent, with a quarter of that total allowable from increased efficiency measures. The bill outlines how emission allowances and revenues will be distributed, with utilities receiving 35 percent of the free permits and trade-vulnerable industries such as steel, cement and glass receiving 15 percent.
Thomas Frieden to serve as Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Frieden is currently New York City’s health commissioner and previously worked at CDC. Frieden immediately issued a memo to employees affirming the agency’s commitment to science.
On March 17, 2009, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) inspected the University of Louisiana’s New Iberia Research Center (NIRC) following complaints by the Humane Society of the United States that the center was caring for its nonhuman primates in a manner that violated the Animal Welfare Act requirements. Inspectors cited NIRC for issues with its handling of animals, and with its Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC). A USDA follow-up inspection on April 30, however, concluded that the March 17 citations were being addressed appropriately. Comments are due by July 7. announced that the administration will retain a special rule issued in December for protecting the polar bear under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The rule prohibits the government from invoking the Act to restrict emissions of greenhouse gases that threaten polar bears and their habitats.
The National Institutes of Health is reportedly overwhelmed by the submission of approximately 20,000 Challenge Grant applications-more than double the amount for a normal review period. NIH must award the grants by the end of September, and so it has recruited more than 15,000 extra reviewers and will take an editorial board-style approach. In other news, NIH is examining its financial conflict of interest policies following a number of high-profile incidents involving extramural researchers.
NRC Issues Report on Neuroscience and the Military. A new report from the National Research Council (NRC) states that the Army should use insights from neuroscience to improve its capacity to identify and make use of the individual variability of its soldiers. The report,responded to the Office of Science and Technology Policy’s (OSTP) request for public comment on the Presidential Memo on Scientific Integrity published in the Federal Register on April 23, 2009. Opportunities in Neuroscience for Future Army Applications, says the Army should expand its research on the neural bases of training, learning and performance, and should monitor nonmilitary research in neuroscience to keep abreast of advances that may have military application. Neuroscience also may have practical battlefield applications, the report said, such as neuroergonomics — the use of brain-machine interfaces to allow hands-off control of external systems such as computers or vehicles.
We have received an array of proposals from groups seeking to create new interdisciplinary collaboratives, following on the Faculty Research and Creative Activities Retreat in March. Six Institute and Center proposals were submitted, as well as an amazing fifteen groups and teams representing faculty from all Colleges. We have sent out the Institute and Center proposals to outside reviewers, and will be reviewing the rest internally. Stay tuned.
“The preliminary numbers are in: As of today, the National Institutes of Health has received more than 10,000 applications for its Challenge Grants, NIH officials say. (The deadline was 27 April with an extension for making corrections.) The agency tagged $200 million of its $10.4 billion in the recent stimulus bill for the competition, which covers research on dozens of specific topics. If NIH funds only 200 of the $1 million, 2-year grants, as initially proposed, that will put the success rate at a mere 2% (compared with roughly 20% for a regular NIH research grant). Individual institutes could decide to fund more grants, but that will depend on how proposals fare in peer review, NIH officials say. Reviews begin mid-May and results will be out in late July.”
It may surprise some that UCSF has NSF-funded investigators, but here is the list, for potential hook-ups:
From AAAS Policy Alert: President Obama addressed the Annual Meeting of the National Academy of Sciences on April 27 and called for a renewed commitment to basic scientific research and education. During his speech he stated that his goal would be to increase our nation’s share of federal investment in research and development (R&D) to 3 percent of gross domestic product (GDP). In recent years, the share has hovered around 2.6 percent of GDP.
— my own comment on this – Sweden has outstripped the US in recent years on R&D spending as a % of GDP.
From AAAS Policy Alert: On April 17 the National Institutes of Health released its draft guidelines on federal funding for human embryonic stem cell research. NIH announced that it would fund work on stem cells derived from embryos left over at fertility clinics, provided that certain conditions are met – for example, informed consent is obtained from donors. It will not at this time fund techniques involving the creation of human embryos for research. The regulations will be finalized this summer following an initial 30-day public comment period.
After several years of flat budgets, The National Cancer Institute (one of the NIH Institutes which, unusually, has a separate appropriations process from the NIH as a whole) received a nearly 3% budget increase this fiscal year.
Among the highlights, of relevance to SF State:
- An increase in the NCI payline to fund a greater number of meritorious investigator-initiated projects. The payline is the funding cutoff point for grant applications that is set at the beginning of a fiscal year. This year’s budget increase will take NCI’s payline from the 12th to the 16th percentile, with further increases to the 25th percentile likely for two year and longer-term grants.
- More grants to first-time investigators
- Help to universities for assisting and training new faculty investigators
To view a webcast of NCI Director Niederhuber’s speech at AACR: http://www.aacr.org/page16727.aspx. Text at: http://www.cancer.gov/newscenter/pressreleases/AACRspeech2009QandA
Has anyone out there noticed an unusual surge of interest in Descartes? There are books on Descarte’s Bones, Descarte’s Baby, Descarte’s Error, The Geometry of Rene Descartes. The list goes on. How a 17th Century French mathematician who liked to stay in bed commands so much of our attention today reflects how much we are still caught up with Dualism: that is, mind vs body conceptions of how we think and behave, and what sets us apart from animals. And his ideas about the animal spirits, which flowed from the ventricles of the brain to inflate our muscles and make us act in various ways, held sway well into the 18th century. Not to mention his efforts to merge algebra and Euclidean geometry. So whenever you say, “the mind is willing but the flesh is weak” , think of Rene. And write a book about him in your spare time !