ScienceScope

Science  20 Nov 1998:
Vol. 282, Issue 5393, pp. 1393
  1. NASA Taps Space Commander

    NASA has a new chief space scientist. On Monday, agency Administrator Dan Goldin named Edward Weiler as associate administrator for the Office of Space Science. Weiler had served as acting head since late September, when his popular predecessor Wes Huntress stepped down. Weiler takes control of a $2.1 billion R&D program that includes high-profile research on extraterrestrial life and the origins of the solar system.

    NASA scientists are giving Weiler a warm welcome. “Ed Weiler will be a very effective champion for space science,” says Scott Hubbard, deputy director of space at the Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California. Researchers credit Weiler with injecting new energy into NASA's astrobiology program and spearheading efforts to recover and repair the Hubble Space Telescope.

  2. Ethics Panel Urges Scrutiny of Mental Health Research

    Brushing aside research agencies' worries about increasing regulation, a presidential panel this week called for tighter control of the way mental patients and other people with impaired judgment are enrolled in drug tests and other experiments that don't directly benefit them.

    In a final report approved on 17 November, as this issue of Science went to press, the National Bioethics Advisory Commission (NBAC) urged the federal government to create a new standing committee to act as a kind of permanent rulemaker and appeals board in this field. NBAC also proposed that the Institute of Medicine conduct a thorough study of the ethics and science of controversial types of mental health research—including trials in which patients are exposed to “challenges” that exaggerate their symptoms or in which medication is abruptly withdrawn.

    The National Institutes of Health objected last month that some of these recommendations would impede research (Science, 30 October, p. 857). But NBAC's chair, Princeton University President Harold Shapiro, disagrees. He says he's heard “many assertions” but seen “no convincing evidence” that research would be hurt by such changes.