Science  12 Jan 2001:
Vol. 291, Issue 5502, pp. 225

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  1. Texan to NIH?

    Rumors reached a fever pitch in Washington this week that the Bush transition team had tapped a director for the National Institutes of Health, but the supposed candidate denies all. John Mendelsohn, president of the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, told Science in a statement that although “It would be an honor to be considered” for the NIH post, “no one has approached me about it” and “I love my job.”

    Mendelsohn, who is said to have links to the Bush family, has worked at the University of California, San Diego, and Memorial Sloan-Kettering. But observers noted that if offered the NIH job, he would have to mull whether he is willing to give up positions on the boards of biotech ImClone Systems and Enron, the giant Houston-based energy company, and become a politico. And one biomedical research lobbyist expressed concern that a clinical oncologist might not “resonate with” NIH's mostly basic research grantees—and might also add to NIH's already heavy slant toward cancer research.

  2. Prion Payoff

    The uproar over Germany's first cases of mad cow disease is paying dividends for researchers on the tiny Baltic Sea island of Riems. This week, molecular biologist Thomas C. Mettenleiter, who heads Germany's Federal Research Center for Animal Viral Diseases, said that the center will open an Institute for New and Emerging Animal Infectious Diseases on Riems and will “significantly expand its research.”

    Riems has housed German animal-virus research laboratories for 90 years, and officials expect the new institute to open this spring in a refurbished lab with 17 employees, including seven scientists. In the past 2 months German officials have discovered seven cows infected with bovine spongiform encephalopathy, a prion disease that has struck more than 179,000 cows in the United Kingdom and hundreds on the continent.