Science  15 Feb 2002:
Vol. 295, Issue 5558, pp. 1209

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  1. Rockefeller Rocked

    Rockefeller University is reeling from the resignation this week of its president, molecular geneticist Arnold Levine (below). The New York City university's trustees released a terse note on 10 February saying that Levine had offered to resign, “effective immediately,” because of “health considerations.” Rockefeller's interim president during the search for a new chief will be molecular biologist Thomas Sakmar, currently chair of the academic senate.


    Levine, a prominent molecular biologist best known for his role in discovering the p53 gene implicated in many cancers, was not available to comment. But in the statement he said that “I have become aware of matters affecting my own personal health that I need to address immediately.” According to sources close to the university, Levine tendered his resignation after the board learned that he and a single female student had behaved “inappropriately” in the faculty club bar on 10 January.

    Levine has been “an admired and inspirational leader,” said chief trustee Richard Fisher, noting that he recruited 14 new lab chiefs and launched a $350 million fund-raising campaign.

  2. Grant Nixed

    The U.S. Red Cross last week unexpectedly turned down the first stem cell research grant awarded under the Bush Administration's new policy (Science, 17 August 2001, p. 1242). On 7 February the National Institutes of Health (NIH) told Red Cross researcher Robert Hawley that he had won a $50,000 grant to extend to humans his mouse studies of blood cell production. But Red Cross chief scientist Jerry Squires returned the cash, saying that the group's research priorities have changed since he took over last summer.

    Some observers believe the Red Cross, already reeling from a fund-raising controversy that prompted former head Bernadine Healy to resign in October 2001, rejected the grant to avoid criticism from anti-stem cell research groups. “My fear is their fund-raising agenda is affecting their research agenda,” says Tony Mazzaschi of the Association of American Medical Colleges.

    Meanwhile, NIH announced last week that it has added six South Korean stem cell lines to its registry of approved lines, bringing the total to 73.

  3. Northern Innovation

    Will the rhetoric match the reality? That's what Canadian scientists are asking after Industry Minister Allan Rock (below) unveiled a 10-year innovation plan this week. The long-overdue white paper affirms a government commitment to double annual R&D spending, to $9.2 billion, by 2010. It also backs greater commercialization of publicly funded academic research and at least 10 Silicon Valley-like “technology clusters.” But academia must “more aggressively” contribute to industrial innovation if it wants more cash, the plan says.


    The white paper kicks off 7 months of meetings leading up to a national innovation summit in October. Robert Giroux, president of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada, says that “the real test will be whether the government will be prepared to properly fund these initiatives.”

  4. Never Too Old

    Japan's rigid retirement rules have allowed Singapore to recruit an entire top-notch research lab, boosting the tiny nation's efforts to become a biomedical power. Molecular biologist Yoshiaki Ito, one of Japan's top cancer researchers, last week announced that his 10-person team at Kyoto University will soon move to the National University of Singapore. Ito will use a joint appointment at the Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology and the medical school to launch an Oncology Research Institute, another piece of Singapore's $1-billion-a-year investment in the life sciences.

    Ito hopes his move will help shake up Japan's national universities, which require professors to retire in their early 60s. “I want to show that productivity [can extend] beyond retirement age,” he says.

  5. No to Lab

    Animal-rights protesters have blocked the development of a new primate research laboratory in Cambridge, U.K. Local officials last week rejected the University of Cambridge's request for a permit to plan the new center after police leaders said it might cost too much to protect the facility from protesters. The British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection and other groups had rallied against the lab. The decision sets a “worrying precedent,” says the Research Defence Society, an advocacy group. The university may appeal, saying the setback could hamper its neuroscience program.