Science  22 Nov 2002:
Vol. 298, Issue 5598, pp. 1533

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  1. Cells on Ice

    French researchers will have to wait a little longer to get imported stem cells. France's Council of State last week suspended an earlier government directive allowing researchers to import human embryonic stem cells from other countries (Science, 5 April, p. 27). Former research minister Roger-Gérard Schwartzenberg had approved the imports pending the approval of a revised bioethics law that would allow French scientists to produce their own cell lines.

    The decision follows the filing of a lawsuit against embryo imports by the Alliance for the Rights to Life, a group supported by France's Catholic Church. The courts are expected to decide the suit early next year, but the case will be moot if Parliament approves the new bioethics law. Although the bill was introduced under the previous Socialist government, it is reportedly supported by key members of the current conservative regime, including research minister Claudie Haigneré. Geneticist Axel Kahn, director of the Cochin Institute in Paris, says, “The prognosis is that the law will pass.”

  2. Rubinstein to Big Apple

    The beleaguered New York Academy of Sciences has a new boss. Former Science editor Ellis Rubinstein became president of the 185-year-old institution this week, ending a yearlong search. He replaces Rodney Nichols, who resigned last year amid disagreements over how to stem the academy's financial woes (Science, 8 March, p. 1824).

    Rubinstein, 56, has worked as a journalist and administrator in a variety of settings, including at Newsweek and IEEE Spectrum. He became Science's news editor in 1989 and is credited with helping bring the magazine into the Internet era. He gradually moved away from journalism, spearheading an array of ventures, including Web sites focused on young scientists ( and research on aging ( He shed his title as Science's editor earlier this year.

    Rubinstein says he wasn't seeking a new job and that the academy “sought me out.” He aims to reinvigorate the 22,000-member organization by making it a more active presence in New York City and catering more to the needs of younger scientists. Nobel laureate Torsten Wiesel, who chairs the academy's board, says Rubinstein's “experience in business development and scientific publishing will serve the academy's needs at this crucial time.”

  3. Moving On Up

    A new NASA budget plan is good news for space station science and bad news for a next-generation space shuttle. The preliminary 5-year plan, presented to Congress last week, sets aside more money for biological and physical research on the orbiting laboratory. But it would also curtail work on a reusable spacecraft to replace the aging shuttle in favor of a more conventional small winged vehicle.

    In the new scenario, NASA would fly five rather than four shuttle missions a year starting in 2006, allowing more research aboard both the shuttle and the station, and pump an additional $75 million into science payloads through 2007. Meanwhile, NASA would start work on the orbital space plane, which would ride aloft on an expendable launcher. The vehicle, which could be ready by 2010, would allow the station crew to accommodate seven astronauts rather than the current three, allowing more science to be done.

    The plan won't cost more than NASA's current budget request, an important selling point for Congress. But some lawmakers want more information on crew size, the cost of research facilities, and shuttle maintenance. The last-minute request takes advantage of congressional inaction on NASA's 2003 budget.

  4. Updates: Sonar and Fisheries

    Environmental groups challenging the deployment of a new U.S. Navy sonar have agreed to let the government conduct restricted tests. Last month, a federal judge in California blocked the Navy from testing the submarine-detection system in a 36-million-km2 swath of the Pacific Ocean west of Hawaii, ruling that environmental regulators hadn't fully considered its impact on whales and other marine mammals (Science, 8 November, p. 1155). Under the deal reached last week, the Navy can run trials in a 2.5-million-km2 slice of the contested region until next summer, when the judge expects to hear the full case.

    In New England, conservationists, government officials, and the fishing industry last week asked a federal judge to delay imposing strict new catch limits pending resolution of the impact on population estimates of a misrigged research trawler (Science, 18 October, p. 515). Fishing groups claim that mismarked cables invalidated the estimates used to set new quotas, which are due to take effect next August. Government researchers disagree. Now, both sides want up to a year's delay to allow an independent review of the data.