Science  07 Feb 2003:
Vol. 299, Issue 5608, pp. 799

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  1. AIDS Agency on the Ropes?

    PARIS—French AIDS researchers and activists have mounted an online petition drive ( to head off a rumored government move to disband the nation's HIV research funding agency. The National Agency for AIDS Research (ANRS), which is also responsible for hepatitis C research, was created in 1992 and has an annual budget of $40 million. But its current mandate expires in December, and government officials are said to be considering folding it into INSERM, France's biomedical research agency.

    The research ministry has appointed two committees to look into ANRS's future, but officials did not respond to requests for comment. University of California, San Francisco, virologist Jay Levy says ANRS “has made important contributions” to AIDS research and that placing it within INSERM would “greatly compromise these dedicated efforts.” A decision is expected by spring.

  2. Major Facilities in Germany Get the Go-Ahead

    BERLIN—Physicists and atmospheric researchers in Germany got good news this week. The government announced on 5 February that it will support the construction of four large facilities, amounting to $1.75 billion, in the coming decade. But it stayed silent on whether it will back a $4 billion accelerator.

    Receiving a green light were a $27 million lab for extremely high magnetic fields outside Dresden and a $105 million airplane for high-atmosphere and climate- change research. Two larger projects will go forward if they find partners to support part of the cost. Germany would foot three-quarters of the bill for a $734 million ion-antiproton accelerator at the Heavy Ion Research Center in Darmstadt and half of the $730 million tab for an X-ray Free Electron Laser at DESY in Hamburg.

    Government officials, however, stayed mum on the proposed TESLA linear accelerator. The project is planned as an international collaboration, but as its host Germany would bear a substantial fraction of TESLA's cost.

    The silence isn't surprising given tight budgets, says Wedig von Heyden, general secretary of the German Science Council, which has endorsed TESLA (Science, 22 November 2002, p. 1534). And nuclear physicist Konrad Gelbke of Michigan State University in East Lansing, who helped evaluate the proposals, says “the judgments that were made were sound.”

  3. India Gives Agricultural Research a Makeover

    NEW DELHI—India is revamping its highly centralized agricultural research enterprise to give local and regional officials greater authority. The government says the changes, which are based on recommendations from a report delivered last week to the agriculture minister, reflect a need to improve food quality and safety now that the country is able to feed its population.


    Some 6300 scientists work for the $375 million Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), whose 170 research entities are tightly managed by its headquarters in New Delhi. ICAR will close or merge several institutes while creating a national biotechnology institute to spread rapidly developing technology. Mangala Rai, the council's newly appointed director general, calls the changes “very positive and implementable.”

  4. Italy Reportedly Fires Research Chief in Reform Sweep

    NAPLES—The Italian government is moving quickly to implement radical new reforms in its National Research Council (CNR). Italy's Council of Ministers last week approved a long-awaited decree that would, among other changes, allow the Ministry of Education, Universities, and Research to appoint new directors of CNR's 108 institutes and merge four research institutes. In response, the president of one institute slated for merger—condensed-matter physicist Flavio Toigo of the National Institute for the Physics of Matter in Genoa—has already tendered his resignation.

    He's not the only victim of the reforms. Earlier this week, newspapers reported the dismissal of CNR president Lucio Bianco. As a temporary replacement, science minister Letizia Moratti plans to appoint Adriano De Maio, an electronics engineer and rector of Luiss Guido Carli University in Rome. Bianco says he has not been officially notified of his dismissal and is evaluating whether to take legal action. But Giovanni Grimaldi of the CNR Institute for Genetics and Biophysics in Naples promises that “if Bianco does not take legal action, we will.”