ScienceScope

Science  11 Jul 2003:
Vol. 301, Issue 5630, pp. 151

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  1. Canada Awards Training Grants

    Fifty-four teams of Canadian health researchers will share $40 million over the next 6 years to train hundreds of graduate students and postdocs in priority fields. The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) announced the awards last week, marking the second round of a government initiative to improve the nation's health care system. “CIHR is trying to mimic what NIH has been doing so successfully for years,” says Hugh Wilson, head of York University's Centre for Vision Research, which plans to use its $1 million grant to bolster stipends and support for some 10 graduate students and seven postdocs a year.

    Wilson, who moved to York in 2000 after more than 30 years at the University of Chicago, says that the program will allow Canadian universities to compete for the best young talent from around the world. “We'll be able to fly in prospective students for a 3-day recruitment visit,” he crows. “Unfortunately, it'll have to be in the winter.”

  2. Japan Gives Up Sub Search

    Marine researchers are in a deep funk over the loss of one of the world's deepest diving submersibles. Japan's marine science agency last week called off the search for the instrumented rover attached to Kaiko, an unpiloted submarine, after an expert panel concluded that the odds of finding it were slim. The rover broke free from its mother craft while diving off Japan in late May (Science, 13 June, p. 1639). The government must now decide if it will replace the craft, which could cost $10 million or more.

  3. Budget Fight Shuffles Grants

    Researchers funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) may feel the impact of a high-level budget skirmish after all.

    In February, NIAID officials said they would have to trim grants in order to spend $233 million on procuring a new anthrax vaccine. But last month, after protests from researchers and congressional allies, the agency reached a compromise with White House budget officials that appeared to spare grants, at least in the short run (Science, 27 June, p. 2017). But agency officials last week told Science that the deal will still bring change: They plan to shorten 5-year grants by 6 months and add a few months to 4-year grants in order to streamline grants management. It won't be clear if researchers have actually lost funds, however, until this fall, when budgeteers tally up the fiscal year's accounts.

  4. Royal Society: Taxonomists Endangered

    British taxonomists and other conservation scientists are an endangered species, says the United Kingdom's Royal Society. Systematic biology and taxonomy are being squeezed out of many universities, and recent funding boosts at the Kew Gardens and the Natural History Museum are not enough to make up for a decade of lean budgets, the society concluded in a statement issued last week, which also faulted government recommendations for transforming taxonomy into a digital science.

    The society decided to sound its warnings after the House of Lords and the British government issued reports on the state of systematic biology and biodiversity. Both bodies said the Global Biodiversity Information Facility, an international clearinghouse based in Denmark, should take the lead in developing an online database of worldwide biodiversity.

    But the society says the database should begin as a pilot project at a major museum or botanic collection. Taxonomy “is not just stamp collecting,” says society president Robert May. “Whether you're talking about answering basic problems in evolution or practical questions on climate change, you can't begin unless you know what's there.”

  5. Japan Seeks Answers to Rise in Misconduct

    TOKYO—Japanese culture is contributing to the growing number of scientific misconduct cases, according to a new report by the Science Council of Japan. Believed to be the country's first comprehensive look at the issue, the report says that Japanese scientists feel the same pressure to publish as do their colleagues around the world. But it notes that a cultural reluctance to confront eminent scientists engaged in questionable activity, combined with the bonds formed through lifetime service to a single institution, has exacerbated the problem. The report recommends that universities and institutes replace unwritten rules on misconduct with clear guidelines and that allegations be investigated by third-party committees run by national ministries or scientific societies.

    Calling the report a first step, Kiyoshi Kurokawa, dean of the School of Medicine at Tokai University and a vice president of the council, says that “further activities pertaining to this are very important.”