ScienceScope

Science  16 Jul 2004:
Vol. 305, Issue 5682, pp. 321
  1. Paltry Raise for NIH

    A House of Representatives spending subcommittee last week approved a bill that would give the National Institutes of Health (NIH) a $727 million increase, to $28.5 billion, in 2005. Advocates for biomedical research were dismayed by the amount, a 2.6% hike that is comparable to the president's request but trails the annual rate of inflation for biomedical research activities.

    The increase, for the fiscal year that begins 1 October, would be the smallest in 2 decades, says Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation immunologist Paul Kincade, president of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB). Kincade says he is “terrified” about the consequences for researchers, who had benefited from a doubling of NIH's budget between 1998 and 2003. “This is going to take an immediate toll on investigators,” who may have to cut back on buying equipment and lab animals or giving technicians and postdocs raises, Kincade says.

    FASEB and other advocacy groups are pinning their hopes on the Senate, which may not take up a comparable spending bill until September. FASEB's Howard Garrison says that Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA), who chairs the panel, is pushing for a larger increase

  2. Clouds Darken for Rainfall Satellite

    NASA's Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) will be sent plummeting into the ocean next spring, if NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe signs off on a plan soon to reach his desk. The $600-million-plus satellite has been gathering environmental data on the tropics since it was launched in 1997 on a Japanese rocket, originally for an 18-month mission. But space agency managers say they can't afford the annual $7 million to $8 million needed to operate it. They also worry that it could crash into a populated area if there is insufficient fuel to guide it into a safe reentry.

    NASA has held off killing TRMM because of opposition from earth scientists and its partner, Japan's space agency. But last week, Japanese officials agreed with NASA's proposal, paving the way for O'Keefe to order TRMM's execution in the near future. Meanwhile, NASA hopes this week to launch the last large component of its multibillion-dollar Earth Observing System, the Aura satellite to monitor the atmosphere.

  3. Science Treated Well in New India Budget

    NEW DELHI—Proclaiming a “new deal for agriculture,” Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh last week proposed large increases to help sequence several cereal genomes and conduct other types of agricultural research. The increases are part of the new government's first budget, which includes more good news for scientists.

    CREDIT: P. BAGLA

    The country's science agencies would rise by 27% over the current year, to $2.7 billion. Within that total, the Department of Biotechnology would grow by $15 million, spurring work to boost the productivity of rice, maize, and wheat in semiarid regions. India's $100 million mission to orbit the moon, scheduled for 2008, would receive a down payment of $17 million, and $63 million would go to begin construction of a Fast Breeder Test Reactor facility in Kalpakkam. A $2.5 million climate research laboratory would be built in Nainital in the lower Himalayas.

    Parliament is expected to approve the budget later this month.

  4. Workplace Health Groups Protest CDC Reorganization

    A plan to reorganize the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) could harm the government's efforts to improve workplace health and safety, say several former federal officials.

    This spring CDC Director Julie Gerberding announced plans to streamline the organization by “clustering” divisions under shared leadership (Science, 30 April, p. 662). The plan, meant to make CDC more agile and effective, includes combining the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) with other environmental health programs.

    But in an 8 July letter to the Department of Health and Human Services, CDC's parent agency, five former assistant secretaries for workplace health at the Labor and Energy departments—including three former directors of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration—write that moving NIOSH down the hierarchy “would markedly diminish its effectiveness in helping” agencies use science to develop rules. Thirteen former and current members of NIOSH's Board of Scientific Counselors sent Gerberding a similar letter last month, writing that the institute “must retain its identity.”