ScienceScope

Science  24 Dec 2004:
Vol. 306, Issue 5705, pp. 2171
  1. Bush Dives into Oceans

    1. Elizabeth Pennisi

    Responding to calls from two blue-ribbon panels for better coordination and more resources, the White House last week created a Cabinet-level committee to oversee the management of U.S. marine resources.

    The new committee is part of a 40-page action plan that addresses some of the 200 recommendations from a congressionally mandated commission, headed by retired Adm. James Watkins, that reported this fall (oceancommission.gov) and an earlier report by the Pew Oceans Commission (http://www.pewoceans.org/oceans/downloads/oceans_report.pdf). The multiagency body, coordinated by the White House Council of Environmental Quality (CEQ), has been asked to design a plan to set ocean-related research priorities, expand ocean buoy monitoring, fund new research vessels, deal with depleted fish stocks, protect coral reefs, and assess oil and gas resources.

    The plan is a step in the right direction, says Lisa Speer of the Natural Resources Defense Council in New York. “But it's not clear what they are going to be doing or how quickly.”

  2. Italy Hosts a Climate Research Center

    1. Susan Biggin

    TRIESTE, ITALY— Italy will host a new Euro-Mediterranean Center for Climate Change Study (CMCC) to operate from the National Institute for Geophysics and Vulcanology (INGV) in Bologna, with headquarters and a dedicated supercomputer at the University of Lecce. Officials made the announcement during last week's meeting in Buenos Aires to review the Kyoto Protocol, a global pact to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

    The four Italian ministries that created the center have pledged $36 million through 2007. CMCC will coordinate research on climate change and disaster planning, complementing work in the United States, the U.K., Germany, and Japan. INGV currently concentrates on climate simulations based on models of the atmosphere's circulation, the oceans, the Mediterranean Sea, and marine ice. “We aim to take this a step further,” explains new CMCC head Antonio Navarra, by coupling these models with models of the earth's biosphere, marine ecosystems, and chemistry of the atmosphere to allow “simulations that are more reliable and have higher resolution.”

  3. "Risky" Task Force Set

    1. -Jeffrey Mervis

    The oversight body of the National Science Foundation (NSF) wants to help the agency hit scientific home runs as well as singles.

    Last week the National Science Board (NSB) approved creation of a Task Force on Transformative Research to recommend better ways for the $5.5 billion agency to take a flier on high-risk but potentially high-reward research. Its target is the inherently conservative bent of NSF's peer review process (Science, 8 October, p. 220).

    Nina Federoff, an NSB member and plant biologist at Pennsylvania State University in State College, is expected to chair the task force, which will include outside scientists. Federoff foresees holding several workshops to obtain additional community input.

  4. Tauzin Takes Drug Industry Post

    1. Jocelyn Kaiser

    A battle with intestinal cancer has convinced a retiring U.S. lawmaker to take a lucrative job as a drug industry lobbyist that he was up for earlier this year.

    Representative Billy Tauzin (R-LA) was rumored to be in line for the job as president and CEO of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) before critics said his role in negotiating a new Medicare prescription law posed a conflict of interest (Science, 6 February, 2004, p. 761). Tauzin, 61, said he did not negotiate with PhRMA while handling the drug bill, but that being a patient for most of the year inspired him to take the PhRMA job. He assumes the post on 3 January.

  5. Klein Heads Stem Cell Panel

    1. -Constance Holden

    The wealthy California real estate financier behind the $3 billion state stem cell initiative has been appointed chairman of the board that will administer the state's bold new research program.

    Robert Klein II, who has a diabetic son, is a great choice, says stem cell researcher Evan Snyder of the Burnham Institute in La Jolla. “He's an enormously efficient organizer [and] knows the ins and outs of stem cell research,” he says.

    The panel met for 2 days this month at the west-coast offices of the National Academy of Sciences to begin sketching out the research institute created by the passage of Proposition 71. The panel plans four community forums next month.