Science  15 Jul 2005:
Vol. 309, Issue 5733, pp. 365

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  1. WHO Strengthens Pandemic Team

    The World Health Organization (WHO) is beefing up its efforts against influenza. Besides Margaret Chan, the new head of the Communicable Disease Surveillance and Response Department (Science, 8 July, p. 243), the agency is bringing on several new experts, including Keiji Fukuda, an epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia. Chan says she will seek more money from agencies such as the European Commission and the World Bank. Former flu program head Klaus Stöhr, long the public face of influenza, will continue to lead a group focusing on science but will no longer talk to the press, says Chan.

  2. Senate Jostling on Stem Cells

    Stem cell supporters in the Senate are going all-out to prevent defections as a vote nears on a measure to expand the number of lines available to federally funded researchers. Senators Arlen Specter (R-PA) and Tom Harkin (D-IA) fear that some members will champion alternative ways to obtain stem cells to avoid taking a stand on their bill. Possible alternatives include cultivating a single cell from an early embryo without harming it or a cloning technique that creates a nonviable embryo.

    This week, Specter and Harkin assembled scientists at a hearing to analyze means of deriving new human stem cell lines that don't destroy embryos. James Battey, the National Institutes of Health's stem cell point man, and stem cell researcher George Daley of Harvard agreed that the proposals that sound most promising are still far from being technically feasible and said some carry ethical problems of their own. Senate bill 471—identical to H.R. 810 passed by the House in May—is due for a vote before the August recess.

  3. ITER: India Wants In

    This week, India expressed formal interest in joining the effort to build an energy- producing fusion reactor. The six current partners—China, the European Union (E.U.), Japan, Korea, Russia, and the United States—have just agreed on Cadarache, France, as the site of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER). Now India's Atomic Energy Commission says in a letter to the E.U. that his country is considering “full partner” status.

  4. Solar Bill Advances in California

    Two key California legislative committees approved an ambitious new solar energy initiative last week. The initiative, backed by California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, aims to raise power generation from solar cells from the current level of 100 megawatts to more than 3000 megawatts, enough to power more than 500,000 homes. The bill is expected to become law next month. It would require builders of new homes to offer solar power systems to buyers. The solar systems would likely cost about $15,000, but buyers would receive about $5000 in rebates from the state. The rebates are set to decline 7% per year before expiring in 2016, a progression that the state hopes will encourage innovation by forcing manufacturers to cut costs and boost efficiency.

  5. Trial Awaits Growth Hormone Researchers

    PARIS—The French Supreme Court has cleared the way for 12 French scientists and doctors to stand trial for their role in treating hundreds of children with contaminated human growth hormone (HGH). The 12 defendants include Fernand Dray, who was in charge of purifying the material at the Pasteur Institute. A total of 968 children were treated in France with high-risk batches of HGH between December 1983 and June 1985, and 103 so far have died from Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, the human form of “mad cow disease” (Science, 18 March, p. 1711). If convicted, the scientists could each face up to 4 years in prison. The court last week ruled that a 3-year statute of limitations on bringing charges begins when symptoms first appear and not when the suspect material was administered. The criminal investigation, begun in 1991, is winding down, and the trial may start early next year, says the victims' lawyer.

  6. Finalists Vie to Be Pasteur Head

    PARIS—The 117-year-old Pasteur Institute has never had a woman president. But that could change this fall after the board of directors announced two finalists to succeed Philippe Kourilsky. One is Alice Dautry-Varsat, a chlamydia researcher who heads Pasteur's Biology of Cell Interactions Unit. The other candidate is Pierre Legrain, a former Pasteur scientist who in 1997 co-founded Hybrigenics, a Paris-based biotech. A decision is expected during the board's 2 September meeting.