Science  26 Aug 2005:
Vol. 309, Issue 5739, pp. 1311

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  1. Europe Braces for Bird Flu

    1. Martin Enserink

    The European Union wants to keep the deadly H5N1 avian influenza strain out of European poultry flocks. Veterinary experts are due to meet this week, but several countries say they're not ready to follow Holland's drastic step of ordering all commercially raised birds indoors to prevent infection by migratory birds.

    Outbreaks of H5N1 in Europe's vast poultry sector could have devastating economic effects, as has already happened in Southeast Asia. In the Netherlands—still reeling from a 2003 outbreak that decimated the industry—farmers were ordered this week to move birds inside or take other precautions to prevent them from mingling with wild birds. The measure, slated to last until the end of the fall migration at least, was relatively easy to implement because 95% of more than 100 million poultry in the country already live inside, says virologist Albert Osterhaus of Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam.

    Germany is considering a similar move. But authorities in France and the United Kingdom—which have many more free-ranging birds than Holland does—aren't convinced migratory birds pose a great risk and say it's too early for such drastic measures.

  2. Crosshairs on Lung Cancer

    1. Jennifer Couzin

    Lung cancer kills more Americans than any other malignancy. But last year, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) spent more than twice as much on breast cancer—$566 million versus $277 million—not to mention $308 million on prostate cancer. To change that balance, NCI earlier this month announced it was committing up to $80 million more to enhance prevention and treatment of lung cancer as part of a businesslike initiative with strict milestones. The Bethesda, Maryland-based institute is searching for an outside director to oversee the initiative, which will span nicotine addiction, early detection of lung cancer, and drug development.

    “It's certainly encouraging that they're beginning to think more about lung cancer,” says Alan Sandler, medical director of thoracic oncology at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee.

    To drive home the call for research of all types, seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong lobbied President George W. Bush for a dramatic increase in cancer research funding during a 27-km bike ride at the president's Crawford, Texas, ranch last weekend.

  3. Higher Protection for Tiger Salamander

    1. Erik Stokstad

    A U.S. District Court in California last week overturned a controversial decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to downgrade protection for two populations of the California tiger salamander.

    Tiger salamander populations in Santa Barbara and Sonoma counties were declared endangered in 2000 and 2003 respectively, a step that hampered developers. Last year, the agency downlisted the status of the populations to “threatened,” explaining that the move would facilitate habitat conservation by ranchers (Science, 10 September 2004, p. 1554). Critics said the change was not scientifically justified, and last week, federal judge William Alsup agreed in his decision, calling the rule “riddled with error,” and citing political meddling. The government might appeal the ruling, which reinstates the salamanders' status as endangered.

  4. Spain Seeks Gender Equality in Lab

    1. Xavier Bosch

    BARCELONA— The Higher Research Council (CSIC), Spain's main basic research agency, has announced a new policy to boost the proportion of women researchers. About a third of the 2369 scientists supported by the CSIC are women, which follows the European Union average. But just 15% of lab directors and other top positions are female. To push the total share of women researchers to 40% or more, women scientists will now make up at least 40% of selection boards tasked with appointing new CSIC scientists. The move follows a March initiative by the government to promote gender equity in Spanish society.

    Former CSIC scientist Maria Blasco, a telomerase expert at the Spanish National Cancer Center in Madrid, said that the 40% goal was a good start but that a “commitment” was needed to have more women in top research roles.

  5. Dr. Frist Prescribes ID

    1. Constance Holden

    Senate majority leader Bill Frist (R-TN) cheered scientists last month with his unexpected support for embryonic stem cell research. But last week, he disappointed many when he told reporters that students should be taught Intelligent Design (ID) as well as evolution. “I think today a pluralistic society should have access to a broad range of fact … including faith,” he told the Associated Press. Teaching both evolution and ID “doesn't force any particular theory on anyone.”