# News this Week

Science  27 Jan 2006:
Vol. 311, Issue 5760, pp. 448
1. SCIENTIFIC MISCONDUCT

# Fraud Upends Oral Cancer Field, Casting Doubt on Prevention Trial

1. Jennifer Couzin,
2. Michael Schirber

The world of oral cancer research is reeling after one of its stars, Norwegian oncologist Jon Sudbø, admitted this week through his attorney to falsifying data in three seminal papers published by top medical journals. A fourth paper is under suspicion after editors at the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) found that it contains a pair of duplicate images. For one of the papers, in The Lancet, Sudbø also appears to have claimed funding from a nonexistent grant.

The revelations have put on hold a multimillion-dollar oral cancer prevention trial, sponsored in part by the U.S. National Cancer Institute. The affair has also raised questions about whether researchers in multi-institutional collaborations should do more to double-check the validity of data collected by others. The fraud is all the more unsettling given the recent fabrications by South Korean researcher Woo Suk Hwang in stem cell science (Science, 13 January, p. 156).

“Something like this, coming so hard on the stem cell revelation, is almost catastrophic,” says Fadlo Khuri, an oncologist at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. Sudbø's results, he says, “are among the most important findings of the last decade [in] understanding the biology” of oral cancer.

The Norwegian Radium Hospital, where Sudbø is based, has launched an investigation led by Anders Ekbom of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm. Sudbø's 38 published articles will be reviewed, as will the role of his co-authors, one of whom is his twin brother and another his wife. Results are expected in a couple of months. “We don't have any suspicions that the other authors knew,” says Stein Vaaler, director of strategy at the hospital, which has already found that hundreds of patient records were fabricated in the Lancet paper.

Some papers in question identified those at greatest risk of oral cancer, a disease often preceded by noncancerous mouth lesions. Just 20% to 30% of individuals with lesions develop oral cancer, confounding prevention efforts.

The earliest paper to contain false data, according to Sudbø's attorney, Erling Lyngtveit, appeared in NEJM in April 2004. It reported that 26 of 27 individuals with aneuploid mouth lesions, so called because they contain abnormal numbers of chromosomes, developed aggressive oral cancer and were more likely to die of the disease than were those with other types of lesions. Lyngtveit confirmed that Sudbø did not have access to death information on which the study's conclusion was based. (Sudbø is currently on sick leave and has not spoken publicly.)

That 2004 study built on one that appeared 3 years earlier in NEJM that identified aneuploid mouth lesions as unusually hazardous. Eighty-four percent of study volunteers with the lesions developed oral cancer. On 20 January, NEJM released an “Expression of Concern” stating that one of the paper's images of a mouth lesion is a magnified version of another in the same article. The journal, says a spokesperson, is awaiting the results from the Radium Hospital's investigation before determining how to handle both studies.

Two other reports that Sudbø's attorney told Science contain fabrications were published in the 20 March 2005 issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology and the 15 October 2005 issue of The Lancet. The first concluded that smokers with mouth lesions, if told they were at high risk of oral cancer, were likelier to quit than were those without detectable lesions. The second, in The Lancet, claimed to draw on archived health records to show that long-term use of anti-inflammatory drugs reduced the risk of oral cancer.

That study was the first to attract suspicion. Several weeks ago, Camilla Stoltenberg, director of epidemiology at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, noticed that the Lancet study relied on a database not yet available to researchers, and she alerted the Radium Hospital on 11 January. An internal investigation by the hospital concluded that Sudbø “fabricated all the data in the article,” which included names, genders, diagnoses, and other variables for 908 people. The paper also cites funding from a Norwegian Cancer Society grant even though the proposal was rejected, says society spokesperson Terje Mosnesset.

An immediate casualty of the fraud may be a 360-person trial of the anti-inflammatory Celebrex, along with another drug, in healthy people with aneuploid mouth lesions. The cancer prevention trial garnered roughly 9 million from the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland, and was to be led by Sudbø and Scott Lippman of the M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas, who was a co-author on the 2004 NEJM paper and the Lancet paper. “Everything has to be put on hold,” says M. D. Anderson Vice President for Research Administration Leonard Zwelling. The hospital, he adds, will consider new ways to handle large population studies in which its researchers analyze results but may not see the raw data. “Should we have an independent board” to examine those data, Zwelling wonders. Meanwhile, oral cancer experts are grappling with the fabrications and whether the aneuploid work will stand. Notes Richard Jordan, an oral pathologist at the University of California, San Francisco, aneuploid lesions weren't “100% predictive, but [they] were the best that anyone heard of.” 2. PROFESSIONAL PRACTICE # Scientists Keep Some Data to Themselves 1. Constance Holden Scientists frequently refuse to give colleagues details of their research, according to two new surveys, of life scientists and of scientists-in-training. In the February issue of Academic Medicine, David Blumenthal and colleagues at Massachusetts General Hospital's Institute for Health Policy (IHP) in Boston report from a survey of 1849 life scientists that 44% of geneticists and 32% of other life scientists have engaged in some form of “withholding behavior.” The behavior includes failing to mention pertinent information in a paper or a presentation. Geneticists and males are more likely to withhold information. A related study suggests that such behaviors may stifle the growth of young scientists. A group led by IHP physician Eric Campbell surveyed 1077 graduate students and postdocs in the life sciences, computer science, and chemical engineering. About one-quarter reported that they had been denied information at some point, particularly those in “high competition” research groups or with links to industry. About half the affected respondents said the rebuff delayed their research. “We need to inform scientists, professional associations, and universities about the impact that data withholding can have on the next generation of scientists,” says Campbell. “Sometimes it's necessary. The question is whether it's being done more [often] than it should be.” Drummond Rennie, a deputy editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association, notes that some data requests can be “extremely costly and very time-consuming” to fulfill. And scientists who present findings at meetings are sometimes rightfully paranoid, says sociologist Brian Martinson of Health Partners Research Foundation in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Competitors from other labs have been known to come with cameras to shoot their posters, he says. 3. GRADUATE TRAINING # U.S. Beckons Foreigners With Science Fulbrights 1. Jeffrey Mervis Twenty-five foreign graduate students in science and engineering will receive generous scholarships under a new U.S. program designed to dispel fears that tighter security following the September 2001 terrorist attacks has discouraged the world's best and brightest from studying in the United States. The program, to be called the Fulbright Science Awards, takes the name of the prestigious intellectual exchange program between the United States and some 150 countries begun after World War II. It has not made a formal debut, but Undersecretary of State Karen Hughes mentioned it in passing at a 6 January meeting with university presidents at the State Department. The awards will be part of a proposed spending boost for academic exchanges in the president's 2007 budget request to Congress to be submitted next month. “Several presidents told us that we needed to send a clear signal that this country is intent on welcoming foreign talent, especially future scientific and technical leaders,” explained Hughes's deputy Tom Farrell. “And we felt, what better way to do that than through our most important global brand name in inter national education, the Fulbright program?” The science awards will break new ground for the Fulbrights. Students will be chosen by a blue-ribbon panel of experts in a global competition rather than through the traditional bilateral agreements, and they will be funded for longer than the typical 3 years. Farrell said he hopes universities will vie for these students and that the award is intended to meet all their needs as budding scientists. “We want this scholarship to be the ne plus ultra for graduate training,” says Farrell. “And we're making a commitment to support them until the completion of their Ph.D., in partnership with their university.” Farrell expects the first class to be enrolled in 2007 and hopes the program, if successful, will grow in subsequent years. At any likely size, the science Fulbrighters will be dwarfed by the 200,000 foreign students currently receiving graduate training in science and engineering at U.S. universities. But Association of American Universities President Nils Hasselmo, who attended the 6 January meeting, says that the new program “sends a signal” that the United States wants to attract these talented students. “To have a real impact on graduate training, the program would have to be greatly expanded,” he says. “But the message is important.” That message may already be getting through. Claudia Mitchell-Kernan, dean of the graduate division at the University of California, Los Angeles, reports a double-digit increase this winter in foreign applications to UCLA graduate programs. “I've heard nobody say that their applications are down,” says Debra Stewart, president of the Council of Graduate Schools in Washington, D.C., whose annual survey of enrollment trends at the nation's top research institutions reported a sharp drop in applications after 9/11. Stewart credits the State Department and individual institutions for helping reverse that decline, and she predicts that the science Fulbrights will reinforce the trend. 4. QUANTUM PHYSICS # Measurement Schemes Let Physicists Tiptoe Through the Quanta 1. Adrian Cho In the quantum realm, information comes at a cost: Measuring the condition or “state” of a particle knocks it out of that state. Now, two groups of physicists have made the best of that tradeoff by minimizing the disturbance as they extract information from particles of light. The “minimal disturbance measurements” probe the fundamental limits set by quantum theory and might someday help carry quantum information down optical fibers. “It's nice to know something in theory,” says theorist Nicolas Cerf of the Free University of Brussels, Belgium, “but the experiment is always a crucial step.” According to quantum theory, a particle can be in two distinct states at once. For example, a photon can be “polarized” either vertically, horizontally, or in a combination such as seven-tenths vertical and three-tenths horizontal. An ordinary measurement doesn't reveal the weird two-way state. Instead, 70% of the time, it will show that the photon is vertically polarized, and 30% of the time it will show it as horizontally polarized. And it leaves the photon in whichever state it detected—the maximum possible disturbance. To avoid that effect, Fabio Sciarrino and Francesco De Martini of the University of Rome “La Sapienza” and colleagues “entangled” the photon they wanted to measure with a second photon in a half-horizontal, half-vertical state and measured the second photon instead. Because of the entanglement, if one photon was measured to be vertical or horizontal, the other instantly collapsed into the same state, so measuring the second was equivalent to measuring the first directly. But then the researchers rotated their detector away from vertical and horizontal. That loosened the connection between the photons, so that measuring the second photon no longer revealed with complete reliability whether the first was vertical or horizontal. According to the strange rules of quantum mechanics, however, that loss of information had an upside: The reading now encoded information that the researchers could use to nudge the first photon back toward its original state by applying an electric field in an automated “feed forward” scheme. As the detector rotated toward 45 degrees, the researchers reported online on 20 January in Physical Review Letters, the fixed-up photon approximated the original—at the cost of more and more information. “I think it's quite a fundamental achievement,” De Martini says. Meanwhile, Ulrik Andersen and Gerd Leuchs of Friedrich Alexander University of Erlangen-Nuremberg in Germany and colleagues have performed a similar experiment with different quantum states of light. Instead of studying individual photons, the researchers experimented with “coherent states,” which contain an indefinite number of photons but act more like classical waves, slightly fuzzed out by quantum uncertainty. The researchers used a partially reflective mirror to split off and measure a bit of the state and used the information to tune up the remainder, they report in a paper published online in Physical Review Letters on the same date. The fix-it-up methods might help restore quantum information lost or degraded by noise while passing through optical fibers in emerging quantum-communications technologies, Andersen says. His team has already performed encouraging experiments along those lines. The techniques also put an experimental handle on a conceptual issue that theorists have pondered since quantum mechanics was invented in the 1920s. “This shows us that we can get really close to the internal workings of quantum mechanics” experimentally, says Konrad Banaszek of Nicolaus Copernicus University in Torun, Poland. Alas, Banaszek says, no one expects to find a way around the information-disturbance tradeoff. 5. ECOLOGY # Rare Tree Species Thrive in Local Neighborhoods 1. Elizabeth Pennisi Biodiversity may be threatened worldwide, but small pockets of tropical-forest trees are surprisingly becoming more diverse over time. An analysis of decades of data from seven forests across the globe, reported on page 527, indicates that, on a small scale, rare tree species are thriving, and even surviving better than common species. The forests studied were relatively pristine, but the results may apply to forests in trouble as well, if enough healthy pockets of trees persist. All over the world, “local increases in diversity are taking place,” says Christopher Wills, an evolutionary biologist at the University of California, San Diego. His conclusion: “Even if an ecosystem is damaged, it can recover.” For as long as biologists have marveled at the vast number of organisms in the tropics, they have struggled to understand why such biodiversity exists. To tackle this question, Wills tapped data on seven research forests monitored by the Center for Tropical Forest Science, based at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama. These reserves, in India, Puerto Rico, Panama, Thailand, Sri Lanka, and Malaysia, range in size from 16 to 52 hectares and contain anywhere from 74 to 1186 tree species, depending on rainfall and other environmental conditions. At each forest, researchers conduct 5-year or 10-year censuses, counting every tree over 1 centimeter in diameter at chest height. At the same time, they note dead trees and track the number of trees that have grown big enough to be counted. Because the local collaborators follow a common survey protocol, Wills and his colleagues were able to compare each forest's results. The researchers did two types of analyses. To track changes in the number of species over time, they divided the forests into 10-meter squares, counted the number of tree species in each square, and calculated the density of those species. Then, to get a sense of how the findings might change depending on the size of plot studied, the researchers repeated their analyses using 20-, 30-, 40-, and 50-meter squares. The surveyed trees fell into one of four groups: recruits (trees newly counted because they had reached the minimum size), newly dead trees, younger trees, and older trees in the plot. Within these plots, more trees of the common species died over time than did members of rarer species, increasing the relative representation of rare species. The team found the same trend in plots of all sizes, but it was most evident in the 10-meter squares. And these results were consistent from forest to forest. “One would not expect to find such congruence unless similar processes are operating,” says ecologist Theodore Fleming of the University of Miami, Florida. What explains the success of the rarer tree species? Being closer together, common trees are more prone to deadly infections. They may also face stiffer competition for certain resources. In contrast, rarer trees, by depending on slightly different sets of resources, may not have this problem. There's a delicate balance, however, says Wills: “If [a species] gets too common, it loses advantage.” The findings challenge a theory about forest diversity. According to the so-called neutral theory, plant species are gained and lost randomly. Thus, “diversity is just an accident of history,” says Wills. However, “what we are finding is that it's not neutral; [diversity] is being selected for.” Such a result should be exciting to ecologists studying grasslands, temperate forests, and perhaps even coral reefs, notes Scott Armbruster, an evolutionary ecologist at the University of Portsmouth, U.K.: “That these patterns are found to be so consistent across so many distant tropical forests suggests to me that the conclusion may eventually be found to hold for other diverse ecosystems as well.” 6. CHEMISTRY # Walk on the Wild Side Yields Supersensitive Chemical Measurements 1. Robert F. Service Following the lead of astronomers who build their telescopes on remote mountaintops, German researchers have taken to the woods to generate ultrahigh-precision chemical measurements. By fleeing the magnetic interference common to civilization, a team at Forschungszentrum Jülich and Aachen University has devised a low-tech version of nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy that can outperform multimillion-dollar lab instruments. The tabletop-sized device could hold the key to a new, low-cost version of NMR spectroscopy. “It's a very beautiful piece of work,” says Alexander Pines, a chemist at the University of California, Berkeley, and a pioneer in low-field NMR. His group and others have found ways to do away with expensive, high-field magnets, but only by using either other high-tech gear such as detectors or uncommonly large sample volumes (Science, 22 March 2002, p. 2195). By contrast, the new technique can get high-quality chemical data on a few milliliters of a liquid with standard electronic equipment. The improvement could lead to easier ways to monitor chemicals during manufacturing and track chemical spills, Pines says. NMR works because some atomic nuclei behave like tiny bar magnets. In typical NMR experiments, researchers place a chemical sample at the center of a giant, high-field superconducting magnet that causes the nuclear spins to precess around the magnetic field at a rate that is unique for each atomic species. Next, they hit their sample with radio pulses that nudge the nuclear spins away from their normal orbit; the timing of their realignment betrays their identity and chemical neighbors. The larger the external magnetic field, the easier it is to see the signal, which makes it possible to work out the structure of larger and more complex molecules. The new technique makes use of another NMR signal, called the “J coupling,” which doesn't depend on the external field. When J coupling occurs, the spins of atomic nuclei affect the behavior of the electrons that form the chemical bonds between the atoms. This influence shows up on an NMR spectrometer as patterns that reveal the structure of the component molecule. Tracking J coupling in a lab is a challenge, because even a nearby screwdriver can create imbalances in the magnetic field that wash out the J-coupling signature. Ultrasensitive superconducting detectors called SQUIDs can overcome the problem, but they are costly and need expensive cooling equipment. So the German team—Stephan Appelt, Holger Kühn, and F. Wolfgang Häsing of the Forschungszentrum Jülich and Bernhard Blümich of Aachen University—opted to do away with extra equipment by working in a forest 5 kilometers south of Jülich. By escaping the magnetic interference of civilization and shielding their electronic gear, the scientists obtained J-coupling information at least 10 times as precise as with superconducting magnets 100,000 times more powerful, they report online this week in Nature Physics. Low-field detectors will never replace high-field NMR for working out the structures of highly complex molecules such as proteins, Blümich says. But their low cost—thousands instead of millions of dollars—could push the technology rapidly into new areas of remote chemical detection. 7. EXTRASOLAR PLANETS # I Spy … a Cold, Little Planet 1. Richard A. Kerr Applying the technique of gravitational microlensing to the search for planets beyond the solar system, a superconsortium of astronomers has detected a frozen ice ball much smaller than Neptune orbiting a faint star in the distant central bulge of the galaxy. It's the first of a new class of cold, diminutive extrasolar planets. “It's a tremendously exciting result,” says astronomer Sara Seager of the Carnegie Institution of Washington's Department of Terrestrial Magnetism in Washington, D.C. Microlensing “does things we can't do any other way,” she adds. By opening a new window on “super Earths”—the least massive exoplanets yet found—it has suggested that such planets are far more common than the sizzling, Jupiter-sized gas balls that have made the news in recent years. Microlensing depends on gravity's ability to bend light, as Einstein predicted it could do. By monitoring the brightness of millions of stars at once, astronomers can tell when one star passes in front of a brighter, more distant star, gravitationally bending its light and brightening it the way a glass lens would. If the nearer or “lens” star happens to have a planet, it too will gravitationally brighten the source star. This is the only way astronomers can detect relatively small planets at some distance from their stars. The 170 “hot Jupiters”—massive, gaseous bodies orbiting scorchingly close to their stars—have been spotted by the wobble they gravitationally induce in their stars. On 11 July of last year, the OGLE collaboration of astronomers announced that a particular star was beginning to brighten. The PLANET and MOA collaborations joined in, and, on 9 August, the combined observations revealed a small, half-day-long brightening superimposed on a slow dimming. In this week's issue of Nature, the 73 astronomers of the three collaborations report that the secondary microlensing event was caused by a planet three to 10 times the mass of Earth; Neptune is 17 times Earth's mass, and Jupiter, 318 times. The exoplanet orbits its small, faint star at a distance of about three times Earth's distance from the sun and therefore is probably as cold as Pluto. In contrast, hot Jupiters swing around their stars in a matter of a few day days and reach thousands of degrees. Microlensing's diminutive discovery implies that planets smaller than Neptune dominate between 1 and 10 astronomical units from their stars, the Nature authors say. That is in line with the leading theory of planet formation, in which multi-Earth-size cores of ice and rock form first and then, with luck, gather gas to form a Jupiter. All of this bodes well for future microlensing searches, as well as for finding habitable, Earth-size exoplanets. 8. ILLEGAL DRUGS # U.K. Backs Off Reclassifying Cannabis as a Dangerous Drug 1. Eliot Marshall Citing recent studies that suggest cannabis use can cause schizophrenia, the U.K. government proposed taking a harsh line on the drug last year—possibly shifting it from the soft “C” class of drugs to the “B” class that includes cocaine. But after mulling the idea over for months, Britain's interior minister, Home Secretary Charles Clarke, backed off on 19 January. Following the advice of an advisory committee that told him a crackdown would be a bad move and wasn't justified by the data, Clarke left cannabis in class C. But he noted that many people have been “confused” by the debate and proposed more analysis of the drug's health risks and a “massive” education campaign. The flap began when the U.K. government moved cannabis from class B to class C in 2004. It based this decision on a report from the Advisory Committee on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD), which concluded that cannabis did not belong in the same category as cocaine and amphetamines. Law-enforcement costs, it found, were disproportionate to the relatively slight public health burden associated with cannabis use. This advice prompted criticism from several researchers who argued that the panel had brushed aside recent findings indicating that cannabis use can cause mental illness. For example, psychiatrist Robin Murray of the Institute of Psychiatry at King's College London (KCL) says, “My beef with the government has not been with classification but with the message that cannabis does not induce psychosis.” Psychiatric researcher Louise Arseneault of KCL says observational studies consistently show that heavy use of cannabis, particularly in adolescence, can cause lasting mental health problems. She is part of a group led by Avshalom Caspi at KCL pursuing evidence that individuals with a variant of the COMT gene, which is involved in regulating neurotransmitters, have an increased risk for cannabis-induced psychosis. Such findings prompted Clarke and ACMD to review the data. ACMD, chaired by clinical pharmacologist Michael Rawlins of the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, issued its update* on 19 January. It agreed that recent studies strongly suggest that cannabis use increases the chances of developing schizophrenia, but it also concluded that the increased risk for an individual—about 1% in a lifetime—is “very small.” Clarke, meanwhile, wants to analyze these issues once again. Within the next few weeks, he said, he plans to propose “a broad review” of the entire drug classification system. 9. JAPAN-CHINA DISPUTE # Researchers Caught Between Atoll and a Hard Place 1. Dennis Normile TOKYO—A maverick researcher and his former institute found themselves in troubled waters after news reports earlier this month claimed they will conduct clean-energy research off an atoll at the center of a territorial dispute between Japan and China. For more than 30 years, mechanical engineer Haruo Uehara has labored to wring energy from the temperature difference between warm ocean surface waters and cooler waters several hundred meters down. In this scheme, warm surface water vaporizes ammonia in a sealed piping loop, which drives a turbine and is then condensed by cold water pumped up from the deep. Making this work year-round requires stable ocean surface temperatures of about 30°C and deep water at least 20° colder—conditions found consistently only in the tropics. After retiring from the Institute of Ocean Energy at Saga University in Imari, Uehara has pursued the idea through a nonprofit organization he runs near Nagasaki. His idea has gained traction after proponents began lobbying to test the project off an uninhabited atoll that barely juts above high tide in the Pacific Ocean, 1740 kilometers south of Tokyo. Japan calls Okinotorishima an island, but China insists it is just a few rocks. This is not a small semantic distinction. Under United Nations conventions, an island—and a 200-nautical-mile radius of ocean surrounding it—can be claimed by a country, as Okinotorishima now is by Japan. Rocks are part of the open sea, and any nation would be free to exploit offshore fisheries or other resources, as China has around the atoll for the last few years. Because of China's incursions, some Japanese leaders have proposed building facilities on Okinotorishima to strengthen the country's claims. In a 31 December editorial and a 5 January news article, the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper wrote that the ocean thermal energy-conversion experiment might be just the thing. And it reported that an Institute of Ocean Energy demonstration project would appear in the 2006 budget, which is about to be deliberated by the legislature. The institute's director, Masanori Monde, says the technology “really won't be ready for such a demonstration project for another 10 to 20 years.” He suspects someone planted the story in an attempt to influence budget deliberations. Uehara says he didn't do it—but insists the technology is ready for a trial. If the government provides funding, he says, he's ready to work with private sector partners to build facilities on the reef. Even a successful experiment is unlikely to sway critics. In response to a query from Science, the Chinese embassy in Tokyo, in a written statement, reiterated China's view that Okinotorishima is not an island under the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea. “Human activity cannot change that reality,” it concludes. 10. AVIAN INFLUENZA # Donors Draw Plans to Disburse2 Billion War Chest for Bird Flu

1. Dennis Normile,
2. Gong Yidong*
1. With reporting by Richard Stone. Gong Yidong writes for China Features in Beijing.

BEIJING—Raising money to help fight avian influenza and prepare for the threat of a human influenza pandemic turned out to be surprisingly easy. Now, the donors and international health organizations who met here last week are trying to figure out how best to spend the $1.9 billion. Most of the money pledged over the next 3 years is new, says John Underwood, director of country services for the World Bank, which is laying plans to coordinate spending across agencies and countries. Spending it wisely will require “transparent monitoring” of both commitments and results, adds Markos Kyprianou, European commissioner for health and consumer protection. There is little question about the need. Since late 2003, the H5N1 avian influenza virus has decimated poultry flocks in Asia and has now spread across Eurasia as far as Turkey. The virus has killed 79 of the 148 humans it has infected, and experts project that the death toll could reach between 2 million and 7 million people if the virus acquires the ability to pass easily among humans. A yearlong pandemic could cost the global economy as much as$800 billion, according to World Bank estimates. Helping the developing countries rein in the current H5N1 avian influenza outbreak and prepare for a possible human pandemic, meanwhile, could cost between $1.2 billion and$1.4 billion worldwide over the next 3 years.

In an effort to muster those funds, the World Bank, the European Commission, and the Chinese government cosponsored the International Pledging Conference on Avian and Human Pandemic Influenza in Beijing 17 and 18 January. Pledges topped even that high estimate of needs. Donors have been “extremely generous,” says James Adams, vice president of the World Bank.

The top priority of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Organization for Animal Health is to provide assistance for rapid identification of the H5N1 virus and stamp out any outbreaks. For those countries where the virus is already endemic, the two organizations will help with vaccination programs. Developing countries will also need help bringing veterinary services and laboratories up to international standards.

WHO's priority for human health is its new rapid-response plan, says Peter Cordingly, spokesperson for WHO's Western Pacific Regional Office in Manila (Science, 20 January, p. 315). This plan aims to snuff out an incipient pandemic by identifying the first signals of human-to-human transmission and intervening with stockpiled antiviral drugs and quarantines.