Science  24 Feb 2006:
Vol. 311, Issue 5764, pp. 1085

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  1. Harvard President Steps Down

    1. Jennifer Couzin

    Lawrence Summers, the economist who in 5 years as president of Harvard University became a lightning rod for controversy, resigned 21 February amid a faculty rebellion spurred by the resignation of Arts and Sciences Dean William Kirby. The faculty at Harvard's largest school was preparing a second no-confidence vote; the first came last March after Summers's comments about women in science and his handling of other issues (Science, 28 January 2005, p. 492). Summers won respect for his support for research, including plans for a new science hub to be built in nearby Allston. “My greatest hope is that the University will build on the important elements of renewal that we have begun over the last several years,” Summers said in a statement.

    Summers, who will step down 30 June, plans to remain on the faculty as a professor. Derek Bok, who led the university from 1971 to 1991, will be interim president.

  2. NOAA to Navy: Sssshhh

    1. Katherine Unger

    The U.S. Navy should turn down the volume of its proposed sonar training range, says the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which publicly released its comments on the Navy's plans last week. The Navy wants to build a sonar training facility off the North Carolina coast, and last October it concluded that the sonar would not harm marine mammals. NOAA disagreed, citing the risk of driving beaked whales and other marine mammals onto beaches. Also, NOAA said, the endangered North Atlantic right whale has been sighted nearby. The Navy is now reviewing NOAA's concerns and more than 300 substantive public comments; the final report is expected in the fall.

  3. Scripps Lands on Jupiter

    1. Rorbert F. Service

    Capping a two-and-a-half-year battle over siting, officials in Palm Beach County, Florida, voted last week to approve plans by the Scripps Research Institute to build an East Coast campus in Jupiter, Florida. A suit by environmentalists had prevented the San Diego, California-based research powerhouse from building on its original choice, a site near wetlands. So Scripps officials turned to the Abacoa campus of Florida Atlantic University, where more than 160 Scripps researchers are temporarily housed.

  4. California Researchers Have Day in Court; Academy Ponders

    1. Constance Holden

    With the Bush Administration keeping the federal government on the sidelines, other groups are jumping into the breach to set policies on the use of embryonic stem cells in research. On 27 February, a trial in Alameda County Superior Court was scheduled to address whether the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) violates the state constitution. CIRM is expected to prevail, but the inevitable appeals are likely to take at least a year, delaying the sale of bonds to raise the $3 billion specified in the state initiative passed in November 2004.

    Meanwhile, on 10 February, CIRM's governing board adopted policies regulating egg acquisition and intellectual property that will eventually become state law. “We are becoming a surrogate for the U.S. in stem cell research,” says institute president Zach Hall. Likewise, the National Academies has announced that it will form a permanent panel to offer up-to-date guidance to stem cell researchers. Funding from private sources will help it apply guidelines proposed in an April 2005 report.

  5. Gene Grant Funds Less Chaff, More Wheat

    1. Elizabeth Pennisi

    The U.S. Department of Agriculture is betting on a new high-throughput, molecular-based breeding program to help it win a 7-year battle against a devastating rust plague. Last week, a consortium of 20 university and government labs received $5 million to pinpoint genes that provide resistance to the rust. Researchers will find genes using known markers, or landmarks, on wheat chromosomes near these genes.

    Starting with a few dozen of these markers, scientists hope to identify tens of thousands of them over the next 4 years, says project director Jorge Dubcovsky of the University of California, Davis. The markers should accelerate the development of strains with multiple disease-resistant genes, higher gluten content, and increased yield. “The sooner we can solve the disease issue, the better for the growers,” says Bonnie Fernandez, executive director of the California Wheat Commission in Woodland. Dubcovsky says the first strains may on sale by 2008.