ScienceScope

Science  03 Mar 2006:
Vol. 311, Issue 5765, pp. 1227
  1. Identity Crisis

    1. Elizabeth Pennisi

    It's back to the drawing board for biodiversity experts hoping to share data on the world's flora and fauna with policymakers. Plans for impartial assessments for international environmental conventions failed to gel last week in Paris, where there was “a lot of doubt about how to achieve this best,” says Peter Raven, president of the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis. Researchers, government officials, and conservationists hope over the next 18 months to develop what they are calling an International Mechanism of Scientific Expertise on Biodiversity that would have more political clout than the 1995 Global Biodiversity Assessment or the 2005 Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (Science, 1 April 2005, p. 41).

  2. New Dover Board to Pay $1 Million

    1. Constance Holden

    The Dover, Pennsylvania, school board has agreed to pay $1 million toward plaintiffs' costs in the suit on intelligent design (ID) it lost in December (Science, 6 January, p. 34). Judge John E. Jones III ruled that reasonable court costs totaled more than $2 million, but after 2 months of negotiations, lawyers for the winning side agreed to settle for less than half that amount. “We'll find a way to take care of it,” says board member Bernadette Reinking. Eight board members who supported ID were voted out last fall, putting the onus on the new board to pay for the suit.

  3. Disease Alert Network Proposed

    1. Jocelyn Kaiser

    The head of Google's new foundation has begun his own philanthropic Internet project. Larry Brilliant, a physician and public health advocate, wants to improve a Canada-based network that scours the Web for early signs of disease outbreaks such as bird flu. Brilliant will seed his initial $10 million campaign with a $100,000 prize he received last week from a New York City-based group called Technology Entertainment Design for past work such as helping to eradicate smallpox and treat blindness in developing countries.

    Public health experts applaud Brilliant's plans to troll millions of Web sites and publish free public disease alerts in dozens of languages. “Almost any initiative to identify infectious disease outbreaks would be welcomed by WHO,” says World Health Organization spokesperson Maria Cheng.

  4. A Bid for Science Tourism

    1. Michael Schirber

    LONDON—Stem cell scientists should not be penalized for doing research in foreign countries with more permissive laws, states a new set of ethical principles for international scientific collaboration. The document, drawn up by the newly formed Hinxton Group, implicitly targets Germany, where most researchers are government employees and therefore could face jail time if they don't follow German laws on research when working abroad. The group's 24 February consensus statement (www.hopkinsmedicine.org/bioethics) includes guidelines for researchers and scientific journals. The group includes 60 scientists, lawyers, ethicists, and journal editors from 14 countries.

  5. Biotech: UC Milks It

    1. Robert F. Service

    In one of the largest biotechnology patent settlements ever, Monsanto Co. agreed this week to pay the University of California more than $100 million to settle claims that the agribusiness giant infringed on a patent awarded to UC researchers in 2004 for a hormone that makes cows produce more milk. Use of the hormone, called bovine somatotropin (BST), has spawned a $1 billion industry and drawn criticism from some consumer groups worried about health effects. UC says most of the royalties will support health and clinical research at UC San Francisco, where BST was discovered in 1979.

  6. Laughlin on the Ropes

    1. Ahn Mi-Young

    SEOUL—Physicist Robert Laughlin, the first non-Korean president of the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), is facing a faculty revolt. Nearly half of the school's 409 professors have voted in an informal tally to unseat him ahead of a meeting of the board of trustees later this month on whether to renew his contract, which comes up for extension in July.

    Soon after arriving at the institute in Daejon in July 2004, the blunt-talking Nobelist unsettled some faculty members with a range of reform proposals and funding changes (Science, 20 January, p. 321). “Laughlin has done the opposite of what we had asked him to do,” says a former dean who stepped down last year after clashing with his boss.

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