Science  22 Dec 2006:
Vol. 314, Issue 5807, pp. 1847

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  1. THREE Q'S


    Ten months after the two top editors of the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) were fired amid conflicts over editorial independence (Science, 24 March, p. 1695), Canada's premier scientific publication has picked a new editor. Ottawa epidemiologist and blood-transfusion expert Paul Hébert will take over next month in a move that Robert Fletcher of Harvard University calls “the beginning of the healing process for what was a very troubling episode.”

    Q: Will CMAJ face continuing conflict over editorial independence from the association?

    No. I've decided to give the CMA access to the editorials before the journal goes to print. But the association will not be allowed to change them. The association simply requested the ability to prepare responses to the editorials in advance. But it will be a cold day in hell before people start telling me what to do. And there's no way the CMA wants to repeat history.

    Q: What shape is CMAJ in as you take over?

    Very strong submissions continue to pour in. The journal continues to make news week after week with high-impact studies.

    Q: Where do you want to lead the journal?

    I want to craft a patient-centered research focus, as opposed to a basic-science research focus. I think the journal that will be of greatest use to the members and to the public will focus on health-services research, clinical-practice research, and policy research.


    DOLL UNDER ATTACK. The late Oxford University epidemiologist Richard Doll, whose work in the 1950s helped demonstrate that smoking causes lung cancer, received consultancy fees from chemical companies whose products he was evaluating, according to recent revelations. Relying on documents Doll donated to the Wellcome Trust's library in London, the Guardian newspaper reported earlier this month that the scientist received up to $1500 per day from Monsanto during the 1980s and nearly $30,000 from the Chemical Manufacturers Association and two chemical companies for a report that largely cleared vinyl chloride as a cancer agent.


    The heads of the Medical Research Council and the Royal Society, among others, have rushed to the defense of Doll, who died last year. They say there's no evidence that the payments compromised his research. But Richard Horton, editor of The Lancet and an outspoken advocate of high ethical standards, labels their response a “defensive overreaction,” adding that potential conflicts of interest should be disclosed even if they did not violate the standards of the day.


    MOVING DAY. Ten scientists working at research powerhouses around the world will be setting up their labs across Europe under a new program run by the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO). The EMBO installation grants, $66,000 annually for 3 to 5 years and funded by member nations, are intended to strengthen science across the continent. The first cohort will open labs in Poland, Portugal, Turkey, Croatia, the Czech Republic, and Estonia.

    Creating new labs in this way will help boost science in Europe, but more must be done, says Marcin Nowotny, a postdoc at the U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, who is moving to the International Institute of Molecular and Cellular Biology in Warsaw, Poland. Young researchers also need support from established scientists, Nowotny adds.


    FAMILY-FRIENDLY CLIMATE. The head of geosciences at the National Science Foundation is going to work next month for her Silicon Valley-based entrepreneur son on a start-up venture that's part of a new wave of “greentech” companies. Margaret Leinen, who has led the $700 million directorate for 7 years, announced this month that she will be joining Climos, a San Francisco-based research company backed by her 38-year-old son, Dan Whaley. In 1994, Whaley co-founded an online travel reservations company that was sold in 2000 for $750 million.

    Leinen, a paleoclimatologist and former dean of oceanography at the University of Rhode Island, will become the chief scientific officer for Climos, which CEO Whaley says is investigating “a number of promising natural processes to mitigate climate change.” Leinen, who will open a Washington, D.C., office for the company, says that she hopes her efforts will build ties between environmental scientists and industry. “I'm also thrilled to have the chance to work with my son.”