ScienceScope

Science  02 Feb 2007:
Vol. 315, Issue 5812, pp. 585
  1. Italian Center Back to Life

    1. Francesco De Pretis

    Italy's government is poised to rescue the Biomedical Research Center in Palermo. The project in regenerative medicine was jointly sponsored by the University of Pittsburgh and Palermo's ISMETT organ transplantation research center (Science, 27 October 2006, p. 577). More than 100 Italian scientists living abroad protested a government plan to withdraw support last year. Now the government has submitted a finance bill that would provide $340 million rather than the $410 million first proposed. The downsizing has forced a project review, but ISMETT says it hopes to begin recruiting staff later this month.

  2. Stern But Kind at NASA

    1. Andrew Lawler

    NASA Administrator Michael Griffin has found a new chief for the agency's beleaguered earth and space sciences program, insiders say. Griffin has been introducing S. Alan Stern, executive director of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado, around NASA's Washington, D.C., headquarters as a successor to Mary Cleave, who announced last September that she would leave this spring. Stern, a planetary scientist, is the principal investigator on NASA's Pluto-Kuiper belt mission and an advocate for lunar exploration—music, no doubt, to Griffin's ears. His challenge will be to preserve the agency's $5.5 billion commitment to science projects in the face of a flat budget and the growing appetite of NASA's human flight program. Stern did not return messages, and a NASA spokesperson declined comment.

  3. More Direction for NIH

    1. Eliot Marshall

    The freighterlike momentum of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) makes it notoriously hard to turn, but on 8 July the $28 billion agency will get a new steersman. Alan M. Krensky, a pediatric nephrologist and immunologist at Stanford University School of Medicine in Palo Alto, California, has been named director of the NIH office of portfolio analysis and strategic initiatives, a newly created post to help NIH Director Elias Zerhouni craft his agenda of high-priority programs known as the Roadmap. Krensky will also run a team that tracks spending across all NIH divisions and evaluates how well the agency hews to its goals.

    Krensky, 56, already a consultant for the agency, says an important part of his job will be to align NIH spending with societal concerns such as the burden of specific diseases. His office will not impose priorities, he insists, but rather “facilitate” decisions by NIH institute chiefs.

  4. Sharing a Killer

    1. Dennis Normile

    The drive to share flu viral samples and information is gathering strength. On 26 January, the executive board of the World Health Organization (WHO) adopted a resolution that urges member states to “ensure the routine and timely sharing” of biological samples and genetic sequence data related to novel and potentially pandemic flu viruses, including H5N1, recovered from humans and animals.

    David Heymann, who heads WHO's pandemic influenza efforts, says the resolution is “a first step towards developing the political will for free sharing of viruses and genetic sequences.” The resolution, to be taken up in May by the WHO assembly, would formalize practices for sharing flu samples and information and could pave the way for proposals to transfer vaccine development technologies to developing countries. It is “essential” to compare sequence data from human and animal viruses, says Ilaria Capua, a virologist at Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale delle Venezie in Legnaro, Italy.

  5. Hubble Loses an Eye

    1. Adrian Cho

    The main camera aboard NASA's orbiting Hubble Space Telescope has conked out, jeopardizing much of the work currently proposed for the aging scope. On 27 January, an electrical short in Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS), by far the most popular of the telescope's four instruments, killed the camera's ability to see deep and wide. “It's really a blow to Hubble science,” says ACS principal investigator Holland Ford of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland.

    Installed in 2002, the ACS is the workhorse for broad surveys that probe the structure of the cosmos. NASA engineers are pessimistic about the prospect for repairs, although a camera scheduled to be installed next year will be able to do some of ACS's work.

  6. Asia Boosts Science Bonds

    1. Richard Stone

    BANGKOK—Science chiefs of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member states have pledged to ease travel barriers and to intensify research collaborations. Meeting here last week, the officials agreed to ask their governments for collaborative flagship programs on disaster early-warning systems, biofuels, open-source software, and foods that prevent disease; details will be hammered out at a meeting in Vietnam in April. With ASEAN's main fund $4 million below its $10 million goal, supporters hope industry will pitch in.