Science  09 Feb 2007:
Vol. 315, Issue 5813, pp. 749

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  1. France: The Blame Game

    PARIS—A new government report blames badly managed public research for historically poor commercial payoffs and calls for funding projects rather than institutions. “Despite measures taken since the 1999 innovation and research law, the commercialization of research has not progressed in France for 15 years,” the report says.

    Bertrand Monthubert, president of the advocacy group Sauvons La Recherche, says the 250-page report “takes no account of the size of labs or the fact that most public contracts are awarded for priority research areas, such as nanotechnologies or energy.” Monthubert says industry is to blame and that companies should hire more of the 10,000 Ph.D. students who graduate French schools each year. Research unions are citing the report in a call to scientists to join civil servants in street protests this week.

  2. FDA Reports Drug Studies Backlog

    A yearly update from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on whether companies are monitoring the safety and efficacy of therapies after they hit the market shows that few such studies are ongoing: 274 in all, or 17% of the number promised. Meanwhile, nealry two-thirds, or 1026 postmarketing studies, haven't yet started. FDA can't say how many of those are stalled or how many are soon to begin.

    Some outsiders say clearer data are needed and that FDA and drug companies should more aggressively pursue the studies, such as those assessing the safety of a certain drug dose. “There's not been a huge amount of progress” in clearing the backlog, says epidemiologist Bruce Psaty of the University of Washington, Seattle. FDA says that some of the $11.2 million requested by the White House this week for drug-safety initiatives will go toward post-marketing surveillance.

  3. MIT Averts Hunger Strike

    The Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge agreed this week to let an African-American stem-cell researcher who did not receive tenure remain on campus several additional months. James Sherley threatened in December to begin a hunger strike over the tenure denial that he attributes to racism. The university, which said this week that racism was not a factor in the tenure decision, plans to set up a committee to examine the status of minority faculty members on campus.