Science  16 Feb 2007:
Vol. 315, Issue 5814, pp. 919


    SENTENCED. Scores of letters pleading for leniency did not stop a Los Angeles judge this month from sentencing the pioneering gene-therapy researcher W. French Anderson to 14 years in prison. Anderson was convicted last summer of molesting a young girl (Science, 28 July 2006, p. 437). “It is a tragedy for everyone,” says Laurence Kedes, director of the Institute for Genetic Medicine at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, where Anderson worked until he resigned last September. Anderson's lawyer told the court the 70-year-old will need to be kept apart from other prisoners, making this, as Kedes says, the equivalent of a “life sentence” in solitary confinement.


    MAHIDOL PRIZE. Sometimes the simplest solution is also the most effective. Four decades ago, researchers discovered that oral rehydration therapy (ORT), a mixture of glucose, salts, and water, could prevent patients from succumbing to cholera and other diarrheal diseases. The low-tech breakthrough saves more than 1 million lives each year, primarily in developing countries. At a ceremony in Bangkok's Royal Palace on 31 January, King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand bestowed the Prince Mahidol Award on four physician-scientists who played key roles in ORT's development: Stanley Schultz, David Nalin, and Richard Cash of the United States and Dilip Mahalanabis of India.

    The award is named after King Bhumibol's father, Prince Mahidol of Songkla, a Harvard-trained physician who is known as the “Father of Public Health” in Thailand. Schultz took home $50,000 for the medicine prize; the others shared $50,000 for the public health prize. During a private audience, King Bhumibol quizzed the awardees on topics such as stemming soil erosion to reduce the severity of seasonal flooding. “His Majesty knows his science,” Cash says.


    FAISAL PRIZES. A British chemist, a Canadian endocrinologist, and a U.S. urologist are among the winners of this year's $200,000 King Faisal International Prizes, awarded by the King Faisal Foundation of Saudi Arabia. U.K.-born James Stoddart of the University of California, Los Angeles, receives the science prize for his work on the self-assembly of molecular structures, a cornerstone of nanoscience. The medicine prize is shared by Fernand Labrie of Laval University in Quebec City, Canada, and Patrick Walsh of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland, for improving the management of prostate cancer using therapeutic and surgical approaches. Islamic scholar Roshdi Rashed, a former researcher at France's National Center for Scientific Research, is being honored for studies on Muslims' contributions to basic science, particularly mathematics and optics.


    CRISIS MANAGEMENT. The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria has a new guardian. Michel Kazatchkine, an HIV/AIDS immunologist who is currently France's ambassador for HIV/AIDS and communicable diseases, will become director of the $7 billion organization based in Geneva, Switzerland, on 31 March.


    The fund's outgoing director, British public health expert Richard Feachem, has been dealing with allegations that money was misspent on luxuries. But observers are optimistic that Kazatchkine can steer the organization into smoother waters. “Kazatchkine is not only an extremely accomplished AIDS physician with 20 years of experience, but he successfully ran [the French national agency for AIDS research], one of the largest AIDS organizations in the world,” says Iain Simpson, spokesperson for the World Health Organization.



    TO HIS CREDIT. T. Denny Sanford, a South Dakota businessman who made a fortune in the credit card industry, is donating $400 million to create a world-class health care system and research center in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. And he wants researchers to choose a single area that will receive a significant chunk of the gift. The project is expected to employ more than 100 researchers, and Sanford hopes it will “come up with a cure” in the chosen area.

    This isn't Sanford's first foray into scientific philanthropy: Last year, he promised to give South Dakota $70 million toward an underground lab if the National Science Foundation chose its site in an upcoming competition. Hospital officials hope his latest act of generosity, which prompted the Sioux Valley Hospitals and Health system to change its name to Sanford Health, will transform the center into a national hub of medical research and patient care.

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