Science  16 Feb 2007:
Vol. 315, Issue 5814, pp. 923

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  1. FAIR Deal for India

    1. Pallava Bagla

    Three accords have opened a new era in scientific collaboration between Europe and India, bolstered last week at a meeting in New Delhi between India's science minister and his counterparts from the European Union (E.U.).

    The first such gathering outside Europe, the parley featured India committing to a $250 million contribution for the $1.5 billion Facility for Antiproton and Ion Research (FAIR) at the GSI heavy-ion research lab in Darmstadt, Germany. Indian scientists will collaborate on the project, which once completed in 2014 will produce beams for research into nuclear physics, plasmas, and nuclear astrophysics. “It's good to have India on board,” says John Wood, head of the U.K.'s Central Laboratory of the Research Councils.

    In addition, India and the E.U. will each contribute $7.5 million annually to a joint research fund for projects in health, climate, and energy. Indian scientists will also be able to compete for grants under the E.U.'s 7-year, $75 billion Seventh Framework Programme, which began earlier this year. “India will be the most important and first partner in the Seventh Framework Programme,” said Annette Schavan, Germany's minister for education and research, who led the E.U. delegation. Indian science minister Kapil Sibal called the agreement “historic.”

  2. Korea Targets Lab Mischief

    1. D. Yvette Wohn

    SEOUL—The South Korean government last week set new penalties for scientific misconduct and mandated a new system for investigating alleged misconduct in state-funded science. Drafted in response to the Woo Suk Hwang cloning scandal, the rules require government labs, universities, and research centers that receive state funds to tighten oversight to thwart scientific misconduct, including plagiarism, data tampering, and intimidation of whistleblowers. The guidelines, which contain new wording on training, call on institutions to form investigative committees comprised of at least five persons including experts and outsiders to probe allegations.

    Under the guidelines, penalties for misconduct include the government ending state-run projects and barring institutions from receiving state funding for up to 3 years. In-il Lee, a ministry official, said that the government hopes that setting up this system will force scientists to take more responsibility in their research.

  3. $25 Million Prize for Greenhouse Whizzes

    1. Richard A. Kerr

    Mega-entrepreneur and adventurer Richard Branson is offering what he calls “the largest-ever science and technology prize” to entice development of a solution to global warming. Modeled after the $10 million Ansari X Prize that led to the development of a reusable crewed rocket in 2004, the $25 million Virgin Earth Challenge will be awarded to whoever can develop a commercially viable technology capable of removing at least a billion tons of carbon dioxide, a major greenhouse gas, from the air every year. Current air-capture techniques cost three to four times more than the market will bear. “I think it's great,” says physicist Martin Hoffert of New York University, who nonetheless warned that it's going to be a tougher nut to crack than building a better spaceship. Current technology to grab CO2, he notes, is “very energy-intensive.”

  4. Greening the Forest

    1. Elizabeth Pennisi

    The Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) in Panama has received an $8 million grant from the London-based banking giant HSBC to expand its century-long studies of rainforests to better understand the effects of climate change. Working with Harvard University, STRI's Center for Tropical Forest Science will conduct an annual census across a network of 20 study plots in 15 countries, as well as study the carbon cycle in these tropical forests. The gift is STRI's biggest ever private donation and lets it tackle “important scientific questions that single-site [studies] can't address,” says center director Stuart Davies.

  5. A Bounty on a Killer

    1. Martin Enserink

    Five nations and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation are dangling a $1.5 billion carrot in hopes that the pharmaceutical industry will produce a vaccine for the developing world against Streptococcus pneumoniae, which causes pneumonia and meningitis. Last week, the consortium pledged to purchase future vaccines at a guaranteed price once the product is proven safe and effective. Pneumococcal infections kill as many as 1.6 million people annually, most of them children. “Now companies know that if they have the technology and they build a plant, they can sell the vaccine,” says Robert Black of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, Maryland. Black says the arrangement can also be a tool against other diseases plaguing poor nations.