Newsmakers

Science  08 Jun 2007:
Vol. 316, Issue 5830, pp. 1403
  1. MOVERS

    CREDIT: PATH/MIKE WANG

    BEATING A KILLER. Developing an affordable malaria vaccine for Africa, where a million children die from the disease every year, is the tall challenge awaiting French physician Christian Loucq, who last week was named director of the PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative (MVI) in Bethesda, Maryland. Loucq had been interim director of MVI, which has received $265 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, since February.

    Loucq has worked primarily in marketing and sales positions for half a dozen vaccine companies—including Pasteur Merieux Connaught and SmithKline Beecham—in India, Thailand, China, Belgium, the United Kingdom, and elsewhere. His ability to lead, listen, and network will make up for his inexperience in vaccine development and malaria science, predicts Thomas Monath, a former chief scientific officer at vaccine producer Acambis, where Loucq was vice president from 2002 until 2006. “He's a great choice,” Monath adds.

  2. POLITICS

    SOURCE: UNIVERSITY OF KENTUCKY

    POLITICAL PRO. The man chosen by President George W. Bush to be the next U.S. surgeon general knows his way around Washington, D.C. Cardiologist James W. Holsinger Jr. served for 26 years in senior posts throughout the Department of Veterans Affairs before becoming its chief medical director and then undersecretary of health during the early 1990s. An M.D.-Ph.D. graduate of Duke University, Holsinger is a professor of preventive medicine at the University of Kentucky in Lexington and a former chancellor of the medical center. Holsinger has declined comment while his nomination is pending before the Senate, but the White House said he will focus on combating childhood obesity.

  3. ON CAMPUS

    WAR OF WORDS. Evolutionary biologist Robert Trivers was 6 hours away from delivering a talk at Harvard University on self-deception and the role it played in Israel's 2006 invasion of Lebanon when organizers cancelled the 27 May event. Trivers claims that the cancellation was payback for his recent letter in The Wall Street Journal attacking an op-ed piece by Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz, a well-known defender of many of Israel's policies. “It was a very humiliating and degrading experience,” says Trivers, who had to call several friends and relatives to ask them not to come.

    Trivers (below), a professor at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, had sent a letter on departmental stationery to Dershowitz a few weeks earlier saying that “if there is a repeat of Israeli butchery toward Lebanon, and if you decide once again to rationalize it publicly, look forward to a visit from me. Nazis—and Nazi-like apologists such as yourself—need to be confronted directly.”

    SOURCE: RUTGERS

    Dershowitz says he had nothing to do with the disinvitation from Martin Nowak, who heads Harvard's Program for Evolutionary Dynamics. But Dershowitz admits he was planning to hand out copies of Trivers's letter at the event “in an exercise of my right to free speech.” Dershowitz has also filed a complaint with Rutgers administrators. Nowak couldn't be reached for comment, and a Harvard spokesperson was unable to confirm or deny Trivers's version of the story.

  4. THREE Q'S

    SOURCE: MARC STUDER/UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON, BOTHELL, CAMPUS MEDIA CENTER

    By day, Clark Olson is a professor of database systems and computer vision at the University of Washington, Bothell. By night, he's a king of fantasy sports, a hobby in which individuals create and manage imaginary teams of real players that compete with one another based on their season's statistics. Olson's computational and algorithmic skills have earned him five straight top-three finishes in an international rating system of online fantasy players, plus about $5000 in winnings every year.

    Q: How well do you know the games themselves?

    Sports knowledge isn't crucial to doing well at fantasy sports. More important are knowing where to get good information, being able to analyze stats, and developing successful strategies for building a strong team.

    Q: How much of your decision-making is art and how much is science?

    I'm not sure there is any art at all. I try to make every decision based upon principled analysis. For some moves, new information makes analysis trivial.

    Q:Who will be more successful this season: your fantasy picks or your favorite baseball team, the Seattle Mariners?

    It is extremely unlikely that the Mariners will finish as well in their league as I do in the ESPN Uber contest, where I am in fourth place overall. However, if success is measured in revenue, then I can't compete with the Mariners.

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