Science  16 Nov 2007:
Vol. 318, Issue 5853, pp. 1051

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  1. Texas Votes for Cancer Research

    Texas researchers are looking ahead to 2009 for the first grants from a $3 billion bond measure that voters approved easily last week. The project, which will fund as much as $300 million a year for 10 years in cancer research, was championed by several prominent Texans, including Governor Rick Perry and Lance Armstrong, the former cycling champion and cancer survivor (Science, 31 August, p. 1154). John Mendelsohn of the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston says he expects that “outstanding scientists, hopefully from outside the state,” will help review research proposals for the institute.

  2. Tests on Tests Urged

    A group of scientific advisers wants the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to tighten oversight of genetic tests, a growing enterprise regulated by a patchwork of federal rules. Last week, the Secretary's Advisory Committee on Genetics, Health, and Society released a 192-page draft report on genetic testing that called for new research to evaluate the clinical utility of genetic tests and for the expansion of public databases of gene mutations. The group also urged better proficiency testing of labs performing genetic tests.

    “There's been very little movement forward” in more aggressively regulating these tests, says Gail Javitt of the Genetics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C., whose director helped write the report. Public comments are due by 21 December (

  3. Europe Maintains Orbit

    BERLIN—The European Space Agency (ESA) should maintain a human presence in low Earth orbit even if, as some have suggested, NASA pulls out of the international space station in the next decade, says ESA Director General Jean-Jacques Dordain. “I am convinced that utilization of the space station will bring scientific progress and technological progress,” Dordain said at a press conference last week at the International Space Exploration Conference in Berlin. Although the space station without NASA “is a scenario that is very difficult to imagine,” he said, “it will not be an end. We will continue to offer capability in low Earth orbit.” ESA will unveil a formal proposal for the project next summer, Dordain says. Any decision about plans will come next November at a meeting of ministers from ESA member states.

  4. New Limits on Defense Grants

    U.S. lawmakers last week put the squeeze on universities that receive basic-research grants from the military by tightening the amount of money that universities can be reimbursed for the cost of facilitating that research. The new language limits overhead costs to 35% of the total amount of the grant. That's the equivalent of a 54% indirect cost rate, and many schools won't notice the difference because their rates do not exceed that amount.

    But Barry Toiv of the Association of American Universities says at least 40 universities could be affected by the decision, and lobbyists fear that Congress might eventually apply the same formula to the government's entire research portfolio. “A cap on reimbursement is a first step down a potentially slippery slope,” says Toiv. “Preventing universities from reimbursing all the real and necessary costs of conducting research will discourage them from applying for defense grants.”

  5. Moonstruck

    India and Russia have signed an agreement to jointly explore the moon. As a first joint venture, India envisages using one of its rockets to launch a crewless mission in 2011 called Chandrayaan-II (a second moon mission for India). Together, Russia and India will develop a robotic rover that will be deployed from a lunar orbiter to probe the moon's surface for geological data and look for helium-3, a potential fuel for fusion reactors. The collaboration is “an area of great promise” for the two countries, said Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at a meeting in Moscow this week with Russian President Vladimir Putin.


    The predecessor to this mission is India's Chandrayaan-I, a resource-mapping project that India plans to launch on its PSLV rocket (above) in April 2008. It will carry two American research payloads and involves no Russian participation. However, India and Russia have collaborated on space projects for decades: India's only astronaut, Rakesh Sharma, lifted off in a Russian Soyuz rocket in 1984, and Russia supplied the cryogenic engines that have carried India's heavy communications satellites into space.