STILL BOSS. Enrico Garaci, the president of Italy's premier health research institute, has been appointed to a third term despite the protests of some biomedical researchers.
Garaci (right in photo, with NIH Director Elias Zerhouni) has led the Istituto Superiore di Sanità (ISS) since 2001. He has generated controversy in the past by endorsing the manifesto of the conservative Science and Life group, which opposes embryonic stem cell research. And he drew flak earlier this year after ISS gave out $4.5 million for stem cell research without holding a public competition or conducting peer-review, raising questions about the type of research being supported.
In September, stem cell biologist Paolo Bianco of the University of Rome “La Sapienza” and others complained to Health Minister Livia Turco about the way the program had been managed and why ISS had not publicly announced the grantees. “Scientists are not supposed to negotiate with government officials in order to receive grants,” he says. Turco did not reply. Immunologist Fernando Aiuti of the University of Rome “La Sapienza” calls Garaci's reappointment “a dismaying decision.”
GIVING BACK. A mining magnate and his wife have donated $25 million to West Virginia University (WVU) in Morgantown to fund breast cancer care and research and a number of other health and academic programs. Benjamin Statler, who studied mining engineering at WVU, and his wife, Jo, want a portion of the gift to fund a mobile mammography unit to provide free services across rural West Virginia. The donation will also help the university recruit physicianscientists for its cancer center, beef up programs in the College of Engineering and Mineral Resources, and put up a new scoreboard at the WVU Coliseum.
FAMILY-FRIENDLY FELLOWSHIP. What does a $25,000 fellowship mean to molecular geneticist Irena Pekker? “It makes our life completely different,” says Pekker. She is one of 11 Israeli women who have won a new award created by the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot to allow young female researchers to pursue world-class postdoctoral experiences overseas without sacrificing their family lives.
Pekker says the money, when added to her $40,000 postdoc salary, made it possible for her husband and two children to join her in Worcester, where she is doing a 2-year postdoc to work with Phillip Zamore on gene silencing at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Pekker's husband works for an Israeli aerospace firm and for security reasons would find it difficult to find a comparable position with a U.S. company. “The reason such a small percentage of Israeli women do a postdoc is because of the economic situation,” Pekker says.
She intends to return home at the end of her training to pursue an academic career. That's exactly what Weizmann officials hope every grantee will do: A press release says the goal of the new award, funded by the Clore Foundation and S. Donald Sussman, is to create a “feminine leadership within the Israeli research community.”
THEY SAID IT
“I'm male, in my 40s, have a Ph.D. in physics, and work as a professor at a university in California. I view my Wikipedia writings as a form of procrastination from real work, so I'd prefer to remain anonymous and not reveal the extent of my procrastination to colleagues.”
—A Wikipedia contributor whose entry on the 1996 bombing of the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia was reproduced nearly verbatim—without attribution—in a recently published book by George Orwel titled Black Gold: The New Frontier in Oil for Investors. Source: The New York Times
CHANGE AT HARVARD. Barry Bloom, the outspoken dean of the Harvard School of Public Health since 1999, will step down from the post in June. Bloom, 71, a tuberculosis vaccine researcher, has expanded the school's international reach and programs in areas such as genes and the environment. He has also been a vocal commentator on various hot topics, including developing an AIDS vaccine, publishing biodefense research, and politicizing science. He plans to remain on the Harvard faculty and continue his research on vaccine development and other topics.