ScienceScope

Science  02 May 2008:
Vol. 320, Issue 5876, pp. 597
  1. Cancer Genome Goes Global

    1. Jocelyn Kaiser

    There's an ambitious new sequencing project on the block: the International Cancer Genome Consortium (http://www.icgc.org/). Leaders aim to raise $1 billion to sequence 50 human cancers over the next 10 years and share the data. This week, it joined a crowded field; similar efforts are under way at the U.K. Sanger Institute and the U.S. National Institutes of Health (Science, 8 September 2006, p. 1370). But a global organization makes sense because the prevalence and environmental causes of cancer differ around the world, says consortium leader Thomas Hudson of the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research in Toronto: “We're trying to prepare ourselves for the next wave.” Organizations in nine countries, including in China, Singapore, and India, have signed on.

  2. Stresses Grow in U.K. Science

    1. Daniel Clery

    U.K. parliamentarians attacked the Labour government this week for slighting science and mismanaging the current allocation of £2.8 billion. The science committee in the House of Commons also leveled harsh words at the agency that supports astronomy, particle physics, and government labs, saying it had axed fields and facilities without consulting the community and citing “particular weakness” in its peer-review systems and management. Neglect has “caused immense damage to fundamental science in this country,” says particle physicist Brian Cox of the University of Manchester. However, U.K. innovation secretary John Denham argued in a speech that “as a government, we have fought for, and won, record resources” for science.

  3. Wage Understanding, Not War

    1. Yudhijit Bhattacharjee

    The social and behavioral sciences may get as much as 20% of a proposed $250 million boost to the U.S. Department of Defense's basic research budget to counter terrorist threats without force. “We have given our troops many technologies to win conflicts, but we haven't done enough to help them avoid conflict,” William Rees, the Pentagon's chief of basic research, told Science last week. Rees was amplifying a message from other officials, including Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who credits a small team of anthropologists embedded with military units in Afghanistan for helping to reduce violence in the region.

  4. Business Boost Thwarted

    1. Jeffrey Mervis

    A congressional Democrat with clout and a Republican with conviction have teamed up to block a plan to give small businesses a bigger slice of the federal research pie. Last week's vote by the House of Representatives came on a bill to reauthorize two research programs that fund peer-reviewed proposals from startup companies through a tax on 11 science agencies. Of greatest concern to science lobbyists was language raising the share going to the SBIR (Small Business Innovation Research) and STTR (technology transfer research) programs from a combined 2.8% to 3.6%, an increase that would have siphoned off an additional $650 million a year. But representatives David Obey (D-WI), chair of the powerful appropriations committee, and Vernon Ehlers (R-MI), a former physics professor who had failed to derail the increase during an earlier committee vote, argued successfully on the House floor that this was the wrong time to tap already stressed science budgets.

    A larger SBIR program “does no harm for a large agency whose budget has been rising, such as the Department of Defense,” Obey said shortly before last week's vote, “but it can do immeasurable harm to the crown jewel of our research agencies in this country, the National Institutes of Health.” The White House also opposed the increase. A proposal for an even larger boost has stalled in the Senate. Both programs are set to expire this fall unless Congress reauthorizes them.

  5. Campaign Bailout for Arecibo?

    1. Andrew Lawler

    Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) has introduced legislation (S. 2862) to keep federal funds flowing to the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico. Her support for the world's largest single-dish radio telescope, which is slated to lose National Science Foundation support by 2011 (Science, 21 September 2007, p. 1663), would benefit both her home state of New York—the observatory is operated by Cornell University—and the economy of Puerto Rico, which holds a presidential primary on 7 June. Clinton, who trails Barack Obama in the race for the Democratic nomination, hailed Arecibo's “remarkable tools” for understanding the universe and “the path-blazing accomplishments of these New Yorkers.” Puerto Rico's delegate introduced a similar bill last fall in the House of Representatives. A Cornell spokesperson said the university was “absolutely pleased” by Clinton's move.

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