Science  18 Jul 2008:
Vol. 321, Issue 5887, pp. 327

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  1. Occupational Safety Proves an Unsafe Occupation

    U.S. health researchers are worrying about the future of federal research on worker safety following the puzzling decision to let the popular director of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) go. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Julie Gerberding announced 3 July that she plans to replace NIOSH Director John Howard after his 6-year assignment ends this week despite his interest in serving another term. The physician had resounding support from labor, business, and health professionals. “It's really distressing. He's been a great guy,” says Sarah Felknor of the University of Texas School of Public Health in Houston, who chairs NIOSH's board of scientific counselors. She and others are worried about the continuity of programs such as nanotoxicology research. Others fear that CDC will now push ahead with a plan that Howard resisted 4 years ago to move NIOSH down in the CDC hierarchy (Science, 16 July 2004, p. 323). A CDC spokesperson says that “there are no plans to reorganize NIOSH,” and Gerberding was unavailable for comment.

  2. Tough New Conflicts Rules

    Three leading journals have adopted or announced plans to adopt conflict-of-interest disclosure policies of unprecedented strictness. Addiction, the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, and the Journal of the American College of Surgeons are now requiring authors to disclose every financial tie, regardless of size, held within 3 years prior to submission. Editors from each journal collaborated with the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) to develop the policy, which the center released this week. Addiction editor Thomas Babor says it's an attempt to preserve scientific integrity amid revelations of scientists who concealed industry backing of their research. CSPI has circulated the model among hundreds of journals but no others have signed on; many feel their current policies are sufficient, says CSPI project director Merrill Goozner.

    Others may fear the added burden such a stringent policy could impose on submitters. But Babor says the policy creates little extra work for the journals and only slightly more for authors—work that researchers are beginning to expect as par for the course of submitting a paper. “We are being perceived as a better journal,” he says, noting steadily rising submissions.

  3. New Money for New Neuroscience

    A childhood friendship has blossomed into plans for the first privately financed Max Planck Institute. Twin brothers Andreas and Thomas Strüngmann, 58, announced this week that they have donated €200 million for a new cognitive neuroscience institute in Frankfurt, Germany, to be administered by the Max Planck Society. The twins, who made their fortune in pharmaceuticals, have had their interest in the brain fed by childhood pal Wolf Singer, who became a neuroscientist and then director of the Max Planck Institute for Brain Research in Frankfurt. Singer will serve as acting head of the Ernst Strüngmann Institute, named for the donors' father. The society will have full control over scientific aspects of the new institute, Singer says.

  4. Ready. Set. Fuse!

    The world's fusion researchers now have a new toy to keep them busy over the next 10 years while the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) is being built in Cadarache, France. The $420 million Korea Superconducting Tokamak Advanced Research (KSTAR) reactor in Daejeon, South Korea, achieved its first plasma last month, and this week officials formally announced it ready for use, with full operations to begin next year. Construction director Gyung-Su Lee says the new reactor is an ideal training ground for ITER because its superconducting magnets are made of the same niobium-tin alloy that ITER will use, so researchers can test fabrication techniques.

  5. No SLAC From Stanford

    The Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC) in Menlo Park, California, will change its name. That's because the Department of Energy (DOE) wants to trademark the names of its 17 national labs, and Stanford University won't let DOE claim its name. The impasse is “an example of DOE idiocy,” says Nobelist and former SLAC Director Burton Richter, because the university would protect the name anyway. But DOE has been pushing to trademark lab names for more than a decade, spurred in part by a new law allowing trademark suits against the government, a risk DOE says it is trying to minimize.