Science  08 Aug 2008:
Vol. 321, Issue 5890, pp. 757

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  1. Obama Banks on NASA

    Just days after NASA celebrated its 50th birthday, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama told a cheering crowd at Brevard Community College near the agency's Kennedy Space Center that he supported the shuttle replacement program and that “we've got to make sure that the money going into NASA for basic research and development continues to go there.” Republican candidate John McCain's staff has questioned Obama's support for the agency by noting his proposal last year to pay for $18 billion in new education programs in part by deferring funding for the shuttle replacement (Science, 1 February, p. 565). Meanwhile, space representatives from nine countries meeting at NASA's Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California, last week agreed to plan a series of fixed and roving science stations on the moon starting in 2013.

  2. Psychiatrist Dropped From Grant

    Under congressional pressure, Stanford University is temporarily pulling a faculty member off a National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant involving a company in which he owns millions of dollars in stock. The company, Corcept Therapeutics, is testing the drug mifepristone as a treatment for depression, and Alan Schatzberg is principal investigator on a multipart NIH grant that includes a mifepristone depression study. Although Stanford says Schatzberg had reported his stock and was not involved with the trial, university officials last week told NIH that they “can see how” the situation “may create an appearance of conflict of interest.” U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) has been investigating the broader issue in U.S. universities (Science, 27 June, p. 1708).

  3. Survey Finds More Apes

    Scientists hope that news of a larger-than-expected population of gorillas in the Republic of the Congo will reinvigorate efforts to protect the critically endangered species (Science, 14 September 2007, p. 1484). The Wildlife Conservation Society reported this week that there are 125,000 western lowland gorillas in an area of northern Congo, dwarfing the previous guess of 50,000. The survey, which covers about 10% of the species' range, encompasses areas that the Congolese government has slated for protection. But in recent years, those efforts have stalled. “We hope these results will help catalyze that process,” says the society's Emma Stokes. The good news is tempered, however, by a recent Ebola outbreak nearby.