Newsmakers

Science  30 Jan 2009:
Vol. 323, Issue 5914, pp. 567
  1. MONEY MATTERS

    CREDIT: SNBC

    STARGAZER'S DELIGHT. Brewer Ken Grossman has demonstrated his love for astronomy by helping to finance a community observatory and an outdoor planetarium in his hometown of Chico, California. Earlier this month, the co-founder of the Sierra Nevada Brewing Company extended that love to attendees at the American Astronomical Society meeting by treating them to a special beer marking the International Year of Astronomy.

    Branded “Galileo's Astronomical Ale: Theoretically the best beer in the universe,” the light-bodied beverage flowed freely at the premiere of 400 Years of the Telescope, a documentary that will air 10 April on PBS. Grossman loaned filmmaker Kris Koenig, a fellow Chico resident, seed money for the film. “It seemed like a cool project,” says Grossman (left).

    Grossman says the ale may show up at a few more astronomy events this year, but the legal hassles of introducing a small product line will preclude bringing it to market.

  2. INSIDE GOVERNMENT

    NSF SHUFFLE. Kathie Olsen, a George W. Bush appointee who once worked in the White House and became deputy director of the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) in August 2005, has been reassigned to work on management issues within the director's office. The change, announced by NSF Director Arden Bement Jr. on 16 January, allows Olsen to continue working at NSF under the Obama Administration. It's seen as a preemptive move by Bement, also a Bush appointee, to placate some Obama officials who wanted to dump Olsen. Bement is keen to complete his 6-year term, which runs until November 2010.

    CREDIT: SAM KITTNER/KITTNER.COM

    Cora Marrett, the new acting deputy director, says Bement asked her the day before the switch was announced if she would agree to fill in on a temporary basis. Marrett, who has led NSF's Education and Human Resources Directorate since February 2007, says she hopes to return to that job once the new Administration names a permanent replacement for Olsen.

  3. IN THE NEWS

    Two Iranian physicians, who have won plaudits for their efforts to stem the spread of HIV in their country, have been convicted on charges of participating in what Iranian officials described as a U.S.-backed plot to overthrow Iran's government. Brothers Arash and Kamyar Alaei, along with two others, were arrested in Iran last summer. Officials have accused them of conspiring to rally Iranian scientists, doctors, and other professionals to instigate an uprising. The convictions were announced by Iran's official news agency last week, but it did not disclose the length of their prison terms. Kamyar was pursuing a Ph.D. at the School of Public Health at the State University of New York, Albany. Human rights activists around the world say the charges against the Alaeis are bogus and that the Iranian government is systematically persecuting intellectuals who have strong ties to the West.

  4. HONORS

    VISIONARY ACTIVIST. Activist Martin Delaney, who spent the past quarter-century advocating on behalf of people with HIV/AIDS, died on 23 January after a battle with liver cancer. Four days before his death, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) honored Delaney with a special recognition award. Delaney, 63, was the founder of Project Inform, an advocacy and education nonprofit from which he retired last year.

    CREDIT: PROJECTINFORM.ORG

    As the HIV/AIDS pandemic unfolded in the 1980s, Delaney urged government agencies, academic scientists, and drug companies to speed the development of therapies and to expand access to experimental drugs for people with HIV/AIDS. Delaney successfully lobbied the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to adopt an accelerated approval process for drugs to treat life-threatening illnesses and to develop a “parallel track” program that allows AIDS patients to receive experimental drugs even if they cannot participate in a controlled clinical trial. These efforts have made a “far-ranging and powerful impact on policy in this country,” NIAID Director Anthony Fauci says.

    Delaney was always a constructive critic, doggedly persistent when he felt researchers and officials were on the wrong track but gracious when he thought they were doing the right thing, says Fauci. “He [came] into a situation with his own natural intelligence and insight; he [did] his homework; and he [was] very, very good at understanding what the nature of the issue is,” Fauci says. “He [was] one of the real visionary people in the HIV/AIDS pandemic.”

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