Science  11 Dec 1998:
Vol. 282, Issue 5396, pp. 1965

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  1. Discover Editor Ousted

    The heavy hand of Mickey Mouse descended on Discover magazine today, ousting Editor-in-Chief Marc Zabludoff. Insiders say Zabludoff was bounced after banging heads with the new head of publishing at Walt Disney Co., which bought Discover in 1991.

    Disney managers have tightened their control of late over decisions about the design and content of the magazine, which has a circulation of 1.2 million. Staff members were irked by Disney Senior Vice President Steve Murphy's insistence that John Glenn grace the cover of their year-end January issue, which will feature the top science discoveries of 1998. Glenn's flight “didn't seem like one of the top stories of the year,” says one editor. Murphy could not be reached for comment.

    Zabludoff was looking on the bright side. “I get to replace frustration with mere anxiety,” he says, “and that's probably a step up.” His successor will be Stephen Petranek, editor-in-chief of This Old House magazine.

  2. Clamping Down on Human Cloning

    Britain may have discovered how to clone mammals—to wit, Dolly the sheep—but its biotechnicians should never use these skills to reproduce a human being, according to a new report from the Human Genetics Advisory Commission and the Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority.

    The report says the government should enact a law outlawing reproductive cloning of humans. At the same time, it says, the law should permit scientists to clone human cells and even produce human embryos for certain types of research. After gathering comment on its proposals, “there was very little support” among the public for cloning individuals, says commission member Sir Colin Campbell, vice chancellor of the University of Nottingham. But the report noted that people did not object to cloning human cells, if aimed at treating serious illnesses.

  3. NIH Stakes Claim for Genetic Drug Data

    The National Institutes of Health (NIH) plans to spend $100 million over the next 5 years to secure public access to genetic data that might otherwise be locked up by drug firms. The move comes as researchers scramble to turn unprecedented knowledge of the human genome into drugs tailored to fit an individual's genetic makeup.

    Later this month, NIH will unveil a plan to establish a public pharmacogenomics database holding information about individual genes and functions that could be useful to basic researchers and drug designers. It augments another NIH program, announced last month, to search for genetic variations that alter drug effectiveness. The new initiative, which will fund a network of about a dozen centers, is “very timely,” says biochemist Fred Guengrich of Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. And it will have “a real soup-to-nuts flavor,” adds Rochelle Long of the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, involving researchers from a variety of disciplines working on a range of diseases.

  4. Georgetown Faculty on Warpath

    A high-profile campus feud is heating up. Researchers at the Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington, D.C., are threatening to sue their employer, claiming the university's board of directors unfairly rejected a faculty protest of a new salary policy.

    Last spring, 18 scientists filed a grievance complaining that the policy, which requires researchers to hustle up the lion's share of their pay through grants, violates tenure and academic freedom (Science, 5 June, p. 1531). A grievance panel ruled in the scientists' favor, but on 30 October the board ruled the dispute out of bounds for a grievance proceeding. The board did suspend further implementation of the policy pending a review.

    Faculty members, unappeased, say the board has run roughshod over campus rules. “It's like declaring martial law,” says professor Karen Gale. The grievants' lawyer, Steve Hoffman, says he'll go to court if the university fails to nix the policy by 13 December. A Georgetown spokesperson insists that “the review is a fair approach made in the spirit of cooperation and collegiality.”

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