Science  19 Mar 1999:
Vol. 283, Issue 5409, pp. 1825

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  1. Making Science Pay

    Russia's applied researchers can look forward to government initiatives to make their work pay for itself. Last week, Science Minister Mikhail Kirpichnikov sketched out plans to support applied research by moving into new commercial ventures, and announced that the German government has promised to lend Russia 100 million marks ($56 million) to buy scientific equipment over the next 2 years.

    Kirpichnikov has talked much about weaning Russia's dwindling scientific corps off of state support (Science, 11 December 1998, p. 1979). Now nearly a half-year into his tenure as minister, he's taking the first steps toward that goal. His ministry, with the Economics Ministry and the Russian Academy of Sciences, has proposed forming a governmental commission to ram through tax incentives to encourage entrepreneurial research—a goal shared by the Duma, which is drafting legislation to that effect.

  2. Eleventh-Hour Reprieve?

    Taking the smallpox virus off death row could serve science, says a U.S. government advisory panel. The finding, released this week, could aid scientists seeking to delay the planned destruction this June of the last two research stocks of the dreaded virus.

    Since it was eradicated 2 decades ago, the variola virus has been bottled up like a genie at two high-security labs in the United States and Russia. In 1993, the World Health Organization ordered the stocks destroyed to prevent future outbreaks from their accidental—or intentional—release. But some researchers say variola should be spared, particularly because it might be useful in preparing defenses against smallpox weapons. This week, the preservationists won a small victory: Although it didn't give a direct opinion on what should happen to the stocks, an Institute of Medicine panel concluded that live variola could play a. “essential role” in developing new drugs and vaccines. But destruction proponents, such as D. A. Henderson of Johns Hopkins University, say the report is unconvincing.

    Now it's up to President Bill Clinton—who has said White House policy will be guided by the new report—to decide what will happen to the U.S.'s smallpox cache.

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