Science  31 Mar 2000:
Vol. 287, Issue 5462, pp. 2389
  1. Giving Back

    A group of Indian-born business leaders who have made it rich in Silicon Valley has pledged $300 million toward a $1 billion network of private research universities in their native country. Their plan to create a half-dozen Global Institutes of Science and Technology received a pat on the back last week from President Bill Clinton, who mentioned it during a speech to high-tech business leaders in Hyderabad.

    “I have no doubt they will succeed,” said Clinton about plans to set up six nonprofit institutes that would offer undergraduate and advanced degrees in biotechnology, materials science, information technology, and other hot fields to 2000 students on each campus. Officials at the University of California, Berkeley, have agreed to help design the curriculum, lend faculty, and offer distance-learning courses, although details have yet to be worked out. “The students would be exposed to the best facilities and faculties available anywhere,” says Purnendu Chatterjee, managing director of the $1.2 billion software management Chatterjee Group of New York, a prime mover in the venture. He said the institutes would also serve as incubators for new high-tech companies. Site selection is expected to be completed over the next 8 to 12 months.

  2. Rescued

    Legislation aimed at ending 30 years of controversy over “rescue archaeology” in France is close to becoming law. The National Assembly last month voted to approve a proposal by Culture Minister Catherine Trautman that supporters say will improve protection of artifacts threatened by development (Science, 14 May 1999, p. 1099). The French Senate was expected to take up the bill as Science went to press.

    The new law—which would replace an existing agency for rescue archaeology with a new organization under the culture and research ministries and open rescue digs to researchers from universities and the basic research agency CNRS—is being greeted enthusiastically by Françoise Audouze of the Center for Archaeological Research in Nanterre. But Audouze is wary that the law does not adequately define how archaeologists will work with the new organization. Turf battles, she warns, could still hamper efforts to study and save threatened artifacts.

  3. Slight Rebound

    The National Science Foundation's (NSF's) flagship program to support graduate students is struggling to find talented underrepresented minorities after phasing out a special effort to attract them. The new class of 850 fellows, announced last week, contains 89 minority students pursuing Ph.D.s in science, mathematics, and engineering. Although that's a bit more than last year's crop of 76, the number is a far cry from the 175 minorities who earned the 3-year fellowships in 1998, the last year in which NSF held a separate competition for Hispanics, African Americans, and Native Americans (Science, 16 April 1999, p. 411). In addition, the number of minority applicants continues to fall, down 25% in 2 years, while the number of whites and Asians applying has held steady.

    NSF officials hope a larger annual stipend, up $1000 this year to $16,200 toward a goal of $18,000, will boost demand. They also invited applicants to write about “any impediments” to a degree, says Susan Duby, head of graduate education, and asked reviewers to ponder NSF's role in serving underrepresented groups. “We're making more of an effort,” says Duby, “but we haven't seen the payoff yet.”

  4. Resisting TB

    The effort to beat tuberculosis resistance is getting a boost. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation last week announced that it is giving $25 million to a new consortium of foundations, international organizations, and pharmaceutical companies called the Global Alliance for TB Drug Development. The groups will put the funds to use to come up with new drugs and test their efficacy in clinical trials.

    And more help may be on the way. On 24 March, U.S. Representatives Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Connie Morella (R-MD) introduced a bill that would boost anti-TB spending from $35 million to $100 million to establish effective TB programs, especially in nations that suffer most from the disease.

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